Altered Books, A Sister Project


Sandra, over at Add Humor and Faith was asking about altered books. I’ll bet they’ve been around a long, long time on an individual basis (when people wouldn’t have access to a blank book or fresh paper, etc…) but I’ve only known about them for the past 4 or 5 years. It’s a particular niche in the crafting/art world. Actually, the scrapbook/craft type are more to my liking because the art ones get weird really fast.

It was not easy for me to start making them because I’m such a book lover; rarely have I even written in my own books (the big exception is my Bible where I make lots of notes) and the horror of painting or gluing in one was hard to overcome. But I did.

And still, I’m pretty selective about the ones I’ll use for a project. It has to be one that I don’t think I’ll ever read, one that I really disliked or one that no one else would want – for instance, even if I donated it to the library, they would probably end up sending it to the paper recycler because it wouldn’t sell. The sources are almost unlimited. Our younger son had a huge stack of mathematics magazines that he didn’t want; instead of regular slick pages these have the book type pages and are just right for this craft.

The project from my previous post is in one of these magazines, and I also used one for a round robin that was just between my sister and me. I use cardboard from a cereal box to stiffen the soft covers, then decorate them with fabric or something else.

Sometimes crafters will buy a buy a book (hopefully a secondhand one – I can hardly stand the thought of a new book going straight to altering!) that’s in the same theme as their subject. For instance, using a gardening one when their subject is flowers, or an old cookbook for recipes, etc… That looks pretty clever when finished, and I’ve gathered a few to do that sort of thing, but haven’t started them, yet. Also, really unconventional materials are used and are nearly limitless, like paper sacks, or sewing fabric pages; children’s board books are good but not as versatile.


In a Round Robin, each person chooses their own theme and sets the rules for working in their book. They do their own cover and two pages, then pass it on to the next person (who passes theirs on, etc.). Normally each contributor would only do 2 pages in another person’s book (like my sister’s paper doll book), but since she and I were the only ones involved we passed ours back and forth several times.


She allowed me to set up the overall rule that this project was to be unconventional in the sense that nothing could be used that was bought specifically for paper crafting and we should use as much stuff as we could that had cost nothing at all- or at least had not been bought new. I wanted to see just how creative we could be. There are incredibly wonderful products on the market (and my sister has lots of them) but I wanted to see what we could do with our imaginations. She talked me into altering the rule to include one new product per page. Yes, I know I’m cheap thrifty.

It was a lot of fun.


Her theme was Tranquility; mine was Cats and Cups. All the photos in this post are of her book. Mine will be in a future post.

She used old file folders cut down to make her pages and key rings to bind it. Her cover (seen at the top of this post) was fabric from a drapery sample book (Thank you, Pat Fischer. Pat is my friend who gave me those wonderful, out-of-date books from her shop Ruffles and Things and I shared with Fran. Also, the background floral on the page below is one I got from a sample book). We used magazine pictures, church bulletin covers, used postage stamps, scraps of fabric, hand painting, journaling, ribbon, buttons, counted cross-stitch, embroidery, both watercolors and acrylic paint, the interior of security envelopes, old trumpet music (from the library sale), a few rubber stamps; and even more. Most of the stuff we used would make a traditional scrapbooker head to the fainting couch – almost none of it was acid free. We aren’t worrying about that. This is for us, not posterity; our inheritors are probably not interested.

For these 2 pages, I started by gluing down (I use glue sticks) pages from an old novel, then painting them yellow and green to match the cut-outs I was going to use. Then I painted a border around both pages to repeat the border in the cut-out. Using a pair of decorative scissors and a hole punch, I made the paper lace to go under the fireplace picture (which I had glued in). Using watercolors, I painted a little house, a bunch of flowers and little yellow hearts. For added dimension I wanted them to be a little thicker, so I made my own chipboard pieces by gluing them onto the cereal boxes, then cut them out and sanded the edges. The little house had a hole punched in the top and threaded with pearl embroidery cotton to hang on the binder ring.

I love books and it’s fun making my own. It can be about anything I want it to be. My efforts won’t ever be featured in Cloth, Paper, Scissors or a Stampington magazine, but I really enjoy it, it costs almost nothing and as they say, it’s cheaper than therapy.

Linked to:
Frugal Friday on Life as Mom.

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3 Comments

Filed under Altered Books, Crafts - Paper, Family, Free, Thrift, Using What You Have

3 responses to “Altered Books, A Sister Project

  1. Fran Metcalf

    You did my altered book proud. I can’t believe how beautiful it looks on the screen.

    kudo’s to you.

    Can’t wait to look at the paperdoll one next.
    fran

  2. pat fischer

    carla, i was so proud of all your art work, and i still have books. for anyone who would like to have them, miss and love always lets get together after thanksgiving

    • Pat, I’ve had so much fun with the books and really appreciate you letting me have them.
      How about we meet for lunch after Thanksgiving sometime and I could see your new shop?

      Doesn’t the iris fabric show up beautifully?

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