Book Artistry (11)

‘Book Artistry’ is the broad heading I have chosen to encompass titles relating to altered books, artists’ books, art journaling, bookbinding, and anything else that might be relevant inbetween.

My reviews are listed below, A-Z by author.  Check side bar for links to book reviews covering different techniques.  Please feel free to add comments – especially if you disagree with me!


This book is an all-encompassing introduction to the art and craft of artists’ books. The bulk of the book looks at books made by artists over recent decades and years, with photos throughout (but very few full page).  The author’s commentary is a bit dry and seems to lack emotional engagement with the books she is describing, but still gives a good, broad overview of all the different styles and methods of production, as well as different motivations etc.

A practical guide to bookbinding can be found towards the end of the book, taking you step-by-step through various techniques and possibilities, in impressively comprehensive detail.  There is also a very in-depth collection of contact information for artists, resources, suppliers and other relevant info.

Although the text is a little over-analytical at the same time as lacking any sense of narrative flow, and it would have been nice to see more close-up views of some of the artwork, this is still a wider-ranging reference than most books about artist’s books, which tend to focus on contemporary mixed-media.  There are LOTS of concepts presented here for creative minds to consider.  I just wish it was a bit more fun to read!

ALTERED BOOKS WORKSHOP: 18 Creative Techniques for Self-Expression by BEV BRAZELTON

This is a brilliant book, and although – obviously – it is about altering books, the techniques would be just as relevant to art journalling, and I would think adaptable to any number of crafts (not just papercrafts). The imagery of altered art has a tendency towards the dark and/or quirky and I think if that is not your taste, it would be easy to dismiss this book out of hand.  However, I really urge any creative crafter towards this book as it is full of (alterable?) ideas, especially if you are looking to try something a bit different.If you like a book with projects that will take you through from beginning to end, this will not be what you are looking for.  The book is titled a ‘Workshop’, and that is exactly what it is.  With techniques ranging from basic through to intermediate and ‘creative’, this is a progressive course specifically aimed at teaching you everything you need to know about the techniques necessary to make your own altered books.  Each technique is demonstrated step-by-step, so it makes a wonderful learning curve for anybody, whether entirely new to the techniques covered, or just looking for more to add to an existing repertoire.

All in all, a wonderful, inspirational book.


Have you ever dreamed of not just writing but actually making your very own book? This practical, spiral-bound handbook will show you how to make that dream a reality, the only beginner’s guide to bookbinding you need. Very clear step-by-step instructions and illustrations lead you through each stage of making a variety of different bindings, from the most basic, to the more complex.

The latter half of the book presents projects to try out.  These aren’t amazingly inspirational, but might be a good starting place for someone to whom the whole bookmaking process is entirely new.

If you like to make artist’s books, or art journaling, or mixed media collage, this handbook is the essential companion to your work, allowing you to create a truly unique piece from scratch rather than working from a bought book blank.  Not really an inspirational book, but a very practical one.  See ‘Books Unbound’ by Michael Jacobs for less traditional ideas, once you have mastered the basics!


Art journaling is something that is very fashionable just now, and I do find it a refreshingly creative direction for crafts to take.  But personally working mostly with embroidery/weaving/fiber arts – as well as having quite simply no interest in purging my soul on the page – I’ve found it difficult to find a starting point to make a journal I feel is relevant to me. This book, while not originally intended in quite the same vein as the current trend for art journaling, nonetheless fits quite nicely into the little niche that was missing there, for me.

Including techniques for making and binding different styles of sketchbook, and ideas for colouring and embellishing pages, this is an inspirational guide to the processes involved with getting your own sketchbook started, from ideas through to completion, with suggestions and starting points for different angles to explore.  Lots of textile artists’ own sketchbooks are used for illustration, and of course prove that the sketchbook, in addition to being a valuable creative tool, can become a work of art in its own right.

Although there are some great books available on art journaling and altered art, this is the one that speaks to me most, and will be invaluable to anyone moving into the journaling genre from a background of textile art, as well as anyone who just wants to keep a better record of their artistic progress.

BOOKS UNBOUND: 20 Innovative Bookmaking Projects by MICHAEL JACOBS

Forget boring, traditional bookbinding: THIS is the book you need if you want to learn how to make truly unique books. This is a brilliant, practical guide, providing full instructions with clear step-by-step photos for a whole host of innovative structures and bindings – inspiration is guaranteed for your next art-book creation!

