Thursday, February 24, 2011


Book of Quakers by Stephen Livingstone. See Stephen's website here.

"Creativity is not the finding of a thing, but the making something out of it after it is found" - James Russell Lowell

When I first started googling, not quite 4 years ago, I had never heard of an altered book. I was staggered when I realized this was an artform. Now I am discovering the most intriguing book cover artworks and deconstructions.

Another piece by Stephen Livingstone. See website here.

"i use natural and found materials. paints made from pulverised rocks, sludge and dust, the results of rusting and burning. i collect rusted objects and reform them, give them new life. i recycle books, save them from incineration and give them new meaning." - Stephen Livingstone

Mixed media piece using book cover by Jo Horswill. See Jo's blog here.

Two of the most exciting pieces (in my opinion) are those of Jo Horswill, an artist and blogger from Australia. I love the fact that she has incorporated bits of her own etchings and prints into these pieces. Jo has written a wonderful post about book art on her blog, My Story. Well worth a visit!

Another piece by Jo Horswill. My favourite! See Jo's blog here.

Stain by Pat Swanson. Discarded book parts and graphite on wood backing. See more here.

Scraps I by Pat Swanson. See more of Pat's work here.

You may recognize Brigitte Riesebrodt's work from an earlier post. See more here.

John Fraser, another familiar artist featured on Art Propelled. See here.

All that Remains by Gillian Robinson. Blog post on Drumcroon - Art Education Centre, here.

Reliquiae - All that Remains by Gillian Robinson. See more here.

"Books have a powerful symbolism, communicating ideas, knowledge, wisdom, history, experience. ‘All That Remains’ seems to capture that sense of power, combined with great vulnerability" - Words by Kevin on the Drumcroon blog.

A detail from one of Jason Twiggy Lotts intriguing pieces. Jason's website here.

Jonathan Callen's work always stops me in my tracks. See more here.

"Don't worry about your originality. You couldn't get rid of it even if you wanted to. It will stick with you and show up for better or worse in spite of all you or anyone else can do." - Robert Henri


  1. I am facinated by altered books. These covers and more are unique and intrigueing.

  2. Very very beautiful pictures Robyn. The links are fascinating too. These are sculptures using the book as a medium.

  3. I love the ideas behind this Robyn and have often wished I could try it but I do think it takes a lot of imagination and courage to do - probably the hardest part is to actually get started.

  4. Wow! Fascinating. I'm very new to book art, but I know what I like! :)

  5. Every piece is absolutely fascinating, but I just love the quote at the end of your post. Thanks!

  6. I'm really impressed by your post Robyn.
    So interesting and diverse. Thank you for sharing!
    best wishes from Germany

  7. I love the Robert Henri quote...he's an old fav.

    You are a Rockin' after post you open my eyes to so many layers of creative gold mines.

    here's another book art link that's stunning:

    uh huh

  8. Too long since I last visited! Bogged down in non-art stuff now and so refreshing to come and visit your wonderful blog again!

  9. j'aime.. à ne plus lire...c'est tellement mieux de faire des oeuvres d'art . le blog de jo et son travail est d'une grande sensibilité!

  10. Thank you for always bringing to our attention such interesting things to feast our eyes on. I particularly love the delicate work of Pat Swanson

    Carolyn x

    ps. just started on tumblr but not sure I can keep up with the momentum!

  11. these are each fascinating, and must say, Jonathan Callen's caught my breath. lover of concrete, i think, and the tension between the soft pages and the weight of the concrete.


  12. Good stuff. Love the Henri quote. A good thing to keep in my toolbox for those questing students!

  13. Beautiful post again. Very inspiring.

  14. I love that last quote. I'm always worried that I'm not original in my artwork.

    A few years ago at a used bookstore, I found a beat up tattered torn up kids book in a bin of free books and brought it home. I still haven't decided what to do with it, but I love it. Probably because it has so much wear and seems altered already....altered by use and time and misuse.

  15. It took me a long time to accept (what used to feel like) the desecration of books. Books always seemed so precious to me...altering them seemed akin to graffiti on the Sistine Chapel. Your post makes me realize that I haven't felt that way for a long while now. These "deconstructions" hold a lot of fascination. I like what Stephen Livingstone had to say.

