I’m currently reading and thoroughly enjoying Deborah Harkness’ book “A Discovery of Witches” – the acclaimed first book of the All Souls Trilogy. I’ve described it multiple times as delicious, and I think it’s safe to say I’m quite obsessed. This book has a special place in my heart because not only does it depict vampires and witches in my favorite ways, it takes place in the city of my heart, Oxford.
For this book, I wanted to complete a special DIY project based on the book. I thought there would be nothing more fun than creating my own Ashmole 782! For those of you who haven’t read yet, the Ashmole 782 is a magical tome that main character Diana Bishop accidentally summons in the Bodleian library.
For this project, you’ll need a hardcover book, a pencil, a ruler, hot glue, paint, patterned tissue paper, mod podge, and metallic Sharpie markers.
Step One: Choose your book.
I chose an old, secondhand copy of The Oxford Book of American Poetry by David Lehman. As you can see from the cover, the book had some stains and a rip on the spine, and was badly in need of some TLC. I thought, instead of trying to refurbish the book, why not instead transform it into something new? (And the beautiful irony of having an Oxford collection of poetry for this project was not lost on me, believe me!)
Step Two: Using the ruler, sketch out lines you’d like to define. On the cover sketch below, you can see where I outlined a sigil I designed months ago to symbolize witchcraft and what it means to me. It’s an artist’s interpretation of an age-old practice.
I also drew the lines I wanted above and below the sigil, as well as the line separating the spine from the cover. I knew it would look funny if I didn’t do this because the spine was made of a different material, so I wanted to follow the original integrity of the hardcover. Also – you can see from the next step I didn’t follow exactly the original sketch intended. That’s fine! At the end of the day, it’s supposed to be fun.
Step Three: Hot glue.
I don’t have a picture of this step completed, because hot glue is clear and didn’t show up on the photograph. However, it’s quite simple: using a glue gun, trace the sketch with lines of hot glue. You want to be as precise as possible on the straight lines – some glue guns have a little stand that you can use to stabilize your hand. I have extremely shaky hands so this was a lifesaver for me! Then, wait for the glue to dry before going over the stripes on the spine and back cover.
Step Four: Paint! Here you can see the paint on top of the hot glue. You can also tell from the picture that it’s only the first layer – I think I did about two and a half layers, adding extra paint on top of the glue because it needed it more. I also added flecks of paint using a slightly lighter acrylic paint.
This is when it was still wet – when it dried, it blended in more with the background and gave it a mottled, textured look. And you can also see from these pictures my lines did not turn out exactly straight! That was fine, though, and brings us to our next step – highlighting the hot glue with Sharpie.
Step Five: Go over the hot glue design on top of the DRY paint with a metallic Sharpie. (Self-explanatory! Just make sure the paint is ABSOLUTELY dry. I would even leave this project overnight if possible to make sure!)
Step Six: Mod Podge and tissue paper.
This was really an optional step for me, but I didn’t like the asymmetry of the cover with the sigil and the lines. I carefully cut up strips of fancy printed tissue paper I had lying around and pasted them onto the spine only. You can see in the final pictures below the finished product, as well as some detail shots. I set down the patterned tissue paper as a background, so that will (hopefully!) give you some idea as to what I was working with.
Needless to say, it was a TON of fun making this book look like a witchy old antique, and I really enjoyed it. If you try this project, let me know how yours turns out!