Innovative though the bindings may be, however, the decoration of them is not.  Try ‘Alphabetica’ by Lynne Perella alongside, for creative embellishment ideas.

THE PENLAND BOOK OF HANDMADE BOOKS: Masterclasses in Bookmaking Techniques by JANE LAFERLA

A wonderful source of inspiration to anyone intrigued by the concept of altered books, handmade books, artist’s books etc.  Set out as a series of masterclasses, comprehensive step-by-step photo instructions are presented by a wide range of book artists, teaching innovative binding techniques through demonstration.  To be honest, clear though the instructions are, most of the techniques are a bit excessive for my own modest requirements, and (interesting though they are) more relevant to the field of bookbinders than art journalers. There are exceptions, and sections on boxes, and paper folding for pages and pop-ups, as well as additional elements can always be adapted.The highlight of the book, though, is the in-depth feature of each artist’s own work and inspiration which precedes each workshop. The wonderful photographs shown alongside the text emphasise the broad spectrum that handmade books can cover, and provide far more food for thought than the practical workshops. I wish there was more exploration of the content rather than just the construction of the handmade books featured, but regardless, this is an awesome book.



This book gives a case study approach to the art journal, which in these cases predominantly appears to be about creating a sketchbook as journal.  Each artist is profiled alongside a full page example from their journal, and could inspire aspiring artists towards something similar, and give ideas for different layouts etc and ways of collecting ideas.But I was a bit disappointed with this book.  The journals profiled do represent lots of different styles, but it’s all very one-dimensional; there’s not really any sense of experimenting with the format of the journal itself. This one is probably more for arty types than crafty types. Personally, I recommend ‘Creating Sketchbooks for Embroiderers and Textile Artists’ by Greenlees for a more practical, inspiration-based and dimensional approach to keeping a an artistic and unconventional sketchbook.

ALPHABETICA: An A-Z Technique Guide for Collage and Book Artists by LYNNE PERELLA

If you are interested in altered books or artist’s books, ‘Alphabetica’ is a wonderful, visual feast of inspiration. Mixed-media collage itself is not really my thing, but I still found this book absolutely brimming with adaptable ideas. ‘Try this’ segments throughout the book give practical and inspirational tips to apply to your own work, and can be quite thought-provoking.

I do think the title is something of a misnomer.  Although a workshop section towards the end of the book includes lots of different techniques it is not a how-to manual, more a look at the motivation, inspiration and practises of the featured artists.

But if you are looking for inspiration, this is a book that you absolutely must, and deserve to, treat yourself to; one of those books you will find something new every time you dip in.


This is so much more than just another mixed media craft book.  I feel sure it would fascinate anybody who simply loves books, but be of especial interest to anyone who has ever considered writing or making their own picture book.  An accessible introduction gives a brief history of story books, as well as a (very American!) bibliography of prize-winning story and picture books.  You are then guided towards possible sources of inspiration for creating your own book, either by adapting an existing story or historical event, or something from your own life.

This is a beginner’s overview to every aspect of creating a book, from plot and structure to bindings and illustratons.  While not comprehensive, it will give you lots of ideas to set the creative juices flowing.  Mixed media techniques are introduced, again giving more of an overview.  Sufficient information may be given to work some of the ideas suggested, but additional research would be necessary for others.

The bulk of the book is given over to 10 storybook creations from a wide range of mixed media artists.  The full storybooks are reproduced, alongside text which illuminates each artist’s inspiration and techniques (with practical tips).  This isn’t a project book, and you aren’t given step-by-step instructions how to reproduce the books as shown.  You are told instead what materials and techniques the artists used, which knowledge you can then apply to your own unique work.

‘Mixed media’ is something of an all-encompassing, catch-all phrase, but ‘The Artful Storybook’ successfully represents the diversity of mixed media as a craft.  With so many distinctly different techniques and styles falling under this one umbrella term, there is something to appeal to and inspire everybody.   ‘The Artful Storybook’ proves mixed media is accessible to anyone, whatever their art/craft background, and that the storybook can be a wonderful vehicle for exploration of new ideas.


This book gives lots of step-by-step photos to learn the basic bookbinding techniques, as well as some additional print techniques for decorating endpapers. However, the examples throughout are uninspired and unoriginal.  Achievable for the beginner, maybe, but not inspirational, if you are interested in bookmaking as a creative artform.

If you want to learn the basics, buy ‘The Bookbinding Handbook’ by Sue Doggett, instead.

Links to some more book that I haven’t read yet, but look quite cool:

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