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Nancys
06-13-2010, 01:38 AM
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/12-Jun-2010/40472-Journal_Portrait_croppedsmall.jpg

I completed these two pages in my altered book today, about 8 x 11. I gessoed the pages, used fluid and tube acrylics, graphite, china pencil, waterproof pen, scraffito, and a small collage on newsprint from a stamp I made. I will use these as examples in an art journaling workshop I will teach the last of July. I am new to altered books and I like the freedom. I'm experimenting with using a glue stick, Mod Podge, and acrylic medium to glue several pages together. I think I'm leaning toward the speed and ease of the glue stick. Anyone else? This is a book on Women's Health and has lots of wombs and babies in it and I think it will be fun to use.

mhimeswc
06-13-2010, 08:32 AM
I've never paid much attention to altered books before, but I like the way you designed your pages, and the artwork is really good. I suppose you will be making a new cover for the book also? Do you have to worry about the facing pages sticking together when the book is closed? - I find acrylics do stick sometimes.

Studio-1-F
06-13-2010, 09:23 AM
I will use these as examples in an art journaling workshop I will teach the last of July. I am new to altered books and I like the freedom.
"Freedom"? Just out of curiosity, why do an "altered book", when you can start with the pristine pages of a fresh sketchbook? The example page you showed us doesn't make a lot use of the underlying book page. It seems to nearly obliterate it.

I dunno, I dunno . . . as a librarian I suffer philosophical heartache when I see someone destroying a book, no matter how un-loved or how rejected the book is. And no matter how noble or artistic the purpose of the destruction. Just hard-wired me, I guess. Sorry! :o

Here is a quote from a person named Karen (http://karenswhimsy.com/altered-books/) on her reason: "Although I have loved and been surrounded by books all my life, it didn't take me long to get over my anxiety over "defacing" a book. So many books are tossed into landfills, that I believe I'm actually saving a book by rescuing it from obscurity and using it to create a piece of art. Now I use books as my canvas-- to create altered books, reliquaries, or book sculptures that are personally meaningful and that spring from my own imagination or eminates[sic] from the spirit and words of the book's original author. "
I am afraid I don't buy her notion of "saving" a book by destroying it. I can understand "destroying" a block of marble to create a sculpture. In that case the object destroyed is raw material. Un-touched. In the case of altering a book, it's some other person's creative pride and joy that's being destroyed. Maybe I'm not seeing this clearly. Help me to understand why you (http://www.alteredbookartists.com/) do this.

Jan

robertsloan2
06-13-2010, 09:41 AM
Nancy, I think you've established your theme just in the first two pages, especially with the woman's face. She looks classical, almost a Greek statue of a woman, but the bright white highlight down her nose is a little like seeing tribal war paint on a Victorian woman -- an interesting juxtaposition. She looks moody and thoughtful.

The gold doodle page and the hearts look very feminine too.

I'm curious about your answer to Jan too. I can almost see doing this but only to a book that I hated, a book with ideas that turned my stomach. I would actually be desecrating it on purpose and I'd have to leave enough of it recognizable to make my point -- like messing up a copy of Mein Kampf. It would lose its point if its text no longer existed in any other copy, so it would have to be something extremely common that I despised.

ReggieS
06-13-2010, 10:43 AM
Nancy,
this is gorgeous and so ingenuous!

Reggie

Studio-1-F
06-13-2010, 10:49 AM
I'm curious about your answer to Jan too. I can almost see doing this but only to a book that I hated, a book with ideas that turned my stomach. I would actually be desecrating it on purpose and I'd have to leave enough of it recognizable to make my point -- like messing up a copy of Mein Kampf. It would lose its point if its text no longer existed in any other copy, so it would have to be something extremely common that I despised.
Robert, makes odd sense that you would chose Hitler's Mein Kampf to desecrate with your art, being that the Nazis orchestrated one of the most famous Book Burnings of all time, in 1933.

