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What Are Your Altered Books
Altered books are simply put, older hard cover books that you have taken and adapted to your own brand of art. You have taken the pages within the book and altered them with your art, thought and expression. You have is essence taken the book and created a form of art journal with your own expressive ideas.
Altered books are a creative outlets that divert your frustration. But they also give you time to create, reflect and express all your range of emotions.
Altered books are the true fun part of paper crafting ! Anyone can do this craft ! Anyone, even if you are just a beginner starting out in paper crafting. The fun part of doing altered books is that there are no rules for what your pages should look like.
I look at the pages that I started out with and look at how I have grown in my art and I take pleasure in how I have grown.
You create your pages over a period of time adding what appeals to you.
Choosing Your Book To Alter
How To Choose A Book To Alter
Where To Find Books To Alter
Old books are easy enough to find. Start by looking in your own home. Do you have any old dictionaries, encyclopedias, cookbooks or children books? How about old text book?
Ask family and friends if they have any old books donate to your projects.
Other Places To Find Books To Alter
- Thrift shops
- Library book sales
- Flea markets
- Garage sales
- Rummage and church sales
- Used book stores
- Estate sales
- Families and friends
Recycle Magazine Images In Your Altered Book
Supplies You Need To Alter Books
You may have many of these supplies in your craft space. If you do not, they aren's expensive and are easy to get in your area.
- An old book
- Craft knife
- Photos and magazines
- Acrylic paint
- Water colors
- Alcohol ink pens
- White craft glue
- Ink pads
- Embossing paint
- Glitter glue
The Many Themes Of Altered Books
Decide The Theme Of Your Book
Think about the theme for your altered book. The possibilities are endless
- A favorite season
- A holiday
- A pet
- Favorite animal/pet
- Teddy bears
Altered Books Have Many Dimensions
The First Step In Altering A Book-Reducing The Number Of Pages
Prepping Books To Create Altered Books
There are several steps to prep your book before you get started with your art. They are not difficult. Taking these steps will make your efforts more enjoyable and fruitful.
- Ripping pages if needed. As you add more layers to your pages, you book will become bulky. So it can be useful to rip a few pages to give space for your art. Consider ripping out about 1/2 of all the pages in your books. Use a craft knife and a ruler to carefully rip out the pages. Save the ripped pages to create mire art journal features. Leave 1/2 inch of the page left. If you rip too close to the spine, you take a chance of ripping the sewn spine of the book.
- Glue pages together. Depending on the weight and age of your book, you may want to glue some pages together to make them stronger. You can use a glue stick to do this step. Make sure to use extra glue in the corners so that they stick together. You can glue one to two pages together depending on the weight of the paper. You can use a brayer once you have applied the glue to get them to stick without bumpiness. If you get some bumpiness, not to worry ! Art journals are not perfect.
- Priming them with gesso. It is an optional step, but necessary. Gesso helps acrylic paint "stick" to the page better. Also, gesso hides the words and illustration on the pages. Think of gesso as a white primer.
Reverse Imaging In Your Altered Books
More About Acrylic Paint
Acrylic paint is so much fun to use on altered books. There are a few things to know about using these paints that will help you get better results.
- Acrylic paint is considered permanent when dry.
- You can add additional colors over dry acrylic paint and the undercoat will shine through.
- Acrylic paint dries fast, so if you are using a wet technique, you need to work quickly
- Because most book pages are thin, even when glued together, you should always Gesso your pages before applying acrylic paint. It will help make the pages stronger.
- Acrylic paint can be used as an adhesive, You can add any paper over it when wet and it will stick.
Page Backgrounds- Adding Paint
Once you have prepped your book and added the gesso to your pages, it is time to create your backgrounds. This is so much fun. In essence, it is whatever you want it to be. Just go crazy and creative with your backgrounds.
- Add paint with brushes. Use swirls and lines to create a pattern.
- Use old credit cards and gift cards to scrape paint
- Use a stencil
- Layer different colors of paints
- Use a fork to create a pattern
- Add water drops to wet acrylic paint
- Blow wet paint around with a straw
- Make a pattern with a toilet paper roll, a paper cup or a pill bottle
- Water down some acrylic paint and spray it on a page
- Add a little water to some paint. Apply it to the page. Tilt the page to let the paint drip down the page.
- Smudge the paint with a paper towel or a baby wipe.
- Add some glitter or glitter glue to your page
You Can Do Scrapbook Paper Backgrounds Too !
