Apr 112012

My friend Shirley sent me a British children’s book from the 50s that is (more or less) about human evolution. She thought it looked like perfect material for an altered book.

She was right.

A couple of months ago, a call went out from MarinMOCA for their annual altered book show. I got out my scissors. A little natural selection, anyone?

I gutted the book. It has some basic human biology in it as well, but I decided to focus on the evolution bits for the sake of cohesion. I mounted the cutouts with dry adhesive onto stiff paper. Then I arranged the chosen elements into layers.

I cut out several identical black frames from stiff black Strathmore paper and folded two accordions from black German Ingres (the stuff is strong, but thin enough to fold into a nice pliable structure). I anchored the cutouts onto the paper frames.


Then I added hinges made of the Ingres onto the back of each frame.


I used 3M 415 double-sided tape for mounting. Why use glue when it can be avoided? Especially when there’s a good archival alternative.


The downside is it has no open time for repositioning. Stick it once, and it’s there forever. That’ll keep you on your toes. Additionally, I hadn’t made a tunnel book in a long time. I’d forgotten that it can feel like binding a Slinky. Eventually, however, a rhythm emerges and it’s not too bad. Also, I quickly remembered that the best way to handle double-sided tape is to not peel off the backing paper all at once after positioning. It’s best to line up the page into position and then slide the liner off the tape as you go:


On the up side, I’d also forgotten how theatrical and fun a finished tunnel book can be, especially a larger one like this.

The finished tunnel is a tight fit into the original cover. If I’d had more time, I might’ve considered altering the spine to fit more properly. On the other hand, this way seems more in the altered book spirit.

I’ve had a few original (not altered) tunnel projects sitting around half finished. Now that my appetite has been whetted, I want to make more tunnels!

If you’re near the San Francisco Bay Area, consider checking out the 3rd Annual Altered Book Show at MarinMOCA in Novato, where Modern Marvels: Man will be on exhibit. It opens April 21. More details are on their website.