  16. Amazing books...Stephen Livingstone's and Jo's books are truly amazing!

    Jacky xox

  17. Lisa.... ditto :-)

    Priya, who would ever have thought?! I'm having to unlearn all I was taught about books being kept in pristine condition, but rescuing books opens up so many possibilities.

    Weaver, it will take courage the first time around. I tore a cover off a book a few weeks ago and I'm sure I could hear the book shrieking :-)

    Jann, exactly! The first time I saw an altered book I thought the same thing.... I know what I like.

    Annie .... and I'm enjoying your profile photos. Once you've completely disappeared will you come back?

    Ralf, glad you enjoyed the post.

    Donna Iona, great link! Chuffed too ....Thank you.

    Lucky Dip Lisa, hope you find art time soon! I think I've said that to you before so it's time to try harder :-)

    ELFI, I'm really wishing I had continued with French at school!

    Carolyn, I will be over to check out your Tumblr blog shortly!

    Mansuetude, such a contrast .... concrete and paper. Still thinking about that YouTube clip. Thanda.

    Indi@na, rich fodder indeed.

    Valerianna, good quotes certainly brighten up my day too.

    Thanks Cerulean.

    Stevie, you are definitely original. I would know your sketches anywhere!

    Sweetpea, I know what you mean. It has taken me a long time too but it's not as if one alters every book one sees. Only the rescued ones.

    Jacky, Both Jo and Stephen's work made my heart race the first time I saw it. I'm sure you've read Jo's latest post about her book altering but if you havn't go and have a look.

  18. Robyn....I love this post! I'm such a book person and am totally inspired by all this great work and the quote by Robert Henri to top it's made my day and we're up so early today, it has only just started!!! Cheers!

  19. doesn't matter how much or how often we turn to electronic gadgets for reading these days....

    ..books will always provide fascination....and new insights...

    ...but maybe now in their form rather than in content...

    Sorry I haven't been around for a while...been a bit occupied...

    x Chris

  20. Yum, yum, yum. I'm late as always ;) Gillian Robinson's work is incredibly powerful. Even the title gave me goosebumps!

    I've often wondered how artists exhibit altered books. I guess they would have to be in glass cases museum-style or else the temptation to flick through would be just too great!

  21. i'm a huge fan of robert henri "art spirit"...imagine, being in one of his classes!
    my head's turned 'round, again...but COVERed!

  22. The altered books you share are amazing. I love this particular medium and wish I could see more of it.

  23. Wow.. I must book in some more time to check all those wonderful links. Thank you so much for alerting me to the sites. I do enjoy visiting your blog regularly, it's inspirational.

  24. A feast for the eyes and the art lovers heart. Thank you Robyn!

  25. oh, wow. I love these. You always give me new resources and I love Horswill!

  26. Hi Robyn - such a delicious delight - so much to soak in and absorb. I think Jonathan Callen's piece is stunning and breathtaking; and I am so happy to have discovered Jo Horswill. Sigh.

  27. As a huge lover of altered books, artist books, handmade books, and just books...I thank you for putting together this post. Another wonderful complilation.

  28. Robyn--You are able to see so many different angles to creativity and share them with us: just amazing!--Each post opens my eyes to unconsidered possibilities and luscious (in)sights. Thank you for introducing me to Stephen Livingstone's work:)

  29. Jonathan Callens work here stuns and amazes...
    es in wonderful company though... exciting viewing Robyn!

  30. Oh Robyn-such a juicy juicy post!! I love altered books and these ones are over the top...I love all the layers and the history and meaning they convey. And that Henri qote at the end...have to pin it up in my studio now! Big hugs xxx
    Oh! my no bread diet sucks ROYALLY let me tell you:( how are you faring over there?

  31. Thank you Robyn for opening up the world of art to so many of us around the world right in the comfort of our own homes. It is a service of the heart you provide. You may not be aware of this, but for someone like me who has difficulty traveling, your blog is a visit to art spaces an works I would never otherwise be able to view.

    Thank you.

  32. I have just spent a lovely time clicking on all the wonderful artists' links-- I love book art because they incorporate the worn, torn, weathered, rusty textures I love so much.

  33. Yup,

    that last one is a track stopper..

    thanks for the quote about originality,

    needed to hear that today.

  34. My oh my... these artists are so inspirational; I'm fascinated with altered books right now. And that quote really hits home with me- how very true. Thanks for sharing!