Serving Art Educators
and Students Since 1994


Altered Book Round Robin

Here are some suggestions for beginning from Anny Delk


What is an Altered Book?
It's a book that was going to be discarded and has been recycled,  rescued and  changed or altered into a work of art by means of  gluing, painting, collaging, stamping, cutting, tearing, and/or embellishing with found objects. Turn an ordinary book into a work of art. See Anny's FAQs (courtesy of Altered Book list on Yahoo Groups)


Select a Book.  Put your name and address in the back of it.  Remember that the books must be mailed so keep the dimensions reasonable.


First of all, select a theme.  If you can't think of a theme, you can have no theme and just make your book a collection pages with each contributing artist choosing their own theme for their spread. 


Altered BookMake notes about your preferences to include in your guidelines page.  Write your guidelines if you have any,  things such as no smoking or heavy odors if those bother you, no religious figures (or any limited subject matter content), etc.  Add these to your book.


Next you should begin to create your sign-in page(s) and at least one spread of your own (suggested to do two spreads first in your own book before mailing) A sign-in page is a place where each artist signs in that they contributed to your book.  There are lots of ways for create sign-in pages.  Many people use tags for their sign-ins making pockets for them to go into.  Others just have a numbered list where the artists sign.  It's up to you. As for your spread, it's just a way to introduce yourself and your style of artwork.  Feel free to show us your style in this spread  or try something new.  This spread will give the other artists a clue as to what you are looking for in your theme.  If you are new and don't know what to do, let me know and I'll give you some tips on getting you started.  Feel free to do more than one spread if you desire it is your book after all!


(Be sure to leave a piece of waxed paper between each page in your book so we don't have any sticky messes.  With the environments being different everywhere the book travels, I've found that the books behave better if we leave waxed paper between each page while it's traveling)


Find a box for mailing your book. The Post office has Priority Mail boxes available for mailing.  Hopefully your book will fit in one of these.  Make sure to put your book in a zip-lock bag if possible and wrap it in bubble wrap or fill the box with bubble wrap if needed so the book doesn't get juggled around.  If your book is too fat for one of these boxes, you can use another type of box and still mail it priority.  Make sure it is sturdy and will hold up both as the book grows and as it gets mailed around a lot.


Have your book ready to mail on or before August 15 (preferably a couple days before).  Your book should be mailed no later than that date.  Use Priority Mail within the US with delivery confirmation.  Send out a notice to the group that you have mailed your book with the delivery confirmation number. Then relax and celebrate while you wait for a book to arrive in your mailbox. 


Mailings will tentatively be the 1st & 15th of each successive month and will continue until the book reaches its owner. I do understand that life interferes from time to time, so I only ask that you keep in touch with me and with the person you send to.  We can generally work around any situation.


If at any time you get stuck or have a question, please do ask.  There are no dumb questions.  We have all been new at one time.  Someone can always help out if you are stuck, frustrated, don't know what to do or whatever.  Participate in the learning experience.  It will make a better group for all.


I hope that you all enjoy this experience, gain some new knowledge and mostly HAVE FUN. That's really our only two rules: communicate and have fun.


I hope this Round Robin hooks all of you on sharing your art and talents with others. You are all special in your own way.  Enjoy the adventure.


FAQ's from Anny Delk (Courtesy of Altered Book list on Yahoo Groups)


What books do you use?
Usually we choose old, unwanted books that we find at bargain book sales, flea markets, garage sales, library sales. Sometimes people will buy a new book because they have a specific project in mind. Children's board books are a favorite.


When do you alter the cover, first? or last?
It's a matter of choice.  But avoid having 3-D objects on your cover if you are mailing it in a Round Robin to other artists.  Add those when you are finished. (Getty List Round Robin recommended doing cover last - but each chose their preference)


What kind of book should I choose?
Anything that strikes your fancy.  Maybe the title or the pictures, or the overall feel of the book.  Hardcover books  with sewn rather than glued signatures are generally sturdier.


