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Tustin encourages re-use through creation of household decorations from old books
Tustin art
With some of her previous projects displayed behind her, Christy Tustin works on a new book art project at Heart of Kansas Mercantile Saturday morning. In her spare time, Tustin creates art from old re-purposed books. - photo by Daniel Kiewel

Christy Tustin is turning the page on old stories and songs, bringing new life to them as artistic household decorations.

Tustin said she loves doing crafts and is always searching for fun new ideas. About a year ago, she stumbled across the idea online while searching for projects that appealed to her passion for re-purposing objects.

Now, in her spare time, Tustin’s latest projects take old books turns them into detailed decorations.

The craft calls for curling, bending, folding and shaping each page into different shapes, and combining those different elements to create more intricate decorations, such as the ornate crosses and wreaths that adorned the shelf behind her Saturday as she sat at a table at Heart of Kansas Mercantile, engaged in her latest project.

One reason these projects appealed to her is that it does not require a lot of materials, and the main materials are inexpensive and accessible almost anywhere.

“There’s lots of old books,” she said. “(You can get them at) book sales, thrift stores, garage sales, and it can be any kind of book.”

Pointing out the old gardening book serving as material for her latest project, she said different types of books can provide inspiration for different types of projects. As she worked, she noted a couple of her personal favorites.

“Cookbooks are really cute, and then anything with music is pretty cool,” she said. The variety of subjects and materials found in old books, she said, allows for the freedom to go many different directions with her projects.

Also, with beads and ribbons, she said, it’s easy to add fun, colorful touches to her projects.

It’s more than just the ease and flexibility of materials that appeals to her with these paper projects, though.

“This is what I do for fun. It’s something you can do while you’re just watching TV or just relaxing,” she said.

Tustin’s work as executive director of the Golden Belt Community Foundation often keeps her busy, so she turns to crafts at home to relieve some of that stress in her downtime. So when searching for ideas, she looks for projects that do not take very long to complete. And these projects, she said, on average only take her between two and four hours, instead of a matter of days like some more intricate craft projects.

“I like to complete things, I have to start and finish it,” she said. “This was a better fit.”

Most of these projects don’t line the walls of her own home, though. Tustin said she prefers to sell the pieces or give them away.

Through the projects, she also hopes to encourage others to find ways to re-purpose old items rather than just discarding them. With many different ideas, people are limited only by their own imagination.

“There’s a lot of ways to re-purpose items. If you don’t have ideas, there’s a lot of information online,” she said.

With modern resources, she said, even if you do not know how to do something, there is a wealth of tutorial videos to walk people through the projects.

“You can start there, and you can make it your own,” she said.