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!

Romance for book-lovers

Here’s another great idea for giving a dusty, old book a new lease on life.

Step One: Find someone you want to marry.

Step Two: Find a hard-cover book that is rarely used and largely considered “boring” or uninteresting (a soft-cover book might work, but it’s not really recommended).

Step Three: Carve a big square out of the centre of each page of most of the book.

Step Four: Buy a beautiful engagement ring that will cause your favorite person in the whole world to swoon and wear a perma-smile for days.

Step Five: Cut a slit in the pages above the square you cut in Step Three.

Step Six: Thread a lovely satin ribbon through the slit from Step Five, put the ring from Step Four on the ribbon, and tie it so that the ring hangs in the square cut in Step Three.

Step Seven: Write the words, “Will you marry me?” under the ring.

Step Eight: Step back, enjoy your handiwork and pat yourself on the back. You are a book-lover’s Casanova. In other words, Irresistible! A “yes” is guaranteed.

The Ring

Book Art

A book’s story can be told through the words on its pages. But the story can change when a book is altered. Here are just a few examples of what artists can do with a traditional book to make something extraordinary:

The Folded Page

Recycled Reads on Etsy

Madame Memento on Etsy

I hope these links have inspired you, but if they haven’t yet, here are some books on the subject that might help create inspiration:

Art Made From Books: Altered, Sculpted, Carved, Transformed

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Book Art: Creative Ideas to Transform Your Books...

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Playing With Books: The Art of Upcycling, Deconstructing, and Reimagining the Book

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My Inspiration – Su Blackwell

Here is the video about Su’s work that not only made me see the artistic potential that books have, but also made me think that maybe I could produce something interesting from an ordinary book too.

Su turns books into works of art and gives them new meaning, and a new lease on life.

Click on Su’s blog, so you can see what she’s up to!

In her book, The Fairy Tale Pricness, Su’s work illustrates seven classic fairy tales: Cinderella, The Frog Prince, The Twelve Dancing Princesses, The Princess and the Pea, Snow White, Rapunzel, and Sleeping Beauty.

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Su’s work inspired me to create my own book art. I hope you will be inspired too!