As part of my ongoing Open College of the Arts course in Book Design, I have had a first attempt at creating an altered book. The book I decided to use as a starting point for this project was a small but quite thick 1940’s hardcover book about bee-keeping. As this is a subject that has fascinated me, I thought it would be an obvious starting point.
However, upon reading through the book, I quickly realised how dry and serious the author’s writing style was, and coupled with the obligatory groupings of black and white photographs of old people standing next to hives smoking pipes, turned me off of the publication completely. I then realised that my mission would be to make the subject matter more accessible, even if delivered in nowhere near the same degree of detail than the original content. I wanted someone to be able to pick up this book, and very quickly get a high-level understanding of what happens to bees in their hive over the course of a year. At the same time, I wanted the book to also have more exciting imagery to demonstrate the subject matter.
As an almost knee-jerk response to the existing content, I decided to use simple linocut imagery extensively throughout the books pages, with some letterpress images plates and monoprint leaf skeletons thrown in. I also re-used a couple of the books original black and white photo plates, to add a bit of visual contrast to the linocut images.
Four chapters of the original book covered the seasons of the bee hive life-cycle, so pages from these chapters were re-used from the original book, and formed a basis for the narrative of the book in its new altered form.