Book Art: Altered Books

The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini

Having newly discovered the art of people like Su Blackwell, I thought I would give it a try myself to see if common folk can really create something new and interesting out of an old book. I found The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini in a used book store just up the road, and then I went to an art supplies store and bought an Exact-o knife and a cutting board, and once I got home, I set to work.

Before I even got started, however, I realized that this book was perfect for several reasons. First, all the illustrations were on the right-hand side of the book. Also, the illustrations weren’t so intricate that a novice cutter couldn’t follow the lines. Also, there were just the right number of illustrations spaced throughout the story so that the outline of each picture went deep enough for the desired effect.

1. I opened the book, and placed my cutting mat above the second illustration. I cut around the parts of the first image that I wanted to highlight, down through each page all the way to the mat.

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This shows the cutting around the first two illustrations.

2. I then followed step one until I reached the end of the book. It was very simple, and very rewarding!

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I hope you can find a similarly suitable book to make your own altered books. Even though a lot of the text is now missing, the text that does remain, in the forms of an image, tells a much different story. Good luck!

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