Thursday, March 13, 2014

The making of an altered book

Last weekend we spent two days learning to create an altered book.  To me an altered book is an actual book that has been changed to become a photo album, an art journal, a story book or any kind of art. This was a technique workshop.  It was the kind of workshop where you learn how to make the magic happen then you take your project home and in your own time and with your own supplies you continue to work and finish the project.  It was not a project workshop where you leave at the end of two days with a fully realized project.  At the end of the second day one of my students said through her frustration, "I don't know how to do any of this on my own!"  I felt sick.  I was stunned.  I said, "I must be a terrible teacher if after two days you didn't learn how to do any of this.  I am sorry."
I realize today, almost a week later I am still hearing her voice over and over in my mind and in my heart saying "I don't know how to do any of this on my own."
I have always thought if I was nothing else in this world I am a teacher.  I have had loads of practice teaching.  I had 26 years with children in our home teaching them right from wrong, how to cook, clean and do laundry, how to play fair, how to pray, what safe feels like and more.  I volunteered for years in local theater groups and other organizations with the hope that my example would teach others that giving your time and talents to build others talents was a worthy thing to do.  And for the past 14 years I have taught scrapbooking, mixed media art, the art of lettering and various other classes as an occupation.
So with all that in mind and the technology to do it, I am going to try to show you how to alter the book we did last week in class.  I am not going through every detail. I don't think that is fair to the women who paid for the workshop and spent two days in class with me.  However, because I must have been in some way lacking as a teacher I will outline what we did for each page with pictures so that those of you who are trying to finish this project on your own can have some help from me.
I know all of you got your books altered so I will skip day one.  For Audrey, whose pages kept falling out of her book...please come in we will figure out how to fix this problem together.

