Friday, September 3, 2010

Finishing Your Covers

Just as inside the book, there is no one way or right way to decorate or alter your book covers.  How much you do will depend on your taste, the look and condition of your covers, and of course, the content of your book.
There are two reasons to wait until the end to do your covers.  First of all, if you did your covers first you'd be constantly worrying about messing them up as you worked inside the book.
Secondly, doing the covers first will limit your flexibility and spontaneity.  You may start out thinking your book will be about the beach, but somewhere along the way, you decide to do a page about the mountains or the city.  If you had already done a beach-themed cover you wouldn't have that freedom.
Maybe the easiest thing to do is paint them.  If your covers are glossy you may want to gesso them first.  Or, if they're dark and you want light covers, gesso first as well.  Then you can add paint, glaze, inks, just about any colorant.
Another favorite method is collage.  If you've done any collage on the inside of your book and have some leftover papers, use them, which will give your book a unified feel and look.
Or, if there was a particular background technique you liked, just use it again on the outside of your AB.
If your covers are in bad shape and you aren't into adding paint, cover them with some scrapbook paper you really like.
You can certainly then add embellishments, letters, photos, etc.
Just remember this:  the outside of your book is what is going to take the most punishment, so consider that before you add anything.  You will also want to seal the outside, something that is not as necessary on the inner pages.  One or two coats of gel medium is a good sealant, but there are many others you can purchase.  

This is what my cover looked like when I began:
It's pretty, but it doesn't fit the vintage look of my pages, so I'm going to alter it completely.  First I add some grungeboard letters.  You can use chipboard as well.
Use letters that are fairly thick.  Next, I'll cover everything, including the letters, with tissue paper.  You can use any color (I'm using some old yellowish dress pattern paper), but either select white or a color that is close to how you want your book to look at the end.  

Place a pice of the tissue paper right over a letter.
Now, using the small brush and some gel medium, work the tissue all around the letter until its shape is well defined.  
Repeat this with the rest of your letters.  Then using torn pieces in different sizes and shapes, continue to cover everything with the tissue paper.
I've overlapped the pieces, and have applied many layers....I did want to cover the red as much as possible.  How much tissue you will wind up applying depends on how much you want to cover the original book covers.  In any case, use at least two layers.
My next step is to brush on a coat or two of a brown glaze.  Of course, you'll use whatever color you want.  But if you're using the tissue paper technique, do stick with a glaze as opposed to opaque paint, as you do want the texture of the tissue to show through.
Looking at this, I decided to highlight the letters, so I swiped them with some brown and green permanent ink.
This is a nice simple cover but I want a little more.  I have some of Tim Holtz's wonderful tissue tape and use that on one side of the cover.  I could also have used some scrapbook paper, paper from an old book, music sheets, etc.   Then I added a copy of one of the same photos I used within my book.

I brushed another coat of the brown glaze over everything, including the photo, which gives it an aged, sepia look.
I also covered the back cover with the tissue paper, but left it free of any embellishments.
I hope you have enjoyed this altered book journey as much as I have.  This is the last official posting, but the blog will remain open and active for your reference, and I hope, for you to add links to your own AB pages.
Just so you know, I still have a few blank pages in my book, so I'm not quite finished.  If I come upon any new or interesting techniques we can use, I will report them here.  So, while there won't be regular additions each Friday, you can expect future posts from time to time.
Have fun and go alter something!


  1. I love what you did with your cover. Mine's got a ways to go, but the rain will be here soon!

  2. A great finish to your wonderful tutorials. I will miss them on a Friday, but I will certainly feel more confident to give AB's a go now. Thanks, Eileen.

  3. Wow, what a great journey! So much to do and see! This is a wonderful blog, and so glad it will remain active! Thanks for all your hard work and sharing!

  4. OH Eileen!! Love the cover...FABULOUS job!!

  5. Absolutely beautiful! Thank you so much for the journey! :)

  6. Altered books remain my first love and this is something I would like to try. Thanks for sharing the techniques!

  7. I hopped over from the OWOH post - I am a monkey driving car owner artist alter book maker -
    oh sorry contact me on my blog if I win your key? shoot that should be on the other blog - hey ho, must move on so many to visit in just those short two weeks...


    (doings of doone)

  8. Fabulous work on this, love how you altered the whole thing and that texture is amazing
    hugs June x