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DIY Home Decor Holiday Decor

How to make a Faux Spell Book from a box

I have seen many of those faux spell books all over Pinterest and they looked like a fun project to try.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have any sacrificial books to turn into spell books, however, I did have a book shaped box that my iPad cover came in.  I hung on to the box for no reason other than my slightly latent hoarder genes.  It was such a nice box and I was sure I could find a use for it.  I’m proud to say that not only did I find a use for it, but my faux spell book doubles as a secret hiding place for all of my “spell” casting needs. 

Materials for your faux spell book:

  • Sturdy box that has a hinge opening
  • Hot glue gun and hot glue
  • Black paint (I used chalkboard paint)
  • Gold mica powder
  • Decorative paper for the inside
  • Mod Podge (or you can water down some elmer’s glue)
  • Several Kleenex’s 
  • Paint brushes
  • Sharpie
  • Spell book template (download below)

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How to make your faux spell book.

First, I went to Google for inspiration.  I already had some cool animal skull print paper to line the inside with and that was my inspiration for the outside.  After googling many different animal skulls, I decided that cows were sort of quirky, yet ominous.  I then free-handed a skull on the front and then drew some mystical looking symbols around it.  If you’d like you can download my pattern for free, fill out the form above and you’ll get a pdf in your email.  I also wanted the book to have a title, but somehow I felt like “Spells” was too on the nose.  So, I found a Runic alphabet and wrote spells, but with a little more flair. 

The project started with a basic box and then became a creepy spell book.
The faux spell book began as an unassuming box and became an almighty spell casting book.

Next, I traced over everything with my hot glue gun.  I did several passes to build up the glue height.  One trick I often do with hot glue is to keep a little water nearby and if I need to fix something, I dip my finger in the water and then reshape the glue without burning myself. This was a trick I picked up while making my Bee Wreath.  

After the hot glue dried, I got out the Mod Podge and Kleenex.  It turns out that my tissue actually consisted of three layers. So, I started by separating the layers to get three very thin sheets of tissue.  Next, I dabbed some mod podge glue on the box so that the tissue would stay in place when I put it down.  Lastly, I went over the whole tissue with Mod Podge, making sure that it really tucked around all of the hot glue and that the details showed clearly. After I covered the front, sides, and back I allowed the box to fully dry for 24 hours. 

The next step was pretty satisfying.  I painted over everything with black chalkboard paint. I did leave the edges of the “book” white. After the outside was dry to the touch (1-2 hours), I painted the inside walls black as well.  This helped to give the inside a more finished look.

Once the paint was totally dry (I waited 24 hours), I used my finger to rub some mica powder over all of the raised parts.  This was literally the most satisfying part, because it created instant gratification.  The box looked so good after the mica powder was added. 

Spell book with the mica powder added
The mica powder really transformed the book and gave it a slightly regal, yet worn look.

Optional: Line the inside with decorative paper

I wanted to cover the graphics on the inside of my box with my super-rad animal skull paper (the paper came from www.pepinpress.com—they have amazing stuff). I added the paper to the inside front cover and the back.  My original plan was to line the sides too, but painting the sides black ended up being much easier.  In order to attach the paper, I coated the surface with Mod Podge and then tried to smooth the paper down from top to bottom to avoid bubbles.  Then I covered the top and edges really well with more Mod Podge.  It ended up with a few wrinkles, but they add a little character.  

The faux book with the “spell” casting materials
My faux spell book hides all of my secret “spell” casting supplies.

Looking for other spooky DIYs? Check out our bleeding candles and skull chandelier.

Categories
DIY Home Decor Holiday Decor

DIY Bleeding Candles: Make your own Upcycled Halloween Candles

Every practitioner of the dark arts needs ritual candles. When I saw these bleeding candles online I thought they were so cool. But, I didn’t think they were $15 – $30 cool. Also, they only came in white and I thought they’d look much better in black. I knew this would be an easy project that would let me upcycle thrift store candles for much less.

Two bleeding candles cost anywhere from $15 to $30 online.

You’ll need:

  • Black candles, as many as you want to make (optional use white or other colored candles if you prefer)
  • Red candle, the darker red the better, the dripped wax will be lighter than the source candle, so keep that in mind when selecting your red candle (or get several red candles and experiment).
  • A lighter
  • Scissors or box cutter (optional)
  • Waxed paper or newspaper
  • Candle holders (optional – but you’ll eventually need them), or a box or something you can poke a hole in to hold the candles while you work.
Inexpensive thrift store candles ready for upcycling into fabulous bleeding candles.

Make it:

I bought my candles at thrift stores, because I didn’t care if they were dinged up, I think it adds to the aged character I was aiming for. Also, they are super inexpensive and I was able to get a whole bunch of candles for less than $5.00.

A cautionary tale: I was so anxious to start, I grabbed the nearest candle holders. They look like they’ve survived a massacre and I dread trying to get all that wax off.

