Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Secret Spot for Your Treasure

Let’s set the mood.  Large, rambling, Victorian style house.  Dark, stormy night.  Shadows creeping up the hall, trees creaking near the windows, lightning flashing.
A shadowy figure makes its way along the corridor towards a dimly lit study.  There are sconces on the wall, flickering candlelight spilling into the cozy room.  It smells of leather bindings and paper.  The figure is searching for something, something important.  He riffles through papers on the desk, then begins pulling out drawers.  It must be here somewhere, it must!  He becomes frantic; his time is running out.  He searches through the shelves and in the corners, finding nothing but the odd dustball.  As he hears footsteps coming near, he is forced to admit defeat and retreat, making his way quickly to the back entrance and out into the night.
Ah-ha!  Foiled!  But where was IT hidden??  Right in plain sight.  Here:

And what was IT?  I don’t know, I didn’t write that far.  You can use your imagination.  But if you have something you want to keep secret, you may want one of these as well.  So how do you make one?  Very easily.

1. Gather your materials.  You will need:
a book to cut apart 
        Elmer’s glue (and water)
a paint brush
a ruler
a pen or pencil
a box cutters
an exacto knife
lots of patience
some kind of fabric with which to line the interior of the book
a pair of scissors
a hot glue gun (do I ever NOT use this?)
Mod Podge (matte, NOT glossy)
** A few notes about the above items:
I find my books at thrift stores and rummage sales.  You must be ok with cutting the books apart.  I consider myself a literary person.  I LOVE to read and I LOVE to write.  I am an English minor.  But I feel that there do exist books which are actually better hollowed out than kept in tact.  Seriously.  Using them for this purpose is actually an improvement.  So go to St. Vinny’s (or your thrift store of choice) and find a book - the larger the better, I think.  If it comes with a jacket, you will want to dispose of this, so make sure that the book underneath looks old and nondescript, but not ratty.  I find that I prefer books without titles on the cover, but that’s totally up to you.  Actually, it’s kind of funny to see the person’s face when you give them a book WITH a title they’ve never heard of. “Oh... Texas.  Huh.  Never heard of this author.  Um.... well.  Thanks.”  (or in the case of my brother IL, a reader’s digest condensed versions compilation.  Nice.
You will need to dilute the glue.  I usually use about 80% glue to 20% water, but I don’t think you need to be super precise here.  I found that mixing it in an old film canister was handy because then I could put the top back on and it wouldn’t get clumpy or dry out.  And it was the perfect size.  And what the heck else am I going to use an old film canister for?
The box cutters is good for cutting out large chunks while the exacto knife is better for details, like corners.  So it is actually useful to have both.
I use crushed velvet for my lining, not only because it was on sale, but because I think it gives it that perfect luxurious, old-timey, vintage-type look I go for.  It’s pretty forgiving too, because it stretches.  I recommend fabric with stretch that is easy to cut through and doesn’t fray.  Fraying would be annoying.
OK.  Onward.

2. Mix up your glue and water solution.  Leaving three or four pages from the beginning of the book free, use the paint brush to evenly coat all three edges with glue.

3. Let it dry for at least 15 minutes, with something heavy sitting on top of the book.  Make sure as you do so that you are NOT gluing the pages to the back cover.  (This comes later.) Sorry I don’t have a picture of this step, but I’m sure you get the idea.
4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 at least two more times, possibly up to 5 times, depending on the book, the glue and how OCD you are.  I did mine 5 times, so that’s not an insult.
5. Open the book, hold the three or four free pages out of your way, and starting at the glued pages use your ruler to measure in from each edge the amount you want.  You can make your hole any size, really, but I suggest going in at least 1/2 inch from the edges to make the sides stable enough to not get all floppy and saggy.  Using the ruler, draw yourself some guidelines for the rectangle you will cut.

6. Using the box cutters, begin cutting out the rectangle you just drew.  You will need to go slowly in order to get the straightest lines and go straight down into the book without veering.  Cut about 1/2 as deep as the box cutters COULD go.  You can rip away pages as well.

