STOCKTON SPRINGS — Stockton Springs artist and entrepreneur Chelsea Porter has found a quirky way to breathe new life into old books poised to be thrown away, turning the books into distinctive pieces of art.
Four years ago, Porter learned how to fold words and designs into the pages of books from her mother and aunt, who were the first in the family to learn the skill.
Porter is able to create nearly any design imaginable — much of the inspiration for her designs stems from her love of animals — and is even able to personalize the gift by folding names or special dates.
“When I first started making folded books, I made a few for family and friends, and quickly realized how unique they are, and that they would make great gifts for many other people to enjoy too,” Porter said.
Despite the pandemic, Porter has seen her online sales increase, and since joining the platform in 2017 Porter has shipped her creations to customers in 43 states.
“The most rewarding aspect of being able to sell my work through my own online store is that I get to connect with customers from all over the United States,” Porter said. “I have been able to work with so many wonderful people who want a special piece made for occasions of all kinds, whether it be a folded book for a wedding, anniversary, new baby, memorial, or a just because gift.”
Porter is able to make the creations even more personal by using a particular book requested by a customer.
“I have a stockpile of books I usually use, but my customers are welcome to provide me with a book of their own, or I can always special order them a copy of a book they have in mind,” she said.
Unless the customer provides a book for Porter to use, all of the books she uses are books that were set to be thrown away, sourced locally to upcycle them and provide a breath of life into the book.
Crafting an image or word into the books can take between four and 20 hours to complete — a time consuming, yet therapeutic, process for Porter that yields, as she notes, a product worth the time.
The process begins when Porter uses a pattern to indicate how many pages and what the book’s height needs to be for each design.
Though each design varies, each needs a hardcover book and generally a minimum of 500 pages.
Porter measures and marks each page of the book individually from start to finish.
Once each page is marked, she returns to the beginning of the book and begins to cut and fold each marked measurement on the page.
The finished product showcases either a word (such as a name, phrase or quote) or an object (such as an animal, graduation cap or sports equipment) folded into the pages of the book.