Saturday, September 14, 2013


How many of you have altered an old, unwanted book and created something both beautiful and useful? This post begins a short series on a few formats to try, details to add, & more. You'll also find links to other helpful sites.

                      This tiny, fold-up "book" stands alone for display. I used slide frames, tiny holes in the corners, and jewelry jump rings.
slide frames, altered book
Anyone Can Draw, by P. Guhin
Paula Guhin, mini-book

And here's another idea I love: Make a double picture frame or an altered art shadowbox!
altered book, mixed media, collage
Sea motif with images, glass pebbles, shells, etc.
For this stand-up shadowbox , I had to cut the center rectangles out of a discarded book. And here's a video link to a method of making a hidden shadow box inside an old book!

mixed media, art activity
I love horses!
I made an altered art book on equines, and folded this page so I could slip some mementos into the pocket.

Are you a visual arts educator? This site includes tips, assessment, and more!


  1. Love these ideas. I'm particularly taken with idea number 1. Everything about it works for me: the format, the materials, the drawings, the color palette. Really enjoyable. It would be fun to learn a little more on how you created it.
    I tried carving out a book for a book safe, much deeper than the example in the video. It was quite a long, tedious process that I doubt I will repeat. But, I think I could handle making a shallower space, and I like the idea of the window to frame art work.

    1. Thanks so much, Anonymous! For the mini-book, I used old slides, removing the images from them by slitting the "frames" apart with a blade, inserting the replacement drawings on paper, which were sized the same, and then gluing the "frames" back together! Hope that helps a little.

  2. Hello Paula. I'm another Paula and I make Altered Books too. Aren't they great? I'm in the UK and a friend told me about your blog. Lovely stuff.

  3. Hi Paula, I've made a can see the latest and biggest one at:

    1. Gorgeous work Sherrie. Love your bird photos too.

  4. Hi Paula! Love your books! They are all lovely and so different but I am partial to the second one. I am so drawn to those colors and love that you actually altered a book. I like to put pockets in mine too, like in your horse book. Sometimes I have made books (once I made a mini book with a stone for the covers from a rock that had cracked EXACTLY in half lengthwise!) but that came later. When I first learned about altered books (before they became very well known) it was truly altering books, like you did in your second example, which is what I have done more of. Then when that became popular in the industry (along with the whole "altered" concept) it sort morphed into (as well as just bringing to the forefront from those who have made them for years) making them from scratch. You may be familiar with Susan Kapuscinski Gaylord and her amazing books.
    For years I've been admiring and learning from her. When I taught art to kids until earlier this year I often used some of her ideas in my classes. She really has expanded the definition of what constitutes a "book". In one of her museum or gallery shows (can't remember which) her "book" was slips of paper with quotes each tied to a branch of an actual tree on the grounds! Thanks for bringing up this very creative and exciting genre of art!


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