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Altered Art, Altered Books, Altered Lives

Updated on September 12, 2016
Altered Eyeglasses Resembling a Bra
Altered Eyeglasses Resembling a Bra | Source

Introducing Altered Art

This page introduces altered art, a trendy art form that involves changing a book or other object to create a creative shape or sculpture. You will find several projects with pictures and videos.

If you aren't familiar with the concept, it's this way. We take an object and alter it! We strive to do this in a creative, artistic way.

We turn old books, matchboxes, film canisters, cigar boxes, mint tins, tin cans, photographs, gourds, lunch pails, CDs and who knows what else -- into innovative creations great for gifts, showpieces or, for some of us, to sell. Altered books are perhaps the best known type of this form of art.

Did you notice the picture here to the right? That's an old pair of eyeglasses that I altered to create Victoria's Secret Spectacles.

Artists in this genre use a wide variety of techniques and incorporate an array of media into our projects. We use paints of all kinds, beads, flowers, polymer clay, wire, fiber, ribbon, decorative papers, rubber stamping, found items (ephemera) and anything else you can think of.

People ask us why we do it.

It's simple. Because we CAN

Want to get started?


Start with an Altered Book

Here's what you do:

1. Find an old book, any old book. You're going to recycle it and save it from the garbage so no need to feel bad about using it in this way.

2. Pick a theme for your project. Any theme. Can't think of one? Use your last vacation as the theme.

3. Now open the book to show two pages. Any two pages.

4. Glue decorative paper over the two pages. Let it dry.

5. Write, draw, scribble, attach a decoration to it.

6. That's a start. Now let your creative juices flow.

Did you realize that when we become involved in creative pursuits, our lives also alter. We have a sense of fulfillment. We enjoy expressing ourselves in a new way. We discover new friends among like minded people. And we have less time for household tasks because our muse leads us elsewhere!


Book Layout

 Book Layout
Book Layout | Source

Altered Book for a Round Robin Swap

This is a layout for an altered book that I did for a round robin swap. The theme of the round robin was "women and body image". My AB title was Fat Chicks.

A Round Robin Swap is a group activity in which each member does a couple of layouts in a book, then passes it along to the second member. The second member adds some art work and passes it on to the third, etc. By the end of the round robin, each member should get their own book back, with artwork in it from every member.

Altered Book Artists Poll - Where do you fit?

Would you ever make an altered book?

See results

How to Make an Altered Board Book Video

-A children's board book became my canvas.

I made this board book with a St. Patrick's Day theme. It was a gift for a young boy on that special holiday.

A Book Sculpture
A Book Sculpture | Source

An Altered Book Can be a Sculpture!

This is my first book sculpture

In this project, I used an encyclopedia, some white paint, a gold marking pen, some paper, a clay pot, some flowers from the Dollar Store and a good set of box cutters. It also took a lot of Aylene glue.

The flower pot is glued in the hole in the book. I think another possibility would be to use the book as a frame and put a picture inside the hole. You would then stand the book on its end and place the pot beside it.

Circle Book in Progress
Circle Book in Progress | Source

An Altered Book Can be Circular

but you need good cutting tools!

If you feel adventuresome, and if you have good cutting tools, you can cut your book into a variety of shapes. This one represents my first attempt at making a circle book. Definitely a better cutting tool would have made it easier.

In the picture, the book is opened and you are looking at both covers. I called the book "Ring of Fire." It honors the late Johnny Cash. I made it at the time of his death.

You can find more pictures and the instructions at Altered Book -- Ring of Fire

Altered Tin Box
Altered Tin Box | Source

Tin Box Becomes a Mini Album

Altered Scrapbooking

This project shows two tin boxes decorated with an Asian theme. Both contain an accordion-style scrapbook. Sometimes this type of altered art is referred to as altered scrapbooking -- or sometimes just called altered art. Of course you would not need to put a scrapbook instead. You could use the box as a container for mementos of any sort.

If you would like to see a video tutorial showing the album inside these boxes, you will find one at this link.

Book by Mark Bernahl

Wall Hanging
Wall Hanging | Source

Wall Hanging

an Altered Wall Hanging

In this picture, I started with some oddly shaped packaging material that came with a set of new cookware. Paint, images cut from a greeting card, metallic silver ribbon and small, white artificial flowers converted trash to a wall hanging.

