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TPiB: Peel Away Book Quote Art (guest post by Erinn Batykefer from The Library as Incubator Project)

2005-03-10 03.01.18Whew! National Craft Month is drawing to a close, and I’m a little sad, frankly. As I said in my last post about Story Terrariums, I’ve really enjoyed test-driving craft ideas for this year’s Beneath the Surface theme for the Teen Summer Reading Program– there are just SO MANY good YA books that explore the idea of another world just barely contained within “reality.”

Last time, we focused on Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone; this week I’m re-visiting a HUGE favorite of mine with a movie tie-in coming up this summer: Cassandra Clare’s City of Bones. I have a pretty good feeling about the teen craze that’s going to surround this release (The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones is slated to open on August 23rd), so why not capitalize on that energy and promote the book at your library? This craft is just one way to let your teens engage with the story by making something, and the technique is great for all kinds of craftiness.

Here’s my picture tutorial for Peel Away Book Quote Art:


Once again, I started at my local thrift shop, where I found not one but TWO completely heinous canvases. I brought ’em home and covered them with gesso, because I was an art major and I still have a gallon pail of perfectly good gesso. But you can use whatever you’ve got (spray paint is cheap, works well, and has a certain badass appeal for teens…and also me. Just make sure you plan to do this outside, or in a REALLY well ventilated area). Or, just find a really cool canvas and skip this step entirely.



 I’ve thought about the imagery in City of Bones a lot since I first read it 4 years ago, when I was living in Lewisburg, PA (shout out to The Public Library of Union County, where I first found it on the shelf!). I always pictured the NYC setting as a kind of bleak, industrial facade that is crumbling away to reveal something far more alluring, elegant, and dangerous. A beautifully crafted weapon, for example.

A seam of golden imagery is shot through the entire story, especially in reference to Jace: he’s all blond hair, sleek skin, and gold eyes, and he and his world of magic, angels, and demons are deeply compelling to Clary, something she both wants and fears.

So obviously I wanted my “reveal” color to be gold. I mixed up some of my favorite shiny acrylics and covered the canvas with them, making the base a bit mottled and messy, like pounded metal.



Here’s the catch: If you’re doing the layered look, like I chose to, there’s some waiting time involved.
I had to let my gold layer dry before moving on. If that’s not in the cards for your craft time, consider skipping this part by starting with ready-to-cover base layers (like LP covers or posters). Otherwise, plan on this being a 2-day craft.

Once things were nice and dry, I chose a quote from the book that I liked: All the stories are true. I was considering something pithy from my all-time favorite supporting character, Magnus Bane, but “Not even for you, biscuit” is probably less recognizable, am I right? I had a ton of contact paper on hand, so I printed out my quote and cut the peel-away letters from that. Then, I placed them on the board.


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The last part was super-fun, and what I had been looking forward to from the beginning: SPRAY PAINT. I got plain white spray paint (now I’m thinking that graphite gray or black would have looked cooler with the Shadowhunter theme), and covered my canvas. Once things were all dry, I peeled away my letters to reveal the shimmering gold underneath!

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The technique definitely worked, but I have to say that contact paper would not be my first choice if I had to do this again. I’d go with something that creates sharper lines, like painter’s tape. But I am in LOVE with the way the quote itself catches the light and seems to shimmer in the midst of all that boring, flat white.

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Cool, huh?

Here are a few hacks you can use to customize this for your library and budget:

  • BYO canvas is a big money saver.
  • “Canvas” can also be interpreted loosely: old records, foam-core mounted posters, and other flat, sturdy surfaces will work, and you won’t have to paint over them! Check out this DIY tutorial for Song Lyric Wall Art, which inspired this project.
  • Consider different base layers. You can lay down a decoupage collage or make a spray paint painting that will be revealed once you apply your quote and topcoat and then peel the quote away. Like I said, spray paint lends a bit of rebellion to the whole project, but you have to plan ahead for a multi-day project, and do your spraying outside.
  • Consider using painter’s tape or masking tape instead of contact paper. I used what I had, but if I had to do it again, I’d go for painter’s tape; I think it would make cleaner lines.

Want More?

All March, we’ve been delighted to partner with our friend Karen Jensen of Teen Librarian’s Toolbox to share Teen Summer Reading Program craft ideas for National Craft Month. Here are all of our links to help you kick-start your “Beneath the Surface” plans:

Even More!

Are you planning any awesome “Beneath the Surface” crafts for your Teen Summer Reading Program? Share with us in the comments and on social media!


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