Art Lesson Plan: Altered Books

2 Altered Book Lessons

Submitted by: Linda W. Kieling, Rosemont Ridge Middle School
Unit: Mixed Media - Collage - book making
Grade level: Upper elementary through high school (adapt)
Suggestions for Elementary
Alternate Lesson Plan by Lotte Petricone (below)
Alternate Lesson Plan by Judi Morgan
Altered Books - Tip In Exchange - by Stephanie Corder
Altered Book Class Exchange - lesson idea



To transform a discarded book into a creative art work of art that encompasses a theme and utilizes a variety of media and techniques.



Form, function, sculpture, three-dimensional, mixed media altered, theme, others related to specific content areas that might be used as themes.


Content Standard: Understanding and applying media, techniques, and processes-the lesson requires students to select and use a variety of media and techniques to accomplish the goal of creating the themed book.




Content Standard: Choosing and evaluating a range of subject matter, symbols, and ideas-students must develop and apply an assortment of symbols and ideas to represent the chosen theme

Content Standard: Reflecting upon and assessing the characteristics and merits of their work and the work of others –students will compare and contrast works using the Venn diagram as well as critiques and self assessment including a reflective statement.

Content Standard: Making connections between visual arts and other disciplines AND Content Standard: Understanding the visual arts in relation to history and cultures – these two standards can be met if the theme, for example, is based on particular culture or cultural comparison or a unit on poetry, environments or other content area.


4) What other curriculum content areas does the lesson support? How? Connections include: language arts, history, social studies, science and math. Theme can be based on particular time period, culture, person, place, event, or concept (e.g. Ancient Rome, solar system, poetry, etc).


5) What was your inspiration for this lesson plan? I was looking for an alternative art form for students to experience that could incorporate a variety of media and techniques into one successful project. The school was in the process of discarding old math textbooks this summer which got me thinking...


6) What assessment strategies do you use to assess student learning? Informal critiques, rubric (attached), compare/contrast works using Venn Diagram.


Your teaching? Brainstorming, incremental introduction of techniques and media, presentation of other artist’s work in this style, demonstration.


An outline follows with the step by step process of the art lesson and please include a list of materials and resources needed to teach the lesson.


Steps to AMAZING Altered Books
(Geared for Middle School but adaptable for all grade levels and subjects as well as for a wide range of available resources)

  1. Introduce the students to the art form using images, background/history and information from the resource section of this handout including form versus function.

  2. Using the Venn diagram have students compare and contrast two of the works to help them discriminate and graph their findings.

  3. Make a media chart (see materials list) to use as reference.

  4. Have students select discarded books based on size, title or form.

  5. To ease students into the process, have them trace their hand on the inside cover of their book. It may extend into the title page of the book (tip from art teacher Michael Austin).

  6. Fill the traced hand with patterns.

  7. The remaining portion of the page is painted with Tempera Paint..

  8. Demonstrate the tape transfer technique (see below). Students should transfer their name using this technique and add it to the painted page.

  9. Have students decide on a theme. This can be done by:

    • Students writing ideas on slips of paper (places, events, objects, etc.) and then randomly drawing one to use

    • Based on particular unit of study (Ancient civilizations, poetry, ecology, constitution, etc)

    • Using one of the traits of character education (tolerance, commitment, responsibility, respect, etc)

    • Exploring a social issue such as poverty, homelessness, free speech, clear cutting, etc

    • Visually tell the story in the book

    • Visually tell a story that they create

    • Other means

  10. Students should block (glue) individual pages together into four groups (size is determined by the number of pages in the individual book).If the book is thick enough, a section can be glued to the back cover to create a place to cut a niche. Other sections may be done this way also.

  11. Introduce the idea that one of the sections (two open facing pages) should be done using collage techniques including the concepts of contrast and positive/negative space.

  12. Brainstorm how this could be accomplished

    • Magazine collage of images of the object or subject

    • Cut paper collage to illustrate the object or subject

    • Collage of magazine images of the object or subject in the shape of the object or subject

  13. Introduce the second section to be completed to be completed in watercolor crayon. Demonstrate techniques including masking out text (see below).

  14. After these sections have been finished as a class, brainstorm and introduce other ideas to be included (see list below). Provide examples and demonstrations.

