DIY: Spooky Halloween Books

Sorry, I have trouble using my inside voice sometimes.  It's just - Halloween makes me So Excited!! It's spooky, and magical, and mysterious and, maybe most of all, it's CREATIVE.  I mean, really, what other holiday lets you turn your house into a crash-landed alien spaceship, or a pirate cove, or a freaky-deaky circus or all three?  What other holiday says "Go ahead, glitter is TOTALLY okay to wear over the age of 22!"?  What other holiday practically DEMANDS that you craft at least something - even if it's only a gap-toothed Jack O Lantern??  And, let's be honest, what other holiday pretty much requires you to not dust for at least a few weeks (for the sake of realism, of course...)?

Halloween, if you couldn't tell, ranks very high on my scale of Awesome Holidays.  I'm already elbow deep in a few projects, but this first one was inspired by other DIY bloggers and is pretty much as no-holds-barred as it gets.

I've already created several Super Spooky Halloween Books, but will probably do several more as I have time (They're really fun to mess with while having a Netflix marathon.) Alright, let's get to it.


Hardback books slated for Goodwill (or, if you really don't have any, most Dollar Tree Stores have hardback books for - wait for it - a dollar)
Mod Podge
Damp Paper Towels
Acrylic Paint  (I used black, blue, purple, red, white, gold and amber)
Inka Gold (or Rub n Buff or any similar metallic finish)
Hot Glue Gun
Plastic Spiders, Skeletons, Bats, Snakes, Fangs, etc.
Chipboard letters
Nail head trim or tacks
Any other decorative detail you can think of

The Basics: 

1.  Cover any space you don't want Mod-Podged or painted. This is not the cleanest of projects.  I like to use a piece of foamcore to work on as it doesn't slide around like plastic but keeps most spills from leaking through to the surface beneath.

2.  After removing any dust jackets from the books, I started by designing the covers and spines.  Playing with the letters, toys and nailhead, I laid out designs that I thought might work, and ultimately, adhered them with hot glue.  Example: In the case of the OS Book, I snipped the wings from a plastic bat and shaped them to fit onto a plastic skeleton.  I then hot-glued both in place with chipboard letters above spelling "OS" ("bones" in French).   Another book got a skeleton key, and nailhead accents on the corners, while another was given creepy-crawlies... you get the idea.

The OS book pre-wings

3.  After determining the cover of the book, I then repeated the design process on the spine.  Not all of the books will be displayed front-side-out, so a unique spine is just as important as a unique cover. Example: For the OS book, I snipped arms off of several of the plastic skeletons and connected them so that each is holding the one above it in a zigzag pattern on the spine.  Other books received raised letters to denote the title, additional creepy toys, or stayed blank for paint detailing later on.

4.  Working quickly, I laid damp paper towels across the front, cover and back, and then applied a generous amount of Mod Podge directly to the surface, spreading it evenly with a foam brush.  Using a fine tipped paintbrush, I pushed the damp paper towels into all of the crevices of the design, to make sure they would still show after drying.  I also allowed a little slack in the paper towel, so that when it was dry I could close the book without it cracking. *Warning: the paper towel WILL rip a bit. That's okay. Spread it back as best you can, cover it again, or let it look like the cover's wearing away.  See? Isn't this project great?

I realized right before I cemented the paper towel in place that I had yet to add the wings. oops.  Good thing it's easy to go back.

5.  I then allowed the books to dry completely.  In order to expedite the process, I placed the whole mess in a room under a ceiling fan (there's a possibility I'm not the most patient person in the world).  Again, the foam core made moving the project very easy between steps.

6. Once the book was dry, I began the base painting process.  Many of the books started with plain black, but a few others got a swirl of black and purple or blue.

I actually really like the creepiness without the additional colors. I may do another book like this.

7.  After allowing the books to dry completely again, I could start on any of the detail work.  This was my first foray into using Inka Gold, but it was super easy.  It has a waxy consistency and allows you to kind of scoop up and rub away as much or as little as you want.  It worked very well on the relief of the covers (I used it fairly sparingly).  To finish, I added other shades of gold and amber to the crevices and creases until I was pleased with the result.

More Advanced: Libellus Invidet (The Book of The Evil Eye)

After playing with the paper towel method, I decided to try something a little different. Inspired by a combination of the book in the children's movie Hocus Pocus and by a magnet project in the book Artful Halloween, by Susan Wasinger, I wanted to create a Franken-book of sorts that upped the creepy factor. 

Additional Tools:

Brown Paper Bags 
Clear Glass Vase Gems 
Clear Drying Adhesive 
Cord or String 
A Needle 
A Sharpie and highlighters 

1. I cut out any large eyes from ads that I could find in magazines (mascara ads are great for this).  I used a sharpie to outline the black parts and a highlighter to embolden the color (markers would work too, I just like that the highlighter lets the details show through.
2. Using the clear adhesive, glue each magazine eye to a large glass gem. Reshape any magazine overhang with scissors.
3.  Arrange your eyeballs on the cover, adhering with a hot glue gun when you're happy with the placement.  Though the Hocus Pocus book only has one eye, I wanted a more abstract and eerie look, so I added two additional. 
4.  After ripping shreds of brown paper bag and dampening them with water, I began adhering them to the book with Mod Podge, overlapping them wherever it seemed appropriate.  I ripped holes and folded shreds back to leave the eyes visible.
5.  Working with a dry shred of paper, I used a needle and cord to create stitches before wetting and adhering to the cover.
6. After allowing it to dry, I brushed some of the sections with black and amber paint and a touch of tea. 

Other Ideas

- Use a hot glue gun to create a spider web on a cover and attach a plastic creepy crawly to the bottom.

- Take some time to alter the look of the pages of the book.  When the books are closed, the very edges of the pages show and look awfully white and crisp next to the distressed covers.  I used some super strong tea to paint along the edges of some, while others got  gold or black pages.  Later, once they were dry, I used a lighter to distress a few spots a bit further (PLEASE DO THIS CAREFULLY.  Burning down your living room is not a good Halloween project.)

- Start over if you need to.  Here's the happy thing about this project: If you hate how one turns out, rip it off and start again.  I had to do this several times as I didn't like some of my initial creations.  Starting over only adds to the old and beaten look. 
Initially I attempted to Mod Podge a Sugar Skull printout onto the front, but I just didn't love the result.  After tearing it off and going with a more basic motif, I was much happier with the result. 

That's it!!  As I said, I will probably wind up making a few more in time because they really are so fun to make.  For now, however, I have a good little Spooky Library started.  Let the Halloween-ing Continue!

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