Altered Books Process: The Invitation

I had a very long document about the stages of making altered books with clients, so I decided to make it into shorter parts and post each part separately on this blog.

This is about the stages of the evolution of the making of the altered books, and the activities and art therapy “directives” I recommend using. The first part is of course the beginning, which is the introduction to the project. I’m changing the document by including some examples from my experience. The beginning part is perhaps the most important part of the process, as many clients stop/abandon their chosen book at some time during this process.

The first part I call “The Invitation”. I’ve found it works best when the invitation comes from one of my altered books out in my studio; the client sees an altered book and asks about it, so I bring one or two out to show them what it involves and then invite them to do one if they seem interesteed. Often I get excited when they are interested and have to be careful to watch my enthusiasm level. at times I’ve brought the project up as an option, when a client is looking for a new project and seems to want something unusual and unfamiliar.

In some cases people will want to bring in one of their own books that they have a personal connection to. Pertinant Issues to Process include the client’s relationships with books, reading books, and with writing, and what it is like to contemplate using a book to make art with. Usually, given that most people are unfamiliar with altered books and are uncomfortable with treating a book this way, they will find it easier to choose a book you have in your office.

If the client chooses to try the project, I bring out a bunch of different kinds of books to choose from and explain how it can be easier to pick one of these than to bring one from home. It is best to have a variety of choices of books that you supply, so the person does not feel like they have to “ruin” a book of their own and feel that the therapist will hold the “bad” part by giving permission to “destroy” a published book. Most of the time, the client chooses one of my books and we dive into the process.

At this point I have to decide whether I am going to do an altered book with the client, in “parallel process”,  or sit with the client and witness their process without doing one myself. It’s not much different from other times when I decide to do artwork in the session. Sometimes I will ask the client directly, “Will it help you if I do one while you’re doing yours?” In some cases I do start one and then can be aware of times in a session when I stop working on mine and just have it in front of me, as the choice is still there to not actively do mine alongside the client. It’s an important moment to be aware of when a client who naturally talks and makes any kibooksnd of art in the session chooses to stop what they’re doing and start verbal processing, and when they turn back to the art work. My clients tend to talk during the art making process, and thus, we have two dialogues going on, the verbal and the non-verbal. With altered books this is the same.

On several occasions I have had a client follow through on bringing in their own book to use, which has been memorable, as most do not. One graduate student of a psychology related program brought in a copy of the DSM 5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), and had the obvious goal of getting out their frustration with all different aspects of the program and being a grad student. I was able to find on hand a copy of a Melanie Klein for Dummies book and decided to alter it while my client altered the DSM 5.

At this point, we have the book or books and are ready for the next stage.

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Altered Book Project Update

I was going to try to keep up on a daily basis with this new Altered Book, but everything got away with me. The Altered Book has a life of its own. These are photos from Sept. 7 until yesterday; I have photos from today for another post. As the book is on a page full of wet stuff, I can’t take photos of other pages I’ve changed, so I will comment on these photos below spanning about 22 days!

These photos represent the phase after beginning described in the last post. You’re getting deeper into the book and discovering more, but still adding first layers you will probably return to; thus, there is no pressure about having a finished page…

I also think of this as the chaotic jumping off creative period I would associate to the Fool Card in the Tarot; anything goes, and weird unplanned stuff happens; I felt like I was starting all over, as if this book was my first altered book project…

This is a page I had fun using more paint and glitter glue after the two below. The theme is introduced for this phase of  covering pages in the book and putting something on them to start the process of making the book mine.

I use binder clips often to hold together pages. The page on the right is the table of contents. I thought I was going to leave some of the text but most of it is already covered up. I used white out and pen and then a lot of clear glue on top with the black glitter glue. On the left you can see some white marks from trying to cover text with oil pastel.

The next pages are the forward that I covered with white oil pastel and crayon.

Here, above, and in the photo below, you can see how I’m trying to cover several sets of pages with white and black acrylic and use binder clips to keep them from curling up and getting stuck to each other. The most annoying part of the process is having to wait for wet media to dry so I can work on top of it!

Below is some commentary and an attempt to write about my own secret regarding wanting to write and finish my own book, called “The Art Box”. It seemed fitting to write about it in this book, but it may end up getting covered up with something… I considered not posting this page right away, as I felt some kind of weird embarrassment about it.