This project recycles material, making it environmentally friendly.

Photos

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Beach Themed LayoutLayout Theme Women's Body Issues Children's Board Book, Theme St. Patrick's DayAltered Mouse Trap Children's Board Book. Theme "in the Garden"Theme,  Where in the World is DorothyAltoids Tin. Theme Things with WingsRuler, Theme School Days Book, with Shadow Box. Theme Where in the World is DorothyLayout,  Theme "Motherhood'
Beach Themed Layout
Beach Themed Layout | Source
Layout Theme Women's Body Issues
Layout Theme Women's Body Issues | Source
 Children's Board Book, Theme St. Patrick's Day
Children's Board Book, Theme St. Patrick's Day | Source
Altered Mouse Trap
Altered Mouse Trap | Source
 Children's Board Book. Theme "in the Garden"
Children's Board Book. Theme "in the Garden" | Source
Theme,  Where in the World is Dorothy
Theme, Where in the World is Dorothy | Source
Altoids Tin. Theme Things with Wings
Altoids Tin. Theme Things with Wings | Source
Ruler, Theme School Days
Ruler, Theme School Days | Source
 Book, with Shadow Box. Theme Where in the World is Dorothy
Book, with Shadow Box. Theme Where in the World is Dorothy | Source
Layout,  Theme "Motherhood'
Layout, Theme "Motherhood' | Source
Plastic Egg ""Eggbert"
Plastic Egg ""Eggbert" | Source

Altered Egg

Decorated Egg for Easter or Spring

This altered egg for Easter started out as a plastic egg-shaped toy. It's decorated with eggshell mosaic, ribbon, fiber and pearls.

In one variation, the egg has a large purple silk flower. In the other version, the egg is plain, or without the flower.

© 2007 June Campbell

Messages from Altered Artists - and from everyone else too!

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    • profile image

      Priya 3 years ago

      I'm the same way. I think I need to let it happen, too. Sadly, that doesn't seem to be hnnaepipg, either. Your arch is adorable, though. Love it. Thanks for your sweet comments about my plight. As always, I appreciate them.

    • junecampbell profile image
      Author

      June Campbell 4 years ago from North Vancouver, BC, Canada

      @Ibidii: Actually, we tend to stay away from the large Readers Digests because they are not very sturdy and tend to fall apart. Altering an old book isn't an act of destruction. I see it as giving new life to a book that will end up in the trash bins. :-)

    • profile image

      Ibidii 4 years ago

      Wonderful craft ideas! I have not seen the glasses turned into art before, that is very original! I love the idea of altering those large print Readers digests. Books like that that are condensed and not a real copy of a book is not a bad idea. I would be careful about what book I would use. The large oversize Reader's Digest would be my choice to use. A hard bound book I would make sure it was something like a report from the government or something that was totally useless, and then use it as an altered book. Awesome lens nightcats!

    • Seasons Greetings profile image

      Laura Brown 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I could do it if a book were already broken or in bad shape. Otherwise it does seem like book abuse. :)

    • profile image

      Echo Phoenix 5 years ago

      I am preparing to start my first Altered Book, thanks for the ideas. I love your perception on altering your life via the creative process:) great insight!

    • ItayaLightbourne profile image

      Itaya Lightbourne 6 years ago from Topeka, KS

      Love all the ideas! Make me want to get out my old book covers and go for making some altered book art. :)

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 6 years ago

      What an interesting idea!

    • junecampbell profile image
      Author

      June Campbell 6 years ago from North Vancouver, BC, Canada

      @TonyPayne: Thank you! You are so right. Other people are always surprised at the "junk" I carry home and treasure.

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 6 years ago from Southampton, UK

      This is a really great idea, one man's (or woman's) junk is another's treasure. Recycling items can give you unique items for the home, for gifts, or to sell as well. Nicely done.

    • junecampbell profile image
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      June Campbell 6 years ago from North Vancouver, BC, Canada

      @missroxa lm: Trash becomes a great treasure to the altered artist! Thanks for posting.

