I’m working on adding a mad scientist’s lab to my Halloween displays and figured some good reading material would be a necessity in any lab. This small project was created to hang on my fireplace mantel, but it could also be made as a facade in front of regular books on a shelf or is light weight enough to hang a much larger version on a wall.
To begin the project I cut my pieces of cardboard into different sizes for my books. In this case I cut them into various widths, but left them all close to the same height so the fireplace wouldn’t show behind them.
Using a metal ruler as a guide, I scored the cardboard at even intervals about a quarter of the way through the cardboard so that the book spines could be rounded. It’s important that the last score lines on each side are equal distances from the outer edges of the cardboard so the book sticks out evenly on both sides from the shelf. I actually made these two cuts on all of the books first so that I could plan for various books protruding from the shelves in different amounts.
I then gathered my spine covers that I had printed and glued them to the cardboard using a brush and glue watered down 50/50. That proportion is for Elmer’s school glue. If you use a cheap brand, don’t water it down as it already is watered down about that much.
My printed spines came from various location. There are many sites with free printable book cover textures available to create them from scratch. I wound up finding actual pictures of old libraries and choosing the book spines I liked the best. Then I used Photoshop to erase the actual titles on the books (if they had them). Using the clone stamp I filled texture back in where I had erased and then I wrote in my own titles and credit.
Since I like to incorporate horror movies into my displays whenever possible I paid tribute to some of my favorite scientists with the titles including: Robotics by Miles Dyson (Terminator), Tissue Regeneration by Herbert Best (Re-Animator), Teleportation by Seth Brundle (The Fly), Pharmakeia by Henry Jekyll (Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde), How I Did it by Victor Frankenstein (Young Frankenstein), Herbal Remedies by Hershel Greene (The Walking Dead), Genetics by Dr. Moreau (The Island of Dr. Moreau), Concerning Black Holes by Jack Torrence (The Shining), Ancient Egyptian Artifacts by Ardath Bey (The Mummy), Parasites by Warren Chapin (The Tingler), Optical Density by Jack Griffin (The Invisible Man), Comparative Alien Physiology by Leonard McCoy (Star Trek) and Homunculi by Septimus Pretorius (The Bride of Frankenstein). I actually wound up with a bit of space at the end and plan to add Body Modification by Mary Mason (American Mary) to represent the ladies.
Using the printed spines as guides I glued strips of craft foam onto my books to give them more depth.
I then brushed large brown coffee filters with glue and put several overlapping layers over the foam strips to blend them into the spine. I brushed more glue over the top of the filters to fully attach them to the spines and also to wet them enough to be able to brush out any wrinkles I didn’t want. I put a few layers of filters so that the strips of foam would appear to have rounded edges.
When finished I glued a second copy of the spines over them, carefully lining it up with the first copy so that all the foam pieces would protrude in the correct places. I then squeezed by books into shape and put loose fitting rubber bands on them so that they would dry in the shape of the ends of books.
Once they dried I lined them up in the order I wanted them and measured them to create my shelf.
For the backing I cut a piece of cardboard the width of my books and slightly shorter than the height of the shortest one so that it wouldn’t show. I glued two small strips of wood to the top of it and used them to screw in eye hooks for my hanging wire. I also added wood strips to the sides and bottom so it would lay evenly flat against the mantel.
Once my backing was done I measured it and cut four pieces of 1/2 inch foam insulation to create my wooden shelf. To make the foam look like wood I used an awl to scratch some grain marks and knots into the foam. I then painted all the indentations with black paint without much worry about getting too much on. Then I used a greyish brown paint to cover the entire pieces. For this I used a sponge brush and painted lightly over the surface so that the black that was inside the indentations I made was not covered. I did the wood grain and paint on both sides of the foam as well as the sides and ends of each piece as some of them would be visible around the books.
Finally, I put full strength Elmer’s glue on the sides of each book and on the bottom half of the back edges and glued them to the front of my backboard. Around them I glued my foam pieces. The top piece is just glued to the top ends of the side foam pieces.