Using Personal Things from your life, or pieces of them: I recently sold a drawing to a friend in Berlin through her seeing my latest work on Facebook; I got her check from Germany and liked the paper she wrote on, so I put it in the book. This is the point when I started collecting personal items or finding notes and things that I kept around wondering what to do with them, and finally had a proper place for…

I have told clients countless times to bring in personal photos to add to their altered books and to other art work. I have done this before, but not much, and not this way. I found a photo I took recently of street art and printed it out. The colors are vibrant and it might even look like it was painted onto the page. It also ended up being part of a new exploration of faces that came up out of the blue recently… Synchronicity.

The above photo is upside down. I cut up pieces from a restaurant experience. The server gave us paper and crayons. The drawings are my 11 year old’s doodles.

 

This is an example of a page that was ripped off so you can see the next page underneath. More drawings from the restaurant and the drawing under the second page where you can still see the chapter title (How to Use the Secret) are glued and taped on. That drawing is one of mine I found that I never finished… Same with the photo of the page below.

The first “Altered Book” art project I remember seeing was at the Outsider Art Fair around 20 years ago, when it was in the magnificent Puck Building on Houston Street. Back then, the artist was present and you could actually talk to them about their art and being an outsider artist. I remember asking the artist about her books, which had a lot of glue in them and all over them. I don’t remember much else about them.  I guess I first saw an altered book not at a museum but as an art work that got made organically, that had a life of its own the way altered book projects can have.

The Altered Book is not just a piece of art. It’s a living, breathing creature. You start out with a basic body, the book as it was published, that looks just like all the other ones of the same title and author, and the artist puts it through a “Kali” like birthing process that involves a lot of destruction in the service of creating this new living being. Kali is a Hindu Goddess, from the Sanskrit word “Kali”, translated as “time”. She is described as a destroyer of “unreality”, a liberator. I’m no expert on Hindu gods, but I do associate Kali with the process of altering books and how one has to destroy and use up in order to create anything. A pencil that never gets sharpened is not involved in any kind of creation. The book even has a skin, whether it’s the book jacket that covers a hard cover book, or just the outside of the covers and the actual covers, with the pages within as the innards. The process of altering books brings up all kinds of weird processes like alchemy, dissection, and autopsy, but that may just be the beginning stage, cutting open the body. With an altered book, you kidnd of do the opposite of an autopsy; you cut open and expose internal organs for the purpose of repurposing them and making something new, more like the way an organ gets donated and incorporated into the new person’s body. Now that kidney no longer belongs to the donor and the donor is erased, though an integral part of the process, just as the creator of the original book must be killed off for a new peice of art to emerge.

I love paper, making works on paper, drawing, and then even becoming very physically involved in the process with the materials. even just using pens and pencils on paper, I like to see the grooves a pen or pencil can make, how it changes the paper.

Unlike the experience of looking at a published book or even writing/making one, making an altered book happens in a chaotic disordered way. You don’t have to start with the cover and go in time order page by page. You can start anywhere and the pages in the middle of the book might get cut up and put in the front of the book or anywhere else. Each time you come back to work on the book, you are in a different state of mind, and, unlike with writing a book, you don’t have to get back into whatever you’re doing. It doesn’t have to make sense. It changes each time you interact with it. At the same time, it evokes soemthing different from making a painting with many layers. Books are loaded with meaning and the concept of time passing. You may go anywhere in the book to work, but you still end up with a product that looks like a book, unless you are altering the book to the point of making sculpture out of it, but to me, that gets out of the realm of the Altered Book. The Altered Book I think of and make and witness the makign of, is still a book at the end, finished or not. There are traces of what it was, like the original book is the parent and the art piece is the child. There may be resemblances and reminders of the parent, but the altered book has become a totally new being, one that has never existed before.

The idea of the altered book as being a reallly physical process is what I am interested in.  And the process. The process can feel like a fight; very violent and visceral; you get in there at the beginning and attack the book, to subjugate it and get it to really become yours to do what you want with. There has to be that initial struggle, very physical, involving cutting, ripping, tearing, sanding, poking, doing very active things to the very body of the book. Most of the time the spine is very affected by the making of an altered book. You have a choice of letting the book spill open, or cutting open the spine and adding more cardboard to extend it so it can be closed. To do that, you have to cut the book into at least two pieces and add to it. A lot of altered book making in terms of the body of the book and undoing it feels like surgery.

