Altered Art with Flint Handmade: Tearing up books at Totem

Altered Art with Flint Handmade: Tearing up books at Totem

At Flint Handmade you can express your creativity by tearing up old books to create art.

“Creativity is one of the aspects of life that gets into our humanity … there is something about working with your hands and creating something new and beautiful in the world,” says founder of Flint Handmade, Crystal Pepperdine.

A beautiful piece created with old books, calendars and
playing cards.

Begun in 2007 as Pepperdine’s part-time pursuit while working full-time in higher education administration, the nonprofit grew into her full-time job in 2016. Since then, Flint Handmade’s goal of providing opportunities for people to express their creativity and engage in artistic entrepreneurship has evolved, adding more tailored programming, timing options and locations.

Flint Handmade doesn’t have a physical location. Instead it partners with book stores, cafés, churches, and farmers markets to host events.

“That way, people don’t have to come to us. We can go to them,” Pepperdine says. An added benefit is, “the more people get to know Flint Handmade, the more likely they are to come and discover places within Flint they may have never been, such as Totem.”

Altered Art at Totem Books is just one of the many programs the organization operates in what Pepperdine refers to as “metro Flint.” It is centered around altering old books to make art, crafts or art journals.

While some bibliophiles might cringe at the idea of tearing apart a book, cutting or painting on pages, Pepperdine says, “We are repurposing books that would otherwise be in the landfill. We are giving them another chance at life.”

Once a month, for a nominal fee of $5 a session, crafters get to use Flint Handmade’s art supplies and a little instruction for those who want it. The projects have evolved through the years.

Sean Dennison’s altered art piece featuring old books, sheet music and washi tape.

“We have let this event (Altered Art) evolve organically based on the needs and wants of the attendees,” Pepperdine says. “We want to meet the needs of our community. If it’s not working, then we change it.”

What used to be focused on home décor crafts has shifted into artist trading cards or ATFs and pocket scrapbooking. ATF’s are art projects that fit on a rectangle the size of an ordinary trading card and fit into standard sheet protectors.

Pepperdine finds these smaller projects are often less-intimidating and less time-consuming for busy artists. She adopted the idea of ATFs after one of the regular Altered Art participants, Rachel Ann, started making them at the sessions.

“I found Flint Handmade when I was seeking out a social, creative outlet,” says Rachel Ann, a regular with Altered Art at Totem for almost two years. “I work on art at home. It is a big part of my life. But here there is the collaboration of ideas.

“I’ve realized that my art needs to be more community-oriented instead of just kept to myself. I share my thought processes as I create, and that stimulates others, and when others share their ideas I am motivated by them, as well.”

People of all ages, races and genders are warmly welcomed at Altered Art. Rachel Ann, a regular with Altered Art at Totem is second from the right.

Flint Handmade and Altered Art offer the community “an opportunity to make a commitment with yourself to do your art and engage your creativity,” says Pepperdine. “We have had so many people say ‘I am setting aside this time for me,’ or they make it a time to bond with friends or quality family time.”

Altered Art meets the third Friday of the month from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. For upcoming dates and for information on other events visit or follow Flint Handmade on Facebook.

Flint Handmade’s Summer 2018 Art & Craft Street Fair at the Flint Farmers’ Market will take place every Saturday from June 16 to August 11 from
8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Top photo: Young adults are excited to express their creativity with their friends and family.

Photos courtesy of Flint Handmade




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