Altered Books: Turning Old Books into Art

Do you have a pile of old books that you haven't touched in years? Instead of letting them collect dust, why not turn them into unique pieces of art? Altered books, also known as book art or book sculptures, involve transforming old books into new creations by cutting, folding, painting, and adding various materials. It's a fun and creative way to recycle old books and express your artistic side.
Altered Books

What are Altered Books?

Altered books are a form of mixed media art that involve using existing books as a canvas or base for creating new artwork. The process involves altering the original book by cutting, folding, painting, and adding various materials such as fabric, beads, and found objects. The result is a unique and personalized piece of art that combines the original book with new elements.

History of Altered Books

The practice of altering books has been around for centuries. In the Middle Ages, monks would create illuminated manuscripts by adding illustrations and decorations to existing books. In the 20th century, artists such as Marcel Duchamp and Max Ernst began using found objects and collages in their art, paving the way for the concept of altered books. Today, altered books are a popular form of mixed media art and a way for artists and crafters to express their creativity.

How to Make Altered Books

Making an altered book is a fun and creative process that can be done with just a few supplies. Here are the basic steps:

  • Choose a book: Look for a book with an interesting cover or theme that you want to incorporate into your art.
  • Prepare the book: Remove any pages that you don't want to use, such as the spine or back cover.
  • Add new elements: Use materials such as paint, fabric, and found objects to decorate the pages and cover of the book. You can also cut and fold pages to create new shapes and designs.
  • Personalize it: Add your own personal touches, such as photos, quotes, or drawings, to make the book unique to you.

Pros and Cons of Altered Books

Like any art form, there are pros and cons to making altered books. Here are a few:

Recycles old booksCan damage original book
Allows for creativity and self-expressionCan be time-consuming
No two books are the sameRequires some artistic skill and supplies


1. Do I need to use a specific type of book?

No, you can use any type of book you like. However, it's best to use books that are no longer valuable or rare.

2. Can I still read the book after it's altered?

It depends on how much you alter the book. If you only add decorations to the cover or margins, you may still be able to read the text. However, if you cut or fold pages, it may be more difficult to read.

3. What supplies do I need to make an altered book?

You will need a book, scissors, glue, paint, and any other materials you want to use for decorations.

4. Can I sell my altered books?

Yes, you can sell your altered books as long as you are not infringing on any copyright laws.

Altered books are a fun and creative way to turn old books into new works of art. Whether you're an experienced artist or just starting out, anyone can make an altered book with a little creativity and imagination. So why not give it a try and see what you can create?