Merry Halloween!

(UPDATE! For a new and improved version of this tutorial, click here!)
Soooooo, almost every other blogger I know already has their Christmas tree up. And then there’s me. Showing you Halloween decorations. So, yeah. Just think of it as an enormous head start for next year.

Anyway, as may know, I’ve been working with Apartment Guide to share some of their great tips and tricks on how to make your apartment greener and recycling and good stuff like that. So I thought I’d share this little project that falls under the ‘recycling’ umbrella for me: altered books!

I started with a bunch of outdated textbooks from my husband’s school that were headed for the dumpster. The DUMPSTER! I couldn’t let that happen, not even to outdated textbooks, so I rescued as many as I could. This involved me pushing a broken shopping cart full of books through downtown Phoenix in a windstorm. You really should have seen it.

Once I was safely home with my pile of books, a glue gun, and some cheapie Halloween toys from Wal-Mart, this is what I did:

(You’ve seen glimpses of this already if you follow me on Instagram, @betterafterlnz).
This is what I used:

The paper towel is actually the most important part.  You’ll see why in a second.  But first, you want to start by gluing everything to your book the way you want it.  I cut the wings off the bat toy and hot-glued them on first, then the skeleton right over that.  I also hammered round thumb-tacks into the corners and edges for extra detail.  After you get everything glued to your book, you dampen the paper towel slightly and just mod-podge it right over the top of everything for that leathery look, pushing it into all the crevices nice and snug with a small paintbrush.

The spiderwebs were made with hot glue, and I just cut the letters out of cardstock and glued them on too, although I put the letters on AFTER mod-podging on the paper towel, but it probably wouldn’t make a huge difference either way.

Once the mod-podge was dry, I painted the whole thing black, then lightly brushed over the details and raised parts and lettering with gold rub-n-buff and copper metallic paint.  You could get the same results with gold paint instead of the rub-n-buff, but just not as bright. Doesn’t really matter, just be creative!

Anyway, the details and lettering really picked up the paint nicely and looked authentically embossed.  Matt actually asked me if “Venomous Potions” was the original name of the book. No, dear they don’t typically teach that in high school these days.

 (Inspiration was found via Seeing Things.)

 

Fun!  I’m so glad they live with me now and not in some sad old dumpster.

I hope you liked my little project.  File it away for next year, and be sure to check out Apartment Guide whether you’re living, looking or moving.  Apartment Guide has the photos, floor plans, features and tips to help you search for green apartment communities.

 

 

altered_books_for_halloween

(Click here for the updated tutorial with more pictures and new techniques!)


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Comments

  1. Love these! great giveaway

  2. Thanks for the chance to will this!

    Vesta

  3. those look incredible! great job! :)

  4. What a great idea! So Creative!

  5. Hope I win!

  6. Cute, clever, and creepy!

  7. This is awesome! Definitely going to do this next year. =)

  8. How creative!

  9. Think I goofed up on the comment section. Anyway, LOVE the Halloween books they are awesome. Hoping I win the gift card:) thanks!

  10. Thanks for the giveaway! LOVE these books, going to dollar tree tomorrow to see if I can score some cheap after halloween stuff to use on my books!!

  11. Think I goofed up on the comment section. Anyway, LOVE the Halloween books they are awesome. Hoping I win the gift card:) thanks!

  12. Loved this. It could be modified for many holidays with different colors.

  13. So clever! Thanks for the fun.

  14. So clever! Thanks for the fun.

  15. I would be my husbands hero if I won this gift card! :)

  16. That is so cool! You did an amazing job on those, glad you saved them from the dumpster.

  17. I love these! I wish they lived at my house!

  18. This is remarkable. I have tons of old books. I need to do this. Thanks for the idea!

  19. Wow. That turned out awesome. I am definitely picking up some old books at the thrift store and some dollar store creepy toys :)

  20. So fun and creative! You’ve got mad skills!

  21. Yay! I could use a $50 Home Depot card!

  22. That is amazing! I was really skeptical when I saw the supplies, but WOW!

  23. Those look so cool!!! They look all leathery!!! Good job!!! Plus…HOPE I WIN!! WO-HOO!!

  24. Love it!

  25. I’m in the middle of a project at my house and this sure would come in handy!!!

  26. I love what you did there. One of the local thrift stores has a shopping cart full of books for $5.00. I think we may end up with several of these next year. ;o) And what a fantastic giveaway!

