How to Start An Altered Book Art Journal | Grace Mendez | Skillshare

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How to Start An Altered Book Art Journal

teacher avatar Grace Mendez, Art Workshops, Online and In Person

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      What To Look For In A Book


    • 3.

      Where To Find A Book


    • 4.

      Preparing The Book


    • 5.

      Preparing The Pages


    • 6.

      Class Project


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About This Class

Take a discarded or a used book and transform it into a one of a kind sketchbook for your artwork.

You will learn:

  • What to look for in a book
  • Where to find a book if you don't have one already
  • How to prepare the book
  • How to prepare the pages

You will also see a few examples of completed pages for inspiration.


Supplies you will need:

  • Used book
  • Clear, white or black gesso ( is one of my favorite art supply stores)
  • Discarded plastic gift or hotel key card
  • Water
  • Paper towel

Meet Your Teacher

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Grace Mendez

Art Workshops, Online and In Person


Grace Mendez helps people who want to bring creativity into their lives through art workshops, online and in person. She loves chocolate, nature and salsa dancing. BA in Visual and Public Art and Certified Zentangle Teacher.

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1. Intro: it only takes a few simple steps to turn a used book into an art journal or a sketchbook. I'll be showing you where to find a book, what to look for in a book and then how to prepare those pages so it's ready for your art journaling it. 2. What To Look For In A Book: What should you look for in your book? First off should be a hardcover. Hardcover books have their pages sewn in later on will be removing some of the pages to reduce some of the both. And it's important that when you remove some of the pages, the whole book doesn't fall apart like a paper back would because those air generally glued in. You want to make sure that the book that you find is not falling apart already. So this has pretty secure here and here, although it looks like somebody removed this. I can just put a piece of tape over here, but it's It's a pretty sturdy book other than just a little rip there. I'll just take that. The pages are pretty sick. That means I'll be able to put whatever I want on there and should hold together. It's not going to fall apart as easily as some of the other books that have thinner pages. So when you goto find a book, just kind of opened the book and and see how it feels between your fingers, you also want to look for a book that's comfortable for you to work in the size that you want to work in. This is rather small compared to maybe something like this, which is a little bigger. They would also work as well, some planning to work on this at some point. But for your videos, I'll be using this one. It's a little bit smaller, so it's not too thick that I might get discouraged from finishing it. And it's not so thin that I would just be doing a lot of work in it and then just be done right away. So it's kind of a mid sized book, so come back once you have your book. 3. Where To Find A Book: used bookstores are a good resource. Sometimes they have a clearance section. This one's air $3 or less. Also, maybe you can find a little free library box. You leave a book, take a book. Friends of the Public Library have book sales periodically, and there's also thrift shops. You can go to rummage sales or also ask your friends or family that could be a great resource to. 4. Preparing The Book: the first step in preparing the book is to remove some of the pages. The reason why we remove some of the pages is that if I were to start working on this book , as is by the time I add just so for Matt Medium, then do any layers of painting or maybe some collage or adding other elements, my book is going to start getting bigger and bigger. The problem with that isn't so much that it's getting bigger is that it weakens the spying back here and will put undue pressure on it. And then you'll start cracking your book. So what you want to do is remove some of the pages. So the way to do that is, ah, look for the signatures, which just means it's a group of pages that are sewn together in a little bundle to this to the inside spying. So here's one. Here's another and so on. So you just keep finding those. And what you're looking for is actually the center of that signatures, the center of the group of signatures and you'll see some stitching. So what you're gonna do is carefully tear your pages apart, leaving the stitching intact because the stitching will be holding the rest of the pages in the book. So I'm gonna be keeping my torn out pages for later for any collage projects that I have. So I'm gonna go through and remove one spread from each of the signatures so that I'm removing the pages evenly throughout the book. Now you might wonder, How many pages do you need to remove in this process? Said that is up to you. What I like to do is go through and remove one set and see how much it's removed, how much paper is left and how much is I've removed to kind of make a difference in the thickness of the book gift. Your pages don't tear out evenly like this one. You can come in with the blade and kind of help, uh, cut there where it's stuck. But keep in mind that you don't want to cut the stitching that's in your book. Maybe you need some, well, tweezers or something to help get those little bits out. So you're just gonna keep going through your book, removing your signatures if your book is really hard to open. For example, this book. This is a newer book, and it's like for the signature. So