Altered Books

The craft of altering books has been around for over a hundred years. It’s a wonderful way to use books that are damaged or just no longer of interest to you. I’ve included the basics below. The beauty part of this project is that since you’ll be altering the book to look like you want it doesn’t matter what the book looks like. If you want to see some examples and other ideas I suggest you do a search for “altered books” on the Internet. Also has several beautiful examples with step-by-step instructions.

Basic Instructions

The first step is to choose a theme for your book. Your book can be useful or simply a piece of art. Are you going to create a book of your family’s favorite recipes, a photo scrapbook for a particular trip or event, a memorabilia book as a gift to grandma, a book filled with tips, coupons, maps, stamps, postcards, etc. for a teen leaving for college, or a book as a showcase for a child’s school project? The possibilities are endless.

Your book can contain pockets, carved out niches for three-dimensional items, pop-up elements, layers to peel back – your only limit is your imagination.

Once you’ve chosen your theme gather together the items you’ll want to include in your book.

Suggestions for items to include in your altered book:

  • photos
  • handwritten notes and letters
  • charms
  • old jewelry
  • puzzle pieces
  • pieces from broken toys
  • small or broken mirrors
  • greeting cards and postcards
  • game pieces
  • stamps
  • stickers
  • decorative papers
  • old keys
  • pressed flowers and leaves
  • small gifts
  • buttons
  • decorative patches and appliqués
  • ribbons
  • lace
  • art and frames printed from your computer
  • recipes on old recipe cards or printed from your computer


There are several methods for creating a pocket:

  • Use an Exacto knife to cut the bottom half of a page free from the spine. Fold the page behind it up and glue to create a pocket.
  • Use a material such as fabric, other paper, or pages cut from the same book to form a pocket then simply glue it onto a page in your book.
  • How to Add Page Fold Pockets

Background Pages

Create a sturdy background to glue heavier items to by gluing three or four pages together.


Use office binder clips to clamp together a block of pages equal to the depth of the niche you want. Brush white glue on all edges of the block. Don’t glue whole pages together or they’ll be too difficult to cut. Place wax paper over the front and back of the block to keep the glue from sticking to the other pages. Close the book and place a heavy object on top of it. When glue is dry, use a ruler and pencil to mark off the niche on the first page of the block. Place a cutting mat or thick piece of cardboard under the block of pages and using the ruler as a straight-edge and a craft knife cut out your niche. Seal the inside of the niche with white glue. Close the book and weight it until the glue dries.

Resources for Creating Altered Books & Other Altered Art Projects

Links to Altered Book Sites Altered Art & Collage – You’ll have to scroll thru a lot of book reviews (although if you’re really getting into this art form you may find this useful) to find actual project instructions but keep your eyes open and you’ll find a few you can use.

Live Studio: Altered Books – author Eliza Badurina takes you from start to finish on her altered book project; includes photos.

Creativity Portal – detailed step-by-step instructions with pictures.

Karen’s Whimsy – pictures of beautiful altered books, some for sale and some with detailed instructions for reproducing them.


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About Kat

I started this blog to share with you all the results of years of turning trash into treasures. Hopefully I'll spark some new creative thoughts and if that happens I hope that you'll share your discoveries and together we’ll build a blog that will singlehandedly reduce global warming and save the world! Okay, maybe that’s a grand goal but we should be able to at least downsize our own trash output.

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