Saturday, January 03, 2009

Recycled Friendly Plastic Book Covers

Encouraged by Liz Welch's recycling friendly plastic post on her blog I decided to finish up these two projects and post them. Thanks for the push Liz!
I have been working on books at school for a special project and thought I'd try using friendly plastic on some books to see what that would be like. Here are two prototypes for covers made with some leftover bits.
Write used some alphabet beads I had hanging around to embellish the cover.

Write approx 4" x 6" recycled FP cover with plastic alphabet beads, hemp binding

Bubble Up gave me some trouble. As you can see I got a bubble in the plastic when heating it. This is another characteristic of the snapper... so instead of trying to cover it up, I used it. I called the book Bubble Up, emphasizing the bubble, and alluding to the fact that ideas seem to bubble up from within us, bursting into consciousness... I cut the matteboard and pressed it into the warm plastic and let it set before writing on it.

Bubble Up approx 4" x 6" recycled FP cover with matte board and graphite insert, hemp binding

The pages of the books are just dollar store memo pads (4 for $1.00) and the binding is hemp cord, also found for a dollar. I made the covers separate to fit the memo pads then used a drill to make holes through the fp cover, the pad and the cardboard at the back. I held the book together while drilling with a big 3" clip.

My binding technique is quite poor, (if you're measuring it against bookbinding techniques),

but this is just a prototype, more to see if FP is a good material for this kind of project. And so we are back to the snapper again (old plastic that cracks). A lot of my cover is brittle. And while I like to see the underside of the plastic as the inside cover, it'd be way more durable to have glued, or fused some other material to it. Actually placing fabric face down, then putting pieces of friendly plastic on top of it and melting everything together would give me the flexibility and support I need. I think. Further testing will give me my answer.


Anonymous said...

Hi Katie,
The books are great. You are brave trying the traditional book binding methods. I have used fabric as a base which makes a flexible spine as well (beware some synthetics can melt!). It also helps to hold snappers, as does melting them on to something rigid. However, have you tried Jana Ewy's reconditioning method? She reheats the snappers on griddle for about 3 minutes or more and they revert to being flexible. I am experimenting to see how long they stay bendy for.

redcatdance said...

Hi Liz

I haven't tried the reconditioning yet; I don't own a griddle. Do you really think a griddle is essential? Why would it matter if the heat source is on the bottom and not the top, from, say a heat gun? What would be the difference and why if there is one? Don't you think it's just the act of heating the old plastic up, thereby re-activating the plastic molecules so they re-organize themselves that's causing them to behave better (not snap)? I'd like to get to the real scientific bottom of this! Amaco must have an answer or an explanation of just what FP is right? How do you understand it?

thanks for your comment :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Katie,
I couldn't agree more, it must just be the reheating process, but I have tried using the heat gun and the difficulty is keeping it hot enough for long enough without the plastic bubbling (easily done with a heat gun, even the Heat Buddy). My attempts with heat gun worked for a while (3 months) but I have noticed my test piece snapped again. The electric skillet that I use for water can be used dry, so I am trying that instead.
Have you tried getting the technical info from Amaco? If you can get to the scientific bottom of the case then you would be doing the FP world a favour. When I have spoken to them, the problem seems to lie with the raw plastic and the tolerance levels at which it is manufactured - if they stray from the fine tolerance that AMACO need to keep FP flexible then we get snappers that can appear immediately or at some later unspecified date.

redcatdance said...

I sometimes wonder if the compostion of the dye that is added to the plastic when made if that also is a factor in the mix. It must be, not all pigments are the same. I have a basic scientific understanding and if AMACO says it happens even before they get the stuff...sheesh..we are better off coming up with a workaround from our end for sure!

If it starts off as a snapper it must be molecularly (is that even a word?!) a snapper... although this doesn't explain the perfectly good plastic that eventually snaps too. I now have a bin of that too.

Plastic is like glass - it's always changing over time. It doesn't really bother me truth be told. It's annoying but I can deal with it. I have always liked the ephemeral nature of FP. I like that it may melt and go away. I like that you have to actually care for it if you love it. I see that as part of its charm and having it snap well, its time had come. LOL. Make something else! Change it, make it into a new thing somehow.

It is curious stuff.

Anonymous said...

I think you are bang on the button there. However, being able to at least use stuff you have bought without becoming terminally frustrated is a bonus! Hence my interest in Jana's reconditioning. Let me know how you get on and we can compare notes.
Bedtime here in the UK now. Bye.

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