Altered Book Art Ideas & Assemblage

Altered Book Workshop

In September I went to an altered book workshop led by artist Rachael Ashe at Hot Art Wet City. I’ve always been fascinated with all things related to text so using books for art intrigued me. In planning my painting series based on Rainer Maria Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet, I thought about adding some altered book elements.

I had watched some video tutorials but talking to someone in person about altered book art ideas is most ideal. In the workshop, I naturally chose a project that required some unexpected physical exertion. While others were calmly folding or trimming through their book pages, I sawed through a 300 page book width-wise, alternating between various heavy duty knives. This was so I could work with only one quarter of the book to manipulate the pages with. In the end, the final product turned out to be much more elegant than my process. I still have 3 more sections to cut and will leave it until I can try it with a bandsaw to save me some time.


I learned tips that as a beginner I wouldn’t have known without some major trial and error on my own. The book I chose for my assemblage project was too brittle for the elaborate folding plans I had in mind. In the end I decided to cut a small window through a section of the book. This provided a frame for a miniature collage of text and wire.

Starting-my-altered-book Altered dictionary

In starting the third piece, which is picture below, I tried “writing” an excerpt of Rilke’s second letter using thread. I then integrated the embroidered text into the background of the painting. You can continue to follow my progress on this series on Instagram.


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