When we were kids our memories were stored in scrapbooks. Our membership card to the Mickey Mouse Club, our first postcard received, and the love letter from our kindergarten sweetheart, each secured on its own page in the childhood scrapbook. As we grew into adulthood those sentimental mementos piled up, and many would not fit into traditional pages of a scrapbook. Before you decide to clean house, and toss out your treasures, there is something you can do with all those trinkets from your past.
A few years ago I came across an interesting art project called the altered book. One of my friends is a retired art teacher, and while visiting his home I discovered an intriguing book in his library.
It was a hardback book that he had altered, re-created, transformed into a unique and fascinating work of art. It was still a book, it told a story, yet not the same story that the original author had intended when the pages were initially printed and published, many years ago.
The book was bursting with fascinating visuals and tactile intrigue. It felt both fragile and exquisite, and I enjoyed slowly turning its unconventional pages and discovering a surprise at every turn.
To create an altered book the artist modifies the pages and cover, using various techniques, such as decoupage, pop-up art, cut outs, and adds embellishments of lace, ribbons and trinkets.
While some authors may be very offended at the defiling of their book, there are plenty of neglected, out of date hardback books that could be used as the base for this project. Garage sales and thrift stores are excellent sources for cheap, thick, hardback books, that would work well in such a project.
So, how does this all relate to a scrapbook? I don’t believe altered book artists necessarily see their art as being akin to a scrapbook. Yet, their idea can be lifted and used by those seeking a new and unique solution to the scrapbook, which will craftily display sentimental three dimensional and bulky trinkets in a way that will seduce others to pick up the book and browse.
For me, this all began when I decided to try making my own altered book for my mother’s birthday. In my quest for interesting embellishments, I came across a box of keepsakes from my mother’s mother. There was a pair of Grandma’s earrings, the cover from her Bible, a recipe card, and much more. I imagined someday my children would find this box, never realizing the sentimental attraction I held for the items, and simply throw it into the rubbish heap. Placing the keepsakes in a traditional scrapbook wasn’t much better than keeping them in a box. There was no added interest, no desire for a stranger to linger and browse.
In that moment I chose the theme for my altered book, the story I wanted to tell. It was about my grandmother. To add interest to pages, I printed out photographs of my grandmother, using my computer and printer, and glued the various images in the book.
Mom was thrilled with the results, and loves to browse through the sentimental art object. For more information on altered books, check out the various websites available online.