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Birch Bark Painted Decorative Books

Bring the nature indoors by creating your own pretty birch bark painted decorative books to display on your shelf.

A book shelf with birch bark painted decorative books, wood slices, a birdhouse and white bottles.

Hand Painted Book Covers

Inspired by pictures of stacked books decor I saw online, I headed to the thrift store and picked up a box full of hard cover books for less than $5. Painting book covers was a brand new crafting experience. Book covers make for a great surface to paint on, they are smooth, flat and easily paintable.

Close up of birch bark painted decorative books.

There is something very special about birch trees that we are drawn to. We’ve used cut birch branches in a few of our crafts over the years, like this hollowed out birch bark votive holder; Christmas garland; Winter window wreath; and to make this rustic birdhouse centerpiece.

Materials Needed:

Materials needed to make birch bark painted decorative books, including hardcover books, paint, paintbrushes and varnish.

A Few Tips To Get You Started

  • Allow paint to fully dry before applying another coat of paint or changing colors.
  • For more coverage, add another coat of paint.

How To Make Birch Park Decorative Books

Preparing the Hard Cover Books

Remove the paper sleeves from all the hard cover books and paint the hard covers in Whispering Turquoise.

Stack the books in the order they will be displayed on your bookshelf. 

Stacking the blue painted hardcover books horizontally.

Using a paintbrush, paint the book spines in White Wash and then paint half of the front cover of the first book in White Wash as well.

Painting the spines of the hardcover books with white paint.

Next, align the books so the spines are flush and lay the books down horizontally for easier painting. 

Stacking the painted hardcover books horizontally.

Creating the birch tree design with painter’s tape

Begin to place pieces of tape along the book spines to block out the birch branches.  First, place a piece of painter’s tape on a diagonal over top of the first book’s spine. Wrap it around the front of the book as well.

Adding green painter's tape to the book stacked at the top.

Apply a second piece of tape overlapping the first to make the birch branch thicker. 

Overlapping the green painter's tape.

Move on to the second book and apply a piece of tape along the entire length of the spine. 

Adding a second piece of green painter's tape to the spine of the second book.

Position the next piece of tape on a diagonal overlapping the third and fourth books. Thicken the birch branch by adding a parallel piece of tape.

Adding a third piece of green painters tape to the stacked books.

Continue with the fourth and fifth books by adding tape as shown. 

Covering the stacked books with green painters tape

Using a utility knife, cut the tape joining the books, taking care not to cut the hardcovers.

Using a utility knife to cut the painter's tape and separate the stacked books.

Separate the books keeping note of the order from one to five.

Separating the stacked books.

Painting the birch bark design

Paint over the taped spines in Whispering Turquoise covering all white painted areas. 

Peel away the painter’s tape. 

Removing the painters tape from the spine of the books.

Touch up any rough edges with a fine tip paint brush in White Wash paint.

Using a smaller flat brush, mix White Wash with a bit of Neutral Gray and apply it along the birch branches. Work one branch at time keeping note of which branches are layered in behind or in front of each other.

Mixing grey and white paint to add birch branches onto the spine of the books.

Using a fine tip paint brush, apply irregular neutral gray dashes along the lengths of each branch. 

Adding dashes along the branches with grey paint.

Continue working one branch at a time.

Finishing Touches

Using a fine tip paint brush, apply smaller irregular soft black dashes over top of the neutral gray marks and continue working one branch at a time.

Using a large flat brush, apply Duraclear Satin Varnish over top of the painted hard covers. Be sure to allow enough time to dry before displaying them on a bookshelf.

This project originally appeared on DecoArt’s project gallery

A book shelf with birch bark painted decorative books, wood slices, a birdhouse, picture frame and white bottle.

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Birch bark painted decorative books with text overlay "DIY birch bark painted decorative books."

Birch Bark Painted Decorative Books

Jane and Sonja
5 from 1 vote

Materials
  

  • Americana Acrylics in Soft Black, Neutral Gray, Whispering Turquoise, White Wash
  • Decoart Americana Duraclear Satin Varnish
  • 5 hardcover books in varying heights and widths
  • Paintbrush ¾” flat
  • Paintbrush fine tip
  • Painter’s Tape ¾” wide
  • Utility Knife

Instructions
 

  • Remove the paper sleeves from all the hard cover books.
  • Paint the hard covers in Whispering Turquoise.
  • Paint the book spines in White Wash. Paint half of the front cover of the first book in White Wash as well.
  • Align the books so the spines are flush and lay the books down horizontally.
  • Begin to place pieces of tape along the book spines to block out the birch branches. Position some of the pieces of tape on a diagonal while others keep straight in varying widths.
  • Using a utility knife, cut the tape joining the books, taking care not to cut the hardcovers.
  • Separate the books keeping note of the order of the books.
  • Paint over the taped spines in Whispering Turquoise covering all white painted areas.
  • Peel away the painter’s tape.
  • Using a smaller flat brush, mix White Wash with a bit of Neutral Gray and apply it along the birch branches.
  • Using a fine tip paint brush, apply irregular neutral gray dashes along the lengths of each branch.
  • Using a fine tip paint brush, apply smaller irregular soft black dashes over top of the neutral gray marks.
  • Using a large flat brush, apply Duraclear Satin Varnish over top of the painted hard covers.
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