An Eye For An Eye! (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/An_eye_for_an_eye) Right? [sigh] :(

Jan

robertsloan2
06-13-2010, 11:35 AM
That would be part of why, of course. But I wouldn't do it if it wasn't also extant in undamaged form.

DrDebby
06-13-2010, 02:40 PM
I too would be interested in your answer about altering someone else's work to create your own. Now, mind you, I've seen some pretty amazing artwork done as altered books, but the basic question remains as to why?

Now, the art you have shown is intriguing and interesting. The juxtaposition of doodles and a portrait are thought provoking.

robertsloan2
06-13-2010, 06:10 PM
I'd like to know both sides of that debate, since I don't actually have a strong view on it either way. On one side, I have that same reverence for books in general. On another, I've read some pretty awful dreck, just because something's written or even popular doesn't guarantee it's worth keeping. Or isn't so outdated as to be useless if it was nonfiction. I have also seen beautiful altered books done with some that I wouldn't have thought of as worth preserving.

So it's interesting as an idea from both sides. I'm not taking sides on it because I can see both sides.

Studio-1-F
06-13-2010, 07:36 PM
I'd like to know both sides of that debate, since I don't actually have a strong view on it either way. On one side, I have that same reverence for books in general. On another, I've read some pretty awful dreck, just because something's written or even popular doesn't guarantee it's worth keeping. Or isn't so outdated as to be useless if it was nonfiction. I have also seen beautiful altered books done with some that I wouldn't have thought of as worth preserving.

So it's interesting as an idea from both sides. I'm not taking sides on it because I can see both sides.
I don't want to "debate" nor do I want to "take sides". I just want to hear a bit more about why folks do this.

(BTW, one man's "dreck" or "useless" or "outdated", is another man's treasure. Just saying, my friend. :heart: )

Jan

Nancys
06-13-2010, 10:15 PM
Why alter a book? Because I never had before and I wanted to learn how to alter a book. Hopefully, I will know enough not to tear up a first edition. I am a retired librarian and I'm aware there comes a time when all volumes need to be "weeded". The public sometimes thinks that all print is sacred and I know fellow librarians who have gone out of their way to secretly dispose of old books. If found, someone would be returning some old torn and outdated book thinking they'd done them a big favor. I tended to sell mine for a pittance so maybe some child would enjoy them. In a library there were some books that were so old and out of date they would never be checked out and they'd just sit there gathering dust. For instance, I found one saying "someday man may walk on the moon". Those volumes need to be removed to make some room for the new editions.
I purchased several books to alter at the thrift store because they were a cheap way to do experiments that I might not attempt in a $20 journal. Maybe I saved a tree?
I do not belong but there is an International Society of Altered Book Artists who promote book altering as an art form. I have no qualms about ripping out pages, painting, and pasting, in these books. This particular one was a woman's health book and I certainly would want to refer to a recent edition for my health information. I am giving two workshops of 3 days each the last of July and the students will bring old books to alter on one of the days. Some are quite excited about the prospect. This particular text on these two pages just happened to be covered with gesso and paint but in some of the pages I've saved some text and images. I'll post another one shortly.

Carole A
06-13-2010, 10:23 PM
I"m not entering into a debate, here, about the issues pro or con of defacing a book, but I will say that if I were so inclined, I'd probably be able to find plenty of books that could be improved only by "altering" them: one day I went to the libaray in search of books by Wallace STEgner and John STEinbeck, only to find a few that I'd already read, but there were several shelves of books by Danielle STEele.

I've seen some very interesting "altered book art", so to each his/her own.

Nancy - I do like your collage effects. I'd like to see more.

Carole A

Nancys
06-13-2010, 10:32 PM
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/13-Jun-2010/40472-Page_1,2_Altered_M_Journalsmall.jpg

On these two pages the print from the original book can be seen faintly. The Playmates image came from a very old yellowed reader. The entry is based on how things are connected. I'd seen a friend's painting on Facebook where he'd painted a wine barrel, made me think rain barrel, then the children's song, and cellar door and a childhood friend who was caught smoking and placed in a cellar for punishment. This book is a recipe book that has spiral binding @1996 Low Fat Ways to Cook Meats.

cjc45
06-14-2010, 12:19 AM
Nancy, I love altered books. I'm working on a haiku journal. The base is, I think, a technical manual printed in Japanese text in Germany during WW II.

