Growing up, I had three favorite books: Peter Pan, A Little Princess, and Alice in Wonderland. Alice was everything a book should be: magical, quirky, and (to my 8 year old self) absolutely hilarious. I loved the silly rhymes, the strange characters, the thoughtful word play, and (in my copy) the beautiful illustrations. After all, as Alice says, “What is the use of a book, without pictures or conversations?” I recently found a copy on ebay of the Alice in Wonderland book I checked out monthly from the library in those days – a beautiful 1990’s edition with watercolors by Peter Weevers – and was inspired to create my own version of Alice’s story.
I started with a thick, square board book – the super thick pages are wonderful to collage on. I had a collection of old Alice in Wonderland illustrations to use, which I used watercolor pencils to add color to. I also had other papers, images, cloth scraps and trims, and miniatures to add to the mix for the inside of the book.
When I was searching through my old doll house miniatures for things to use for the Alice altered book, I found an entire miniature tea set, complete with little handmade cakes, a silver tea tray, and jars of tea, sugar, and jam. The Mad Tea Party has always been my favorite part of Alice’s story, so I knew I just HAD to use them some how. My original idea had been to create the tea party scene on the book’s cover, but because of the raised trims and miniatures inside the book, by this point my board book could only close at a serious angle. After putting the question of what to do to my readers, some wonderful genius (thank you!!!) suggested re-binding the pages with a coptic stitch so that they would lay flat. I was able to re-bind the book, with risers between the pages that had larger objects glued on, and – hooray! – the book laid flat enough to superglue my tea party scene on the top!
I loved the way the book had turned out, but I still felt like maybe something was missing. I had made a mini Mad Hatter’s hat out of an old wooden thimble to sit in one of the tea party seats, and that gave me the idea to make a miniature Mad Hatter doll (my favorite Alice character) to go along with the book. My Mad Hatter was made out of felt over pipe cleaners, and I dressed him in scraps from my other projects. I think he’s the perfect complement to my altered book!