I'm travelling into a new way of working, a new country, a new language, and a new hobby which I'm passionate about. Come with me for some of the journey...

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Escape Into A Book

Hello everyone!  We're kicking off a new Get Altered challenge over at eclectic Paperie today.  It's hosted by Tracy, and she's chosen Altered Books as her challenge theme.  Come and play... there's a prize on offer generously sponsored by Kim at the eclectic Paperie store.

I was a solitary child, a reader, and books have always been hugely important to me.  A book is a route into an enchanted place - an escape to other times, countries or even worlds; a place to discover, learn and explore to the edges of your imagination and beyond.  And, yes, a place where even if there isn't quite a "happily ever after", there is at least a sense of resolution and completion.  Though a "happily ever after" is obviously the best option...

When I first found out about altered books, I have to say my spine crunched slightly... surely this was a desecration of my holy places?  Books are for reading not altering!  
But as we've ploughed through the thousands of volumes my mother and I have collected over the years, I've come full circle.  

I've been holding on to books that are now unwanted as books and using their pages to craft with and, on occasion, taking whole books and changing how they live in the world.  Turns out that if it's a choice between the scrapheap and being altered, I'll do anything to save a book from oblivion!

So here's a book which was being (reluctantly) offloaded, and it's now got its very own "happily ever after"!

Sadly, I forgot to take a before photo - too slap happy with the gesso! - but it was just an old hardback book - in fact, a version of Hamlet with the original on one side and a German translation on the facing page, so it's got my "other life" built into it too!

I started with the outside covers with, as I said, a coat of gesso all over, including the page edges.  I then started playing with my new - and first ever - Dylusions sprays.  

I picked the London Blue and Vibrant Turquoise as part of my shopping after my lucky draw at SSSaS the other week.  (And I've got a couple of the new colours on order - I'll leave you to guess which!)  I seem to be on an incredible roll with lucky dip draws at the moment - sorry, everyone!

I used the Crafter's Workshop Chicken Wire stencil, spritzing through it, and then turning it over to use up the ink left on the surface.  

Since I only have the two colours at the moment, I also added some spritzes of Luminarte's Radiant Rain shimmer mist in Fern to add both some greener colour and some fairytale sparkle to the look.

Next step, of course, was stamping.  And it was inevitable that the Donna Downey Delicate Flowers stamp would get in on the act.  

Anyone who read my Hedgerow Tag post will know that I've become slightly obsessed with these Unity stamps - there's a whole line of projects inspired by them waiting to be blogged!

I also used one of the stamps from my trusty Stampology Silhouette Blossoms set.  These were all stamped in Archival inks - Olive and Sepia mainly - incase I wanted to do some more spritzing later.

I love that you can still see the debossed panels from the original book cover, as well as - if you look closely - the original decoration.  

Those sepia coloured simple flourishes in the central rectangle are from the book itself, not me. 

And I also love the distressed look of the aged book underneath, lending its character to what I've created (though of course it has had some additional assistance from some Gathered Twigs DI).

I let the book choose where to fall open... most of them will have a natural place, and it's no use trying to force them to do things they'd rather not do.  

I then gave the internal pages a coat of ground - yes, ground - a new medium I've been playing with, considerably thicker than gesso, and it gives really good coverage and a great surface to work on.

I used the ground (feels like it should be "ground") on the long edges of the pages too, where it had the happy effect of "gluing" them together into a fairly solid block.  

Then I let rip with the stamping once more... the Delicate Flowers again and the rose branch, in Olive, Sepia, Coffee and some Memento Teal.  

I also tried out spritzing the stamp with the Fern mist which gave me a much more watercoloury look, though most of those ended up getting covered up by the quote I'm afraid.

I was delighted to find that I could also stamp quite nicely onto the ground (grounded?) edges... this has ended up being one of my favourite elements of the finished piece!

And on the narrow edges, I added some music stamping (music - another escape, another way to journey into someone else's imagination) in Teal, using my lovely Hero Arts music background.

(These Hero Arts background stamps are on sale at eclectic Paperie at the moment, at real bargain prices - I'm afraid the music may already have sold out though!)

The quote had been hovering at the back of my mind from quite early in the project (hence the plant stamping on the covers)... 

A garden is another enchanted place to escape into, though perhaps Cicero meant it more practically in terms of growing one's food?

It's written on some leftover packaging using the Inkssentials white gel pen.  