Jan, one of the first things I had to "get over" as a librarian was that all books were sacred. In fact, in accepting all donations of old books (no matter how outdated or smelly) we felt we were doing a public service in that we had the emotional strength to throw books away and the general public did not. :>)

Actually, the beginnings of altered books goes back to a time when paper and bound books were rare and valuable. The margins of printed books would be used to record additional information. I'm told that part of the current interest in altered books was inspired by the one that runs through the novel The English Patient.

In blending the original text with my alterations, I do feel like I'm giving new life to an old book. Since the pages of my book are yellowed, I've tinted some white gouache to match. One coat over a page gives me a good base for my text or art but the original text shows through faintly.

Nancy, I love your work.

DrDebby
06-14-2010, 12:38 AM
Thank you for your thoughtful reply, Nancy. I was not trying to be argumentative, just curious. And it is true that there are creations, not just books, that probably need to be retired.

Nancys
06-14-2010, 12:54 AM
Thanks for all the comments and CJ I'll have to search to find some of your creations. After becoming interested in journals and altered books I had to rent it and see it the second time, watching for the mentions of the journal. It did play a big role in the movie. I've read about some who want to keep everything they do in a journal - their date book, contacts, drawings, paintings for the whole year, their do list.. it would be an interesting book. I feel like in this one I can be messier and use acrylics and splatter paint. I'm not there yet with the watercolor journals.

seejay
06-14-2010, 02:28 AM
Books I have altered have been only suitable for the dump/tip - playing around with them saves on landfill (for a while at least) and makes a piece of art (hmm, maybe :D). These 'ready-made' books are well-bound and cheap, much less cost than hardcover sketchbooks in my part of the world. Depending on the treatment of the pages, the text can show through and gives a very interesting texture. There are so many books that probably shouldn't have been published in the first place, why not give them a bit more life, and have some fun at the same time. Judging by my local library most books are printed for entertainment - altering them squeezes a bit more out of them IMHO.

Cheers

robertsloan2
06-14-2010, 03:22 AM
Nancy, thank you! It's cool that you're a librarian. That's a good point about Danielle Steele -- or even one of my favorites, Stephen King. Some books exist in such huge editions that whether you like them or not, their existence is not threatened by one worn out copy being turned into something else.

Collage uses other people's images so altered books are somewhat in that category -- though it's cool to let some of the original text come through.

Next question -- do you do anything to help extend the longevity of the book? I can see that what you're doing is recycling. Giving the materials a second use. It does save trees.

I can see how the spiral bound cookbook would be particularly good for this though, they probably used good paper for it and it lays flat making it easy to see the art and use both sides of the pages.

Studio-1-F
06-14-2010, 09:41 AM
IMO, there is definitely merit in Robert's and Nancy's distinction between destroying a one-of-a-kind printed work and destroying one copy of a work that exists in a gazillion other copies. (Stephen King being the perfect example! :thumbsup:)

So okay, I do understand how that might work as something creative and not as something destructive.

In a library there were some books that were so old and out of date they would never be checked out and they'd just sit there gathering dust. For instance, I found one saying "someday man may walk on the moon". Those volumes need to be removed to make some room for the new editions. The debate occurs daily, between the folks who see the value in saving the old and the dusty and the irreplaceable and the rare materials for future researchers (how can we anticipate their needs? we can't.) and the folks who want to empty the building of all the dusty old books that no one checks out and turn the whole place into one big electronic database. Well, it's not quite that radical. :rolleyes: But it's a wrenching internal debate that big research university libraries endure endlessly, especially now with tight budgets. Safe physical storage (not to mention conservation) is just so expensive. Soooooooo very tempting to just "weed" it all out.

