For the show 'Into The Woods', we needed an over-sized Disney still fairy-tale book, for the Narrater to use. The book was made entirely from cardboard and was made in 3D, so that the Narrator could secrete their notes and lines inside and the audience would not see them.
We mounted the book onto a lectern which was decorated with flowers and ribbons. The book was also used as a carry on prop.
Step 1: Making the book shell
if you have ever covered a school book, then this is very much like that process, but in 3D!
You will need:
- Several sheets of cardboard
- Masking tape
- Hot glue gun
- Acrylic paints
- Dry paintbrush
- Black sharpie pen
I measured the size of the Narrator script folder, which was going to be placed inside this prop book. Once I had the front, spine and back measurements, I drew out the folder shape on a large piece of cardboard. I then worked out how deep I wanted the book to be and added another set of measurements outside the first. This outer shape will form the 'walls' of the book (on which you will draw page edges).
Cut out the outer shape and keep the unwanted cardboard bits. Then score gently, the inner shape, spine edges and gently bend in the sides, front and back to form the book shape. Use tape to hold all the sides together and hot glue gun to cement sides and edges together, so that the structure becomes robust.
At this point I decided to create the embossed details of the book corners and spine from the off cuts of cardboard you have left. I cut out corner sections and small centre diamonds from cardboard and glued them down - but you can do pretty much what you like - corners or edging or even cut out words and stick them down.
Once these extra pieces of card had dried off, I added masking tape roughly over them, so that it was crumpled and rough. (This will add 'age' and creases in the leather of the finished book)
Step 2: Create the spine
Add details to the spine with twisted or rolled masking tape and cardboard strips - you could also use paper drinking straws or wool/string if you had these.
You should have the corner sections slightly overlapping the edges of the book, so that it can stand up, when put on its end. (Like the real protective corners of an old book)
Step 3: Painting
I used acrylic paints and a dry brush.
I had a variety of reds, yellows, browns and golds. I used black sparingly. You could colour your book any colour you want - greens and purples for a Witches Spell book, blacks and grey for a Halloween book for example.
This is the order I painted my book.
Start with the embossing and raised areas. Paint in a light yellow ocre colour on all raised areas. Gently paint in the thin strips on the spine in yellow, make sure you get into the dimples of the tape and cardboard. Then add a little brown, (mix brown with yellow ocre aswell) to blend in some aging, dirt and corrosion. You are going for an antique gold effect and will need to build it up from light colours to darker. Note that as soon as you start painting dark, you have fewer options. Starting lighter, gives you lots of options and the chance to re-paint if you don;t like the colours.
Once this gold layer is dry, you can add the red colours. Layer up as before.
Start with a nice bright orangey red colour and then as you layer up the darker shades, add in some crimson to create an antique red leather type finish. Be careful where the red meets the gold. (Thinking about it you could place the gold corners on afterwards, but I liked using the crinkled masking tape all over the book, so having them in the build from the beginning was necessary.) I also used droplets of dry glue to make more relief swirls and shapes and acrylic paint goes over these blobs really well.
Finally when it is all dry, use a thin sharpie to add more definition to the raised areas and to emphasis the creases on the 'leather'. Draw on any creases and aging you want, but go careful. Less is more!
Step 4: The sides
As you can see in this picture, the sides were drawn to look like page edges. I created this effect by simply lining the edges with wide masking tape and drawing loads of very thin wobbly lines along the edges with a black sharpie, to create the pages of an old book.
Message me if you want help making yours. Enjoy!