Posts Tagged ‘diy’

The recent cold spell, or rather return to traditional Kentucky winter weather forced me from the garage to instead work on some indoor projects last week.  And, the resulting bloody, severed fingers are now one of my favorite creations to date.  This project takes a bit of patience, so a good movie in the background is highly recommended.

handpaint

The first step is to mix a small amount of flesh toned paint into Elmer’s white school glue. Pour the glue about a 1/4 inch deep into a small paint container.  Next, squeeze about a 1/2 inch of Portrait Pink acrylic paint into the glue as well as a small dot of Yellow Ochre.  Mix the paint and glue well with a wooden popsicle type stick.  For subsequent batches substitute other colors such as Burnt Umber for the Yellow Ochre if you would like a variety of skin tones.

Once the glue and paint are mixed, simply brush them on your fingers making sure to cover the entire surface.  It will take about 30 minutes for each layer of paint to dry completely, even using a fan or hair dryer.  Take care not to let your fingers touch. When they inevitably do, carefully cut the connection formed and pat it back down against your fingers.

Thea Higgins has a series of YouTube videos showing the process. She suggests at least three coats of glue. I found four to be the minimum. Even with five coats, my first attempt resulted in torn joints which you can see in the insert in the photograph below.

freshfingers

To avoid this, be sure the glue is completely dry in the areas that tend to take the longest such as the inside of the joints, at the base of the fingers and around or under the fingernails.  I found that when each layer is added it re-moistens the previous layer.  So, you can cheat a bit by adding a layer before the previous one is completely dry and spending the longest drying time at the end.  It is fairly easy to tell where the glue is still wet because it becomes translucent as it dries. In the final coats it also begins to stiffen and pull away from your skin on its own.  Anywhere you fail to completely dry the glue there will be tears or disruptions in the imprint.

Once you are satisfied the glue is completely dry, dust each finger completely with baby powder using a soft brush to eliminate the tackiness of the surface.  Gently begin peeling the glue back from the base of each finger and rolling it over itself.  Dust the inside with baby powder as it becomes exposed.  Once you have it started it will easily just pull off of your finger.  But, go slowly with frequent pauses to avoid tearing it or stretching it out of shape.  Once off brush the excess powder away.

bones

Stuffing the fingers and adding a bone to the end of them is the next step.  If you let the fingers dry overnight they will stiffen substantially, making this part easier to do without damaging them.  For the bones I had a necklace and a skeleton hand garland I picked up during post Halloween sales.  My new dogs had not learned which toys were mine and which were theirs at that time and chewed the skeleton hands a bit before I discovered their transgression.  But, I was glad I kept them as they were perfect for this project.  So, I spent an evening breaking the knuckles apart and trimming them with an X-Acto knife.

gorillatop

Ms. Higgins stuffed her fingers with plastic. But, I was concerned about the durability of that.  Having recently watched Allen Hopps’ Stiltbeast Studio video on Gorilla Glue foam, I opted to try that.  You simply pour some Gorilla Glue into a small amount of hot water and stir it with a wooden stick as fast as you can until it starts to expand.  You must work very quickly as the more it expands, the more porous and hard to work with the material becomes.  The foam in the cup pictured above is from about a teaspoon of Gorilla Glue.  Once it expands to the volume pictured it is very hard to work with.

The result of this method was actually very nice as those fingers have a more realistic feel to them.  However, it’s a sticky, messy process and it is very easy to accidentally collapse your finger or leave a gap inside of it. There is no correction once this happens, but they did look a bit like mummified or rotting fingers, so I kept them.

Regardless, on future batches I used hot glue to stuff the fingers. These came out very durable.  You still must be careful though because when you add the hot glue the finger becomes very soft.  To avoid having one rupture, I only filled the tip at first. Then I gently cradled it between two of my fingers, holding it upright and used a fan to help cool it down faster.  Once this hardened I could do the rest by holding the tip of the finger.  I stopped the glue just before the place the bone needed to be embedded.

