Altered Book As Graduation Gift




Introduction: Altered Book As Graduation Gift

Our young friend was graduating high school. We wanted to give him a unique gift. The solution was this altered book.

Altered books are a form of art / craft. You take a book -- probably an old, remaindered one -- and change it. Most such books are quite fancy affairs, with a lot of decoration and collage, even painting and cut-outs. This one was simple, and with a little patience, anyone could make one like it.

The book we used was a 1979 copy of Strunk + White's "The Elements of Style". It seemed like the perfect choice, as it is STILL being recommended to students.

Here's what I used, but you could substitute with abandon here.

1  book that can be ruined without guilt
some nice paper to type or print out your nuggets
some images -- I made some on the computer, but you could certainly use photos or ink stamps
craft glue / tape to stick the images and pages in without causing wrinkling
Dymo tape

Step 1: Create Witty Thoughts and Ideas

A bottle of wine and some good yakking with a buddy helps a lot with this step.
My husband and I talked and took a bunch of notes about what we wanted to say.

The plan here is for nuggets of wisdom that are also kind of funny.

For example, one of my husband's best was this:
"It's pretty easy to get 80% in high school. It's even easier to get 60% in university"

We also included "household tips" such as this one:
"If you want girls to visit your apartment, you need to ensure you have basic supplies. e.g. toilet paper"

Once you have about 20 or so nuggets of this type, you are ready for the next step.

Step 2: Putting Your Thoughts on Paper

We decided to use an old electric typewriter that we recently (re)aquired so I could use it in just this kind of application.
We thought our young friend -- very much a millennial person -- would find this quite amusing.

I wanted thin but nice paper, and some Asian calligraphy paper was just the thing.

I sliced it into strips 3" wide, the full length of the page.
Then, using a backing page to help it get more definition in the typewriter, we typed up the nuggets.

Leave about 6 lines between each nugget.

Once you have your nuggets typed up, slice them into pieces.

Step 3: Adding Icons

I actually would have preferred to do ink stamps for this part, but it was just going to be far too time consuming.
The reason -- I wanted to add images that are iconic to what is important right now to our friend.

I went online, and found suitable images. Examples: a Canon camera, a coffee cup, Lady Gaga. I imported these into a "lite" version of Photoshop.

For most of the images, I used the Filter / Sketch / Stamp function to turn the image into something that looks like an ink stamp.
For some, that would not have worked, because they were too photographic, not linear enough. For those, i just converted to black and white, and sometimes enhanced the contrast a bit.

The I put all the images on a single page, sized to about 1" x 1" more or less.
These were printed on clear acetate paper.

Important: you need to choose acetate that is suitable for your printer -- either inkjet or laser.

After printing the images on a couple of pages, these were also carefully cut into pieces.

Step 4: Sticking in Your Images

There are lots of good sticky-fastener products in any craft store now.
I chose Letra-Tack for the typed up nuggets, and used a double-sided tape roller for the acetates.

The basic process was to put the nuggets onto blank spots in the book, and then stick the clear images over text.

Step 5: The Finished Product

We used a Dymo printer and some silver tape to print an inscription in the front.
And here is the finished product.

The last page has a kind of gushy poem I learned from my mom that I really like, and an image of Eric Peterson as Billy Bishop in a play we all enjoyed here last year. I wanted to end the book on an inspirational note.

I'm not sure what other people will think, but I hope our friend has lots of laughs over the book, and keeps it as a memory of this time in his life.

You could certainly do a lot with this idea by using different kinds of books and adding more pictures, for example.

Be the First to Share


    • Make It Modular: Student Design Challenge

      Make It Modular: Student Design Challenge
    • Go Big Challenge

      Go Big Challenge
    • Electronics Contest

      Electronics Contest



    10 years ago on Introduction

    I love making altered books. Unfortunately, my friend who i was supporting this year for graduation 2011 really loves books. When i was showing him some of the altered books i had made with our highschool's discarded books (books that are "too old" or damaged) he was slightly aghast to see that the book i had used for one altered book was a book he had loved to read over the years, but had never seen it again when it was considered "discarded".

    I had felt bad for him because of that. So i think that altered books for the book-lover should be considered carefully! In my case, my friend would have much rather read the book on what he found most interesting (a book on Languages, by Mario Pei).

    Good ideas with your instructable. I never thought of using really thin paper for images and what effects that could have (layering, etc). :)


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Yes, people can get that way about books. however, the book you used was probably headed for either paper recycling or landfill.

    Glad you enjoyed the instructable!


    10 years ago on Introduction

    very creative. although i think i would have used a hardback since this will very likely become a keepsake, and hardbacks are sturdier.


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Yes, a hardback is definitely a better choice.

    I have made altered books before from hardcovers.
    Here's an example of one with a lot of painting and mixed-media incorporated:
    You will find many examples online, as well as a lot of instruction on various methods of preparing the book.