24 Aug

Recommended Reading: Books About Altered Books, etc.

Back in June Stephanie wrote a wonderful blog post about books that guided her through design school. I was really inspired by this and decided I wanted to write something along the same lines about the books that have inspired me in my own work as an artist. I’ve included photos of the covers and links to purchasing each online, just in case any of these take your fancy.


New Directions in Altered Books by Gabe Cyr
This is the book that started me down the road of altering old books and turning them into art. For years I had been pondering using books in my work and through the ideas in this book I was finally able to move from thinking to making real work. There are plenty of projects to choose from with excellent step-by-step instructions, and a large gallery of work for inspiration.


Paper Engineering & Pop-Ups for Dummies by Rob Ives
Making altered books eventually led me to experimenting with movable parts and pop-ups and this book has been a terrific resource for ideas. There are many patterns in this book for making paper mechanisms. I tend to use it as a jumping off point for figuring out how to make a custom piece to suit my needs.


The Penland Book of Handmade Books
While this book does have instructional pieces in it I actually bought it for the gallery of works, many of which push the boundary of what is a book. The image on the cover is a great example of this. The book is a collaboration between Lark Books and the Penland School of Crafts, located in North Carolina. There is some really incredible art work inside.


Playing with Books by Jason Thompson
I originally picked up this book for the fabulous gallery of work in the back featuring many of the internationally known altered book artists I’ve come across. Most of the content is instructional with projects about making things from book pages rather than full books. I used one example to create the five petal flowers for my installation in Container Art. Lots of the projects inside are decorative.


Creative Time & Space: Making Room For Making Art by Rice Freeman-Zachery
Nothing is more helpful to an artist than talking to other artists about how they pursue their art. This is a book which is a great resource for how to make time and create space in your life to be creative. It’s written by an artist and it features many helpful hints from the fourteen artists she interviewed for the book. All of them pursue their craft full time and have worked hard to make it work for them.


Artist Survival Skills by Chris Tyrell
I’ve come to realize that to be a successful artist you have to think about yourself as an entrepreneur. It’s one of those things they don’t teach in art school and have to learn along the way. Chris Tyrell’s book is a handy reference for helping to develop a professional art practice beyond the art making, with hints on pricing art, maintaining an inventory list of work, developing mailing lists, and the dreaded taxes. I took a four week workshop with Chris last year, which was money well spent and a kickstart to my current trajectory as an artist.

If you’re interested in buying any of these books, do try RubyDog’s Art House for the books on altered books. It’s where I’ve purchases some of these and Leanne has many other creative resources in the shop. As much as possible I like to support local stores when book buying.

© Rachael Ashe