    • missroxa lm profile image

      missroxa lm 6 years ago

      I've never thought of this before! It sounds great, and I will try to make some altered art myself. I always thought that all the stuff I just throw to the garbage can be useful somehow. Thanks for the ideas!

    • junecampbell profile image
      Author

      June Campbell 6 years ago from North Vancouver, BC, Canada

      @greenmind: Thank you!

    • davenjilli lm profile image

      davenjilli lm 6 years ago

      Such fun ideas..very clever.

    • greenmind profile image

      GreenMind 6 years ago from USA

      It took me a minute, but I think I understand what you're up to here. Very creative!

    • junecampbell profile image
      Author

      June Campbell 6 years ago from North Vancouver, BC, Canada

      @anonymous: I hope you do give this a try. It is truly a lot of fun. I have visited some of your lenses and you are very talented. Love your beadwork.

    • junecampbell profile image
      Author

      June Campbell 6 years ago from North Vancouver, BC, Canada

      @davenjilli lm: Thank you!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Arts and crafts are my hobby, and I would most definitely make an altered book. I think it's a great idea, and it would be fun. Thanks for sharing!

    • John Dyhouse profile image

      John Dyhouse 6 years ago from UK

      I have been here before but have enjoyed it again - I know what you mean about altered lives. When I started making art cards I quickly became involved with all sorts of mixed media groups and became addicted to the hobby. This time around I come with wings attached and leave a light dusting of blessings.

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 6 years ago

      Lovely lens, and inspiring to me. Blessed!

    • Mary Crowther profile image

      Mary Crowther 6 years ago from Havre de Grace

      Never heard of this, but a great idea!

    • whitneywpanetta1 profile image

      whitneywpanetta1 6 years ago

      Love all of the resources! I make altered books, and love it. I recently started blogging about it at lookbetweenthelines.com. I am happy to see other people involved in the journaling community!

    • CherylsArt profile image

      Cheryl Paton 6 years ago from West Virginia

      Cool ideas for creativity.

    • fotolady49 lm profile image

      fotolady49 lm 6 years ago

      Another neat idea. Great lens!

    • junecampbell profile image
      Author

      June Campbell 6 years ago from North Vancouver, BC, Canada

      @CruiseReady: Thank you so much. I hope you are right about inspiring others. Altered art is so much fun to play with

    • CruiseReady profile image

      CruiseReady 6 years ago from East Central Florida

      This should give creatively inclined people some great fuel to run on. I'll bet you've inspired some to get right to making their own alter art.

    • profile image

      diyconservatoriesdream 6 years ago

      sooo cool! this lens is awesome and I simply love it.

      _____________________________________

      get the perfect DIY conservatory to improve the look and feel of your home!

    • TolovajWordsmith profile image

      Tolovaj Publishing House 6 years ago from Ljubljana

      Hi, nice and informative lens, thanks for inspiration. For some reason I can not add plexo, I thought this site could be added on your list: http://www.altered-art.net/

      All the best from the sunny side of the Alps:)

    • junecampbell profile image
      Author

      June Campbell 7 years ago from North Vancouver, BC, Canada

      @Gayle Dowell: I;ll be sure to check out your lens Thanks for visiting.

    • Gayle Dowell profile image

      Gayle Dowell 7 years ago from Kansas

      I love altered art. I've done altered books. I have a tutorial lens on altered books. Thanks for putting together these great resources.

    • junecampbell profile image
      Author

      June Campbell 7 years ago from North Vancouver, BC, Canada

      @kathysart: Thanks for dropping by and commenting!

    • kathysart profile image

      kathysart 7 years ago

      How FUN! This is definitely on my fun to do list. Thumbs UP~!!

    • junecampbell profile image
      Author

      June Campbell 7 years ago from North Vancouver, BC, Canada

      @paperfacets: That is a lovely technique also. Thanks for posting.

    • paperfacets profile image

      Sherry Venegas 7 years ago from La Verne, CA

      I also like how they fold pages in the book and make a patterned edge.

    • junecampbell profile image
      Author

      June Campbell 7 years ago from North Vancouver, BC, Canada

      @John Dyhouse: I would love to see your work when you get the lens ready. Thanks for visiting.

