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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Upcycled Life: Book safe and storied treasures

You can decorate the bottom of your secret space with contrasting paper or fabric. (Photos by Katie Patterson Larson/For The Spokesman-Review)
You can decorate the bottom of your secret space with contrasting paper or fabric. (Photos by Katie Patterson Larson/For The Spokesman-Review)
By Katie Patterson Larson For The Spokesman-Review

Old and outdated books may have outlived their intended use but can still hold a place on the shelf. With some glue, a straight edge and a sharp blade, they can become a secret hiding place for your treasures.

To create a book safe, find a hardback book that is at least 1 inch thick. If you don’t have one already, pick up hardback classics or vintage textbooks at most thrift stores and sometimes for free outside used book stores or libraries.

Holding the pages firmly together, brush Mod Podge onto the outside edges of the pages and let dry with a weight on top.

I left a few loose pages at the beginning of the book unglued. Alternatively, you could glue two equal sections that open at the middle of the book or glue all of the pages together.

With a ruler and pencil, mark off the shape you will cut out of the glued section.

Use a sharp blade to cut on the lines. After the first few layers are cut with the aid of a straight edge, remove the cut sections and continue cutting down through the layers. Cut a few pages at a time, making sure to keep the blade at a 90-degree angle for a clean edge, until you have reached the desired depth.

Line the bottom of the secret space with contrasting paper or fabric.

To finish, apply another coat of Mod Podge to the cut edges, place a heavy weight on top and let sit to dry. When closed the book will look like any other book on the shelf concealing your treasure.

Katie Patterson Larson is the director and founder of Art Salvage, a creative reuse center in Spokane. Art Salvage keeps usable materials out of the waste stream and makes them accessible and affordable to everyone. Visit the Art Salvage store for more upcycled inspiration and to find gently used and new creative materials. For more information, visit Contact Patterson Larson at

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