  15. Give the students a list of general possibilities. From these they must choose 3 to include in their book.

  16. Every opportunity should be taken to reinforce the idea of exploring the theme rather than just illustrating it. For example: a student using the them of "coffee" could do a watercolor of a woman in a housecoat drinking an early morning coffee with the paper or on the run of a hectic morning or a crowded scene at the coffee shop… not just a painting of a coffee cup!

  17. Informal critiques should take place throughout the process as well as small group and individual demonstrations, reteaching and brainstorming.

  18. Final class critique when the project is completed.

  19. Students should decide how to best display their Altered Book and include a label with pertinent information including the "Artist’s Statement".

  20. Rubric (attached) is used for scoring which also includes self scoring, teacher scoring and an opportunity for students to write a personal, reflective "Artist’s Statement."


Books! Various shapes, sizes and titles, Hole Paper Punch., Scissors., X-acto Knives,. stamps and stamp pads, Acrylic Gloss Medium., Scissors., craft knives, White Glue., and Glue Sticks., assorted papers – handmade, vellum repositionable glue (or Repositionable Glue Sticks.), snaps, hooks, wire, screws, brads, Crayons., stickers, contact paper, Oil Pastels., wallpaper scraps, Watercolor Paint., Gesso., Acrylic Paint., Metallic Acrylics., Fabric. pieces, Washable Markers., ribbon, lace, Pearl Ex powder,. collage items – dog tags, charms, game pieces, buttons, Xeroxed copies of images for transfers, colorless blender pens. or Citra-Solv, for transfers.


*Use one of the pages for samples/test media - make a media chart: glue page to black card stock, make lines vertically and horizontally down the page, label each and use for reference.


*Copyright notice: To follow the letter of the law, choose hardcover books that are in the public domain or ones with no copyright renewal. How do you know if books are in public domain? How do I know if copyright has expired? Also consider, What are the chances of a copyright holder finding out you altered a book? and What are the chances they would want to do something about it? You decide. If in doubt, write to the copyright holder/publisher for permission. Since you are an educator, you probably will not get a response. Your use in the classroom would fall under Fair Use. However, an artist who wants to display his/her work will need to consider this. See advice by Eliza Metz - Online Art Magazine.



Altered Books Workshop. - Transform old books into one-of-a-kind pieces of art with Altered Books Workshop! In this book, readers receive detailed instructions for the newest craft craze--altered books--which combines bookmaking, collage, journaling, rubber stamping, papercrafting, stitching, embellishing and much more.

Altered Art: Techniques for Creating Altered Books. - The illustrations in this book are numerous, gorgeous, and absolutely helpful, supporting an encouraging text that starts with general information, including basic techniques and ideas about selecting a starting-point object.


New Directions in Altered Books. - This book was chock full of great ideas and inspiration for working with altered books. It covers such topics as choosing the right book, preparing the book, design principles, tools and materials, and techniques for altering books. Then there are many projects, each with a picture of the finished book, a list of instructions, and materials and tools.


Here is a brief history of Altered Books courtesy of ISABA:

Altered books is an art form in which existing books are reworked into works 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 book 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 "Grangerism", 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 gamut from books that have become shrines to books that are transformed into colorful images totally unrelated to their origins. Source: Michal Austin, K-12 Kansas Art Teacher.



Round Robin - books are passed to different individuals, each alters a section; choose a theme (i.e. Cats, landscapes), let artists be inspired by text, or just transform as they desire.

Book as Theme – develop the book to reflect the theme of the book or create artworks throughout the book that reflects the storyline.

Tell a Story – create images through the book to tell a new story.

Book as Art – use the book as the form/base for individual art not related to the book.

Word(s) Inspired – block out word(s) from selected text to highlight visually in single or multiple sections.

Found Poetry – use words on the page to make up a poem.



  • Rub Linseed Oil. over a copy of an image or pattern (like small dotted wrapping paper). Glue w/acrylic medium over another colored image. Great translucent play on images/patterns.

  • Take Tissue paper. and coat it twice with Acrylic Matte Medium.. Let dry. paint dried tissue with Glass Paint. or inks. Let dry and resulting paper looks like stained glass.

  • Make silk paper with silk fiber meshed between two screens (like the type for windows) and then coat with wallpaper paste on both sides. Hang to dry on clothesline still between the mesh.

  • Encase an image or object in tissue or Japanese Rice Paper. and use in window (like glass).

  • Glue down a strong image or print pattern -like a block print. Crumble rice paper and spot Acrylic Gloss Medium. on back and place glue side down over image. Dry. Paint a light acrylic wash over Japanese Rice Paper. and the medium acts like a resist so the result is a staining. Dry. Wash second color over parts of rice paper.