I am reminded of reading about Leonardo Da Vinci and his dream of doing a book of all of human anatomy. He made friends with doctors/medical professors and “borrowed” corpses from them . He would go at night and dissect this human body and scribble in his notebook as fast as he could, drawing what he saw and sometimes more what he felt because there was no formaldehyde to preserve the body, so it was a race against time and probably really smelly too. It was really messy, and not like messing around with paints. I was fascinated with his process, and his hyperfocus and obsession. He didn’t finish his book of anatomy, but you can see his drawings and writings about the internal organs.

I can’t imagine what it would be like sneaking into a place to cut open a dead body and draw the organs late at ngiht or at any time of day, but making an altered book has that kind of feel to it. Once you get into it, this “thing” you are interacting with can take over and there can be a really exciting obsessive quality to it.

 

 

 

 

New Post: Feature, Altered Books

Today is my first day back from vacation. I kept up a lot of daily habits while on break, but did not keep up my writing daily at least 15 minutes habit, so I’m starting up again.

The last assignment in the WordPress Blogging Fundamentals class was about having a Feature topic.

 

  • First, think of the type of regular feature you can commit to — something you’ll publish weekly, biweekly, or monthly.
  • Next, start your new post by clicking the button below. This can be the first installment, or an announcement of what’s coming.
  • Finally, give your post a few tags, including bloggingfundamentals, and publish it.

 

My Feature for this assigment is going to be Altered Books, no surprise, which I hope to post at least weekly about in order to have it be helfpful for preparing for my looming upcoming workshop on Altered Books and Gender Identity.

Last time my Feature was Gender Identity, which should continue to be a Feature and at some point  the two, Altered Books and Gender Identity, will of course come together in some way.

Anyway, I haven’t really approached altered books in terms of writing about what makes me interested in them and topics connected to that. Things have to have a starting point.

Some ideas for separate topics for this Altered Books Feature include:

How did I get interested in Altered Books as an art form.

What was my first altered book that I made.

What led to my using altered books in sessions with clients and supervisees and even for peer supervision.

Some nuts and bolts about altered books, how to make them, the important stages of making them, the materials used.

How altered books involve a great way to use almost anything as an material from paper clips to coffee filters to coins as some odd examples.

What it means to finish an altered book vs. abandon one in some stage of the process, especially with clients in art therapy.

More specifics about the workshop and using altered books to explore gender identity.

I had started writing about the first topic, but I think introducing the Feature is best for this post and I will focus on beginnings in my next Feature post.

 

Learning the Fundamentals, Day 3: Visit the Neighbors

I’m going back to Day 3 to fully complete the assignment for the WordPress Blogging Class, Learning the Fundamentals. As I edit this post, I can sthat this Fundamentals Day 3 did not disappoint in terms of learning and discovery and going deeper into blogging through going back to Fundamentals. And discovering other random surprises.

Assignment: “Visit the Neighbors”, and find five blogs to follow. I follow 540 blogs and can sort them in different ways. Given that I’m trying to redo this blog, I was hoping to start over with following blogs, but I can’t really do that. I can go through the blogs I follow and reacquaint myself with them, but 540 blogs is too much to try to go through and check out.

I’m following the tips in the assignment and trying out specific tags in the Reader as a way to get to see unfamiliar blogs. I am starting with the tag, “Altered Books”, since that is my focus for now in order to get ready for my workshop and not suck the fun out of it stressing out about it in October.

The first one I visit is https://catseatdogs.com, by Clare. It’s a great title. The tagline is: Fabulous. Friendly. Homemade. Then I found all their social media and follow/liked it; this is a way to be more aware of when they post on her blog, and a way to get to know them more and what it’s about, which seems to be making art and journaling. There is also reference to the “Get Messy” community, intriguing and could lead me down a whole other distracting path. This blogger is using altered books in a specific way, as “found books” to transform into art journals; the post I looked at involved choosing what book/format to alter.

Second blog I’ve chosen: https://ravendustblog.wordpress.com The blog has 10 followers but has posts since 2014, and the fact that the About Page has nothing on it and the widgets and social media links are not filled, tells me this person, Dusty Corvid, is very specifically using the blog as a kind of “Log”, for classes in Foundation Textiles, “OCA”, Open College of the Arts, which sounds like a cool place for learning all kinds of arts.So it’s not a blog intended to have a large audience…the posts on altered books involve the blogger making an altered book as a work of art and not a journal, which is refreshing. Also the technique of putting a white wash over pages of writing is an interesting way to “undo” the original book in preparation for painting.The blogger had reservations about drawing in a book, another really great topic to discuss when talking about altered books. In addition, it turns out this blogger is a fan of Cy Twombly whose work I love. I had no idea Twombly was a cryptographer. Then I stumbled on a post where the blogger went to an exhibit of drawings of Alice in Wonderland, my favorite book ever, so I am excited to explore more posts.