And to the benefit of all those altered book artists out there! Yes I did find that International Society of Altered Book Artists (http://www.alteredbookartists.com/). Interesting material there!

Jan

vhere
06-14-2010, 10:01 AM
interesting thoughts :) I'll follow to see what else you do with this

Nancys
06-14-2010, 08:24 PM
Michelle, your question about acrylics sticking..yes they do and I've got some waxed paper sticking between some pages until they completely cure, whenever that is. A piece of waxed deli wrap would look a little better but that was an immediate solution. Robert, I'm an EX- librarian and now an artist!! The reason I get to play is I'm retired and not having to work each day. I would never have the energy after a day of elementary children checking out books to even think about art. I don't consider longevity at all or archival about materials. These altered books are for play. I glued some of my cut up junk mail on some pages for a start this week so anything goes. And no, I don't need any more junk mail so don't send me yours.

Jakesgram
06-15-2010, 01:18 AM
Nancy - thanks so much for sharing your work. I love what you are doing. I especially like the Playmates pages and your explanation of where your thoughts came from and where they lead to.

I have not done an altered book YET, but I know there is one in my future, when I get free from several OTHER fun and creative projects. :cat:

This thread has generated a lot of interesting discussion and I can definitely understand both sides.

We were all (I assume) raised to revere books and NEVER do anything which might deface them. (I still cringe when I find I have accidentally laid an open book face down - that can damage the spine, you know! :) ) Well, having lived through the '60's, when everything about out society was opened up to question and shaken up and rattled out, I've found out that it's okay to question pretty much everything. Many things I learned as a child still hold up for me today.

But many things we take for granted end up being like the woman who always cut the ends off of the Sunday ham. When asked why, she said "because my mother did it." When she asked her mother, she said "because my mother did it." When they asked Grandma, she said "because the ham was too big to fit in the biggest pan I had!"

So when I really think about what is wrong with repurposing a book that is old, damaged, sadly out of date, headed for the land fill anyway, I have a hard time coming up with a reason NOT to do it. And THAT is amazingly freeing. For me, it not only gives the book a tiny little bit more life, but feeling a bit like a rebel, it gives my creativity a great big boost of enthusiasm. If covering a page in a book with gesso is possible, what else might I be able to do???

Don't misunderstand; I'm still basically a rule-follower at heart. But for me, to be a rebel in such a fun, creative, insignificant (to me, at least) way injects a tiny bit of youth into my no-longer so young veins.

My 2-cents. Thanks again for sharing your work, Nancy. Can't wait to see some more.

Jean

robertsloan2
06-15-2010, 11:23 AM
Michelle, your question about acrylics sticking..yes they do and I've got some waxed paper sticking between some pages until they completely cure, whenever that is. A piece of waxed deli wrap would look a little better but that was an immediate solution. Robert, I'm an EX- librarian and now an artist!! The reason I get to play is I'm retired and not having to work each day. I would never have the energy after a day of elementary children checking out books to even think about art. I don't consider longevity at all or archival about materials. These altered books are for play. I glued some of my cut up junk mail on some pages for a start this week so anything goes. And no, I don't need any more junk mail so don't send me yours.

Nancy, that's cool. I think it's great. Yikes, you're right, I can imagine having to deal with children as customers all day, it'd be exhausting. So now it's your turn to play, and recycle some books that would otherwise be in the trash anyway. Way cool. Though getting good digital images of all the pages is a good thing -- it would be nice to have some kind of lasting record of your work.

Zenica
06-16-2010, 01:42 AM
Originally Posted by Nancy Robert, I'm an EX- librarian and now an artist!! The reason I get to play is I'm retired and not having to work each day. I would never have the energy after a day of elementary children checking out books to even think about art. I don't consider longevity at all or archival about materials. These altered books are for play. I glued some of my cut up junk mail on some pages for a start this week so anything goes. And no, I don't need any more junk mail so don't send me yours.

wow this conversation is so funny. I don't know if I'll ever make an altered book. I've had plenty of ones I could throw out but then you know... I just use the sketchbooks. Hard bound ones are great. Also, that thing about junk mail - I looked through mine and only 1 piece of mail was not junk. I just about died from laughter when reading your little blog there. Thanks

Z

Nancys
06-16-2010, 02:02 AM
Z, you know I had plenty of old books, and a lot are in the garage waiting for maybe someday I'll put them on EBay BUT I couldn't part with my old books so I went to Thrift Town and bought someone else's old books to use. I don't know but I think I might be more prone to put more eccentric things in the altered book. We'll see. And Jean, guess I agree about being a little bit of a rebel when you sling some gesso over pages you'd never consider putting a dog ear crease on.

