I could definately see Middle School students enjoying this process. I got
my books from the library when they were discarding. Other sources are yard
sales and thrift stores. For my own books I purchased some at Dollar Tree.
As for history, here's what I've found:
Altered books is an art form in which existing books are reworked into
of art, often manifests in a variety of ways. The existing book becomes the
canvas for the new ideas and images. Sometimes words or images from the
are retained as a part of the altering. At other times it is the books is
entirely obscured to become a new idea totally.
Altered books are actually an old way of recycling. In the 11th Century
Italian monks recycled old manuscripts written on vellum by scraping off the
ink and adding new text and illustrations on top of the old. This was known
as "Palimpsest." In the late 19th century people used old books as a sort of
scrapbook, pasting on its pages the ephemera from their society including
magazine images, personal recipes, and family pictures. This is
a Victorian practice of illustrating a particular book with engravings torn
from other books.
Today artists are exploring the form of the book along with its substance.
Existing images and text become something entirely new. Tom Phillips'
Humament is one of the first contemporary examples of this art.
By covering, cutting, and changing the structure, altered books run the
from books that have become shrines to books that are transformed into
colorful images totally unrelated to their origins.
This is all I could find on history. When I introduced this lesson to my
students I told them that as an art form it is a relatively new process
(past decade). Richard Minsky and Tom Phillips are the "big" artists. I
think next year I will have it as a second project that students can bring
out to work on when they are finished with a project, are waiting for paint
to dry, or any other down time they encounter. If you want to incorporate
Photoshop you could add all kinds of interesting things. I didn't give my
students any rules, except the drugs, guns, nudity, cigarettes, etc. spiel
(I have a VERY immature class this year). Some immediately started cutting
holes in their books, some painted, but all did some form of altering. I am
currently on my own 3rd book. :-)
K-12 Kansas Art Teacher
> Okay ... I'm officially interested now (for 'next year' purposes). Can
someone give me an idea of the whole idea behind altered books. Is there a
webpage which goes into depth on history etc. of such things? Has anyone
ever done them at the Middle School level? What sort of books do you start
with, etc.? I've found a pile of websites with really interesting examples,
but I'd like to see more (this is kind of like photoshop without the