Prepare your work surface. This is the the step I always forget because I’m excited to just dive right into the project. I highly recommend at least putting down some newspaper or other covering because the red dye in the candle wax can stain some surfaces.

If you are using candle holders that you don’t want to have wax dripped on, cover them with a paper towel, wax paper or newspaper before you put the candle in. You can also just cut a small cross into a box to insert the candle into while working. If you’re using a temporary holder but want to keep the puddled wax at the bottom when you transfer the candle to the final holder, line the temporary holder with waxed paper.

Trim your Candles. The next step is to determine how tall you want your candles. I wanted the candles to look like a practitioner of the dark arts has used them in many a ceremony. They were too tall and sprightly to have seen so much sorrow, so I cut them off shorter (also, I was too impatient to wait for them to burn down). You can trim them at the bottom if you like, but if you go that route, make sure you trim at at spot before the candle tapers, so it’s not loose in your holder.

With tapers, it is better to trim from the top, for a more authentic look and so they don’t wobble in the holder. Using old craft scissors, a box cutter, or the strength of your bare hands, cut into (or break) the wax using care not to cut all the way through the wick. After the wax crumbles away from the wick, pull it up to expose the wick and cut it approximately 1/4 to 1/2 an inch above the top the shortened candle (you can always trim it later). I didn’t worry about making the cuts even, or the same height, since I was going for an aged look.

Burn down the top. The idea is to make it look like the candles bled while burning. With this is in mind, whether you’re starting with a fresh pristine candle, or one you’ve trimmed, you will want to burn down the new top, or broken edges, before you start dripping the red wax on. Light the candle and let it burn until the top is melted enough to look used. Once you get it to where you want it, blow out the candle.

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Building up layers will make it look like the candle has been well used in your rituals. Pause often to observe your progress, turn the candle, and adjust your drips.

The fun part! This is the best part – just don’t forget in all of your excitement to use caution while handling the lit candles. Fire and hot wax burn people and things. We only want the illusion of bleeding; real bleeding and sacrifice are not required.

Light the red candle, holding it upright a few seconds to get a good melt started. Start dripping the red wax on the top of the black candle. How long you do this, and how much you build up, is a matter of personal preference. I think I might have overdone it just a little on a couple of mine because it was simply too much fun! Build it up until it looks right to you, dripping it down different areas. Drips will tend to gather on top of each other and build up, so play with it until you get the look you want.

Once you like how it looks, light the black candle and extinguish the red one. Let the black candle burn a minute or so to burn off any wax that dripped onto the wick and to develop the proper texture on top for a candle that’s seen many a ritual.

Decorate!

Put these candles in a candle holder and place them on your mantel, your buffet, your table, your alter, wherever you perform your sacrifices. I don’t light them, because they will not “bleed” as they burn, but I think they give an appropriately spooky feel to my Halloween Mansion. Happy Haunting!

These would also look great in a spooky Candlelier or Candelabra. Looking for other spooky DIYs? Check out our Spooky Chandelier and our Faux Spell Book.

Categories
DIY Home Decor Holiday Decor

Unique and Inexpensive DIY Halloween Décor

Halloween décor doesn’t need to be gory and grotesque or cartoonish. In my Victorian house I prefer an elegant gothic approach, featuring subtle touches. Read on for classy, unique, and mature (but not boring) DIY Halloween projects.

Skull Chandelier

One of the simplest and, by far, my favorite Halloween project is adding a touch of Halloween to my chandelier.    It’s simple and inexpensive, but looks like the chandelier was made that way.

Using the same spray paint that I used to paint the chandelier makes the skulls look like they are part of the chandelier.

You’ll need:

  • A package of plastic skulls like these.
  • Spray Paint (optional) any color you want.  I used the same oil rubbed bronze that I used to paint the chandelier when I bought the house. I wanted the skulls to match so they would look like they are actually part of the chandelier. 
  • Scissors, box cutter, awl, nail, or other sharp pointy thing.
Halloween skull decorations
This was an extra skull, I used an all in one paint and primer that I had on hand, you can see that the skull chipped some. Most of them did not have an issue, but for better adhesion you can use a plastic paint or a plastic primer.

Make It:

  1. The first step is to cut the skulls.  Using an awl or large nail poke a hole through the top and the bottom of the skull.  I held the skull up next to the part of the chandelier where I wanted it to sit so could judge the angle and then marked a spot on the top and bottom by eyeing it. 
  2. After punching holes in the top and bottom, Use your craft scissors, or a box cutter, to cut a down the back seam between the holes. 
  3. Once you’ve split the back seam, round out the top and bottom holes to the size of the part you want the skull to sit on.  Take a little off at a time, and fit it as you go.  If you get it to fit snugly enough, it’ll stay in place without any assistance.. 
  4. Paint the skulls however you like.  (I’d love to see someone do these as sugar skulls!)
  5. After the skulls have dried, just squeeze them open and place on your chandelier.  After you can easily remove them for storage until next year (or leave them up year round if you like).

