In My Printing Apron

debbie little wilson

RE Writing History…. to include Women…..

I was asked by the Hill Country Arts Foundation to take part in an upcoming exhibit on Altered Books. I have always thought it would be fun to do an altered book so I agreed to take part.

But then what to do????…. It happens that I am also going through my huge (HUGE) collection of books in order to cut them back by 1/4… I ended up using one of the books that I planned to get rid of so that I wouldn’t have a personal attachment to it. I chose a 1898 History text book… I wasn’t sure if I was going to paint some of the pages together with gesso and then draw and paint on it or bend the pages… or what.???

After looking at the book closer, I realized that there were only a couple of pages that talked about women.. I thought, Okay, so this was written in 1898, what did I expect ?? But  WAIT, Women were around doing things in the 1800s, right?… I made a list of women I knew of who contributed to our history during that time and then did some research…. I made sticky notes with their names and dates on them and then added them into the book during the time that they did their accomplishments





NOW .. my next step will be to adhere some of the pages together so that I can sort of block out what the men were doing so I can focus on the women. (NOTE TO MEN…. this is only one book.. there are hundreds more books devoted to how men built the world on their own… so don’t freak out!!! LOL)

I want to draw the women and write their stories on the appropriate pages but I would like to keep the beautiful aged color of the pages … Does anyone have any suggestions  how I need to tackle this?????  Should I paint out part of the pages first with tinted gesso? HELP


20 responses to “RE Writing History…. to include Women…..

  1. Brent Hays June 21, 2013 at 7:46 pm

    ¿Could you “age” a sheet of paper to use as a canvas, create your revision on the canvas, then paste the canvas onto a book page (repeating as needed)?

    Paper ageing techniques:

    Your partner in forgery!
    Brent H.

  2. Vickers W June 21, 2013 at 8:25 pm

    I know you know much more about paper aging than me, but for the stage, we soak paper and even fabrics — usually a thin muslin or gauze in tea to get that aged look….and if it’s like an air mail paper or thin enough fabric, the text underneath can show through. I’ve seen decoupage glues used for stage stuff, as well. I hope this helps!

    I love the cover of the book you have — I bet the finished product will be really gorgeous!

    • dlcowgirl June 22, 2013 at 12:10 am

      Vickers, I love the cover of the book too.. I want to do some other things to the cover but keep the basic look of it…. Thanks for planting some ideas in my head….

  3. Linda Draper June 21, 2013 at 8:54 pm

    Hi Debbie; I like the aging paper and tipping it in idea. I would suggest something like that…using a translucent paper adhered to the existing pages with something like a wheat paste so you can still write and draw on it….age it in place. You might try removing a “sacrificial” page to experiment on…I’d try using a nice translucent Japanese kozo paper….strong and beautiful…like the women you will represent in the book. A GREAT idea.

    • dlcowgirl June 22, 2013 at 12:08 am

      Linda, the whole idea of drawing on old book pages and other ephemera has intrigued me for quite some time. I am so, so ready to play with it and see what I come up with… I am going to be experimenting with all kinds of translucent papers that I have too… thanks for the ideas.

  4. History Kicks Ass June 21, 2013 at 10:21 pm

    Great idea!! A lot of century old books had ‘fold out illustration pages’, kind of like accordion-like pages which spread out to reveal a map, etc. I found an example here:

    How about adding those onto the pages with sticky notes? That way you could add like 4 pages for every one page about men?

    Post your results!!! I’d love to see what you come up with!! 🙂

  5. dlcowgirl June 22, 2013 at 12:05 am

    Thanks everyone for your suggestions. They are great!!!!!.. I did remove a “sacrificial page and drew on it with black, white and red Prismacolor pencils… It was great fun and had sort of the effect that I am looking for so I may end up removing the pages I want to draw on and when they are how I want them, attach them back in place in the book. I love the idea of the fold out illustration pages, History Kicks Ass and I think I will do that on a few of them… I will keep posting photos of the progress and then the final piece. I am eyeing a few other books that I was going to get rid of for more altered books… Oh, darn, how will I ever get rid of anything if I haul it out of the box for another project… sigh… I am not a hoarder!!!!! I am an artist recycler…. double sigh….

