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Altered Book Project Part 1 – Creating an Art Journal

To kick off the art journal section I contemplated on the idea of creating an art journal in which I could add drawings, sketches, clippings, ideas and other art related things throughout the year.


From an art course I did some time ago I picked up an A3 size portfolio book for £10 which has lots of pages in it with fairly good quality paper. The problem was that it was too big to cart around with me and had a damaged binding on the bottom half of the book.

So I thought what if I cut the book in half and make two A4 sized books? …

So to start with I measured up halfway of the book and put masking tape, tightly wrapped around the whole book, on either side of where I wanted it to be cut.

TIP: If like this book there is a ribbon bookmark, make sure this is moved out of the way before taping and cutting the book

My partner obliged with cutting it in half with his chop saw (would have been a bit better if it was a table saw as we did two cuts either side and then had to finish off with a handsaw in the middle as the blade was not big enough!).


Now I had two A4 books for the price of one and decided to use one for an art journal and the other for a crafting journal. Next I went about fixing the binder and sorting out a cover for the two books. I started with the art journal.


Step 1 – Fixing the Binder

I kept the one with the damaged binder for the art journal and thought about how I could mend the binder. First of all I cut away all the old binder that was loose and trimmed any bits on the old cover.


I then thought using thick foam double-sided sticky tape (that I picked up at the pound shop i.e. 2 rolls for £1!) to replace the old cardboard binder. So I ran this along the binding edge and trimmed it with a craft knife.


I found that the inside of the binding was also a bit ripped and needed strengthening. So I used ordinary masking tape (again you can get 4 rolls of the stuff for a £1 at the pound shop) and ran this along the binding fold edge, joining the front page to the cover and the back page to the cover, then trimmed off any excess. This will later be covered and helps add that extra strength needed to keep the book together.

Step 2 – Giving it a Cover

Materials used for the cover:


3 sheets 12” x12” scrapbook papers of your choice for the outside cover (one preferably with a large floral design)

The floral paper I used is “Primevera Flower Fancy” by Carolyn Holt designs

2 sheets 12” x 12” scrapbook papers for the inside covers

I used coordinating dotted and striped scrapbook papers

3 lengths of ribbon – 2 green, 1 pink
1 length of green sticking back ribbon
Optional – pastel coloured address / index cards

Tools include Scissors,\Craft Knife, Thin double-sided tape, Spray mount or spray craft glue, Art pens – green or other coordinating colours, one light, one dark for outlining, and
Lettering / pattern stencils

I made a selection of papers that coordinated from a selection of scrapbook papers. I picked one with a large flower pattern (which I will cut out later), one with a journaling pattern and one with a marble effect as background papers.


I started with the paper with journaling and cut this in half, a piece each for the outer edge of the front and back covers. I sprayed the back of the paper with craft glue and laid this on the front cover allowing about an inch and a half overlap to fold over to the inside cover.


Once this was positioned I opened the cover and with a craft knife cut a diagonal from the front cover corner to the corner of the paper at the top and bottom. I then folded over the paper at the top and bottom and carefully trimmed the overlapping flap of paper with a craft knife. I then folded over the side overlap, closed the cover and again carefully trimmed the flap with the craft knife. Repeat this for the back cover also.


TIP: Be sure to use a good sharp blade when cutting wet or damp paper otherwise it could quite easily tear or rip it.


Then taking the marbled paper and spraying it with craft glue, and removing the cover from the foam tape, I centred the book binding edge on the paper and pressed the paper along the front and back covers, making sure to firm the paper tightly around the bound edge.

TIP: Before spraying with glue mark out the position for the binder with light pencil lines on the back of the paper.

Then taking a pair of scissors I cut two slits to align with the corners of the bound edges at both ends i.e. top and bottom. Working quickly, I lifted the cover and folded the paper around to the inside cover taking care not to crease it and keeping the paper fold tight to the edge of the cover. Once both edges were folded over and pressed down firmly, I closed the book and stood it on its binding edge and trimmed the remainder of paper along the binder edge, both top and bottom. This completed the background covering.


I then set about dividing the flowered paper and cutting around the edges of the flowers to cover the gaps on the front and back covers between the marbled and journal papers. Once I had carefully selected which flowers to keep in the design I carefully cut around these with a pair of scissors.


Then checked this on the cover to ensure it covered all of the old exposed black cover. I then sprayed it with glue and placed on the cover, folding over the excess to the inside cover. Repeat this for the back cover also.


This completed the covering of the outside cover, now to deal with the inside covers …

Step 3 – Adding some Storage

As this was to be my art journal and I wanted to keep handy any photos or clippings that I would like to use as reference material I decided to add some storage pockets to the inside of the back and front covers.


So I selected some coordinating striped and dotted scrapbook papers and cut these in half. Then place some thin double-sided sticky tape to the four edges of the inside cover and place one dotted paper half aligned to the top half and the inside binder edge fold of the cover.

Then place some thin double-sided sticky tape to three sides of the back of one half of the striped paper and align this with the bottom edge and the inside binder edge fold of the cover so as to create a pocket.


Close over the cover and trim any excess paper on the outer edge of the cover with a craft knife. Repeat the same for the back inside cover but this time swapping the striped and dotted papers around i.e. lay the striped paper at the top half first, overlaid by the dotted. Now these were ready to put in some photos, pencil or brush for those quick sketches.


Step 4 – Adding some Finishing Touches


As a finishing touch I bound some green ribbon along the binder fold and glue this on both the back and front inside cover. At the back I also taped on the inside and tied with a bow at the top some pink ribbon with a spare piece to use as a book marker.


Sometimes I like to make notes to my sketches and photos etc so I decided to add an additional touch using address / index cards. I selected some coordinating colours and stuck these on the pocket pouches using thin double-sided tape. I then placed a few spare loose cards in these pockets handy for when I want to add a note to something.


The final touch was to add some lettering to the front cover. I found an oval decorated stick-on and with a letter stencil put the word “ART” with two shades of green art pens (lighter colour for the fill and darker colour to outline the lettering) and stuck this on the front cover with foam pads. I then used the stencil to add “BOOK” below along with a pattern which was also on the stencil. I then added some sticky green ribbon on the join between the floral paper and the marbled paper.

There you have it, one Art journal ready for use. I will demonstrate how I use this in some of the art projects in the future. Now to sort out the craft journal … so watch this space!


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