took me four years to paint like Raphael,
but a lifetime to paint like a child. ~Picasso
The first thing I had to do was
find a book that was 5" x 5" or smaller, so I went to my favorite used book
store. I walked around the store twice, scanning the shelves for a little
book. I couldn't even find a board book, at first. I was almost ready to
give up (after having nabbed a few other gems) but decided to go back to
the kids' section one more time. There, on the bottom shelf, buried underneath
some other books was a miniature copy of Time for Bed. Perfect! Children's
board books are great for making altered books, especially for those just
starting out with the art form, because they are small, sturdy, and have
only a few pages to design on.
When I started working
on this book, I decided to do a layout on a piece of chipboard first so that
I could get the measurements as precise as possible before I started cutting
in the actual book. I traced around the edge of the book onto the chipboard
and cut it out. Then I put all the elements I had been collecting for this
project on the table in front of me and started playing with them on my template,
trying to find a nice layout.
Making altered books this small is not as easy as I thought it would be.
You have to use less and be careful about spacing of elements. Once
I knew where I wanted things, I had to decide how deep I was going to cut
into the book.
just going to be a single double-page spread, so I didn't have to worry about
what was going to be on the other pages. But I had to decide how deep I was
going to cut for the ink pen, for example. Did I want it sitting in a niche
flush with the page or sitting on top of the page? Did I want a matte effect
around the picture? Did I want one matte or two . . . and so on.
I lightly sanded all the
book pages to give them a little "tooth" so any paint or adhesive I used
would adhere better. I use an overhead transparency pen to mark out my measurements.
This is a great tool to use when making altered books. They are great for
marking things on transparencies or glossy surfaces because you can wipe
water or a baby
up or after you're done. I use the transparency pen all the time to mark
other slick surfaces.
Once I had the pages marked,
I placed my self-healing mat underneath the page I was cutting and on top
of the pages I didn't want cut. I used a 6" steel ruler as a straight edge
and dragged my exacto knife down the page alongside the ruler to cut through
the board book pages. It took me four to six passes with the exacto on each
cut in order to get through a page. By the time I was finished cutting, my
hand and arm were very tired. That is not an easy job.
Next, I had to figure
out what I was going to place behind the elements as backgrounds in the niches.
I found some scraps of fabric that coordinated with the colors in the girl's
dress- red floral satin behind the paint tubes and burgandy velvet behind
the pen. I painted a black border around the edge of one cut-out to frame
the picture on the left.
After that, I started
tearing some gold leathery paper that I had purchased at a stamp convention.
I glued the paper all over the window edges, making sure to wrap it around
the window openings and onto the insides of the book. This was
a very tedious process, but kind of relaxing at the same time. I used matte
medium as my adhesive. However, I mostly use the thicker gel medium
when making altered books to glue the pages together. I then placed the collage
pictures in their little
and continued gluing the gold paper all over the book.
I used gold
art papers from
ArtChix Studios to frame both
the pictures. In order to adhere the pen, I used 5 minute epoxy after
sanding the underside as flat as I could.
I also used epoxy to attach the little painter palette button in the
top left corner. The flourishes you see inside the vertical picture were
made by gluing a paper napkin over the collage picture. It melts into
the lighter colored background, but I didn't like the white shadow it
left behind on the burgandy colors of the girl's dress, so I painted
over parts of it.
I had some old dried up watercolor tubes that I had been dying to use in
a book, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. I used matte gel
medium to glue them in place.
not least, I added the quote at the bottom of the left page. I had a scrap
of black cardstock that I cut with deckle scissors. I must have practiced
writing the quote about a dozen times until I had the spacing and lettering
just right. Even with all the practice, I still messed-up twice before the
writing came out okay. I used my Dremel tool to drill the holes for the eyelets
and gel medium to glue the paper and the eyelets in place.
front and back covers are completely unfinished. I decided to leave them
that way to help people understand more about the process of making altered
giving myself an "assignment" with a certain theme in order to enter a contest
or get published in some way. It's a way to give myself a concrete goal to
work towards, and I stretch a bit because I try new things. I enjoyed making
this altered book for ISABA, and I feel proud about having shown my book
with other talented altered book artists.
If you are interested in more information about the art of making altered
books, please take a look at my
Board Book :: Sea Dreams
Book :: Heart-chitecture.