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Papercraft - An Altered Art

By: Rachel Newcombe - Updated: 26 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Altered Art Alter Artist Arty Craft

One of the most creative trends currently existing within the papercrafting world is altered art. All you need is a good dose of imagination and creativity, along with a few essential tools, and you can create unique pieces. So how you can get started with altered art?

As the name aptly suggests, altered art is simply the art of altering an object and making it into something new and different. It can be simple things, like covering a folder and creating a new form of decoration on the outside of it, or covering a box and transforming it into a new functional piece, to more complex work, such as taking bare raw materials like paint tins, jigsaw pieces or dominoes and altering or decorating them to serve a new purpose. In a way, it’s the artists and creators way of using up all sorts of items and recycling them creatively for decorative or practical means.

Anyone can have a go at altered art. The main thing you need is the ability to think outside the box and see the potential in normal, everyday items. For the experienced crafter, almost everything in the world around us has the potential to be altered! Some examples of items that can be successfully altered include:

  • Notepads
  • Folders
  • Clipboards
  • Boxes – cardboard, wooden, metal and plastic
  • Old, but clean, paint tins
  • Empty and clean jars
  • Metal lunchboxes and tins
  • Jigsaw pieces
  • Dominoes
  • Books
  • Plastic cartons
  • Plant pots
  • Matchboxes
  • Paper bags
  • Pictures and picture frames
  • Pen pots
  • Letter racks
  • Bags
  • Belts
  • Tables
  • …and the list goes on.

What Tools Do I Need?

The basic tools you’ll need are things that papercrafters generally already have – a good pair of scissors, various types of glue and double sided tape and a cutting board. In order to create your unique pieces of altered art, you’ll also need various materials to decorate things with. So paper, card, embellishments, ribbons, rub-ons, stickers, pens and adhesive gems are all useful to have.

If you’re turning current items into other practical pieces, like transforming a metal plant pot into a more decorative piece, or making a cardboard box into a storage system for ribbons, then you may need other tools too. One example is an eyelet setting tool, which can be used to make holes in the items (a good eyelet setter will easily cut through cardboard, metal and other materials), which are then set with eyelets to provide a nice smooth edged hole. This is really useful in situations where you’ll need holes and you don’t want them to be jagged or rough. Plus, the eyelets provide a professional look.

Depending on what you’re producing, you may also need a varnish to put over the work – such as if you’re decorating a table or clipboard and want to give it a smooth finish on the top.

Altered art is really fun to do, adds a new and different dimension for the avoid papercrafter and offers a practical way of using up both odds and ends of materials you’ve got, and items that may otherwise be abandoned. The finished items can be kept and enjoyed by you, used as elements within other papercrafting projects, or they make great – and unusual – presents for friends and family.

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