The Art of Darkness

Flaming Spellbook Prop

January 26th, 2016 by Cobwebs

Burning BookYou guys, have I ever mentioned how very, very stabby Pinterest and similar aggregators make me? This damn photo is everywhere, but I can’t find an original source or any other information about it. It’s a pretty neat-looking prop that would be great for a “witch’s kitchen,” but would also be attractive just displayed on a shelf. (It’d also be an awesome library display piece for Banned Book Month.)

I found a somewhat similar book that was previously available on Etsy from which it’s possible to glean a little more of the general construction.

Here’s my best guess on making a similar prop:

  1. Get a large hardback book from a thrift store; if it’s a little battered-looking, so much the better.
  2. If you intend to display the book opened flat or with the cover only slightly visible, just spray-paint the cover black (cover the edges of the pages with masking tape if you’re concerned about overspray). If the cover is going to be visible, you may want to decorate it further.
  3. Open the book to the middle, place it at the angle it’s going to be displayed at, and liberally paint white glue or Mod Podge around the edges of the pages to stick them all in place. (If desired, before this step you can spray all of the edges with water and let them dry so they’re a little more crinkly and old-looking.) There’s a good step-by-step tutorial for making an open-book spellbook here, to give you a general idea of what you’re shooting for.
  4. Distress the edges of the pages and add fake text to the visible top pages, if desired. This site has good instructions for doing that.
  5. Use an X-Acto knife to cut a hole in the center of the pages, large enough to accommodate a flickering LED tea light.
  6. Cut scraps of paper and glue them around the edges of the hole; stiffen them with a little Mod Podge if necessary. Build them up and out so they’ll hide the tea light, but don’t make them so dense that they hide the flicker. You could use paper with text for the outer edges and thin tissue paper for the inner stuff. You might also try tucking in a bit of red or orange cellophane to suggest flames.
  7. Make a few twists of black wire and attach tufts of scrap paper to one end of each. Hot-glue the other ends amongst the bits of scrap paper around the edge of the hole.
  8. Nestle the tea light inside and you’re good to go.

It’s a reasonably straightforward project; the hardest part would be making the central combusty bit look right. It might be worth doing a couple of test runs of just that part on other thrifted books before committing to the full paint job.

Posted in Paint It Black | 2 Comments »

2 Responses

  1. Thecadaver Says:

    I had an excessively intensive stare at the photo, it looks like they’ve used an old dictionary/thesaurus/reference book given the little indents visible on the pages on the left. Plays nicely into the book of spells idea because why wouldn’t they be alphabetised?

    Additionally I think it’s actually that the spine has been braced in position rather than everything being glued together. The little squares at the base suggest something like hinges folded out, with one half attached to the book and the other providing little feet to keep it still. It’d provide all the structure and still leave the pages looking “turnable”, which I find is something that really sets apart altered books.

  2. Pixel Pixie Says:

    So cool!

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