7. Use the exacto knife to clean up the cuts as you go.  The corners will definitely need help.

8. You can also work from the back to the front and make your holes meet in the middle of the book.  Just be sure to measure in from the edges the same amount as you did on the front page and draw guidelines.
9. This is where that patience comes in!  If you're me, at this point you look like this: (but less cross-eyed)

10. Get really frustrated and run out of patience.  Go get your mr to help you out.  Fortunately, he’s got the patience of a St. and could cut a million page book up, no problem.  mr is the one who thought of working from the front AND back and making the holes meet.  He thinks it is much easier this way.

11. Cut all the way through all of the pages (except those first three or four), so you have a neat rectangular hole in the middle of the pages.

12. Use hot glue to glue the pages to the back cover.  Go around the edges with the glue, don’t use too much or it will ooze, and make sure to squash it down really flat so there isn’t a gap.

13. Measure how much material you need by laying it over the hole.  Cut.  Error on the side of “too much” because you can always trim it down.  Trust me on this one.  I had to piece together the lining once and it is a PAIN.

14. Starting at a corner, glue the fabric to the back cover and all up the edges of the pages.  Don’t glue the material so that it is higher than the pages.  Stop just before the edge.  Continue hot gluing, a little at a time down one side, then the top, bottom and then the last side.  You will need to trim, especially the corners.  DON’T let fabric go over edge!  It may look ragged and not nice, but don’t worry.

15. Use the paint brush to brush mod podge onto the top of the glued together pages.  Lay down the first free page.  Continue mod podging the free pages down, one at a time.  When you are done, go around the outside of the pages again - like you did with the elmer’s glue - to seal it.

16. Let it dry.
17. Using the exacto knife and scissors, cut a hole in the middle of the pages you just mod podged down, matching the hollowed out portion beneath, but don’t cut all the way to the edges.  This way you will cover the ragged edges of the fabric and pages beneath.  Use the scissors to make sure the lines are straight.

18. DONE!  Enjoy your handy work by putting your treasure inside and placing it on a bookshelf to fool everyone.

Don’t have any treasure to put inside?  Well, read on to see how I made my brother IL’s treasure...

1. Gather your materials.  You will need:
As many pictures of the “treasure” as you want - make sure that when they are stacked on top of each other they will still fit comfortably inside the book. If you are going to add embellishments, (and we all know embellishments make everything look better) make sure to have a little leeway - cut to any size you want (as long as it fits inside the book).  I used 2x3 sized photos printed out on 8x10 photo paper.  
A paper cutter
Coordinating scrapbook paper, however many designs you want.  (I used 7 different designs.)
A small hole punch (I used a crop-a-dile - from Stampin' Up)
Matching embellishments
A binder clip
A sharpie
A hot glue gun (shhhh, don’t tell any scrapbookers out there or I may be drawn and quartered.)

2. Cut the pictures apart using the paper cutters.  I left a little white around the edges.
3. Cut rectangles from the scrapbook paper to size.  I left mine a little long so I could embellish more easily.  Just measure the picture size and measure the size you want the paper to be in order to mat the picture.  Use the paper cutter to cut all the paper you will need right away.  

4. Hot glue your pictures to the papers exactly where you want them.  Like I said, don’t tell any scrapbookers.  This isn’t really archival quality here, but it’s fast, easy and darn, will it stay put.  
5. Hot glue any embellishments you want.  I kept it simple - I mean, this is for a guy, here.  Every so many photos I would put either a brad, a felt star, a paper star, a paperclip, or a rhinestone.  I put them on at random in random places, so it wasn’t planned out or rigid.    

6. Use the Sharpie to make a title page.  Mine says “Brother IL’s Treasures” because what else would you hide in a hollowed out book but your treasure?  (Inside I put pictures of my niece.)

7. Punch holes in the papers in one corner (I used top left) going through four or so at a time.  

8. Slide these through the binder clip and close it up.

9. Done!

Place it in the book, close it up and no one will know!

You’ll be able to spoil even the most sinister of plots by hiding your important documents and other secret treasure within this book’s depths.


1 comment:

BabyShowerSupplies on Etsy said...

I always wondered how those secret books were made! Thanks for the step by step instructions too.

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