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To create such a project, I first wrote up a lovely story that included some tantalizing hints about a character’s past (and present and future!) but, sadly, never quite got to use it as intended.

Materials:

  • Paper
  • Lightweight cardboard/mdf (cereal box in this case)
  • Leather strip/strips for binding
  • Coffee grinds
  • red food dye/paint
  • Thread
  • Modgepodge
  • pieces of aluminum foil OR metallic paint samples swatches from the hardware store

First, type up your story (duh), and create a suitable illustration for the cover/inside etc. This takes longer than you think, as you could spend ages arranging and rearranging the papers to ensure that you have a more modern binding for the book. Or, you could be like me, and simply put them in order because that other idea was a lot of effort. In retrospect, it may have been better!

First, cover art. I used some of the interesting images available from Inkarnate, but you could use literally anything, including a hand drawn version. I used matte modgepodge to help seal it to the cardboard backing.

Here you can see it’s just barely shiny now.

I printed the papers out and organized them. Using old coffee grounds, I mixed them with some water in a shallow backing pan. I would dip the papers in them, leaving some of the grounds atop it for additional blotches. I let them dry on another cookie sheet, not drip drying.

The whole book in pieces, with the last page drying.

Here you can see I’ve started putting together the actual front cover. I’ve been using the pieces of metal to create a border. You could easily replicate it using fancier foils, but this was free.

Next I added a few blood droplets using some watered down paint/washes. You don’t want to overdo this, and I wouldn’t recommend you use it if you want your book to look more pristine. I added a few hand drawn map clues and some carved out rough patches to make it look like someone tried to slash at the book.

Next came the binding process. I used a needle and thread to carefully poke holes through each of the papers. Honestly, I should have simply used an awl or something to poke a hole through all of them at the same time. You could easily use a hole punch, but that hole seemed too big for me.

I’ve added a cover page.

With this, I glued it into the book and used leather strips to bind it together. Not the same as a normal book, but more like something older strapped together.

Hope that helps!