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Altered Books-Tips And Ideas

Updated on April 27, 2020
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Paper crafting has been my passion since I was a child. I love sharing paper projects, ideas and products. Get more from all your paper .

Altered Books

Creating altered books is one of the most creative paper crafts. Learn more and get started
Creating altered books is one of the most creative paper crafts. Learn more and get started | Source

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

A sewn book is always the best option. It will take the weight of added weight of your artwork
A sewn book is always the best option. It will take the weight of added weight of your artwork

Check Out The Book You Purchased

It is important to check the book to make sure that the book you purchased it not a valuable commodity. Check the inside of the book to make sure that it is not a first edition. Google the book to be sure that you are not altering a book of value. Hang onto the book before altering it to be sure. There are sources you can check before you start your art.

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


Where To Get Your Images

Look through magazines, flyers, catalogs and even newspapers to find images , words and phrases. They are a treasure trove for your altered books.

Recycle Magazine Images In Your Altered Book

This artist shows you how to use magazine images and text in your altered book layouts
This artist shows you how to use magazine images and text in your altered book layouts | Source

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
  • Scissors
  • Craft knife
  • Photos and magazines
  • Acrylic paint
  • Water colors
  • Alcohol ink pens
  • White craft glue
  • Ink pads
  • Stencils
  • Embossing paint
  • Glitter glue
  • Embellishments

The Many Themes Of Altered Books

You can create an altered book on any theme that you can think of
You can create an altered book on any theme that you can think of | Source

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
  • Butterflies
  • Coffee/tea
  • Favorite animal/pet
  • Flowers
  • Gardens/gardening
  • Geneology
  • Gnomes
  • Halloween
  • Hearts
  • Home
  • Lighthouses
  • Oceans/beaches
  • Teddy bears
  • Weather
  • Wine

Altered Books Have Many Dimensions

Altered books have many dimensions to them. This artist explains how to add layers to your altered books.
Altered books have many dimensions to them. This artist explains how to add layers to your altered books. | Source

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Protect Your Pages

While you are gluing, prepping or creating your pages, it is important to protect the pages behind the layout. Use waxed paper or scrap paper behind the page you are working on. You will avoid a lot of frustration with this one little step

Reverse Imaging In Your Altered Books

Use an image that is cut out,  Secure the image to the page with low tack tape. Paint around it and remove the image
Use an image that is cut out, Secure the image to the page with low tack tape. Paint around it and remove the image

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

Folding Pages Within To Create A Memorable Page

Creating in your altered book means that you are not limited in how you create your layouts, Here the artist uses creative folds in her book
Creating in your altered book means that you are not limited in how you create your layouts, Here the artist uses creative folds in her book | Source

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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
  3. Wax Resist-Write on your page with a white crayon. Then cover the page with water color and allow to dry.
  4. Water Splatter- Use an old toothbrush to splatter water colors on your page.

How To Use Ripped Pages In Your Altered Books

Your altered book can be created ito be anything that you want it to be.
Your altered book can be created ito be anything that you want it to be. | Source

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.

Supplies

Acrylic paint

White craft glue

Tacky white craft glue

Medium flat brush

Wide flat paint brush

  1. 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.
  2. Allow the pages to dry.
  3. Apply the color of acrylic paint evenly to both sides of your spread- acrylic paint dries fast, so you want to work quickly.
  4. Allow the pages to dry.
  5. Spread the tacky glue over the dried paint pages evenly with the wise paint brush. The more evenly you spread, the better the outcome
  6. Allow the pages to dry
  7. Decorate as you wish.

Ink Wash Technique In Altered Books

Using Layered Tags In Your Altered Books

Instead of a usual layout, create a large tag as your altered book page.

Add Pockets To Your Altered Books

Add a pocket in your altered book anywhere you would like. The pocket can hold tags, photos, or whatever you would like.
Add a pocket in your altered book anywhere you would like. The pocket can hold tags, photos, or whatever you would like. | Source

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:

  1. 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.
  2. If you have an artistic bend, you can create a painting on your journal with acrylics of water colors.
  3. You can decoupage paper, napkins and scraps.
  4. You can create a fabric cover for your book.

Junk Mail Envelopes

You can open those envelopes that you get in the mail from your bills and such. They often have patterns in them. You can cut those papers and apply them to your deigns.

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 !


We Would Love To Hear Your Thoughts, Ideas And Tips On Altered Books

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