  6. dlcowgirl June 22, 2013 at 12:16 am

    Oh, Brent… my dear old friend… thank you for the aging suggestions. I will give a few a try. Tell your sweetie that I said that she should start calling you honey…

    • Brent Hays June 22, 2013 at 2:28 am

      My sweetie’s calling me something a bit less flattering than “Honey” tonight, after I wrapped a Sonic burrito in a paper towel & stuck it in the microwave. Forgot ’bout the foil wrapper until the paper towel burst into flames. (Being a strong & smart woman, she didn’t buy the story that I was experimenting with ways to age paper for the sake of art…)

  7. linda giese June 22, 2013 at 3:53 am

    I’ve done several altered books and always had to take out about a third of the pages….but then I did a lot of collage and layers on the pages left in. Did you check to see if the signatures (segments) of the book were sewn or glued? If glued, you may have to eventually reinforce with tapes. This is now a prime requirement for my next altered book after struggling with a few glued books. I love the idea of you painting the women on the pages and then reinserting them. You could add collage with images that represent their accomplishments. There are a lot of wonderful copyright free images of bygone era women….believe me, I have a huge collection of them as I submit my works for publication. Or….you can alter the whole book….begin with gessoed pages. One coat will leave the text just visible. If you mess up the portrait, just paint over the page with brush blended colors and use that to wax poetic on the virtues of the woman with journaling. Guess I better stop there or I’ll go on for pages. Enjoy the journey!

    • dlcowgirl June 22, 2013 at 1:12 pm

      Thanks Linda … I have wanted to alter books for quite some time now and I am THRILLED that I am going to do it now. I have seen quite a few altered books and I love the variety of what you can do. Like you, I could go on for pages about all the possibilities. But now I just have to stop and get to work. Since this book only covers history up until it was published, I can see a series of history books that I will have to do and that has me all revved up.
      While I was in Paris, a month ago, my husband and I went to the Louvre and although I was thrilled to death to see work that I have only seen in books, I was depressed not to see any women’s work there. Granted, I didn’t see it all… we spent only 6 hours there… but it got my hackles up. So I am definitely planning on doing an Altered Art History book…
      I will look into how the book is constructed… I think the pages are glued but I need to check.
      Where can I see your altered books?

  8. Brent Hays June 22, 2013 at 11:04 am

    More resources online (“Those who can, do; those who can’t, Google”, as I always say…)

    Removing / replacing pages of book:

    Tipping in book pages:

    Altered book technique:

    OK, I’m done…


  9. Vickers June 22, 2013 at 6:37 pm

    Just wanted to say I’m looking forward to the Altered Art History Book. There were very few female artists covered in my Art History classes in college — can’t wait to get more acquainted with all the fabulous women artists out there! Looking forward to seeing your finished projects!

    • dlcowgirl June 22, 2013 at 6:51 pm

      Vickers, Actually, I am quite excited with the idea of an Altered Art History Book… There is a group of women, as I am sure that you know called the Guerilla Girls… They are artists who protest the lack of support of women in the arts… They wear Gorilla masks to hide their identity since most are established artists and don’t want a stigma attached to them but they want their point to get across… Anyway, I was so hacked off at the number of women in the museums of Paris that I wanted to join them when I came back but their membership is secreted and closed. I guess the only way I can contribute to the cause is to do a demonstration with my art…
      I will keep you posted…. Love you!

      • Vickers June 22, 2013 at 7:25 pm

        I’ve been excited by Meryl Streep’s involvement with the National Women’s History Museum movement — I saw a documentary they did on women in the Civil War and it was great. Maybe she, the Guerilla Girls and other celebrities can help bring some of these great stories out of the shadows.

  10. lesliegoldberg December 2, 2015 at 7:33 pm

    Looking for images of chickens on Google, I came across your work. Wow! just fantastic! I wish I had a book of your etchings. Best wishes, Leslie Goldberg

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