In fact, it's the card peeled away from the corrugated side of a cardboard box, so it's got some internal stripy texture which I've highlighted with Gathered Twigs DI.

I used a Pitt pen in sepia to doodle some ivy onto the quote panels - I'm finally starting to allow some freehand onto my projects!  

I wanted some more texture and dimension, and I also wanted to reintroduce some book text, so I cut some book pages from another rescued book using the TH Tattered Leaves die.  

I doodled on them with both the white and the sepia pens, crumpled them up and arranged them into messy leaf mulch to rest the sentiment panels onto.

Having covered up all the book text with ground (hmmm - still sounds weird), it seemed the least I could do to add some back in - plus I just love the look of book pages!

Obviously, the book wouldn't stay upright without some support, which is where the garden twine came in.

It seemed the perfect ingredient, such a simple solution, and also added some great rustic texture to the piece.

The filigree corners give some extra sturdiness.  I embossed them with the Ranger Weathered White powder, so that they aren't too smooth and shiny but have a bit of a roughened texture, which will also hold some Gathered Twigs DI for a bit of gentle distressing.

There were several stages of this where it really wasn't working for me, and I was tempted to start all over again, but I kept on going, altering, adding, covering and changing things and, in the end, I've got a piece which really enchants me.  I'd like to "get inside it", if that makes any sense...  

It makes me happy looking at it and that, I hope, will make the book happy too, even if it can't be read any longer.

Another long post, I'm afraid, but thank you for sticking with it.  If you've made it this far, then hopefully you'll be inspired to alter your own unwanted books and join in with our eclectic Paperie Get Altered challenge.  

All the details are here.  You have two weeks, so there's plenty of time to read the book first too!

A room without books is like a body without a soul.
Marcus Tullius Cicero

Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.
Mark Twain

Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend.  Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read.
Groucho Marx

I'm entering this in the following:
Simon Says Stamp and Show's challenge Ever After
Papertake Weekly are playing Anything Goes

Just click on the image to go straight to the goodies!


brenda said...

Such lush colours Alison and lovely subtle stamping.

B x

House of Bears said...

What a perfect way to repurpose an unwanted book, you've really brought it back to life in such a wonderful way. Love the book quote, very apt, and also the way you describe the book as falling open where it wants to, makes it sound like the book has a mind of its own. Another stunning project from you.

Candy C said...

Alison...I just love how your mind works! You can do the coolest stuff with an old book. :)I love how you've completely transformed this book into such a work of art! I love the soft muted colors of your background and all of the random stamping you've done to create such a feeling of calm and sereneness. That delicate filigree on either side is such a beautiful embellishment and way to provide sturdiness to this little masterpiece. Love the twine wrapped around the book. As always, just gorgeous! Thanks for sharing this little beauty with us at Simon Says Stamp and Show. <3 Candy

Laurart said...

Wonderful!!! This is really gorgeous...and certainly is miles better than the altered book I made for you! ;o) So sorry if that was the original spine cruncher, but glad you like the idea now. You certainly have plenty of books to alter anyway...are there any spare for me? love Laura xxxxxxxxx

Tracy said...

Swoon...I am in book heaven Alison,I thoroughly enjoyed reading your post,a lady after my own heart when it comes to old books...pssst I even adore the way they smell ...bliss!
I just want to reach out and touch your book,it is so beautiful with that Donna Downey stamp (which I adore) the colours, the quote and the string...all a marriage made in heaven.
I am so glad you played along with the challenge Alison!!

Inkypinkycraft said...

Thisnis really beautiful, I do love those stamps..can you email me and tell me where they came from..may have to buy them! Lol!!
The colours in this are as usual gorgeous , as are all the elements that you so carefully combine! May even have a go, never altered a book and know it won't be as stunning as this but may try ! Trace x

sam21ski said...

WOW What a fabulous idea, love how you've utilised the string - fantastic

Sam xxx

Janny Jager said...

Gorgeous book Alison and a great idee.
Greetings Janny

Lisa Minckler said...

I left you a big ol' message and I guess I wasn't signed in and the message dissipated into thin air. Suffice it to say, I had left you virtual applauds and kudos and inquiries to where you located this "ground" you spoke of. Also, joined the challenge site and am looking forward to visiting it more.
Beautiful work on your enchanted book and you've definitely inspired me this morning. :)
L x

Geraldine said...

love your altered book, the colours are fabulous, as are the stamps, and that quote from Cicero is one of my favourites. Not sure if I am up for this challenge, I still have major problems tearing one page from a book, but I suppose it's called a challenge for a reason!

