How to make an altered book
Altering books is a new crafting craze that's perfectly suited to do with kids. It's fun, creative, great for toddlers to adults, and best of all it can be done for next to nothing.
What are altered books? Altered books are unloved, discarded books that are turned into works of art. They can be part scrapbook, part journal, part canvas, part mad experiment. They are typically made of hardcover books like old dictionaries or encyclopedias, out of date textbooks or old novels. Anything can be used, though. Anything goes in altered books. Some things that people do to the pages include:
There are no rules for altered books, other than to make sure that the book you use is okay to alter. Make it very clear to the kids that this is their altered book and it is never okay to write in or alter any book without permission.
- coloring with crayons, oil pastels, colored pencils
- pen and ink drawings
- gluing on collages of wrapping paper, printed napkins, cloth, homemade paper or magazine pictures
- spray painting
- highlighting words on the page to make "found poems"
- gluing stacks of pages together and cutting out niches
- attaching paper "pockets" or envelopes
- punching out designs
- adding stickers
- Gluing in feathers, ribbons or other decorative elements
- aging pages with coffee or lemon juice and heat
- making designs with glue and glitter
- anything you can think of!
Here are some helpful hints when getting started:
We go through periods where we work in our altered books every day. Sometimes Victoria and I sit at the kitchen table and do ours late at night when everyone else is sleeping. It's one of our favorite ways to spend time together.
- If you plan on gluing things on the pages, you'll find that the book bulks up and bulges open pretty quickly. Remove some extra pages as you add things in order to make the book lay reasonably flat.
- Do pages in layers. Paint a dark colored design on a page one day and then come back when it's dry to add some designs with metallic marker, decorative stickers, etc.
- Make sure to lay the pages open after you finish any page that involves glue or paint. Even a little bit of paint will make the pages stick together and ruin your page if you close the book when it's still wet.
- If you don't like a page that you've done, either rip it out or tear it up and glue the pieces back onto a new page to create a fun collage.
- Experiment with art techniques in your book like combing through paint with a notched piece of cardboard or dabbing on paint with a feather duster.
- Swap pages with friends or other family members. Trade books and ask them to do a page of your book and sign it. Some people create "round robins" with lots of people to have a book made by others.
- Use your book to hold all those scraps that are sentimental but are just clutter right now. You can glue in concert tickets, report cards, postcards, doodles, letters, photos, programs, cards, you name it. If you want these things to last a very long time, make sure to use glues and tapes designed for the purpose.
My altered book contains letters to Jack before he was born, collages of words that were my goals for 2003, recipes and photos from magazines, paintings, sayings that I liked, collages of clippings of projects I want to try, lists of which roses I planted where, torn wrapping paper collages, magic marker art pages, poems and more. It gives me the creative outlet of scrapbooking without the pressure for perfection-- or cost.
Here are some sites with examples and ideas if you want to see more.
And here are some pages from some of our altered books if you want to peek.
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All works on this site Alicia Bayer unless otherwise noted.
Don't take it - that would be rude.