I compulsively hoard used children's books that are "unreadable" and can be salvaged for craft projects. I think it comes, in part, from being a bookseller for years and not being able to part with the beat-up, unsaleable books I'd come across. If it has just one nice illustration, I will keep it. (hint: It's not just children's books, either! Other beat-up used books that are great to salvage for crafts are: hymnals and music books, antique technical manuals or garden/home books, old medical textbooks, books with maps, and the list goes on and on....)
SO many great ideas in this thread! I can't wait to try some new ideas you've all shared! I've always wanted to tackle the book to purse transformation...
My favorite projects (ie, the ones I've done or do routinely) include:
* gift tags
- LOVE making these!...even if no one seems to use/like them anymore... I find that adding a small simple customized bookplate to the inside of a book I'm giving as a gift adds just the personal/crafty touch. I make them for my own books too. I'd like to get a whole children's book of useful material/illustrations and make a set of "matching" bookplates and package them up as a gift to a bookish friend. (I usually end up selfishly keeping and using my best ones!)
* simply framing
the nice illustrations--cheap home interior design!
* customized stationary
/envelopes/postcards (as others have mentioned)
* Mix Music CDs' cover/case art
(or for photos on CD I'm giving my mom/sister/etc)
* custom luggage tags
* scrapbook fodder
- illustrations from old books can take the place of the $pricey borders, stickers, and background pages you buy at the craft shop
Lastly, I forgot to mention: Christmas tree ornaments
! I especially love it when I come across a beat-up Christmas kids' book at a thrift shop, in a dumpster, or at a yard sale. The illustrations are great for making endless kinds of ornaments. Last Christmas, I made ornaments for my family that featured Peanuts comic strips (some reproductions of early strips, some newer)... I cut out an individual pane (or 2 or a few) from a strip for one side of the ornament, and used scrapbook paper, paint, glitter glue, Mod Podge, and other small embellishments to make a personalized ornament for everyone in my immediate family. For more info and PHOTOS of the process and end result(s), click over to my Flickr set: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cshym74/sets/72157622953296091/