August 18, 2008

Altered Book - from a board book

I design books for a living, and in doing that all the attention is on the details, but someone else's details. What I like about altered books is the deconstruction of a book no longer useful in its original form... I like incorporating other things into it, cast off things, recycled things... taking one thing or several things and by rearranging and gathering, making something new.

I bought a children's board book at a thrift store. It was the story of Beauty and the Beast, not one of my favorites, the girl being married off to a beast and all... So, I was happy to change it into something else.

I gathered images that I liked, glue stick and archival glue in a bottle...sissors that cut interesting edges, a sharp knife, and some permanent pens. I don't consider it done, but almost a sketch. In doing this, I learned more about what looks good and what might be done to improve.

The cover is really not done yet. I've glued two photos and two images from magazines. I found the magazine images, using them in the book, was not ideal as they wrinkled. Next time I will copy them onto something else by scanning or by transfer using a gel medium.

Page one features a chicken by Chagall, taken from a photograph I took at the Cincinnati art museum. She says "The sky is not falling and I am not little." This sums up my philosophy today. Also, "Diamonds are not a girl's best friend, but they are pretty" as the little drawn chicken in the corner states.

Chagall is one of my favorite painters and when I first met my husband, Mark, and he had a Chagall print in his living room, I knew we would hit it off. We ended up going to Cincinnati to the Art Museum on one of our first dates, and he says we went down there on a date and came back as a couple, that's when we knew we would make a good team. So, I've got a soft spot for Chagall. Moving on to page two...

On page two, I wanted to leave some of the type showing through from the original book. The traveler (on an alligator) the three doors, all relate to the traveling and finding shelter theme of this page. There is another Chagall figure at the top.

On pages 3 and 4 there is a theme, but I'm not sure what it is! Angels, Snow White, a bird in the hand, dancers--these are all part of my life in some way. On Snow White's chest it says "A dream is a wish that your heart makes...."

On pages 5 and 6...

On the left I have a list of things worth taking a photo of. There's an image of hands cut out of a magazine. The hands are holding a camera. The ring worn on the hands is similar to a ring my husband gave me when we were married. On the right side I have again left the words from the book "Please marry me, and stay with me forever." At the top, I have written personal notes related to love.

On the last two pages, I have placed an image of a bird, taken from a Dover book "Birds and Butterflies." I like the way the feathers on the bird's head remind me of the branches on the tree in the photograph above it, which I took. On the opposite page I have an image of a girl and a woman.

On the back cover, I glued grass-like shapes and mosaic-like squares from colored foam. I used a photograph I took of three gravemarkers and a photograph I cut from a magazine of three naked women standing at a bar. Like the three doors on page 2, I am referencing the three daughters in my family. And, this page is about how we will one day all be memories to those who love us.There is a woman sleeping, but I was thinking of the "final sleep" when I pasted it in. (And this references back to the earlier page on a dream is a wish that your heart makes. Because our lives are the embodiment of what we dreamed into reality. Or, how we turned reality into something worth dreaming about. Or...)

Working on this book was not about creating a beautiful art piece that someone will buy. That is another process, another mindset. It was about using visual prompts to go down a mental path and then seeing where that path would go and how these seemingly unrelated images would come together to make a whole. Kind of like life.

The good news is that anyone could feel comfortable using this technique and it would be a good project for teens and children too (though you might want to photocopy magazine images onto sturdier paper, 24 lb or 28 lb).

Finishing touches:
I think to finish this book, so that I can feel it is done and put it away... I will varnish the pages and also I may add some three-dimensional embellishments to the front cover, which still is too plain for my taste. Stay tuned...

Postscript: Since posting this I have continued to work on the front cover, adding an image of a feather and some gold embellishments. I've also applied an acrylic finish (decoupage transfer medium) over each page to further adhere things. I then had to score the gutter (inside edge) of pages slightly so they would open and not tear. It's a process.

I went on Ebay and found you can buy LOADS of kids board books really inexpensively. Then I went to my local Goodwill and purchased three for $1. Various sizes. You can also buy blank board books and other scrapbooking and craft supplies at CT Publishing. (Thanks, Dina!)

Here are some great sites for Altered Book Artists:

Here is a book arts group with 162 members on Flickr

1 comment:

Wendy said...

I heart you and your art! :)

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