An altered book is a form of mixed media artwork that changes a book from its original form into a different form, altering its appearance and/or meaning.
An altered book artist takes a book (old, new, recycled or multiple) and cuts, tears, glues, burns, folds, paints, adds to, collages, rebinds, gold-leafs, creates pop-ups, rubber-stamps, drills, bolts, and/or be-ribbons it. The artist may add pockets and niches to hold tags, rocks, ephemera, or other three-dimensional objects. Some change the shape of the book, or use multiple books in the creation of the finished piece of art.
Altered books may be as simple as adding a drawing or text to a page, or as complex as creating an intricate book sculpture. Antique or Victorian art is frequently used, probably because it is easier to avoid copyright issues. Altered books are shown and sold in art galleries and on the Internet.
How about this for some fun book art! I really like the vintage look and the unexpected objects and scenes. It could be an image of what our memory looks like with our thoughts layered in our sub-conscience. Alexander uses old books, selects and cuts around the illustrations of the book leaving them on their original page!
Cara Barer, Houston Artist
Cara Barer has done a colorful work creating a beautiful butterfly with bending and folding a book.
The Butterfly by Rachel Ashe
Rachel's work has a "found art" kind of theme.
Frank Halman treats books as architecture often carving out the inside of a set of books so that the viewer can peek in and see a space inside. Below is another of his works showing stairs that are descending mysteriously down into a book.
As a child I loved reading a collection of mysteries presented by Alfred Hitchcock, one of the stories was about little people that came suddenly one day to live in a house inhabited by the narrator.
The little people were never actually seen only noises or movement of things like a shade suddenly being pulled down in a doll house they were inhabiting.
The little people brought the narrator good luck but apparently their privacy was violated somehow, I think consequently they left and the good luck with them! The staircase reminds me of the evidence of their existence but never actually seeing them.
More great altered books, this scene is so atmospheric and looks like an archeological diorama of a lost city in a museum only it's in a book, literally!
This one reminds me of the lost ancient Minoan civilization in Crete. I like how the entrance walls look like they are on two different planes. The clever carving makes it look like it is dug out of a cliff.
How about this for someone that is "bookish!" Long Ben Chen carves faces out of books that look amazingly life-like.
Library of Alexandria detail by Ania Gilmore
I love the detail and texture in this image, it is from a theological blog firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Girl In The Wood, Su Blackwell
I saved my favorite for last, fairytale like work of Su Blackwell is fascinating. Su says of her work:
"I often work within the realm of fairy-tales and folk-lore. I began making a series of book sculpture cutting out images of old books to create three-dimensional dioramas, and displaying them inside wooden boxes.
For the cut-out illustrations, I tend to lean towards the young girl characters, placing them in haunting fragile settings, expressing the vulnerability of childhood, while also conveying a sense of childhood anxiety and wonder. There is a quiet melancholy in the work, depicted in the material used, and the use of subtle color."