Sunday, October 21, 2012

Hocus Pocus Spell Book Tutorial

Show of hands: Who has seen Hocus Pocus? If you haven't - go watch it now! It is my all-time favorite Halloween movie. Sure, it is kind of cheesy but the set and the costumes are AMAZING! Plus Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy did a great job portraying the Sanderson sisters. 

When planning this year's Halloween props, I decided that it was time I finally attempt to create my own Hocus Pocus spell book. It's pretty intricate so I was a little intimidated but it ended up being a lot easier than I anticipated. 

Start by making your book. To make things easier, you could just buy an old book (some kind of reference book would be a good size) but I was trying to keep costs down by using stuff I had laying around so I made my own instead. 

Take a stack of plain printer paper about an inch thick, clamp it down on the sides, mark a few holes about half an inch in from the side, use a small drill bit to make holes all the way through, then sew it together using heavy thread. To see a diagram for the binding stitch go here. To age the paper, put some coffee dye on the edges and let it dry. 

To make the metal accents, I used Model Magic. To figure out how big they should be I laid them out on a sheet of paper. For the snake on the spine I rolled out some model magic with a rolling pin and cut it down to the shape I wanted using an exacto knife. I made the snake bodies by rolling out a piece with my hands. To add texture, I poked the snakes all over with a toothpick. I used a toothpick to make the dots and lines on the ring around the eye as well.

Let these pieces dry overnight then paint them all with silver acrylic paint. Once that is dry, lightly go over the silver with some watered down black acrylic paint. This will give it more of an aged look and settle into all of the crevices to show off the texture.

Cut down some cardboard pieces to make a book cover that measures 8 3/4" wide x 11 1/2" tall and as thick as your stack of paper (even if you use an existing book, you will want to remove the cover and make your own using cardboard to make the stitching part easier). Cover the whole thing in newspaper strips coated in paper mache paste (dump some flour in a large bowl and use a whisk to mix in water until it reaches a runny pancake batter consistency). 

Allow to dry completely. If there is any moisture left when you paint, your book will eventually rot from the inside out. To speed up the drying process, you can place your book on a cookie sheet and put it in a warm oven (no higher than 200F) until dry.

Place your metal pieces on the book and sketch out where you want your seams and some lines where the corner snakes are biting the book. Get a Half-Round Acrylic Eyeball and set it in the appropriate spot.

Go over the lines you traced with some tissue paper dipped in paper mache paste. Do the same to make eyelids for the eye and a few lines on the spine. Use a toothpick to create a line in the middle of the seams. This will make it look more like it is separate pieces of skin that has been sewn together instead of just one big piece. 

The tissue paper is really important in this step. Since it is so thin it gives you way more texture than you would be able to get with newspaper. Paper towels might work too.

Once your book has dried completely, paint all of it with brown acrylic paint and let it dry. Go over that with a lighter brown. I just added some white and yellow to the brown and kept mixing until I found a shade that I liked. 

Use an awl to create the stitch holes along the seams. In the photo above, I had used the pointy edge of a seam ripper but the holes weren't big enough so I had to go back over them with the awl.

Go over the entire book with some watered down dark brown paint (I used my basic brown and added a bit of black) going heavier on the seams, eyelids, and the snake bites. You can play around with the shades that you use. Just make sure that the previous layer shows through the next one so that it adds dimension and texture. Watering down the paint and doing multiple layers instead of one thick layer really helps with this.

Once the paint has dried, make the stitches by lacing dark brown paper beading cord through the holes that you made.

Glue the metal pieces and paper in place. 

To make the side piece that is holding the book closed, I braided some model magic pieces and flattened it out a bit. Then I glued it in place and painted it to match the other metal pieces. 

I love how old and wrinkled the tissue paper made the eyelids look. :)

Now I have a fun new addition for the witch's brewing area!

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Heather said...

Hocus Pocus is one of my favorite Halloween movies too! This is so cool!! Really fantastic work!!! The eye looks so real! Thanks for sharing. :)

Simone said...

This is fabulous, certainly looks very effective, love it!

Kimberly said...

This is amazing! I love Hocus Pocus and I am totally doing this Halloween. You did such a great job!

xo-Kimberly {allons-y kimberly}

Rhissanna said...

Wow! I love that eye and you're right, the folds from the tissue paper look really authentic! I've never considered making the inside of the boo, (I usually just buy the biggest hard-backed book I find at the Dollar Tree) but that technique looks really useful.

So, how much do you want for an eye? I'm making some Steampunk spy creatures at the moment and I though a realistic looking eye would be just the thing!

Kay said...

Megan, this is SO CLEVER and cool!!!! Thank you for being so organized with the 'in progress' pics and for generously sharing your techniques.


KatBell said...

What an amazing book! You are so very talented. I also, would love to buy an eye (LOL, I would like to buy a vowel, i please)!!!

Michelle said...

I absolutely adore this, it's on my project list for sure!

Carrie said...


All That Glitters said...

That's freakin' awesome! Love it and I love Hocus Pocus!

Karen at said...

Unbelievable! It really looks like the book in the movie! I can hear Bette Midler calling it now....booooooook!

saxon1014 said...

I saw a guy at an autograph show that had a replica that looked like it was straight from the movie. The coolest thing about his was the 'trick' of making the eye open and move just like in the movie. He was using it as an autograph book! He didn't let me see how he manipulated the eye, but it was just so cool that I've decided I want to redo a cosplay for the 20th anniversary next year. Only one of my kids will go for it (my youngest who dressed as Sarah). Thanks for some good info!!

Megan @ said...

Thanks! :) The eyes are not available for purchase here: Sorry it took me so long to get it up. Things have been kind of crazy around here with all of the last minute Halloween stuff.

Megan @ said...

Thank you! I'm so happy you like it. :) The eyes are now available for purchase here:

Megan @ said...

Whoops! That was supposed to say *now* available instead of *not*. Lol!

Julie E said...

A) Love Hocus Pocus. B) I totally want to make the Necronomicon from Army of Darkness now.

fiona said...

That is amazing! You are so very talented, thank you for sharing xx