  • Wash acrylic glaze (acrylic paint + matte medium) color over semi-transparent Tracing Paper.. Dry. Glue paper over an image or part of an image. You can still see a hazy image through the color. Like looking through the world in rose or green or canary yellow glasses.

  • Layer coat one side of tissue paper with Acrylic Gloss Medium.. Lay over images. Coat top with medium. Tissue is very transparent.

  • Crumple Tissue paper.. Drip dye-based inks or watercolors onto papers and shift papers so ink runs in crevasses. Dry them coat then coat with gloss or matte medium.

  • After you lay images down, coat papers with three to five different colored acrylic washes. (acrylic paint plus medium) Use your color sense as you lay the washes down. This isn't a huge film laid over the whole picture. Let dry between washes. When finished seal color with matte or gloss varnish. Light plays with the glazes and art seems to glow.

  • Use gold leaf or gold Oil Pastels. on work. Seal with acrylic medium, then proceed with washes and paint. Scratch through washes and glazes with sharp object and the shine form the leaf will come through.

  • Take a colored copy or regular Xerox copy and coat five times with Acrylic Gloss Medium.. Let dry between coats. Let whole thing dry overnight. Next morning gently rub paper off back of image and you have a film of your picture or image. You can glue this down, you can transfer this image to your picture by applying matte medium over back (paper-side) of image and let set up, then peel (looks like a photo transfer) or you can do this on fabric by coating image five times then gluing the last image to the fabric with the medium. Next day rub paper off back of image that is glued on fabric and seal.

  • Source for above site has other hints and tips.


  • Tape Transfer - Choose a picture or letters from a magazine. Carefully place the image on clear packing tape, image facing the sticky side. Wet thoroughly, allowing water to saturate the paper. Carefully rub away the paper, leaving only the ink on the tape. The tape will remain sticky and can be placed directly on your project.

  • Cut letters from scrap paper. Coat letter backs with Repositionable Glue Sticks., place on page. Paint page, let dry. Carefully removes masks.

  • Mask some words from the text, use correction tape or removable masking tape. Decorate as desired with paint, glaze, ink and then remove the tape.

  • Marble or monoprint pages.

  • Glue thick sections of pages together. Use Craft Knife. to cut windows or niche.

  • Fold, cut and tear pages

  • Cut images and glue down to pages mosaic style

  • Use envelopes or make pockets for things in the book.

  • Burn the edges of the pages

  • Punch holes and paint behind them or glue vellum or colored tissue over them.

  • Use Paper Clay. on a page and stamp a design into it for a 3-D effect.

  • Make slits on the page and create a weaving with paper or ribbon.

  • And the list goes on and on and on!!!!

Crayloa's Pop-up Book Lesson

Extreme Cards and Papercrafting

See how to add a pop-up box and stamps - from Laurie Gatlin

Altered Book Ideas from Michaels' Arts and Crafts Store

Collage techniques - from Creativity Portal - 7 pages of ideas and resources

How-to's on background papers and more

Teacherz-Pet lesson to download pdf



ALTERED BOOK PROJECT Overall Score____________

Name _____________________ Period ___________



1st page: hand with design, tape transfer
one section: collage of theme
one section: Watercolor Crayons.


OPTIONAL forms (must include at least three)

Cut holes or niches, other drawing media (Colored Pencils.., crayons, etc) stamping –traditional or bleach tags or envelopes.
specialty papers, found objects, wire embellishments, Sculpey. or Celluclay Instant Papier Maché. items, beadworkwire, brads, staples or other ways to secure pages tags or envelopes decoratively cut pages or page edges, paint, with or without masking text, folded or torn pages or edges.


**Student circle each area accomplished in pencil/teacher circle in pen**






required elements are not evident

only the required elements are present

the required elements and additional elements are used


few or no attempts to use original ideas is apparent

some efforts to use new ideas is shown but not developed fully

numerous experiments striving to be creative are present


the theme is unclear or not evident

the theme is thoughtful and understandable through most of the book

the theme is thoughtful and obvious throughout the entire book


the book is sloppy, messy, torn or otherwise not well taken care of

the book is basically well crafted with a few areas that are distracting

the book is extremely well crafted and has no areas of distraction



From Bunki Kramer - I have a system that works well for us. We spend at least 2 week's worth of making all kinds of decorated papers to use for decorating our pages for later. There are numerous ways to do this... credit card scraping, spouncing, paste papers, dry-brush painting, etc. You can find many techniques on the internet just by going to "decorated papers". Only after we have a good supply to use, we will start our books.


