Tag Archives: books


I’ve already created one post about what to do with old books – here and here –  however this one is about what to do with old magazines.  We are very lucky to be where we live; we have an awesome junk market that operates three days a week where often you can find some wicked ephemera buys.

This weekend I happened upon 6 magazines from the 1920s for £3!

Atlantic Monthly - 1920s Atlantic Monthly - 1920s

As you can see they’re falling apart quite badly so I’m thinking that I’m going to have to remove some pages for different things.  I don’t like cutting up old magazines but as these are disintegrating anyway it might have to be done.

I’m really loving the adverts in them and I’m considering framing some of these for our kitchen:

Atlantic Monthly - 1920s Atlantic Monthly - 1920s Atlantic Monthly - 1920s

And I’m going to scan them in for Archive.org just to keep them complete for prosperity.

However I’m not sure what to do when I’ve finished all the hacking.  Any ideas?  Here are some that I’ve found in my stumblings:


National Geographic Shelf

Book/ Magazine Beads

Paper Flowers

Tutorial here


I could make a mini-album/ book like these [click on the photograph to take you to the original image]:

Mini Album from Upcycled Paper
upcycled fabric and paper sewn journal
Recycled paper journal detail
Scrap Journal recycled pages

I could make rossettes, bows etc.:
Christmas Origami Text Wreath
Bows & Buttons
upcycled book jacket flower bows

I think I’d really like to try to make a little journal – but I’m not sure.  I’m not very good with all these choices and just a few magazines to play with – including magazines I’m not really sure I want to cut up!



Filed under Deptford Junk Market Finds, Magazines, Upcycling

What to do with books #2

Back again – thought I’d continue the blog (curtailed this morning because I really felt awful – was awake at 3:30am with my cold playing up).

So far, we have bags and art.  Of COURSE there is way more that you can do with books.

Turn books into jewellery

I LOVE jewellery – as a girlie – I really don’t think one can have too many accessories.  Especially if they aren’t from Primarni (!) or Claire’s Accessories – but are made from sustainable sources – and if possible – using your own fair hands.  However, if you don’t feel that you have the ability to create your own beautiful jewellery – I’m sure that these wonderful women would be willing to sell you some of their work:

Effemeral Life

Effemeral Life

Liz Hamman is a mixed media artist from Manchester – and I am in total awe of her work. She doesn’t appear to have a store although you can contact her here

Her work is a mixture of origami and a vivid imagination.  Obviously with paper – it has ephemeral nature – is it really meant to last? It’s fragile and so delicate.

I find it hard to actually pick a piece of her work to choose as my favourite – so I’m going to link to her slideshow here. Goggle her innovation and let your imagination FLY!

Betty Pepper

Betty Pepper

Betty Pepper’s designs are stunning – I would love to be able to buy just one piece of this beautiful work.  I think what makes her jewellery even more special is the way that she presents it.  Showing the necklaces simply falling from the books they were made from.

“Betty calls the books orphans and she finds them in charity shops already carrying their own secret stories, looking for new homes. The jewellery finds solace in the books as it too has a story attached to it, who it belonged to, when it was given, why… Betty likes to use second hand textile in her work as she says it has a tactile, human quality and, like the books, it carries scents and stories, wears and fades like memories.”

Ann Martin is a quilling expert – and she creates some beautiful pieces.  She essentially uses quilling paper – however I wonder to myself whether it’s possible to use paper from books.  The results may not be as delicate or as uniform as hers but it could be worth trying. You can find the tutorial here.

And finally Frucci Designs.  I can’t post the images here but I urge you to visit her blog and LOVE her designs.  They are truly truly beautiful.

Hopefully this has been interesting.  There are more ideas coming up but I don’t want to overload you!


Filed under books, jewellery, Upcycling

What to do with books – #1

A home without books is a body without soul.” ~ Marcus Tullius Cicero



However – I sometimes wonder if the time comes when you have TOO many books.  There are days when I virtually salivate over the sight of peoples’ libraries, their shelves stocked floor to ceiling with books, and there are other days I want to take all my books and throw them out, because I don’t know when I’ll ever get round to reading every single book I’ve ever wanted to read and re-read every book I’ve loved reading.

Next to my bed right now

Next to my bed right now

Not that you can really see them – however for some reason the Stephanie Meyer ones are standing out!  Yes, I’ve read all of the Twilights – I bought The Host – however my better half says it’s rubbish.  So whether I get round to watching it is debatable. Suffice to say that’s a pile of books next to my bed.  We have 4 shelves in the bedroom full of books, 6 in the study and 9 in the living room.  That doesn’t include all of the books in the loft that still haven’t been unpacked in the 7 years we’ve been here.

