I figured that I could bring these two worlds together with a DIY library project. NCCD will get some sweet custom bookends, and librarians all over the world will thrill at the opportunity to upcycle those ubiquitous metal bookends that never match. Win-win, folks.
The design challenge was this: the NCCD library is in a dim hallway. The organization does prison and child protective services research with the aim of reforming the criminal justice system (for the better, as you'd assume, but the name of the organization somewhat ambiguously selected "on" as the preposition for self-description.) I have been weeding their collection, so there is some empty space on their shelves just waiting for some pizzazz. Well, I'll bring some pizzazz. I'll bring pizzazz in a recycled plastic bag, possibly double-bagged if I am concerned that the pizzazz has sharp corners.
My first idea was to dress a Barbie or some other doll in stereotypical black and white striped prison outfits, perhaps with a ball and chain added for effect. Then glue the doll to a bent metal bookend so it looks as though the doll is being weighed down by the pressure of a shelf full of delinquency research. But that didn't really send the right message. I need something sober and serious and brightly colored without seeming gaudy. (Gaudy is hard to pull off when you're interviewing parolees about recidivism and drug abuse.)
Because the library is mostly used as a backdrop for photo ops*, I thought I could brighten it up with a set of white bookends spelling out NCCD. Spread over four shelves, these will stand out without being unduly showy. Subdued but apparent. Like a stifled sneeze that might take place whilst digging through typewritten grant proposals submitted during the Carter administration. The white should be bright enough to draw attention to the shelves, and, who knows, maybe someone will be sufficiently enticed to pick up a volume for a purpose other than raising their monitor to an ergonomically-appropriate level.
*Yeah. I know. We're working on it.
Step 1: Gather Materials
- craft store letters (2 per bookend, but the bookend will support as many as six if you want to stack 'em on there)
- metal bookends
- a place to spray paint
- Loctite Power Grab Heavy Duty
- Spray paint (I went with a gloss white, but this will work with any color.)
- caulking gun
- ruler/measuring tape
Step 2: The Letters
Lightly sand your letters so that the spray paint will stick better. Don't forget the inside edges and the divot between the letter itself and the wooden serif.
After your letters are sanded, brush them off with a towel to remove any dust. Then spray paint them. Follow the directions on the side of the can. Smooth sweeps, even coating, ventilated area, do not eat, etc. Because I live in a goofy tenth-floor apartment, I had to spray paint on a windy balcony. To protect the sliding glass door and my trouser cuffs, I used a cardboard box unwittingly donated by the lovely occupants of 825 to contain the spray.
Step 3: Stick Things Together
I found that there was only one good point of contact along the bookend for each letter. The C and D are too round for the two points of contact that the N had. I loaded up that area with a generous helping of Loctite to make sure that the letters stay attached. (Otherwise, we're back to the original bookends, which is no good.) If I were to give this another go, I would use some of the Loctite Epoxy for this particular task. The letters are pretty much permanently stuck together, but I am slightly concerned about the wood-metal bond especially since I painted before gluing.
Step 4: Finish Up
After the glue has had time to cure, go ahead and give each piece another coat of spray paint. Wait and repeat as necessary. I decided at the last second that my letters weren't glossy enough with just the spray paint, so I hit them with a coat of clear acrylic too. Now they are white and shiny.
That's pretty much the last step. But there's one more bonus step that you're not going to want to skip, although it is likely beyond the purview of this instructable: put the letters in your library. They look best in their natural literary habitat. (Unfortunately, my letters are still a little too wet to take into the research library until next week, so for now they are representing for the NCCD in the fiction section of my Ikea shelves.)