From San D Hesselman - What worked for me was that I had each student take a book and 'establish' a strong theme on the cover, and the end sheets. They then put the books on the bookshelf. Then when kids are finished early with their "other" work, they go over to the bookshelf, pick up one of the books other than their own, and produce a piece of work on a double page spread based on the established theme. By the end of the year, each student should have a book with their classmates responses to their designated themes.

From Ellen Burnside:


I did altered books with 8th graders last year. I collaborated with the English teacher who was teaching poetry writing. The students brought their poems to art class and each page in the altered book was based on a different poem (about 10-12 for each student). I think it's important to establish some sort of theme or idea for the books.

Artist’s Statement:

Suggestions for Elementary from Aileen Roberts Outside the Margins

I teach abs to kids ages 9 to 12 and a separate class to teenagers... this is not for a specific class such as science, English etc. where we are including them into a particular subject matter.

What I have learned is its best to use board books with the younger age group because they have quicker self gratification for them... the regular books tend to get overwhelming to them in a short time.

One way I like to start is to have them brain storm themes first and write down ideas they could include in that specific theme... so say they come up with Dogs, Dreams and Ocean, they can write down their ideas for each one and typically the theme that they end up coming up with the most ideas is what they usually choose.

This process helps gets their creative juices flowing and with the help of others adding their thoughts as well they end up with ideas they might not have thought of. This ends up being a map of sorts for them to begin with.

I don't advise just letting them go without picking a theme at that age because they tend to get stumped and side tracked.

We use a lot of paper techniques on the board books.

Each week I introduce a new technique and they work on that centered around their theme (we only meet once a week).

Here's some pictures from a past class: (Archive)

Below is a past article I wrote for the ISABA Newsletter: (Archive)

Aileen Roberts
Outside The Margins


Book binding History Links:

Historical Bookbinding Models: (Archive)
There was Coptic binding, which is an open binding from around 400 AD in Ethiopia. The covers were from wood or metal, rigid materials, which the Coptic binding allows.

Links provided by Dan Cherney:

Lists of books on the art and craft of bookmaking and its history:

A very useful book!
Brassington, W. Salt, A history of the art of bookbinding (New York:
Macmillan and Co.; London: Elliot Stock, 1894). *R-*ITE.

Nice Timeline:

Great paper-making and bookmaking Webquest: [Archive]

The Center for Book Arts:

"Yet there is some evidence that the complex codex structure may have existed earlier than generally assumed in the framework of the writing tablet story. The evidence is cut in stone, on the steles from Neo-Hittite Empire, dating from the 8th or 7th century B.C. It was Berthe van Regemorter (Scriptorium, 12, 1958, p. 177-181) who drew attention to this earliest evidence for the codex, suggesting that ink and brush were used for writing and a sophisticated sewing structure and board attachment employed for binding (Fig.). Her observations received limited attention, and were even dismissed, for example by Roberts and Skeat in a note (loc. cit., p. 11): "For representations of wooden writing-tablets in Neo-Hittite reliefs... see B. van Regemorter, Scriptorum, 12, 1958, pp. 177 ff." For more detailed (and very scholarly information on bookbinding (as we know it), see:

The final fact is that no one really knows the earliest bookbinding because the examples have rotted. The Ones that we DO HAVE, have been preserved because they held high religious significance and thus were protected by the church. The history of paper in China might possibly have early examples of book binding somewhere within the early period of scrolls, but even many of these records have turned to dust over time.

You can also join the Yahoo listgroup, Altered Books. This group has discussions and other ideas you can use.



Submitted by: Lotte Petrocone, Felix Festa Middle School West Nyack, NY.
UNIT: Recycling - Book as Art
Lesson: Altered Books
Grade Level: Middle School


. . .

Click images to see larger views

Rationale for Teaching Lesson:

Students will transform a discarded book into a creative work of art that encompasses a theme and utilizes a variety of media and techniques.

Lesson Objectives:

1. Students will learn about altered books as a form of art.

2. Students will create an altered book around a theme of their own choosing.

3. Students will use a variety of materials to create the books: collage, paint, and two of their own choosing.

4. Students will use the some or all of the Elements of Art to communicate their theme: Form, Color, Line, Shape, Space, Value, Texture.

