DIYU: Creative Journaling with Altered Books

I consider Colleen Attara one of my dearest friends, and when she heard about my plans for DIYU she was one of the first to hop on board. Colleen is an amazing artist, mother, wife, daughter and friend who is full of grace & passion. I couldn't be more excited to have her here today teaching us the art of creative journaling. I urge you to learn more about her efforts in healing loss through art and look for upcoming workshops in her studio.

Hello!  It is so nice to meet you here. 

I feel right at home.  My name is Colleen Attara and just like Jenelle, I am passionate about reusing and recycling in my art.  I make joyful art from reclaimed materials in my cottage studio.  I love to reuse scrap plastics, mistake paint and vintage windows.

Oh my, it has been busy here at DIY University.  Last week you learned how to use a sewing machine, how to hand sew and also sew on paper.  Perfect timing for my guest post that puts it all together using a special book.

One of my passions is creating altered books. I love to teach others how to use this special medium to heal through artistic journaling. All the bits and pieces matter and there is so much opportunity to reuse. 

Below are two altered books in progress.  I start with a book that has meaning to me or one I want to give as a gift.

The strings that close the book on the left are made from one handle of an Anthropologie bag. On the book on the right, I reuse a tag from a special shirt as part of the closure.
We can add a bit of magic to any special book.  Sew in a pocket to keep notes, old letters or pictures.  Sew a bit of ribbon along the side of a page to mark a special chapter or quote. 

Is there a special book you read to your child each night at bedtime? How about creating a little pocket to save pieces of their artwork or schoolwork?

You can so do this.  And the very best part is that the materials that are needed and inspire us would usually be thrown out.

Here is what inspires me; some ribbon from shopping bags, pieces of altered clothing, paper bags, envelopes and my beloved Anthropologie catalogs.  How can we throw these out?  If we can’t afford to wear all the fashion, we can at least sew the colors into our pages.
Let’s make some pockets. 

Sew the corner of a paper bag into the page of a book. 

The cuff of an old sweater becomes a pocket to hold a letter. Isn’t this a perfect way to reuse a piece of your child’s clothing?  It is so sentimental and useful.

Save the envelope of a letter from a faraway friend. Sew it into your book to keep saved photographs.
My very favorite parts of an altered book are the little bits and pieces.

Here is the inside tag from a Gap sweater. Throw it out?  No way. 

I sew a stamp and a few words from a book onto the tag.  Then it is sewn onto the page as a marker.  These little meaningful details make all the difference.
Here I sew pieces of the Anthro catalog onto the page of the book.  A corner of the catalog becomes another pocket. 

A bit of my old sweater is sewn in as a bookmark. 

Some paint on a dry paintbrush, a tiny picture of a typewriter and a fun sewing stitch make me want to turn to this page.
I especially love how the edges of my altered books look a bit raw, with bits of tied strings and tulle or paper.  

To do this, I make a double knot with a bit of tulle.  The second little bit of knotted tulle hangs off the side.  I love these little tiny details.
You can make every book you give as a gift so special, just by sewing in a pocket or tagging a special page.

Are you inspired? I hope so.  And I hope you look at junk mail, shopping bags and clothing tags with possibility.

I would love to hear your questions and comments. xo

About Colleen:
I am an artist and a treasure hunter. I reuse materials to make joyful art.  I take my found treasures back to my studio cottage and give them a new life. When I am not designing and creating, I teach others to make altered books that heal their spirit.  I am a painter of cities and I plant colorful recycled flower gardens everywhere I go. 


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