Altering is most often about adding something to a card to make it special and unique. Ever so often, it's about saving a card on its last legs.
About a month ago I was presented with perhaps my most extensive and difficult restoration project to date. The card in question: an original foil Jace, the Mind Sculptor. The card was in awful shape. It had been altered previously, perhaps to hide other damage (neither I, nor the owner have the full story). The paint job was done very poorly, acrylic caked on like frosting and covering most of the foil as well. There were some dings visible along the sides and back. The condition was so horrible, the owner didn't bat an eye when I asked if I could gently scratch the surface to see if any of the paint would come off. I didn't have any delicate tools on hand, so I ever so gently rubbed it with my house key. A chip came off without damaging the card further. I was hopeful something could be done, with the caveat that there was no bringing this card back to pack fresh quality.
I feel a little uncomfortable showing the full card in it's original state. After all, this is someones alter job and for all I know they were proud of the result. That said, here's a small crop:
And here we have the card after most of the paint was removed. I quickly discovered that the card had also been acetoned to some extent.
At first I wasn't sure how to approach this mess I found under all that paint. Eventually I settled on simply restoring the Jace and some of the frame. I didn't want to cover all the foil, as the previous alteration had done, so I cleaned it up as best I could, removing stray remnants of printing with, sorry to say, a little acetone of my own.
Ultimately it felt like the greater good. I hope Jace can put this all behind him and seek out a better life that I'm sure awaits in his future.