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An Altered Books Presentation by Shelley M. House
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An Altered Books Presentation by Shelley M. House


This presentation offers a brief introduction to altered books, and then a discussion of two altered books by artist Shelley M. House, with examples of her mixed media artwork that has been influenced …

This presentation offers a brief introduction to altered books, and then a discussion of two altered books by artist Shelley M. House, with examples of her mixed media artwork that has been influenced by altered books.

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  • Take a closer look at “visual literacy.”
  • (random bits generated by radioactive decay)


  • 1. A New Look at Images and Text A presentation by Shelley M. House
  • 2. This presentation offers a brief introduction to altered books, and then a discussion of two altered books by artist Shelley M. House, with examples of her mixed media artwork that has been influenced by altered books. Background Shelley M. House is an artist and an architect. She received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Architecture from the University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign. Born in Chicago, she came to Atlanta after practicing several years as an architect in Illinois. Shelley’s artwork is mixed media; blending hand drawings, painting, digital art and poetry. Her online gallery is at, and her most recent work is posted in her blog at All artwork presented here © 2009 by Shelley M. House.
  • 3.  An altered book is a form of mixed media artwork that changes a book from its original form into a different form, altering its meaning. It’s a book that's been recycled, rescued and then has been changed or altered by means of gluing, painting, collaging, rubber stamping, cutting, tearing, or embellishing.  Altered art gives a new artistic life to old and/or used mundane, utilitarian items through the application of techniques and combinations, some recognized as standard artistic methods, some not.  Collage is a work of visual arts made from an assemblage of different forms, thus creating a new whole.  Mixed Media, in visual art, refers to an artwork in the making of which more than one medium has been employed, and may include any or all of the above techniques and genres. Most altered art is considered mixed media, but not all mixed media is altered art, as it may not include reused or recycled objects.  Sources: Wikipedia and  Examples of altered books:
  • 4. TEXTBOOK, AMAZING BIRDS TEEN LITERATURE, DELTORA QUEST  Colored pencil and translucent paint  Sharpie blocks out text efficiently allow all text to show through. for a bold graphic statement.
  • 5.  Pure “found poems” – definition.  Alliteration ties together words to create phrases.  Consistent color scheme throughout book.  Alternate meaning: A textbook on birds becomes “A Primer on Dating.”
  • 6.  Found poems become prose poems, intended as text for my own altered book.  New art created for each chapter.  In collaboration with British musician Kev Moore, my altered book project becomes a music video for a rock opera project.
  • 7.  A digital collage is created from an altered book page.  “Bird Tongue” theme emerges as four pieces are created for a friend’s online poetry anthology.  Found poems become less cluttered.
  • 8.  Anyone Will Do  Customs and Coax
  • 9.  Self-Portrait  Swing Low
  • 10.  Lessons  Dreamtime
  • 11.  He Loves Me, study 1  He Loves Me, study 2
  • 12.  Friendly Reminder series
  • 13.  Leopard in a Pink Cage  Flower Series: Obsession, Temptation, Lust
  • 14.  My Japanese Dream Into my cave I lure you, Feed you dried herbs to cure you Of your fever. We save our days, Very few. I weave yew. You drew waves Every day On the cave walls, Longing for your ocean fever, weave, weaver, home. wave, every, save, saw, With the caw of the crow was, few, drew, lure, You left me; yew, cure, caw, wasa, Left me longing, and cave, very, dry, crew, we Alone.
  • 15. What is a Found Poem? A found poem is created by taking words found elsewhere and rearranging them into a new poem. It is the literary equivalent of a collage. A “pure” found poem consists exclusively of outside texts: the words of the poem remain as they were found, with few additions or omissions. Decisions of form, such as where to break a line, are left to the poet. Example Exercise 1. Choose a page from your book to alter. 2. Carefully re-read the prose text you have chosen, and look for 10 words that stand out in the prose passage. Circle details, words and phrases that you find particularly powerful, moving, or interesting. What is the subject of your poem? Note what theme emerges. 3. Review your words and cut out any that don’t fit with your subject. Feel free to add others that you notice as you go through the prose piece again. 4. Choose an image that enhances your subject. 5. Using examples from this presentation as a guide, determine how you want to integrate the image with your poem. You may cut and paste, or redraw the image by hand. Sharpies are a useful tool for helping your poem stand out from surrounding text. Purpose Your altered book can become not only creative writing and art for its own sake, but also an inspirational catalyst for your other writing projects. For instance: a bird textbook may start out as a manual on dating, but then birds can become a powerful metaphor for a larger message.
  • 16. The History of Altered Books, Examples, and How to Make One International Society of Altered Book Artists -- a non-profit Organization dedicated to promoting altered books as an art form and to provide a Forum for the exchange of skills, experiences, and ideas through education, exhibits, and events. Beautiful examples of altered books. Altered books and altered art by Seth Apter. An altered book lesson plan with lots of ideas and a great list of resources. Explains the poetic form “Found Poem.” and Mixed media art by Shelley M. House.