This is the first altered book niche I have ever made. I read so much about the technique for so long I sort of stunned myself into inactivity. I have a horde of books saved up to be altered so I grabbed one and decided I was going to carve a niche in it (after re-reading one of my FAVORITE books on altering books, New Directions in Altering Books by Gabe Cyr, which is the same book as Mixed Media Books – Dozens of Experiments in Altering Book, but they have different covers & I only tell you that so you don’t buy both books like *I* did. And another fantastic favorite is Bev Brazelton’s Altered Book Workshop, it was actually her book that turned the light on in my head that trying to cut ALL those pages with an X-Acto knife probably wasn’t the best way to do this and I might have better luck using a box cutter – she calls it a craft knife – you know, one of those gray utility knives. OK, enough blathering about books. . .at least about reading books).
So, I blocked off a bunch of pages & decided where I wanted the niche to be and started cutting. I went slowly, like everyone suggested, and sooner than I expected I was done. In hindsight I would chose what I was going to put in the niche prior to cutting it since I had no idea what I was even going to do with this book I had no idea what I was going to put in the niche, but I cut on. Unfortunately, while I was flinging the book around trying to get all the page crumbs out of it, I tore the front cover off. Note to self, do not fling books. I had a solution to that situation which I will reveal later. I saved all those “inner” pages for use later on (I am obsessed with cutting out words and sentences to use later) and put them aside. Then I used my Golden Matte Gel and gelled the hell out of the book. I didn’t go in between the pages because I felt if I gelled the niche block of pages correctly, I wouldn’t need to gel (glue) each page separately. That took more time than the cutting did because I learned if you gel on gel that isn’t completely dry you can get bubble like uprisings and the only way to get rid of them is to cut the paper where the bubble is. Did that a few times until I decided to coat the book in the morning and then at night before bed. I did that for about 3 days – but it depends on how thick your book is, how deep your niche is and how thick your gel is (I watered mine down, right on the book the last application). Then I gessoed the book, using the same one time in the morning, one at night routine for about 2 days (partly because I was afraid to actually do something with the book and ruin it & partly because I didn’t know what I wanted to do with it yet). After leaving it alone for a few days, somehow the idea of beach & shells popped into my head. I honestly don’t know why because I am not very fond of the beach, but that story is for another time. I dragged out my acrylic paints and picked a few blue ones, Golden Cobalt Teal and Ultramarine Blue. I added some Titanium White to the teal & some acrylic glazing liquid and painted the whole inside of the book, wiped the paint away while it was still wet to kind of give it a weathered appearance. Then I did the same with the blue, added the white & glazing liquid, painted and wiped. I also reattached the front cover. My main squeeze had gotten me a roll of gaffer tape & I knew that would work just perfect to put the cover on. I put about 8” of the tape on a piece of wax paper and painted it the same shade of blue as the outside cover. I taped the front of the cover, but I didn’t think that was going to hold the book well enough, so I taped the inside, too. I painted over the inside with the teal mix and while I should have measured the tape a bit better, I don’t think it looks too bad. I gelled over all of that with more matte medium. Let that dry while I chose my embellishments.
I had first found a picture of mermaids that I wanted to put on the inside cover, but, while I was wiping the inside of the cover down with a baby wipe I accidentally hit the corner of the mermaid photo (you can see the picture with my wonderful circle drawn around the boo boo) so after debating the issue, I ripped the mermaids off the inner cover and re-gessoed, repainted, rewiped, re dried. And hunted in my stash for something cool to replace the mermaids with (I did find out about a product to spray on your printed pictures so that you can’t wipe the color off with a baby wipe, called “Preserve Your Memories II” by Precision-Blue. I just ordered some to try, but I expect that it will work like a charm based on what people told me & what I read online about the product – here is the manufacturer’s website www.precision-blue.com). I rummaged through my stash & came upon these really cool pieces of wall paper I had saved out of a book of discontinued samples I had gotten from a design store – I think they actually look even better than the mermaids, and I had a butterfly that matched so I used that as well.
After I adhered everything, the shells, the bit of music in the niche and the wall paper I touched the book up again with the acrylic paint mixtures (and I determined I needed a palette that shut so I could keep my mixes wet for a while and wouldn’t have to remix a new batch each time I have to touch up something, or repaint the spots where I had to tear off a picture. But, after looking online and seeing that the cheapest one was over $10, I then decided that an old piece of Tupperware would work just fine. Now I have to dig something out of the dreaded Cabinet Full of The Unknown Plastic Containers. But I saved $10) and once they were dry I coated the book a few more times with matte gel – taking care to let each coat dry thoroughly. There you have it! My first foray into nichedom. . .
This is the first edition of the Shell Book - I marked off where I messed up the photo I printed off the computer with the baby wipe. . .
This is a picture of the niche - that was my goal making this, attempting to cut a niche, or window, out in the body of a book.
TA DA! I think this actually looks better than the mermaid picture and you can't tell I ripped the picture off at all :) I also like that even though I coated the book in matte gel medium there is still a slight sheen to the book.
And here is the unaltered cover of the Shell Book. Monster is my resident critic and she is giving her opinion on the cover. . . she can be SO tough!