Thursday, January 29, 2004

Book Review - Holly Harrison's Altered Books Adventure

Altered Books, Collaborative JournalsAltered Books, Collaborative Journals, and Other Adventures in Bookmaking
by Holly Harrison
Massachusetts: Rockport Publishers, 2003
ISBN: 1-56496-995-9
Paperback; 128 pages
Book Review by Kim M. Bayne

The Bad News: If you're a novice, in need of hand-holding or step-by-step project instructions for making altered books, pass this by. You'll only become frustrated as you try to discover exactly how all this wonderful art was created.

The Really Good News: Brief materials lists accompany featured works, so you're not totally in the dark. If you're seeking inspiration, this book is gorgeous. Like a coffee table book, large color photographs showcase the best of the best. It's hard to just flip through the pages. You'll want to stop and gaze. If this appeals to you, then run -- don't walk -- to the nearest bookstore.

I have taught beginner arts and crafts classes so I know what it takes to instill interest in altered books. I can barely put this book down. Every page has something of value. Sidebars include insights into the creative process by featured artists plus some wonderful tips. You'll find help on topics like protecting pages (use wax paper or a spray sealer), using found materials (tissue paper roses transformed from cheese tray decorations), and photo transfers (using caulk as a solvent, of all things).

Check out the Technique Highlight on Digital Art, featuring Melissa McCobb Hubbell. If you have yet to add PCs to your arsenal of artist tools, here's your motivation. The checklist of ways to rework original art includes inverting images, adding color layers and creating mirror images, something you can't do easily without technology. (Isn't it nice to live in an age when art has reached a new and empowering level?)

After perusing this book (again and again), I'm looking forward to tackling several altered book ideas. You'll enjoy reading about exploring books as sculpture. Meanwhile, I'm going to troll through used bookstores or auction sites to find a medical or hotel ledger to alter -- an idea inspired by an example in this book. Next, I'll want to tuck an AB collage into a record album sleeve, as seen on page 50. (Note: My Dad performs in two bands, so he has scores of old record albums and sheet music. Just wait until I try to explain what I'm going to use them for...ahem...but I digress.)

"Altered Books, Collaborative Journals..." is packed full of exciting ideas that are sure to make you a better artist. Or at the very least, you'll wish you were.

Product Resource Guide
· Buy Holly's book now at by clicking here.
· Find Holly's book at a discount on

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