Alexis Arnold's Crystallized Old Books Make A Bold Statement About Our Departure From Written Print — PHOTOS
As an avid reader and an unabashed hoarder of books, usually when I see someone tamper with books in any way, shape or form I feel inexplicably uncomfortable. Those cute little fan decorations people like to make out of old book pages, for instance, are a source of the kind of anxiety I usually save for the last five minutes of Scandal. That being said, I could not be a bigger proponent of this artist who makes stunning crystallized books. They look like something out of a winter fairy tale land. In the wise words of Our Lady Liz Lemon, "I want to go to there."
According to Alexis Arnold, the artist behind the series, she felt the urge to immortalize these books after "repeatedly finding boxes of discarded books, by the onset of e-books, and by the shuttering of bookstores." The prints of the crystallized, forever frozen books "addresses the materiality of the book versus the text or content of the book, in addition to commenting on the vulnerability of the printed book." Wait, wait—is this lady implying that some people regard books more as material possessions than vessels of content, or that some people place more value on the physical ownership of books than on the acquisition of the words therein? The nerve! How offensive! How dare she imply that some people in the world just want to own books because they are an accessory to display to that people think you learned and interesting! And furthermore, that we all love talking about how much we love bookstores but clearly we aren't patronizing them enough to keep them alive? No one does any of that ever! (I learned sarcasm from books.)
So how exactly does she perfect that perfect frosted look? It's all in the chemistry: After bending the books into position, she rolls them in a Borax solution, which then results in the tiny encrusted crystals. (Bet you wish you paid attention in chem lab now, huh?) Not only did the project yield stunning results, it's also totally feasible to do this kind of thing in the safety of your own home. If you're interested in nerding out and upgrading antiques nobody uses anymore, there is a nifty video tutorial on using Borax to make crystal snowflakes. Maybe you can try your hand at creating something as visually stunning as these books: