6 Books Made of Weird Materials

Ever wanted to read a book made of cheese or ice? Now you can

A woman reading Olafur Eliasson's "The view becomes the window," a book made of colored glass

You know what a book is: 200 or so sheets of paper inside a cover, right? But why not 200 or so sheets of… cheese? Or fabric? Or glass?

These artists have taken their book-loving to a new level, using non-paper materials to create their own interpretations of books. A book isn’t just paper and ink, which opens the conversation to the future of bookmaking. What are the opportunities that can come from using different materials? Is it a genius reawakening, or an expensive gimmick? And does this change how we understand books?

Here are a few of the interesting books that show the creativity, ingenuity, and humor of different artists to expand beyond the standard practice of paper bookmaking. Some of these books are important considerations, even if they would never fit on my own bookshelf. Though, if I had a book? It would definitely be made from chocolate.

Fabric

Various sewn books are made from textile materials and stitching. Maria Lai, an Italian fiber artist, embroidered books entirely from thread and cloth. Much of her art was interested in the lives and voices of Sardinian women and their domestic and social practices.

Invisible

Reddit user cuddlebadger created an “invisible” print of H.G. Wells’ The Invisible Man using 1/16” Lexan sheets and fishing line. This clear copy is the perfect example of form meeting content and reminiscent of Super Terrain’s heat-sensitive copy of Fahrenheit 451, which has to be burned to be read.Buy a Copy of Fahrenheit-451 That Can Only Be Read If It’s on Fire
For a mere $451, you can now own a limited-edition heat-sensitive copy of Ray Bradbury’s bookelectricliterature.com

Cheese

Ben Denzer’s 20 Slices consists of 20 plastic-wrapped Kraft singles. His other works include a book of 192 one dollar bills à la Andy Warhol that was sold by the Whitney Museum in 2018; 20 Sweeteners, made of 20 Splenda packets; and 5 Ketchups. Heinz, of course.

Waterproof

Mary Anne Mohanraj’s Aqua Erotica is a waterproof anthology of erotic short stories made from polypropylene, a thermoplastic polymer. This is the perfect book to bring to the beach or in the bath, though be careful. Aqua Erotica is not protected from all liquids. According to some readers, it doesn’t hold up against wine or beer, so drink beforehand. Cheers!

Ice

Artist Basia Irland’s “Ice Receding/Books Reseeding,” a series of book-shaped ice sculptures frozen with seeds and other plant materials. The books are left to melt along rivers to reseed the local ecosystem with new life and raise awareness of climate disruption and watershed restoration.

Glass

In 2013, Icelandic-Dutch artist Olafur Eliasson worked with Ivorypress to create “A view becomes a window,” an edition of nine leather-bound artist books made of glass and light. The pages, created from hand-blown glass of various colors and opacities, can be read when light reflects and refracts through the glass to create brilliant illuminations.

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