Functional bathtub made from books

Back in 2008, the blog Who Cares About That? wrote about Vanessa Mancini's project to build a functional sculpture: a bathtub made from deconstructed books fitted together and then sealed so that one could "bathe in knowledge." It's a beautiful artifact, though I can't find any evidence that it was ever finished. If you know more about this piece, please post in the comments.

This bath is made entirely out of books which Vanessa cut and fitted together over a metal frame to form a bath of books, which is suspended by four antique bath tub, lion-shaped feet. She intends to later cover it in layers of resin and has already applied proper taps and drain, so that it will be a utilizable, functional bath at all effects.

The idea is of immersing oneself in knowledge, books, truths, and 'cleaning' or ‘purifying’ one's mind with from external, every day life bombarding from media, by reading ad reflecting on books,- ‘pure sources’, which is of course, metaphorical, implying we can become polluted by ideas of truths and knowledge, which we can only 'clean' by reading our way through to our own ideas and reflections.

Bathing in knowledge (via Bookshelf)


  1. Tune in tomorrow for a steampunk Arduino-controlled 3D printer that carves a depression into an old book to protect a banana.

  2. “Functional” only in the sense that it holds water. A regular, smooth bathtub takes work to keep clean; something like this with so many nooks and crannies would be completely unmaintainable.

  3. actually, with enough time and glue and grinding and resin and patience you could get the bathtub pretty darn smooth. you’d never be able to scour it though, as most cleaning products would leave a mark on resin. best bet: fiberglass inner. probably best left as an objet d’art, but it looks like the kind of hairbrained awesome and unwieldy project that i would gladly spend a month of my life working on and never quite finish. 

  4. If you built it in a certain configuration (and didn’t live in the Desert) you could probably get away with not sealing it.  Like wool, which absorbs a certain amount of moisture and then becomes moisture-repellent.

  5. I kinda want one, I wonder if two part epoxy sealant would hold up to some cleaners.. if not its just a matter of a lot of elbow grease I guess.

    1. Millions of books are junked every year because they’re garbage and nobody wants them. Destroying The Da Vinci Code would be an act of personal liberation and of compassion for all the peoples of the earth.

      1. I’m all for the destruction of The Da Vinci Code, but please let it be just straight up destruction, not reuse in a bathtub.  If it was part of a bathtub and touched my naked flesh, I’d just feel so….soiled.

      2. Interesting it would be to discuss the relative merits of The Da Vinci Code, World of Warcraft, Angry Birds, The Book of Sith and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  Oh, and the whole Steampunk thing.

  6. this looks easy enough to finish, though expensive.  i would want to sand the books smooth on the inside of the tub.  fill in the gaps between the books with some type of pulp made out of the book left overs and then coat the inside with a nice clear boat epoxy.   the outside of the tub would need a spray on coat so you could keep the max amount of book texture. 

  7. Just get a completely transparent bathtub and mount it in there. Probably not cheap but definitely more usable ;-).

  8. Build a lid for the tub out of plywood with a few inch hole cut in the top.
    Fill bottom of tub with ~6 inches of two-part marine epoxy.
    Spray one side of a sheet of 3 mil plastic with Pam and put that Pam side down over the tub. 
    Use rope wrapped around the tub and lid to secure lid to tub. 
    Stick weather balloon through the hole. 
    Fill balloon with air until its pressing hard against the lid. 
    Probably will need some sanding and a top coat.

    1.  i like the weather balloon but i think the sheet of three mill would leave crease lines up the side of the tub.  now im thinking the best way to do it is by vacuum bagging it with a custom formed bag made on the tub itself.

      1. There will be creases either way I think. Probably not as bad with bag but you’d be sanding no matter what.

  9. “and ‘cleaning’ or ‘purifying’ one’s mind with from external, every day life bombarding from media”

    I wish the artists would feel secure enough to do something just “because it’s cool”, without all the ancillary, artsy, self-justifying transparent bullshit.

  10. If only soaking up knowledge was that easy. :)  But it wouldn’t be as much fun.

    As much as I love books, there are some I would happily re-purpose.  “The Red Tent” represents several hours of my life I will never get back. 
    I wouldn’t mind seeing that go.

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