Saturday, March 25, 2017

Altered Book Workshop

Creative expression... by the book.

I recently had the pleasure of participating in another art workshop at the California Center For Creative Renewal. (You may remember the collage workshop I did there back in January.) 
This one was about altered books: using an entire book as the foundation for a series of page-turning collages. 

Messy workspace, making altered books

The Center is a picturesque hideaway in Encinitas, tucked behind the home of founder and teacher, Ellen Speert. The lush gardens and winding paths are designed to inspire. It’s a magical place.

California Center for Creative Renewal sign

lush garden path leading into fog

stepping stones
Headed down the path on a foggy Saturday morning, toward the art house at 
the Center for Creative Renewal. 

Guest teacher Ruth Eileen Dorn is a wonderfully warm, giving, and creative teacher, full of ideas and generous with her beautiful supplies.  She inspired us all. Please visit her website for more about her artwork and her creative art classes. 

Eileen Ruth Dorn

Each student got to choose a book to alter: I chose an illustrated book about Shakespeare’s plays, filled with colorful characters in decadent costumes.

Cutting up a Shakespeare book.

Ruth supplied many papers to be added or glued into to the pages of the book, including many papers that she created herself. 

Handpainted papers

But first you start by tearing out pages, to make room for all the stuff you’re going to add in.

Then we folded some pages in upon themselves, to create layers or pockets, adding a sense of dimension.

Folded book pages

We then chose elements to add, and began cutting out pictures and collaging the pages with matte medium, glue stick, or decorative washi tape.

It was freeing to be allowed to spread out and make a big mess while creating.

Messy table of art projects

By glueing a couple of book pages together, and cutting flaps in only one layer, I created little doors and windows you can open to reveal the image inside.

windows cut into book pages

At the end of the day, we all had a chance to share our creations. When you are in the habit of working alone, it’s refreshing to see the amazing ideas that pop up around you, and you can learn so much from the choices your fellow students make. Its about being part of a creative collective sharing ideas and supporting our diverse and creative expressions. 

Here is the cover of my altered book, and a few of my favorite pages.

The cover of my altered book
The cover of my altered book, with a character cut from the inside pages, and some hand painted papers supplied by the teacher.

Inside page of my altered book
One of the inside altered pages: I folded the page in and glued on a triangle to create a pocket.

Altered page with Cleopatra, beetle, and roses
The last page of my book. I glued several pages together for added depth, then cut a window to reveal Cleopatra and her scarab beetle. The frame is Washi tape. The roses are from a greeting card that I glued into the crease of the book to make a new page.

Garden path and gate
Back up the path at the end of the day, feeling good, feeling inspired.

My altered book is a work in progress; I will continue adding to it at home.  

Come back soon to see more altered books, collages, assemblages, paintings, or whatever other art adventures I get up to!

Denise's signature photo



  1. Love these,, my kind of books-- mostly pictures! Wonderfully creative, as always.

    1. I know Carole...I LOVE pictures...altering them and making them personal is so much fun! Thanks Carole for being such a wonderful support...appreciated more than you know! 🌷


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