Thursday, October 7, 2010

Altering a Book - by Lea Cioci

Altered Pages Altering Books
Lea Cioci CPD CPT

Sheets Used:
1724 Time Collage Background
155 Silver Screen
836 D Art Faux Postage

Books make the perfect canvas(es) with the work bound within one cover. Altering books is just what it sounds like, taking a used book and altering it into artwork. Book pages make the ideal surface for stamping, inks, paint, collage, scrapbooking, and mixed-media techniques. This is a type of recycling of sorts, creating something new out of something old. Some people cringe at changing a book structure, but I’d rather recycle an old book into art than to see it going into a landfill. One library in Rockford, IL, did just that; it took old books that didn’t sell in a sale and threw them out! I love to find old books at the Goodwill, flea markets, libraries, and book sales. Most books cost me 25 cents and no more than one dollar!

There is no right or wrong way to create new AB (altered book) art. In some cases, many like to cover the whole page with new art, while some just use ink and leave words or parts of words exposed – if it matches a theme or a sentiment that the artist is trying to convey. AB’s can be started with a theme to follow as the art is created or a number of people just like to create as they go a long, seeing how the colors, textures, and images draw out their expression.

Collage images are fun to play with to communicate a certain feeling or theme within AB’s. I LOVE using Altered Pages images to add various elements as I work on an AB. Along with images, a variety of 3D components such as beads, fibers, charms can be added for enhancement. Mixed media techniques like pockets made with pages, niches cut into the book, and other interesting renderings can totally change a look of the book.

Books have been altered since the time of medieval monks who reused book parchment, a precious commodity. In 1996 Tom Phillips created the current art form with his classic altered book, “Hummunent.”

Many artists like to share creating art by doing what is called “round robins,” where within the originator’s book; various other artists craft art in the pages. Once all the people who have signed up for the round robin are finished, the book is returned to the originator. The book is basically passed around until all the art is completed. Non-artists ask, “What do you do with an altered book?” An altered book is a complete structure filled with art that can be displayed on a table or shelf for others to view or as a d├ęcor accent.

You do not need many tools to start your discovery of altered book design. Take your Altered Pages images, maybe some pigment ink, a glue stick and begin to create!!!


  1. Beautiful pages, Lea!!

    And it's true, you don't need tons of special supplies to start an altered book--it's a great altered art project!

  2. Great post! I keep thinking about altering books & you've got me excited to get started

  3. I love doing altred books, and you have written a very nice article to get people excited who have not tried it before. All of your images work so well in altered books too. Now I am inspired I have to start another one soon. Thanks for th great tips