Project Show-and-Tell: An Upcycled Smash Book for My Anniversary

Altered book made for an anniversary

In the fifteen years that my partner and I have been together, he has suffered through many gift exchanges. For Christmas last year, he gave me a new laptop computer and I gave him a scratchblock for an upcoming aluminum pour. For our birthdays last year, he gave me a book I’d been wanting and a gift card to our local indie sewing machine store, and I gave him the promise of a Star Wars T-shirt quilt…that I still haven’t finished (oops!).

Handmade has finally equalized the gift exchange, however. For our recent anniversary, Matt gave me the panini press that I’d really, really, really been wanting, and I gave him a smash book, altered from an old children’s book, that chronicles our fifteen years together.

If you’ve read Mahe’s post on upcycled smash books (if you haven’t, then go do it now!), then you know that smash books are quicker, easier, and more creatively amenable to recycled components than traditional scrapbooks can be, and frankly I much prefer the look of a smash book to that of your typical carefully engineered scrapbook. If you’d like some more examples, then please feel free to take a look below at my own upcycled smash book–it’s by no means perfect, but the beauty of a smash book is that it isn’t meant to be perfect. Instead, it’s meant to be meaningful, fun, crafted with lots of upcycled materials and stash components, and beloved by its recipient.

And that it is!

page from an upcycled anniversary smash bookTo make my particular upcycled smash book, I grabbed an old children’s book from my stash, one that I’d acquired for free from some local book sale or thrift store or somewhere. I made sure that the binding was still sturdy and that the pages were still firmly attached to the binding and in good shape–brittle pages wouldn’t hold up to all the stuff I’m going to throw on them, and a book with a broken binding is just going to fall apart on you while you’re working.

Some pages of the book, I gessoed and then painted with artist’s acrylics. Some pages I colored over with Prismacolor colored pencils or markers, to allow the background text and illustrations to show through without being overwhelming. Some pages I completely decoupaged with other paper, such as vintage sheet music or my daughters’ artwork. Some pages I covered completely with fabric or novelty duct tape. And some pages I did nothing to. The rest of the pages, consisting of over half of the book, I cut or ripped completely out, to give more room to the three-dimensional embellishments that I knew I was going to add. Those pages went straight to my vintage papers bin, ready and waiting for a future project.

Next >>

Written by Julie Finn

I'm a writer, crafter, Zombie Preparedness Planner, and homeschooling momma of two kids who will hopefully someday transition into using their genius for good, not the evil machinations and mess-making in which they currently indulge. I'm interested in recycling and nature crafts, food security, STEM education, and the DIY lifestyle, however it's manifested--making myself some underwear out of T-shirts? Done it. Teaching myself guitar? Doing it right now.

Visit my blog Craft Knife for a peek at our very weird handmade homeschool life; my etsy shop Pumpkin+Bear for a truly odd number of rainbow-themed beeswax pretties; and my for links to articles about poverty, educational politics, and this famous cat who lives in my neighborhood.


Leave a Reply
  1. This is tempting me to create a family gathering just to create a few of these. Think of the stories and the laughs. Yep I see a few girls nights coming soon.

2 Pings & Trackbacks

  1. Pingback:

  2. Pingback:

Comments (Keep It Civil...)

How-to: Craft DIY Wax Seals Using Crayons and Stamps

How-to: Make a Repurposed Table Runner