Studio-1-F
06-16-2010, 08:24 AM
We were all (I assume) raised to revere books and NEVER do anything which might deface them. (I still cringe when I find I have accidentally laid an open book face down - that can damage the spine, you know! :) )
Well, ummmmmm, so long a you can actually read them. I had a friend who was so freaked out about creasing the spine of her paperbacks that she'd try to read them by only opening them to about two inches of width and then trying to peer inside the crack to read the print. It was "Thou Shalt Revere Books" taken to the point of absurdity.

Personally, I love to see a book so read and re-read that it is in tatters. It means what it was loved and re-loved many, many times. I have an old copy of The Complete Sherlock Holmes that's a wreck, held together by duct tape. It is a most beloved tome, but if a stranger were to come in to "weed" my collection, that would be the first book to hit your landfill. It's near demolished, yet I adore reading it.

Go figure. :D

Q: I wonder if the popularity of altered books as art has the same growth rate as the popularity of the Kindle and the I-Pad and the other digital readers. In with the new and out with the old! It's progress. :thumbsup:

Jan

Whisperwood
06-16-2010, 10:24 AM
Wow. This has been a very enlightening topic indeed!!! Just fascinating to read everyones posts. Glad you're enjoying your "Altered book" Nancy :-)

Vivien Maloney
06-16-2010, 02:50 PM
This is a very interesting topic - altered books". I do like what you've done with your Journaling Nancy but couldn't see myself using old books like that. It's interesting to read others point of view on "altered books" however, and I'll be watching this thread for more.

Nancys
06-17-2010, 10:15 PM
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/17-Jun-2010/40472-Vincent_Gogh_2pgUSEsmall.jpg
[FONT="Comic Sans MS"][B]I attended the IMAX movie this week, Vincent Van Gogh: Brush with Genius and it inspired me to make an altered book journal entry. I've posted it on my blog just now and if you click the pages can be enlarged. I also wrote a letter to Vincent and a link to the YouTube video of Don McLean's Starry, Starry Night. If you have never seen this video I think you would enjoy it. If someone is trying to decide on a journal entry, writing a letter to a real or imagined friend may inspire.

DrDebby
06-17-2010, 10:34 PM
A great dutch painter.

Whisperwood
06-17-2010, 11:44 PM
Love your Vincent pages! Thank you too for posting the starry night video link on your blog, loved it! He really did some lovely paintings and it's a great way to see them put to music :-)

Jakesgram
06-18-2010, 09:54 PM
Really cool Van Gogh pages. And thanks for sending me back to the Starry Starry night video - I hadn't seen it for a while. I agree that in a different time, Van Gogh would have had a different life. But, it could be (and has been) argued that his circumstances were essential to his art, so would we revere him the way we do?? Who knows???

Fantastic pages, Nancy!

Jean

eyepaint
06-22-2010, 03:13 PM
This is a really interesting project and I love the discussions that this project has prompted.


But many things we take for granted end up being like the woman who always cut the ends off of the Sunday ham. When asked why, she said "because my mother did it." When she asked her mother, she said "because my mother did it." When they asked Grandma, she said "because the ham was too big to fit in the biggest pan I had!"


I love this story! I quote it from time to time.


Don't misunderstand; I'm still basically a rule-follower at heart. But for me, to be a rebel in such a fun, creative, insignificant (to me, at least) way injects a tiny bit of youth into my no-longer so young veins.


Yay!