Can you guess how this mini magical scene started life? I started writing a whole tutorial on this project, but it became SO long I thought… Nah! You ain’t gonna read that! So instead, here are the pertinent highlights and the story of my upcycled Witchy Book Nook.
I even shot a couple of videos. Go me!
Total aside, but I’m having some technical difficulties. If you can’t see a link or the video preview below, go to my YouTube Channel and view it there.
Book Nooks have become really popular over the last couple of years. They’re a great creative outlet for miniaturists and add a little whimsy to any home lover’s bookshelf. They also happen to make a brilliant, space-saving display alternative for my miniature tables! And that’s where this story starts when, during July 2020, in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, I decided to change careers from PA to Artist.
As you do.
Actually, this story starts even earlier than that, back when I discovered the amazing work of Miniature Maker Extraordinaire Heather Tracy. But, for the sake of argument, let’s say it started last summer. Because that’s when I took the plunge and opened my Etsy Shop.
If you’ve browsed my wares, you’ll know I have several miniatures for sale, including witchy tables, medieval bookshelves and my most popular make – 1:12 scale Ouija Boards. Within hours of opening my virtual doors, I had my very first sale – I almost jumped out of my skin with excitement at that first cha-ching…
…I’d sold a miniature table!
The fact that the buyer was The Bestie did nothing to dim my excitement. To be honest, I was probably more surprised than anything – Mrs Jimmy Choo isn’t someone you might picture as my usual clientele. But not only is said Aspinal-loving Bestie one of my longest serving ardent supporters, she was absolutely adamant she would be my very first Etsy customer.
Unless you own a specifically witchy or medieval Doll’s House, I can see how my miniatures might be considered a bit niche. But as Bestie demonstrates, they make great display pieces in any setting.
Now if you’ve been following my ramblings for a while, you’ll know that said Bestie and her Highland Hubby are in-part responsible for Beloved’s and my ongoing love affair with whisky. Over the years we’ve amassed quite a collection, which has taken something of a hammering during lockdown.
A few weeks ago, the postman arrived with a gift to replenish our stocks – a stunning malt called Bladnoch Samsara. As you can see, it’s not just the whisky that makes this gift so special; bottle and box are equally beautiful.
Not to mention most useful for my curious creations!
Did someone say “potion bottle”?
But as it happens, I was also looking for a creative way to display my miniature tables and the box turned out to be exactly what I needed.
How I turned Whisky Packaging into a DIY Book Nook
I already had almost everything I needed to turn this whisky box into a book nook. The only thing missing was knowledge, so I winged it
No change there, then!
I started by making a Gothic Window, using files by Heather Tracy that I was lucky enough to grab as a member of Thicketworks Studio before it closed.
Mini Gothic Windows Tutorial
It took some head-scratching to figure out how I was going to mount the window, as I didn’t want to cut into the box. So I created a removable false wall using Foamboard, cutting the board to size for a snug fit. I wanted to be able to remove it in case I needed to swap out the lights.
I traced around the window and cut out the shape from the board.
Top Tip – Don’t cut ON the line, but a little way in so the aperture isn’t too big for the window.
Yep – I learned the hard way!
For the “stone” effect, I used modelling paste that I created “mortar lines” in using a metal file, before painting and ageing to fit the scene.
While the wall was drying, I went to work creating an “oak” floor.
I cut a square of thick card and covered it with lollipop sticks with their round ends cut off. After gluing the sticks to the card, I created the oak effect using coffee stain, building up the colour until I was happy. I added a little Tim Holtz Distress Stain in wild honey to create warmth, then used some (very!) watered down black acrylic to give the boards some age.
Once I was happy and the wall was completely dry, I glued the window to cover the aperture.
For lighting, I taped battery-operated micro lights to the back wall and brought the control switch out of the top and taped it to the back of the box. I knew those redundant Xmas Topiary lights would come in handy!
Below is another Video. If you can’t see the link or preview below, go to my YouTube Channel to view it.
I was going to do something fancy with the outside, but decided instead just to paint it black. My old friend Gesso did a marvellous job of covering the lettering, although the Bladnoch branding is embossed, so it’s not perfect. Since the Nook will live between books, we don’t need to worry too much about the sides, as they won’t be seen.
With the main structure complete, I added a few permanent features.
The shelf is made from two of offcuts of thick card and I made the mirror from a wooden craft frame (The Works) and silver foil. Not one to leave things alone, I naturally had to top the mirror with a skull candle sconce, made from a skull bead and handmade candle.
Finally, using more of Heather’s brilliant files, I made a fireplace. The eagle-eyed among you will spot that I didn’t make the whole thing! There just wasn’t the width to do that, so I fashioned my own mantel and hearth to fit the space.
Mini Gothic Fireplace Tutorial
After that, it was a matter of dressing the scene. I made a vase of trailing plants using a bead, wire and dried tarragon (yep, the herb!), cut up a twig to create logs in the fireplace, and dressed the shelf with some of my minis, including a Doll House Ouija.
From the teeny, tiny boxes, to the mantel candlestick, scroll display shelves, oil lantern, and cauldron; every single thing is handmade.
Including, of course, the miniature tables for which this book nook was designed!
Not to mention the witch’s Besom hiding in the bottom right corner.
I had SO much fun making this Book Nook. It really was lovely to get back to making something just for me. Don’t get me wrong, I love making stuff for the Shop but getting stuck into a project like this is a great way to forget your troubles and block out all the problems in the world.
And I really needed that recently.
How about you? Have you been getting creative during these tough times? If not, maybe my Book Nook project will fire up your creative juices and get you feeling inspired to have a little fun with some magical making.
A hui hou,