How to Make Things From an Old Encyclopedia

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Things You'll Need

  • Scissors
  • Gesso
  • Sponge brush
  • Paints
  • Markers
  • Colored pencils
  • Craft glue
  • Cooking pan
  • Utility knife
  • Envelope
  • Pencil
  • Glue stick
  • White paper
  • Sticker
  • Clear tape

If you have an old, out-of-date encyclopedia, you can put its pages to use instead of throwing it away. There are many ways to reuse a large book like an encyclopedia, especially if you are the artistic type or you enjoy custom or unusual stationery. Follow the necessary steps to turn an old encyclopedia into an art journal where you can record your life visually, or take the green route and make mailable envelopes.

Art Journal

Go through the encyclopedia and cut out any pages that have interesting pictures on them that you want to keep. Set these pages aside.

Shake a container of gesso for 30 seconds. Gesso is a primer used by artists to create a surface more suitable to paint or other art mediums. Dip a sponge brush into the gesso and let the excess drip from the brush. Open to the first page and brush a thin, even layer of the gesso over the page. Wait two to three hours to make sure it is dry.

Paint on the primed page, write on it with markers or color it with colored pencils. The gesso makes the paper stronger for paint and glue and also makes it into a blank page so you can decorate it however you want. Draw a picture, write a journal entry or create a collage. Use the pictures that you cut out of the encyclopedia in your art collage and glue them with craft glue. Wait for the paint or glue to dry and prime the next page so that it is ready for your next painting or drawing.

Mailable Envelope

Heat water on a stove top until it starts steaming. Hold a 6 5/8-inch by 3 6/8-inch letter envelope over the steam for 30 seconds to loosen the adhesive that holds it together. Gently unfold the envelope without ripping it. This will act as the template to make sure you get the dimensions and shape of the envelope correct.

Cut the edge of a page out of an old encyclopedia with a sharp utility knife. Place the page flat on a table in front of you, with the text or image that you want on the outside of the envelope facing down.

Position the unfolded envelope on top of the encyclopedia page and make sure the center is directly over the text or image you like. Trace the unfolded enveloped with a pencil and cut on the traced line.

Fold straight lines where the triangular flaps meet the rectangle in the middle. Crease the fold lines and then unfold the flaps again. Apply a line of stick glue where the edge of the bottom flap meets the inside edges of the side flaps. Wait about 30 minutes for the glue to dry.

Glue a plain paper rectangle to the center of the back of the envelope so you have a plain spot to write the recipient's address. Wait for the glue to dry before writing the address. Insert the letter and attach a sticker or piece of clear tape to the middle edge of the enclosing flap.