Do you have a pretty scrapbook paper? You can use that paper to create a custom background in your altered book too. Patterned or solid. it's up to you! You can cut it to size, rip it or make a collage with it. You can rip it or cut it with some decorative scissors
When you have used your electronic cutting machine, there is always a leftover paper that can be used for later projects.
Keep your scraps organized by theme, color, or pattern. Keep the bits in a looseleaf binder or envelopes or in a box. Keep it handy when you create your pages.
Find a paper that relates to the theme of your page.
Remember, it's your art, your way. There are no special rules that you need to follow anytime when you create your altered book.
Folding Pages Within To Create A Memorable Page
Watercolor Background Ideas
Watercolor Background Techniques
In addition to acrylic paint, you can also use watercolors to create backgrounds. Watercolors are fun to work with and are very budget friendly.Since book paper is so thin, you may want to do these on watercolor paper and then transfer it to your book. You can also try heavy card stock, Or try gluing several pages together. Then add a coat of gesso and water color on that.
- Salt technique-Add some water colors to your page. Add some salt to the wet paint.-just about any salt will do. The larger grained salts like kosher salt will look different than table salt. Experiment as your mood moves you. when the page dries, rub of the salt with a dry sponge.
- Rubbing alcohol and watercolor. Add some alcohol to your watercolor background. You will want to have a very wet background. Use a high level of alcohol -around 91 % . Spritz or drop it on your page
- Wax Resist-Write on your page with a white crayon. Then cover the page with water color and allow to dry.
- Water Splatter- Use an old toothbrush to splatter water colors on your page.
Cling Wrap Background For Altered Books
Cling Wrap Backgrounds For Altered Books
These are backgrounds that are created on white card stock. When done and dried, you can use them in your altered books. You can cut them down to size as a background, use them as tags or pockets. You can also rip them to create a collage page or cut them into pieces with decorative scissors.
- 12" by 12" heavy white card stock
- Craft sheet, parchment paper or waxed paper to protect your work space
- Plastic cups
- Cling wrap
- Inexpensive acrylic paints ( metallic paint is very nice)
- Foam brush (experiment with other brushes too )
- Plastic gloves
- Paper towels
- Cover your work space with craft mat. waxed paper or parchment paper ( if you are using waxed or parchment paper, tape it down with low tack tape}
- Create a wash by mixing 1/2 part of acrylic paint to 1/2 part water in a plastic cup
- Repeat this with the colors that you want to use
- With the foam brush, paint the colors on your card stock. Work quickly and make sure that there is a lot of wash on the paper.
- Cut a piece of cling wrap 1 1/2 the size of your paper ( you can use two pieces if you need to)
- Crumple up the cling wrap
- Lay the cling wrap on top of the paper
- Set it aside to dry. You have to leave the cling wrap on the paper until the paint is totally dry.
- Remove the cling wrap:
Cling Wrap Background
How To Use Ripped Pages In Your Altered Books
Create A Leather Look Page
You can create a page that has a leather look and feel with just a few supplies. These pages have a feel and weight of leather.
White craft glue
Tacky white craft glue
Medium flat brush
Wide flat paint brush
- Glue to pages on each side of your layout- apply plain craft glue to the page. Spread the glue across the page with a brush or an old credit card or gift card.
- Allow the pages to dry.
- Apply the color of acrylic paint evenly to both sides of your spread- acrylic paint dries fast, so you want to work quickly.
- Allow the pages to dry.
- Spread the tacky glue over the dried paint pages evenly with the wise paint brush. The more evenly you spread, the better the outcome
- Allow the pages to dry
- Decorate as you wish.
Ink Wash Technique In Altered Books
Add Pockets To Your Altered Books
Using Recycled Materials In Your Altered Books
There are more materials than you can imagine all around you that you can use in your altered books.
Of course the first thing that comes to mind for me are magazines. I cut words, images and all kinds of colors and things that appeal to my artistic side. I have people save magazines for me.
- Old makeup- before you throw that old eye brow pencil or shadow away, think how you could add some of that color to your altered book pages
- Tickets-they can add a touch of color just when you need it
- Tea and tea bags-tea can be used to age paper and the bags can be used as part of a layout
- Orphaned puzzle pieces-make interesting additions to your layout. They can be colored or painted
- Old paying cards-colorful additions
- Wallpaper samples- often pretty enough for a background
- Paint samples-more colorful additions
- Odd pieces of lace-you can leave them as is or color them with alcohol ink or markers
- Fabric-with a little modge podge you can add pieces of fabric to your layout
- Dryer sheets-leave plain or color them. They add a very different dimension
- Odd buttons-I like to use flatter buttons
- Glue envelopes into your pages. Recycle envelopes from mail your received. Use color too. Decorate your envelopes
Bet you could add more to the list !
