Altered book pages
I’ve been slowly working on an altered book over the past couple of months. Not for any real reason, just when I have some extra time I want to experiment with new mixed media techniques, and an altered book, or art journal, is a great way to do that all in one little place. For a while my goal was a new spread every few days, but now as other projects have taken priority I’m working on it a bit less frequently.
What is an altered book?
An altered book is when an artist takes a book and uses mixed media techniques to change its appearance, turning it into something new. Its really as simple as any book that has been somehow altered. This can be simple drawing or painting on each page, or it can be intricate cut paper or even sculpture. Techniques used are endless, but it my research the most popular seemed to be painting, collage, stamping, drawing, and cut paper.
What type of book works best?
If you are just going to be drawing and journaling, even painting (really anything that will remain pretty flat), any book should do. If you’re going to experiment with mixed media, collage, embellishments and all that fun stuff, you’ll want an old hard cover book with a sewn binding. Most artists prep the pages in a few different ways, here’s an article from Johwey Redington that I found helpful when starting my book. Since I wanted to experiment, I only prepped about half the pages throughout my book this way, the others I left natural.
So here is some of my progress so far. If you see any pages you’d like a more detailed tutorial for, just leave your ideas in the comments!
Below I first used hot glue on the pages, mostly just tracing over lines and boxes of text, then added watercolor over that. The hot glue masked the text, and gives a pretty cool three dimensional effect.
The following spread was inspired by moon phases. For the background I created lots of layered and textures with different colored & textured paints. I also used some letter stencils just to create some shapes and interest. I made stencils for the moons to get sharp edges, and used lots of different metallic paints and glitter.
For the following mandala page, I wanted to experiment with the same imagery on each page, but done with different materials. Black and gold pen on the left, and colorful watercolor on the right.
This is probably my favorite and most simple page, but the photo doesn’t do it justice! I used painters tape to mask off the squares, and filled them in with gloss sealer and fine gold craft glitter.
Painters tape to the rescue again here. I taped off the inside of the pages to leave the text untouched, and sponge painted different metallic paints to create the frame. When the paint dried, I carefully removed the painters tape, and used a black micron to draw some plant illustrations.
For the following dream catcher spread I really wanted to build a lot of texture. I started by painting with coffee for a natural base in the background. On tope of that I added felt and fabric, embroidery, cut paper feathers and “beads”, painted accents and gold metallic paint pen… really just anything I could find to add new texture.
Below I traced a couple different sized tape spools to make the circles, then just filled in the sections with paint. The secret is to leave a bunch of sections open with text showing through.
This was another spread where I wanted to play with the same type of image, done in different materials. The left chevron pattern was made with a stamp I cut out of cardboard. The right chevron pattern was created with different cut paper, felt and fabric.