Saturday, January 24, 2009

Altered books

I am an absolute bibliophile, and so the idea of trashing books is something I find quite difficult, but I have been seeing more and more beautiful examples of altered books, and I thought that it would make a fantastic project for a home education group - or even a collaboration between home education groups. Especially if it uses a book which would otherwise be thrown away. It could be a great project for outgrown board books - a lot of artists have started with one of those.

The first site I found was this one, which includes some tutorials on how to go about preparing books, and which taught me that sewn bindings are more durable than glued ones - and how to distinguish the two.

Most people choose a book they dislike, or a jumble sale buy. The school nearby often throws a large quantity of books into a skip after jumble sales - they would be perfect rescues for this sort of project. Mostly they remove pages to make room for sticking things into the pages that remain, but some people do very complex things, adding drawers or envelopes or recesses for items to be kept inside the book. I think that if you have some skill with this art form, you could make marvellous mementoes of holidays or events, bringing together objects, tickets, photographs into one object that can be kept.

Some people work on books as a group. I have seen projects where each member of a group of four people decides on a season and then the books are circulated, so that each of the group of our artists contributes pages to each of the books in the set.

Sometimes a broad subject like peace, or women or christmas is chosen and everyone in the group starts a book and they are swapped every month to enable everyone in the project to contribute pages to all the books.

I think it would work very well in a home education group, or even with a group of home education groups, all swapping books and contributing towards them.

There are other techniques for altering books which do not involve adding things. I'd already seen Brian Dettmer's work featured on Boingboing. He must choose his books very carefully and then makes a work of art by cutting away parts of the pages to make something quite wonderful which is a book and...not a book.

Some people make a new book before they start, although how you get up the courage to write or stick anything to beautiful pages like these, I am not sure.

you can find a lot more by googling "altered books". Once you know about it, you see them everywhere.

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