By Angela Sylvaine
Welcome to “Creepy Craft Corner,” which features HWA members who are also artists, crafters, makers, or creators. I hope to provide you, the reader, with the tools and inspiration to try creating something new! *Please note- I am now open for submissions! If you are an HWA member and would like to be featured on Creepy Craft Corner, find my social media links at angelasylvaine.com and reach out.
As writers, many of us have old or damaged books on hand that we don’t plan to read but can’t bear to part with. We’re attracted to the beauty of book bindings, old maps, and imagery that catches our eyes, but how can we use books and other interesting trinkets in ways that pay homage to such treasures? Hillary Dodge is here to help us transform old and damaged books into Altered Book Art!
Welcome, Hillary, tell us a little about what you write and any upcoming projects you’d like to promote.
I write dark speculative fiction, mostly through a sci-fi lens. I find the future and all its variations and possibilities fascinating. I think there is a lot of space for horror in science fiction and more recently, I’ve been exploring folk and fairy tales as well. Although to be honest, I never gave away my books of fairy tales from childhood – filled with images of the Baba Yaga and her iron teeth and misshapen giants with spiked clubs – it’s fun to read them again and find ways to retell the stories. My most recent project was very much aligned with dark fantasy, folk horror, and urban legends. Shadow Atlas: Dark Landscapes of the Americas is a rare and exciting collection of dark fiction, poetry, and art tied to places in the Americas. I co-edited this anthology with Carina Bissett and Joshua Viola and it was a blast. Right now, I’m working on a science fiction retelling/mash-up of the Japanese fairytale The Bush Warbler. Set in the distant future, a woman on the run finds herself taking on the job of caretaker for an ancient rambling house deep in the trash heaps of a remote sector.
Hillary Dodge is the author of several speculative short fictions as well as three nonfiction books, including Gather Round the Table: Food Literacy Programs, Resources, and Ideas for Libraries (ALA 2020). She spends a good deal of time traveling, going places that are forbidden, and eating. She once had tea with a Roma in a cave in the mountains of Spain. Another time found her eight hours from civilization in the heart of the Atacama with a mad desert hermit. She has been published in online magazines, podcasts, and print anthologies, including Pseudopod, Space Squid, Hellbound Books, and Hex Publishers. You can find her at www.hillarydodge.com.
What creepy craft or creation have you decided to share with us today?
I am sharing my altered book art. As a librarian, I am always coming across old books – either donations we can’t add or damaged items that have been removed from the collection – with fantastic art, illustrations, maps, and schematics. I’ll buy these discarded copies and take an xacto to the pages, cutting out shapes and images that catch my interest. I like to layer images and insert hardware into my art. I rarely work in two dimensions. I find that I am most attracted to imagery of the human body and architecture. Sometimes I’ll work on canvas or board and sometimes I work right inside the old books themselves. I mostly do art for myself, but my collection is starting to get rather large, so I’ll have to be creative on what to do with it in the future.
What instructions or tips do you have for our readers who might be interested in trying this craft for themselves?
Board books make great surfaces to toy around with this form of art. You can find them cheaply from used book stores or flea markets. Scratch up the surface with sandpaper and paint a background or cover with cut imagery from old books, maps, textbooks, and magazines. Modge podge is the best way to make the paper adhere. I like to explore the hardware tucked into tea cups and cupboards in antique malls for interactive pieces.
Thank you so much to Hillary for sharing her craft with us this month! I am looking forward to rooting out old books and hardware on my next thrifting trip so I can try this for myself!
Until next month, keep it crafty!
Angela Sylvaine is a self-proclaimed cheerful goth who still believes in monsters. Her debut novella, Chopping Spree, is available now. Her short fiction has appeared in various publications and anthologies, including Places We Fear to Tread and Not All Monsters. You can find her online angelasylvaine.com.
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