Raising the Literary Roof

Or wine bottle, as the case may be.

After deciding I needed something to raise one part of our centerpieces, I searched for a stand-in to get the right dimensions and found a small box about 4″ x 3 1/2″ x 2″ in size. This nestled perfectly among the bottles, now I just needed to replicate it. At first I figured I’d ask Mr. Road Trip to cut down some 2x4s and I’d paint them but then I had a better idea: why go out and buy more materials when I have plenty of options just laying around?!

Enter the masses of corrugated cardboard clogging our garage, not the least bit enhanced by the onslaught of recent wedding purchases!

Building the "page blocks" for the mini-books.
Building the “page blocks” for the mini-books.

Starting with 2″ strips of cardboard, I used a straight edge to “score” my folds for each side, leaving a 2″ tab to secure the “book page block” together. Here’s a tip about building with cardboard: if your item will be supporting ANYTHING, make sure the “load-bearing walls” have the little corrugated channels running vertical instead of horizontal as they are stronger this way. You could use hot glue to secure your walls, but I opted for the less-prone-to-burn-me Helmar Quick Dry 450 (aka hot glue in a tube). The cardboard was a bit on the stubborn side, though, so quick use of a clothespin was employed to help things set up the way they were supposed to.

A subtle but effective color change.
A subtle but effective color change.

To give the faux books the look of gilded pages, I painted the page blocks a metallic gold. It doesn’t look like much until you look at one of the unpainted ones next to the painted, and then you can tell that oh, yeah, it’s totally working.

jwalker_ttb_stackocovers

While they dried, it was time to cut the front and back covers for the books (aka the top and bottom of the stands). I cut each 1/2″ larger than the “page block” dimensions so that it really would look like a hardbound book, if slightly exaggerated. I had enough cardboard from a single box’s oversized flaps to make 12 mini-books, so up until this part this DIY cost me nothing but an evening’s time.

In fact, the only thing I bought special for these books was the patterned paper for the covers. You could certainly go with giftwrap, but I found a pretty print by Paper Studio and paid a whopping .59 a sheet, so the 6 sheets that it took to finish the books cost all of $3.54 (less, actually, as I think the paper was on sale that day). Yay for cost-effective crafts, right?

jwalker_ttb_coveringthecovers

Anyway! To figure out how much of each sheet I needed I laid out a set of covers and a page block on the back of a sheet (and used my scoring board as a ruler). Leave a little space between the covers and the page blog to account for the thickness of the cardboard and set the outer corners at least 1/2″ in from the outside edges of the paper. From this I could see needing strips 5 1/2″ x 11″, so I trimmed 1″ off each sheet and then split it in half. I could have left the extra inch, but snugger was better when I was eyeballing cover placement.

To keep things from wiggling around or gaping in the final construction (and save on adhesive), I attached each cover only along the edge closest to the spine of the book (and use a double-sided tape for this and future steps–less bulk and no warping or wrinkling of your paper). Then, to reduce bulk, I trimmed all four corners close to but not right at the cover corners. Ideally this creates the perfect mitered corner fold. Ideally. Save the cut-off corners, though, just in case.

jwalker_ttb_cornercoverup

After that, it just took adhesive along the outer edges, folding in the short sides and then finishing with the long sides, matching those corners as best you can, and pressing down the center of the “spine” edges to make a nice edge. If you have gaps in your corners (almost inevitable unless you carefully measure each and every corner cut–and who has time for that?!) use the triangular scraps to cover them up. And if someone is looking closely enough to notice the pattern doesn’t match, you’ve got bigger problems than DIY!

jwalker_ttb_assemblethebook

Final assembly! Position the “page block” on the inside of one of the covers, making sure only the pretty patterned paper shows around the edges, then fold over the other cover to make sure it’s going to wrap around easily. Jiggle it around until everything fits right, glue down one side (now the bottom) with the liquid adhesive of your choice, then add your glue to the top and press the top cover into place. Before the glue completely sets, even out your covers by placing the book on each side, just so everything comes out evenly.

Tadaa!

jwalker_ttb_handwrittenbookspines

Since both Mr. Road Trip and I are avid readers, we each chose 6 of our favorite books and I wrote them in white paint pen on some scraps of purple card stock left over from matting the table names, etc. You could create the little spines on the computer and print them for a more polished/fool-the-eyes look, but I didn’t mind writing them out. This was just another way we chose to insert a little of ourselves into the decor.

And here’s my at-home mock-up of what I think our tables will look like:

Pooh and the Star Trek bears approve...
Pooh and the Star Trek bears approve that there’s ample room for eye-contact and conversation amid the decorations

I am SO happy to be able to check this very large project off the to-do list!

Did you trash-to-treasure anything for your wedding decor? How did it turn out?

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