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Altered Books, Mixed Media Art and Scrapbooking

Updated on June 17, 2010

The Possibilities Are Endless...

In this day of the internet, the possiblities of scrapbooking and mixed media art are truly endless! You can find lessons, tutorials, printable templates and pages just by doing a Google search, and a never ending supply of creative inspirations all over the internet, including Youtube ! I was amazed at the amount of information about altered art available on YouTube. If you ever have a creative block, this is the place to go. Just do a search for "altered art","altered books", "collage", or "mixed media art", and you will find literally hundreds of videos that creative people have uploaded to show you new and different techniques! Even if you don't learn anything new (which you will), you will be inspired to proceed on with your current project.

I always suggest having more than one project going at a time. That way, if one needs to dry, or if you are stuck on a particular piece, you will have others you can work on. I currently have about four projects going. They are an oil painting, an altered book, a collage on canvas, a mixed media present for my husband, and I am starting a digital scrapbook! This way, I go from one to the other if, say, the glue needs to dry, I have a creative block, or just plain get tired of working on a particular piece. The worst thing an artist can do is get bored or tired of a particular piece they are working on!

Altered Things...

Altered Book Outside Cover. I have added a gold jewelry locket since taking this photo.
Altered Book Outside Cover. I have added a gold jewelry locket since taking this photo.
Altered Book Inside Front Page (beginning stages. I put a favorite poem inside the envelope, as well as added writing, some phrases, etc.
Altered Book Inside Front Page (beginning stages. I put a favorite poem inside the envelope, as well as added writing, some phrases, etc.
Altered vinyl LP (for directions see my hub about how to make these...)
Altered vinyl LP (for directions see my hub about how to make these...)
Another altered vinyl lp
Another altered vinyl lp

Altering Tips

Altered books are just that-you take a book you are through reading (I like hardbacks the best), and you start at the front page. You glue about 3 pages together to give you a sturdy base to work with, then you begin to "alter" it from it's old form to a new, artistic expression of yourself! Most people like to turn them into what is called an "art journal" or "artist's journal", which consists of page after page (your new pages will consist of 3 -4 pages glued together, remember) of photos, painted scenes or objects that express what you are thinking or feeling, sometimes cut-out depressions with objects glued into the depressions, writing, and whatever else happens to strike your fancy. Some people will use bits and pieces of old watches and jewelry, pictures from magazines, and various scrap-booking supplies from the local hobby store.

I like to find all of my own pictures, jewelry bits and stone and more, instead of using the mass produced items, so that mine will be totally unique to me. Of course, it makes it a lot easier to buy your items at the store, but that can also run into a LOT of money, and that is one thing I don't have a lot of! The wonderful thing about mixed media art and altered art is that you can RECYCLE so many things that you would normally throw away. I even saw a nifty idea the other day that showed how you could recycle toilet paper rolls into small memory books! Memory books are "books" that you make to commemorate a family vacation, a birthday, or any special time you would like to remember. You can make copies of your family photos, or of your kids or grand kids birthdays (or whatever else you want)and cut them into different shapes, scallop the edges, etc., then glue them into the book, decoupage style. Basically, altered art is decoupage gone wild!

When we were children, decoupage was one art project we could all do. So what of our elephant we drew looked funny, or that horse looked more like a pig...We drew and cut and glued with gusto and never worried if it was "good" or if we had "talent" or not. I think we could all benefit from approaching art from a child's point of view-enjoy the act of creating and don't worry if it is "good" or not! If we enjoyed doing it, then that is good enough. We may never get rich from our art, but art is wonderful for relaxation and therapy. As a matter of fact, I think I need a "therapy" session right now!

Mixed media art is basically "anything goes". You start with an idea, or an object, attach it to a base, and go from there. The reason you can't find any "lessons" on mixed media art is because it can be whatever you want it to be. For me, I like to start with a canvas or a board for a base, and then I begin to attach photos and pictures and bits and pieces of other items, whether it is jewelry stones, jewelry bits, charms, or any object that catches my eye that fits into the theme of what I am working toward and can be attached to the canvas or board without much difficulty. Mixed media art is also the vinyl lp's that I melted and then painted. Now you get an idea of what mixed media art really is. It is when you mix different styles and items together to create a piece of art, and it can be whatever you want it to be. What freedom!

"How To" and Technique Books for Altered Art and Mixed Media


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    • Mixed Media Art profile image

      Michelle 4 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

      I love that "anything goes" in mixed media!

    • whitneywpanetta profile image

      whitneywpanetta 5 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      Great information, thanks for sharing! I am a big visual journaler and I love seeing what other people are creating! I recently started a blog,, about it!

    • lifeshouldbefun profile image

      lifeshouldbefun 6 years ago from Tennessee

      I love the mixed media altered books! I enjoyed making one for my grandmother..but to say the least it is a very time consuming project. It is one of those that you want to hurry up and see the finished product. Very enjoyable and you have a great article on the subject.

    • marlenebr profile image

      marlenebr 6 years ago from Florida

      I complement you on your article and the examples of your mixed media; I tried altered books, but didn't have great success.

    • BrendyMac profile image

      BrendyMac 6 years ago

      I have done this myself,using old hardback books to keep records of various painting medias I have tried...just as a reminder for the future when I'm stuck for ideas on methods or subjects to paint. I use scrapbooks for the same thing!!Like you I have glued a couple of pages together to add strength to the pages.

      I enjoyed your artical and will be back for more of your great tips and ideas!!

    • Mothings profile image

      Mothings 7 years ago from Another Day In Paradise, Florida

      I'm new to hubbing...nice article...good stuff.

    • Laura Thykeson profile image

      Laura Thykeson 7 years ago from Central Texas

      Hello, hello:

      Thanks! I appreciate your comment! Glad you enjoyed the hub.

      Laura T.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

      Thank you for a wonderful read and good tips.