How to Alter a Book and make it into an Art Journal

Today I want to share my knowledge of how to use text books as journals, so I made a video all about altered books in general, how I use mine, and how you can find a good book to alter, so that you can use it as an Art Journal, Glue Book or any other type of journal or notebook that you like. The sky is the limit here.

Also, free altered book labels at the end!

Altered books with iHanna - how to video

But the first step is always picking a good book to alter, to make sure it doesn’t fall apart as you start working in it – and that you have room inside to grow because you will be adding in lots of things into it (paint, collage, ephemera, ribbons, tip-ins, and so on) and you don’t want it to bust at the seams (that’s just too sad).

So let’s talk altered books, shall we?

Video: How to alter a book

So, how do you get started with altered books? Here’s how:


This is the book that I am going to start altering/using as my Art Journal:

Egen härd är guld värd - My altered book for 2021 that will now be my Art Journal

This book is about a municipality in Sweden in old times, and it’s called Egen härd är guld värd – which would mean something like “Your own home is worth gold”.

I like the cover with the black spine and the yummy patterned paper. I also like this book’s size and that it’s almost square, the thickness of the inside pages and the illustrated end papers that starts of each chapter and are used as backgrounds for the photos inside it.

Book pages to alter or tear out from this soon to be Art Journal with yummy end paper pages inside

Love these pages even before I’ve started working in the book!

Here are some examples of how my altered books look a bit later in the process:

Crow about journal
Something to Crow About art journal from 2008 – read about it here.
Altered book cover by iHanna of www.ihanna.nu
Altered book from 2011 with decoupage on the cover.
My altered book / art journal
Altered book with a spray painted cover from 2016.
Cut and paste altered book cover, side view, and backside + spine close up by iHanna
Altered book from 2020, flip through of the filled and finished journal here.

Altered Book Labels – free download

I was planning to create my own version of the “altered book” label many many years ago, because I wanted to offer it on my blog and now (finally!) because I did promise it in the video, here it is!

If you want a version where you can fill out your own name directly in the PDF before printing it, I’ve added a slightly fancier version of label sheet in my shop for only 5 USD (and by grabbing that version you also say a small thank you to me for the video tutorial, this content and all blog posts that are available for you free of charge), but otherwise feel free to grab the altered book labels free version here!

Grab the free download of the Altered Book labels here

If you want to be notified on more free downloads in the future, and of news in the Studio iHanna Shop feel free to add your name to the Newsletter.

I wrote a well read altered book tutorial back in 2011, that is still worth checking out – but thought it time I do a video about my love of using altered books. Hope you liked it?

It’s important to remember that books are not holy and that cutting up old books is allowed! You will not destroy anything un-replaceable (if you’re not using a first edition of something very old and unusual that is), but instead create something that you will love a whole lot more and want to look through in the future. Your own Art Journal! Your own thing.

Simply starting on the first page

Let’s also start with a watercolor doodle on the first page, here:

Pink paintbrush by Rosemary’s Brushes and the watercolor set I use in this video is called Tropical by Prima.

bullet list heart Previous blog posts featuring altered books here.

Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions below. Good luck with altering books / creating journals!

5 Responses

    • Tack, ja collage är fantastiskt roligt att hålla på med tycker jag. När jag väl börjar kan jag inte sluta…

  1. Thanks so much for making and sharing this video with us, Hanna. Lots of great tips here!

    • Yay! I think the hardest part of altering a book is picking which one to commit to and use, but once that is done, it’s so much fun to work within the already started pages. :-)

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