Finally, I glued in the bone and filled the hot glue almost to the top.  Then I mixed some Gorilla Glue the same way as I had before and put very small dabs on top of the hot glue because the foam did look more like mutilated flesh than the smooth hot glue.  Even with tiny dabs I still had to poke it with a small corner of paper several times as it dried to knock the puffiness out of it.

nailclose

After the fingers are completely dry you can adorn them with a fingernail. This step can be skipped as your life cast finger will already have an impression of your nail on it.  To add a nail use inexpensive press on type nails or cut the shape out of clear protector sheets used for notebook dividers.  I used fake nails from a drugstore. Trim the nails to fit the fingers. Next, take sharp scissors or a knife or razor blade and put scratches lengthwise down the nail.  On the ends make many scratches, pressing all the way through the nail in some cases.  You can then take the scissors and snip out chips or cut deeply into the nail for a broken fingernail look.  Finally I scratched up the entire nail surface with the coarse side of a emery board and glued it on with Tacky Glue.

As you can see from the above photograph, some fingers were painted before adding the fingernail and others were not.  A bit of blood or blue paint under the nail looks like real bruising.  However, it turned out that this could be achieve just as easily before or after the nail was glued down.

To finish the look, I stained my pieces, finger and nail, with Minwax Red Mahoganey wood stain.  I stain all of my skeletons with this for a cohesive look across displays. Simply apply the stain with a cotton ball or sponge brush and immediately wipe it off with paper towels. This antiquing process leaves a bit of color in the creases to make them stand out and also gives the fingers a bruised and aged look.  The final step is to add blood.  My preferred mix is Allen Hopp’s recipe using clear Elmer’s School Glue with a few drops of red food coloring and one small drop of blue food coloring.  You can mix this straight in the glue bottle to always have some on hand.  The result is a translucent, shiny blood that looks great!  Just dot the fingers with the blood and blotch it around with a brush.

Since these fingers will be indoors, I won’t need to do anything else to them.  However, if any would be used outside it would be necessary to coat them well with some kind of acrylic or polyurethane finish to make them waterproof.

finished

 

DIY: Homemade meat hooks

Posted: October 13, 2016 in DIY
Tags: , , ,

hook-finishedNo torture chamber, butcher shoppe or mad scientist’s lab is complete without some rusty meat hooks to display body parts. Plastic and foam chains with hooks are readily available from just about anywhere during post-Halloween sales. But, they aren’t very realistic.

Luckily, Allen Hopps of Stiltbeast Studio (watch his video tutorial) has an easy tutorial for meat hooks which I followed to create them.  The one pictured here has a simple skinned face hanging from it that I created from a melted garbage bag.  I’ll post that project after I’ve experimented with it a bit more.

Start out with some cheap plastic coat hangers.  Simply cut them at angles to form two hooks out of each hanger.

hook-supply

After you have the basic shape of a hook, use a heat gun to soften the top end.  Once it is soft, simply use a pair of pliers to bend it into a circle.  Next, I used my soldering iron.  Actually, it’s the first time I’ve used that tool to solder!  In this case, instead of solder I took a piece of the leftover plastic from the hanger and laid it across the gap between the end of the hook and the end of my newly created loop.

hook-sauder-4

A little practice would lead to a less rough looking hoop, but I did like that they looked homemade.  I purposely made them in various sizes.  Note, because I used a very cheap coat hanger, these will not hold much weight.

The final step is to paint them.  These were sprayed with Rust-Oleum Orange Ultra Cover Paint & Primer which adheres well to plastic.  Then, using Rust-Oleum Brown Rust Resistant Enamel, I lightly dusted them, taking care to leave some of the orange showing through. After drying an even lighter coat of Rust-Oleum Black Hammered Rust Resistant Enamel was used.

These photographs do not do them justice as they really look like rusted metal.   One thing that helped them look more realistic was that the brown paint was apparently old and came out in chunks.  If this would not have been the case, I probably would have sprinkled a bit of sawdust on them to give some texture.  Others use oatmeal or grits to give texture to witches’ cauldrons or other items that are suppose to look like weathered, rusted metal.  But, I avoid any food products as my props are stored in an attic where mice have access.

hook-hanger-suater

demon-specimenNo mad scientist’s lab is complete without a demon specimen.  This project is very similar to several faerie skeletons I’ve seen online and plan to make.  In most cases the faerie wings are made of either leaves or feathers, whereas my demon has bat-like wings and is based on the design found on the Witch Craft blog by doll artist Arley Berryhill.  You can also find a very nice large scale demon over at Davis Graveyard.