New York State Learning Standards:

Standard 1: Students will actively engage in the processes that constitute creation and performance in the arts and participate in various roles in the arts.

Standard 2: Students will be knowledgeable about and make use of the materials and resources available for participation in the arts in various roles.

Standard 3: Students will respond critically to a variety of works in the arts, connecting the individual to other works and to respond to other aspects of human endeavor and thought.

Standard 4: Students will develop and understanding of the personal and cultural force that shape artistic communication and how the arts in turn shape the diverse cultures of past and present society.

How the Standards are addressed in this lesson:

#1 Students will create an altered book around a theme of their own choosing.

#2 Students select and use a variety of media and techniques to accomplish the goal of creating the themed book.

#3 Students will compare and contrast altered books, as well as written reflection and self assessment.

#4 Students will look at a variety of "altered" art - and books through time (book shrines, jeweled books) - as well as a variety of contemporary artists altered books.


Lesson Segments:


1. Introduction to the history and art form of altered books using PP. Make a Media Chart to use as reference for ideas once they are working. (1 class)

PP presentation of altered books.

2. Have students’ select a discarded book to begin, have students trace their hand onto the cover of the book. It may extend into the title page of the book. Fill with Patterns/Textures, and paint around it. (1 classes)

Discarded books of various shapes and titles.

3. Go over rubric, using PP of student samples. (1 class)

PP of student exemplars, xeroxes of rubric.

4. Demo of the Letter Transfer Technique. Students cut and prepare to transfer letters. (1 classes)

Magazines, packing tape, Scissors., deep plates for water to soak.

5. Transfer letters. Decide on theme – discuss various possibilities – reference student samples from PP. (2 classes)

List of possibilities of themes.

6. Block pages together into four sections using glue. Introduce ideas for each section – there must be at least one collage and one painted section, the other two are choice. Demo techniques for collage, using concepts of contrast and positive/negative space. Work on collage pages. (2-3 classes)

Elmer's Glue., various collage materials – papers, fabrics, magazines, etc., White Glue., Acrylic Gloss Medium., Scissors..

7. Demo techniques for painting, including masking out text. Work on painting pages. (2-3 classes)

Acrylic Paint., Metallic Acrylics., Tempera Paint., Watercolor Paint., Brushes., water containers.

8. Brainstorm variety of other choices for pages – refer to Media List, look back at examples. Reinforce idea of exploring theme rather than just illustrating it. (5 classes)

X-acto knives, Hole Paper Punch., assorted papers, ribbon, lace, fabric, objects, Xerox copies for transfers, Citra-Solvor colorless blenders for transfers, White Glue. and Glue Sticks., Gesso., Washable Markers..

9. Artist Statement, grade using rubric. (1 class)

Xeroxes of Artist Statement, extra rubrics.

Segment 1: OBJ - SWBAT understand the history of altered books and discuss some samples.

Do Now: Describe what you think an "Altered book" might be.

Teacher Input: Discussion of altered books and their history using open-ended questions and PP presentation.

Teaching Style:

Guided Practice– Using PP, discuss examples of altered books, and the history as an art form. Make a Media List of the materials seen in the samples using large paper.

Ind Practice –


Closing: What is an altered book? What can you do with a discarded book?

Assessment Method: Verbal



Segment 2: OBJ - SWBAT select a discarded book to work with and begin to alter the cover.

Do Now: Define
- Texture

Teacher Input: Have students select a book to alter. Demo tracing hand onto cover of book, and discuss filling with patterns ad textures.

Teaching Style:

Guided Practice– Choose a book – decide based on size, shape and content. Once you have it, trace around you hand in pencil. Think about how you want it to be: What message might it send to a viewer straight up or down, or fingers spread wide? Play with the composition before you trace. This will be filled with patterns and textures – define both with the students, and demo on a book. Discuss media choices to make cover. Tell them to leave space for their name which we will do as a tape transfer.

Ind Practice – Students choose books and trace hands, and begin to fill it with a pattern.

Closing: Define Pattern, Texture. What kinds of choices did the students make in positioning the hand, why? If time – what kinds of themes did the books make them think of – they have a few days to think about it, but some students might already have ideas.

Assessment Method: Verbal


Segment 3: OBJ - SWBAT understand the criteria of the altered books project.

Do Now: List what you think would be important to evaluate this project.

