Altered Books

Altering books is not a new craft but it is gaining new respect as an art. To alter a book one may cut, color, paint, glue, fold, burn or even sew things to the pages.

To get started, you may want to select a theme for your book. The theme can be something that you particularly like, such as animals, flowers, cars or anything. The theme can also be an emotion. Perhaps you miss someone special. An altered book makes a beautiful memorial to someone you’ve lost. Through the use of old photographs and trinkets, their memory can take on tangibility that is very comforting.

Sometimes there is no real theme when you’re starting. Perhaps you just have some beads or photographs or special paper you’d like to showcase. It is not unusual to start a book in this way and realize later that a theme has developed as you’ve progressed. There may never be a theme and that is perfectly fine also.

The altered book is a wonderful way to play with all your scraps of craft materials. Even a small piece of thread can have grand meaning in an altered book. Once you let go of the scary feelings of doing something to change a book, it is tremendously fun and a real outlet for expression of emotion or artistic flair.

As you cover the page, it’s often fun to let a couple of sentences from the original book show through your artwork, if the sentences somehow lend to the idea of that page. You may cover the page by painting over the words or perhaps you’ll want to glue the words of a poem or song over the existing words. The idea is to embellish the page with anything that has meaning for you. Seashells are popular items as people remember their beach vacations with a special person or perhaps growing up by the ocean. Lockets, too, are popular for attaching to the book. Artists can include a photograph and the locket adds a vintage look to a piece that is meant to be nostalgic.

There are as many ways to alter books as there are emotions to express and crafts to enjoy. Doing a web search on Altered Books will take you to pages of beautiful pictures and detailed instructions for making these treasures. is the official website for the International Society of Altered Book Artists (ISABA). Clicking on their gallery will show you beautiful altered books.

Jenny’s Altered Books at is a lovely website with gorgeous ideas and beautiful examples.

Creating altered books is a fun way of experimenting with many crafts. Beads, ribbons, rubber stamps, stencils, yarns, buttons, paints and lots of other crafty goodness will add fun and depth to your altered books.

Scrapbooking materials work perfectly for altering books. It is very much like scrapbooking but not necessarily focused on photographs. The papers, die-cuts and tools like hole punches and adhesives are perfect for using on your altered book.

Altered books are hard to describe because they are so individual and personal. For some, they are a shrine. For others they are just a gussied up diary. Whatever your purpose for altering a book, just enjoy it. There are no rules. Express your deepest thoughts or silliest notions. Get covered in paint and glue and glitter and just have fun.

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