Ok – so I decided to look around to see what to do with all of these books, apart from the obvious.  As I’ve blogged before – I’ve started Bookcrossing – I’m yet to see what happens there.  And of course I give books to charity shops etc.  However I do have a lot of books that are in a SHIT condition.  So decided to search around this wonderful thing we call the world wide web to see what other people do with books – upcycling wonderfulness abounds:

Turning books into purses/bags

Book Bag

Book Bag

If you click on the photo you will be taken to a video tutorial that looks pretty easy to follow – so I recommend trying this out.  I’m yet to find a book that I think will work well for this – but as soon as I do I will post it here so you can see my efforts.

SO cute

SO cute

Cute star bags

Cute star bags

These are some cute examples of books turned into purses.  There are SO many on the internet now – just search and see what you can find.

Turn books into art

Click on the photo to take you to a whole set by a school.

Click on the photo to take you to a whole set by a school.

Books of course, are art. However – to turn this form of art into more art looks so much fun.  I saw a wonderful exhibition at Fulham Palace last month entitled ‘Butterfly’ about the obsessiveness of a butterfly collector – using copies of The Collector by John Fowles (one of my favourite books).  The exhibition was very interesting and really made me want to try something similar in my purse designs.  I’ll post them when I’ve created my final design 😉

Here are some other links showcasing books into art:

Rag and Bone Blog – some collected examples of beautiful paper art – I LOVE the octopus

Books into vases

Reversing vandalism – San Francisco public library’s exhibition on old books turned into art

Fun Forever – another blog that collects some wonderful examples of books into art

{part #2 – coming up}

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Filed under Art, books, Uncategorized

Recession hits charity shops

Yesterday I went on my usual lunch time wander – and was shocked at how few clothes there are in the charity shops.  The stress of the recession on thrifting – there are so many of us now going to charity shops – many of whom didn’t go before – and less clothing donations – which means less clothes.  Also you have the swappers, the ‘vintage’ clothing stores and car boot sales (where people can earn money from their own discarded clothes) – this means that there are less and less clothes going into these shops.

Saturday I’m taking a bag of clothes to the two shops I regularly plunder – Cancer Research and British Red Cross.  I owe it to them!  I was saving clothes for a swap but I’ve realised what effect I’m having.  Arghhhhhhhh by trying to be ‘green’ I’m having and adverse effect on charity shops – can a woman never win???? ha ha

Here are a few more links about this ‘crisis’ in charity shops:

Third Sector Report

KnowHow, NonProfit

Also – there have been complaints (can you believe this?) about Oxfam’s book shops.  Oxfam have been accused of almost ‘Tesco’ and (for the States) ‘Walmart’ style targeting of areas.  They open up their stores near other second hand bookshops and the owners of these have seen their profits plummet. This is so sad – yes I support the independent booksellers – however I support a charity over personal profit.  There’s always a problem, someone is always going to suffer when someone else (in this case a charity) profits.  However it can be said that Oxfam are behaving like a large corporation – plunging their shops onto high streets and ‘taking business away’ from the smaller shops.

New York Times article – “Oxfam killed my bookshop”

Inprint – plans to open more stores

I think what is sad is that you’re not going to get ‘gems’ in Oxfam stores.  The send them off to sell on the internet – which means browsing the store isn’t going to turn up anything of wonder.  They’re generally clean and tidy stores – unlike the ‘typical’ British second-hand bookstores – which are generally a health and safety issue to enter (and more the interesting for it). I think Oxfam should be thinking about the overall effect they are having.  They are more than capable of going into areas where there is a lack of second hand book stores and they will be successful.

I personally don’t go into the stores – not out of any principle – just that they’re completely over-priced!  I don’t like Oxfam stores – there’s something too ‘clean and tidy’ about them.  When I go thrifting I want to smell the dust, I want to have to take a hit of my asthma inhaler, I want to HUNT for the bargain.  Too many charity shops are becoming sanitised and pretty – I know that this attracts NEW clients but I miss the ramshackle charity shops of my childhood.

So in my second hand life I’m going to support everyone I can.  The smaller shops, the independent traders and as many charities as I can!


Filed under books

Billy Bargains #2

Yesterday I went on my usual lunchtime wander.  I’m starting to tire of the shops we have in Lewisham – the only thing that seems to change are the books.  And there are only so many books one can own!

So I bought two more:

books books and more books

books books and more books

I’ve wanted to read Mr Toppit for a while and I’m sure that M will love it.  He’s always looking for new books to read.  He’s trying to get through The Host at the moment and hates it.

