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Altered Book Journal

Hi everyone, today I’m showing you how I altered an old book so that I can art journal in it. The altering of the book is not out of my comfort zone, but working in it might be totally!

I really love projects, for example from Finnabair, where she journals in an old book, but myself I don’t know where to start really, but since I totally love Finnabairs style I’m pushing past my boundaries and try if I can make this thing work (and otherwise I at least tried it!).

Step 1:

Before I start art journalling in this book I first wanted to make it suitable for it. This particular book I found in a second hand store, it’s about 120 years old, I like the smell of the old papers and the size is nice. The signatures of the book are bound to the spine (so no pages glued into the spine). The pages are old and yellowed, the hardcover is covered with fabric. It looked sturdy enough when I found it.

Step 2:

My next step is to take pages out of the book, so that I have room to add stuff in it without the book getting too bulky too soon. You can find out more information about taking pages out of a book and what not to do here:

I did not throw away the pages that I took out of the book, but created tags from them later on.

I also adhered two or three pages together using gel medium (which acts like a glue) so that I have a sturdy base to work on. Each page needs to be gessoed (white, black or clear gesso for example) before adding any other mediums, when I start working in this altered book.

While adhering pages together I also created pockets: I created a couple of different ones, that you can see in other pictures (later on). The sideway pockets are created by cutting two pages through the middle in a vertical way, adhering the two pages together with gel medium and than adhering these combined pages to another set of pages using only Scor-Tape on the edges of the pocket.

The top-bottom pockets are created by tearing a page half way in along the spine and then horizontally, taking half of a page out. This piece I adhered on the bottom half (the text upside down, which makes the torn edge of the spine show on the outside page) and than using the Scor-Tape on two sides to create the actual pocket. The diagonal pockets are created in the same way.

Step 3:

While I was handling the book a lot and took pages out of it I noticed that the structure of the book changed and of course being 120 years old I figured it would be best if I enhanced the structure of the book before starting working in it.

I reinforced the outer spine with Rebekah Meier “Mixed Media Art Tape” (that I coloured red with Distress Ink in “Candied Apple”). But before putting the tape on I adhered a piece of red ribbon that could function as my closure and than I put the tape over it.

Inside the first page I adhered some design paper, also using gel medium and let that dry before cutting it to size. I edged the pieces of design paper with Versafine Ink in “Toffee”, so that these don’t have a stark white edge.

Some pages looked a bit loose so I added some of the tape that I mentioned before and coloured the tape with Lindy’s Stamp Gang Moon Shadow Spray in “Golden Doubloons” so that it is no longer stark white. I can work over this when I journal on these pages.

Step 4:

Remember the pages that I took out of the book earlier on? I adhered two pages together and then created a tag from it, which fits the pockets nicely. I also used the same design paper that I used before to create tags from them and with was left over I decorated some pages.

Step 5:

Next it’s time to decorate the outside of my book: I wanted it to be pretty but most of all I wanted it to be functional. I wanted to be able to work in this art journal with the spine and the covers flat, so no bulky things on the outside!

I adhered the ribbons that I’m using for closure using Glossy Accents. Next I covered part of the cover with white gesso, so that the title and author of the book wouldn’t be visible any more. I also added the white gesso because I wanted to put rice paper on top and I wanted to make sure that the butterfly design would be well visible.

This particular rice paper is an older one by Stamperia. If you take a wet brush an trace the paper where you want your edge to be it tears easily.

I first adhered the top part using gel medium, let it dry and then wrapped the rest over the spine onto the back also using gel medium. The easiest way is to add gel medium to the cover with a brush, put the rice paper on top, wipe away any bubbles with your fingers and seal with the gel medium on top. Let dry well!

When dry I wanted to put a text on the spine, which is part of the rice paper (which originally is A4 size), and I took a new butterfly from a second paper. I added white gesso to the spine and than adhered both text pieces and the butterfly onto the spine, also using gel medium.

The last left over piece of rice paper I also adhered onto the back of the book.

Step 6:

With the cover prettied up I wanted to add colour and a text to the front. With a brush I applied the same Lindy’s Stamp Gang Moon Shadow Mist in “Golden Doubloons” around the butterflies, let dry and added more layers to darken the colour. On the butterflies I used Lindy’s Stamp Gang spray in “Queen of Hearts Red” also with a brush (you can lighten or wash out the colour with a little water on your brush).  

Next I added details using a white gel pen and a black Glaze pen. I did the same with the spine (enhancing the text and adding the & sign in the middle). Next I added the text on the front cover (which is from a Tim Holtz Idea-Ology sticker book) and traced around it with the before mentioned gel pens. I felt the quote matched nicely since working in this journal will take me some courage because it’s so much out of my comfort zone.

Step 7:

To finish the inside of the book (than it will be ready to work in) I wanted to enhance the look of the pockets that I created earlier on: for this I poked small holes in the pockets and used a needle and black thread to emphasize the created look.

Step 8:

That is it for today’s project! Now I have to find the courage to actually create a page in the book!

Detail pictures:

Update: Since creating this book I created several projects in it that you can find beneath and I think I found a style that makes me able to work in this kind of art journal! I'm really happy about that!

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