Introduction: The DIY Monster Book of Monsters
For Halloween this year we embraced our love for Harry Potter to revive a previous halloween monster project (found here). Reinvented with 100% muggle brand crafting supplies, our Monster Book of Monsters is sure to stun any halloween or Harry Potter enthusiast. So get your googly eyes ready because this instructable will certainly be one for the books!
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Step 1: Gather Materials
Before beginning your Harry Potter inspired journey, there are some materials you must gather. We started this project using the Digilent Robotic Box Monster Kit, which included our white box and other goodies for later use. While this instructable will only feature the creation of our Monster Book of Monster exterior, stay tuned for a follow up instructable using the included Box Monster Kit electronics.
Since we did not have faux fur like other instructable projects, we used some yarn that looked like hair when disassembled. White yarn was then used to make 3D pages, however, you are welcome to use whatever craft supplies you have around the house/makerspace. Tentacles and monster book jaws were made by hand using oven bake clay that was mixed and combined before shaping and baking. Spray adhesive was one of our most used materials and helped attach the monster hair, book colors (made from cardstock paper) and googly eyes (a must for any Digilent project). Finally we included some scissors that were used to deconstruct the yarn to make monster hair.
Some other products were used but were not pictured. These included: a Silhouette Cameo printer, an oven (to bake the clay), a pink hot glue gun, and gloves to keep your hands clean.
Step 2: Wrap the Box
Just like any good present, we want to start off by wrapping the outside of our box. Wizards and witches can quickly accomplish this step by performing a color changing charm. The rest of us muggles, however, can use the brown construction paper provided in the materials list.
Start by gluing the construction paper onto the top, spine, and bottom of the box. Our use of brown construction paper in this step helps make your next step easier and creates a more realistic book monster. While we chose to cover the entire box in brown paper, it is unnecessary to cover the sides of your box. These sides will eventually become your book pages, which may be white or another color of your choice. You will find out more about this process in the steps to come.
Step 3: Give the Box Some Hair
Now that we've covered your box with a beautiful brown coat, you will want to give your book monster some stylish hair. Other instructable projects have used faux fur for their Monster Book of Monsters, but we did not have any of this on hand. Instead we found coarse yarn that we then separated and cut to a desirable, hair-like length.
After cutting our yarn into smaller pieces, we disassembled it with our fingers to make our monster's hair. We collected clumps of hair inside the box during this step, keeping it in one place to avoid lost progress. When we had a good handful worth of hair, we sprayed our adhesive on the top and spine of our book monster. To keep your hands clean and adhesive free, use gloves while setting your monster's hair on top of the spray adhesive.
Step 4: Line the Pages
Once our book had hair, the next step was lining its pages. Since we covered our box completely in brown, we had to cut four rectangular pieces of paper to line the outside of our box.
Looking at examples of The Monster Book of Monsters online, we noticed that the pages were fairly ragged. We attempted to imitate this disheveled appearance by fraying the ends of our pages. To achieve this ragged edge look, first cut straight into the rectangle page ends. Next cut diagonally one direction, and again in the other direction, thus carving out uneven triangles. The rougher these pages look, the better your book's overall feral appearance will shine through.
When you are pleased with how your pages turned out, it's time to spray more adhesive and place the pages on the outside edges.
Step 5: Give the Pages Definition
Now that you have your pages in place, you will need to give them some 3D definition. Using any additional yarn you might have (white yarn works best here), roughly measure it to fit your page length then cut about a handful of uneven yarns. Apply more spray adhesive to the side of your box and stick the yarns on top of your previously cut book paper (refer to step 4). Don't worry if the yarns overlap slightly as this will only improve your book's untamed personality.
Step 6: Let There Be Sight
Now that your book monster has pages and hair, it's time to add the best part. Googly eyes are one of our favorite muggle crafting items. For this project we found some bright yellow eyes that we thought would give our book an eerie demeanor.
Taking our leftover yarn, we cut four long pieces that extended about halfway across the top of our book monster. You can use your fingers to break apart the yarn, like we did in step 3 when giving your box its first layer of hair. Be mindful to keep your yarn strands clumped together after you separate the individual fibers. When you have separated the fibers within each yarn grouping, glue one googly eye onto the end of each strand of yarn. Apply enough glue for each eye that you can press it into the book's fur and have it stick straight up. You may need to spray more glue to ensure your eyes stick properly.