Third blog is: https://orangemarmeladepress.wordpress.com This artist makes all kinds of books which you can see on their blog/website, but the post I really got excited about was the one where the blogger was helping clean up after an altered books class at a local library (I had no idea libraries offer altered book classes!), and finds a book in the trash that got started and was abandoned.

That is a whole other post I will have to use this link for. Lately I have been thinking about the altered book as a project that is just as interesting when it gets neglected, destroyed, abandoned or put in what I call The Art Box, a kind of limbo for art therapy projects.

I next made a new tag in my reader, “Art Materials”, and visited a blog post about getting rid of old art materials and deciding to keep some. This is the blog, entitled “Exploring the Magic that is the Right Brain: Writings, reflections, and a log on art practiceand specific post: https://encodey.wordpress.com/2018/07/12/judgment-befalls-the-art-supplies/ What do you do with art materials you “never” use or have developed resistance to? I love reading what other artists say about their materials and how they use them, and am writing more about it anyway.

Number 5, in the tag, “Gender Identity”, I struck gold again, and found a blog called janitorqueer about a person who is a janitor and genderqueer. I have always been interested in the job of a janitor as I am interested in a lot of unusual jobs people don’t think about or talk about to kids as something to do when they grow up.

 

And that makes five. This assignment was a treasure trove rabbit hall to go down. I think limiting it to five blogs is important, so you can really get to know five blogs and bloggers more than surface level…

 

Daily Prompt Post: I picked Nov. 20, 2014, Sparkling or Still? Glue, still and sparkly!

What’s your idea of a perfect day off: one during which you can quietly relax, doing nothing, or one with one fun activity lined up after the other? Tell us how you’d spend your time.

With water, I don’t drink “bubble water”, never liked it. Best straight from the tap, still.

Perfect day off: Depends on whether I am alone or whether my family also has the day off.

If I am alone, it is neither fully sparkling or still. Probably on the “still” end of things, as, if I had a day to myself, I would spend it by myself. Maybe spend a lot of time in my art studio on Franklin Street, working on various art projects. Today when I had time to myself and wasn’t doing paperwork, I was in my studio going a bit nuts with my new favorite art material, the glue gun with colored glue sticks. You don’t use it to glue anything, but for decoration. I had a lot of gold and silver glue sticks, and every color glitter glue sticks. I used so many of them today that I ended up with just green glitter sticks and one black stick. I used up all the gold and silver, the purple, silver, gold, red and blue glitter glues sticks, and I had a lot of them. I used them on everything from altered books to a pair of blue crocs I keep in the studio. So I can have a big party with just three glue guns and a bunch of colored glue sticks. I also took apart a box I had decorated and put parts of it in four altered books.

So my idea of fun is to “think about paint and… think about glue
What a jolly boring thing to do” (from Andy Warhol, David Bowie song)

Rest of my day alone would involve doing yoga again by myself in my studio, using my Simply Yoga app, for about an hour.

Then I guess I might meet one of my close friends somewhere nice for dinner and a glass of wine, just one person, as I prefer one on one.

If my family had the day off, then the day would probably sparkle with adventure and maybe a little glitter of some kind, glue or otherwise…

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The Birthday Self-Portrait: My Birthday Post, 2/1/2014

