Brian Dettmer's Book Dissections

Let's play word association! If I say dissection what words come to your mind?

If you're anything like me it will be something like "biology lesson" and "yuk". Or, at least that would have been the case until a few months ago when I first encountered Brian Dettmer's three-dimensional book sculptures which he creates by dissecting his way through books to display their inner beauty. Working only with books that are no longer wanted such as old encyclopedias that are headed for the junk heap, Brian, with the help of just a knife, tweezers and a bit of glue and varnish, carves away the layers to reveal the book's inner beauty.

Here are a couple of his works based on single books:

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Literary map - great gift idea for booklovers

If you're looking for a unique and relatively inexpensive gift idea for a literary friend, you might want to wend your way to the Literary Gift Company, based in England but online at theliterarygiftcompany.com, for a copy of their USA literary map. Available as an 84x59cm poster (that's 33x23 inches to those in the USA) it's a fun and intriguing gift.

At first glance, it looks a simple enough concept - author names laid out to form a map of the USA. But the fun starts when you start to try to work out the reason for each author's placement. Not yet in possession of the poster itself (which costs £9.95, about $16, plus shipping) I had to resort to peering at the online version with the aid of a magnifying glass - and some of the positionings sent me scurrying to read up on the author.

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Books as Art and Architecture

Weburbanist have collected some stunning examples of books used in art and architecture,


From the creative:

Sue Blackwell books
Su Blackwell coaxes life from the pages of a book, not through vivid descriptions but through very precise cuts: "I often work within the realm of fairy-tales and folk-lore. I began making a series of book-sculpture, cutting-out images from old books to create three-dimensional diorama's, and displaying them inside wooden boxes".

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The World's Most Beautiful & Unique Libraries

Books have been inspiring people from all walks of life for many centuries, not least the architects who build the libraries to house them!

From the Vatican library, established more than 500 years ago, to modern buildings that are pushing the boundaries of the avant-garde such as The Czech Republic's proposed new national library, these six websites will take you on a tour of some of the most beautiful, inspiring and, occasionally, downright weird library buildings to be found in our wide world....

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The Hidden World of Fore-Edge Painted Books

There was a time when the hunt for a rare book, or even just an out of print book, was a major undertaking - you could either travel the country scouring multiple used bookstores yourself or pay a commission to a book dealer who would put feelers out through his local network and, if necessary, to the wider world of book dealers through a classified ad in a trade magazine. However, with the advent of the internet and search engines such as AddAll, most of us have been able to cut out the middle-man and, with a few clicks of the mouse, track down that old childhood favorite without ever leaving the house.

But there is at least one area of book collecting that still benefits from the hands on touch - where the thrill of the chase is discovering the hidden secret of an apparently run of the mill book - and that is the search for fore-edge paintings.

To create a fore-edge painting, the pages of a book are fanned out and held in a vice. A painting is then applied usually with water color. When the paint is dry the book is released from the clamp so the book is flat again, and the edges of the book are then either gilted or marbled to completely hide any evidence of the painting from casual eyes. I was introduced to fore-edge painting while visiting a friend's father on New York's Upper East Side a few months back where, even though the book's secret was known to me, I still felt a sense of discovery in fanning the pages to find the hidden painting.

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Never Coming Back by Alison McGhee