Upcycling Old Yearbooks into a Book of Spells or Halloween Spell Books

Upcycling Old Yearbooks into a Book of Spells or Halloween Spell Books

There are a LOT of tutorials for Harry Potter – inspired Halloween Spell Books out there. But, I’ve wanted to create my own versions for a while now. It wasn’t until I found a couple of old yearbooks while thrifting that an idea took root. Their textured leatherette covers and embossed designs REALLY seemed destined to become a Book of Spells or even steampunk books – perfect for Halloween decor!

While plain hardcover books are a fine starting point for spooky spell books, you have to take extra steps to make them look old, textured, and maybe a little spooky. But that’s already done for you with old yearbooks…

Thrift store book or old yearbooks are perfect for upcycling into a Book of Spells for Halloween decor

See what I mean? These covers look like the beginning of Harry Potter crafts to me…

Old yearbooks from the thrift store for upcycling into a Book of Shadows or Harry Potter crafts

Can’t find any yearbooks? Old encyclopedias, atlases, and other reference-type books that are oversized and textured would be just as good! 

For my Halloween Spell Books / Steampunk Books, I took inspiration from the Harry Potter movies and the library at Hogwarts. Even though I wasn’t trying to make my Book of Spells look creepy, I still gathered some rubber snakes and friends…

Rubber snakes and bugs to decorate the old yearbooks to transform them into old spell books and witchcraft spells

And some scrapbooking stickers and embellishments…

Scrapbook stickers for decorating the thrift store book as Steampunk Books and Halloween spell book

I also gathered various paints, brushes, gilding waxes, glue, and pieces of hardware, like hinges, handles, and clock parts. This is a fun mixed-media project so use whatever you can scavenge or already have on hand!

I made three different old spell books, all using slightly different crafting techniques to yield varying styles.

This post contains affiliate links for your crafting convenience. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Old Yearbooks turned into a Book of Spells / Book of Shadows

I loved the red binding on this thrift store book and wanted to capitalize on it.

First, I covered the edges of the pages with painter’s tape before brushing on the blackest latex paint I could find. While the paint was still wet, I blotted it over and over again with a crumpled-up paper towel for a mottled effect.

Then, I rubbed on antique gold wax to various pieces of hardware and glued them on the cover. I also use the same gold wax on the shield-shaped embossed design.

All that was left to do was to cover up the yearbook name and graduating year. I used brass jewelry findings leftover from this Christmas project, and flattened metal buttons leftover from this jewelry project to do so.

Harry Potter crafts and party ideas for old yearbooks as Book of Spells and steampunk books

To finish it off, I removed the painter’s tape from the pages and brushed on metallic craft paint to gild the edges in a fiery copper.

Painting the edges of the pages from a thrift store book in metallic red as a Book of witches spells for Halloween decor

Harry Potter Crafts for a Halloween Spell Book

For this Halloween spell book, I decided to incorporate some of the rubber snakes / bugs. I arranged everything on the cover and snapped a photo so I could recreate it later.

Harry Potter party ideas for old yearbooks to be upcycled into Halloween spell book that is decorated with rubber snakes

The texture of this particular old book reminded me of lizard skin, so I brushed on green paint (leftover from this cabinet makeover). Instead of blotting the paint, however, I wiped off some of the paint with a folded paper towel.

This left most of the green paint, but took enough off to allow the original brown to peek through. Doesn’t that give it a nice “reptile” effect?

Next, I spray painted the sticker letters gold and then glued everything in place, using my original photo as my guide.

Steampunk books and Halloween spell books for Halloween decor and Harry Potter party ideas

Here’s a close up of the lizard skin texture! I just love how wiping the paint off created this effect.

And just like the Book of Spells I had created previously, I gilded the edges of this Halloween spell book with gold craft paint.

Steampunk Books from Old Yearbooks / Thrift Store Book

For this Book of Spells / Book of Shadows, I wanted to go with a steampunk style. I gathered up all the gears I could find as well as some old keys. To cover up the yearbook name, I used a strip of scrap leather (under the keys).

