Saturday, October 20, 2012

My travel organizer (warning, graphic content)...

I must preface this post with a warning: the links provided include graphic photographs of vintage books being defaced by an X-acto knife and craft glue. These kinds of projects and crafts tend to bring out the conservative archivist in all of us, clasping our pearls at the mere mention of "X-acto knife" and "vintage book" being used in the same sentence. I have replayed the scenario over and over in my head, and I have concluded: this is too cool to pass up. I'd rather "destroy" a book than see it waste away in a junk shop or get thrown out with the public library discards. You have been warned.

I have been in love with this project since I first saw it on Design*Sponge a year ago. My traveling has increased a lot since then, and my goal is to complete this project before December 1, 2012 (that is when I depart for the Netherlands).
To save clicking, the project can be summed up by this opening quote from creator Kate Pruitt:
Rather than spend another plane trip rummaging through my catch-all carry-on bag searching for my headphones, bumping my head on the seat in front of me every time, I decided to make a small tech-accessory organizer using elastic ribbon and an old vintage book cover.
At work I kept my eyes open for the perfect book I could transform (deface, desecrate, etc.) We see lots of duplicate and unwanted books come and go, and it being an art library I thought I would eventually find the "perfect" book, but either the books were too big or too small, too grimy or not interesting enough and I couldn't commit. I then turned my attention to my own collection. I was moving and needed to cull my books anyway. I found two prime candidates: a book of Dashiell Hammett short stories and an old biology book.

I was drawn to the simplicity and the title of the first book, but the second one...look at that adorable little lizard on the cover.
This is where I am asking for your help. Before I take a knife to either of these books (just removing the text block) which one should I choose? I know I have to make a decision soon, or I will be cursed to wander used book stores searching for that perfect book for all eternity. Save me from this curse; I already have the gripper elastic and the neoprene (from
Make your choice in the comments. I will create a follow-up post with step-by-step documentation of this project.

Not pictured is a single volume of the 1960 edition of The Chambers Encyclopedia (SYG-TUA I believe) that I got from our library's discard sale and left at my desk. It is red with gold and is quite snazzy save for the call number written in white permanent marker on the spine.


  1. I vote for the Biology book! That little lizard is adorable. Also reusing old, outdated textbooks is a very noble thing. Unlike a crafter whose video was passed around my cohort for being a crime against all humanity. She destroyed perfectly good, popular fiction books to create a "book box" one could put on a bookshelf that would look like books but actually be storage (WHY? Why destroy books so you can pretend to have those books?)

    Anyway the organizer is a great idea! I bought something similar and I LOVE it. I've actually had to tell a few people in airports where I got it (The Container Store if anyone is wondering).

  2. Whoa, that is a cool looking organizer. I can't wait to see how yours turns out. The lizard is pretty adorable, but I'm leaning toward the Dashiell Hammett cover.

  3. Thanks, ladies! I am leaning towards the Hammett, too. It's a library discard and has been much loved. The problem now is finding time...

  4. One more vote for the lizard! Really cool project...would love to see the finished product. I've fancied trying something like that too, having seen a lot of neat examples for sale, but haven't gotten the gumption. So many old books just get tossed out/recycled, it seems a fine and noble thing to do with them. New life!

    1. I have it scheduled into my Sunday to accomplish this (and make a slideshow for SMA credits!) Look for a blog post tomorrow night :-)