  27. Those are so cute!!

  28. These are great! Now I want to hit up the Walmart 90% off carts to see what I can find in there!

  29. They look amazing, and something I could do! Paper towel, would have had no idea. I had a bathroom I striped of wallpaper, and hate to texture, so I used tissue paper. Roll paint on wall, laid a sheet of crumpled-then-flattened tissue paper on wet paint, roll paint of the top. Coolest texture.

  30. Those books are amazing!
    And I need to paint my brown living room so thanks for an awesome giveaway

  31. Too cool for skool!

    thriftshopcommando.blogspot.com

    Hoping to win the $50 gift card …

  32. Very cool Halloween decoration! :)

  33. This comment has been removed by the author.

  34. That project is so awesome! And, I actually think I could accomplish it, unlike many of the furniture “works of art” that I typically envy.

    Thanks for the great giveaway.

  35. That project is so awesome! And, I actually think I could accomplish it, unlike many of the furniture “works of art” that I typically envy.

    Thanks for the great giveaway.

    Sorry – posted before without my contact info – Stephanie, steph0828 at hotmail.com

  36. Clever! I’m totally pinning this for next year’s mantle.

  37. Those are pretty awesome! You have much more skills than you give yourself credit for.

  38. Clever! I’m totally pinning this for next year’s mantle.

  39. I don’t even like Halloween but those books look cool!

  40. A paper towel! Brillant!

    I would love to win the gift card! After 3 years of saving, I’m planning on a DIY kitchen update over christmas, the gift card would sure help!

  41. Are you kidding me?? This is fantastic!!!

  42. Thanks for the great halloween idea nad the super giveaway

  43. I was definitely skeptical when I saw your pile of supplies, but they look great!

  44. I can see lots of possibilities for this!

  45. We’re building a new home for our family so it would be awesome to win this!! (great job on the projects too!)

  46. love these!!!!

  47. I’d love to win this gift card, and you should give away your cool books next :-). They look really great!

  48. I never would have thought to up-cycle old books like that! I have a few old college books lying around that I could totally do this too.

  49. The books are great! Love them. I love to scroll through your blog and drool over all of the makeovers. Makes me want to move so I could start over with all re-purposed furniture and fixtures. I would love to win the gift card.

  50. This could work for any holiday! I’m thinking Valentines would be perfect..

  51. Wow. Those books turned awesome.. Definately gonna try this next year! Awesome giveaway too!

  52. Books_ look freakin’ awsome
    Giveaway_ yes, please.

  53. This is great! They look so real! Great giveaway!

  54. Love the books! I can always use a home depot gift card.

  55. Very creative.

  56. Creative idea! Thanks for the chance to win.

  57. Home Depot is AWESOME but you are awesomer! I love these books! What a great idea. I didn’t know you lived in Phoenix. Dust storms get pretty bad there. I’m a blond-haired, blue-eyed, busty California girl now (well busty anyway) but I was born in Casa Grande AZ and grew up all over AZ, love that place. Nowhere in the world are sunset more beautiful!

  58. Great giveaway! I hope I win! :-)
    Tonya T.
    gohawkys@yahoo.com

  59. Awesome giveaway. I would love to win!

  60. These look awesome!!! Thanks for the giveaway!

  61. So awesome! Both your project and the giveaway!

  62. Less scary and more merry – maybe a Christmas tree and green or red paint and you have a cool Christmas journal for photos and memories!

  63. Looks awesome. Also, yay giveaway!

  64. pllease!!!!

  65. I love shopping at Home Depot!

  66. You’re so creative! They turned out amazing!

  67. They look great!

  68. Gift cards to hardware store is the only thing I want for Christmas this year… :)

  69. That’s okay, I’m still selling some Halloween in the shop, too. Thanks for the chance at the giveaway!

    ~Glenda

  70. I love the books! Such a clever idea!

  71. I absolutely love this idea! I cannot, repeat cannot, throw out a book. Now I have a fabulous reason to keep them. Thank you!

  72. i love the home Depot!

  73. The books turned out great! Not what I expected when I saw the plastic decorations…:)…and thanks for calling me “dollface” (I’m referencing your note under “Leave your comment”….please don’t think I’m weird…or – at least not too weird. :)Don’t know if it’s always been there, but that’s the first time I’ve seen it.

