Heather Mathers and Amy Crowder tag team to sell their crafts at shows like the Blue Plum Festival. (Sydney Franklin/Johnson City Press )
Self-proclaimed book nerds Amy Crowder and Heather Mather joined forces this weekend to sell literature-inspired art at the Blue Plum Festival. Their booth, located on South Roan Street beside the People’s Bank building, includes an array of crafts for the average bookworm or writer.
Shaprink is the handywork of Crowder, a theology professor at Covenant College and Seminary’s satellite campus in Johnson City. While she rebinds vintage books to create journals and sketchbooks, Mather, whose day job is at none other than Books-A-Million, uses pages from books, graphic novels and sheet music to make accessories.
“Our work complements each other,” said Mather. “It’s like two halves that both work together. We both reuse books to upcycle and create functional art. She uses the covers and pages to make new books like journals and sketchbooks and I use the pages to make wearable art like roses and also a mixed media art.”
Both women live in town, but regularly sell their products online at Etsy.com. This is their first appearance at the Blue Plum tag-teaming sales, considering one another as friends rather than competitors.
Mather’s interest in her craft began after her three sons tore apart one of her favorite books. Once her anger subdued, she realized she could sculpt roses from those torn pages. After six months of trial and error, Mather molded the perfect rose. She now fulfills her combined passions of art and literature through her company, Scripted Sundries.
Her custom headbands, clips, broaches and necklaces attract music lovers, soon-to-be brides and bookies alike. From “King Arthur” to “Harry Potter” she has created roses from hundreds of different books and uses her work to encourage reading.
Crowder, owner of five different degrees, has always loved to read and learn. Her custom-made journals are made from books dating back to the mid-1900s. One of her favorites on display this weekend is binded by the “Popular Mechanics Do-It-Yourself Encyclopedia,” published in 1968.
“It reminds me of my grandfather,” she said. “He was the ultimate do-it-yourselfer. He would make anything, fix things and hold onto things that most of us would throw out. This book has some gorgeous illustrations in here and I salvaged those and turned the rest into a blank journal so somebody else can have their own DIY projects and create some new things out of it.”
One of the larger journals on display in their booth is a remake of a book published by “Better Homes and Gardens” in 1959. It even contains actual blades of grass inside.
Crowder and Mathers gather books from used books stores, consignment shops and places like Goodwill and Frontier Industries Thrift Store.
“A lot of the books that I have were destined for the dumpster. People thought they were trash,” said Crowder. “I love taking something somebody else has deemed useless and imagining a new purpose for it. That’s where my ‘book arts love’ and ‘theology love’ come together. It’s a very spiritual thing for me as well because I think that’s what God does with us.”
Mathers and Crowder will also show their work at The Big Crafty in Asheville, N.C., next month, having been selected by a jury to participate.