Homemade Gifts – Altered Art Scrapbooking

Do you love to give homemade gifts from the heart? Here’s one of my favorite crafts, a form of scrapbooking, but you can mix & match different mediums, from braided ribbon, fabric, a pocket from an old pair of jeans, paint, embroidery, old jewelry, pressed flowers, scrapbooking embellishments and paper.

 This is an altered art book I made for my mom and dad for Christmas 2009.

I used an old board book, sanded down the pages, then covered them with scrapbooking paper.

On the cover I used:

  • Braided ribbon for the border
  • A photo of my mom and dad when they were children (don’t use originals)
  • Scrapbooking stickers
  • A flower made from fabric (From the dollar store. If you sew, you can make your own.)
  • A hanging tassel (another dollar store treasure!) dangles next to the spine of the book.
  • Beaded trim is glued to the spine.
  • I used Tacky Glue to glue everything on. Recently I discovered Zots, little round two-sided stickers, which are great for heavier items, like imitation gems or a charm from a bracelet.

Another dollar store bargain, two craft pens for a buck – one gold and one silver, were perfect to color the edges of the inside pages.

This is one of my first altered art books, so it only has a few different mediums. The longer I do it, the more I experiment with other techniques such as macrame, paint, tissue paper, buttons, various textures, anything that catches my eye.

I wanted the theme to be family and tried to add a photo of each family member as a child, although I couldn’t locate any photos of my mom’s mother when she was young. She passed away when Mom was 13. No one remembers ever seeing a childhood picture of her. Darn.


I learned to add pockets to some of the pages, which are good for putting little keepsakes or quotes inside. It’s quick and easy to tear around some of the photos for an old fashioned look. For other photos, I cut around the outline of the subject and discarded the backround.
Changing things up and using different looks is fun. I don’t plan out each spread, just kind of add one thing, then hold up another embellishment or photo here or there on the page to see where it looks the best. It’s kind of design as you go.


A chart lists which family members and ancestors are featured on each spread of the book.
I researched the history of favorite toys such as skates and bicycles, typed it up, then downsized the 8×11 pages on my copier to a size that would fit in a pocket.


The photo on the top was shaped like a bookmark, so I glued it on to stick up higher on the page. I glued another photo on the back of it.
More photos can be tucked into a pocket, along with a favorite quote. Old ticket stubs are cool keepsakes to put in the pockets or a love letter, whatever you have that has special meaning to the person you’re making the gift for.


A pocket at the top of the page on the right holds scaled-down photos from vintage magazines.


Since my theme was about family members and childhood, I asked each family member what their favorite toy was as a kid, then typed up a list, which was also printed out on a smaller scale, about 3×5 sized pages.
I put the pages inside a pretty drawstring bag, then tucked it in a pocket.


The back cover also has a fabric flower embellishment from the dollar store.

There are more great-children in the family now. Mom and Dad can add small photos of them in some of the pockets. We don’t want any hurt feelings!

In my next post, I’ll feature a filing box that I turned into an altered art piece. It’s a homemade gift that doesn’t take as much time as an altered art book does.

Do you like to make gifts for friends and loved ones? Do you like to receive homemade gifts?

Have you had any disastrous results when trying to make a gift? How about receiving a  homemade gift that was so fugly you had no idea what to do with it? I’d love to hear your thoughts! 

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23 Responses to Homemade Gifts – Altered Art Scrapbooking

  1. Bish Denham says:

    What a fabulous idea! Using an old board book is…stunning, simply stunning.

  2. Old Kitty says:

    Wow!! It's lovely!!!! Full of gorgeous memories and made with love! Yay! take carex

  3. Very cool! Looks like a lot of time and effort went into this. They will be blown away when they receive the book!

  4. Stephanie D says:

    That book was amazing. What a wonderful gift. I used to wrap photo albums in satin and lace and give them as wedding gifts. Haven't made one in years, but I loved making them.