A long time ago, I was looking through a book of some artist’s work that I admired, it might have been Adolf Gottlieb, but I’m not sure, I’ve tried to figure out for sure which artist this was, but I never succeeded. Anyway, I read that he whoever he was, had an annual habit of making a birthday self-portrait every year for his birthday. I thought this was a really great and fun idea. I started doing it, but now I can’t remember how many years ago it was. I’m pretty sure I did a “Shoe Portrait” self-portrait the year I was making my series of Shoe Portraits. I can’t remember what shoes I picked to paint but I remember making a weird doll and sticking it in the painting. I think I cut the canvas and somehow put the doll in. Must have been about ten years ago in 2004 maybe. Anyway, every year after that I’ve done a birthday self-portrait, usually inspired by whatever kind of art I happened to be making at the time. I know last year I did a doll with a small tiny “clock” in her, from a watch ring I had. I made the doll from scratch. I will find a photo to post of it. The year before, 2012, I’m not sure what I did. I have two of them in my house from recent years, but I’m kind of annoyed at myself that I didn’t pay attention to what I did and document it better, since it was a fun kind of annual ritual and a fun creative gift for myself on my birthday. Usually I start them about a week before. This year for the first time, I made something I didn’t like and then changed the project completely. I started with a collage with a lot of cut out and ripped images, beads, an old drawing and other stuff and put it up on my studio wall. The next day or two after, I decided I didn’t want to finish it and that I didn’t think it was a real self-portrait, so I decided it would make sense to make an altered book, as I have been making them all year and very obsessed with them, as anyone who reads this blog regularly knows. I ended up cutting up that first collage and putting some of it in the book.

So I chose a book I had already worked on, a little children’s book with each page split in to two halves, originally the book was for matching the top image with the bottom, so it was fun to play with the format. I had already done a lot in the book and decided it had enough in it to build on and that it already had the feeling of a self-portrait, so I started altering it more, ripping out stuff and adding in stuff over the last week. I put s a few photos of myself in it and ended up using one on the cover as today I decided the cover didn’t seem right, so I ripped off an image of a person with a mask and put a photo of myself on it with the other images. I continued working on it today, which sometimes happens, that I end up finishing the self-portrait on my birthday, but I usually get it done by the day before. Of course as this is an altered book, I still don’t feel satisfied that it is finished, but it definitely feels right as my self-portrait for 2014 and reflects some of the past year’s experiences, both losses and rebirths.
I will post a few photos of the project…

As a blog post on my art therapy blog, this is a more personal post than usual, but I will end the verbal part by saying I recommend it as an art therapy project for doing with an adolescent or adult patient for their birthday. You can invite them to bring in a recent or old photo or several and then ask them what kind of medium they want to use. Anything can constitute a birthday self-portrait. A box with the photos incorporated into it, an altered book of course, a drawing or painting or collage on paper or canvas. Other interpretations of the self-portrait for those who only think of a painting of their own face and might feel discouraged and not interested in that, there are so many ways to make a self-portrait and it doesn’t have to have a picture or drawing of your face in it at all. Make a doll or a birthday pillow. A clay bowl to put flower petals in. A box that you can add small notes about what you want for yourself for the coming year into. Knit a birthday scarf. Buy a journal/sketchbook and decorate the cover and start your journal on your birthday. Have your patient make him or herself a birthday card. I have done this often and made a card for my patient while s/he made a card for him/herself. Making a card for yourself whether for your own birthday or for any other day is always a good art therapy activity. I usually give my patient a list of affirmations to choose to copy on the inside of the card or that could inspire you to make your own affirmations and write them inside your card to yourself. Collages with tiny mirrors are a fun twist on the self-portrait. I have one in my altered book. I encourage my patients to get themselves a special birthday present, whether an object or something like a massage, so doing a self-portrait can be an added way to feel special about marking for yourself your own arrival on this planet. It is helpful especially for depressed patients and people who claim to not like their birthday. I don’t always feel super excited for my birthday lately, so I understand when people want to forget about it or make it a day they don’t do anything special, but in art therapy this can be an opportunity to take better care of yourself and reclaim your birthday as a special day, which it is after all. Doing something special for yourself to mark the day you arrived here and that you are still here, no matter how you are feeling, can be very healing and self affirming. It’s kind of like the concept of “The Artist’s Date” from the book, “The Artist’s Way”. As a young 4 year old child once told me, “You have to love yourself of course.” and “You are your own best friend.”

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Photos: from top
First Photo: page from book showing the split page format
Second Photo: page from book top matching bottom
Third Photo:Inside front cover. QUote says: “How many are silenced because in order to get to their art they would have to scream.” -Ann Clarke
Fourth Photo: Current cover of book with photo and plastic doll in model magic
Fifth Photo: older version of front cover
Sixth Photo: Inside page of back cover
Seventh Photo: Image of doll, last year’s self-portrait

Basic Guide to the 3 Stages of the Altered Book Process in Art Therapy

I divide the process it into, The Beginning, Getting Into it! (like the middle), and The End. There are 3 subphases to the First Phase:

Stages, Activities, Directives and Methods of Altering Books:

 First Stage of The Beginning: The “Invitation”!

