Kerrie Woodhouse

Whimsical words and watercolour

Altered books - recycling or vandalism...?

Beginner Resourcesphoenixarttally

"Eek!"I am peeping out of the cracks in the fingers of my hand that leapt reflexively to my face upon watching Lovely Jane 'altering' a book for art journaling, in an online class. My Inner Librarian fainted when she witnessed the removal of some of the pages of an old picture book, so fortunately she can't see gesso and acrylic paint being slathered all over the remaining pages right now.

You see, I have always had the deepest respect for Books. Not for me, the dog-eared page corners... and notes scribbled in margins.....? Heaven forbid! No, no, my deep reverence for the printed word, ingrained since childhood, dictates that I never sully the book.

On the other hand, it does make good sense to take something old that might end up on the rubbish heap or recycled into toilet paper and give it new life and purpose as an art journal. A more dignified end...surely? In fact, not an end, but a new beginning, and I, of all people, can't argue against reinvention. It makes sense , I see that. Pages must be removed so that when those that remain have been thickened with paint, gesso, and collage, the book can still close properly. And of course, anyone intimidated by that blank page will understand the appeal of having an already 'imperfect' page to begin with, as a spring board, somewhere to start. I'm sure my Inner Librarian could raise some counter arguments but right now she is looking for her Xanax. My Inner Child however, is quite delighted with the idea and definitely thinks I should give it a whirl.

One of my first altered book pages

So is altered 'bookery' recycling or vandalism? It has taken quite a few months of internal debate to settle this issue within myself. But, when I was clearing out old editions of accounting textbooks, it seemed to be a sign. What a perfect exercise for me. Plastering a new life over the old one, as it were... Well, how could I not?

So here are some pages that were once all about costing models and budgeting but are now hosting colour, joy and playfulness...

The cover of an altered book art journal... hard to believe this was once an accounting textbook!

So I'm definitely warming to this whole concept of using an altered book. My only issue with this first one is that the paper is way too thin. Usually gesso makes up for poor paper quality, strengthening whatever paper is there so that it can take the painting and stamping and stenciling that one might feel called to do. Sadly though, this paper is just that little bit too thin, even with the gesso. It is manageable as you can see above, but just not as pleasurable to work with as it might have been. Something to bear in mind for next time.

I did have enormous fun with the cover though.... My beloved creams, lots of texture and a butterfly. Now that's more like it!