Monday, February 20, 2006

Altering the Altered Book

Two weeks ago it was demo day at Michaels arts and crafts.  All the instructors have examples of their work for customers to view and we each have a current project we are working on for customers to ask questions about.

There has been a big turnover in teachers and most of us are fairly new so we are getting to know each other and sharing tips like where to get cheap business cards, local artist groups to join and other artists who might be of help.

The really fun thing is we are allowed to take one free class each month from one of the other instructors.  How much fun is this to learn something new for free?  We currently have one teacher working on classical oil painting techniques, the watercolor teacher is in the process of having her first children’s book published and she not only did the drawings but did all the creative writing.  There are a couple of teachers doing beaded jewelry classes, a card making class, charcoal drawings, a scrap booking class, Ukrainian egg painting, cake decorating, and my class in altered books and altered art techniques.

We set up near the front of the store and greet the customers when they enter.  The customers have a chance to ask questions and listen to a brief explanation of what our classes are like.

I get a lot of lookers who have never heard of altered books and are curious about the idea of gluing paper, adding embellishments, stapling ribbons, drilling holes, or cutting niches into an existing book.  When I have them pick up one of my books and tell them the story I have created they begin to understand.

One of my students stopped by to show me the new papers she was buying and tell me the theme for her next book.  She is having fun creating gifts and finding an artistic  side of herself she didn’t know existed.  I like to think of altered books and art as coloring outside the lines.  

While the time spent is busy talking to new customers it does have a downside.  Children don’t understand that the books are works of art and Saturday one adult didn’t recognize  my work in progress as art and handled the book too roughly and pulled out two spreads.  There is no way to repair the pages and return them to the book because of the design of the book.  Almost heartbroken I couldn’t sleep wondering what I was going to do with the damaged pages and the remaining pages in the book.  They are all related by theme and all go together in sequence.  The following night I discovered a vintage binder in my stash of salvaged books.   I removed all the existing pages in the binder, punched all the pages from the current book and the altered book continues it’s journey.  I have spent a month working on layouts, designs, finding papers, pictures, writing poetry, and at the thought of losing all this work, made me want to cry.  

I don’t want people to think you can’t touch and enjoy the finished books so the moral to the story is I need to be more careful about which books I take to display.  

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