here's the center of a signature, and I don't see my stitching at all, So it's gonna be harder to pull that out. There's actually some kind of glue holding that together, so I will still tear it. And I do have some of these bits, like I said, stuck with the glue, and I can just kind of come in. I don't have any nails, but you get the idea. Just come in and pull pull that out, and I would still continue doing that eventually. If I were to do two or three signature pages per signature, I might get to start seeing where that actual threat ISS so you can kind of force it. And don't be afraid, Teoh, to do this to your book, it's already we already gonna alter it a lot, So if you have a a strong book, you should be able to do that. If your book breaks at that point, then I would rethink what book that you chose. So, for example, I'm just gonna do, too, in this one, just to see if I can get to that threat and maybe adult. So I know the threads in there and spending a little thinner so you could see. So anyway, just keep going and then meet me back here and we will start preparing the actual pages. 5. Preparing The Pages: Before we get started on preparing the pages, I'd like to show you how many pages I've actually removed. It's about house. So it might look like I've removed so much of the book and I have. But my book this book is about 256 pages, so I still have about 125 130 pages left that I will use in my journal. So that's still quite a bit of pages to work on. So I have a paper tall, handy and a plastic card. This is what I'm gonna be using to apply in my different mediums and some water to do a little bit of clean up. I'm starting out with clear. Just so there's a nice little image on here that I think I will preserve when I'm doing my art journaling. I don't really want to cover it up, but I do want to prepare the page so that it will accept different pain. Sir. Collage something like that without ruining the paper. The integrity of the paper. This is clear. Just so it has a little bit of a tooth, so once it dries, it will feel a little bit like a fine grit sandpaper. You might even hear it as I'm applying it and I'm applying a very thin coat can always come back in and apply another coat if necessary. So this is preserving that cute little image. I like using a plastic card because it gives me an even coat and it lays down a thin layer . If I were to use a paintbrush, yeah, I would get a lot of lines, and it might be a little thicker than I actually wanted to be in this way. I just get a nice flat finish, which is what I'm looking for and what I'm done. I just simply dunk it in the water and then just wipe this off and I'm ready to go again. So I will let that dry, and then we can do the next. Once this is a white Jess. Oh, a white just so is going to obscure part of what is underneath, still showing through a bit. But what it does, just like the clear just so, is protect the page from any kind of wet medium going through, such as watercolor paints or acrylic paints or any kind of collage ing that it might happen , so it helps preserve the paper. It also makes it stronger. Basically, it's like applying a thin layer of plastic once it dries has a little bit of a thickness, and that's another reason why we remove a lot of the pages. Basically, we're removing pages and then adding thickness back to the book so I can still see through it. But it's not 100% covered. So which is nice if I want to kind of incorporate that kind of look into what I'm doing, So it's important that you clean up as you go right now, I have overlapped onto these other pages. If I were to just leave that, these pages might stick together. So I want to just make sure that I clean up or unstick any potential pages from gluing together because it is like a plastic sending a little left over. And so there's very little waste because I'm not using a brush and very easy cleanup. The last just so want to introduce to you is a black just so so it looks like black paint, but it's just so and what that's gonna do is obscure what's underneath, especially if it's black print. So if you compare that coverage to the white gesso, which you can still see the print underneath, you can see why you might want to use that. If you don't want to paint or do any kind of artwork on top of the black, you want a white background. You can come back in with the white, just so over it. It won't be as bright as white as if you only used white just so, unless you use a lot of layers of white just so over it. But using the black just so as your first layer gets rid of the text almost immediately, so that might be useful to you in certain applications. Then again, very simple. Clean up. This dries very quickly because there's not a lot of excess just so on there that might occur if you're using paintbrushes 6. Class Project: Here are some examples of the pages that I've prepared. So this had the clear Jess. Oh, and then I went ahead and did something with some water soluble crayons. This page was prepared with the white. Just so. And then again, some water soluble Krantz. And then this page was prepared with black. Just so then it was coated with one layer of the white. Just so And then, um, again with some water soluble Kranz and some other assorted watercolor and mixed media. Another book I'm working in. This is also with clear, Jess. Oh, and then some water color on top about. And this is a book that's just about completed and a variety of, um, mixed media. So crayon watercolor, acrylic, charcoal pen. So a wide variety of materials that you can use in your art journaling once you've prepared your pages and prepared your book. So I hope you have fun with it and post your images into the project gallery and love to see them and share them with everybody else. Thanks