Altered books is an art form where you artistically manipulate, or alter, the pages of a book or a magazine.

If you are signed up to enjoy the rest of this workshop series, you will receive the next workshop video in a few days. (If you aren’t, and wish to join me for the rest of this workshop, please sign up below). This gives you time to think about the kind of book you want to work with and procure one. Then I will show you the steps I take to prepare a book to load it full of art.

Please take note of the materials list for our next workshop: ruler, pencil, masking tape (acid free if longevity is something you are concerned about), cutting blade and cutting mat optional, scissors

Altered books video workshop series


  1. Pat Butler

    I’ve already done a number of altered books, but not recently. However, I just chose a book and had begun gesso-ing pages, looking for good quotes in it. I got stalled out with a move and death in the family, but it’s time to proceed again! So fortunate to coincide with this workshop you’re offering. Thank you. Look forward to learning new things and improving skills.

    • Carrie

      Hi Pat! I hope it helps you get making again. <3 Do ask away if you have any questions.

  2. Heather

    I have stalled for now. Too much interference in my life that I am letting get in my way. Need a push

    • Carrie

      I hope this video series helps you get making again ????

  3. Heather

    I made an altered book 8 years ago for my daughter who was experiencing post partum anxiety/ depression. The book I found was an academic examination of mother guilt so that triggered The theme mostly but I titled it ‘Mother Guilt/ Mama Love’ it was a real learning experience. I made some choices that still bother my perfectionist nature but she loves it. I hope to learn more about preparing pages to accept different mediums and experimenting without the pressure of making a gift.

    • Carrie

      Heather what you created and how it helped someone in your life is so inspirational. Thank you for sharing. Sometimes I wonder why it’s so easy to make for others in need but when we are in need of our creativity, we often struggle to make space. May you find that sense of discovery and joy you deserve to experience in your work.

  4. Victoria Van Zandt

    Hi Carrie..Great video..I teach a workshop in LA on Women and Creativity. My question is why not use a Mixed-Media boom to alter? I think I understand that a book or magazine would have more fun with the printed background in place, but curious your ideas especially if you’re going to gesso many of the pages.

    • Carrie

      Hi Victoria,

      I don’t know what a mixed media boom is. I can tell you what instigated my use of books.

      Over ten years ago I was working with a group of students and they were to find artists that spoke personally to their work and art investigation. Someone shared with me, with great enthusiasm, the work of Tom Phillips. I saw a spark in them, got excited, and decided to create an assignment inspired by his work.

      I found that students were much more free in their creation and more willing to take risks in books. As I said in the video: books mean we don’t have to start on a scary blank canvas. It was great for perfectionist students who had to have every mark perfect because they were working in something already full of marks! It took the pressure off of their exploration. And gave them space to practice new techniques.

      For students who felt stuck, the text itself could act as inspiration, guiding the content and direction of their creation.

      I always let images and text show through in my explorations. But throughout the book there may be a page spread or an image I want to create where I cover all the text. You’ll notice in one of the next videos, where I cover with gesso, it doesn’t fully mask the text either.

      Even for those who decided to cover all the text it’s a starting point that takes away the preciousness of “fresh, clean, new” materials. Some people hold onto empty sketchbooks because they are so pretty and the paper is so nice they never want to make in it unless what they make is “really good.” Altered books is a balm for that perfectionist nature.

      Thanks for watching!

  5. MaryAnn

    Hi Carrie! Some questions….
    1. How does the paper hold up to water colour paints and acrylics? Don’t they buckle?
    2. Also, can you cut pages right out of the book to accommodate the thicker altered pages? (Being careful not to cut the binding of course)
    3. Doesn’t using gesso on the pages make them very hard and thick? If every page is gessoed doesn’t it become a ‘clacky’ awkward object?
    Thanks for thinking about these!

    • Carrie

      Hi MaryAnn,

      (1) too much water used with any pigment –> buckled paper
      (2) I suggest this in video two, and include a tip on how to add extra support to the binding
      (3) Video three I talk about gesso and/or medium. In video two, I talk about removing pages as a way to help the book lay nicely. Of course, the amount of paper you add to the book will also add weight to the binding. As you add pages and material you may want to remove other pages as you fill the book to accommodate this.

      If you are drawn to clean design, you might want to focus on paper cutting and removal of paper with some collage elements rather than painting. Things like buckling using this substrate are inevitable, though it is something you can limit with mindful use of water, for example.

      I hope this gets you thinking. And making! 🙂

  6. Diane

    I will try to do this but my question is as someone already stated is the buckling of the paper in the book. Of course if you use a book that has thicker paper pages and I think I just answered my own question. I love the idea of using a subject book and do altered pages with that as a reference.

    • Carrie

      Do you feel your Q was answered or are you looking for more info?


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