Altered Book Notebooks

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Do you like notebooks? I can’t pass a stationery shop without sliding inside for a quick peek. And a buy. This gets a bit expensive though, so I have started making my own.

I am a great fan of making ‘altered books’ – taking elderly, unwanted books that might otherwise end up pulped or in landfill and re-purposing them. Altered books can be made using a variety of techniques including painting, scrap booking techniques, using stamps and decoupage to decorate pages. Books can also include niches and spaces for 3D objects.

To make an altered book you need to carefully remove some pages (taking out little sections where the pages are sewn in to older books) or your finished book will not close. Then paint some of the spreads; paste tissue or mulberry paper over others. Have fun with colour!

You need:

An old book

PVA Glue

Pasting brush

Mulberry or tissue paper

Paints and brushes (I like watercolour and transparent glitter paints so the text still shows through)

Rubber stamps and ink


2 Large beads

What to do:

  1. Look for an old, battered and unloved book to re-purpose. Look in charity shops and at car boot sales, church and school fairs – wherever old books are found. It’s worth buying them when you see them and then when inspiration strikes, you’ll be ready.


  1. Carefully remove some of the pages (open the book up and find stitched segments to remove). You need to do this so that there is enough room in your closed book after you have added paper and embellishments. You’ll be surprised how quickly the book fills up!


  1. Work through the book, painting some double page spreads and pasting tissue or mulberry paper over others. Use the minimum amount of glue you can get away with so that the glue dries quickly.


  1. Stand the book on end in a warm place, with all of the wet pages not touching as they dry.


  1. When the pages are dry, rubber stamp on some of them for added effects.


  1. Add paint effects such as spatters, sponging and rag rolling (a little piece of cotton fabric dipped in paint and squeezed. Roll it across the page for interesting effects).


  1. Tear some of the pages you removed from the book and paste interesting phrases or pieces of page back into the book.


Make a special ‘niche’

These are great for hiding little notes or secret things!

You need:

Double sided tape



Your altered book

Fine ribbon

  1. Fold the two corners of your chosen page into the centre so they meet – a bit like an envelope or part of a paper plane.
  2. Crease the folds sharply with your thumb.
  3. Add a strip of tape to the point where the corners meet to hold them secure.
  4. Add a strip of double sided tape down the centre of the back of the folded page (where the pages meet).
  5. There you have a special place for notes and other secret things!

8 thoughts on “Altered Book Notebooks

  1. I have done my own Altered Books and have shown some of my paper craft/book students (young children) how to do their own. My granddaughter collaborated on one such book for a local library contest; we won third prize for kids. Beryl Reichenberg

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