I received in the mail this week *drumroll please* a handwritten letter from the always-fabulous, Lady Demelza. I shall proceed to copy it out word-for-word, so that the world might bask in her words of wisdom. And people interested in the world of Altered Books might benefit.
Lady Demelza’s hints, tips, thoughts, suggestions, ideas for encouraging a child with an Altered Book
(Mostly in general, some are more specifically Littletree-oriented)
- The most basic tools are scissors and a glue stick. Both are small fiddly things likely to be lost in black holes or become damaged. I find it’s best to have lots of extra spares all over the house. Cheapest, good quality glue sticks are to found in bulk packs at Officeworks.
- Whenever there is something happening involving an interesting piece of paper or similar glueable object, suggest it could be stuck in The Book.
- If she’s complaining that she’s bored, or wants ‘something to do’, put the book and/or magazines and/or papers in front of her. Small starting suggestions -
- find a picture, shape, colour or word you would like in a magazine and cut it out. Can always be saved to continue with At a Later Time…
- prepare a page by covering it with a blank or patterned piece of paper, or by painting it or colouring it in, for future work.
- Print out photos for her to include in the Book – favourite pictures, photos of friends and family – to really personalise it. Maybe photos of people cooking or in the kitchen to go with the cook-book theme?…
- Encourage writing out favourite household recipes into the book. It doesn’t have to be a ‘recipe’ as such, it could be a description of the cooking process more generally. Include accompanying photos??
- Her science experiments could be documented. Write up the hypothesis or idea, take photos to document her carrying out the experiment, write up the results. Draw a picture of the results.
- How about a record of the weekend market bakery business? Note recipe used, take photos of finished product or process, record profits. Write down costs of ingredients, etc. to work out accurate profits!
- Learn about the structure of books. Maybe you’ll find an old hardcover book with a missing spine and let her see the stitches holding the book together and deconstruct it. Discuss types of paper and covers, styles of bookmaking over time. Discuss what makes a book suitable to become and Altered Book; the strength of the spine/ pages, how likely it is to last a long time or fall apart quickly.
eg – stick pages together to make a heavier base for heavier stuck-in things. Cut a niche in the pages to allow for 3-D stuck-in objects.
- different kinds of glue and paint used with different kinds of paper – how does the paper or insert hold up?
- Cut out shapes from scraps of fabric as well as paper. Check how glues hold up with different fabrics. Small bits of fabric usually go well in Altered Books.
- You may want to find a kind of tray-shaped box or basket that the Book can go in, along with a manageable quantity of materials, to travel around to different parts of the house, be used and tidied away.
- If she produces a page that she’s not happy with, there are a few options.
- Continue altering the page until it becomes something different.
- Remove the page.
Stick it to the next page to make a stronger, double-thick page for more sturdy embellishments.
- Stick a piece of plain or patterned paper or a picture over the whole thing.
This is meant to make it feel safe to experiment wildly.
- Keep an eye out for second-hand magazines with good colours and visual style in the photography and advertising (if not content!)
A quick trip to the oppy would quickly provide enough variety to give her something to get going on… you don’t need a big pile of magazines, but a variety of styles is good. New ones coming in now and ten are exciting and inspiring. Throw out the old ones if they’ve been hanging around a while
- Experiment wildly. Have fun.