Several years ago, Wizards of the Coast released shiny new corrected editions of the core Dungeons & Dragons sourcebooks. This prompted the GM of my weekly D&D group to, having bought the new copies, generously pass his old 2003 copies on to me. The books are still perfectly usable, but after 13 years of weekly consultation the spines are peeling and the covers are coming loose, so I decided to re-cover them.
First up: the Monster Manual!
Note: You may wish to skip this one if you have issues with eyes in places they should not be (glass, moderately realistic) and/or stitched wounds (leather + heavy thread, not massively realistic).
Supplies: leather (upholstery offcuts from the scrap shop); glue; heavy black thread (Samuel Taylor); eye cabochons (GlitteramaCrafts on Etsy); Sugru (sugru.com). Not shown: ratty buckle (salvaged from old boot).
Tools: beeswax (for thread), Sharpie (for marking leather), multiple kinds of cutting tool, cutting mat.
This was structurally fairly simple: several leather offcuts stitched together into one piece big enough to go all the way round and include a flap to protect the cover. The flap is held closed by a strap with a buckle on one end, run through slots in the leather and pulled back through the buckle.
The leather is glued to the front cover and flaps glued down to the inside of the original cover boards. At the back, one line of stitching stops the flap coming away from the back board (my 100/16 leather needle went through it like a champ, albeit slowly) and the top and bottom flaps are glued down.
The actual front cover (protected by the flap when not in use) has slits cut in it opening onto glass eye cabochons, plus a larger one in the middle that’s been crudely sewn shut. D&D players will recognise the basic layout of the Beholder – the iconic multi-eyed monster in the topmost picture – and the gap where the enormous central eye should be. The area under the sewn-shut “eye” is raised with a lump of Sugru, to give the impression of hidden scar tissue.
To do this, I first arranged the cabochons on the loose cover piece in an array I liked; marked their positions on the leather with Sharpie; then cut the slits open, then marked through the holes onto the cover board to get the positions for where to stick the cabochons and the Sugru ‘scar’.
I think it makes for a pretty good Eldritch Tome as these things go, and could potentially also double as a LARP prop next time someone needs a really evil spellbook.