Video: Simple and Beautiful Altered Book Techniques for the Classroom

I LOVE altered books! This is a great project because it allows students to up-cycle something that may have gone into the trash and transform it into into a beautiful piece of sculptural art. Here are some of my favorite techniques to use in an altered book!

Have you up-cycled something recently in the art room?

What other techniques would you add to the list? 

4 years ago

Jessica Balsley

Jessica Balsley is the Founder and President at AOE. She is passionate about helping art teachers enhance their lives and careers through relevant professional development.


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  • linda

    Glad you shared this. I did altered books similar to this with my art club a few years ago. They loved making the books…this project did take time however!

  • sonya

    How much time would you allow or suggest for students to work on this project for in class time? Days? Weeks? And thanks for sharing!

    • I think this project could technically ‘go on forever’ therefore, perhaps introduce one technique each class period, such as ‘tearing’ or ‘sewing’ ‘folding’ or making a ‘hole.’ You could also spend time up front teaching ALL of the techniques and then tell students they have the next 4 class periods to try them all, or incorporate 4/7 of the suggested techniques. Hope it helps!

  • Dave

    Hey i heard there’s a debate on whether or not to keep art education in school. Here’s a really well done article on it.

  • marilynpeters

    We hardly throw anything away. If it is broken glass we use it in mosaics. If it is an unwanted but still working appliance I can usually find a place for it in the classroom as a tool or resource. If it is broken or unwanted we either use it as part of assemblage sculpture or if all else fails it becomes still life material. Fabric, papers, wooden spoons all serve a purpose in the artroom. The tech department donates CDs and we use them for printmaking and scupture pieces. A gentleman in our area replaces windows for people and brings me the ones he takes out of houses. We paint these windows with glass paint featuring a variety of subject matter. These are always some of the most popular pieces at the end of the year art show.