Every year the Panhellenic Alumnae women of Kansas City host a brunch and auction to raise scholarship funds for collegiate sorority women.
Giant Party Prop Book
This year, the theme of the brunch was Alice in Wonderland. Because I knew the Instructables Party Challenge was coming up, I offered to make a giant book photo prop This is an ultra light and super cheap book that measures about 4 feet 1. A giant book would be a great party prop for book-themed parties a huge, magical Harry Potter book?! Did you use this instructable in your classroom? Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.
The first thing to decide when making a giant book is Something to keep in mind is, what will the book be used for? That will help you decide how large you want to make it.
This prop was going to be the background for pictures, so after assuming the easel height, we could guess the size of our book. I also knew I couldn't fit the 4'x8' foam board in my SUV, so we had to cut it in half right off the bat. Since we weren't at home, we had to do a quick cut with a utility knife. This isn't ideal as the foam "sheds" everywhere and the cut isn't smoothed and sealed; however, this was fine to do on the straight lines, and it was just a pre-cut anyways.
Book cover sides are usually not square, so we knew we would need to do more trimming. We liked the book 4 feet tall, so we decided each page would be 3 feet wide. I also knew that after we cut off the extra foot, we would have enough foam to build the six 6 3D page supports.
To cut the foam board, I measured a foot off one edge in multiple places, laid a long board on the marks, and made my cuts with the hot knife, gliding the knife against the wood for support and making sure to keep the knife as perpendicular to the foam as possible. Hot Knife: To make the knife, I cut the shape of a knife out of an old sheet of copper great heat conductor with a dremmel. I grabbed the end with vice grips pliers would work as well and heated the knife up with a propane torch for about 15 seconds.
If you use this method, make sure you work in a ventilated area and don't breathe in the foam fumes! Another option is to make a hot knife out of a soldering iron like in this Instructable , but who doesn't like the idea of a giant copper knife? Lastly, c ommercial hot wire styrofoam cutters are also a great, probably safer, option. The best part of this book is that it looks like the pages are 3D. To create this look, we need curved foam supports underneath the paper pages.
I took a 3 foot piece of thick poster board the width of my book cover and marked our design constraints. I knew I didn't want the page edges to go to the edge of the cover width , the top hump shouldn't exceed 3 inches depth , and the page edges needed a realistic slope. The steeper the slope, the wider our page will; the more gradual wider the slope, the skinnier the page will be. Since we wanted big artwork on the page, we want a wider page to work on, meaning the slope had to be decently steep.
Another thing to remember is the artwork doesn't go all the way to the center of the book. You have to save a couple inches for the inside spine. The best tip I have for drawing a template is to open a real book and study the way it lays open. To explain this with math : I have a 3 foot wide cover - 36 inches.
I want 3 inches of cover showing behind the pages, so my page is down to 33 inches. The inner spine area takes up another 4 inches, so we now have 29 inches to work with for the page top and page edges. If I have a 4 inch wide page edge slope, then I am left with 25 inches of page width to put artwork on. Does this look natural? Does there need to be "more pages showing"? If so, I would add in another inch for the slope, so it's more gradual, but I would lose 1 inch on the top.
Custom Foam Pizza Prop Display
Play around until you find what looks natural to you. After sketching out a design, we traced the final in sharpie, and cut it out with a utility knife. We then smoothed out the template by lightly sanding with sandpaper.
Something important to note that worked out well for us: I accidentally made my template tip to tip, 36 inches. This doesn't mean it was 36 inches wide, but with all the curves, it measured 36".
You can measure the curves by guiding a string along the edges and then measuring the string. This measurement worked out perfectly because the butcher paper used to make the pages is 36" wide, so I didn't have to cut it or piece it together.
So the easy straight foam cuts are over, and it is time for some freehand cutting. The thing to keep in mind is, the very thing you need to cut through the foam is going to be your worst enemy.
That big hunk of copper you chose for its thermal properties can easily melt through a part of the foam you don't want to melt through. I recommend until you are comfortable your method of foam cutting, leave a little extra foam around the edges of your cut.
Remember, you can always trim something if it is too big.
How to make a giant book prop
It's a real hassle to add material back. Start by tracing one of the supports on the foam. Its best to only trace one at a time, as I went a little wild on some of my cuts and would have cut into another support if I had drawn them all out at the beginning. Next heat up your knife with the torch.
Scenic Foam Props & Sculptures Gallery
Again less is more here; it's better to stop cutting and reheat your knife then to melt a hole in your project. I started on the flat bottom of the support, being very careful on the radiused portion where the support connects to the "spine" of the book.
Go slow and make numerous small cuts. Reheat your knife as needed, and cut the top of your support.
Giant/Big Foam Book Prop - Custom Made Any Size
I found the best results was when we made one continuous cut. For the sharp corners I would stab into the material, pull out and pierce again at the other angle to get crisp clean corners.
How to make a big giant book
As I mentioned, for our size book, six supports were needed; if you go bigger you may consider making more. After all six supports were cut, we made two groups of three and lined them up to see how much difference there was in size. If you've been super precise in your cuts they should be very similar. However, if you're like me, some cuts were off by a half inch. I used the smallest support as a pattern, traced along the edges, and trimmed the bigger supports down.
Will a half inch of extra make a difference? Yes, always yes.
Do your best to get these accurate now, as it'll make the whole book look so much more realistic when its all done, and it will be way easier to glue. Remember, not all six of the supports have to match perfectly, just the three supports on each individual side. Who says the book is opened exactly dead center anyways?
Never stop moving that hot knife. If you're done with a cut, pull your knife out so you don't melt something. If you have some jagged edges, you can heat up your knife and press the flat edge to it to clean it up.
Don't be afraid to stop and readjust, especially if you're working by yourself. Lastly, make sure you don't have to twist or hold the knife in a weird angle to make your cuts. To make the book cover, we wanted to use the donated butcher paper we had thank you teachers! Since the paper is only 3 feet wide, we had to piece the paper together if we wanted to wrap it around a 3 foot wide page.
Because of the amount of blue and white paper I had, I also had to piece different colors together. I figured that hardback books often have two different colors underneath the dust cover think Harry Potter books , so I went with a large blue strip and a skinny white strip as the inner bind.
I cut the paper into the following dimensions:. We then used packing tape to connect the sheets together. The tape will be on the INSIDE of the cover, closest to the 3D foam supports, so make sure if your paper has uglies on it, you face it up when taping. It is helpful to have someone hold the sheets together while you tape.
Send to friend
Before we wrap the paper around the 3' x 4' foam board, we need to remove the shiny silver paper on the foam. This, now bare, side will be face up when wrapping so the supports have something to glue onto in the next step.
Basically we are wrapping the foam board like a present that didn't have enough paper to cover it. If you've done this, you know exactly what I'm talking about After placing the board, bare side up, on the paper, I folded opposite sides inwards and taped them down yes, packing tape sticks well on the foam!
Side Tip : Your cat will want to sit on the book while you work on the floor.
Wait, this isn't a tip Just a fact. After wrapping your covers it's time to glue on the supports. We used the white drying formula so any accidental seepage would be coverable.
Gorilla Glue expands as it dries so this is a product that must be clamped into place; if you can't clamp like in this case , you use weights. We first placed our supports in roughly the right spots and found a bunch of lumber to "clamp" weigh down down in place.
A dry run with no glue is definitely needed as time is of the essence once glue is applied. We wanted to make sure the supports wouldn't crumple or topple over from the weight of the lumber. We removed all the weight from our test clamp and started placing the supports in the correct spots.