Friday, February 20, 2015

Discovery regarding book stacks

©2015 Barry Smith - Detail of timber from large book stack bench seat
My word for today was discovery; and discover I did.

I had two commissions for book stacks - one a set of three; and another a triple stack bench seat. As you know my book stack in the main are made from hard covered books, such as encyclopaedias and year books that are on their way to the rubbish tip. The woman who wanted the set of three stacks has provided her own encyclopaedias that had been in the family for a long time; and she wanted to repurpose them for sentimental reasons.

I tend to just let the stacks quietly degrade over about 5+ years. But both people who commissioned the stacks were not keen on the natural degrading process. They wanted to keep the books looking more in their original state for longer. I suggested we could spray them with a sealant (yuk); or we could coat them with pure beeswax. They went for the latter. The trick was I had not done that before. So after making the stacks I decided to paint them with molten wax. Fiona lent me her wax wok; and some of the wax we bought recently from a garage sale.

©2015 Barry Smith - Wax melting in the wok
©2015 Barry Smith - Large (900mm long, 500mm high) book stack bench about to get a coat of wax
The painting process left a rough wax texture - I wasn't keen on that. I asked Fiona if I could borrow her heat gun so I could melt the wax onto the books like one does with some encaustic work. As you can see from the photo below the heat gun worked a treat.

©2015 Barry Smith - Painted wax on books
©2015 Barry Smith - Nice smooth melted wax on books
So after a few hours I had painted and melted and ended up with all the stacks coated in wax - hopefully preserved for a while.

©2015 Barry Smith - Large bench seat, rose gum timber - waxed and ready
©2015 Barry Smith - Large bench seat, rose gum timber - waxed and ready
©2015 Barry Smith - Rose gum timber top 
©2015 Barry Smith - Side view of the stacks and rods
©2015 Barry Smith - Three smaller stacks 
©2015 Barry Smith - Three smaller stacks
I must say it was a good learning for me; and I will use the technique again - when folk want stacks that don't degrade so quickly. And you can see the wax brings out the colour and detail of the encyclopaedias. I also went for a modified design with these stacks. Instead of drilling holes through the books I put the rods external to the books - hoping to maintain the integrity of the books; and I think it looks a bit finer. These smaller stacks can be used inside the house or in the garden

Enough of that - it is time for a red wine.


  1. I like these. Especially the way you staggered the books on the set of 3 small ones.
    Good problem solving.
    Sandy in the UK

  2. That's really interesting, Barry. I like the look. It will be good to follow their progress.

  3. I like the waxed book seat Barry. I can imagine it looking quite stunning in the garden somewhere.


Comments are welcomed - it is good to connect with fellow travellers.