  1. Inviting your patient to do the altered book, introducing the process and choices of media as well as books to alter…
  2. It is best to have a variety of choices of books that you supply so the person does not feel like they have to “ruin” a book of their own and feel that the therapist will hold the “bad” part by giving permission to destroy a public already created object…
  3. Having, displaying one or more of your own altered book projects, finished or not, is a good way to show/explain the project, and make it fun, acceptable and inspiring!
  4. The Big Choice: Witness the patient choose what kind of book to alter or actively help with suggestions if appropriate. See list of materials for further classifications and descriptions.

 

Second Stage of the Beginning: Destruction/Preparation of Book as “Ground” “Surface” for Altering: The Separation Process of Removing Former “Author”/Identity of the Book to Prepare for Creation of Your Original Artwork:

Destroy, Take apart, Eliminate, Discard, Remove, Rip, Tear, Cut, Alter surfaces, Change, Separate, Dissolve, Kill, Remove, Expell, Extract, Remove

1.Take out pages, rip off half of pages, glue together pages, rip surface off board book pages, gouge out board book pages, make holes and tears on paper pages. Cut pages, cut edges of pages, staple or attach other pages or paper materials to be inside the book or extend beyond the page, Cut deep into the book through layers of pages, poke holes, use Sandpaper to rough up surface for holding paint or to alter photos and images in the book, keep book jacket as is, cut out parts, or discard. A whole session spent altering the surface and ripping and throwing out pages can be a good way to jump right in, have fun, and avoid getting overwhelmed with ideas about content.

 

Third Stage of the Beginning: Start Creating, Doing, Making, Using Materials:

Look, Find, Discover, Create Space, Begin Anywhere, Open, Enter, Conceive, Start Rebirthing Process (Book as House, Body to Redecorate, Design, Embellish)

            1. Choose some art materials, supplies, mixed media. See list provided.

2. Choose to jump in and explore and let the process lead you somewhere without an intention or with an intention, theme. What will this be? A Book, An Object made with the book? Note: Calling it a Self-Portrait can give permission to let the book unfold session by session. What makes this project so open, playful, fun and non threatening is often the idea of surrendering, seeing what happens, knowing you can redo pages and even rip them out, so it tends to go well with a “go with the flow” attitude which is mirrored in the improvisational aspect of the therapy session, thus, unless my patient states an intention or purpose for the book, I encourage him/her to wander, let go, play…

* Closed Flat Book versus Open “Accordion Book”: To keep the book flat if using thick or 3D media, remove pages all over the book so it can close. Otherwise, dive in and expect the book to start expanding like an accordion. (See Case Examples Presented.)

  1. Locus: Decide whether to start with cover or back cover, keep book jacket to use, or start at beginning, or dive into the book and work on pages at different sections.

4. Start altering/creating, with therapist as witness, companion, container, mirror, security guard…

 

Second Stage after 3 Beginning Stages: Getting Into It! Down the Rabbit Hole…

Play, Connect, Attach, Add, Embellish, Dig Up, Hide, Conceal, Reveal, Layer, Build

Directives/suggestions for this stage, which is the longest part of the process:

Note: There are so many things to do with altered books, these are just a few ideas to get you started… If a patient is “stuck” with how to begin in a later session with their ongoing project, I usually suggest some new materials. Otherwise, you can ask if s/he wants a directive or choice of ideas to experiment with…