  74. I want to win!

  75. Thanks for the giveaway & I love the way the books turned out.
    KellywcuATyahooDOTcom

  76. Pick me! Pick me! :)

  77. Wonderful giveaway; thanks for hosting!

  78. Very creative!

  79. I think I could win this!

  80. What an awesome way to recycle old books!

  81. This is fantastic & God bless you for still being in the Halloween spirit! October just isn’t long enough. I stocked up on some clearance Halloween decor so I will be sure to makes these..next year. Thanks for sharing love!

    istaistaista.blogspot.com

  82. This is so creative, love it!

  83. Love me some Home Depot!!!!!

  84. Really clever! I’m going to do this for my brother for Christmas.

  85. Did I hear the words “gift card?”

  86. What a great giveaway! Thanks for the chance!

    Name on rafflecopter: Mary Happymommy

  87. Great giveaway! chedeb5353@hotmail.com

  88. I love those, they look amazing! (And love HD!) scg00387 at yahoo dot com

  89. Oh good gracious alive. You have GOT to be kidding me. Those are UH-MAZING! Sooo fun!

  90. Those just look soooo cool!!!!

  91. Very creative. I would love to win. Thanks for the chance.

  92. Very creative. I would love to win. Thanks for the chance.

  93. Those are absolutely amazing! I am thinking of a lot of possibilities with this technique!!! Awesome!!

  94. Those are absolutely amazing! I am thinking of a lot of possibilities with this technique!!! Awesome!!

  95. Awesome giveaway!

  96. That is really cool, turned out much better than other books I’ve seen! I’m impressed and have the itch to try it myself!

  97. I hope I win!! :)

  98. I want to win!

  99. The books turned out so cool.

  100. So cool! I especially love the skeleton one!

  101. These look so neat! :)

  102. Would LOVE to win this! We have many more projects to complete on our house.

  103. Wow those books are awesome! Fingers crossed to be the lucky winner… :)

  104. Super clever! Love it!

  105. I really love Giveaways I hope I win.

  106. Very cool idea! Love your blog!

  107. These are too cute! I love Halloween decorations. What glue did you use on the plastic toys? Will Mod-podge hold them?
    Delia
    de_rotolo@yahoo.com

  108. Love these!

  109. WOW! That’s awesome, especially the papertowel to make it look like leather.

  110. WOW! That’s awesome, especially the papertowel to make it look like leather.

  111. Abby Kartzinel says:

    Love the paper towel and modge podge idea for a leathered look!

  112. Those are really pretty awesome!

  113. These are amazing…sure hope I remember this for next Halloween. You would never know these were homemade! Great job!

  114. Those are awesome! Now I’m having the moment of regret for getting rid of old text book last month! See, I was right, never get rid of anything! Kidding!

  115. Too cool!

  116. Too cool!

  117. Thanks for the chance to win. Love Home Depot!!!

  118. Who couldn’t use $50 from Home Depot! Love the giveaway and love the books.

  119. I love that book idea- my school’s library always has a cart outside its door for free books and I’m totally going to do that! :)
    Thanks for the giveaway!

  120. I love that book idea- my school’s library always has a cart outside its door for free books and I’m totally going to do that! :)
    Thanks for the giveaway!

  121. Oh my gosh, SO doing this for next year!! Those potion books turned out AMAZING!!
    I think I’ll make mine more of a Harry Potter-ish vibe. :) Geeking out.

  122. So cool and you are so organized….you know,being ready for Halloween 2013 already! ha ha great job, I love saving things from the trash can.

  123. HOLY CWAP this is awesome! How have I never thought of that? Good thing my box-o-Halloween decorations is still sitting out…

  124. HOLY CWAP this is awesome! How have I never thought of that? Good thing my box-o-Halloween decorations is still sitting out…

  125. Love Home Depot… here’s hoping I win!

  126. You did awesome! Those look friggin amazing! I would totally buy those if I saw them in a store somewhere, but now I can make them!!! Yay!

  127. Yay for a giveaway!!!

    Very cool and scary books!

  128. These look great! What a cool idea!

  129. Love the book idea!!

  130. with all the Halloween stuff highly dicounted right now it’s the perfect time to share your cool recyclings…thanks!

  131. What a great idea! Thanks for the giveaway!

  132. These are fun!!

  133. Tucked aside for nextyear – I always seem to find large old hardbacks at thrift stores that I couldn’t figure out what to do with :)

  134. Love them!

  135. Great giveaway! Thanks :)

  136. Great project!

  137. THAT just blew my mind! AWESOME!

  138. These books are awesome!!

  139. Love it!

  140. Shantel Holt says:

    wow love this! i have plenty of ugly old textbooks taking up space on my pretty white built ins to try this with! thanks for the great idea!

  141. I could always use a HD giftcard!

  142. very cool

  143. Love these! What a unique way to spook someone for halloween!

  144. I am in love with these! Nicely done!

  145. They are very cool books, thanks

  146. So many projects could benefit from a trip to the Home Depot!

  147. Wow these books look fantastic! Great work!!

  148. wow! That was some awesome stuff!
    carriesummerlin at yahoo dot com

  149. Thanks for another awesome giveaway!

    -Stacy

  150. holy crap, those are amazing. i’ll take this head start, for sure.

