How to Run a Recycled Book Art Workshop

How to Run a Recycled Book Art Workshop : A recycled book art workshop is a fun, budget friendly project for any makerspace.Many educators falsely believe that you can’t start a makerspace without a huge budget.  But some of the best makerspace supplies are free! As part of our new Maker Mondays program, I recently tried out a new activity with my students that went off great.  I only spent around $50 on supplies, most of which I only had to buy because I’m new to the library.

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How to Run a Recycled Book Art Workshop

The idea behind a recycled book art workshop is that you gather together weeded, outdated books of a variety of sizes and content.  You then cut, fold, glue and otherwise transform the books into amazing works of art. The weeded books are free if you’re in a library.  But even if you don’t have that available, you can source use books from thrift stores pretty cheaply. We then needed a variety of tools to transform the books.  I also ordered several books with examples of projects to help inspire my students.

(P.S. For more on running makerspace workshops, check out this post on Demco and the chapter on workshops in Challenge-Based Learning)

What books to use for the projects

When looking for books to use, you want a variety.  Small hardcover novels work great for a lot of folding projects.  Old foreign language dictionaries are beautiful for collage work. Damaged books with lots of illustrations can create great projects as well.  And if your books still have due date cards in the back, save them when you weed! They’re a great material to work with.

Suggested supply list:

(Note: I didn’t buy all of these for my workshop.  A few things I already had.  But I was able to purchase the supplies that we needed for around $50.)

Book Art Reference Books

(Tip: If you can’t afford the books right now or aren’t sure if students will continue to be interested, see if you can borrow these from your local public library.)

Projects and supplies from our recycled book art workshop

Examples of some projects:

Some recycled book projects, such as folded book art, take a LONG time and won’t get done in one session.  But you can use the workshop to teach the basic skills and then let students take it from there. Collage is a popular option.  We made some found poetry and blackout poetry – Austin Kleon has an excellent video on blackout poetry here. I made a few sample projects for my students ahead of time, but once the workshop came along, many of them decided to get creative and come up with their own ideas.  One student created a VR headset out of due date cards.  Another collaged found poetry onto a cuff she made from book pages.  Yet another students folded up pages of an old atlas to create a colorful mobile.  It was pretty awesome.

This workshop was our first ever afterschool Maker Monday and I’m excited to see where we go next 🙂

Diana Rendina, MLIS, is the media specialist at Tampa Preparatory School, an independent 6-12 in Tampa, FL. Previously, she was the media specialist at Stewart Middle Magnet School for seven years, where she founded their library makerspace. She is the creator of the blog She was a monthly contributor to AASL Knowledge Quest from 2015-2018. Diana is the winner of the 2016 ISTE Outstanding Young Educator Award, the 2015 ISTE Librarians Network Secondary Award, the 2015 AASL Frances Henne Award & the 2015 SLJ Build Something Bold Award. She is an international speaker on the Maker Movement and has presented at conferences including AASL, FETC & ISTE. Diana co-authored Challenge-Based Learning in the School Library Makerspace with Colleen and Aaron Graves and is also the author Reimagining Library Spaces: Transform Your Space on Any Budget.