Death’s books

Time taken: 13 hours
Materials: 20mm, 5mm, and 2mm EVA foam; ADOS F2 contact glue; acrylic paint: mars black, burnt umber, burnt sienna, old gold, bronze; FIMO air dry super lightweight modelling clay, wire, mod podge.
Tools: craft knife, paintbrushes, boards, heavy weights, pliers.
Techniques: Fabrication, modelling, painting.
Difficulty level: Easy.

These books hang off Death’s ridiculously large belt.  I suppose they are books of souls, or something. They are supposed to look like ancient tomes, but I wanted them to be super lightweight because the idea of having actual books hanging off my waist just sounds like too much effort.

First I cut rectangles of EVA foam in what looked like the right size, and stacked them till I got the right thickness.  For mine this was 2 rectangles of 20mm and 1 of 10mm per book.  These were glued together with contact glue, using a board with my heavy sewing machine on top to press them.  It doesn’t matter if the edges don’t match up perfectly because they’ll become part of the pages and they are supposed to be uneven.

Next, I cut the 5mm EVA foam into a bigger rectangle that’d wrap around the whole thing and make a cover.  This was glued on in the same way.  Finally, I cut the shapes that form the embossing on the cover and glued them on using 2mm foam.


Something I didn’t photograph but should have was how the pages were made.  It was basically just using a slightly blunt craft knife to cut into the foam along where the pages would be, in more or less parallel lines.  The knife catches a bit and curls the edges which creates a gloriously uneven jaggedy look, just like old pages that are a bit messed up on the edges!

I kind of liked the fluoro look but sadly they had to be brown like old leather.  I started by painting them all over in burnt umber to get the basic colour, then gradually added lighter colours by dabbing with a sponge to the parts where the leather would get worn if they were real books.  Finally I painted the embossing with old gold, and weathered the whole lot.  The pages were painted with a random mix of cream, white, and burnt sienna, not mixed very thoroughly so there would be streaks of different colours to add to the aged look.  The corners by the spine of the books were weathered with burnt umber, and just for fun I added little red and blue jewels (big dobs of paint covered in gloss varnish) to the covers.  Then the whole lot was protected with a coating of mod podge in matte.


Next up – chains!  Again, I could have bought those plastic chains from a hardware shop but they have metal inside them and are super heavy, so instead I decided to do it the hard way.  This involved making a bunch of links using super lightweight air dry modelling clay:


This stuff takes 2-3 days to dry.  I found this out the hard way when I went to show my friend how tough it was for something so light *ahem*.  So after 2-3 days, I joined the links to each other to make a chain, propping them all carefully so they wouldn’t get too bent during drying.


Over the course of a week I eventually created the webs of chain that cover the books, and then it took another couple of days to create the joining links.


 I cleverly *cough* left one link undone so that I could paint them without getting paint all over the books.  Painting was harder than expected because of the uneven surface and because I am a knob I forgot to prime them with mod podge the first time and had to start again, but eventually (3 days later) I was happy.  These were painted in bronze for a contrast with the gold on the books.  Finally I added the last link to hold the chains on the books, painted it, and voila! I really like that the chains ended up looking hand forged rather than evenly moulded – kind of makes them look authentic I reckon.


The final step is to screw a leather loop onto the corner of the book to support them as they hang from the belt.  I don’t trust the modelling clay to be strong enough to hold up when I bang into things, and I will definitely bang into things.  So I’m adding some security. Overall, I’m very pleased with how they’ve come out!

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