Altered Books

You may have read about the Altered Book project that we began in June.

Most of the students found a place within them to begin the exercise but a few found it rather daunting.

I think that once I understood the concept of altered books and saw examples of how to use my creativity I was ready to begin. It did take some time though to find the right book. You may have heard the story, but here it is again. My Dear Friend Daphne (from now on called DF) always finds treasures to gift me on birthdays, Christmas and sometimes for no reason at all. She found a book on the history of calligraphy which was great seeing I teach calligraphy! However DF didn't realise I had more than one (5 or more really) books of encyclopaedic information written by masters of their field. The authors range from Donald Jackson to Ewan Clayton, so you understand what I am saying.

I was obviously thrilled with the thoughful gift and put it into my extensive library of calligraphic books. And forgot about it for years. (sorry DF).

Then the time for the project arrived. 'What a great idea' I thought, 'we can use calligraphy, paint, crayons, gesso, ink, fineliner, fact all the techniques we have been learning over the past few months'. That was splendid for some and a nightmare for others. So with a quick change of plan, we divided the groups into 'those who do only Italics' and 'those who do both the Altered books (the last 30 minutes of the lesson) and Italics'. So everyone is satisfied.

Why the resistance? I think we have all grown up with the admonishments of parents and teachers to 'treat books with RESPECT' and never (ever) write in a book. However when I pull out my text books from matric (yes I still have them, I obviously haven't moved enough) they are filled with pencil marks of analysis and comment. So there was permission at one time.

I also think that we have to 'own' the book we are to alter, savour it and then release it into the creative space in which we work. That's why I chose the book DF gave me. It has wonderful illustrations, good paper on which to paint, gesso, fold and write and it is inspirational. Most importantly this book 'talks' to me on so many levels and allows my creativity to blossom.

So rather than think that I am destroying the book, I feel that while altering the pages I am enhancing them and creating my own interpretation and continuing my story.

I will add posts of process as I progress. Enjoy this image of the book as it is at the moment. Of course I think of my DF often as I proceed and love every moment of this creation.