ABCs for Altered Books

Altered books provide lots of creativity, spawning the use of all sorts of media and it’s fun.

Braid or macrame, heavy string or yarn; affix it in rows to the outside spine of book, letting threads hang from the bottom edge for a fringe effect.

Crumpled plastic wrap to apply ink onto page for background. Use 2 or 3 colors of ink if you’re adventurous.
Color block technique provides a colorful geometric background.

Duct tape, masking tape or black electrical tape can be used to mask part of a page or to use as a funky adhesive.

Embellishments such as buttons, fibers, flowers, beads and buckles add interest to a page.

Fabric painting on muslin or other material make a interesting decorative piece, especially if embroidered or machine sewn to paper.
Found objects make a flat collage, especially using a variety of collected papers, tickets, to-do notes, etc.

Graph papers that have patterns or figures drawn and colored on them make fun backgrounds. If you don’t have real graph paper, make your own. Let your lines look natural. No rulers allowed.

Hardware from a typical hardware store can be arranged in patterns — use washers, very thin nails, rubber gaskets, nuts, etc.

Ink jet prints for transfers make unusual copies of photographs to display as focal point.

Junk, found in thrift stores, dollar stores or antique shops, can be used as all types of embellishments or project starters.

Knots, the tiny embroidered ones, can be sewn as an outline of a special image or around the edge of a page.

Labels from products, glued to a page randomly, make an interesting background or layer.

Mylar balloons, deflated and cut in pieces, are fun to glue onto pages.
Metallic paint or pens add glittery accents.

Nail polish, in moderate amounts, can be used to draw or write on the page. If page is very thin, draw with polish onto a thick piece of paper and glue it on as part of a collage.

Openings cut through some attached pages make windows to hold tiny treasures.

Pockets, especially from jeans, are great to glue onto a page and use to hold secret messages, photos or manila tags with attached strings. This makes a nice textured page.

pieces, hand embroidered or machine sewn together, add lots of color. Can add a secret panel; one to lift for a surprise or make a pocket over an embroidered piece to hold a secret.

Ransom note cut out of magazine or newspaper letters can fill an entire sheet of paper, and can deliver all sorts of messages.
Ribbons, braided or singly, one or many colors, can be cut to hang from a page. Use as a multi-colored fringe from the bottom of the page.

Stencils can be used for positive or negative images; paint through a screen, plastic doily, a net bag that once held potatoes…

Thread a shoelace through holes punched on the edge of some papers to bind the pages together, or tie pages together with the lace.
Time lines personalize an altered book and at the same time add a new variety of marking.

Unryu papers or other hand-made papers add diversity.

Vellum paper to layer, scratch, stencil, or use in rubbings.

Weave thin strips of paper together to add to an altered book page, using paper that has been stamped, or has been handwritten on, or on paper that’s been covered with modeling paste and paint.
Wax relief — mark with wax crayon, then paint over with a variety of marking media.

X-acto knife to cut a window or door in an altered book and then use as a little altar or shrine.

Yarn, embroidery thread or fibers to wrap around a page, a card or to hold the entire book together.

Zebra paper or fabric and other wild animal prints add a slice of animal life to the book.

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