Necronomicon ex mortis… The Book of the Dead… Bound in human flesh and inked in blood… And if you have no idea what I’m talking about – you probably don’t belong on this website, you primitive screwhead.
To date, I’ve built four of these to completion. I scrapped a few more mid-production because they didn’t meet my standard of quality. I designed and built the first one to be a replica of the film prop for Dad’s Cabin. In subsequent versions, I stopped re-creating the face, chose design elements that reflected my own style, and moved more toward blank pages so I could use these books as journals of my own.
Designing Page Content
The first step I take when building a new Necronomicon is to decide what content I want in the book. Apart from respecting copyright laws, there is no limit to what you can use. It really depends on what purpose you intend to employ the book for. Most of the books I produce include some combination of:
- pre-designed film replica pages (such as the ones found here)
- random images I find online or generate myself
- customized messages encoded with a Necronomicon font
- blank pages
I have a printer capable of making double-sided prints, and I prefer half-sheet sized books. I leave it to people who are more tech-savvy than I am to describe how to create and print double-sided booklets, as I imagine the procedure varies depending on the software and printer you are using. The good news is – if you just want blank pages, you don’t have to worry about printing anything. Just grab a wad of letter-sized paper and slice them in half.
Aging the Paper
To age the pages, I make a strong solution of instant coffee and water. I soak each page in the coffee solution, place it on a cookie sheet, and bake it at 200°F for about 10 minutes.
After all the pages are baked, I bunch them together and light the edges on fire. Of course, make sure that you have something handy to snuff out the fire before it gets out of control. The goal here is only to singe the edges.
My next step involves setting the pages out over a large work space. I take a small amount of PermaBlood and flick it at the pages to create various types of blood splatter. Once dried, I flip the pages over and treat the other side.
The Book Cover
To build the book cover, I begin with a large piece of thick cardboard. I position two pages on the cardboard, side-by-side and with a one inch gap in between them. I cut the cardboard with a utility knife and straight edge so that it covers an area just slightly bigger than the pages. The dimensions will be approximately 9-1/2″ x 13″.
The cardboard will get wet in the next step, so if you want to avoid excessive warping or a soft cover, it’s a good idea to coat the cardboard with acrylic paint. The paint can also conceal any markings that appear on the cardboard.
Next, I build up layers of liquid latex and facial tissue (Kleenex) to create the book’s human flesh. Always start with latex as the first layer on the cardboard. After your final layer of tissue, coat it with a final layer of latex. (In other words, start and finish with latex.) It’s up to you if you want to create any special features during this process, like faces, ridges, or other embellishments.
It is not necessary to pre-tear the tissue to get rid of smooth edges. The tissue will stretch, warp, and tear quite nicely on its own when you work the next layer of latex over it. This is a messy, slow, and tedious process. Make sure that you wear appropriate clothing and have the means to readily clean up.
Coloring and Curing the Flesh
I have found wood stains to be excellent at achieving a rotted fleshy color. I use Varathane wood stains – opting for Espresso when I want darker flesh or Golden Oak when I want lighter flesh.
Make sure the latex is completely cured before you apply stain. The stain tends to seal in moisture, and you can end up with a mess on your hands if the book isn’t completely dry. Similarly, make sure that the stain is completely dried and cured before proceeding to any next steps.
Your Necronomicon will be sticky – or at least tacky. The only method I’ve discovered to completely get rid of the tackiness is the use of several coatings of an acrylic clear gloss spray paint.
Binding the Necronomicon
I concede that I haven’t come up with a perfect solution for binding, yet.
I start by assembling the finished and dried pages and getting them flush on one edge as close as possible. Binder clips work well to keep them flush for a time, but I’ve learned to clamp the pages together in between two lengths of scrap wood.
Next, I cut a single one inch strip of cardboard that is roughly the same length of the pages. I apply a thick amount of hot glue to the binding, because I need that glue to push through all of the pages and really get a lock on those edges. However, the glue starts to set faster than I can get it applied and adhered to the pages. So once I’ve done that, I go back over the strip with a heat gun to re-melt the glue and improve adhesion.
After that, binding the cover to the pages is a simple matter of some more hot glue. Then, the Necronomicon is done!