Straighten the hairs behind each eye so that they stand apart on top of your monster box. Do not spray too much glue or else your hair will mat.
Step 7: Mold the Features
Get out your clay before moving on to the most important features of our book. Most oven bake clays requires a few minutes of kneading to warm up, so take this time (while you read through this step) to start moving your clay around.
Our monster box consists of three important features that we decided to model with oven bake clay. The first of these features is the monster book's mouth. In the Harry Potter movie, The Monster Book of Monsters appeared with jaws that stuck out from the top and bottom book covers. We tried to replicate this effect by shaping small, oval jaw lines that curved slightly inward. Each jaw was shaped as if the clay was first folded around the end of a rounded object (ex. a water bottle), and then indented to craft the gums. We created teeth by removing tic-tac size clay chunks from our warmed up clay, pinching the ends to make a pointed shape. About seven teeth, all different shapes and sizes, were made for each jaw.
The tongue was our next hurdle, made by folding a long rope of clay in half. Pinching the ends gave the tongue a better shape and helped it appear more dangerous.
Finally, we shaped the book's tentacles by mixing purple and white clay. This created problems later as these two clays took longer to cook when blended. Removing quarter sized pieces of clay for two sets of tentacles to line the jaws, we rolled out small pasta-like shapes and sharpened the ends. Gray clay was used as tiny suction cup dots underneath each tentacle. When making the tentacles we tried to make them one-of-a-kind because, like humans, each book monster should have its own unique personality. When we finished with the first four tentacles, the rest were formed by dividing the remaining clay into relatively small, similarly sized pieces.
All features were baked according to the directions found on the packaging of the oven bake clay.
Step 8: Attach the Top Jaw Piece and Tongue
When all book features are cooked to perfection you can begin attaching the jaws. Starting with the top jaw, cut a hole in the crease of your book's flap and insert the jaw. Our jaw was slightly too long for our book monster so we figured out a way to attach the jaw with a popsicle stick contraption (see images).
Zip ties were fit through the lid of our box monster and tied together on the inside while holding onto a popsicle stick. This released some of the pressure our jaw was placing on our front box flap and returned our ability to close our monster box.
A similar method was used to attach our tongue, however, we had no need for securing this feature.
Step 9: Match and Glue the Bottom Jaw
In an attempt to simplify our process, we attached the bottom jaw with the help of a dependable hot glue gun. After aligning the bottom and top jaws, hot glue was applied mainly to the underside of our bottom jaw. Placing most of our glue underneath the jaw gave our monster a cleaner appearance. Glue that was applied above the jaw was covered with the yarn previously attached as faux book pages. The bottom jaw was then given time to dry and harden onto the monster box.
Step 10: Give Your Monster a Haircut
Before attaching the tentacles we decided to give our monster a haircut. While efforts were made to create an unkempt monster, some of the yarns were too long and looked a bit too wild. Blending the yarns by cutting them to similar lengths on each side helped create greater cohesion between faux book pages.
Step 11: Giving Your Book Monster a Name
The (almost) final stage of our project was giving our book monster a name. For this step we used a Silhouette Cameo printer to cut out our text based on the chosen font style. This simplified our creative process quite a bit and made our text appear very polished. The text file we created, which is formatted for the Silhouette Cameo, is available for anyone interested.
After your text has printed, you can peel off the letters and test their placement on your monster box. Testing where you want to place your text before using the spray adhesive will give you the chance to rearrange what needs fixing before its too late. Once text placement has been decided you can begin gluing words onto the cover and finalizing your book's cover.
Step 12: The Tentacles Are Alive!
With our monster box almost finished, it was finally time to add our tentacles! The longer tentacles were placed near the top and bottom jawlines while the remaining tentacles were spaced to fit along the top and bottom sides. Tentacles were attached with help from our handy dandy hot glue gun, and the box was left to dry.
After the tentacles were attached and had time to harden we covered the ends with hair to mimic The Monster Book of Monsters featured in the Harry Potter movies. This hair was applied with spray adhesive as this tended to work best when applying hair.
Step 13: Long Live the Monster Box!
Now that you have completed the exterior of your monster box, you can use it several ways! From halloween prop to candy bowl you now have a wonderful companion and monster friend to keep for years.
Please share with us the ways you intend to make your Monster Book of Monsters unique and let us know what you thought of our instructable! Also stay tuned for a follow up where we will be giving our Monster Book of Monsters the gift of movement, with the help of some magic (electronics). Happy making!