Want more DIY Halloween Projects? Check out our Halloween Bleeding Candles and our Faux Spell Book!

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Handmade Gifts Holiday Decor

DIY 4th of July light up Bracelet

I love wearing things that light up.  I’ve made and attempted to make a variety of light up jewelry and costumes over the last few years.  Some (like my festive light up Christmas sweater have been successful) and others have just been frustrating.  However, I have found some really awesome sewable LED lights and battery holders by Adafruit.  They have made my wearable tech endeavors so much easier.  So, easy in fact that I have successfully introduced similar activities to my middle school science classroom. This would be a fun 4th of July project and the bonus is that you will be able to locate your kids when the sun goes down and the fireworks come out.

The light up bracelet in action

Supplies Needed for DIY 4th of July Bracelet:

How to make your own 4th of July light up bracelet

  1. Start by downloading and printing the template from above. Then cut out all of your felt pieces.
  2. Place the battery and the LED lights on your main bracelet band. Be sure that the positive symbols for the LEDs are all pointing the same direction and that the battery is oriented so that the positive end of the battery is on the same side.
Place the battery holder as shown and then the lights with the positive end pointed the same way.

Gluing down the lights and battery holder

  1. Hot glue the battery holder and the LED lights into the locations shown. Note the lights should be glued face down in order for them to shine through the felt fabric.
  2. Glue the Velcro in place for the battery holder (see the right picture above). Don’t worry about the Velcro for the bracelet yet, as that will need to be sized for the wearer’s wrist.
  3. On the side opposite of the battery and lights hot glue on the stripes and star. If you place the star over the center light, it will light up when the circuit is turned on.

Sizing the bracelet

Front view of bracelet (the back has all of the circuitry).
  1. You can also go ahead and size the bracelet at this point too. Wrap it around the wrist and allow it to overlap 1-2 inches and cut off any excess fabric.
  2. You can use hot glue to secure Velcro to both sides of the bracelet to create a secure connection. I added two sets of Velcro. I attached one fuzzy piece to the short edge of the inside (circuit side) and another fuzzy piece to the opposite short edge but on the outside (pretty side).
  3. Then I placed the matching “hook” side on top of the fuzzy sides, wrapped it around my wrist overlapping the ends and marked where the “hook” side should be and then hot glued them down.

Sewing the circuit for you light up 4th of July bracelet

Sewing down the battery with thread going through negative hole
Make several loops through the hole marked negative and then knot the thread.

A few words about circuits and LEDs: LEDs are directional lights, which means they won’t work if you don’t attach the negative side of the battery to the negative end of the bulb. In addition, you need to make sure you don’t create a short circuit. A short circuit is created by crossing your negative and positive “wires” (in this case conductive thread).

  1. Cut a piece of conductive thread that is twice as long as the distance between your battery and your last LED bulb (If you are a novice sewer, give yourself extra). Thread one end of the thread through your sewing needle. Do not tie a knot in the other end.
  2. Take the thread and loop it 4-5 times through the positive hole in the battery and then tie it off.
  1. Sew towards the positive side of the first LED light. As you sew do not go all the way through the felt. Just barely catch the fabric to keep the conductive thread all on the same side.
  2. Loop the thread through the positive side of the first LED light 3-4 times. Then sew in the same manner to the second light, loop the thread, and then go to the third (always going through the positive side).
  3. After you have reached the third LED, loop and then tie off thread. Your positive side is now complete.
Completed side of electrode
When you get to the last LED, loop and then tie off thread.
  1. Cut a new length of conductive thread and complete steps 1-5 for the negative side.
  2. When you are done, you can add a dab of clear nail polish to all of the knots to keep them from coming undone.
Completed circuit with lights on
This is how you completed circuit should look.
  1. Now, slip the battery into the holder (you should be able to see the positive side of the battery when you are looking at the battery holder).
  2. Flip the switch on and your bracelet is ready to go!
Red, white and blue felt bracelet with star
You are now ready for some fireworks!

Trouble Shooting your circuit

So, I made several of these and despite the logically correct circuit, I had some trouble shooting I still needed to do. One thing I discovered it that my Amazon purchases were knock-offs and not all of the battery holders worked. I recommend you order straight from Adafruit.com as it will save you some time. You can also order the LED lights from there, but my Amazon purchased ones seemed to work find. Here are some common mistakes that can cause your circuit to not work:

  • Not wrapping the conductive thread through the hole enough times or wrapping too loosely.
  • Having a long tail on your knot that crosses over the oppositely charged side of your circuit.
  • orienting the lights or the battery the wrong way.
  • If you want to get more tips or learn to sew more complex projects, you should definitely check out this website.