Altered Book Arts ~ Winter MoonEvery second Saturday of the month, our local library has a book sale, and barring fire or flood, you can always find me there a little after the doors open. I have a pattern of attack that I implement. First I pick up a paper bag (with a handle). Then I go to the “premium” book section; the higher end books are to be found there. Just last month I picked up four illustrated dictionaries from the 1800’s for $2.00 each. Now I didn’t really need them, and I had to borrow a dolly to lug them to the car, but how could I pass up such a deal?
I won’t bore you with the details of how I methodically wend my way through the library’s basement shelves. The important thing to know is that I always end up at the children’s section, scrounging through boxes of board books, even though my children have long passed the stage where they need books that can be wiped clean with a damp cloth.
It was in the children’s section that I found the board book that I used for this project – a board book in the shape of a crescent moon. And so I snatched it up, knowing that it would eventually be put to good use for my altered book arts.
A moon shaped board book, silver stars, holeless beads, plastic pearls, Tyvec, imitation silver leaf, acrylic paints, tissue paper, silver and blue embroidery threads, Dorland’s Cold Wax, glitter, Judi-Kins Colbalt Blue Rox, alphabet stickers, Sennilier silver oil pastel, and Golden mediums: soft gel (matte), modeling paste, fluid gloss medium; and Liquitex mediums: glass beads and ceramic stucco.
When it came right down to making use of this book, I couldn’t think of anything more creative than doing something about the moon. So I started thinking about the moon, and I went outside to have a look. It was one of those cold, crisp nights. No fog. No haze. Just one glowing white moon and a gillion piercing dots of starlight. What makes the moon so appealing? When it’s full it looks just like a silver pond waiting for me to dive into. And that image gave me the idea for my poem. It started out pretty long and rambling, but I relentlessly winnowed it down to its essence, and when I was done, it was just the right length for a line on every double page spread of the book.
I like to work in board books because of their sturdiness and size. The thing I don’t like about them is the plastic coating which covers all the pages. Paints and glues don’t stick to it very well, so I always begin a board book by sanding every page, front and back, cleaning off the dust with a baby wipe, and then painting the pages with gesso or white acrylic paint. It’s like preparing a canvas.
I also measured and cut strips of Tyvec to on which to write my poem. Looking at the book now, I wish I had printed my poem out on the computer instead of handwriting it. I think the text would have looked more polished that way.
Making the cover of my book was so much fun because I got to add all kinds of sparkly things. I put a piece of wax paper under the cover page to protect the rest of the book. On my palette (a cream cheese lid) I mixed up a pearly concoction using Golden modeling paste, cheap pearlescent acrylic paint, and glitter. Then I used a palette knife to spread it across the cover of the book, fluffing it up, just the way I would if I was frosting a cake. I let it start to set, and then I stuck in little silver stars, cheap pearls, tiny holeless beads, mica chips and sprinkles of glitter. When the book was all finished, I repeated the process on the back cover, although I didn’t make the fluffy peaks quite as high, and I left off the pearls and stars so it wouldn’t be too lumpy.
The First Page
On this page I laid down two coats of silver acrylic paint. While the paint was still tacky, I stuck down little pieces of imitation silver leaf. After that dried, I used a circle stencil and white pearlescent stamping ink to make the little circles around the edges of the spread.
I feel the pull of the winter moon
and dream I’m diving down in that silvery pond.
The Second Page
Before I decorated this page, I made myself a sandwich. Not pastrami on rye, a tissue paper sandwich. This is how I did it: First, I taped a piece of freezer paper on my work table to protect it. Next I painted two cheap pieces of tissue paper with fluid gloss medium. The tissue paper will get very wet and soaked through and will be a little fragile until it dries. After a while and before it dries all the way, you should lift the paper up, and move it to a new location on the freezer wrap so it doesn’t stick to the paper. After the first side is dry, turn it over and repeat the process. When the tissue is thoroughly dry, you’re going to be amazed at how tough it is. It will look like a sheet of transparent plastic.
The next thing I did was to paint on one of the sheets with pale blue pearly acrylic paint. While the paint was wet, I cut pieces of silver and metallic blue embroidery threads and let them fall into the wet paint. I also sprinkled some more of that silvery glitter. Then I let it dry completely.
The next part involves ironing. I have a small tacking iron that I use for crafts, but you could use a regular iron on a low setting. Make sure you iron on top of a board or something stiff so your paper is supported. Lay the decorated paper on the board and place the other clear tissue paper on top to make a sandwich. Put a piece of release paper over the sandwich. The release paper I use is from collage artist Jonathan Talbot’s web site. You can purchase it here. Release paper is treated with silicone to keep things from sticking to it when they are heated. It is also used under stickers and labels. So you may have some of this paper available around the house. The idea is, you don’t want your iron to directly touch the acrylic tissue paper or else you will create a sticky mess.
So place the release paper on top of your tissue paper sandwich and gently iron it. The heat from the iron will cause the acrylic gloss to melt slightly and fuse the two papers together.
After doing this, I laid the book pages on top and traced its outline. Then I cut and glued my decorated paper into the book. I also rubbed Dorland’s Cold Wax over the pages so that they wouldn’t stick together when the book was closed.
Naked, my body sends gentle ripples
across a shore of sky.
The Third Page
Compared with the last page, this one was a breeze. All I did was mix Liquitex’s glass beads medium with soft gel medium and spread it over the book page. After it was dry, I painted it with blue acrylics. Then I decorated the edge with some Cobalt Blue Rox from Judi-Kins.
After a time, I lift myself, dripping,
from that heavenly pool
The Last Page
Again, this page was fast and easy. I used Liquitex’s Ceramic Stucco medium and smooshed it roughly around the pages. Before it dried, I used a piece of cardboard that had holes punched in it, laid it on top of the damp stucco, and then spread more stucco on top to make the raised circles on the page.
When the pages had dried, I painted them with black, gray, and silver paint. I also smeared highlights in places using a silver oil pastel.
She holds me there in her lap of light
and sticks star flowers in my cold, wet hair.
To finish the book, I put a heavy piece of decorated paper around the outside spine to reinforce it a bit. I also used a silver Krylon leafing pen around the book edges.
This book turned out to be a fun opportunity to play with different background techniques that I can use in other altered book arts. I’m pleased with the book’s simplicity and variety of interesting textures throughout.
If you enjoyed looking at this piece of mixed media art, you might also like Altered Board Book ~ Sea Dreams.