Saturday, June 3, 2017

Altered 1969 Diary

Finished front of altered diary, covered with painted deli paper

Finished back of altered diary
A few weeks ago, I met up with some old friends in the Catskills. One of the women, who is dealing with an aging, ill mother, had been cleaning out the family home, and brought along some old diaries from her teenage years. She had a vision of burning them in the stone fireplace, but before destroying them, we took a look through. Surprisingly, there were very few written memories of wild was more about what she had for dinner and how hard the math test was and what she was going to wear to the school dance and what favorite 1960s song was playing on the pop AM radio station at that moment in time.

As she was about to toss them in the fire, the "art light bulb" went off in my head--they would make great little altered books! I had been meaning to try making one, and had read about the process, so I rescued them from a flaming end.

Diary with painted and handwritten deli paper covering front and back
Rather than starting with the pretty red one that most caught my eye, I decided to use the ugliest one since it would matter less if I made mistakes on the ugly one. I tore out every other page, plus a few more, then used matte medium, spread on with a credit card, to stick two pages together. The ink ran and smeared, which was a surprise since the ballpoint pen had been on the market quite a few years. I later discovered that she preferred an old-fashioned ink pen. The runny ink created quite a nice indigo mushy effect, so I embraced that happy accident.

I also decided to try covering the diary with painted deli paper. While in the Catskills, I did several paintings and journal pages, and had used up excess paint by randomly wiping it on deli paper that I also written on about our weekend adventures. I covered the brass locks with washi tape for protection from the paint, gesso and glue.

After the inner glued pages had dried, I painted some with gesso, and added leftover scraps of paper, printed teabags, plain teabags and a little washi tape here and there.

I had an old photo of the diary owner and another mutual friend that was taken in a Woolworth photo booth in the early '70s. It seemed appropriate to use that on the first page of the inside.

A whimsical photo of two silly teens, taken in a Woolworth photo booth series
is on the right page of the altered diary, after the inside front cover
The diary is still a work in progress, and it may take years to finish all four of them. I am looking forward to seeing how this ongoing project develops in the months to come.

Second set of pages of the altered diary
Inside back cover (left) and last page of diary, with dried teabag over runny ink

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