Teacher Input: List criteria from rubric, then using student samples in PP, go over rubric.

Teaching Style:

Guided Practice– List criteria from rubric, then using student samples in PP, go over rubric.

Ind Practice – If time, students continue to work on hands.

Closing: What are the criteria which will be used to grade the altered book?

Assessment Method: Verbal


Segment 4: OBJ - SWBAT cut letters of their name and prepare them for tape transfer.

Do Now: Write down what you already know about "tape transfer," or what you know about Silly Putty..

Teacher Input: Demo of tape transfer of letters of names.

Teaching Style:

Guided Practice– Demo of tape transfer:

  • Cut letters of name, colored letters work best.

  • Place letters face up and in order.

  • Place a piece of packing tape over the letters.

  • Put the tape with the letters in a tray of water, soak overnight.

  • Tomorrow, remove the tape from water, and gently rub the magazine paper off the back, leaving the ink of the letters.

  • Let dry, trim if desired, then press the tape with the letters onto a page in your book.

  • Gently burnish the tape so that it blends into the rest of the page.

Ind Practice – Students make a tape transfer of their name. During waiting time, they are finishing their hand on the cover.

Closing: Describe the process of tape transfer.

Assessment Method: Verbal

Segment 5: OBJ - SWBAT explore the possibilities of a theme and decide on one for the altered book.

Do Now: Write down three ideas for a theme for your book: places, events, objects.

Teacher Input: Brainstorm themes with the students.

Teaching Style:

Guided Practice –

To choose a theme, discuss different ways to choose one:

  • Using the Do Now, take the ideas, and write them on three separate pieces of paper, and randomly choose on.

  • Explore a social issue – poverty, homelessness, free speech, politics, etc.

  • Use a trait of character education: tolerance, commitment, responsibility, respect, etc.

  • Visually tell another story or a poem,

  • Visually tell the story of the book,

  • Use some of the words of the text to create a different meaning.

Use a PP to show examples of some of these, both students and artists.

Ind Practice – Students choose a theme, write it down, and hand it in at the end of class.

Closing: Share chosen themes from written papers.

Assessment Method: Verbal


Segment 6: OBJ - SWBAT glue together sections of the book, and begin the first.

Do Now: Define "collage".How have you made collages in the past?

Teacher Input: Demo of gluing together pages, and collage techniques.

Teaching Style:

Guided Practice– Define collage, then demo:

- Glue together 3 sections of the book using Elmer’s Glue. If the book is thick enough, a section can be glued to the back cover to create a place to cut a niche which can be used for three dimensional work.

- A section is two open facing pages. One section (it can be any one of the four) should be collage. Demo/discuss contrast and positive / negative space. Discuss different was to make collages – cut/torn paper, using magazine images cut up to form others, or magazine images whole, or combine any technique.

Ind Practice – Students begin gluing sections together, then begin collages, and work on them for 2-3 classes.

Closing: What are the different artist choices you have for the collage?

(what section, and above choices)

Assessment Method: Verbal


Segment 7: OBJ - SWBAT begin painting a section of the altered book.

Do Now: Describe the different kinds of paint you have used.

Teacher Input: Discussion of paints and their qualities, and demo, including masking the text to reveal some of the existing words.

Teaching Style:

Guided Practice– Demo various painting ideas:

- Acrylic washes – add medium to acrylic paint

- Masking techniques

- Gold oil crayons, seal with acrylic medium, proceed with acrylic washes and paint. Scratch through washes and shine from gold leaf comes through

Ind Practice – Students use one or more techniques to paint an image in the altered book. (2-3 classes)


Assessment Method: Verbal


Segment 8: OBJ - SWBAT state the choices for the last section of the book.

Do Now: What other choices do you have for the other section you need to do?

Teacher Input: brainstorm and list artist choices for the other section.

Teaching Style:

Guided Practice– See list of choices, demo, and discuss ways to create the last section of the book.

Ind Practice – Students work on the other section (3-5 classes)

Closing: What are some artist choices you have for the lat section?What are your choices?

Assessment Method: Verbal


Segment 9: OBJ – SWBAT reflect on their work in an Artist Statement, and grade it using the rubric.

Do Now: What is an Artist Statement?

Teacher Input: Review what an Artist Statement is, and how it might be used, and how to grade the art using the rubric.

