July 9, 2012

My New Studio and an Altered Book Swap with Angie Ledbetter

Angie Ledbetter and I recently decided to do an altered book swap. I wrote previously on this blog about altered book projects:

A Collaboration, a Swap!

Angie, who lives in Louisiana, is a writer (co-author of Seeds of Faith: An Inspirational Almanac: Seasonal Essays, Recipes and Tips), editor (at Rose and Thorn Journal), and recipe dispenser (at the GumboWriter blog). She is also a wonderful "doodler" and shares her colorful sketches with friends on Facebook and also in a FB group for those who love to draw and doodle. And that's not all, Angie is also a thoughtful photographer who captures beautiful images and shares them with inspirational messages on Facebook. 

I am a writer, book designer, and illustrator by profession, and an amateur photographer. I also love making altered books and seeing the work of others as well and was happy to have the opportunity to do a trade with Angie. I love her postings on Facebook, her photographs, descriptions of delicious Louisiana cooking, and the wonderful Rose and Thorn Journal.

We agreed to create two altered books from children's board books. At first we considered each decorating every other page, then swapping, and finishing the books, then mailing them back. But, in the end we decided to simply each create a book for the other person. 

Angie has also posted a blog today on her altered book project for me! It is at angie-ledbetter.blogspot.com. So, be sure to stop by her site and see the photos of her project!

I like the fact that there are only a few pages in small board books, they are also sturdy and can stand on their own or on a plate stand (I like the simple wire stands available in hobby stores). They also come in interesting shapes. I like that they can be stored or shipped in hat boxes (also available at stores like Hobby Lobby at a very low price, the one I used to ship Angie's book cost $2).

Here is a photo of the three books I considered using for my project:

Back story...

My husband, Mark, and I moved to Harbor Springs, MI (from OH) in April and while my art room was set up, I hadn't really used it yet. So, Angie's book will forever be the first creative endeavor undertaken in my Harbor Springs studio!

Here are some photos of the space. I've needed to accommodate many of my interests, and was happy to have the use of two tables previously found in our kitchen in Athens. A kitchen island (made by the Amish and purchased online) and Mark's mother's beautiful card table. I wanted space for my scrap booking and altered book supplies; a table where I could work on "messy things" standing up; a place for my easel and my sewing machine; and a relatively clean area for working on clients' illustrations as well as the drawings I am doing for my work-in-progress, Finding Pletonia.

The making of my altered book for Angie...

I decided to use the book Funny Bones, which I'd picked up at the Goodwill store in Athens, Ohio, for 25 cents. I liked the shape of the book and also the two holes in the front cover. I knew I could do something with them.

During the time I worked on Angie's book there was a lot going on in my family and work, so having a place to set up the supplies and project and work on it, then walk away, then return and do something else, then go take care of responsibilities, then come back and check on the drying of varnish or glue or add an embellishment or two... well it was an easy process to meld into my workday. Here is the work in progress at the beginning. In fact, all I've done at this point is the cover. You can see the bookbinder's glue and the metallic paints as well as an old copy of Roget's Thesaurus which provided some background paper. A drawing of the elusive "poplyn" (an imaginary bird from my fantasy book in progress) is on the cork board I affixed to the wall. The cork board and the holders underneath containing my pens came from Lowes. You can also see my hole punch and electric pencil sharpener (one of my favorite things).

Here is a closeup of the Lumiere paints. They are wonderful! You can purchase them at JoAnn Fabric and Crafts.

Pages and Process...

I'll show, below, the various pages in the finished altered book and explain briefly the process. First up is the cover. I started out by gluing on pages from an old book. I added in the year, 2012, with press-on letters from my scrapbooking supplies. These particular letters were purchased at Walmart. 

The circular holes were already in the cover. I pasted a sheet of paper behind the holes, then painted Lumiere gold metallic paint in the circles. I also added other shades and then spiced it up with some flecks of real gold from a gold leaf kit.

I love to punch holes in paper, but the board of this book was too thick to punch, so I had to be content with pushing holes in the cover, along the top, with an awl. But then what? I found some brass paper fasteners and inserted them in the small holes. (I then covered the backs of the fasteners on the inside front cover with a piece of paper.) 

I took some pieces of foam and cut them into small rectangular shapes and glued them between the brass fasteners. I then painted Lumiere on the cover, in two shades of gold, and made sure I applied paint to the grass fasteners and foam rectangles as well. For a final touch, I glued rhinestones onto the cover in the circles. Glittery bits to catch the light. Also, I wrote "shelter ideal purposes" on the cover. This phrase is found inside the book as well...

The photographs at left and below show the inside front cover and first page. (At left you can see the original book's first page). For the inside front cover, I pasted paper from a set of papers about 4 x 6 inches, sold for scrapbooking. The paper is flocked and reminded me of New Orleans. Angie doesn't live in NOLA, but I've been there and so in my mind she lives "near New Orleans" a place I love very much.

A few small things were added to the inside front cover. Some labels I'd stained with tea, a note identifying the book, and a strip of thin, white paper (which provides the white swirls you see), and a picture of a bicycle.

On the facing page, I used more scrapbooking paper for the lower 2/3rds. I used the hole puncher to punch holes in the paper and black paper, glued underneath, shows through. I pasted a flower which I'd cut from Veranda magazine.

