Mixed media book art: The easy way to DIY an altered book

No more pencils, no more books . . . It’s the end of the school year, and I’m making an exception to “no more books” to show you how to DIY an Altered Book the easy way. You can use an old textbook, or other hardback book to make your Mixed Media, Altered Book. The thicker the book, the deeper your “pocket” for displaying treasures. The shortcut for making an easy Altered Book is to remove all of the pages and replace them with a piece of STYROFOAM™ Brand Foam. It’s so much easier than carefully and precisely cutting through hundreds of pages. Here’s another idea – wouldn’t a custom, Altered Book make a special graduation gift?

Genius technique for creating an altered book. This is so much easier than cutting through each and every page!  Tear out all pages and replace them with a block of Styrofoam brand foam. CraftsnCoffee.com.

Mixed Media, Altered Book by Becca Malone.

To make a Mixed Media, Altered Book, you’ll need:

  • STYROFOAM™ Brand Foam: 1-1/2” x 12” x 36” (or other thickness to match the thickness of your book)
  • Old book, approximately 1-1/2” thick between the covers (if you don’t have one handy, your local dollar store should have a nice selection)
  • Antique-finish parchment paper, three sheets
  • Acrylic spackling or premixed tile grout
  • Sand paper, fine grit
  • Acrylic paint to match parchment paper
  • Gel stain medium
  • Embellishments, 1-1/2” wide or smaller: Charms, game pieces, sewing notions, old photos, silk flowers, postage stamps, etc.
  • Glue dots
  • Thick, white craft glue
  • Low-temp glue gun
  • Tools needed: Scissors: straight edge and deckle edge; serrated knife; old candle or bar of soap; fine-line, permanent marker; ruler; disposable mixing bowl, spoon & palette; medium flat paintbrush.

To make a Mixed Media, Altered Book:

1. Carefully remove pages from the book while preserving the binding. Use a page as a template, and trace around it on the foam sheet with the ruler and marker. Wax serrated knife with candle stub or paraffin, and cut out the foam rectangle. Mark a 1” border on each side, and cut the center from the rectangle. Use scrap foam to sand all cut edges smooth.

2. Slightly thin the spackling or tile grout with water. Paint the inside and outside edges of the foam “frame” with the thinned tile grout. Let dry and sand smooth. Repeat.

DIY an easy Altered Book. These pages look real! CraftsnCoffee.com.

Use the tip of a knife to create lines that mimic pages of a book.

3. Paint the top, bottom and right-hand edges with spackling or grout that has not been thinned. These are the edges that will appear to be pages when placed in the book. Use the edge of a knife to create “page” lines on the three edges. Let dry.

4. Paint the foam frame and let dry. Apply gel stain, wiping away to create the desired effect. Let dry.

5. Cut a piece of parchment to fit the foam frame. Place the parchment “page” on the frame, and carefully cut out the opening to match the frame. Glue the parchment page to the foam frame, aligning all edges.

6. Cut two more book pages from the parchment paper, adding an extra ½” on the left-hand side. Barely trim all edges on the top, bottom and right-hand side with deckle-edge scissors. Don’t cut too deeply, to keep the pages close to full size.

7. Make a ½” fold along the left-hand side of the two pages. Glue pages along the left-hand edge of the foam frame. Insert the frame into the book cover, gluing it to the inside back cover and the binding. Close book, weight down and let dry completely.

8. Thin gel stain slightly with water and apply around window opening. Apply mixture to pages and inside front cover to give a vintage look.

9. Using glue dots, adhere the two extra pages to the left-hand book cover.

Mixed media, altered book -- super-easy tutorial. No more cutting through hundreds of pages! CraftsnCoffee.com.

What would you display in the little nook? Charms, sewing notions, ticket stubs, photos, or??

10. Arrange and glue embellishments, quotes, photos or other desired memorabilia inside book.

Genius technique for creating an altered book. This is so much easier than cutting through each and every page!  Tear out all pages and replace them with a block of Styrofoam brand foam. CraftsnCoffee.com.

This would make a very special graduation gift!

Now, what do you do with the leftover book pages? How about making a Vintage, Book Page Wreath?

Gorgeous! Love this wreath. Complete tutorial on CraftsnCoffee.com

Or, DIY the Springtime Book Page Roses Wreath.

Beautiful, DIY spring wreath made with scrapbook papers and book page roses. DIY on CraftsnCoffee.com.

Patty Schaffer has one more idea for you — a Valentine’s Day Wall Hanging made with book page hearts.

Book page hearts + LOVE letters = this pretty, Valentine's Day Wall Hanging. CraftsnCoffee.com

Love Letters Wall Hanging by Patty Schaffer

I really love the idea of making an Altered Book. For one, it’s unexpected, and it’s fun to plan the display you’ll tuck into the little, surprise nook in the center of the book. And two, this technique makes it easy to do. In fact, I made my own variation which I’ll share later this week. See you then!

Happy crafting.



This entry was posted in Craft Tutorial, Gift Ideas, Home Decor, Mixed Media, Paper Crafts, Recycle Crafts, Vintage Crafts and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Mixed media book art: The easy way to DIY an altered book

  1. Angie Dyer says:

    Love this art form! Great for Christmas with your favorite carol too!

    • Sharon says:

      This would be beautiful for Christmas. You could use your favorite Christmas story, too. Or for Father’s Day, you could use a golf or fishing book, etc., etc. You always share such great ideas, Angie. Thank you! Sharon

  2. Studio Rose says:

    This is an amazing idea! I’ve made a few of the kind where you cut and cut and cut…it does take a long time and effort! Need to try this.

    • Sharon says:

      Thank you! I thought Becca was brilliant when she developed this technique. I’ll share my versions on Friday and I can’t believe how easy they’ve been using Becca’s technique. If you give this a try, please let me know what you think. Sharon

  3. Sar Tann says:

    Love the book, It’s really cool. 🙂

  4. OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! I have always wanted to make one of these books and now I have the know how so that I can!! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!! I am so excited!! now I just have to get to my boxes of books in the upper level of our garage and pick out the book I want to use to do this! TFS!

    • Sharon says:

      You are so welcome, Barb. I just love this idea, too. I know I don’t not have the patience to align and cut hundreds of pages to make an opening, but this technique I can do. I hope you have a lot of fun with this, and do send a photo of your altered book. Happy crafting! Sharon

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