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Friday, July 6, 2012

Altered Books

Altered Books

An Art Therapy Directive


            An Old Book       Gesso       Scissors     Glue Sticks     Acrylic Paints
            Magazines      Paint Brushes        Different decorative items   


What would it look like to write your own story? In this directive the author gets to transform an old book in to a creative expression of herself. It can be a way to “re-write” the author’s story, or a way to feel that somewhere her story is special enough to be “in a book”. Either way, the impact is clearly a positive one that has the old become a creation of beauty.


Pick an old book that has several pages. Get the gesso out and paint as many pages as you would like. You can also paint the outside of the book and give it a whole new title/look. Once the gesso has dried begin painting, gluing, writing, or in any way you want to tell your story. You can also use the existing pictures and words that are in the book, incorporating them in to your designs. However you design the book is up to you. It is suggested that you choose a theme for your book. You can also look at it as a diary of sorts, where you make a new page for each new day of your life. The door is open and you are free to express in your own personal way.

Note: It is encouraged to work with your clients to have fun with this process. There is no “right” or “wrong” way to do this. Creativity is meant to flow, so judging the end result or the process will work best if it is suspended for this directive. HAVE FUN!!!

Reflection/Processing Questions:

1)  How was it to create your Altered Book?

2)  What was one of the most impactful entries that you created? What had it be so impactful for you?

3)  What was it like to just let yourself create something without judging it? Did you struggle with it or did it come easily? How could you let go and enjoy it even more next time?

Expressive Outcome Possibilities:

1)  Person(s) will be able to be creative and expressive.

2)  Person(s) will be able to explore and experience different art media.

3)  Person(s) will be able to increase their sense of self-worth and value.

4)  Person(s) will be able to allow creativity to flow, increasing ability to problem-solve.

Web-sites to Check Out:

Studio: Altered Books  - http://mystudio3d.tripod.com/altbooks.htm

Creativity Portal: How to Make an Altered Book  -


"Letting It Flow"
There are even more web-sites out on the internet that talk about how to make an Altered Book. These books can be highly personalized. People can sketch in them, put ribbons in the, have stamps, pictures that are personal, do collages, paint, and so much more. It really is up to you and can be a great deal of fun when the person making the Altered Book allows themselves to "let it flow". This may take some work with you (the Art Therapist) and the client. Be prepared to work on some deep issues with the client, as they are ready. This is an on-going project/process that you and client may come back to repeatedly. Again, there is no "right" or "wrong" way to do this. Enjoy the process, and encourage each person to respect their own process (i.e., not pushing self or judging self).

This type of directive is an on-going project. It can often take a whole session to do just one page. Sometimes, the client may feel ready to work on the Altered Book. Other times, she/he needs to just "let it sit". Whatever the client feels is best for her in this process, it is encouraged to let the client be self-directed with this process.

You might discuss with the client about the imagery showing up in the book. What does that image symbolize to you? How does that apply to your life? Are there some similarities to other aspects in your life? What themes are coming out for you? Are these important themes to you, or are you needing to "let them go"?

Safe Place
It is often important to emphasize to the client that your office is a "safe place" where the client can put down on paper (in clay, in paint, etc) how he/she is actually feeling. No one will see it. And, you (as the Art Therapist) will not judge it. It will be there, kept safe, and no one else will see it. Sometimes, the client may want to take the book home with her to work on it or have it close. Although this is temping to do, it is encouraged that the client keep the book at your office to work on it when you are together at first. After you can gauge how the client is doing with the Altered Book process, then the client may determine it is time for her to take it home with her. Creating a "safe place" for her to keep her work is going to be very important for her sense of security while dealing with possibly upsetting topics.

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