The Book That Bleeds

Ever go to a convention and encounter the problem of your costume having no pockets? It’s a perennial problem but I’ve found a stylish solution for my Drow mage. What could be more natural than carrying around a spellbook?

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This unassuming tome is actually hollow. You can buy such things from various craft stores. I got this one at a local dollar store. Needless to say, it didn’t start out looking like this so let’s get into the how-to! I’ve got two finishes here to show you, namely because I made a mistake with the first one but you can learn from my accident.

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Well, here’s a nice pre-finished wooden book-box. I got it for 4.99 so the price was certainly right.  We cannot, however, have a Drow mage walking around with a teddy bear book. It would be hilarious, but … no.

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So we sand the semi-gloss finish off of it so that the new coat of paint will stick to it nice and evenly.

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Drown in blood teddy bear! Bwahahahahaha! Heeh, okay it took several coats of red paint to properly conceal the bear.

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Which led to my workspace kind of looking like a murder scene. This was how the book got its name “The Book That Bleeds”. It sounded sufficiently spooky so I took inspiration from the joke and ran with it.

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I gave it a couple of coats of some old liquid latex that a friend of mine lent to me to play with. It was really not good for anything else given that the paint was party solidified in the jar but because of this it could achieve some really neat effects. The final coat I slopped on with my fingers to give it a rough look. Because of the colour of a Drow’s skin (charcoal black) it looks rather like this is what the book was covered in.

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Finished latex is a bit sticky so if you don’t want hair, dust, and small rodents clinging to the outside of your book, you’re going to want to use a finish of some kind. Here’s some Testor’s dullcote. It gives a matte finish that is quite nice. It also gives an obnoxious smell so have the windows open.

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In keeping with the theme of a bleeding book, I put some painter’s tape on the edges in various places and dribbled some watered-down acrylic paint over it to give the appearance of blood seeping out of the pages.

Here, you can also see the velvet-lining of the box. Very classy.

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I gave it a little more gore by flicking paint at it from a coarse brush. You can use a toothbrush for it as well. I probably would have if I hadn’t been lazy at the time.

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Now, here’s where I screwed up. I didn’t realize that if you drill holes into an object covered with latex, the latex has a tendency to wrap itself around the drill bit and RIP RIGHT OFF.

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You can, however, learn from my fail and make sure to give a wide enough berth around the drilling area or simply use something other than latex. It won’t feel as much like skin if you use paint but it will be more robust. Conversely, you can put on the “skin” after drilling the holes as opposed to before. Lesson learned!

So what did I do with my little failure? Well, after calling my drill unflattering names and pitching the ruined bit across the room, I decided to work on a new design.

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A new colour and a new idea! I re-painted it with acrylics, gave it a pretty design and finished it with a gloss varnish. This is Krylon Kamar Varnish. It gives a nice shine and doesn’t have quite the horrifying odour that Testors does.

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No need to break the bank. I used the ends of an old belt that doesn’t fit me anymore and some crafting leather strips from the dollar store.

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I threaded the leather through the holds and bound the belt securely to the cover.

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A couple of square knots holds it securely in place. Easy peasy.

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But so pretty! Still, not sufficiently Drowlike.

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Ahhh they’re escaping! I bought these critters at the dollar store.

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Ohai ther.

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Mr. Spider needs something to sit on to highlight his illustrious presence on the cover. So Some scrap velvet and a circle of cardboard should do the trick.

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I marked off sections of the circle and cut wedges in the edges to give the sections room to come together when I started sewing.

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What a pretty flower of DOOM!

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I used a running stitch so that I could easily pull the thread to tighten the velvet around its cardboard frame.

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And tied it off after a couple passes around with the thread.

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Some contact cement glued the circle of velvet onto the book and some hot glue stuck the spider onto the velvet. I painted the spider silver to match the design on the book and rounded off the top of the frame on the front to compliment the shape of the circle.

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And voilà! It’s ready to hold your wallet, keys, cellphone, makeup bag, and other belongings.

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The D rings on the belt allow me to attach a chain or strap to it so I can hook it to my belt or, if the strap is long enough, wear it over my shoulder like a purse or messenger bag.

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Praise Loth, it’s finished!

I hope you’ll be inspired to put some thought into unconventional storage options for those times when costumes make carrying things difficult. Sewing a pocket on the inside of a sleeve here, leaving a hollow compartment inside a warhammer there, might just be your ticket to a hands-free and uncluttered event. Happy crafting!

Author: Ethan Kincaid

Ethan Kincaid was born in 1985 in Brockville, a sleepy little town on the St. Lawrence River. He graduated from Carleton University in Ottawa with a degree in Linguistics and a minor in Japanese Language. After finishing his education, he settled down there with his wife Kaitlyn and became a full-time writer. In 2011, he moved to Montreal and discovered its vibrant writing culture. In 2015, Ethan moved to Helsinki, Finland with his wife; he works as a props crafter and part time author. His first book, Blood of Midnight: The Broken Prophecy is the first of a new fantasy trilogy. The greatest joy in his life lies in helping budding writers find their voices. In his words: "I like to shake people until cool stuff comes out!"

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