My Books

As much as I really like electronic media, I also love books.  The books on my library shelves are just props.  You can certainly find amazing tiny books on the internet to use with your dolls, but since I frequently have scraps of leather, fabric and wood from my upholstery business, the best way I’ve found to recycle or upcycle is to turn them into stuff to fill my bookcases.  My intention was to create the illusion of books.  Plywood is my favorite, since it has layers that looks more like pages than regular wood, but I use both.  Here’s a edge view of one.  All photos can be clicked to enlarge

Sometimes I paint the edges white or gold, which is common in the book binding industry.  Also adding images, lettering or decoration to the spines is a lot of fun.  You can see my collection of BJD Encyclopedias made out of teal leather in many, if not most, of my photos.   Linen-like fabric makes nice books and you can write on the spine with permanent markers.

Working with wood is easy for me, but because most doll owners don’t have the tools I have, I thought I’d show another option.  Using foam board scraps from my black and white floor, doll sized books are very easy.  Scale your books to fit your dolls.  I have two sizes, depending on the size of the furniture I’m photographing.

For the purposes of this post, I cut out four 1/8th inch pieces of foam board and glued them into two pairs.  Cutting the foam board is done with an exacto knife and a metal straight edge ruler.

Next, a piece of leather, cut to fit, is glued with hot glue to one side. I let the cover be ever so slightly larger than the “pages”, just like real books.

Here you see me holding the leather on the spine while the glue cools. You want the glue to bond well to the entire length of the spine.

Now I finish the other side and then trim it.  It’s easy to trim after glueing, but I frequently cut everything out before starting a batch of books.

You could also leave all four sections loose and have a book that opens in three places, but the glue does tend to separate at the spine as you open the book.  A fun way to cover the unattractive separation at the spine (if that’s important to you) is to add paper pages…..or you could make a whole book of paper pages….but that’s a lot of work for a prop.

I told Tracie I’d written her biography, which she just loved…..she’s had a most interesting life…and you can see how pleased she is with it.  She keeps it with her when she’s not modeling.

If you look closely you can see personal items on my bookshelf.  Here’s a couple of close ups which include a little distressed frame with a butterfly print and a photo of myself as an infant in my great Aunts arms, with my brother on the left.  To the right of that photo (second one below) you’ll see books covered in rattan I took from a small rattan sample book one of my designers gave me.

The books with printed titles are the name of that particular color of leather which was stamped on these particular samples.   The names can be pretty funny so I cut them out and glued them to the spine.  From a distance they just look like titles. Enlarge either photo above, especially the top one, and you’ll see what I mean.

Since most people don’t have access to sample books, try Tandy Leather if there’s one in your area.  They frequently have small bits of leftovers for sale, or instead of getting rid of that old leather purse that’s so worn out you’re embarrassed to use it, upcycle it into vintage doll books.  Making some books to stack around as props in your photos can be a lot of fun, and who knows, perhaps your dolls will take up reading like mine.  Oh no!  Then you’d have to make them a lamp so they don’t strain their beautiful eyes.  ;o)

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My Doll Size Bookcase

My doll furniture photography has been slow to develop.  Well….it’s true.   I have so many work projects, play projects, house projects, and then there’s always food projects.  Things started to take off when I saw an ad, I think it was at the NY Times on-line, for a couch with lots of books surrounding it in the room.  About the same time I finally made it to Restoration Hardware and loved their bookcases filled with neutral colored books.  So I figure, I met my spouse when I worked at the library…..he still works at the library……and as much as we love electronic data, we still love books……hummmmm?  The seed was planted, or more accurately, the design and construction began.

I design and build furniture for approximately 14 inch to 28 inch dolls.  I can certainly go larger, but smaller is difficult.  My appreciation and amazment for those who design and build in miniature is large, but have trouble getting my stuff to work on a smaller scale.  Naturally SD is my favorite, but in deference to the smaller sizes, I designed this case to work for 21 inch dolls (whatever scale that is), which gives me more versatility.   The design was for two cases, one with a “finished” end on the left and one with a finished end on the right.  In doing so, they could be combined with their unfinished edges together, making a long single case, or, switch them so the finished edges are next to each other, but leaving space for a wall section between them. You can see my drawing of the design in the first photo.  Click on the image to enlarge it.  The second photo is my damask club chair sitting in the library with both sections joined.

Surprisingly, the bookcases turned out to be a managable weight.  Even filled with books, I can carefully pick up each one and set them on my cutting table in preparation for the big photo shoot.  Of course, there’s more involved than just the bookcase, but it does it’s job very well by providing me with an interesting backdrop.  Since they’re only about four inches thick, storing them against the wall of my shop is easy and painless.

Here’s a shot of my dolls, Angie and Tracie, relaxing in the library.  The shelves have been switched so the finished ends are facing towards the center of the photograph, and a wall section has been inserted.  As you can see I’ve decked out the room with other props, like my black and white “marble” floor and three pieces of my furniture, a lamp and end table, all of which I’ll be writing about in future blogs.  The painting is by one of the few famous female Impressionist painters, and an American, Mary Cassatt.  It’s called Lydia Leaning on Her Arms in a theatre box (1879) and I think it’s amazing.  This was a really fun project that will be the mainstay of My Little Big Chairs brand.  I hope you like it and will return to read about more of my stuff.  Last but not least, a photo (spoiler alert!!!;o) of the bookcase as it really is.  Click Here