Start with the miniature skeletons found in just about every home improvement, craft or dollar store around Halloween.  They usually come in six packs, often on a piece of rope to hang as a garland. They come with various shading and in black.

The wings are made from coffee filters. Arley used tissue paper for his, but I always opt for the most durable version I can think of as they are subject to some wear and tear and possibly even being put outdoors. You can start with brown coffee filters, but they seemed a bit too dark. So, I started with large white filters.  First soak them in water with a tea bag or coffee grounds to darken them.  This also eliminates the folds and flattens them nicely.

Cut each filter in half.  Next fold the halves and cut an arc from corner to corner of the outside edge.  Or you can try a more complex cut for scalloped wings.

demon-filter-cuts

Take a thin piece of wire and attach it to the skeleton.  I wrapped the wire around the spine and formed the top arc of the wings by just sliding my thumb across it pushing up.

demon-wing-part

Place the folded edge around the wire.  Next, I watered down Elmer’s School Glue using a 1:1 ratio of water and glue.  I painted this on generously on both the inside and outside of the wings.  This fused them together; made them harden when they dried; and also resulted in a slightly translucent look.  I then hung the skeletons on a cup to dry.

demon-dry

While the wings dried I added several details to the skeletons.  Create horns by adding a small drop of hot glue on their foreheads and quickly shape them into points before it hardens.  I used a small piece of fairly stiff twine for a tail.  I chose a stiff twine so that I could shape it to curl up instead of hanging.  One end of the twine is glued to the tailbone area of the spine and the other is sandwiched between two little triangle pieces which are glued to it.  The triangles were cut from a coffee filter and treated with the same process used on the wings.

Once the wings dried I watered down some acrylic paint and did a quick wash over them with green and brown.  Be sure to do this over newspaper or plastic as they drip considerably.

I placed one inside a cloche which I found at Goodwill and removed the clock.  I found an example of an old specimen label online and customized it with the Frau Mason brand.  As I like to incorporate my love of horror films into all my displays, this specimen was captured in Amityville New York on November 13, 1974, the day that Ronald DeFeo murdered his family.  My laboratory is located in Smiths Grove Sanitarium, where Michael Meyers was held.  Smiths Grove happens to be in the county I live in as this is where John Carpenter grew up.  So, not surprisingly references to his work appear often in my displays.

I also created several more mini demons and hung them from microfilament.  They may be trying to free the specimen.

 demons-on-blackdemon-specimen

DIY: Moss for tombstones & props

Posted: September 9, 2016 in DIY
Tags: , , ,

img_2417I plan on updating my cemetery this year with some nicer tombstones than  I created in my first project. I saw a haunter on Pinterest who made their own moss and thought this would be a perfect detail for them.  But, when I checked out his recipe it was made from grits.  This would not work for me as I store my props in an attic where mice have access, necessitating the avoidance of any food particles.  So, I thought I’d experiment with some other options.

The photo below shows the materials I tried.  From the top, left to right, they include: dryer lint, store bought grass powder for model train displays, foam board shavings, paper insulation, real moss from the hobby store and sawdust.

The foam board shavings were not fine enough for moss, but it was clear they would be perfect if I wanted to add crumbled stone to a broken tombstone.  The model train grass powder was too fine so it was too flat.  The lint, insulation and real moss all seemed too bulky and overpowered the prop.

 

My preference was undoubtedly the sawdust for moss.

img_2408

Next I divided my sawdust into several cups.  To each I added a bit of water and some acrylic paint.  I used various greens, yellows and browns to create several different colors.  I found that a very small amount in a cup would color all the sawdust.  I simply stirred it until it was coated in the color.  I was also able to add quitet a bit more sawdust and it would continue to absorb the color from what was already colored in the cup.

img_2414

Next, I took a bit of each color and mixed them together.  Unfortunately, they absorbed color from each other and after being handled became a large pile of the same color.  To avoid this, I let them dry overnight.  Also, instead of mixing the colored sawdust first, I applied it in layers.  I started with the main color.  I generously spread Elmer’s wood glue on the prop where I wanted the moss. In this case, I applied it to a cheap Dollar General skull cut in half and painted gray and glued to a foam board tombstone.  I sprinkled the colored sawdust onto the glue and pressed it in.  Then I sprinkled bits of other colors on top and pressed them in.

