A few years ago I had an idea for a way to quickly and easily produce interesting eldritch tome props. I figured that if I sculpted a few specially designed embellishments, and then made RTV molds of them and cast them in resin, I could make up a bunch of pieces and just glue them in place (after painting of course) as needed. That way I could reproduce the same kind of design over and over very easily. It took me a while to put this idea into practice, and it wasn't quite as painless as I had envisioned, but it did work. These are two examples.
Each of these two tomes is basically the same, except that they each use a different style of corner pieces. The core book is volume A of the Grolier Encyclopedia of Knowledge, which I paid $0.09 each for as part of a promotional scheme at the TwinValue Superstore (now closed) way back in 1993. I did end up purchasing the entire set for myself, and I ended up buying about a dozen copies of volume A, because it was such a great deal. I figured I'd use them for something someday. I didn't think it would take me over a decade to do it.
I started by recovering the book with a red vinyl upholstery cloth with a reptile skin finish that I got cheap at the Surplus Junk Store (yes, that's actually its name). I did insert new end papers to cover the raw edges of the covering material, even though the prop was designed to remain closed (only the exterior of the book is getting an overhaul). Then I cast the decorative pieces for the front and back covers. These were actually cast in large batched well in advance, so technically that last sentence is a lie;) The center piece, the baphomet head and pentagram, were originally found on the lid of a jewelry box. I made an RTV mold of the lid and cast it in resin, cutting off the areas I didn't need. The corner pieces are my own creation. I sculpted the originals out of sculpy polymer clay and made RTV molds of them. I made about nine or so different designs and I mix and match them as I choose. The first book I made has writhing tentacles coming out of the corners. The second has corner pieces reminiscent of iron bindings that were inspired by a picture I saw on the internet. The center piece and the corner pieces were painted with my ubiquitous bronze finish and given a heavy coat of clear lacquer to prevent scuffing from use. They were glued in place with Weldbond, my favorite type of glue.
Next came the lock and latch. This part actually took more time than any of the other adornments (not including the re-covering) because it involved some fabrication. I had to cobble together a hinge, a hasp and a piece of latigo leather with glue and brass brads, all of which had to be modified to fit together. The lock is a tiny brass luggage lock. I gave it a shot of amber translucent spray paint to dull its color and make it look older and tarnished. The lock and hasp works, and keys were included. The book could be opened, but it was intended to be used as a static prop, and remain closed. The final touch was the gilding of the edges. The edges of the text block were painted with a gold leaf marker to achieve this finish.
I was very happy with the way these turned out. They are one of my favorite projects and one of the props I am most proud of. The first book was sold on eBay. The second was available on the Rogue Cthulhu prize table for a while, but was eventually sold on eBay also.
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