I’ve been dying to try making one of these Altered Book Trees since a colleague made them two years ago to decorate the library and I finally cleared my schedule, gathered my supplies and muddled through some directions I found online. Most of these were in video form, and sometimes I honestly don’t have the patience to sit through a video and I’d much rather get to the making, so I decided to make my own tutorial here…With simple pictures and written steps so you can get to your making too! It’s so easy my 8 year old made one for her grandma with very little supervision from me so I could work on my tree, too.
First – Get paperback books that you do not mind ripping apart.*(if you are very offended by this, stop immediately, and skip down to the bottom for my
Note On The Guilt of Tearing Apart a Perfectly Good Book!)
Second – Tear off cover. Discard or save if you’ve got a craft to use it, but I don’t so into the recycle bin it went.
Third – Count out 200 pages and cut these apart from the rest of the book.
We tried this with 150 pages also but the 200 page tree curled nicely into itself to create a “fuller” tree. Use a craft knife, pocket knife or do what we did and go with what’s lying around, like a dull knife to a wine bottle opener.
Fourth – Fold pages – do this in 3 steps. It’s just like folding a paper airplane, folks. The bottom corner can be folded toward the front of the book or toward the back. Put on a movie and off you go!
Continue folding until all 200 pages are done. The book will naturally curl into a cone.
Fifth – Affix tree to a pedestal –
I found short candlesticks ($1 each at the Goodwill) were perfect and elevated the entire craft literally and figuratively! I used epoxy to affix a cardboard circle (hey, there’s a use for the paperback cover!) to the bottom of the tree to stabilize the folds and create a balanced, wide surface to attach the tree to the candlestick.
Sixth – Decorate! We experimented with ribbons and feathers and glitter…You may need to let go of your control so you can enjoy lots of controlled mess. It’s amazing what you find you’ve collected in your craft stores when you dig.**
(Glitter: I watered down some basic Elmer’s school glue because that’s what I had on hand, had my daughter apply it with a sponge brush -also retrieved from my craft stash- and then we stepped out on the back deck and liberally and generously shook glitter on it over the railing into the snow.)
Finish off with a topper. Another peek at my junk drawer produced an iridescent tie tack that perfectly matched the iridescent glitter I had used; after taking down the tree this year, Viv found this darling wooden snowflake in the needles which I grabbed from the dustpan. Perfect!
*A Note On The Guilt of Tearing Apart a Perfectly Good Book: Plain and simple, I don’t feel it. I chose books that I wouldn’t read, nor would I experience an unholy joy in defacing. It was all detached business. I looked for a certain size, without page tears, mold or dampness. After years of working in a library, the book novelty thing wears off – it has to – or you’d never be successful managing a collection. Weeding happens. Books get damaged. Books go unpurchased and unread. If you don’t believe me, or agree, then that is your choice, but I caution you two things: Beware a future post upscaling a book into a wreath, and two, Next time we have a book sale, I should take pictures of the boxes of unsold books that fill a truck and are hauled off to book heaven, and then your guilt would immediately evaporate. Repurpose an unwanted book for a new life of beauty and adoration. Really. There’s plenty of books that can be upscaled.
**I took my time decorating because I really wanted these trees to be special. I tested several ribbons by pinning a straight pin through the top and paper clipping the bottom of the ribbon in various ways before finally settling on something that clicked. Then I used superglue because all of my bottles of Aleene’s craft glue had dried out…and I wanted to get to the making!