Altered Book Sketchbook


Not sure if I am much of an “art journal” person, but I thought it might be fun to try altering a book to create a sketchbook. I have been buying and using spiral bound sketchbooks for my daily sketches because they stay open, but I like the idea of having a full spread to work with too. A duplicate I-Spy book I found in our basement was perfect for this project… it’s large (10″ x 12″), stays open and flat, it will give me a surface to play with my carved rubber stamps, and another book to draw my daily sketches in.

Here’s how I made mine.

Altered Book Sketchbook


  • Book
  • White gesso (white house paint or primer would work too)
  • Enough home dec weight fabric to cover the outside of the book
  • Rubber stamps (to stamp the fabric)
  • Acrylic paint (to paint the fabric)
  • Bulldog clips
  • Mod Podge
  • Sponge or paint brushes
  • Newspaper to protect your work surface
  • Hair dyer (optional, to speed drying time)

To Make:
1. Paint, stamp, or decorate the home dec fabric any way you want- make it yours! I played with my stamps.

2. Cover the outside of the book by painting it thoroughly with Mod Podge. Lay the book opened and centered (cover side down) on the fabric (wrong side up) and press to adhere. Close the book with the fabric around it, pressing and adhering the fabric well around the spine of the book. Use bulldog clips to hold the fabric in place around the cover.

3. Open the book, use gesso or paint to cover a spread, allow to dry… do the next spread… etc. A hairdryer will make this step go faster. I painted only one coat on my pages, but covered the page completely. The original images were still slightly visible from underneath, but I wasn’t concerned because I knew I would be adding more paint.

You’re done!
I painted and doodled on half of the first spread the other evening. “Change nothing and nothing changes” One of the quotes on very active well said pinterest board (probably my favorite board right now!).

Hey, maybe this’ll be my quotes and affirmations book.

  • emily

    February 4, 2013 at 5:50 am

    i love the way you did this blair – rescuing the book, reusing the materials. like i said over at flickr, sometimes a new sketchbook seems intimidating to me – like a plain white fresh board or canvas. and yet when i pull out a piece of brown kraft paper or a roll of butcher paper it’s easier for me to stay loose. this sketchbook approach feels like the equivalent of that. great idea!

  • blair/wisecraft

    February 4, 2013 at 6:15 am

    For me these days, being creative is so much about the process, and this project fits in that perfectly. Plus, the idea that the gesso didn't fully cover what was underneath gave me artistic courage (or at least art journal courage). xo

  • betsy

    February 4, 2013 at 10:03 am

    I really love this idea, Blair. You stamp-making is so timely. I spent the month of December carving stamps, and ended up giving everyone stamped journals and fabric. Addictive! But now I want to make my own art journal! You are full of the best ideas! xo

  • carol

    February 4, 2013 at 10:29 am

    what a fantastic idea! thanks for sharing!

  • RedKite

    February 5, 2013 at 12:36 am

    I think this is an interesting idea and I like the way you have done it.

  • blair/wisecraft

    February 5, 2013 at 7:39 pm

    Thanks Carol, let me know if you try it!

  • blair/wisecraft

    February 5, 2013 at 7:40 pm

    Thank you Betsy, and I want to see your stamps! I can't stop!

  • Lori

    February 6, 2013 at 5:45 pm

    love this. my son has done a few of these. one was when he was really little – he bought a jacques cousteau book at the thrift store (BIG) and just started doing random things to it. it was so awesome.

  • blair/wisecraft

    February 6, 2013 at 5:49 pm

    I love your son's imagination!

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