A movie that seems to have experienced a phenomenal comeback over the years is Disney’s Hocus Pocus. The film was a modest success when it came out debuting at only #4 at the box office its opening weekend and making a total gross of around 39 million dollars. It ranked #39 for the year in 1993 which saw such hits as Jurassic Park, Schindler’s List, Philadelphia, The Fugitive and Mrs. Doubtfire, and the Firm winning the year. Even Disney’s other films like Cool Runnings, The Three Musketeers came in at #15 and #21, respectively, and they have all but vanished from the collective pop culture scene. The Nightmare Before Christmas also came out in 1993 and came in at #27 getting beat by the Schwarzenegger bomb Last Action Hero and Dennis the Menace! Now the lasting power and legacy of The Nightmare Before Christmas could be another whole series of blogs. But, both it and Hocus Pocus have stuck around and in some cases, I would say, have increased in their popularity. This is probably due to the kids that were young when it came out growing up now and holding it them in a special place in their hearts and also, and more importantly, Disney very strategic inclusion if them in the holiday overlays and Special Halloween events at the parks.
Each year I make one “not Haunted Mansion” build. In the past I have made a Jack Skellington pumpkin and the ingredient jars from The Nightmare Before Christmas.
Now a Disney themed Halloween party would not be complete without representing the other 1993 Halloween Disney staple of Hocus Pocus. What else could I make other than the spellbook? This gnarly book resembles something out of Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead with the way it looks like a more cartoonish version (in a good way) of the Necronomicon.
The build was easy enough. It started with one of those empty fake books Hobby Lobby sells which I got for 50% off, of course. The books below are as set online. I bought only the larger one, so the price listed below is not what I paid.
I found an image of the book from the film and enlarged it on my computer until it had the dimensions of the fake book I bought. I then printed it of.
I got some Super Sculpey and rolled out some large tubes and fashioned the snakes using the print off as a template. For the scales I pushed a small straw in repeatedly. I then baked the curled snakes, long winding snake, and clasp around the eye in the over at 275° degrees for about 30 minutes.
I used the print off to cut the bases for the snakes out of polystyrene. The eyeball was purchased on eBay as a set for $12. They are the same ultra realistic ones I used on the Madam Leota tombstone head.
To make the actual cover I fed a large rolled out sheet of Super Sculpey trough an automatic pasta rolling machine (I use this only for clay, never use it for food after you use it for clay). I did this numerous times to warm up the clay, remove any lines, and bond the rods the clay comes in together. I then glued the lid shut and covered it with the rolled out thin sheet of Sclupey.
I laid the printout over the cover and using a pencil traced the seems of the sewn together skin of the book. I then used some sculpting tools to create some rounds recessed slopes that followed the line. To create the look of stitching I simply pressed the tip of the curved sculpting tool (6th from the left below) into the clay around both sides of my sculpted lines. I then baked it on the cover using blow dryers. I made creases and kneed it leaving a rough texture on purpose.
I then sealed the edges to the book using a brush on super glue and covered the book with mixture of Mod Podge and black acrylic paint. There are cracks and fingerprints that would have filled or smoothed but I think it adds a nice look.
I gave the snakes parts a base coat of black and drybrushing of silver. I gave the book a base coat of a mixture of flesh colored paint and brown followed by a generous dark wash of black/brown that was removed in a wiping/blotting motion.
I glued all the silver snakes and the loop around the eye in place and added a cheap yellow fake gemstone. It does not have the actually stitching, the fingers on the binding, or the braided metal clasp but it looks amazing displayed on the shelf. This was a quick project that probably took only 3 hours but I was blown away by the end product.
Until next time…be on the lookout for more of our Haunted Mansion builds. We will have over 70 pieces life sized pieces in our Haunted Mansion this year.
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Until next time…
The Imagine Ears features the DIY projects, adventures, and thoughts of a father and daughter who use a shared love of all things Disney to create memories together through encouraging her interests in architecture, design, Imagineering, while exploring history and science.