Altered Books

Altered book by Karen Hatzigeorgiou of
Altered book by Karen Hatzigeorgiou of

Altered books are a great scrapbook alternative for experienced crafters.

What are Altered Books?

Simply put, altered books are books that have somehow been transformed into new works of art. The following are just some of the many crafting techniques that can be used in the creation of an altered book:

  • Sewing
  • Drawing
  • Collaging
  • Painting
  • Burning
  • Cutting
  • Coloring
  • Rubber stamping
  • Tearing
  • Folding

Some altered books will lie flat when finished, while others have pop-ups, pockets, or places to hold ephemera and other three-dimensional objects. Occasionally, crafters will even change the shape of the book or use more than one book to create the final piece.

If you love to read, you may cringe at the thought of drawing on the pages of a book. However, think of the craft as bringing new life to forgotten books. Would you rather see an old book lost in the attic or proudly displayed as a new artistic masterpiece?

While many altered books are purely decorative, others blend form and function. Books can be made to display the following:

  • A collection of your favorite quotes
  • A small assortment of family photos
  • Memorabilia from a recent vacation
  • Torn magazine images that depict one of your hobbies or special interests

Getting Started

You can purchase books to alter at garage sales, flea markets, or secondhand stores. Some crafters like to look for books with attractive covers, while others prefer to choose a book with a sentimental meaning. For example, you might want to pick up a copy of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet if you're creating an altered book to showcase quotes relating to true love.The number of pages in the book you choose to alter really doesn't matter. You can always glue some of the pages together to create a more manageable book for your project. However, if you're new to the craft, you might want to choose a child's board book for your first altered book project. These books are sturdy and have very few pages, making them easy for beginners to work with.

Since the concept of altering books is fairly new, there are no rules. If you can't draw, use rubber stamps to create your book. If you hate to sew, try tearing and folding to create a unique look. The only limit to your project is your imagination.

If you're looking for some inspiration, the following altered book idea galleries can help:

Additional Resources

If you'd like to learn more about making altered books, check out the following helpful resources:

The following books, available from, provide a more in-depth discussion of making altered books:

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