20 October 2008

End Table

Warning: several books were harmed during this project.

I decided to make an end table after a complaint from one of my sons. We were watching tv and he said he couldn't sit on the couch because of where the table was. Originally, we had bought a beautiful coffee table to go with our new couch but we had to cancel delivery on it. We measured and found out it wouldn't fit into the living room and it would have been too far away from the couch when the couch ends reclined. So we put a little circle table in front of the middle cushion to hold our water & remotes. I realized this arrangement also didn't work well on the rare occasions we have company. For my younger son's birthday we put the circle table on one end of the couch and left the other end table-less. This is when I thought it would be cool to have a table made of books.

My original plan was to find a pedestal and cover it in book pages, or to find something that had shelves that could hold my unending supply of unread books. While shopping in Winners I came across this outdoor candle holder to the left.

I walked around the store with it tucked into the crook of my arm while I tried to decide if it would work for me or not. There was only one of it (pretty typical of Winners) and it was cheap so I brought it home. Well, it was the perfect height for the couch and small enough to fit in my living room. Then I saw the little squares in it and thought it would be cool if those could be book pages. So off I went to my local Goodwill and Value Village. Actually, first I went to a specialty used book store and was alarmed at the cost of old books, especially since I was going to tear them apart, then I went to the second-hand stores. I bought several books only for the different typefaces, page colors and font sizes.

Next I tore random pages from the books and used Aleene's Mod Podge to decoupage them to heavyweight paper. This is the only time in my existence I have been even remotely thankful for the show Aleene's Creative Living. I used to have the tv on nonstop when my first son was born and it was one of the shows that was on daily. I hated her show with a passion but would keep it on for company in the house. It was the first show I turned off when I realized I hadn't spoken to my infant all day. I figured if I wasn't going to actively watch the show then the tv should be off. I still have that rule in my house and still don't like the tv on unnecessarily. Anyway, I knew what her Mod Podge was and how to use it so I put two coats on every page to make them good and sealed.

Then I cut the pages down in size and glued them back-to-back so I had several coated two-sided pages. This made them good and thick and hopefully long wearing.

the pages were drying, I had made templates of each square to use to cut the pages down to size. Something you need to know about me: no matter how many times I measure something, I still cut it wrong. Fabric, lumber, paper, whatever. Knowing this about myself, I made extra pages on purpose. I used a hot glue gun and scorched my fingertips....uh...glued the pages into each opening of the stand. Of course, being me, there are spaces on the edges of the pages where they don't fit exactly, but it just adds character.

The top of the table was next. I had wanted a beautiful anc
ient book to adorn the top, at the same time I knew I'd be putting sweaty glasses of water on it. I went in search of a good book to stick on top and noticed many (almost all, really) beautiful old books are Bibles. Keep in mind, I'm not religious and don't really want a Bible as an end table. I went to a different used book store that I'd never visited before, hoping it would have something suitable. It was in a basement of a building near home, and at the foot of the stairs there were floor to ceiling bookcases with sale books on it. I went through many of them, but found nothing interesting. I went inside the store and found more religious texts than I have ever seen in my life in one place. They were in many different languages and faiths. They were fascinating, but not what I was looking for. As I went up and down every aisle over and over and over, I kept telling myself that the book I wanted would find me. I know, sounds hokey, but I really didn't know what I was looking for and I figured it would jump out at me when it needed to. I did find a Danish family atlas from the 1920s with some beautiful maps. I didn't want it to be the top of my table, but I didn't want to let it go either, so I bought it and sent it to my sister and brother-in-law. They collect maps so I thought they would enjoy the atlas. I talked to the owner of the store briefly and complemented him on his incredible selection of books, then left realizing I'd been in the store for over an hour and a half.

On the way out I checked the sale shelves again, just in case. In the corner on a low s
helf was a faded book covered in blue cloth. When my sisters and I were little my mom gave us colors. That way there would be no fighting about 'mine'. My older sister was green, I was blue and my younger sister was red. I pulled the blue book out and read the title - Outline of Radio - and immediately thought of my dad. He was born in the time of radio, understood how it worked, made a life of radio and tv repair, and would build things from scratch using diagrams that I can't even begin to understand. This book is a manual from 1949 with illustrations I'd seen and associated with my dad all my life. Oh yeah, this book was my table top. I went back into the store and bought it, the owner saying he'd just put it out there. It was only 50 cents. I really was surprised. I thought a book so special would be priceless.

So now it's been
hot-glued to the top of my candlestick so the pages can still be opened and looked at. The book is a little smaller than I wanted, but very useful, just like my dad - short but handy :) I like my end table but I have to be careful, it can't hold a lot of weight.
I didn't want to ruin the cover of the book with my sweating, drippy water glasses, so I used the remaining pages as coasters. First I covered a bit of cork with the cloth found on the covers of the books I bought. Then I glued the pages on top. I don't expect them to last very long, but they will serve their purpose for now.

Several books gave their life for the completion of this project. Without their presence I couldn't have had the final product that I do, so time to say Thank You to:

George Elliot's Works (no date)
Tennyson - The Coming of Arthur and The Holy Grail (no date)

The Unguarded Hour by A.W. Marchmont 1918

The Flag of Distress by Capt. Mayne Reid 1889

The Birds' Christmas Carol by Kate Douglas Wiggin 1914

The Sky Hawk novelized by Guy Fowler 1929

Outline of Radio 1949

And a wee little Thank You to my brother-in-law who inadvertently taught me it was ok to rip apart old books, you know who you are, you just may not have known the impact you had, so thank you :)


The Hyperlexian Aspie said...

Very cool table - I love it! And the coasters are a great idea. If you would like a way to preserve the coasters, you can use pour-on epoxy resin, which gives things a smooth permanent finish:


Michelle said...

SUPER cool idea!!!! Love it!

Anonymous said...

Oh! I love it!!! You are sooooo creative :)
Love, Mom

Chantelle said...

Oh my god that table is beautiful!!!!!!! You are so talented and creative - you made something gorgeous out of bits and pieces. I'm jealous and proud of you because I never would have put it all together.

I love the idea of books as a table and I love the old books... and the book you chose for the top is perfect and much like our dad. It brought tears to my eyes, my sister.

Love and hugs,