Altered Board Book ~ Sea DreamsIt took me so long to get this little altered board book done. Not because it was difficult to do, but because my “real life” kept getting in the way of making it. Finishing the school year, doing some late spring cleaning (I made a promise to myself to de-clutter my life), working in the garden, looking after the kids (and my poor neglected husband), these things and so many more make it hard to work through a project from beginning to end. But I keep plugging away, as so many of us do. Little by little, until finally I find a chunk of time and am able to pull everything together. When I finish, I breathe a sigh of relief. Unfinished art weighs on me like stones in my pockets. I close the office/studio room door, but I carry around the ideas, the thought of the thing, with me all through the day. And then, at night, when the heat has subsided, the TVs are quiet, and I hear snoring coming from various bedrooms, I finally empty my pockets of those weights and feel free… if I’m able to keep my eyes open, that is.
I have been trying to transfer my small altered book collage work onto a larger canvas. I did a 24 ” X 36″ mermaid collage, and then decided that since I was enjoying the text, colors, and imagery so much, I would make a companion altered board book. Such extremes. With the canvas I feel like I can’t fill it up. With the altered book, I feel like I’m spilling off the page. Definitely different challenges. I hope you enjoy reading about what I did for for my little altered board book – Sea Dreams.
First I glued pages together using gel medium. Then I sanded and gessoed (twice) all the surfaces of the little board book. I then put a glaze of Lumiere’s mixed with acrylic matte medium over all the pages, alternating green and blue double-page spreads.Even though I end up covering many of the pages with paper, putting gesso and paint over the pages makes me feel like I have a fresh structure to work on. For the cover, I cut out an oval, so the lovely mermaid image would show through from the first page to the front. It is not easy cutting through two thicknesses of board, especially when I’m cutting curved edges. My husband got me a “monster exacto” blade. It has a whole bunch of fresh blades sitting inside, and when one gets dull you rotate a dial and a new blade emerges. Very cool. And very sharp. Fortunately I didn’t have to worry too much about jaggedy edges because I knew I would be wrapping gold tissue paper around the rim of the window.
Next I glued sheet music to the lower portion of the cover – front and back. I stamped over it with Lumiere Halo Blue Gold. The beaded trim was made by using gold wire ribbon and hand sewing the gold braid on top of it while adding the beads. I attached the beaded ribbon using double sided adhesive tape. Later, however, I had to remove the ribbon so I could fix the outside spine of the book which had split. I removed the cardboard piece covering the spine, and replaced it with painted and sponged Tyvec and then re-taped the gold ribbon. I also punched a hole in the Tyvec at the top and threaded in the yarns and threads adding beads, charms and buttons. Then I glued down the sand dollar charm and put little gold hole-less beads around it.
The first thing I did on page one of my altered board book was glue the mermaid’s picture so that it was centered beneath the window. Then I collaged some of my gessoed tissue paper all over the two pages. You can read more about how I made this gessoed paper. This particular gessoed paper had been wrinkled, painted with metallic green Lumiere, and then when it was just slightly damp, I used a soft brush and dusted over it with Aztec gold PearlEx powder. This paper had been hanging in my closet since last summer, waiting to be used. I love the way it looks here.
I put some fabric mesh and sequin scrap in the corners to frame the pictures. Below the picture I layered German text, green vellum, and packing tape transfers of the starfish. I also glued a little piece of decorative paper at the top with a green plastic rhinestone in the center.
Teach me to hear mermaids singing.
These altered board book pages have lots and lots of layers. On the bottom is a French sea chart which was enlarged and printed on tissue paper. On top of that is some lace paper. Then I make copies of tide tables and glued those on the left side. On top of that was an old soap advertisement and a page from an antique children’s book. The shell stamps were done using an ink jet transfer. On the right side is a mermaid image and a compass rose, both printed on tissue paper using my Epson C82 printer. The two little mermaid images were taken from a larger picture. I used Brilliance stamping ink to add color and unify the images after they were dry.
Do you like to swim little fish?
My fish likes to swim.
The seaweed forms were made by melting Tyvec with my iron. I painted the Tyvec with my FW acrylic inks. After they had dried, I placed the Tyvec between a sandwich of parchment paper. I ironed the sandwich on the cotton setting and watched the Tyvec virtually disappear. Make sure that you do the ironing outside because the fumes are pretty nasty. And I wouldn’t recommend these techniques to anyone who is sensitive to odors. I peeled the green blue shapes off the parchment and used gel medium to adhere them to the book pages. The pink/gold/purple coral shapes were done using the same procedure, except this time I painted the Tyvec with swirls of the Lumieres. Since the paint is thicker, the Tyvec doesn’t disappear as it did with the inks; it bubbles up into interesting shapes and designs. Glitter, hole-less gold beads, cheap plastic pearls, and a couple of starfish were scattered along the ocean floor. Then I draped the entire spread with shimmery blue tulle to make it look as though we were viewing a scene underwater. I attached the tulle using a strip of double stick tape down the center of the gutter as well as few dots around the edges to hold it down.
I grow old . . . I grow old . . .
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.
Shall I part my hair behind?
Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers
And walk along the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing each to each.
I do not think that they will sing to me.
~ T. S. Eliot
I tried to make the last spread of this altered board book a little more modern looking. I put down layers of tissue with a beer label and an old advertising card on the left side. On the right was a collage of a woman from a vintage long underwear ad and some miscellaneous magazine images for her tail. The text was printed out and glued down on the page. I put more tissue around the edges, and then I was done!