Sunday, September 18, 2011

DIY Antique Spell Book Halloween Prop


    This is a tutorial on how to make an antique book prop out of any book. I chose to make mine Sally's potion book from the movie Nightmare Before Christmas. I saw an antique book prop similar to this one online, but could not find ANYTHING about how to make one. So, I did a little experimenting. This is how to make it:          

Supplies Needed:

-Out dated book
-White glue
-Large artist brush
-Instant Coffee
-Acrylic Paint
-Printer Paper
-Caulk & Floral Moss (optional)

Approx. Cost: $10 or less

Time Invested: 2+ Hours

(Description corresponds to picture tutorial above)

* Decide if you are going to make a cover for the book. If so, do this first. Click here for book cover tutorial.

 (This Book is a prop only. When finished, it will be hardened and stuck in the "open" position. You will not be able to flip through or close the book.)

1. Measure the dimensions of your pages, (example 7 “ x  9 “ )

2. Make a Photoshop document with those same dimensions (example 7" x 9"),  then add photos or text as desired. Print it out . Lay out on book and trim excess if necessary. Set aside for later.
Free Nightmare Before Christmas Font:

Inner page print outs:

3. Find the center of the book and mark it with a bookmark, using a white glue and water solution, start at the front cover and and brush on the glue solution and press the first page down, do this over and over again to each page until you reach the center. (Also, as you near the center it helps to start "bumping" the pages up, not smoothing them down so flat: see pictures)... you don't have to cover the entire page with glue, just do one swipe down the outermost edge with a 1" brush from top to bottom, as you near the center stop applying glue to the top and bottom corners (just the middle few inches) so the corners will be free to lift up. After you have reached the center, go back and take the "free" unglued corners and roll them in layers with your paint brush handle. Once they are rolled, apply a lot of glue so they will harden, flip book, and repeat from back cover to center.

4. Paint entire book black with acrylic, let it dry. Paint all page edges with a thin layer of metallic silver acrylic, let it dry.

5. Lay paper printout pages into the book, mark with pencil some jagged edges so it doesn't look so perfect, cut out jagged pencil edges. Apply glue solution to open book pages and carefully apply each printout page into place, remember to fit the corners up into the curled edges.


6. Coffee! I personally like to use Starbucks VIA instant caramel coffee that comes in the packet, but any will do. Put some warm  water in a small cup, add instant coffee powder, let it desolve to brown coffee water. Use your paint brush to paint it on the stark white pages. Do one all over coat to get a tan overall color. You can add a second layer of coffee, the more layers,  the darker it will be. I did 2 all over and a third random pass to make it more uneven and random. Don’t be afraid to mix some glue into the mix too. Then while the pages are still pretty wet, I like to do a random sprinkling of the dry instant coffee powder. Let it sit a few seconds and you will see it start to desolve and leave a dark rusty age spot effect. Wipe it off lightly with your brush once it has reached the desired rusty age spot look. Blow dry the pages a little not all the way, then dip your fingers in some regular water and flick water onto the pages randomly. These will dry a different shade than the rest, also looks like water damage and age spots. Let Dry (doesn't have to be 100% dry to move on to step #7).
7. Paint, I use very watered down black acrylic and watered down burnt umber acrylic. Paint, dab, smudge, blend around the outer edge of where the printer paper meets the real book for a “burned” edges look.

8. Paint any colors and details you have. If you need to add any color (in my case green on the soup), use very watered down acrylic paint, a water color consistency. Remember you can always start light and work your way to dark, but if you start too dark… your screwed. 

9. Add a ribbon bookmark. I found some old pink wire ribbon and painted it black. Then painted my own wiggly white stripes (acrylic). Or you can buy black ribbon and add the white stripes. The wire makes it bendy and pose-able. Hot glue it into the spine at the top of the book.

(STEP #10 & #11 Optional)

10. Add moss with hot glue. I bought mine at Michael's, but any floral or craft store should have it. I love the one I got. It was in the Halloween isle and it was $2.99 for a good sized bag. Plus I had a 40% off coupon! Place it where ever it looks natural. I also added some dried leaves I found outside for a cemetery look. 

11. Add worms if desired. I just piped them on using a caulk tube. Then I painted them with acrylic and added acrylic gloss for slime. I gave them cartoon like eyes for the Nightmare Before Christmas style.

Comment if you have any questions... Good Luck.


  1. Love it!!! Thank you for sharing.

  2. Did you draw the bowl of soup and spoon yourself or find it online?

    1. I found it online, but drew it onto the page myself. And painted it myself.

  3. Oh ok thanks. I love the book! :)

  4. Do you have the PDF file of the 2 pages for the book so I can just print them out? That would be awesome! Please let me know I'm at

  5. I would love a copy also I have a mac and I cant download the font Thank you very much!

  6. I would appreciate it if you could also send me the pdf as well please :-)

  7. Can you send me the tutorial on how you did the book cover? I would really appreciate it. You did an awesome job cant wait to try it out! Thanks in advance!

    1. I will be posting the book cover tutorial on here since I keep getting so many requests!

  8. I really love this and would like to get it for my girl friend but i'm not very good at that stuff. Would you be able to do it for me and how much would you want for it if you do? message me at with what your thinking. If not thank you anyways

  9. May I please have a copy of the PDF file for the 2 pages? I have tried downloading the fonts and no matter what I try they don't work on my computer, Thanks so much!!

    1. The inner page printouts have been added. Look for the link above under step 2


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