I've always been intrigued by the idea of an "altered book," probably due to the sheer fear factor: "Take a published book and chop it up, paint over the pages, and rewrite the whole thing according to your own taste? What??" Sacrilege, indeed! And all the more reason to throw caution to the wind and start making an altered book of my own.
Deciding to alter a book was, for me, a natural progression from art journaling. Ever since I began writing I've used magazine cut-outs to illustrate my WIP characters, their houses, their wardrobes, and anything else I needed to make my settings and action scenes more real in my mind's eye. Moving on to dedicated art journaling--including artwork and other collage elements to my journal entries--seemed the obvious next step after keeping extensive notebooks and files for each of my (many!) drafts. But after several art journals filled with poetry and personal essay, I felt I wanted to tackle something more in line with my fiction interests. An altered book seemed the perfect choice.
So...for my first attempt, I chose a used book from 1972 of architectural renderings: Six Colleges, Sketches by Allan Gamble. Reasons for my choice: the book was "sketchbook" size; not too many pages; lots of blank pages for my own artwork; and the existing black and white, pen and ink sketches were perfect backgrounds for collage and other mixed media. Most important of all, the "six colleges" (all belonging to the University of Sydney, Australia) have a certain gothic creepiness that appeals to my imagination.
As you can see in the top photo, the cover is truly a "blank slate" of unbleached linen. At this point I have no idea what I will do with it, but I promise it will be interesting. The inside of the book is just as challenging, starting with the end papers:
And the actual sketches:
And here's where I am now:
And because I am at heart a novelist, my altered book will have a plot by the time I'm finished, something about "Six Colleges and Four Girls." Here are my four (unnamed as of yet) main characters:
Aren't they cute? Over the next few weeks and months I'll be sharing more pictures and story line as I work my way through this--very fun--project. Now where did I put that glue stick...?
Tip of the Day: Working on something "just for fun" is just as important as writing or painting "for publication" or "for sale." The things we love for their own creative sake are the things that guide us toward our true direction.