Bonnie Irvine said...

This is such a cool way to alter a book and transform it into a piece of art. The colours and stamping are spectacular. I especially love the stamping on the sides of the stacked pages. The jute is a lovely detail and fits beautifully with the garden theme and quote. Funny coincidence, yeaterday I bought my first jar of absorbent ground and here you are talking about it:)

Colleen said...

How funny that you mentioned how hard it was to start altering books. I remember being taught how sacred they are and I shiver at the thought. You make a good point about the landfill. Your project is amazing and thanks so much for walking us through it. I may just have to search for an old unloved book.

Hettie said...

Beautiful piece there Alison! Love all the elements and the filigree corners are divine! Much better than the one I made some time ago, which really needs updating and having seen yours I may just to it soon!

Gerrie Johnnic said...

I understand your love of books, I am one to always use a book jacket and book mark.....but your final outcome is well worth the feelings you suffered thro, lol. And your Dream Big canvas is beautiful. I don't leave a lot of comments, but do take time to visit you often GF!

Kim said...

Beautiful, Alison! Like you, I cringed at the thought of doing anything to any books! I kept looking at them and deciding, "nope, can't mess that one up!" LOL! I think I'll need to go shopping for some book specifically to be altered!

I adore all of the details on your book, the stamps are perfect (aren't they the greatest!), and I love the way you made it to open up to show off more fabulous quotes!

ria gall said...

what a fantastic and beautifully stunning piece. This book has been given a second chance and it is so full of layers and texture which makes it stunning.

Unknown said...

Another beautiful piece of work Alison. Glad to be following you. Chris xx

Anna-Karin said...

This is wonderful Alison, such a gorgeous altered book. I felt the same about altering books and tearing out book pages as you did too, then deciding that the book would have a better life being altered than being tossed away. Love the textured covers and all the stamping inside and out. Thank you so much for sharing another work of art with us at Simon Says Stamp and Show!

froebelsternchen said...

brilliant Alison ... great project! fab!

Erin Smetak said...

OH. MY. GOSH! Your book is amazing! I love all the details on it, and I love that you hand wrote the quote!! The colors are awesome, the textures, that ground stuff that you used! The whole project just rocks!

Redanne said...

Another mini masterpiece from you Alison, this altered book is so beautiful. I don't know what ground is but it has worked amazingly well on this book and I love the filigree pieces at the side. The Dylusion colours you have are the only two I have too, they are so rich on your book.

Speaking of books, I wish you would write a book, you have such a wonderful way with words, your descriptions are beautiful and I could read your posts all day long.......they are so soothing and calming..... Hugs, Anne x

AngelicaS said...

Beautiful piece, LOVE IT!!

Chrissy said...

Amazing!...stunning work Alison.
Has left me speechless, but can say, this is just wonderful, and I love it..every detail.


Mary-Ann Maldonado said...

ahhhhmazing! Great colors:o)
Mary-Ann M

Astrid Maclean said...

Another amazing project Alison, you are certainly on a roll (and not just with winning yummy goodies ☺) I not only love all the details of this project, but also the way you have photographed it, - it really adds to the feel of the piece! That book certainly looks very happy in its new incarnation. You have also just given me the perfect argument for altering a book. Being not only an avid reader myself but married to a publisher,who of course is also reading books most of his life,- altering books is not something I would easily consider though I once dabbled with it a long time ago. (And that led to some fears criticism from said husband). However, now you have truly put temptation on my path......(oops sorry for this long comment...)

mark gould said...

So beautiful, I really love the stamping on the edges, such a great detail that adds so much. fantastic textures and a visual treat as always x

Bärbel said...

Eine wunderbare Idee, Alison, mir gefallen die wunderbaren Stempel sehr, die Sie für das Buch verwendet haben und die Gestaltung der Blätter unter dem Cicero-Spruch ist so lebendig, als wären sie in Bewegung, das ist toll!

May said...

A Gorgeous work of Art Alison... The stamping & colours are Beautiful... Love that quote.. Just perfect for this project!! Hugs May x x x

Julia S-W said...

I have lots of books and a garden but I don't have a book which looks like this sadly! A beautiful alteration with wonderful stamping and colours. I just love twine on everything too! Gorgeous project Alison.

