Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Altered Books and Summer Breaks

By: Annie Chamovitz

From: The Cumberland Creek Mystery Series
Author: Mollie Cox Bryan
Book 2 Title: Scrapped

 So I’ve been spending a lot of time with the boys this summer, which is a good thing, mostly, but sometimes I just really need a break. I go to the crops every Saturday night to be with my friends and get some scrapbooking done, but I like to be by myself, as well. So when I saw that the library was having a free altered book workshop on Saturday, I signed up—knowing Mike would be home with the boys. Altered books are old books that people make other things from—scrapbooks, journals, boxes, and so on.
When I arrived at the library, there was already a crowd and people were intent on what they were doing. I felt late, even though I wasn’t. It turned out that the person who actually knew about altered books and was going to teach the class had been called out of town, so we were really just sort of plunging in with a teacher-leader who was a lot of fun, but didn’t know a lot about altered books.
The women on both sides of me were some kind of creative genius. One was drawing a cat on the title page to cut out  and the other had made a delightful little box out of her book. She was so patient. I’d have chucked that thing across the room. She carved out all the pages in that book. But her finished product was worth it.
As they were finishing up, I was still missing with the “mod podge” and figuring out what I wanted to do. The first hurdle I surprisingly had to overcome was the feeling that I had that I was “destroying” a book. A perfectly fine book. But then I heard someone say they would just pitch these books anyway—so we were "upcycling" them and making them into something useful. Well, that’s a stretch—let’s say something maybe bordering on the artistic—for the rest of the crowd anyway, certainly not me. I kept thinking that scrapbooking has a purpose and this didn’t seem to. But I guess that art doesn’t need to have a purpose, does it?
So, my little book is definitely a work in progress. I’m going to keep practicing the techniques. But in the mean time, if you’d like to see some really cool altered books, check this out.
In the mean time, here’s my little altered book.  A work-in-progress.

Have you ever tried to make altered books?

Check out Mollie Cox Bryan online:
Twitter: @MollieCoxBryan


  1. We're "altered," but not covered in fabric except when Willow dries us with the towels she embroidered for us. Mmmmmm. We're not sure that's the same thing.

  2. I'm not sure, either! But it sounds lovely. Thanks for commenting.

  3. I've never heard of an altered book before today. I'm pretty sure I would have the same feeling that you did -- it's not right to destroy a book. But the other women had a point. If they're going to be destroyed anyway, then why not make them into something else? So what does one do with an altered book? Am I mistaken or would carved-out pages make ideal places to hide things that might be clues?


  4. I inherited a lot of vintage books and many are in disrepair. One I want to make into a altered book was by General Grant and I thought its just the right size. I want to use the book as a journal of sorts of my Mother's life with odds and ends I kept from her. I have been wanting to try this but hesitated because I could not find instruction to do it correctly. Maybe now I will give it a try! Looking forward to book 2 its a great series

    1. Thanks so much, Lexie! And what a fabulous idea. There's a lot of stuff online about how to make altered books. Try Youtube. You can find just about everything there!

  5. Yes, Krista, you're absolutely right. A carved out book would make a great place for clues. I'm going to use mine as a journal/scrapbook about our summer.

  6. Yes, Krista, you're absolutely right. A carved out book would make a great place for clues. I'm going to use mine as a journal/scrapbook about our summer.

  7. Just the idea that people would destroy a book I have been looking for for years ... I can't make myself do that.
    I have seen altered books a few years ago in an exhibition, the pages were glued together, with the book open, and then painted, and the pages shown were decorated with all kinds of things. You keep the book on a stand so it shows nicely.