The other book, Blek Le Rat is a book about stencil art.  Literally it looks like it’s never been opened.  So it’s going to form part of M’s birthday present.  I’m taking him out for the rest of it so don’t think I’m being uber tight with my husband.  It’s just that although we always buy each other trips or holidays for our birthdays, it IS always nice to have a little something to open.

These books were bought from the Cancer Research shop in Lewisham – 75p a book 🙂  So I think these are bargains 😉

To be upcycled

To be upcycled

I found this t-shirt in the British Red Cross shop – I think I’m going to upcycle it into a halter shirt – it’s so cute – however I might dye it first.  Yellow really isn’t my colour.

Finally the records I bought on Monday:

To be upcycled

To be upcycled

Dontcha just LOVE Engelbert? I can’t believe he actually chose to be called that.  Anyway – these are to be some bags.  However my first attempt at making a vinyl record bag fell flat on its face:

First attempt at a vinyl record bag

First attempt at a vinyl record bag

I didn’t actually make the ‘bag’ big enough for the album – and too big for a single.  So I’ve had to kind of ‘shove’ the single into the middle of the bag – and sew around it.  It really doesn’t look very good does it?  I started sewing around it to try and make it look better but I really think it looks a bit poo.  Any ideas so that my couple of hours of work isn’t completely wasted?

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Filed under Bags, Billy Bargains, books, Upcycling

Billy Bargains week 1

Well my first week has gone well – no new purchases and some right old billy bargains.

The thing is, I’m NOT a fashionable person, I never have been.  I’ve never been obsessed with fashion apart from fashion photography (I pour over magazines like Vogue etc. – I never buy them – just in the doctors surgery! ha ha)  I find fashion to be an art that I cannot be part of – I have an awkward body (small boobs, bloaty belly, big hips and thighs) and I’m not pretty in the slightest – however – I love looking at well thought out fashion.  I’m fascinated by people who rock an individual look and can carry off crazy styles – and as I get older – and less bothered about what people think of me – I’m more confident in wearing what I want to wear.  So I’ve started taking risks with my clothes and hopefully as time goes on I’ll get more confident.

So … here are my finds from mooching around Lewisham Charity Shops this week on my lunch breaks … firstly my books:

billybargain1 (15 of 15) billybargain1 (14 of 15)

The first four were from the Red Cross shop – they sell 2 for 1 – and these books just jumped out at me.  I love horror – and I am fascinated about the history of horror – I even taught the history of horror at school to Post-16 – so the books on horror and vampires were perfect for me.  The other two were more political/ cultural books – I’m always up for reading books that critiscise the Right in the USA – and I really liked No Logo – so again – they jumped out at me.

The other two I’d looked at a couple of times in the Cancer Research shop – I’m interested in China – so that was an obvious one.  The Savage Garden just looked intriguing.

Enough of books – let’s look at clothes 🙂 ha ha:

Birdies from French Connection

Birdies from French Connection

I fell in love with the design on this.  Not only is it red and black (my favourite combination) but the pattern went all the way round 🙂  So I picked this up for £3.50.  Not bad I thought especially as it’s French Connection:



However I’m not going to keep it like this.  I really don’t like wearing the standard ‘t-shirt’ style.  Usually my band tees etc. get hacked up.  However I don’t want to ‘hack’ this one, so I’m going to try and turn it into a halter top somehow.  I’ll post photos when I’m done.

Frumpy Cardi from M&S

Frumpy Cardi from M&S

This cardi may look a tad frumpy, it IS afterall an M&S one 😉  I LOVE this and have been wearing it to death.  It’s so toasty, soft and gorgeous.  Looks lovely with a short dress and is so cute.  I think it cost me £4.50 from British Red Cross.

Greenwich Market bags

Greenwich Market bags

I’ve been after some red handbags for a while and I found these last week on Greenwich Market – they were 2 for £5 – and both were used.  The one of the right is ridiculously large, with so many pockets for me to fill.  So it’s definitely a day wear bag for holding all my daily crap.  The one on the left is just so lovely, but a pain to get into when it’s held over your shoulder 🙂

So that was my weeks shopping – can you see a theme? As you can possibly tell, I AM obsessed with black and red.  Both colours suit me because I have such pale skin, black hair and dark brown eyes.

