Hearts and Crafts

Years ago, presciently predicting my taste in pop art, my parents bought me a set of four Keith Haring coffee table books. Small though they may be, they were packed with pages of his art, and festooned with words from his journals and poetry. I loved them. Once.

I’ve never really understood the appeal of coffee table books. You can look at them once, but then the jig is up. You know the interior. And how often are you sitting on your couch with nothing to do? If they’re for the benefit of your guests, I’ll capitulate a little, but as a gift to a young man, it was a confusing collection. I had no guests, nor significant coffee table to display the books when I received them. So they sat on the blue bookshelf of my boyhood bedroom, spines fading in the sun.

Until now. As I set up my apartment and *gasp* decorate the walls, I thought of those books. I asked my mother to send them, and when they arrived I made the difficult decision to destroy them. Taking a knife to the printed page of any book feels blasphemous, let alone to the art of an idol. But to create anew I had to destroy. The beloved pages were seen by no one kept intact. So I sliced out two of my favorite prints and set forth framing them.

To remove the sheen of the published book, I first varnished the pages with some matt medium, easy to find at any art supply store. The varnishing reduced the glare and added a nice bit of texture from the brush strokes. Once dry and slightly plasticized, I popped open two cheap frames from Ikea and set the art inside.

The two pieces now welcome me as I open my front door, a perfect use for old art. Have any books laying around that you’d rather see daily? Cut out a few pages, varnish them, and frame them. Though the first cut is painful, you’ll love the sight of that sentimental ink on your wall.