I arranged everything on the cover and snapped a photo to recreate it after painting.

Upcycling ideas for old books from the thrift store as steampunk books and Harry Potter crafts for Halloween

After sticking on the scrapbook sticker letters, I painted the entire book with a medium gray craft paint. Then, I glued the gears and keys in place before re-painting the letters and page edges with a silvery gold craft paint.

Attaching the gears and skeleton keys to old yearbooks for Harry Potter Crafts and Steampunk books

I’m so in love with this one – I think I need to make more Steampunk books, don’t you?

Upcycling idea for old yearbooks as Book of Spells or steampunk books to use as Halloween party decor

Book of Spells, Steampunk Books, and Book of Shadows for Halloween Decor

These were SO incredibly fun to create – and they really are perfect as Harry Potter crafts as well as Halloween decor. And gathering all the decorative elements was like a magical scavenger hunt.

Book of Shadows or Book of Spells that are made by upcycling the old yearbooks for Halloween decor

This project is also ideal for a Halloween crafting party- gather your pals and ask them to bring all kinds of crafty products so that you can swap and share. That way, you can make your Book of Spells or Steampunk books in your own style.

Oh, and Cottonball wants to know if he’s actually included IN the Book of Beasts??

Cottonball cat with a thrift store book that has been upcycled into a Halloween spell book or Book of spells

If you enjoyed this upcycling idea for a Book of Spells and Harry Potter crafts, then you’ll love these potion bottles from a vintage spice rack!

Harry Potter potion bottles with color shift paints in a vintage spice rack for Halloween magic decor by Sadie Seasongoods

Craft on!


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  1. What a brilliant idea!!

  2. indianakathy says

    Very Creative! I enjoy old Halloween ideas! Thank you for sharing

  3. Patty Soriano says

    LOVE these books ! SO inventive !! But you are one of the best! Thank you for the giveaway. Sounds like a lot of fun!!

  4. Robyn Wright says

    Absolutely AWESOME!

    • Sadie Seasongoods says

      Thank you so, so much, Robyn! I’m always nervous posting a “book” project (people are very protective of books), but these are just WAY too cool and fun to make not to share. 🙂

  5. Deanna Williford says

    Oh, Sally! I really love these!!!! I’m on vacation right now but can’t wait to get home and make some! You are the bestest!!! Thanks for the fun idea! (….and I think it would be a lot of fun to do as a girls night out kind of activity!!!)

  6. mary scott says

    Excellent results! Great upcycling idea. thanks

  7. Oh wow! I LOVE this project! It looks like so much fun! I want to go alter some books!
    You are so creative, Sarah! Thank you for sharing with us!

  8. Lyn Kleven says

    SOOOOOOOO CLEVERRRRR!! I’m going to run out this weekend and find me an Old yearbook! Fantastic Idea!

  9. Oh, I agree about being protective of books. You couldn’t do that project with MY yearbooks. Someone else’s though, are fair game. Loved the leather looks you gave them with paint. Great job, as usual!

  10. Fantastic! You’re so amazing! I love getting your notifications in my inbox. I always try to guess by the title what you could have come up with and it always turns out to be 1000000% better than I could ever imagine. Very cool.

    • Sadie Seasongoods says

      Thank you so, so much- these are incredibly fun to make. I’ve been looking forward to this project all year long and now I’m sad that it’s done, LOL!

  11. Patrice Darlington says

    Congrats on reaching 30,000 likes on Faecbook👍

  12. CharoletteShepherd says

    I order some craft stuff from a company called Wish

  13. Kathleen Wage says

    I would take that one step further and carefully cut out the pages at the binder then replace it with some journal pages!

  14. Judy Galbraith says

    I am curious if you put anything special inside the books or just leave the original text. It would be fun to cut a hole in pages and insert spider, rat, etc.


  1. […] And before you go, check out my latest Halloween project using repurposed yearbooks and encyclopedias from the thrift s…! […]

  2. […] From yearbooks to 3D Halloween spell books by Sadie Seasongoods […]

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