Silvia(Barnie) said...

Wow, that's a stunning project, just wonderful.

Paper Profusion said...

This is stunning Alison - beautiful stamps and colours - my favourite aspect is your stamping on the edges which looks wonderful.

Rea' said...

This is awesome certainly peaked my interest in making an altered book ( I've had a couple books I got from thrifty store to alter a couple of years ago...they are still sitting)... I'm in love with the idea... just don't know what to do! This comes under my "I'll try anything once" thought process. Your project got me a step closer!

pearshapedcrafting said...

Ahem!! Just clearing my throat - I just have to shout -FABULOUS! Love that you keeping winning goodies as long you keep making such beautiful things! These colours just go so well together! Chrisx
I see you trotted out to the garden again - don't go catching a cold!

Sarah said...

You certainly have a way with inks, gesso and now even ground! Another gorgeous project, Alison.

Donna-Marie said...

Holy Shmoly!! You rocked this one :-)

Anita Houston The Artful Maven said...

What a cool and original design...reminds me of an old porch swing where you sit reading your favorite fairy tales. Love all your stamping...wonderful, and the filigree corners too! Awesome! Thank you for showing us your magic at Simon Says Stamp & Show this week!

chrissie said...

Fantastic Alison-love the way you have stamped the edges of the pages,the quote on the pages inside, and best of all the quotes underneath your post--I always look forward to those.:)

Have a lovely day

Best wishes Chrissie xx

Anonymous said...

Gorgeous project Alison ! I love how you've stamped around the edges and the twine and filigree are inspirational ! Sue C x

Chris said...

An amazing piece of art Alison and on so many levels that its hard to take it all in at once, it needs some serious ogling but it really is breathtaking! X

craftytrog said...

What a wonderful project, & so unique & inspiring!
Have a great weekend!
Alison x

Annie said...

Stunning repurpose Alison. I love the cover and fab interior.

Congrats on a fab makeover

Crafty hugs Annie x

Netty said...

terrific photography of your fabulous altered book, I especially love the crumpled paper in the middle with the doodling which gives the book a wonderful magical feel to it. Hugs Annette x

Alie Hoogenboezem-de Vries said...

You did it again Alison...what a great book alteration!
It looks amazing in total...you can be very proud!

catherine said...

This is fantastic Alison and so creative. Just love the cover and the colours
x catherine

Wee Von said...

New followerer here, love your altered book. And the quote is about two of my favorite things, reading and gardening. So beautiful with all your stamping, distressing, and grounding(have to see what that stuff is lol. Thanks for sharing.

Dorthe said...

A fantastic idea, dear Alison, I have seen many altered books, but yours, standing open, with the sides grounded? and then stamped- the twine holding the book , the gorgeous stamps and colours, makes it something so very special-and so beautiful.

Unknown said...

Wow, as a fellow book lover I am overjoyed at the idea of you saving and preserving this book. It turned out fantastic and Dylusions inks are the best, aren't they. :) I love Donna Downey too and thoroughly enjoyed this post Alison.
You are such a crafty girl!!!

Brenda Brown said...

Divine work, just love everything about this gorgeous alteration.
hugs [brenda] x0x

craftimamma said...

This is a wonderful project Alison. I'm not so involved with books as you obviously but I do love them right down to the smell and feel of them (so weird) so being able to do something to save them from the scrap heap is lovely I think.

I love those Unity stamps too although I only own one and I think my favourite piece of this alteration is the stamping on the page edges. Altogether though your work has resulted in a really pretty and quite inspirational piece of work. Love the quote too.

Lesley Xx

Broni said...

It's so awesome how you turned this book into a whole new world!! I love how you altered every inch of it! Beautiful!!!

nefertiti said...

Wow! gorgeous creation! I love it!!!!!
Thank you for your visit on my blog!
It's a pleasure for me!!!!

Sandy said...

I love this Alison -- ahhh - not exactly all neutrals - beautiful colors. I share you sentiment about books - I too grew up somewhat alone and I loved to read and still do. I love to surround myself with books and when I was young, spent many hours in the library. Your work is extraordinary but I am sure I have told you that before!!

Lisa Somerville said...

Simply stunning!

Marjie Kemper said...

Holy Mackerel, Alison! This is just incredible. Love your idea to tie it up and keep the pages open... awesome!!!

Anonymous said...

Lovely! I love the color combination and the use of the twine.