Monday, November 12, 2012

Craft Book Challenge Week 44: Faux Leather Book Volumes

I'm late, I know. It's Week 46, but I did take the photos and do the project in Week 45. I caught that awful sinus cold that is going around, and it really derailed my weekend.

I've been working on turning a stack of shiny textbooks into a stack of antique books for use as nightstands in my master bedroom. I have several squat tables that are too short for bedside use. About eight books stacked upon each table makes them perfect for nightstands. The Fundamentals of Accounting do not make for restful nighttime reading. My book stash needed quick makeovers.

L to R: Shiny textbook before and shiny textbook after.
I love to faux paint. It's amazing how a little paint and texture can fool the eye into seeing timeworn leather. I pulled some ideas on recreating leather from Recipes for Paint Effects. I originally wanted to paint some cheesy resin Pilgrims with faux wood grain, but the need for nightstands was greater.

The first step was to lightly sand the textbook covers. I used 100 grit sandpaper. I tried 60 grit at first, but the scratches it leaves do show up in the final product. Sanding allows the next step to permanently stick to the cover.

Leather has texture that is difficult to achieve with paint alone. Nubby single–ply napkins provide a credible leather feel. I painted a layer of regular water–based primer onto the cover and placed the napkin into the wet paint. I smoothed the napkin with my palm and then painted another layer of primer over the napkin, carefully working out any air bubbles as I smoothed the napkin.

I covered each book with two layers of napkins and paint, letting each layer dry before adhering the next.

To enhance the illusion these books are old, I glued plain kitchen twine to the spines to mimic raised cord binding. I painted another layer of torn napkin pieces over the dried twine to finish the texture layer.

Now for the magic. I wanted my books to be a light cream color, so I mixed up some Oops! gold paint samples with a quart of flat white latex paint to make my base paint color. I then painted a layer or two of the buttery cream paint onto the primed books.

My bedroom is spa blue with blue, brown, and cream accents. I used plain navy craft paint to paint between the spine strips. I'm a rebel, so I thinned gold craft paint and free–handed the titles onto the spines using a small lining brush. I tried to choose titles that my husband would realistically have piled by his bedside.

Monograms are always safe.
Old books are not pristine. They need a little experience, also known as dirt. I wiped on a layer of dark brown wall glaze and wiped off most of the tint with a slightly wet rag.

Heavy glaze.

Light glaze.
The books need a little protection, so I rubbed paste wax over most of the books. The top book will receive the most abuse. I protected the paint finish with two layers of satin Polycrylic followed by two buffed coats of paste wax.

Here's his reading list: A History of Storms, Texas, Thunder (Vol.1), Lightning (Vol. 2), Panhandle Skies, Great Texans (Vol. N), and Weather. Can you see a pattern?

The nightstand is now the perfect height for next to the bed. The table for my side of the bed is slightly taller, but with the right combination of books, I can make it the same height. My cold stopped book production for the weekend, but the primer dries so quickly that I should have my nightstand done by the weekend.

At some point, I need to carve some time to add wood grain to these resin Pilgrims.

The Pilgrims are not thankful for their closeup.



  1. So cool! I think I need to do this to some of my textbooks. Thanks!

    1. It's either make those expensive textbooks into something beautiful or sell them back to the bookstore for pennies. The only price you pay is very messy hands.

  2. This is genius, thank you. Just what I need for my Steampunk Study!


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