Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Altered Books- My First Love

My first exposure to "altered" art was altered books.
So when I'm in the mood to create, I often default to altering yet another book.
I have a few started. Very few (maybe one?) completed.
(Can you relate?  I hope I'm not alone in this.)
I started this book about two weeks ago.
It's a little hardbound, pocket sized, book of Christian devotionals, copyrighted 1948.
I found it, while putting away a box of books, left from our move last December.
I don't use Christian themed books exclusively, but, I like to use them because,
1. I love God.
2. I love encouraging words.
3. I like to allow printed words to show through my art so
the words need to have a positive message.
4. A book with a positive message gives off a good vibe.
5. A book with a good vibe will more likely get worked in-- and maybe, just maybe,
 I will complete it. Or I will just really enjoy working in it a lot.
I admire people who paint in their books with wild abandon, but I am so uptight that I dislike wrinkled pages (and paint is so messy!) so in this book especially, I started with rubber stamped images (quick drying ink) and minimal collage (quick drying glue stick).  I don't like to plan a whole lot and doing messy art means I have to cover my desk and worry about spatters and pages sticking together, etc, etc.   I'm such a whiner, aren't I?
But, in this book, there's no mistaking that it's an actual book (the lettering shows through everywhere) and I like that the words become part of the design.
They are encourging, so I don't know if I want to hide them anyway.
Also I like to do folds and pockets which work better when the pages aren't encrusted with gesso and paint.  That's my story and I'm sticking with it.
There is no particular theme to this book, although I started with the vague idea of using some of my favorite rubber stamps-- ones that more often get used on a card or art that gets sent away for a swap or gift.  I have a lot of Asian stamps which, of course led to an Asian themed page, which led to another, because I chose to wrap a page edge in origami paper. My apologies to China and Japan for mixing your images like I don't know that your cultures have distinctions-- I cry "artistic license".
Technical notes:
*The best altered books start with a stitched, not glued, binding.
Peek into the spine and if you don't see clear signatures (folded groups of pages) or thread within the book, move on.  Glue cracks over time and your hard worked pages will fall out.
Also if the pages are brittle (break instead of crease), reject that book also. Brittle pages work better as collage material than as foundations for art.
*There are no rules.  But, you will thank yourself to prep your book a little.  I went through this devotional and tore out 3 full sheets of folded paper from the center of each signature.  The binding thread is relaxed, so the pages will open flat to be worked on, and the spine is relaxed so I can bulk up the pages with collaged elements and not have the book straining to close in the end.
Now go make something!


Linda said...

Good to see you doing this! I'm not sure how many altered books I have "in process"! ha! And you've worked in at least one of them, if not two.... need to go check. I have been painting in mine lately.... I like the process of doing it and letting it dry and then going back.... seems like I'm at least doing something for a few days! I'm looking forward to seeing more of your pages.... these are great!

Caterina Giglio said...

well done...lovely butterflies and that double eye is arresting...

~*~Patty S said...

Altered books are my fav thing too and the beginnings of my venture into mixed media and altered art...

Love your pages especially with words showing through which is an added bonus!!!!

Very happy you're making time to play dear Nathalie!

Jeanie said...

Nathalie, I am totally dazzled. Oh, what you do! Your layering is stunning.

I've missed a lot of your posts -- must sign up.

Makes me smile, my friend. And inspires me, too!

Happy Day Mail said...

Oh, I've always wanted to try doing an altered book, but simple don't know how to begin. Loved reading this post about yours...looks great and sounds like a lot of fun! Do offer any instructions in more posts that would help a "wanna do" like me :> Thanks!