Sunday, October 28, 2012

Paperback Pumpkins, Apples, and Pears

I learned how to make paperback pumpkins at our local library recently, and I was so excited by the first one that I quickly returned to buy a stack of books to make more pumpkins. Once I knew the basic steps, I was also able to make apples and pears so now I have a total of 7 fruit shapes on top of my kitchen cabinets. They are very festive for fall.

{The paperback pumpkin that started it all...}
{Paperback Apple}
  • paperback books
  • scratch paper
  • pencil
  • scissors
  • sponge (I used an old kitchen sponge cut in half.)
  • acrylic paint (I used orange, yellow, red, and green.)
  • tray/plate to hold paint
  • cup of water
  • sticks/twigs
  • curling ribbon, twine, or other ribbon
  • hot glue gun
  • newspaper to protect work surface

1.) Gather some old paperback books, the more beat up the better.

{These teen books were just ten cents each at our library.}

2.) Decide which shape you want to make (apple, pear, pumpkin). Fold a piece of paper in half like a hamburger. (I re-used some printer paper for this.) Draw your shape on one half, cut it out, and unfold it. Make sure it looks the way you want, or make changes if desired. (Note: Definitely be sure that your template will fit the pages of your book.) Now is also a good time to warm up your glue gun.

{Some of the titles are pretty funny: Help! I'm Trapped in My Gym Teacher's Body.}

3.) Tear off the front cover and then begin tracing the template onto the first page using a pencil. Cut out a small section (say 20 pages or so, depending on the sharpness of your scissors and how many pages you can comfortably cut). Continue tracing and cutting small sections until the entire book has been done. Tear off the back cover and any remaining parts of the cover on the spine. (Note: I would start cutting at the bottom, work my way up to the top, and once I got close enough, just tear off the remaining section to the point where it meets the spine, which saves some cutting.)

{Tracing my first pear...}

{Cutting out a pumpkin}

4.) Now for painting. This step takes the longest. First, protect your work surface with newspaper. You may also want to wear old clothes since acrylic paint will stain. Pour some paint onto a tray or plate (I used old Styrofoam meat packaging at home and a paper plate when I made my first one at the library.) Dip you sponge into the cup of water, then dip it into the paint, and dab it onto your tray/plate so that you are applying thin coats only. Sponge paint both sides of each page. I did just outside edges, leaving white space in the centers of each pear, apple, or pumpkin shape. (Note: Thin coats of paint work best because it dries faster and the pages are less likely to stick together. On my first apple, I experimented with a sponge brush in place of a sponge. It worked, but the paint went on much, much wetter and took forever to dry -- over 24 hours and that was with the help of a hair dryer -- so I don't recommend this method because once you start, you want to finish.)

{Sponge painting the pear}

{This apple I painted with a sponge brush, but it was not my preferred method.}

5.) Use a generous amount of hot glue along the spine of the book and then fold the book backward pressing the spine together. The pages should now fan out. Fold parts or individual pages back and forth as needed to get the look you want. (Note: As I made more of these, I just started folding the book back and forth along the binding before even starting the paint process because looser bindings seem to be easier to work with. Sometimes you just have to keep playing with it until it looks the way you want. If it isn't perfect, that's okay, the final step really makes it look finished. Plus, if there are sections pages that lay open and don't look the way you want them to, you can just point this toward the back of your display, unless it is your table centerpiece.) 
{A Finished Pear}
6.) Put the finishing touches on your pumpkin, apple, or pear. Add a stick to the center (or wherever you can get it to fit) using hot glue. If needed, glue a page or two around it. Green curling ribbon looks nice for a pumpkin and really makes it look special and finished. I had some wide sparkly green ribbon that I thought would make nice "leaves" for my apples so I just tied that around the stem and cut each end on an angle to resemble stylized leaves (without trying to make them really look like leaves). For my pears, I tied bows with cute green and brown pear ribbon that I happened to have. I thought they turned out cute. For one pumpkin, I used twine instead of curling ribbon to give it a more authentic look. I am not sure if I love it, but it is one option and something different. (Note: My first pumpkin would not stand up straight so I tried trimming the bottom of the pages to make them flatter. When that did not do the trick, I added some cardboard to the bottom, which stabilized it.)

{My First Finished Apple}

{Finished Pumpkin with Wider Curling Ribbon}

{Finished Pumpkin with Twine}

{My Finished Fall Display!}

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