A bit more perusing of real tombstone’s covered with moss I’m sure will help with the placement of the sawdust to achieve a more realistic look.

img_2415

 

 

face-frame---new
A skinned face for your torture chamber is one of the quickest and easiest projects to do.  I first saw an example from Hocus Pocus Customs on eBay and realized it looked very similar to a mask I had picked up for $1 after Halloween.  Choose a mask that has only the face.

You will need: a mask, various colors of paint, something to poke holes through the mask, either an old frame or wood to create a frame and string.

face-frame-supplles

Using scissors or an Exacto knife, cut out the eyes, nostrils and mouth.  Also, cut around the face so it is not as curved and to give it an uneven edge. Be sure to cut off the holes that the strap went in.  Take a needle or awl and poke a hole at the top, bottom and sides of the mask as well as the diagonal points midway between. You could also use something to burn the holes in the mask.

face-mask-green

I grow bamboo for use in my Halloween projects and my garden.  So, this was an obvious material for creating a frame.   I cut 4 pieces large enough to give a nice border around the mask.  Secured the corners with 2 cable ties on each corner.  Leave some of each end protruding past the square of the frame. Then wrap one cable tie through the inside corner and between the two ends sticking out. Crisscross it with another diagonally across the two protruding ends. Use pliers to pull these very tightly, then snip off the ends.  Repeat on each corner.

Next, wrap string around the corners in every direction until there is no sign of the cable ties. The cable ties are not necessary, but you will find that if you only use string the binding can loosen over time and eventually unravel. I added some Elmer’s glue on the string to prevent it from unraveling.

face-mask-frame2

Using acrylic paint mix a pale skin color and cover the entire mask. The surface will remain a bit tacky but it did seem to adhere.  Then use various red and black mixes to add shadows and blood to the wrinkles in the mask and along all the edges.  Tie strings through the holes you created and tie the other end to the frame.

face-mask---complete-old

Above is my original creation.  However, after it was finished I happened upon Stiltbeast Studio’s video “Blood on the cheap” in which he compares 36 homemade blood formulas.  I immediately mixed up a batch using his Elmer’s clear glue, red food coloring and a touch of blue food coloring recipe.  The thickness and transparency, make it the best blood recipe I’ve used to date.  The first photo in this post was made after I splotched the new blood on it.  Elmer’s is washable, so the prop is no longer safe for outdoors unless it is also covered with acrylic, polyurethane or some other clear, weatherproof coating.

 

jess-dremelMy first Halloween DIY project was a family effort and I treasure the results.  These holiday keepsakes were very simple and allowed each family member to personalize their unique creation.

I started by searching online for epithet ideas. Unfortunately it was long enough ago that I no longer have the links.  But, I searched various terms to cull a list made up of both joke and real epithets.  Several we used were from the old west.  For example one was by a marble cutter who used his wife’s tombstone as a sales pitch for future work. Another of my favorites from a real cemetery was  “She lived with her husband fifty years And died in the confident hope of a better life.”  We each chose an epithet as well as a name from these lists to pair.  Most of the names were jokes, such as Stu Pitt or Claire Voyance.

Next I showed the kids the fonts I had on my computer and everyone picked their favorite.

After the choices were made, we looked a photos of cemeteries and everyone choose their preferred tombstone shape.  I limited the options to simple ones that I could easily draw, either freehand or by using objects of different geometric shapes to get what I needed.  For round tops I used a piece of string and a nail to draw arcs.

foam-with-epithetThe material we used was 1 inch thick foam board insulation. It is easy to cut with a serrated knife, hack saw or box cutter.  It is also very easy to smooth with sandpaper.

After drawing the shapes to get as many as I could fit on a sheet of foam board insulation, we cut them out, measured the space and in an actual size document laid out our names, dates, flourishes and epithets on the computer using the chosen fonts.  I then used tiling in the print options to print them and taped the resulting letter size sheets of paper with the print on them together to form an actual size pattern.

