Sunday, May 5, 2013

My First Altered Book Journal Week One

I love altered books, the ones turned into journals so of course I have to try one of my own! My daughter and I love the story Secret Garden and have read the book and seen the movie many, many times...
too many times to count! So with that theme in mind I've begun my first altered book journal. I will work on this over time and once it's all done it will be given to my little girl as a keepsake.

Like most things I do there's no real plan in place and most everything is trial and error.. lots and lots of error, haha but I'll be sure to take note of the errors and hopefully help someone else avoid some of the mistakes bound to be made along the way.

I found an old book at a thrift store, maybe paid at most 75 cents for it. I chose this one because it's on the larger size and it has thick pages. It's dated 1941. I did a little research to make sure it wasn't too valuable!

I then went through it and removed all the illustrations. The vintage colors are amazing and I'll use them in the journal later on. I found it's better to use an exacto knife and cut them free rather then pull them out. The first one I pulled out and then it took extra time to remove all the small bits left behind.

First lesson learned, use knife to remove pages!

For the back of my journal I want to put a surprise for my little girl so decided to add in a real little Secret Garden! One that has places to put a squirrel or two, a bird and a swing and all the other little awesome surprises that come with a secret garden. So I had to create a spot by cutting the center out of the last section of the book. This wasn't too difficult, I actually used a smaller book as a template and traced around it then went to work cutting through the pages. It took some time because you can only get through so many at a time. Part way through this process I realized that my knife wasn't the sharpest and I had no replacement blades on hand so I had to be extra careful not to cause snags and pull the pieces along instead of cutting them because that causes bumps that have to be smoothed out before gluing later.

Second lesson learned, use sharp knife!

I wasn't sure exactly how to glue this together. Was I supposed to glue each page together? That seemed like an extremely long and difficult step so I decided to use a piece of felt and tacky craft glue. I just dipped the felt in the glue and rubbed it along all the inside edges and outside edges of the pages I wanted glued together. I then closed the book up and waited for it to dry.  This worked super! In no time at all I had a solid piece to work with.

Once it was dry I noticed that the cuts were a bit uneven and there was a step like pattern that I didn't want so I used the exacto knife again and evened up the inside lines. This was very simple to do and I just eyed everything up. I wasn't too worried about how clean these lines were because I had planed to cover it all up anyway. The only thing was after I did this I had to re-glue those edges. No big deal just more waiting :)

Once everything was dry I had to think a little bit a head, do I want a ribbon to keep this part of the book closed? I'm not sure but I glued one in now and if I don't want it later I can just cut it away. This ribbon might be a nice addition later, we shall see.

I really had a tough time deciding what to do next, how to make my little secret garden and I ended up painting it first but I did not like the end result.  So I went to google and searched for garden pictures. I want depth to this so I searched, "inside a garden" and found a great picture that was the right size. I printed it off and glued it in place. I used a glue stick so the ink wouldn't run or smear!

I want this to look like we are looking into the garden from a window and decided the window will be made of brick just like in the Secret Garden movie! 

Now I'm wondering if you've ever seen the Secret Garden? You haven't?? My goodness, just watch the trailer right here and see what you're missing!

Ok, back to my book :) And back to the brick window. I printed off brick paper from a dollhouse site found here it's a great site and it's free too :) I glued the brick paper all in place. I then made a swing out of a piece of wood and twine. I made sure to put in any pieces that can be put in now before the whole piece is glued to the back cover. These steps are just easier to do now and not have to worry about fitting them in later.
I want vines and flowers of course! So again I found a picture of vines in a simple google search. I carefully cut around some individual leaves to give the vines some depth and I also used a fine tipped black felt pen and outlined around the vines once they were glued down which really helps them appear to have depth as well.

I will keep layering vines and flowers until I'm satisfied with the look. With each layer it looks better and better!
So this is week one. Not bad for my first ever attempt I must say, and now I've got a good foundation to work with. I'm so excited to see how this ends up and I hope you stay tuned for the updates as they happen. Week two I will make the Secret Garden Door!


Take a look at my tree.. I printed off a 2nd copy of the tree and glued it over the first one but made a hollow in the middle so now the tree is in 3D! A thought that came to me later and it was more difficult to put in because the brick was glued down and
some of the vines were already in place but oh well, like I said there's no real plan. I'm just going with it :)

Happy Crafting!!


  1. It looks so cool! Great Job!

    1. thanks!! It's a fun one, I can't wait to get some journal pages done :)

  2. That is so cool! I LOVE The Secret Garden its one of my favorite movies. I think you should do some Secret Garden amigurumi. :)

    1. Thanks Elsie! I was thinking tonight I should work on it again some. I think Secret Garden Amigurumi is a fantastic idea, love that thought :)


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