    • John Dyhouse profile image

      John Dyhouse 7 years ago from UK

      nicely explained, I have done one or two altered books / hand-made books. Great fun and very therapeutic. I tend to use up all the scraps that I have saved from other collage/art products in this sort of thing, since I make them for myself. Maybe i will add some of my work in a lens to show it off.

    • CrossCreations profile image

      Carolan Ross 7 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      Excellent tribute to altered art here, blessed by a Squid angel.

    • joanv334 profile image

      joanv334 7 years ago

      Hello, you have some great ideas here. Thanks for sharing!

    • junecampbell profile image
      Author

      June Campbell 7 years ago from North Vancouver, BC, Canada

      @CrossCreations: Thank you so much. I greatly appreciate your comments.

    • CrossCreations profile image

      Carolan Ross 7 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      VERY well-deserved purple star! SO creative and a wonderful way to use recycled items to make art. Impressive!

    • GramaBarb profile image

      GramaBarb 7 years ago from Vancouver

      Amazing things you can make by altering. I must show my artistic granddaughters!

    • junecampbell profile image
      Author

      June Campbell 7 years ago from North Vancouver, BC, Canada

      @Paul Ward: Oh my, you have been led astray. It's quite a move from danish pastries to altered books -- but I'm so glad you are here. Welcome.

    • Paul Ward profile image

      Paul 7 years ago from Liverpool, England

      Amazing ideas. Great lens.

      And the beauty of Squidoo, I got here having started looking for Danish Pastries...

    • junecampbell profile image
      Author

      June Campbell 7 years ago from North Vancouver, BC, Canada

      @Rita-K: Thank you!

    • Rita-K profile image

      Rita-K 7 years ago

      Another craft I really want to try! You have given me some awesome ideas! Wonderful lens. Congratulations on your purple star! Cool!

    • junecampbell profile image
      Author

      June Campbell 7 years ago from North Vancouver, BC, Canada

      @piedromolinero: Thank you so much for visiting.

    • junecampbell profile image
      Author

      June Campbell 7 years ago from North Vancouver, BC, Canada

      @Virginia Allain: Good to hear from you. Thanks.

    • piedromolinero profile image

      piedromolinero 7 years ago

      I am not that much of an artist, but I like what you showcased here. Very well done and congrats on the purple star. Well deserved.

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 7 years ago from Central Florida

      I took time on this visit to view the videos. Inspiring.

      Congrats on the purple star.

    • junecampbell profile image
      Author

      June Campbell 7 years ago from North Vancouver, BC, Canada

      @julieannbrady: Yes, Yes! Definitely! :-)

    • profile image

      julieannbrady 7 years ago

      I am an artist. I am now experiencing an altered life. Therefore, I must surely be an "artered artist" YES? Yes! Love it.

    • junecampbell profile image
      Author

      June Campbell 7 years ago from North Vancouver, BC, Canada

      @JJNW: Recycled wall art and cabinets are a truly original approach to altered art. Thanks for the link.

    • JJNW profile image

      JJNW 7 years ago from USA

      How fun! I am an altered (or junk!) artist. I have redone a lot of cabinet doors and am making recycled wall art now. I love these ideas!

    • junecampbell profile image
      Author

      June Campbell 7 years ago from North Vancouver, BC, Canada

      @MisterJeremy: LOL! This is my home, cats, slippers and all! Thanks so much for your comment and the Angel Blessing.

    • MisterJeremy profile image

      Jeremy 7 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      Wonderful ideas! I especially like your video walkthrough of the St. Patrick's Day book with your curious cat walking through the scene. Blessed.

    • junecampbell profile image
      Author

      June Campbell 7 years ago from North Vancouver, BC, Canada

      @jolou: Thank you! Altered art is a fun thing to do if you're ever in the mood to try something new.

    • jolou profile image

      jolou 7 years ago

      I really admire some people's creativity. haven't heard of this before, but I like it.

    • junecampbell profile image
      Author

      June Campbell 7 years ago from North Vancouver, BC, Canada

      @John Dyhouse: That is a marathon of collaging! I hope you will try an altered book and share it with us.