  151. SO creative! I love coming here to find new ways to repurpose stuff! THANKS for Better After!

  152. no way! that’s like the coolest halloween make over ever. man i may even try it for NON halloween related things and just make them because they’re so awesome.

  153. This comment has been removed by the author.

  154. I seriously love these! I’m going to make them. Also…I hope I win!

  155. I love the Home Depot, like on a firstnamebasis love Home Depot. Thanks. And….I love those books, totally doing that next year.

  156. Oh my gosh! This is the coolest ever. I was going to make some old school paper covers like this for Halloween decorations, but this is so much cooler! Dang it. Why, why can I not find any dumpster bound textbooks?

  157. Oh my gosh! This is the coolest ever. I was going to make some old school paper covers like this for Halloween decorations, but this is so much cooler! Dang it. Why, why can I not find any dumpster bound textbooks?

  158. Love the spooky books!

  159. Freakin’ cool transformation!
    You are a creative genius!

  160. I love this blog, love the books, and love home depot!

  161. I love this blog, love the books, and love home depot!

  162. Those books look incredible!! You have a great blog!

  163. This techniques could work on soooo many projects. I’m thinking frames little hinged boxes. Thanks for the giveaway. Jo @ Let’s face the Music

  164. Thank you for the giveaway!

  165. Thanks for the chance!

    Kristina A
    janhanderatyahoodotcom

  166. These look amazing

  167. I wonder if I could do that with snowflakes or Christmas trees!??

  168. What a creative idea..>I haven’t seen this one yet. Love it. casidyanne at hot mail dot com

  169. Absolutely fantastic! I love reusing old books!

  170. Wow, those books are awesome!!

  171. What a fun giveaway!

  172. Wow…I love those books! I’ll have to remember them for next year…

  173. OMG – these are fantastic! One is better than the next – you are super talented! SO thinking how to do these for a Christmas carol edition. A nice one – not a creepy one! :-)

  174. Those look great! Very creative.

  175. You are so creative! Thanks for the giveaway!

  176. love this blog! great inspiration!

  177. Thanks for doing the giveaway!

  178. Marjorie T. says:

    Great book project & giveaway!

  179. :) Would be awesome to win it :)

  180. oh home depot…. where i always find things i never knew i needed :)

  181. Those are awesome!! A good idea for my outdated technical manuals :)

  182. I can’t even think about a christmas tree yet. Where does the time go. Thanks for the giveaway. I just love your blog. lharring at umich dot edu.

  183. I love what you did with the books!

  184. These look great!

  185. A $50 giftcard to my favorite store? Sign me up! Random.org…please randomly choose me.

  186. Your project is fantastic!
    THANK YOU FOR THE GIVEWAY!!!

    osullivanrobin1 at gmail dot com

  187. I can think of a lot of things I could do with $50!

  188. Those look amazing!

  189. Those look absolutely amazing. Something tells me mine would looks so good.

  190. Wow, love those books. Now for me to find some to Halloweenize!

  191. I LOVE the books! What a cool idea – I think I will definitely have to do this next year. Also, I didn’t know that you were here in the valley too — always nice to find that someone’s blog you read is local!!

  192. I LOVE the books! What a cool idea – I think I will definitely have to do this next year. Also, I didn’t know that you were here in the valley too — always nice to find that someone’s blog you read is local!!

  193. I hope I win!

  194. So cool!

  195. Bianca Branch says:

    Awesome! Great giveaway

  196. Your books turned out awesome! I am pinning to remember to try next year! Speaking of awesome, so is your giveaway! I love me the big orange HD!

  197. I love Home Depot at the holidays!

  198. Totally in love with these. We do a major haunted house and I think I need to do these,

  199. I don’t decorate for Halloween but these are so cool! I’m wracking my brain for an idea of using this method for another holiday …any ideas? If you do it again in another theme please show it.

    Thanks for a chance to win.

  200. Very cool. Great idea! Will use next year for sure.

    Stephanie

  201. Thanks for the opportunity to enter this givedaway!

    gksedgeman@msn.com

    Kathy

  202. booyah! enter me to win. :))

    erincyoung (at) yahoo.com

  203. oh my!! i just LOVE this. you can post holidays “early” all the time.

