Categories  books

Magnum Pondus

Altered book project was made in the spirit of being used as a Very Heavy Object in an Amtgard battle game. (What’s Amtgard? Find out here!)

It can be “very heavy” because it has an option to hold a 25-pound steel plate, for a total weight of about 35 pounds. It can also be “fairly heavy” because even if you take out the plate, it still weighs about 10 pounds. When the steel plate is taken out, there is a large empty area called a “book safe” which can be used for a secret hiding place for special things.

We did use the book a the prop for a treasure in a battlegame once, but took out the steel plate for extra safety.

Photos below!

VERY HEAVY OBJECT (game rules)
Two teams attempt to bring the Object to their opponent’s base
to score a point. The Object must be kept at the opponents
base for five seconds in order to score a point. The Object is
considered a game item and should weigh at least 30 lbs. First
team to three points wins. This game is fun to play in medium
sized areas with interesting terrain.
Teams: 2
Lives: Unlimited
Respawn: Groups of two or more at base
Players: 3+ per team
Refresh: Every 30 minutes of play time
Types Best Supported: All
Objective: Move the Object to the other team’s base and
keep it there for five seconds in order to score a point.
After a point is scored, each team returns to base and the
Object starts with the team with the lowest score.

Credit to Amtgard for this small section from their Rules.

See Rules 8 version here.

Here are some photos from making the book.

I found this book at a local shop for $3.00.
I decided that using it for an art project was better than the landfill,
which is where I was afraid it might end up.

It is huge! 4 inches thick!

Took off the book jacket and it had this round logo.
I forgot to take a photo before I started cutting.

Cut out the logo, leaving behind the empty circle.
I did not have a firm plan yet at this point.
I just thought the cut-out circle would look interesting.

I was thinking of using it as a frame, with a photo behind it, maybe.

Used some sandpaper to smooth out inside the circle.

Here is the exact moment when the moon idea occurred to me.
The scrap piece was over the open circle and the crescent moon appeared.

I tried the moon with foil, but did not like how it looked.
Also, I thought it would be too fragile.

I decided to use a mirror instead.
Went to Dollar Tree, got this mirror for $1.00.

It had suction cups on the bottom.
I took them off.

Measured where the hole was and where the mirror would need to be.

Cut it out.

Pushed the mirror down into the hole.
Added quite a bit of glue under it and around the edges.

Closed the cover over it and took the photo.
Realized it will be tricky to take photos of a mirror and not get the phone in the photo!

Decided to have a huge sun along with the moon.
Here’s where I was trying to position the sun rays.

Added the scrap piece on the moon to support the sun, so there would not be a gap between the sun and the moon. I was concerned it might get pressed down and eventually break.

Now adding the sun, it all fits together.
I was very pleased with how it turned out.
These pieces were made of scrap cardboard I already had.
Glued everything in place.

The font in the dictionary is about size 6, I think.
I doubt anyone (or at least very few) would try to read it.
Also, the pages might get ripped out and become trash or litter.
Don’t want that!

So, I decided to focus on the color plate pages.

I glued sections of the book together, with a color plate for each,
so there are fewer loose pages to rip out by accident.
You can still see the teensy tiny font and the interesting words
on several of the pages, though.

I created this Heraldry page from the Ork, using the images there.
Credit to them, many thanks!
Added it to the dictionary, right after the “Flags” section.

I decided to make a book safe in the back.
I was going to leave it open for hiding things in.

Then a friend offered to loan me his steel plate, for weight.
So now the Very Heavy Object really is VERY heavy!
This is a real steel plate and will break your foot if you drop it on your foot.
Also, you must support the back of the book when you pick it up,
or else the bottom of the book will tear out from the weight of the steel.

I glued a big section of the pages together, using the plate to hold them down.
This was my first experience using E6000 glue.
It’s stinky and goopy.

Used the steel plate to mark how big the space needed to be for it to fit.

Started cutting with X-acto knife, but soon realized that would take forever. Then I bought a more expensive fancy X-acto knife, but had the same problem.

Finally I switched to using a box cutter and made great progress. Even with that, I still had to change blades several times for it to be sharp enough.

This part of the project made a huge shredded mess.
Oh, how I wish this was in my shop or my studio.
(But I don’t have either one.)
Instead, it is on my kitchen table, after supper.

I continued to cut and trim until it was more than an inch deep.
It took forever and was very tedious.

Sanding again, to smooth out the inside edges.

