Sunday, May 30, 2010

Choosing A Book To Alter

You can use just about any hard covered book, but be aware that most newer books have their pages glued in, as opposed to sewn in, and also may have been made with cheaper paper than the older books.  So, a somewhat older book will probably be sturdier and better for altering.  I emphasize somewhat older because if a book is very old,  the pages may be too fragile, the binding may be weak, and you don't want to put a lot of love and effort into a book that will fall apart.  We'll be doing a lot to these books....adding paint, ink, glazes, gesso, papers, embellishments....the book you choose has to be in good enough condition to stand up to all this altering.

Here is the book that I chose:

Why did I choose this one?  First of all, I like the way it looks.  It is large enough to do many pages.  One of the techniques I'll be doing is creating a niche in my book, so it had to be thick enough to do that and still have enough pages to do other things.  Bear that in mind when choosing a book.    Also, my book  has some interesting illustrations that I may want to include in some of my spreads:
The book is about the life of Henry VIII, which I found interesting.  If you can find a book with a subject that appeals to you, great.  But it really isn't necessary.  You may wind up totally covering each and every page so that the original text disappears.  But you also may decide to allow some original text to be a part of your design,
The most important reason, however, that I chose this book is its condition.  It is about 40 years old, the pages seem sturdy, and you'll see in the next photo, the pages are sewn together.
If you go to the Lisa Vollrath site I mentioned in the previous post, she has a section on "how to identify a sewn spine," that clearly illustrates what a sewn, as opposed to glued, book looks like.

Have fun choosing a book!  If you don't have one at home, look in flea markets, yard sales, second hand stores, and your local library for older books for sale.   

This is a good time to talk about themes.  Do you even want one?  My book will be all about technique, so I probably won't have an underlying theme, but I've done books with specific themes and if that interests you, there are tons to choose from.  Click on Lisa's blinkie on the sidebar, then click on altered books, and you'll see a link to well over 300 possible themes.

A theme can be broad, like "my life," or specific, like "my career," or even more focused, like "my first job."  Of course it doesn't have to be about you at all.  Look at the list of themes and you'll see the possibilities are endless.


  1. Thanks for the information! Found the book I wanted to use is too old and brittle! But I can always use the pages and the cover for something else. Kerry P.

  2. Awesome I found my book today... I am thinking of doing a theme of ARTHaven and adding ATC,tags and elements from the art I recieve from all of you at ARTHaven,..
    Do you think that is a good theme?