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Editorial Spotlight: Altered Book Project by Deanna Masselli


Deanna Masselli is a member of the CrafterNews editorial team. We were so pleased when Deanna offered to share one of her own projects with CrafterNews per month! Look out for Deanna’s craft spotlights on the first Monday of each month.

I was inspired to try my hand at an altered book after perusing Diane Maurer-Matheson’s Collage, Assemblage, and Altered Art: Creating Unique Images and Objects. As an avid reader and book lover, I liked the idea of altering one for myself so I picked up a couple of used hardcovers for $1.

Most instructions I found for hollowing out the pages recommended using an X-Acto or box cutter so I went with the former. I must admit that hollowing out the book’s pages turned out to be quite an arduous task. To combat this, I broke up the process over the course of several days. To guide me with my first cut I drew a square in pencil and used a ruler to keep my cuts straight. Once that was completed, since I had no specific plan in mind for refashioning the book, I intuitively began doing what felt like the next best step to take.

First I glued the pages together at the edges using a gel medium. Then I painted the front, back, and inside covers red. Red is my go-to color; when in doubt, I use red. Yeah, I use red a lot.

I decided to paint the front page and the page’s edges (now glued together as one chunk) black. I left the edges inside the hollowed out area unpainted and contemplated what to do next. Hmm. . . . fire? I wondered how it would look slightly burned or singed. Coincidentally, my utility lighter was in plain view and arm’s reach, telling me this idea was meant to be. I started scorching those inside page edges and liked the way it was visually transforming. I let it burn a bit extra on the top page, making sure it never fully caught on fire.

With the painting and scorching done I started to see more potential. I had some leftover body part cutouts from a collage I recently completed and placed them inside randomly. Once again I was pleased with the visual this created and knew that was the direction I’d go in.

For the outside and inside cover, I wanted to incorporate some text . . . it is a book, after all. I recently had been reading Felix Feneon’s Novels in Three Lines (a book of brief, stylized news stories Feneon wrote back in 1906), so I searched for a quote from this book that would coincide with the narrative of the images. I printed the first half of the text “A woman was sitting on the ground in Choisy-le-Roi” on photo paper and glued those words onto a paper cutout of a silhouette frame which was then glued directly onto the cover. Even though the frame was already black, I dabbed it with a black paint on a sponge to give it more texture. The text on the inside “The only identifying word that amnesia allowed her was ‘model,’” was transferred onto silk tissue paper and also glued on. This transfer process was done with a laser printout of the text and a blender marker.

For the images, I used cutouts of models from ’50s Life magazine ads. I use these images often in my work. I find the comparison of our current sense of vanity vs. the past’s disturbingly different while at the same time disturbingly similar. To secure the images within the hollowed-out area, I dipped the edges of each in glue and inserted them strategically between the pages. Lastly, I glued the whole section to the back cover.

Phew, okay, that’s a lot of steps. But it was worth it in the long run. I kinda love it.



jill gewirtz December 8th, 2011

I think Deanna’s altered book is a great piece. While it’s nostalgic, her story is very contemporary, creative and artistically literary. It speaks to how women are objectified in current day culture.

Lori Dretzel December 9th, 2011

I had never seen an altered book – it’s fantastic! The juxtaposition of the similarities of today’s sense of vanity to the 1950s is intriguing. Deanna mentions her other work. I was wondering where I could see some of it?



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