The page shown at left was created using a sheet of blue paper that was purchased in a set of such papers and said to be handmade. I don't think it really was handmade, but it looks like handmade paper, as it is rough. I took the paper and applied green and gold and other colors of paint and use these decorated sheets in various things. So, I glued it to the board book's page and then added in a picture of a window from a magazine, a picture of a sailboat, a statue, and some words from an old book. The writing says: "Wyatt nowadays was more silent than usual, being preoccupied with thoughts of Kate pregnant, alone, and all but penniless." Lastly, I added in some trees which I drew with a Micron .005 pen and a penny for Kate. On the facing page, I pasted some paper for the background and then glued a pretty ship in the center, for Wyatt, who was away on a ship, according to the page I'd cut the type from. I then added circular scribbles and the little pointing hand.

Below you can see another set of pages. They were simple to do. I glued black paper (punching holds in it beforehand) on the back of the left page and more flocked scrapbooking paper to the page on the right. I then affixed a flower arrangement cut from a magazine and a little photo of three dogs in a suitcase.  On the right-hand page, I used black and red markers to decorate the paper and also used metallic paints.

In the photo below, you can see another page with tree images. I cut strips of cardboard (some sort of waffled paper used in packing) and glued them like tree trunks, drawing lines on them with the Micron pen. I liked the baby with the leaf (from a magazine advertisement) and found the circular shape and the baby carriage amongst my scrapbooking images. 

On the facing page, I pasted an image of three dogs and a parrot.  Until January, Mark and I were the guardians of three dogs and a parrot. There is glare on the red flower I've pasted here. There is a different background paper on top than on the bottom and I have drawn in small flowers with red centers within each diamond shape on the top half.

On the next pair of facing pages, for the left side, I pasted another page from the same book (used on the cover and on the page with the ship). I have circled the words "shelter ideal purposes on this garden of an island." I've woven strips from a painting found in a magazine through the book pages.

On the facing page I glued a card I had with a dog on it; but I didn't know what to do then, so painted around it with blue, white, and black acrylic paint.

The last set of pages features a woman's face from a magazine and I have given her gold hair and surrounded her with the roles and titles of female persons, as well as a few lines from the thesaurus. 

The facing page was made by taking sheets of paper that I had treated long ago with something that caused images to transfer onto the paper, in a faded way. I cut triangular shapes from these papers and glued them like quilt pieces to the background, along with a small bit of that cardboard mentioned earlier and two paper tags I'd stained with tea. I chose three quotes:

"Life obliges me to do something, so I paint." - Rene Magritte

"I like the fact that in ancient Chinese art the great painters always included a deliberate flaw in their work: human creation is never perfect." - Madeleine L'Engle

"Create!" JPW

I also glued on an image of paints, taken from a magazine. (Note: the book is sitting on top of the $2 hat box I mentioned earlier.)

For the back cover, I pasted pieces of pages from the thesaurus and then on top of those pressed violets from our yard. I also sprinkled distress powder on the back cover. Each page was covered at least once with a clear, glossy coat of acrylic varnish. 

The spine was challenging as now the book was larger than previously and the original spine cover was glossy and the paint was not adhering to it well. I stripped it off and then glued a wide ribbon over the spine, then covered it with gold paint. As a last touch, I glued a piece of oriental-style faux ivory (or perhaps real, who knows!) to the front cover. This was from an old pin I'd had for many years from a second hand shop. The clasp had broken, but I'd saved the important part as I knew one day I would find the perfect place for it. And, the cover looks better with three large shapes rather than two. My mother taught me that when you arrange flowers, always have an odd number. I've found that rule works well in many situations.

I ran a pad of brown ink over the edges of the book's pages; they were too white. I let the book sit under the warmth of my desk lamp for a whole day, and then it was time to place the book into the hatbox and mail it to Angie! 

In the last photograph, you can see the altered book inside the hatbox. I put bubble wrap (we have tons left over from our move) between each set of pages, and then placed all inside a cardboard box. And off it went to Louisiana! I just love sending and receiving mail! 

It might sound like this project took a lot of time, but actually it did not. By doing a little bit here and there, it went quite quickly. If you want to try something similar, set up a table where you can leave your project and be comfortable with working on it in short bits of time. That way the glue and paint and varnish will have time to dry and, like a good book being read, the fun of creating will last for several days.

~Janice Phelps Williams

PS: Angie's altered book gift to me arrived just hours after I wrote this post on Friday. It is absolutely wonderful...a thoughtfully considered, artfully constructed treasure that means so much to me to have alongside the books I've made and the artist trading cards I've collected from around the country (and world). It was uncanny how many elements I incorporated into the book for Angie were also featured in her book to me! Read her post at the link below and you'll see what I mean. Thank you, Angie, for doing this fun and precious trade with me!

A Reminder: Angie has also posted a blog today on her altered book project for me! It is at angie-ledbetter.blogspot.com. So, be sure to stop by her site and see the photos of her project!

© 2012 by Janice Phelps Williams. All rights reserved.

1 comment:

Angie Ledbetter said...

We both went to Goodwill! And that is only the first non-coincidence encountered on this fabulous creative swap. Everything about it was 100% enjoyable from start to finish. Thank you and I will always treasure my little book of personalized one-of-a-kind artfulness.

Your post is way more comprehensive as to the process than mine is (which probably also sheds light on my own chaotic nature and life!)LOL, but I'm tres happy with our end products and all I learned along the way!

xxo Angie

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