The book safe took a long time, about four hours, but was worth it.
It is a great hiding place for a spell scroll, map, trinket or treasure.

The steel plate did not fit, which was disappointing.
It looked like it would, so close, but yet, still no.
I cut and trimmed a lot more, as much as I could.
Finally, I was about to give up, because the edges were getting too thin.
Then, my step-dad took the plate to his machine shop and trimmed the edges.
It was still a tight fit, but it did finally go into the space I had for it.
The book barely closes, but it does close enough to work just fine.

It was at this point that I knew I wanted an amazing name to go with the amazing book.
I tried Google Translate with Latin, for terms like “very heavy book” or “heavy objects”.
After fiddling with phrasing for awhile, I reached “great weight” for Magnum Pondus.


Now it was time for a base coat on the cover.
I used the tissue paper technique I had used for the Chain & Coin book.
(That book was a practice project for this one.)

still working

still working

I was intending to use black tissue paper for the covers,
and red/yellow/orange for the sun.

While at Dollar Tree to get the paper, I found tissue paper
with confetti in it. I brought that home and considered it.
It made me think – wouldn’t it be great if . . . . there was
tissue paper with glitter in it, so it would look like stars.
Guess what? Google says there is such a thing!

This caused a brief delay because I had to order it.
Finally it arrived.

Here I am trying the first few pieces to see how it looks.
I was so thrilled to see it was going to work out great!

It took about 10 sheets of tissue paper to cover the whole book.

I found the letters at the local Greek store.
(for fraternities and sororities in our college town)
I was a little surprised by how expensive they were,
but they were just what I wanted, so I got them.

They were brown wood, which I considered keeping.
However, I did not like how that looked.

I tried painting them black, but they did not look right.
Then I tried this sand stone spray paint.
Happy with how they turned out after that.

Glued the letters on the front cover, using the E6000.

Finally, it is done!

When you look at it just right, the glitter “stars” sparkle in the light.

I love it!

I considered making or buying a carrying-tray for it, to reduce the risk of the bottom being ripped out by the weight of the steel plate. I decided not to do that, after all.  If it does get used in a battle game, we will just take out the steel plate for safety. I think it would be too dangerous to actually use it during a regular game with the plate in it, because people will be distracted by the battle itself, and not paying attention to this super heavy thing. It’s still heavy, though, even without the steel plate.

Also, the Rules only say a Very Heavy Object “should” weigh 30 pounds . . . . not “must” weigh 30 pounds. I have seen many people use lighter items in the Very Heavy Object battlegames and just pretend the item was heavy, so I think this will be fine, too.

Overall, I loved this project so much and had a lot of fun working on it.

I am very happy with how it turned out.





$3.00      the book
$1.00      mirror
$7.00      E6000 glue (used the whole tube)
$5.00      book glue for the pages (part of a bottle)
$5.00      tissue paper (about 10 sheets)
$1.00      spray paint for letters (part of a can)
$18.00    the letters

$40.00 for supplies


I worked on this project most evenings while visiting with my Dad while he watched TV, from approximately 7-10 pm, several nights a week for several weeks. I kept track of the time at first, but after awhile, I lost track. A close estimate would be about 50 hours of time in actual hands-on work time for this project.

50 hours  x   $7.25 (minimum wage in Texas) = $362.50


$360         (time)
$  40         (supplies)
$400         TOTAL COST (approx)

Labor of Love ?




Here’s hoping you’ve enjoyed the write-up about this project.

Do you think medieval sword fights and creative role play sound fun?
Give Amtgard a try!

There’s probably an Amtgard group playing near you.

Find a Park here.


I returned the steel plate to the friend, so now the Magnum Pondus only has the book safe in the back.

I did a little more to trim up and smooth out the hole that was cut out for the plate, and then glued that framed area down to the back cover of the book, so it is more sturdy, and more sensible, too.

Then glued in another color plate, this one of Water Birds, on the facing page, just to make things look a little prettier.

Now it’s all done!

Tah dah!

I am not sure what my final plans will be for this book, but for now, I am just enjoying having it at home for the fun of it. I’m really happy with how it all worked out.

Not sure what my next project will be yet…….stay tuned!



Barr! I loved reading about your book from start to finish. Such an interesting and articulate explanation for every step. Why don’t you sew a bean bag and fill it with small stones to sub for the steel plate when the book is “in play”? Just a thought. Thanks for sharing your creative talent! πŸ™‚ Carolyn M.

admin says:

Great idea, thank you!

admin says:

Thanks! πŸ™‚

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