Decorate The Cover Of Your Altered Book
Do not forget to decorate the cover of your altered book. I like to work with the cover after all the pages are completed. But it is up to you !
You may want to start with some gesso (a primer) to cover the book. This primer will cover any imperfections that have accumulated over time.
Here are some other suggestions:
- Cover your book with patterns of washi tape. There are so many versions of this idea, you will want to overlap your pattern to the inside of the cover of the book. Then cover that with a glued piece of card stock.
- If you have an artistic bend, you can create a painting on your journal with acrylics of water colors.
- You can decoupage paper, napkins and scraps.
- You can create a fabric cover for your book.
Create A Design With Low Tack Tape
This is an idea that you can do with any media. Try acrylic paint, ink, markers, crayons, pastels, embossing paste, or whatever you have.
Use gesso to cover the print on your page. Allow the gesso to dry. Create a design using low tack tape. Lay the tape on the page anyway that suits you. Paint or add color to cover the untapped areas. Allow the medium to dry and remove the tape. You get a very custom design.
Use A Edge Punch On Your Altered Book
More Altered Book Ideas And Techniques
- jane's apron: altered book tutorial
I've been meaning to share this tutorial forever and am finally getting it done because I accidentally ran across the instructions last week. The tutorial is an altered book project that I did for the "yellow" month at a Year-of-Color....
- How to alter a Composition Book
How to alter a Composition Book by turning a plain composition book in to a pretty personalized journal by using scrapbooking paper and embellishments
Creating Pockets For Altered Books
You can add pockets anywhere in your altered book that you would like to. They can hold some ephemera, pictures, mementos, and a lot more.
Remember, that most of the pages in your altered books are lightweight. So, the first thing that you will want to do is glue several pages together to give extra strength to the page that you will add the pocket to.
Your pocket can open at the top or on the side. You can decorate it any way that makes you happy.
The first place to go to get some free templates is your favorite browser on your computer. There are hundreds of free templates that you can print and cut or print and trace.
If you have an electronic cutting machine, check the program in your machine to see if there are any pockets in their program. If there are any, these are easy to cut from the program
Look at your dies to see if you have anything you can use. This is especially good if you have nesting die sets. Experiment with different sizes in the same set to see what you can come up with.
To make your pockets stand up on your page, consider inking them with a dark distress ink all the way around the pocket.
Envelopes come in all different shapes and sizes. It is so easy to use them to create pockets on your altered book pages.
You can use one or several as part of your page design. Consider using envelopes from junk mail. They are fun to decorate and repurpose on your pages. Cut down the envelope to the size that you want to use, Cover the side that will show on your page with cardstock or printed paper. Decorate as you would like. Create tabs at the top with a round punch or a hole punch. Glue or tape the envelope to your page.
Look at the envelope and decide if you want to use the flap on the envelope. You can cut it off or use it as is.
Then decide if you want to ink or color the envelope. You can also cover the envelope front with colored or patterned paper.
There are so many choices when it comes to easy pockets. Use solid color, patterned paper, or a combination of both.
Size the pocket as just a small feature or as a larger part of the design.
The easiest pocket to create is made simply with two pieces of paper. You can make the pieces the same size, or you can make the front a little smaller. If you make the front and back the same size, cut a notch on the front part with a small round punch.
You can sew the pocket together, use double-sided tape or glue the pieces together.
A floating pocket is as simple as it gets. This is a great addition to your altered book pages. All you do is attach an envelope anywhere on a page with a paperclip. There are paper clips that come in color so you can coordinate them with the colors of your pages.
Want to create another easy page idea? The corner page is perfect for you. Glue two pages together. Then rip the page from the top half to the bottom. Glue two sides of the pocket together to create a pocket.
Final thought On Creating Altered Books
Creating altered books will help you grow and gain confidence in all your paper crafting. As you learn more techniques, you can transfer those skills to your other paper crafting like art journals, stamping skills and even scrap booking.
You don't have to spend a ton of money on this paper craft. A lot of what you need may well already be in your stash. And the nice thing is that you can use images from things that you may get in your mail. I have family members save their old magazines for me so I can cut out the words and phases.
There is no limitation to your creations. Your pages can be anything that you want them to be. My husband does not always understand some of my pages. Others he gets. But that is ok. Because art is subjective, I do not sweat it. I create what I feel at that time. I create art for me.
I urge you to get an old book and give it a try !
© 2020 Linda F Correa