Today, I went to Deptford, a vibrant part of South-East London just a short bus ride from my home.  I spend a lot of time there as I photograph at The Albany and love the vibe (man).  However, I do really love to go there to shop.  They have a market with too many uber bargains on it, however under my new rules I have to avoid that market (except for food and flowers).  So I go to the two charity shops (Sense and Salvation Army) as well as the second hand clothes shop – whose name has escaped me for now.  There’s also the infamous Deptford Junk Market.  It really is a ‘get in and dig’ market which puts a lot of people off.  There is only so much I can dig around there – but dig I did today:

Polstar the Pest top

Polstar the Pest top

I found this on the market.  There is a clothing stall there that is literally a jumble sale (but not Jumble Sale prices!) – and I’ve found a couple of really lovely skirts there before.  This I HAD to have (of course) – it’s made by George (a clothing line from Asda – the UK’s Walmart) which isn’t too great but it’s second hand so I’m allowed it 🙂

As I walked into Sense, the first charity shop I come across, look what I found on the book stand as soon as I walked in:



YES! If you read my last post you’ll know that this was the book I’ve been after and there it was.  £1.20 – thank you very much 🙂  I really hope that it’s as good as her other one.  Anyway – my search is over, so now I need to set myself a new challenge! ha ha.



I’m becoming obsessed with boots lately – mainly because I’ve never really been able to afford decent boots, and then I realised that I could get them second-hand!  These ones were … wait for it … £4!!!! FOUR POUNDS!  They’ve hardly been worn and they’re from Wallis, so they’re at least a decent make.

Side view

Side view

They’re pretty high for me – I don’t do stilettos really – however I thought I’d give these a go. The funny thing was that a girl was trying on another pair of boots in the shop and she kept looking over at me.  Later on, I saw her in the Salvation Army shop and she came up to me asking if I’d bought the boots and did they fit me!  I thought she was going to wrestle me to the ground for them – but she didn’t.  Thankfully.  I don’t like to get in fights – especially about boots 😉  She then consoled herself with buying jeans made of about 6 different versions of denim – I wasn’t going to take them off her!

So that was Sense – I went on to the Salvation Army shop after that.  I’d never been in there before (although I’m a regular at the one in Catford) and it was definitely worth it.  Everything is SO godamned cheap it’s really quite worrying:

Jaeger Loveliness

Jaeger Loveliness

So this was my ‘high risk’ item – a Jaeger jumper.  It’s not really the kind of style I wear however, I thought I’d give it a go this winter and see if I can pull it off.  If not, I’m sure I can give it back to a charity shop.  It cost me ALL of £2.49 – so really not an expensive risk!

Work clothes

I also bought myself a sweater for work – not very exciting but again – £2.49 -cheaper than Primark where I used to buy my work clothes! (although I do wonder if this is indeed a Primark top!)

And finally, my BEST bargain of the day, and it wasn’t for me, and I don’t have a photo of it because I forgot.  I managed to buy my (much thinner) friend what looked like an almost unworn Ted Baker skirt for £2.49.  Honestly, it was so gorgeous, with beautiful detail on the back and a lovely greeny/grey colour.  She loved it when I took it round – I must grab a photo of it when I next go round as it truly is a bargain and a half!


Filed under Billy Bargains

The Rules …

Well – this is an experiment at first – for the rest of the year.

1) I am not to buy anything NEW unless essential e.g. underwear, food, drinks etc.

2) If I DO buy something new (ie: if I lose my nose-stud for example) then I have to donate at least 2 items to a charity shop

3) I can buy a new item as a present IF it’s handmade

4) I must post photos and details about all my second hand goodness

5) I can buy second hand goods from charity shops, vintage shops, car boot sales, jumble sales, ebay and from friends

Simple enough? I think so.  I mostly buy second hand anyway – it’s just getting into the habit of doing it.

I’m not doing this as some sort of ‘this is my green life’ or anything like that.  It’s just a way for me to document my second hand buys – I absolutely love thrift shopping.  There is something intrinsically joyous about finding a bargain at a car boot sale, or in a charity shop and KNOWING that other people can’t just go out and buy the same thing straight away.

Or, I love knowing that I’m looking for something (generally a book) and searching everywhere for that elusive second hand bargain.  I remember when I was at the book market on the South Bank with a friend of mine, and I said to her ‘I could really do with finding a great book about cemeteries’ (I photograph cemeteries – http://www.londonnecropolis.com) and straight away I found one 🙂  Currently I’m looking for a used copy of “The Forgotten Garden” by Kate Morton.  I really enjoyed “The House at Riverton”, but I refuse to pay ridiculous prices for new books.  I know that the authors must be paid but I just can’t afford it at the moment and I’ve always bought second hand books.

So there you go … the start of my quest to live the second-hand life.


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