  204. This is an AWESOME idea! Love it!

  205. I love the home Depot and your blog!

  206. Fun Fun!

  207. I’m cool so I am leaving a comment! : )

  208. How neat… a great idea.

  209. Awesome Project!

  210. Would love to win!!

  211. Awesome Project!

  212. Wow. Now I seriously want to redo all of my books. Wouldn’t mind winning the gift card, either. Thank you!

  213. These are great! I’m so glad you gave directions, I was wondering how you did them!

  214. Amazing job!!!

  215. These.Are.So.Cool! They turned out so wonderful. I will be sure to give it a shot next year. Halloween is my favorite holiday. Always nice to add a little something different to the bookshelf.

  216. I just love this blog! Great tutorial!

  217. AWESOME!

  218. AWESOME!

  219. Could really use a win right now !

  220. Okay those books are freaking awesome! Gotta start collecting some books for next year now.

  221. AMAZING idea!! I’m a fairly new reader of your blog but I absolutely adore everyhting that is posted!! AWESOME ideas allll the time!! Thank you!

  222. this looks so amazing! I haven’t ever seen anything like it.

  223. Love these books, it’s such a great idea!

  224. The Halloween books are awesome! Great job and thanks for the giveaway.

  225. Nicely done!

    CHeers
    ~ Jillian
    http://www.hersplitends.com

  226. I could always use more stuff from Home Depot! Brilliant use of useless plastic nothingness, by the way! I always just toss those kinds of things into the trash!

  227. those books look amazing!

  228. Perfect for the ongoing projects in our new home!!

  229. these are SO creative! Lovbe them and your site!!

  230. i love the projects!

  231. I love Home Depot. you are really creative.
    shopgurl101 at gmail dot com

  232. This comment has been removed by the author.

  233. thanks for the giveaway
    my dh loves hd
    aunteegem@yahoo.com

  234. Thank you!

  235. Those look really sweet! Awesome job!

  236. These books are amazing, you should sell them on Etsy!

  237. Great giveaway! The books are so cool!

  238. Sweet! Thanks!!!

  239. Love the books! and its a great giveaway, too!

  240. would love to win this for my husband he would just love it thanks so much for the chance.

    sethandtjay@yahoo.com

  241. This is SUCH a cool project! I am so glad I haven’t thrown away any of the cheap toys we have collected from Halloween’s past! Thanks tons.

  242. Those look amazing!

  243. I shared this idea on my halloween facebook page. I placed a link back to here. This is really cool. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Halloween-in-my-Heart/696524940373175

  244. Awesome idea! I just made 4 “books” using your method. Used an empty dish detergent box in addition to a phone book and 2 Goodwill found books. Thanks!

  245. That’s fantastic! I’d love to see a pic! :)

  246. Heather e says:

    I half way made one of these last night and had a few questions.
    1. Do u have any tips on how to get to the detail u got out of the skeleton. I had a hard time getting the paper towel to stick and stay. I don’t know if I used to much or to little mod podge, or if the paper towel was to wet. I used a bounty paper towel and tryed putting the mod podge over the top and underneath first. 2 did yours take a really long time to make?

  247. Hi Heather!
    To get the most detail out of the skeleton, it’s best to have a stiff paintbrush to really jab the paper towel in. I try to use the bristly types. I’ve made these several times since, just did a few with my sister the other day in fact, and it didn’t take us very long at all. You could be using too much mod podge, which would make the paper towel less able to stick and harder to work with. Try using less, or giving it a little more time to dry so it becomes tacky. I just dampened my paper towel and squeezed all the water out, so it wasn’t dripping wet or anything, then mod podged underneath and over the top too. Hope that helps! Good luck!

  248. I’m going to try this for a Kindle cover.

  249. I’d love to see that!

  250. I’d LOVE to see this done in video. I have a large collection of RPG books that this would look great on, but I need to see it happen to learn it.

  251. This has got to be, by far, my most re-pinned pin. Great job.

  252. Theses are wonderful great job! I have been seeing theses in stores @ a ridiculous price. Theses are so much nicer & I can do! Thanks for sharing!

  253. Thank you for this tutorial! I made my first book and it looks great. There were some mistakes along the way: I forgot to dampen the paper towel, used more Mod Podge than I should have, and all I had to work with were sponge brushes b/c I misplaced my bristled ones. But I was able to recover from those mishaps and am pretty happy with the results:
    https://fbcdn-sphotos-b-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-xfp1/t31.0-8/10551468_10152894782743054_6172452190426134328_o.jpg

  254. I love it! Thanks so much for sharing it with me Juli! Looks fantastic! I love the font you used for the lettering too. Just perfect. :)

  255. I made these as gifts, but had real recipes wrote in them some my daughters can cherish other then on just Halloween … Used hard cover spiral notebooks..

Trackbacks

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