Altered Books




Altered book of Virgins
Artist: Monica Zúñiga
Mixed media
Private collection


Altering books is an art form that has been around for many years, I was introduced to this art form by my dear mother, she gave me my first book about it and after digging in to the amazing pages all new art form to me, I fell in love with this art form. since then, I`ve seen it evolve through the years, I now mix it with art journaling which also shares many of the techniques but altered books are more for experimenting and trying things, creating an art object. 


You can make one too:

Choose a book with a hard cover, it`s better for this protects the pages and the works you will be creating in your book, as a bonus I`ve learned first about how to make a book, how to sew it and glue the spine and all it takes to make one, this helped me a lot in keeping my books firm and in place but you don´t require to learn this to have fun with altering books. Along the way I`ve lost some cool pages because of not being careful and adding too much glue or paint in the spine and then it became wet and broke but you can save them and sew them later. Always think about the spine and the fragile paper that is close to it, I recommend that if you want to try a more heavy duty work, add some collage or fabrics to the spine or center of the book so it is stronger.





I usually glue two pages so they are stronger and I can add freely all mediums I want but I`ve also done it with simple pages. Adding a coat of guesso or even medium will make my page last, but i keep in mind no to add too much watery mediums for this will make the fibers of the paper weak and finally brake! I also rub a candle to all the page for if it has to much medium or acrylics it will glue, the wax prevents this, you can also put a waxed paper in between if you don´t want to make blurry your work.

Experiment a lot!  No art can be called that in the first stages so be patient!  Experiment with those mediums you have and learn how they react in your book, not all papers in every book are the same, some are stronger, some are very light and all will react different with diverse materials. Some papers from old books are very acidic so they will brake with time, there are products to help these. Children books are an excellent choice for the pages are very thick and made of a thick cardboard and you can do a lot in them, but they have to be sanded in order to make them absorb the mediums,  remove the plastic on top of the illustrations and then you can work on them, another option is to make your own books or journals but it is also a lot of fun to use an old book found at a flea market or in a used books library at very low prices!  The possibilities are endless!






Pick a theme! As I did here, you can decide about a theme for your book, this will make your work cohesive and easier to work with, after choosing one, you have endless possibilities of how to create each page, make it unique and use lots of different materials!  I collect many things and also love going to flea markets, things end up in my work showing different meanings.





Work the cover showing what´s coming inside, I searched for many different virgins but used the Mexican Virgen María image to be on the cover and central pages, the page is created as an altar, in the streets of Mexico, you spot these cristal boxes showing an image of her much like the page shown here.


This is the last page, an altar that offers the love of a devotee to her arquetipe,
feminine, virgin, mother, purity and woman, object of devotion.
 Many pages are glued together in order for it to have depth, the niches 
were hand carved patiently and also glued, painted and small found objects
attached to it.



This books is very special to me, it taught me a lot and it was a great experience to create it, it takes some time to put something like this together but at the end it´s super worth it!  It is now in a private collection.



More Inspiration!
Some of my other altered book pages!










 I also have taught live classes at
Hands and Heart Studio!