I did a post on altered books on the MAKE blog a few months ago (post here) and I’ve still been searching for some interesting how-tos on this emerging subject. Thankfully, I came across Shelly Havens-Mills altered book project that she did for the Etsy CRAFT contest. Shelly shares with me some great tips on how to get started as well as a bunch of interesting resources. Take it away, Shelly!

Shelly Haven-Mills

Etsy Store – seeshellscreations

Flickr – seeshells_creations

Email – [email protected]

First of all thanks Natalie for noticing my altered board book that I created for the Etsy-Craft contest. It was actually my first altered book and in doing it I had the best creative time since probably kindergarten!

I have been crafting as long as I can remember and like to rotate my crafting because I can’t imagine just sticking to one thing forever. I do some knitting, sewing, embroidery, cross-stitch, crochet, and a little tatting. My latest craft addictions are altered art, Artist Trading Cards and beaded jewelry. My jewelry specialty has been memory wire bracelets.

The actual process that I used for this altered board book project was to begin by disassembling a dollar store board book (approximately 5 x 6). I cut each page at the binding to free it. Next I sanded both sides of each page to get rid of the gloss. Then I wiped the dust off with a damp cloth. I glued scrapbooking paper to cover both sides of each page as back grounds using glue sticks (ROSS glue in particular – it adheres well and I just like it). Then I cut each letter from cardstock to compliment the patterned backgrounds, although the “T” is cut from a scrap of plain glossy paper that I had decorated with alcohol ink during a journal making class.

The best part for me is the embellishing. I love all things shiny! From the beads on the front cover, to the sequined flowers on the “R” page, not to mention the sparkly fibres I used to crochet on the “T” page. The heavier items like the crochet hook are attached using medium sized glue dots. I love adding all those special touches. The extra-special touch on this particular project is the miniature artwork (2.5 x 3.5) on the “F” page. It was part of a watercolour painting that I did in 1996, which was originally an 8×10. So I guess that bit of artwork in itself has become “altered” as well.

I wanted to incorporate as many of my crafts as possible so each letter represents a different craft that I do. For example, for the “C” page I incorporated beading, the “R” page was paper crafting, and so on. Once I had the pages all decorated I joined them together with bits of shiny ribbon so the book folds in an accordion style.

My Favourite Books: “Altered Book Collage” by Barbara Matthiessen and “Altered Books Workshop” by Bev Brazelton.

My Favourite Websites: I love and belong to several creative groups on their photo sharing site. (her “Sea Dreams” altered book is especially inspiring)

My Favourite Magazines: “Cloth, Paper, Scissors”, “Somerset Studio”, and “Scrapbooking and Beyond”.

If anyone has any questions about my altered board book or other crafts that I do please email me at [email protected] and you can always check out my latest creations in my Etsy Shop


Thank you Shelly for the great write up on how to get started with altered books!