Teaching Style:

Guided Practice– Review what an Artist Statement is, what the questions are, how they should be answered (written form), how it might be used by artist and viewer, and how to grade the art using the rubric.

Ind Practice – Students write Artist Statement in class, and type it for Homework. The art should be graded using the rubric.

HW: Type the Artist Statement.

Closing: Share responses and books.

Assessment Method: Verbal


Extension: Make a sculpture base to display the book - Or make a "shrine box" (see Medieval books)


Assessment (Rubric)

8th Grade Altered Books Rubric


A book has been altered about a theme of the artist’s choice: the cover or title page, and three different sections.


Technique Grade











Hand with at least 5 different patterns and textures drawn in very neatly – no lines cross each other unintentionally

Hand with at least 4 different patterns and textures drawn in pretty neatly – and/or lines may cross each other unintentionally in one or two spots

Hand with at least 3 different patterns and textures drawn in pretty neatly – and/or lines may cross each other unintentionally in some spots

Hand with at least 2 different patterns and textures drawn in pretty neatly – and/or lines may cross each other unintentionally in many spots

Tape Transfer

Tape transfer of letters of your name has been done successfully – all the letters can be clearly seen against the background

Tape transfer of letters of your name has been done pretty successfully – most the letters can be clearly seen against the background

Tape transfer of letters of your name has been done somewhat successfully – but some of the letters can’t be clearly seen against the background

Tape transfer of letters of your name has not been done successfully – many of the letters can’t be clearly seen against the background

Collage of Theme

The shapes are very neatly cut out or torn everywhere and the gluing is very neat, and all the edges are down

The shapes are pretty neatly cut out or torn everywhere and/or the gluing is pretty neat, and most of the edges are down

The shapes are somewhat neatly cut out or torn everywhere – there may be a few rough spots and/or the gluing is somewhat neat, but a few of the edges are up

The shapes are somewhat messily cut out or torn in many places and/or the gluing is messy with many of the edges up

Acrylic Painting

The acrylic painting uses mixed colors and values, and tries a some different techniques: dry brush, washes with medium, flat color

The acrylic painting uses mostly mixed colors and values, and tries a few different techniques: dry brush, washes with medium, flat color

The acrylic painting uses some mixed colors and values, but there may be a few unmixed straight from the tube and/or tries only 1-2 different techniques: dry brush, washes with medium, flat color

The acrylic painting uses only a few mixed colors and values, and there are several unmixed straight from the tube and/or tries only 1techniques: dry brush, washes with medium, flat color

Artist Choice

The artist has chosen an "experimental" technique for the third section which is different from the first two, or combines one with a new technique

The artist has chosen an "experimental" technique for the third section but it may be somewhat similar to one of them or combines one with a new technique

The artist has chosen an "experimental" technique for the third section but it may be very similar to one of them- you almost can’t tell the difference

The third section of the book repeats a technique from a previous section



Theme and Craftsmanship Grade












The theme is thoughtful and obvious throughout the entire book

The theme is thoughtful and understandable throughout most of the book, but there may be a question somewhere

The theme is understandable throughout most of the book, but there may be some questions

The theme is unclear or not evident



The book is extremely well crafted in all sections and there are no areas of distraction

The book is very well crafted but there may be 1 or 2 areas of distraction where the work is messy or sloppy

The book is basically well crafted but there may be a few areas of distraction where the work is messy or sloppy

The book is sloppy, messy, torn or otherwise carelessly put together








National Standards


1. Understanding and applying media, techniques, and processes

2. Using knowledge of structures and functions

3. Choosing and evaluating a range of subject matter, symbols, and ideas

4. Understanding the visual arts in relation to history and cultures

5. Reflecting upon and assessing the characteristics and merits of their work and the work of others

Students select media, techniques, and processes; analyze what makes them effective or not effective in communicating ideas; and reflect upon the effectiveness of their choices

Students generalize about the effects of visual structures and functions and reflect upon these effects in their own work

Students integrate visual, spatial, and temporal concepts with content to communicate intended meaning in their artworks

Students know and compare the characteristics of artworks in various eras and cultures

Students analyze contemporary and historic meanings in specific artworks through cultural and aesthetic inquiry

Students intentionally take advantage of the qualities and characteristics of art media, techniques, and processes to enhance communication of their experiences and ideas

Students select and use the qualities of structures and functions of art to improve communication of their ideas

Students use subjects, themes, and symbols that demonstrate knowledge of contexts, values, and aesthetics that communicate intended meaning in artworks


Students describe and compare a variety of individual responses to their own artworks and to artworks from various eras and cultures


Note: National Standard 6 could be addressed if this included writing down with language arts classes.


