Category Archives: crafts

The Book Safe Guitar Amp

While I have been practice crafting a few things for my wedding, I have not been posting them for the simple reason of not wanting to glut the blogosphere with pictures of my own slightly shabby version of the tissue paper pom (there are so many good ones by Wedzu seller Pomtree!) However, I do want to post some pictures and how-tos for my newest project: the book-safe-turned-guitar-amp.

My man and I had seen cigar box amps at Radish Underground a while back and he mentioned how cool he thought they were. After failing to convince him of how cool it would be if he made one himself, I warmed up to the idea and set about researching the process. All the sites–Make Magazine, Instructables, etc–claimed that the cigar box amp rates low on the difficulty scale, so I have decided to go for it!

First stop: Thrift store, to find some kind of box to put this thing in. I didn’t have any luck finding a cigar box (and wasn’t sure where to find one at a decent price), but I did find this pretty sweet book—>

I’ve never made a book safe before, but I’ve seen the how-tos and it has been on my list of crafts to try. The best directions I was able to find are here, but seeing as how I don’t own a jigsaw I could only hope to accomplish the same results with an Exacto knife.

I first applied Mod Podge to the edges of the pages, and shook the pages apart in order to get as much glue between the pages as I could. Decoupage glue makes paper warp so I quickly put a piece of wax paper between the pages and the front cover and placed the gluey book at the bottom of a stack of heavy books, to keep it from warping as it dried.

The next day, I was pleased to find that the glue actually created a nice coat over the edge of the book, without looking like I’d dropped it in the bath. The process of cutting the square out of the middle took longer than I thought it would. My incisions into the book took an inward angle so that each time I sliced a chunk out I created an uneven edge. This was basically impossible to correct without a power tool (I would have liked to use a Dremel to smooth out the inside edges), but imperfection is the nature of craft (or else it would be called art. . .?).  I wanted to secure the pages yet again, so I applied another layer of glue to the sides of the cavity now inside the book and weighed it down to dry overnight. The finished product:

Note that I glued a few of the front pages to the front cover so that the copyright information would show when the book safe is opened. In case I ever need to cite this book in MLA format.

I printed off a copy of Make Magazine’s instructions for the Cracker Box Amp and went to RadioShack (actually, three) in search of the parts I needed. Thanks to my father and the childhood gift of an Electronic Lab board I’m somewhat familiar with circuit boards, so I feel good about this project. I’m still missing the speaker component, but I’m confident that it will find me. I hope to post pictures of the process and product next week!


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I love heirlooms. A cherished thing, no matter how small, must carry with it the weight of generations of love and family. there is irradiating mystery in an heirloom. No one in the present knows the reason the first person fell in love with the cufflinks or the brooch, but that heirloom has been imbued with that first infatuation, which it then passes it on to the holder.

I love heirlooms because I love history. Family history is so closely related to personal history; like an inherited predisposition or phenotype, an heirloom tells a person about the people from whom he or she came. It is more than tradition, for tradition is too often used as a comfort and a mechanism of exclusivity. Passing on beloved gifts from one generation to another is a symbolic and reflexive practice meant to remind the giver and the getter that they are more than an individual, that they are members of a broader sphere of association which neither through exile nor self-impelled wandering can they be extricated.

On Mother’s Day these thoughts are interestingly significant. My grandmother died eight months ago, leaving her five children and twelve grandchildren a legacy of motherhood uncommon in most families. From leaving her entire life and family behind in Illinois and moving to the Philippine jungle, to giving birth twice in her home there, my grandmother personified sacrifice. I would have loved to see her with her young children all around her, joy glinting in her eye as she formulated, in her mind, the way she would sew a dress for her baby girl. Along with her arms and a pair of cufflinks, I inherited her passion for creating. When I sew I remember that I am not a lone seamstress, but come from a long line of women who sewed for fun and necessity. Not that she couldn’t afford to buy clothes. Necessity came from a biological, psychological need to produce, from her own imagination, an ontic piece of creativity. I know this is true because she passed this gene on to me.

Earrings made for my mother from my grandmother's cufflinks

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