What Is An Altered Book?

About a year ago, a coworker mentioned that she was joining in an altered book project. I had never heard the term before. “What is an altered book?” I asked. By the end of the day, here is what I’d learned:

An altered book is an art object created from an existing book that has been transformed through painting, collage, rubber stamping, tearing, cutting, or any creative means. The artist altering the book may choose a theme or topic that she wishes to explore, or simply begin creating within the book’s pages with no theme or unifying factor at all. The goal is to create an object of self-expression rather than a functional work.

The materials and techniques used to create altered books are as varied as the artists themselves. All types of papers, collage materials, paints, rubber stamps, inks, chalks, fabrics and imagery can be incorporated into an altered book layout. Each new altered book artist begins with the skills she brings with her. Scrapbookers might start by using pieces of patterned paper, punches, and journaling. Quilters might start with fabrics and sewn page embellishments. Digital artists might collage their imagery and add dimensional elements. The techniques used are unlimited, and the sharing of those techniques within the altered book community is often achieved by group projects or round robins. Soon, the quilters are collaging with fabrics and papers, the painters are sewing pages together, and the scrapbookers are learning to watercolor. The expansion of each artist’s range of creative techniques is enthusiastically encouraged.

For more information on altered books:

The AlteredBooks group at Yahoo is the largest online community dedicated to book altering. Thousands of members around the world share techniques, answer questions and organize round robins. This is a great place to start.

I also have large galleries of my altered book work, sorted by year and project, posted on my personal web site, LisaVollrath.com.