Decorating the cover a a book is always the very last thing I do.  It is one of the things we did not get to due to time.
  1. Ink the edges of your book with either brushed corduroy Distress Ink Pad or Vintage Photo Distress Ink Pad using your blending tool.
  2. Take the piece of wide ribbon in your kit and cut one end like chicken lips.  Turn under the other edge and slightly gather it as you glue it in place.
  3. Distress the edges of the old photo in your kit with an edge distresser or even with your thumb nail.  Ink all the edged with the same ink you used on the fabric and your blending tool.
  4. Glue the pre-stamped tag you chose at an angle slightly over the picture.
  5. Color the three paper roses in your kit with Distress Stain in your choice of color.  Let dry.
  6. Tear out the leaves you have in your kit.  Crunch them, roll them, really mess them up then ink with distress ink and blending tool.
  7. Glue the roses in place in the corner of the picture.  Glue the leaves in place around the roses. 
  8. Glue the three jeweled stems in place as well as the fleur d'lis, crown and key charms.
This will complete the front of your book.  Please I encourage you to make this project your own by changing what I have done.  It is not perfect if it is not perfectly yours!
Inside cover and page 2
Technique used:
Paint and Stain
Streak acrylic paint across page
Stain over dried paint with your choice of Distress Stain (sample is brushed corduroy)
Ink edges with Vintage Photo Distress Ink Pad and blending tool
You were given four Bazzill pleated edges in your kit.  You will use either Distress Ink Pads and a blending tool in a variety of colors or Distress stains to color your pleated edges.
General Instructions:
Linen fringe trim is glued to the page
Pleated Strips are stapled to the page
Decorations for page:
  1. Stain the four Bazzill Chipbord flags in your kit (your choice of colors) using Distress stain.
  2. Stamp one or two words on each flag. (emboss word with Ranger ultra fine embossing powder - optional)
  3. Cut one piece of the black May Arts ribbon in your kit 15" long.  Tie a knot in each end of ribbon. Glue in place along outside edge of inside cover of book.  Glue the four flags along the ribbon.  Tie three knots from the ribbon and glue between flags
  5. Tear out the picture as desired or distress the picture as we did for the front of the book.  Ink the edges with Vintage Photo Distress Ink and a blending tool.  Using foam tape pop up the picture.
Page 3 & 4
Techniques used:
Washi Tape and gesso
Gesso and Stains
Embossing paste and stencils
Crackled Embossing Paste
Stamping over Crackled Embossing
Coloring stamped images
Page 3
  1. Paint page with gesso...lite coat.
  2. Using the Distress Ink Pads and a blending tool ink over the gesso with a variety of colors (use the same or complimentary colors for next page only in stain)
  3. Using a stencil (we used Wendy Vecchi's daisy~love) and Wendy Vecchi Embossing paste apply paste through the stencil...I used a pallet knife for this.  Smooth.  Remove stencil and allow paste to dry for a few minutes before drying with embossing gun.  You will see the past puff up slightly. 
  4. Color with either stains, Distress markers or Distress inks.
  5. Stamp image of your choice on page next to daisy using archival jet black ink
  6. Color image with Distress markers, stain and waterbrush or watercolor pencils and a waterbrush 
Page 4 
  1. After you have covered your page with Tissue Tape or Washi Tape use a bone folder or an old credit card to smooth and adhere the tape well.  Paint over the tape with gesso...a lite coat will be good.  Using Distress Stains color the tape and gesso.
  2. Dry
  3. If you want to add more color go ahead...Distress stains are water based so they will reactivate as you use them.  to blend more easily spritz with a little water.
  4. Dry.
  5. For this project we used Wendy Vecchi Embossing Paste and Wendy Vecchi Crackled Embossing Paste.
  6. Spread a light coat of embossing paste over the surface with a pallet knife or credit card...I did the outside corners only.  A little paste goes a long way.  Allow to dry for a couple of minutes.  Finish drying with an embossing gun.
  7. Next spread a medium coat of crackled embossing paste over the embossing paste.  Allow to air dry for a few minutes and then finish drying with an embossing gun.  As the paste dries it will crack.  The colors used under the pastes will come through the cracks.
  8.  Stamp over the dried crackled paste with Archival Ink.
 Page 5 & 6
Techniques used:
Stain over paint
Stamping and embossing
Reverse applique
Twisted flowers
Torn leaves
Page 5
  1. For this page we traced a heart using Wendy Vecchi's large heart stencil (love!)
  2. Cut away the interior of the heart from two pages
  3. Line the back most page with Tissue Tape or washi tape
  4. Paint with a lite coat of gesso
  5. Stain with which ever colors of Distress Stain you prefer
  6. Ink over image and edges of heart with Vintage Photo Distress Ink pad and blending tool.
  7. Glue down edges of the heart
  8. Stamp image over heart
  9. Emboss using Ranger Ultra Fine Detail embossing powder
  10. Make a twisted flower from a 1 1/2" strip of fabric
  11. Glue to heart
  12. Tear and distress two leaves from Bazzill Cardstock
  13. Glue to flower
  14. Glue Tim Holtz Ideology Bingo Number to center of flower
  15. Stamp any other images onto the page and emboss as before.
  16. Glue linen edging to page.
Page 6
  1. Paint page and stain as on previous pages
  2. Using a large corner stamp, stamp image on corners of page using Ranger Archival Jet Black Ink Pad.
  3. Emboss images using Ranger Ultra Fine Detail embossing powder
  4. Add a smidge of color to the edge of page using your choice of Distress Ink Pad and blending tool
  5. Distress the edges of both pages using Vintage Photo Distress Ink Pad and blending tool.
  6. Staple Bazzill Pleated Edge to page.
Page 7 & 8
Techniques used:
Paint and stain background
Inks over paint
making a pocket
Flower making with prima canvas flowers and stain
random background stamping
stamping and embossing
distress tearing page.
Page 7
  1. Paint and stain both pages as on previous pages.
  2. Stain or ink bingo card using a variety of colors.
  3. Distress edges using a Tonic Edge Distresser
  4. Ink edges with Vintage Photo Distress ink.
  6. Cut out flower shapes from canvas (we used three in various sizes).  Stain flower with several different stains...lightest on the edges, med in the middle and darkest in center.
  7. Ink all the edges.
  8. Dry, dry, dry!
  9. Glue flowers together in center of each one.
  10. Glue button or bingo number in center of the flower
  12. Tear top off bingo card (these cards are by Jenny Bolin)
  13. Ink edges on both sides.
  14. Glue top to the page at an angle
  15. Staple a piece of ribbon across the bottom of the card
  16. Glue remaining card to page leaving the top open to create a pocket.
  17. Glue buttons over some of the numbers like bingo tiles
  18. Glue flower over the ribbon
  19. Make little ribbon loop leaves for flower
  21. Stamp a large tag and ink the edges as well as the surface of the tag.
  22. Put tag in pocket
Page 8
  1. Paint and stain page as on previous pages
  2. Dry
  3. With an exacto knife, tip of your scissors or a Tonic Scratching tool scrape away a couple of sections of the page.  Go three layers deep or a little more. 
  4. This should look like a hole or a scar....stain inside the hole with Distress stains.
  5. Lightly stain the rest of the page with various colors of Distress Stain.
  6. Using any background stamp and archival ink apply in to stamp here and there...not all over.  Now stamp the page without putting the stamp on a block to get a spotty image.  Dry
  7. Stamp swirls in the corners and emboss the swirls.
  8. Ink over entire page using vintage photo Distress Ink Pad and Blending tool.  Ink edges and where needed on adjoining page.
Page 9 & 10
Techniques used:
Painting and staining backgrounds
staining chipboard
  1. Stain and ink the frames left from the first page.
  2. Use paper in your kit or of your choice to back the frames - this will require some cutting
  3. Glue the frame to the paper along the top edge can glue the bottom edge when you have put a picture or other image in place.
  4. Cut 2 lengths of ribbon 12" long and knot one end.
  5. Cut two lengths of ribbon 10" long and know one end on each.
  6. Space the ribbons across both pages gluing entire length in place
  7. Glue one frame to each ribbon.
Pages 11 & 12
Painting and staining background
Painting and stamping canvas
Crackle embossing
I am repeating techniques I have outlined earlier.  The background is painted with an ivory paint and then covered over with brushed corduroy Distress Stain.  I wanted a leathery look to this page so I inked everything with Vintage Photo Distress Ink Pad applied with a blending tool. 