Once the pattern was taped in place we used exacto knives to trace the letters and designs.  These were cleaned up after the pattern was removed using either an exacto knife or Dremel tool to remove the foam.

Once the carving was finished, we highlighted it by painting them with black latex paint.  It is not necessary to stay inside the lines, but it is important to completely cover the foam inside the lines with black paint.

stones-enamelAfter the epithets were highlighted, we treated the foam with enamel spray paint.  The enamel paint reacts with the foam, slowly dissolving it.  The thicker the paint, the more foam was dissolved. This step resulted in giving the surface an aged, worn look similar to stone with water and wind damage. We also sanded the edges to soften them as a weathered tombstone would be.

The last step was simply to spray or use a brush to paint them gray.  The result was a fairly quick, easy family project with a big impact for our Halloween display.

While pleased with the tombstones, there was one ongoing issue – how to make them remain standing in the often windy fall weather. Initially I used some thin metal stakes that I pushed into the stones & the ground.  These were hard to work with and the tombstones would bend over. Next, I tried small rebar spikes in the front and back of the tombstones.  These worked well but were visible and hard to cover as they had to be left high enough the tombstones could fall over them. They also caused pressure points that made an indent in some of the tombstones.

I saw later that some people drilled holes through the bottom of their tombstones and placed them over the rebar.  standWhile this seemed like a good idea, especially if one used a piece of PVC in the drilled holes so that the rebar wouldn’t pop a hole through the front with too much pressure.  But, having used only 1 inch thick foam, I was afraid to do this.  Instead, I created some stands out of furring strips and scrap plywood.

I cut the furring strips just slightly longer than the tombstones and drilled a hole on each end so that I could drive a barn nail or small piece of rebar through them without hitting the tombstone.  I screwed a small piece of plywood on the front side and a larger one on the back to prevent the tombstone from falling.  The front of the stands were very easy to cover with leaves, but unfortunately this stand design does show from the back and therefore won’t be our choice for any future tombstones.  I plan to use slightly thicker foam board and try the drill method with a PVC insert.

Regardless, the entire family had fun with this project and it is one that can be tailored to fit a scary horror scene or a kid friendly, funny Halloween display. Care should be used in storing your tombstones.  Though they are weatherproof and fairly sturdy, it’s very easy to chip off pieces of the foam if they are rubbed together.  You can see the specks of blue showing through in my finished photo as it was taken a couple of years after they were made. It is easy to touch them up if this happens.

original-tombstones

One final note – if one of your tombstone breaks, be very careful what you use to attempt to fix it. Many adhesives will eat through the foam.  Be sure to choose one the specifically mentions foam board on it. Liquid Nails and Gorilla Glue both make versions of construction adhesive that is safe for foam board.

There are a lot of cool ghosts I’ve seen made by haunters and artists. While I love some of the ones created by chicken wire and cheesecloth, the packaging tape method appeared to be the easiest to create with my limited artistic abilities.  And indeed, I was very pleased with the result.

tape_ghost-main

I first started experimenting with smaller versions.  My son was so impressed with the creepy baby that resulted, he even pitched in a made one.

The first step is to find a doll and pose it in whatever position you would like your ghost baby to be in. For my life-sized figure I used a dress maker’s form, a hairdresser’s head and a friend’s arms for the forms.

forms

Next, wrap your form or model with plastic cling wrap from the kitchen. The purpose of this step is to keep the tape from sticking to your model, so you only need one layer.  Once you have completely covered your model with cling wrap, begin wrapping over it with packaging tape.  If you want to get more detail on the face or other places, use small strips of regular cellophane tape for features like eyes and lips.  I didn’t worry too much about fine details as my ghosts will be seen from a distance.

I found that a couple of layers of heavy duty Scotch tape sufficed for a fairly sturdy form.  But, the thicker tape popped up in a few places, so I went over the entire form a couple of more times with a cheap, thin dollar store brand of packaging tape to smooth all the edges.  On my first attempt I tried to continually wrap with the tape, but I found it was much easier to control the shape if I tore off strips of about six inches and placed them. I assume constantly overlapping these also added to the strength of the finished figure. In all, it took one roll of regular sized Scotch tape for each small doll and about six rolls for the adult figure.

