image of an altered book
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image of an altered bookI’ve seen altered books in craft magazines for years. I was inspired to create one for my final project in a bookbinding class. My grandmother was an avid reader, and for many years had a hobby making dollhouses. I wanted my final project to honor her all that she means to me. Using her copy of Wuthering Heights, I did! I offer a little info on the project, and a gallery, after the jump.

My grandmother made me my own dollhouse when I was seven years old. It was a Swiss Tudor. All the photos in the dollhouse were made from wallet-sized photos of my family. It was such a tender, thoughtful gift. She was traditional in so many ways, yet she had an independent side. She may not have considered herself feminist, but she sure as hell as pissed that it wasn’t socially acceptable for women to wear pants in the early 1950s. When mail came addressed to “Mrs. [his first name]…” she recoiled, “It’s bad enough I had to give up my last name, but my first name, too?!”

Back to the project. I received a few books from her personal library. During the bookbinding class, I learned enough to know the volume, while sentimental, was not a collector’s item. I felt okay repurposing it, and ripped out about half the pages. I clumped several sets of pages together by binding them with gesso. (image A)

One section, I cut out a window and used it as a picture frame. I transferred text from the book onto a printed copy of a photo of my grandmother with her two sisters, and then texturized it with glaze, and placed it in the “frame” I’d created. Below the photo is a die-cut fleur-de-lis, a symbol in an ancestor’s coat of arms. (image B)

I distressed several pages with glaze tinted with water colors. The inside cover, I collaged stamps cancelled stamps, to represent our correspondence after I moved away. Inside another set of pages, I hand-colored a stamped image of a french dancing girl, to symbolize her whimsical side. (image C)

Finally, I added more cancelled stamps to another layout, and made a pop-up house. The little house is an homage to the doll house she made for me. The pop-up is used most often in children’s books; including a pop-up in this project is a reference to childhood and learning to read as a child, and our shared passion for reading. (image D)

My grandmother died seventeen years ago. I miss her tremendously, and remain grateful to have had so much time with her. This project is just a small sample of my love for her.


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