While working as a nanny in 2009, Talia Halliday came up with the idea of making notebooks as an engaging activity for kids. It was from this simple beginning that she built her “book art” company, Conduit Press.

Using a “trade secret” tool, Halliday, 33, carves hearts and other shapes into book pages she’s glued together. She also fashions books into clutch purses, jewelry boxes, even lamps and clocks, nestling the mechanics into the hollowed pages. Giving a clever twist to the battle between print and digital, she makes books into cases for e-readers, iPads, and smartphones. She’s also recently started creating miniature houses using books.

Converting volumes into decorative (and useful) artwork came naturally to Halliday; as an avid book collector with a master’s degree in English, her house was already packed with them. “I just thought, ‘I have to do something with these,’” Halliday says.

In addition to the 500-something books Halliday has in her garage, she combs through local bookstores for vintage tomes. “They’re made better,” she explains. People give her books as well, often with a request. She’s hollowed Sherlock Holmes’ silhouette into a Holmes mystery and made lamps out of academically “banned” books—a common request that brings light to people’s “appreciation for the literature and the fight for the right to free speech,” Halliday says.

Halliday has added leather items to her repertoire, too, thanks to an upholsterer who gives her scraps of soft leather. She makes notebooks clad with designs she draws and screen prints, and she has a new line of leather clutch purses, some of which are reversible.

Using unwanted books is especially gratifying from an environmental perspective, Halliday says. “You can’t recycle books because of the glue in the bindings, so essentially I’m making art out of things that would otherwise end up in a landfill.”

And with Conduit Press, she uses what she says are becoming outdated objects. “Books are really going out of style because of the Kindle and iPad. I’m putting them back in people’s hands and back on their shelves.”

Book items from $20 to $500 and leather items from $10 to $110 are available on the company’s website and Facebook page, and locally at The Venue, Fine Arts & Gifts at 114 S. Grant St.