Fire In the Soul

Fire In the Soul
"Fire In the Soul" From the Merka series in The Elves of the Woodland Realm

Monday, June 20, 2016

A Book on Fairy Gardens

It has been some time since the last time I did a blog post. I apologize for that. Craziness seems to come in waves. We had 2 months of illness in the family and then I attended a 4 day music festival as a vendor, but more on that later...

For now I am going to do a little tutorial on how I did these faux books.

These are just those paper mache boxes that are shaped like a generic book that you find at just about any craft store. I had several sizes left over from a project I did a LONG time ago, so mine already had some paint on them. But they come in a kraft paper color, like most pre-made paper mache items. The smaller ones run about $5 or $6 USD. New they look like this:

Here is a list of what I used. I will make note of substitutions when possible:
-Paper Mache Book
-Tissue Paper
-Decoupage Glue
-Gesso or some sort of Primer
-Craft Foam- Thin 1/8" or less
-Various embellishments (I went with a butterfly theme)
-Gold Leaf Paint
-Basic Brown Craft Paint- I used Pinecone brown by Patio Paint
-Basic Ivory or Cream Craft Paint- I used Natural Buff, in the Americana line by DecoArt
-An Antiquing glaze or medium- I used Antiquing Wash in Ivy Green by Plaid
-Small bit of ribbon- I used a bit of burlap ribbon by Paper Studio
-Small Metal Brads x2
-Adhesive Caulk and a plastic fork
-Various Glues: hot glue or Tacky glue and super glue or something like it for small metal objects

You'll want to apply a very thin coat of adhesive caulk to one side of the "pages" part of the book. And by thin I mean crazy thin. Then you will take your plastic fork and drag it through the caulk several times to create the look of old tattered, hand bound pages. I know it doesn't look like much now but it will look fabulous later. You need that bit of texture to mimic the paper pages.

After the caulking has set, get your craft foam and cut what ever designs and texture you want for your book. I did a little frame on the front, blocking on the back, and some pieces on the spine, like older books would have. Glue on your foam with either hot glue or any all purpose glue. You will also want to attach your ribbon, in my case burlap. underneath the foam. I applied it to the foam first then applied the entire piece onto the book. I apologize for not having a picture of this. But you can see it in the finished project photos at the end of the tutorial.

(Don't worry about the bare paper mache, we will get to that soon, remember I used my books for a different project so they have a coat of paint on them already).
Now we will add the leather texture. Get your decoupage glue, or homemade decoupage glue; watered down Elmers craft glue, and apply a layer of tissue paper. It doesn't matter if it is wrinkly. You want wrinkle, maybe the only time you want wrinkle, but we want that leathery texture. Apply the tissue paper where ever there needs to have a leather look. I did 2 coats of tissue paper and let them dry thoroughly.

My books already had a coat of paint on them since I had used then for a previous project. But for you, at this point you'll want to coat the outside and the inside of the book and the caulking texture with your Gesso or primer. After the primer has dried then paint your pages with the buff color craft paint and the binding with the brown craft paint.
See the difference between the "pages":

This is when you all your embellishments. Bling, if you will. I went through my stash and pulled out some things I thought would work. I knew I was doing a mini fairy garden in the book so I went with a butterfly theme. Some of my items came from the craft store, some of my items came from Etsy and some of them I have no idea where I got them. But Etsy has a fantastic selection of embellishments. In this case I wanted my embellishments to blend with the book. So I painted all of the pieces gold. I used Gold Leaf #B31 by Plasti-kote. I don't even know if they make the stuff anymore, it was my mom's from when she used to do oil painting. But any gold spray paint or liquid gold leave will do. After the piece dried I applied them with a Loctite general superglue.
*Tip: if you are applying a metal object to the binding of the book, first bend the metal object on a rounded surface to shape it to the bend of the spine.

Your piece should look something like this:

I dry brushed a bit of liquid leafing on the foam pieces to highlight them and balance out the gold embellishments I added.

We now need to age the book and pages. The is where the antiquing wash/glaze comes in. You can use a premade wash or glaze or make your own. Since I was doing a fairy garden theme I used green but you can use any color. A darker brown so it looks like leather. Simply brush it on and then wipe it off. It works best if you do an entire side at one time to avoid lines. I did one coat but you can do as many as you want. The more coats you do the less of the base color you are going to see. 

I found that after I applied the green I wanted more depth with the embellishments. So I dug, and found 2 more butterflies. One of them was an antique brass finish, the other was silver. I painted the silver one gold, then did a wash on them BEFORE I applied them to the book. I did this so I wouldn't mess up the wash I had already done by accidentally adding another coat of wash/glaze. After everything was dry I poked two little holes in the paper mache where the burlap was and added my brads. I did this to the front of the book, but you can do it to the back as well. I did this so it had a more finished look, but it isn't necessary. If you are using a thin ribbon you may only need 1 brad. You can see the brads well in this shot:

On the inside, I cut some pretty paper that went with my theme. My paper didn't quite cover the back of the brads, so I cut a small piece of the same burlap ribbon and covered the brads, then I just applied some glue, then the paper. After it dried I did a wash on the paper as well, so it blended with the entire look of the "book".
After that dried I told the fairies they could move in!

Turned out super cute!!! This piece is available for sale. Email me at or through my Etsy shop for more details. When I get the listing posted I will update this post to include the listing link.
Thanks for visiting!

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