Transforming literature into graphic art



In the hands of Brenda Davidson, the pages of an old book can offer up more than a good tale.

At her home near Mineola, Davidson applies a craft that she calls book art. Through careful cuts and folds along the edges of pages, she can turn a hardback into a pleasing piece of one-of-a-kind décor.

She’s used the pages of books to inscribe holiday scenes, aphorisms, and even the images of rock ‘n’ roll idols.

“What I’m doing is really reviving old and unused books,” says Davidson, a self-described book-lover. “So many books go to the landfill.”

Using patterns she obtains from England and from elsewhere in the United States, she can reproduce an endless variety of words and images on the edges of books opposite the spine. Book pages become a 3D medium for holiday scenes such as an old pickup with a Christmas tree in back. They’ve come to display time-worn adages and even an image of the late Elvis Presley.

A banker in Mineola – an Elvis fanatic – saw her handiwork during an Iron Horse Festival and asked her if she could find a pattern to replicate the man known as the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.

She hunted down a pattern and made a book for the banker. She presented it to him at the bank and he showed it about for all to see.

“He was so proud of that,” she said.

Davidson estimates that she can produce the average piece of book art in about two weeks. Already, she’s fashioned hundreds of them, she said.

“I do a lot of monograms and people’s names.”

She sells her books for $20 to $30, depending on the degree of complexity. They can be found at the Broad Street Chorale or Sweet Magnolia in downtown Mineola.

Although the work is painstaking, Davidson said she finds it highly satisfying.

“If there’s something you love to do, it really doesn’t matter how long it takes.”