Thursday 24 April 2014

A new project

I started working on an altered book for my new challenge blog The Art of Practising Gratitude.  Usually I use an old book I already own or I recycle one very cheaply from a charity shop but this time I bought a book in the cheap section of Barnes & Noble because of its title: A Simple Act of Gratitude.

I read the book on my journey home.  It is the story of a man who decides he will write one thank you letter every day for a year and what happens to him as a result.  The art of practising gratitude really changes his life.

When I removed the paper cover I found a really beautiful hard cover just right for altering.

When you make an altered book it is better to use one that is sewn together, however this one was glued.  For more information on altering books have a look at this post and this.  I probably won't be folding any of the pages in this book as I did in Passport to Art.

The book needs to have some pages removed so that it doesn't become too bulky but first I decided I would go through the book and mark some places where there were words I wanted to keep.  Often this is called Found Poetry but for me it was just key words that were relevant to gratitude.  As I went through I drew pencil boxes and wrote down the page numbers.

As you choose the words don't think about the sense they make in terms of the page they are on or the story they are in.  Just choose words that appeal to you particularly about Gratitude.

I pulled some of the pages out in between the marked pages (often 3 or 4) and glued the remaining pages together in groups of 3 or 4.  Don't throw any of the torn out pages away yet.  You might need them to make extra pages for your book, make flaps or use them in other collage projects.

I went through the pages using clear gesso on the words I wanted to keep.  If you don't have any clear gesso use small pieces of washi tape or low tack painter's tape to cover up the words you want to keep.  You can remove this once you've painted over the rest of the page.

I used gluestick rather than wet glue because the paper wasn't terribly good quality and I didn't want a lot of wrinkles in the stuck together pages.  You do still get some wrinkling but it adds to the texture of the finished book.  Here you can see where I've pulled a few pages out and the rest of the book to do.

Make sure you glue together two pages either side of some you've pulled out to cover up the rough edges and to strengthen the spine.

When the glue and the clear gesso was dry, I started painting each page of the book.  It is over a month since I wrote the challenges for The Art of Practising Gratitude so I have cannot remember what art challenges I've put.  I decided that if I painted every page with acrylic paint - you could use gesso - then when I come to actually complete each day's challenge I won't be nervous about starting the page because it already has some paint on it.  If it doesn't suit that day's challenge I can always stick one of the pulled out pages over it or a coat of gesso.

A small amount of paint on the throwaway plate.

The page with the clear gesso before paint is applied.

The paint over the whole page.

The paint wiped off with a wet wipe to reveal the words.

If when I come to do the journal page the words are not relevant or I need to cover them over with something else because of the instructions for that day, then so be it.

I do hope you will join in with The Art of Practising Gratitude. Go over to the blog and join up by email so that you get every blog post.  Ask to join the Facebook group.  It will be good to see you.

Thanks for stopping by.


  1. Looks good, I will need to have a look for a book to alter!

  2. Love altered books, tho I haven't worked in one for a while. Love the . idea of pre-painting to make it easier to begin. Wonderful x

  3. What a lovely find - it sounds an interesting story and I am left intrigued and wanting to know more.
    Thank you for the techniques, I like the idea of revealing some of the words on each page. I hope to join in and need to keep it simple in order to keep up, so will give it some thought. I love altered books and upcycling so this appeals.

  4. Not sure what kind of journal I will keep. I already keep a DAILY and I also do the Documented Life Project. Can I add my Gratitude into those? Looking forward to the 'practice'. I already feel very blessed and grateful for so much.... but will have to figure out a way to practice it! Thanks for the motivation!

  5. Very intriguing... Makes me want to get painting straight away! But must find a book first.... :)


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