I’m always thinking of creative things to do with books – whether it’s building book collections on specific themes, printing cool graphics on book jackets, or re-purposing old books into something new. The Book Menorah concept is something that just hit me one day – the basic structure of a menorah (8 candle holders at one level with 1 candle at a slightly higher level) lends itself perfectly to being re-built with books that can be assembled in similar sizes.
Menorahs are for celebrating Hanukah, the festival of lights that commemorates the ancient miracle wherein the Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed and they only found enough oil to burn for one day, but it lasted for 8 days!
I grew up in New York City and we had this beautiful family menorah that we lit every night for eight nights during the festival of Hanukah each year. So, this is what I have always assumed a menorah should look like.
But the family menorah can only be in one place at one time and so right it lives at my mother’s house in upstate New York, a few thousand miles away from me in Boulder, Colorado. So my idea was to combine an image of my family menorah with the custom printed book jackets that I have been making and create the first ever Book Menorah!
I built a few prototypes first just to play with the concept of using books for the structure and candle holders and these turned out to be quite interesting and creative in their own right. The first one I made built on the concept of vintage book bundles – these are old books with their covers removed, giving a nice neutral vintage paper look.
From there I went on to play with the concept of re-purposing an antique leather book into a menorah. I used a damaged book and drilled the candle holes into the book through the cover this time instead of top down into the text block.
I thought these two menorahs were great – a cool creative re-purposing of old books and a neat menorahs for a bookseller to have! They are as you can imagine, highly flammable though, so I had the fire extinguisher nearby when I shot these photos.
My next step before making the final version using the custom printed book jackets and the family menorah was to call one of my clients – the prop master for a Broadway theatre company – and ask him about applying fire retardant to books. He recommended a product and I purchased it – it’s the same stuff that is required by some states to be applied to all props in public theaters, so it’s good stuff. That being said, I am a professional and do not try this at home!
This is the finished product. My sister Winifred Abramson took the photo of the menorah in New York and e-mailed it to me. I picked out some random books from our inventory – the titles will never be seen and I didn’t want to use any good books as they now have big holes in them. The photo required some manipulation in photoshop to get the image to fit the books exactly – sometimes I start with the books and sometimes I start with the jackets when custom printing book jackets for clients.
Personally I think I ended up with an incredibly beautiful menorah that has a lot of family history with my own added artistic interpretation! The Hanukah menorah has always been an object that has inspired a lot of creativity from artists, sculptors and others. If you look for menorahs you will see a lot of fun ideas and designs. I’m happy to be able to add my own contribution to the mix.
The Book Menorah is not presently for sale, but if you are interested in more information or buying one either as an art piece or a product in the future, please feel free to contact me. Of course you can feel free to contact me with just about any request for books – in their traditional format, or more creative concepts.
Happy Hanukah everyone!