  5. Lyn, this is absolutely GORGEOUS. What an incredible present for your parents! I have been dabbling in mixed media right now and just loving it.A few years ago, my mother made decoupaged (sp?) boxes for everyone. She made a chest for me that turned out gorgeous and now I keep all my handwritten letters in it. You can see it in this blog post. http://grosvenorsquare.blogspot.com/2009/01/treasures.html

  6. Bish – Thanks, although I didn't come up with the idea of using a board book. I thought it was pretty cool when I first learned about doing this.Old Kitty – Thank you! Yes, made with a ton of love! Stephen – Yep, I put a lot of time and effort into my altered art books. I only make them for family members and a few close friends.Stephanie – Thank you! The satin and lace used to wrap albums sounds like a craft I'd enjoy doing, too.Melissa – Oh, that's so cool that you're doing this kind of art, too. I'd love to see the box your mom made for you, so I'm heading over there right now! Thanks!

  7. C D Meetens says:

    That is so lovely! If I received a gift like that, I'd be over the moon. I bet your parents were really touched.I don't think I have the talent for something like that, but you certainly do!I do like to give homemade gifts. I knitted a scarf for my mum one Christmas, and gave a cross stitch card I'd made to a friend.

  8. Absolutely gorgeous! I am inspired to get back to my crafty roots!! Thanks Lynn 🙂

  9. Very, very cool! My mother makes me a new Christmas decoration every year. My house would be empty with them during the holidays. And they're cherished memories attached to each one. I love them. I could make one if my life depended on it. And I went to an Art Academy for my fine arts degree. Go figure!

  10. Otter says:

    Very nice. We've done scrapbooking on a much smaller scale in my art class…but nothing as cool as that.

  11. This is fantastic. I love to receive homemade gifts. Sadly, I'm not very talented in this area, so I can't give them.

  12. This takes scrapbooking to a whole new level!! Whoa! Fantabuloso!! Sadly most of my photos are still in boxes…

  13. CD – My parents loved it, although my mom asked me whatever possessed me to put photos of those 'strangers' in it! She didn't care about the pics of ancestors! Haha! I like genealogy and I was so jazzed to have to photos. A knitted scarf is a cool gift to make someone, and so is cross stitching, something I've always wanted to learn but never did.Coleen – Thank you! I hope you find time to get back to your crafting. It really opens up another aspect of our creativity!Nancy – That's wonderful that your mother makes you special gifts every year that you can decorate your home with. Isn't that something that you took Fine Arts but don't like to craft. I guess they're very different animals!

  14. Otter – I bet your students loved making those. And you only have so much time in a classroom environment, so you have to keep it pretty simple. Your students are lucky to be in your class and get to do so many awesome projects.Sarah – You never know what new craft will come along that you find you have a knack for! But some people don't enjoy it, and others can't live without their crafting!Susie – Thanks so much! Most of my photos are in boxes, too, and it takes me hours to go through them to find the ones I want to use. One of these days I'll get everything organized. I hope!

  15. Marcy says:

    Sadly every homemade gift I would try to make would turn out fugly. I don't know why. My mom on the other hand has "the gift." She makes these cool fold-out photobooks and earrings and wall hangings. That said, I do have fun getting together with friends and doing something crafty, even if my results aren't as artistic as yours.

  16. I am not crafty, nor have I ever scrapbooked. The closest I've ever come is inserting photos into a photo book. Sad. I know. Your work is gorgeous!! Thank you for sharing.

  17. Marcy – I've made my share of fugly gifts, too! Your mom's fold-out photobooks sound super cool. And earrings and wall hangings? She's multi-talented. And you're right, it's fun to do crafts even if they're not masterpieces. It's a good stress reliever, for sure!Tiffany – LOL! At least you insert your photos into a book. I just throw them into boxes these days! Hey, not everyone is into crafting. Everyone has different talents. Thank you, so glad you like my altered art!

  18. jerzey72 says:

    Very nice! followed !

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