Class Exchange - Altered Book - Cultural Sharing


Book: Look at Book
This is a sketchbook that was exchanged between four artists - two in Brooklyn and two in Belfast.

I can see this inspiring an altered book exchange between two teachers. One in USA - one over seas. This is how I think it might work.....

Each teacher begin with one book for the exchange. Each student do one spread in the book - leave the next spread blank for the exchange student to do - reflecting/responding to the art on the preceding page. Students of course would be working on their OWN altered books at the same time. They would do a technique/idea in the exchange book that worked out well in their own. The theme for the exchange could be something general - Culture - identity.

Once each student has done a page in the books - they would be mailed for the exchange. Each student would do a spread and books (a response to the spread before it) would be returned.

The teachers would photograph all of the pages that have been done in their home base book and create a PowerPoint for each student (PowerPoint could be shown looping during your art show - and be made available for interested students). The actual book would be kept by the teacher - OR could be auctioned? Of course each student would have their own personal altered book as well. This book exchange project would stretch out through out the year, I assume - so a work station/center would be set up for students to do the exchange altered book.

If anyone tries this, let me know. I bet you could get a mini grant? Include some email exchanges as well to learn about the students/culture of your exchange project. There were some interested in trying Round Robins between schools. I think having only two mailings and only two books would be doable.


RESOURCES (note links were active at time of publication of this lesson)

Navigate to 8th grade, then Altered Books

Pinterest's Altered Books - A gallery of altered books. has the following books as well as others:

Altered Books 101. by Beth Cote & Cindy Pestka

Altered Book Special Effects!. by Laurie Goodson & Betsy McLoughlin

Altered books materials guide. by Laurie Goodson, Betsy McLoughlin & Susan Pickering Rothamel

Getting Started in Altered Style. by Suzanne McNeill

Middle school student examples: (Archive)

See the altered book slide show - great for an introduction to altered books.

Altered Art - a lesson on altered board books.

Lisa Vollrath "how to" articles - answers to many questions. You must now register to access the articles. Lisa has many CD's with images - very affordable - see offerings from Two-Ten Studios

Creativity Portal -Altered Books - How to Tutorials and more

Insight Out: Reversing Vandalism. - Reversing Vandalism project which would allow artists to use damaged books to create new works of arts.

Karen's Whimsy Public Domain Images Scans by Karen Hatzigeorgiou - engravings and other artwork from a personal collection of old books, magazines, and post cards. Updated regularly. See her artwork - altered books and collage

See IAD's page of public domain images and clip art.



Beth Cote (Archive)
Books, CDs, videos - lots of copyright free images. See also her work on

Ingrid Dijkers

Eliece Edge - blog:

Tom Phillips | (Archive)
A Humument. is a treated book by British artist Tom Phillips based on the Victorian novel 'A Human Document' by W.H. Mallock.

Richard Minsky

Karen Michel

Karen Hatzigeorgiou - Karen's Whimsy

Teesha Moore

Corinne Stubson (Archive) |

Jenny Taliadoros [Archive]

Book Arts Web

"Spirit Books" by Susan Kapuscinski Gaylord - amazing books using special handmade papers and nature.


OTHER SITES (Archive) (Archive)

Skewer Book (Archive) | Piano Hinge Skewer Book (Archive) | Piano Hinge Book | Handmade Books | Making Your Own Book (Archive) | How To Make a Piano Hinge Book (Archive)


Art-e-Zine - Images from

Vintage Resources (more images available if you make a donation):

Digital Stamps - made using PhotoShop:

Work by Gillian Allen - author of Digital Stamps:

Image Transfers - various methods - step by step

Listing of more topics (scroll down):

Also check out site contents:
Collage art - assemblage - altered books- more

Nicholas Jones - Sculptural Altered Books (Archive) - Also see this blog, Ephemera.

How to Make Image Transfers

Various methods of transferring images:
Liquitez's, The Arcrylic Book (See page 97 for transfers) pdf
Using another brand of gloss medium:

Additional methods:
Easy photocopy transfer tip using blender marker pen:

The Artists' Book Collection - The Kohler Art Library at University of Wisconsin-Madison presents this illustrated database that indexes roughly760 titles from its collection of over 800 artists' books.



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