  1. To make it more leathery I once again did the crackle embossing technique previously outlined with one difference.  I went with a finer coat in most areas and only applied a medium coat in the corners.  I did not cover all the embossing paste base coat.  I wanted to see how it took the ink and it is amazing!
  2. To make the flags you will paint your canvas on both sides with either gesso or an acrylic paint.  If you do it in gesso you will want to ink the entire surface with Distress Ink Pad and a blending tool.  Dry the canvas well.
  3. Stamp any image - I chose swirls - with Ranger Archival Ink Pad.
  4. Be sure to stamp on a solid surface for best results.
  5. Using 3-1 Glue by Beacon Adhesives put a bead of glue between the pages and insert the canvas flags.
In class we made additional page sets so the gals could personalize these at home.  I hope the reminders and instructions here help with that process.
Workshops and classes are personal experiences no matter how many people are in the class.  I try very hard to answer every question and see to it that all our students are having a good experience.  Somedays I fail.  Last weekend was one of those workshops but I hope I learn from this and that this little (ok it is really long) blog post will help my students finish their projects.

Products used in this workshop:
Old book
Tim Holtz Eclectic Fabrics
Tim Holtz Distress Ink Pads - Ranger (we used every color I have & I think I have them all!)
Adirondack Blending Tool and foam squares by Ranger
Tim Holtz Stains - Ranger (we used every color of these too!)
Canvas Flowers by Prima
Tim Holtz Distress Markers - Ranger
Tim Holtz Distress Marker WaterBrushes - Ranger
Glue and Seal - Ranger
Tim Holtz Ideology Bingo Tokens - Advantus
Archival Ink Pads - Ranger
Canvas - Canvas Corp.
Paper Roses - Prima
Ribbon - May Arts
Tags - American Tag
Cardstock - Bazzill Basics
Printed Paper - Tim Holtz Ideology - Advantus
Pleated Paper Borders - Bazzill Basics
Chipboard flags and frames - Bazzill Basics
Vintage photos - Tim Holtz Ideology - Advantus
Wendy Vecchi Embossing Paste - Stampers Annonymous
Wendy Vecchi Crackle Embossing Paste - Stampers Annonymous
Stamps - Wendy Vecchi and Tim Holtz by Stampers Annonymous
Tissue Tape - Tim Holtz Ideology - Advantus
Stamps - G45 Hampton Arts
Bingo Cards - Jenni Bowlin
Stapler - Tim Holtz Ideology - Advantus





  1. this is beyond fabulous! lucky lucky girlfriends....I bet this class was a blast!
    love it lots!

  2. Oh Michele, you almost broke my heart when I read this. You are one of the kindest, most generous people I know and always so willing to teach. I remember my first altered class I ever took. I could relate to your student because I too was completely overwhelmed for two reasons--1) I had never done this before and expected it to just come to me easily as other paper crafting projects had, and 2) I wanted it to be as beautiful as the teacher's. I had to practice getting messy and trusting myself (still learning this ;-)).. So know that you are fabulous. The fact that you took the time to create this blog post (which is so incredibly good!) and the fact that you worry about your students and how to help them understand and learn proves you have a teacher's heart. I love ya!

  3. Wow, I cannot believe your generosity and how much you love your students. Yes, the love comes through loud and clear. Your talent shines but your caring is beyond fantastic. I am sure both your readers here and your students think you are a stellar teacher! What a lovely project and a beautiful person!