Next, simply cut the tape off of your model along whatever route is easiest to maneuver.

ghost_baby-cut

You can be quite rough taking the tape off of the model as it is easy to reshape it.  Then simply tape the seams, being careful not to overlap the two sides as this makes them more noticeable.  In general it’s very easy to cover seams with just a few pieces of tape.  I even reopened mine several times as I tweaked my lights without any noticeable effect on the finished product.

One of the main reasons I opted for the packaging tape method was I liked the idea of my ghosts glowing an eerie color.  So the next step was to put lights inside of them.  After testing several methods I found the easiest for larger figures was to mount the lights with packaging tape right onto the stand.  I left about a foot and a half hanging to stuff into the left arm and taped the wire to the top of my piece of PVC.  Then I made a loop about the same size for the right arm.  The rest of the lights I looped in several circles, taping the top of each circle to the PVC.  This spread them out a bit for a more dimensional effect.  While they all look about equal at night, you can see from some of the photos that during the day the green wired lights are visible through the figure.  So I prefer using lights with white coated wire and plan to replace the green ones for next year.  Because white shows more on the ground, I wrapped the wire from the figure to the plug in black electrical tape.

tape_ghost-cords

For the small figures I opted to string multiple figures together with the lights.  As you can see by the picture, almost as much wire was outside of the ghost babies as was inside, so I had quite a bit of electrical tape wrapping to do.  Once I hung them on the tree I tried to hide as much of the wiring as possible behind the tree branches.

The small ghosts were hung using monofilament (fishing line) tied around their necks and the larger figures are just sitting on top of a piece of PVC.  For my life-size ghost I used a second shorter piece of PVC and an angled joint so she would be leaning forward a bit.  The white PVC doesn’t show at all even by daylight.  For my full sized child ghost I joined a white PVC piece that went inside the ghost to a black one to lift her off the ground.  At night the black doesn’t show.

stands

On the small one pictured above I didn’t wrap the legs.  On the adult life-sized ghost I had no legs.  Instead I gave them skirts that could blow in the wind.  These were created by cutting up the seams of clear trash bags and taping them a strip at a time around the waist. I did two layers and overlapped each strip a bit.  The second layer I started by taping the first strip between two on the first layer.

tape_ghost-dress

I used strips half the size to create a veil for the smaller figure.  But, I wasn’t totally satisfied with how it came out.  Though I think it could be improved by making the strips half the width, I opted to use cheesecloth for the larger figure’s scarf.  I taped it down everywhere the cheesecloth touched tape.  It doesn’t show and after a week her shaw is still in place.

tape_ghost-group

Mine are very simple versions of packaging tape ghosts.  If you have more artistic ability, check out examples by actual artists such as Khalil Chishtee here. Other types of tape sculpture by various artists can be found here.

All of the ghosts I looked at for inspiration can be found on my Pinterest profile in the ghost board, including the chicken wire and cheesecloth ghosts previously mentioned.

And, of course ghosts aren’t the only project for which tape sculpting can be used.  Online I saw some seamstresses using a form like mine and layering it with duct tape to create additional dress forms.  You could use these to bulk out your armatures for other types of figures in your yard haunt.  Sean Bradley has a great example of a life sized articulated mannequin he created with packaging tape on a Halo costuming site here.  It is at the bottom of the page below his tutorial on using a tape sculpture of his head and shoulders as a mold for a solid form.  He simply created the replica of his head and shoulders and then filled it with expanding foam (i.e. Great Stuff).

As I become more adept at creating these figures I would like to try something for my cemetery inspired by the cast glass sculpture by Christina Bothwell you can find here.  I may start by using one of the larger doll tape sculptures without a dress as a ground breaker ghost.  But, it would be cool if I could get it to look like it’s rising out of the dolls body as Bothwell did.

 

 

 

 

 

bookshelf-finalI’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.

bookshelf-1-cuts

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.

bookshelf-2-spines

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.

bookshelf-3-foam

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.

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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.

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Once they dried I lined them up in the order I wanted them and measured them to create my shelf.

bookshelf-6-glueFor 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.

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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.

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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.

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