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  • Writer's pictureMiki Goerdt

What is altered book art?

Altered book art is a form in which a book serves as a canvas for creating mixed media art. People often recycle books that they no longer need for altered book projects, applying various art materials such as collage pictures, paints, inks, and found objects onto pages. Hardcover books are best suited for this type of art project.


One valuable aspect of the altered book-making process is the opportunity to modify the content printed in a book. Books often hold knowledge and values of the society where they are being published. Until self-publishing became readily available in recent years, the selection and editorial processes of book publication traditionally controlled whose knowledge was considered valuable. As Percy (2013) stated, “building collages on its pages changes the meanings of what others say we should be (p.249)” and transforms it into something new. Altered book making provides us with an opportunity to examine narratives we tell ourselves and contemplate what stories we choose to create for our own lives. 


What are the techniques you can use for an altered book creation? Possibilities are endless. Some artists create a sculpture out of a book. Another artist may glue pictures and cut out papers onto pages. Here are some examples of my own altered book pages: 

  1. Cut out sections on a page – This establishes a connection to the next page. Exploring which part of the previous page’s image shows through the cut-out section adds an element of fun.

2. Collage various papers to create an image. You can cut pages from different sections of the book and use them for collaging. 

3. Use cutout images from magazines. 

A picture of the mountain was glued down after the pages were prepped with white gesso.

The right side page has an alcove, which were also prepped with glue and white gesso

to bond multiple pages together. 

4. Create a black-out poem

5. Add found objects or fabrics. Create an alcove by cutting a section out to accommodate 3D objects.

Wooden beads are incorporated after an alcove was created. 

When starting an altered book project, consider selecting a purpose or theme. For example, you can explore your experience of being a student.Reflect on the topic of the book you are using (e.g., If you are using a cookbook from three decades ago, consider what comes up for you as you flip through the pages. In the past, I created altered book art from a textbook on psychological testing and assessment, reflecting on the significance of this topic and my feelings towards it). You can also explore a role in your life through an altered book (e.g. being a parent, being an immigrant, being a woman).

Join the altered book art club for mothers in April 2024---More info here.

Percy, M. (2013). Pages from a re/claimed book. Journal of Visual Art Practice, 12(3), 249–256.



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