What are the rules for AB?
That's the best part.  THERE ARE NO RULES!  You can do whatever you want. Some people inject humor, politics or philosophy into their AB, others create pure works of art.  It's your book, do what you like! (I would suggest you leave politics out of someone else's book - unless the specify that they are doing a political theme and want your views). You should create your sign-in page(s) and at least one spread of your own. A sign-in page is a place where each artist signs in that they contributed to your book. Leave a double page blank at beginning of book... either paint it with white (or light color) tempera/acrylic (if you use black tempera... then include a gel marker). Leave that for every one to sign and date it when they receive it and date it when they mail it out... also, add the page numbers that each artist created. There are many creative ways to do sign in pages shown online.


How many pages do you do?
As many as you want.  Some people do every page, others leave "normal" pages. Or glue some together for stability or to cut a niche/shadow box in the book. For this Round Robbin - do two at least spreads in your own book and two spreads in each book that comes to you. You may do more if you wish.


What if I goof up?
If you don't like a page when you are finished, guess what? You can change it to something else! Tear it out if you want to. Some Artists keep a practice book when you can test out techniques before doing them in your altered book.


Tip - in:  What is it?
A tip-in page is a page added to a book.  A single image or photo can also be 'tipped-in to a page. It generally is accomplished by adding adhesive along one side of a page or image, and adhering it into the book.  In addition, pages or images can be added (tipped-in), by sewing, fasteners, or any variety of means to attach paper to paper. You can cut out two pages leaving only about a ½ inch strip... apply glue to the inside of the strips to add in your page. This is a good way to fix a "goof up" too. Tip in a new page that you are happy with.


What's a Round Robin? 
A hostess posts on the list that they are organizing a round robin (RR)-( Which is what we have done.) with a specific theme. Usually players are groups of 4-6.  Everyone has their own book. 

They altered it and on the pre-arranged mailing date send it to the next person on the pre-arranged list. Soon you receive someone else's book, alter it and then send it onto the next person on the list. The advantage is that you get to see lots of different styles, the disadvantage is that it can be 6 months before you get your book back.  And you are taking a chance with other people working on your book.


When do I get my book back?
With mailings twice a month (taking approximately two weeks to alter pages in the member's books - you will get your own book back in approximately 4 months (for a group of 8) if everyone sticks to schedule... Things come up -- and it may take longer.


What supplies do I need to do AB?
A book, Scissors., glue, and "stuff" to collage --- and your imagination!

What kind of glue should I use?
Hot Glue Sticks., xyron, spray adhesive, PVA (fancy name for Elmer's), acrylic gel medium,
Mod Podge., diamond glaze, epoxy etc. there are numerous kinds and everyone has their favorites.


How do I begin doing AB?
You get a book, gather up your "stuff" and you jump right in! (Browse some of the recommended artist sites)


What are some things people do to their AB?
Collage or paint over entire pages, fold or cut out pages, or add new pages, create new text, sew, drill holes in the cover, make special closures/clasps for the book.  Cut squares through many pages to emphasis something on a page, highlight key words on a page and/or paint over the remaining words. Collage magazine cutouts of similar subject, or use lace, ribbon, Beads, Yarn Assortment., copper, rubber stamps, embossing, buttons, charms, seals, feathers, jewelry pieces, Polymer Clay, anything you want! And lastly, remember to HAVE FUN!


Some Ideas to Jump Start Thinking (suggested by Carolyn Roberts)

1. Self-portrait page
2. "Facts about you" page
3. Your family
4. Your pet
5. Friends
6. Favorite food/foods
7. Favorite Singer
9. Dislikes
10. Think of a country you'd like to visit and do a page based on this country.
11. Choose an artist and do a page.
12. Favorite sport
13. Abstract collage using different values of your favorite color
14. Old letters
15. Old photos
16. Old cards
17. Old tickets to movies, shows, etc.
18. Memorabilia
19. A weaving of two pictures from magazines
20. Something that is fun is to find words on the page that you like... highlight them or draw boxes in ink around them and work up a design based on this.
21. Watercolor paintings on the pages... even with the words showing through the paint.
22. Painting the pages with solid color acrylic (or Gesso) and then did a painting on it.
23. For thin pages... glue several together to make them thicker and more sturdy.
24. Cut openings in many pages - glue together to make a shadow box for a special photo or treasure.
25. Paint the pages with black tempera paint and then use gel markers to draw.


Altered Book Lesson Plan and Resources