Don’t Care for a Book? Alter It!

Yesterday, I ventured into the craft of altered books with baby steps: a workshop at a local stamp and craft store.

A longtime bibliophile at heart, I knew it would be tough for me to begin defacing a book, even if it were in the name of art, so I decided to rip that band aid off quickly. I started with a book by one of my favorite authors, though the book itself ended up being more attractive than it was interesting (the first 100 pages or so were great, but after that the narrative dissipated and the story became tedious).

Without further ado, here was my “blank” canvas, The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana by Umberto Eco:

Blank Canvas

The first alteration we made as a class was a simple pocket, formed by folding a page in upon itself and fastening it to the page below it with brads:

Pocket In Progress

We then used distress ink on the all pages in the spread and stamped a couple shipping tags to stuff inside the pocket. I thought the Mona Lisa fit quite well with the Italian art and pop culture posters featured throughout Queen Loana (which, as I say, made the book quite visually interesting):


Before finishing that spread (which I get the impression might never really be done, but certainly not within a two-hour class), we then moved on to cutting a window through a page:

Window Window

Again, this was just a beginning. Fleshing out the spread, both above and below the window, is my continuing homework.

The last couple alterations we had time for were a pop-up element and text masking. For the pop up, we used an illustration from the Dover archives. Here it is in the process of popping up:

Popping Up

And here it is fully popped up:

Pop Up

I chose the religious imagery on the page (there’s plenty of that to choose from in Queen Loana) to go with the embellishment, but the text I found to mask was purely a happy coincidence:

In all, the class was quite inspiring. Though I began a little skeptically, due to all my book-loving baggage, I now think I’m hooked. This is going to be yet another expensive and time-consuming hobby, I can tell.

UPDATE: A more detailed how-to, inspired by this post, appears in Craft: 02.