Brian Dettmer Uses Old Books in Stunning New Ways

Artist Brian Dettmer is using old books to create beautiful art. Check out his TED Talk about what he does and why he does it.

Crafting with old books is controversial in the upcycling world. Any time that we share old book crafts, we get at least a couple of comments from folks calling shenanigans. What I love about Brian Dettmer’s book crafts is that his pieces pay homage to what was originally inside the book.

Related: 10 Crafty Ideas for Old Books, Used Book Vending Machines

Dettmer describes his work as “sort of a remix, in a way.” He doesn’t make collages or move pages around. Instead, he uses paper cut techniques to showcase images and text within a book’s pages, then varnishes the edges of the book to complete each piece.

Brian Dettmer Uses Old Books in Stunning New Ways

In the talk, he also dives into the crafting with old books debate. He says that he thinks the reason that folks can be so averse to crafting with books is because we “think of books as living things.” He argues that what he does is a natural extension of that mindset, because he helps those books grow and become something new and different. “They really are alive.”

Brian Dettmer Uses Old Books in Stunning New Ways

He says, “I think of the book as a technology. I think of the book as a tool. And I also think of the book as a machine.” Above, you can see how he’s reimagined a set of encyclopedias as a landscape.

What do you think about Brian Dettmer’s book art? Does his philosophy resonate with you? Does his work change how you see crafting with old books?

Written by Becky Striepe

My name is Becky Striepe (rhymes with “sleepy”), and I am a crafts and food writer from Atlanta, Georgia with a passion for making our planet a healthier, happier, and more compassionate place to live. My mission is to make vegan food and crafts accessible to everyone!. If you like my work, you can also find me on Twitter, Facebook, and .

Comments (Keep It Civil...)

DIY Camera Lens Cap Leash

Make a DIY Camera Lens Cap Leash

Sewing Machine Maintenance: Keep your machine running smoothly.

Sewing Machine Maintenance: Keep your machine running smoothly.