  1. In individual art therapy, with the altered book project, each session begins with an invitation and choice to bring out the book and work on it or not. Some patients work on it every session, and some put it aside and get reignited at a later time. Putting the book “on the shelf” can be therapeutic in terms of the idea of letting something be unfinished, unknown, waiting for a new moment, accepting that you don’t feel like working on it. Or take out some other art work from previous sessions and consider recycling it, cutting it up, incorporating it into the book somehow.
  2. Tape up or paint on page or page spread and just reveal a few words that you choose.
  3. Paint/mark up one side and stick it to the other and then separate for mirror image effect/print.
  4. Openings and pockets: make different kinds of windows, doors openings: holes of different sizes and shapes, windows that open and close, fold page in some way to create a pocket.
  5. Experiment with unfamiliar materials from the list provided or take a familiar material and do something new (stick feathers or other objects into model magic and glue to the page…)
  6.  Pick a paper doll cutout and glue it on a page to create a full body self-portrait.
  7. Glue an envelope to a page and hide or store things in it. Pick words from magazines, other pages of the book or a word box.
  8. Yarn and fabric, sewing supplies, experiment with sewing paper and fabrics on the paper of the book or create a new page to put into the book somehow.
  9. Go through the book and start creating layers by working on several pages at a time. If you wet the page you can put objects between pages to keep them from sticking together or use binder clips. Big binder clips can allow you to use wet media in different areas of the book in one session.
  10. Consider the layout, you open the book and there are two sides. Are the two sides delineated and separate or do you take both sides and turn them into one continuous surface? Can each side represent opposing aspects of the Self?
  11. Consciously consider the book to represent different aspects of who you are, your identity, parts of yourself that you hide or reveal, parts you want to transform.
  12. Write a letter to yourself or to your future self or someone else and put it in the book.
  13. If you want to consider a topic or theme, think about what part of your story to tell: Is this book about childhood, you now, the therapy process and what you are doing in therapy, or dedicated to someone else, living or dead. Is it about a loss of some kind? Or your future child/baby? Does the theme reflect an interest or passion of yours or something new to discover?
  14. You can surrender to the book and let it lead you where to go and enjoy the process without having any idea what it is about or how it will turn out. Or, ask the therapist to lead the way with his/her book and copy the what s/he is doing.
  15. Take a page or page spread and deliberately make it ugly, use colors you don’t like, put words you don’t like on it, make an image that you find unpleasant. Put it aside and look at it during another session to see if your attitude towards it has changed and what you learn from this Ugly Self. Keep it or rip it out and cut it up and put it throughout the book.
  16. Try weaving with paper, ribbon, yarn, rubber bands…
  17. Use double sided decorative paper or fabrics or foldouts to add new pages into the book.
  18. Glue two books together and start from there.
  19. Find words in the book to create a title…
  20. Create fold out pages and add things in the hidden page.
  21. Deliberately use materials that extend beyond the page, horizontally or vertically, like suspending cut fabric or thread or wire with bead on it, a painted tea bag, or a glued on book mark.
  22. Use an unconventional type material: glue a teabag somewhere, make a chain of safety pins, play with aluminum foil, napkins, paper clips, coffee beans, sand, etc.
  23. Add in personal objects, old photos, tickets, menus, receipts…
  24. If your patient wants to, you could create two books at once, either by both working on similar or different books at the same time or even passing books back and forth.
  25. Use a page spread or page in the book to process a dream.
  26. Make a small doll, figure or animal to attach somewhere to the book, either to be able to move it to different parts of the book or to stay in one place with the book as environment.

 

Third and Last Stage: Finishing the Book!

The End, Time for Reflection on the whole process… Book as Therapeutic Object

  1. How do you know it’s finished? Does the book supply the stopping point? Do you intentionally “end” it? Do you choose to finish it by stopping but considering it unfinished and that it will remain unfinished? (Accepting the unresolved parts of the Self, seeing the Book as a Book of life that you put aside or decide to end with extra pages left in unaltered.)
  2. What feelings come up around finishing your book and your therapist witnessing the ending of this big Project?
  3. Does the book mirror something in the therapy process? Are you feeling like you have reached a turning point in therapy and ending the book satisfies that feeling? Does the book signal that you want a break in therapy or to end therapy?
  4. What else comes up around ending/finishing/completing or leaving incomplete?
  5. What do you want to do with your Altered Book? Does it now have a Title? How does it feel to hold it in your hand and look through it? How does it feel to watch your therapist hold and look through it? Are there moments you remember that were important for you on certain pages? Do you have a narrative that tells a story and how did the story arise? What does it feel like to have a chaotic book with no title that was made in no particular order with many different media versus making a book where you started at the beginning and knew you were finished when you reached the last page?
  6. If you and your therapist made “mirror” books together, what do you want to do with the finished books? How do they reflect your therapeutic relationship?
  7. For those who started the book at the beginning of therapy with their art therapist or a few sessions after beginning and worked on the book continuously in every session, what does it reflect to you about the therapeutic relationship, the therapeutic process, trust, intimacy, vulnerability? What does it feel like to have a concrete physical record contained in a book as reflected or symbolic of the therapy?
  8. Does ending this book inspire you to start another one or take a breather? Are you working on more than one book? If so what is it like to end one while continuing with one or more others?
  9. Post-partem feelings: process any emptiness, sadness, feelings of loss about finishing, ending the book…