    • John Dyhouse profile image

      John Dyhouse 7 years ago from UK

      interesting lens, I really will have to get around to doing an altered book. Well I actually did use a board book some time back and just sat with loads of scraps which had accumulated from collageing. I simply used up the scraps one page at a time 24 pages counting the front and back! A marathon. But I need to try one with a proper (?) theme.

    • junecampbell profile image
      Author

      June Campbell 7 years ago from North Vancouver, BC, Canada

      @stephenteacher: Hi, thanks so much for dropping by and commenting.

    • stephenteacher profile image

      Stephen Carr 7 years ago from Corona, CA

      The poll would not load for me. I've read your other lenses but missed this one. Very interesting and I enjoyed it. Never have even heard of altered books.

    • junecampbell profile image
      Author

      June Campbell 7 years ago from North Vancouver, BC, Canada

      @sandralynnsparks: Altered Barbies. Now there's a great idea. Thanks for commenting.

    • profile image

      sandralynnsparks 7 years ago

      I started doing altered altered art when I reinvented my Barbies as a kid! ;) I keep coming back to it...nice lens!

    • junecampbell profile image
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      June Campbell 7 years ago from North Vancouver, BC, Canada

      @ajgodinho: Thank you. I do hope you'll give altered art a try.

    • ajgodinho profile image

      Anthony Godinho 7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I like the concept of altered art and may be I'll even try it. Nicely done lens!

    • junecampbell profile image
      Author

      June Campbell 7 years ago from North Vancouver, BC, Canada

      @aka-rms: Thanks for stopping by.

    • aka-rms profile image

      Robin S 7 years ago from USA

      Interesting read!

    • junecampbell profile image
      Author

      June Campbell 7 years ago from North Vancouver, BC, Canada

      @SofiaMann: Thank you!

    • profile image

      SofiaMann 7 years ago

      I am not an artisg, but y like your lens very much.

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 7 years ago from Central Florida

      I'm trying to get my nerve up to try altered book art. So far I've puttered around altering greeting cards for a little practice.

    • profile image

      Tarra99 9 years ago

      5*...didn't know we had something in common! :o)

    • Mickie Gee profile image

      Mickie Goad 9 years ago

      Worked my way to this lens via your Banana Bread Recipes page. I also refer to altered books as art on one of my lenses (the one about book repair). Will lensroll this one to my lens.

    • Di Annesley profile image

      Di Annesley 10 years ago from New Zealand

      LOve your altered Art lens, 5 stars. Thank you.

      Di

    • profile image

      DazzlingDesigns 10 years ago

      Very nicely done lens. 5-Stars all the way! Please feel free to stop by my Unique Handmade Jewelry Lens.

      Thanks,

      Donia

      Handmade Beaded Jewelry Gallery

    • profile image

      kristinedior 10 years ago

      Wonderful source of Information!

      If You would like to know more about

      Free Books and how to get them, Please Go Here

    • profile image

      UMT 10 years ago

      The art is good, the only problem is that it could be abused somehow to the detriment of others.

    • profile image

      gaga2design 10 years ago

      I alter tins, never tried books, I like them.

    • Sensitive Fern profile image

      Sensitive Fern 10 years ago

      Great lens! And thank you for adding my inkjet image transfer lens to your lensroll. I'm doing the same for you. 5 stars.

    • profile image

      Alternique 10 years ago

      Awesome Lens......thanks so much for promoting this amazing art form. Beware Newbies, it's addicting! Visit my lenses for altered art, too!

    • teamlane profile image

      teamlane 10 years ago

      Nicely done. A 5 to you. If you have a minute stop by and visit my lenses, perhaps my Recycling lens. It is my favorite! Keep up the good work and kindest regards to you.

    • profile image

      RobinSkeen 10 years ago

      Oh I LOVE the vintage! These are just SOOOO cool! *****

    • aka-rms profile image

      Robin S 10 years ago from USA

      Very interesting lens. 5*

    • profile image

      Ms_Appleseed 10 years ago

      Wow, I have been living under a rock! I've never seen this before. On one hand, as a reader

    • profile image

      flaminglacer 11 years ago

      Glad to have you as a member of the Crafts and Hobbies Group - drop by the Group HQ sometine and see what is there for you. Great Lens!

    working