I’ve always wanted to make an altered book and I’ve started a lot of them. Started being the operative word… Many of my students have made incredible altered books and when I see their work I’m tempted to try again. And then I have another “started” altered book.
This time the starting point was a request by Eleanor Murray of Marin MOCA for their Second Annual Altered Book Show/Auction. Eleanor has always been very kind to me and is a good friend of book arts so I quickly said, “yes” without thinking too much about the “how.”
Again I started a new altered book, I began by gluing pages together and cutting out windows and again I got stuck. I finally realized that my way of working was different and that I needed to figure out a way to alter a book that worked for me.
I’d been making coptic bound books with my students at Palo Alto Art Center and thought that perhaps rebinding a book was the way I needed to alter it. So I found this book, Better Handwriting for You 3, on a shelf in my studio. As you can see it was barely holding together but I was attracted to the colors and graphic design.
At the same time I found this book, I read an article about how cursive is being dropped from the Core Curriculum of schools all across the U.S. I happen to love handwriting and my mother always encouraged penmanship so I was appalled to see this bit of news. (My husband disagrees and reminded me that he never needs handwriting for his job and can’t even remember how to form a lot of the letters except in his signature.)
I started by taking the book apart. I created new covers by folding the old ones in half and gluing them together and then I created signatures by choosing the most interesting inside pages and folding them in half.
I researched writing and human communication and decided to include new content and images about hieroglyphics, cuneiform, typing, etc. in the book. I used Adobe Illustrator to layout pages with the same colors and layout as the original book and then added the new content.
Finally, I rebound the book using coptic stitch and there it is, my first (finished!) altered book.