John Wick 3 — Parabellum premiered this week, and while its main attraction for many was its action-filled over-the-top sequences, one of the biggest appeals to me is how elegant and classic much of the set is.
Those familiar with the John Wick franchise know the “retired” hit man and his cohorts have a place where they can take a break from their violent day jobs, The Continental Hotel. Now that the third installment in this film is out, we know there are least three Continental locations worldwide (including in Rome and Morocco), but New York remains the quintessential site.
We also learn that even within the doors of this beautiful structure no one is 100 percent safe, hence the need for a clever place to stash some possibly life saving valuables. In Wick’s case, it is hidden within the hollowed out pages of a rare book of Russian folktales in a largely ignored area of the New York Public Library.
Often, I like to design DIYs kids can create with their parents, but since the R-rated world of John Wick is definitely not kid-friendly, I offer a couple of ideas just for Moms and Dads who wants some quiet creative time for themselves inspired the classier side of the Wick’s seedy high crime underworld.
A Continental Hotel Window Panel
This latest John Wick chapter was pretty proud of the art deco meets industrial looking windows in the Continental’s lobby. These were not only featured prominently in the movie itself, they are the backdrop for many movie poster images and other publicity.
We’re going to make a little easy replica of one of the panels from this massive window, that depicts outlines of people in various poses, mostly reading. I think one of them is in a kimono with a fan, if you can find it.
Find an image of the window on your computer and screen grab and print it as an 8″ X 10″ image. It likely won’t be perfectly clear since you might have to blow it up to a bigger scale to fit the page, but that’s fine. It will just need to serve as a pattern.
Find an 8″ x 10″ clear glass or plastic panel, like one in an old picture frame and place it evenly over the printed out image. Using a thin felt tip marker, trace the image underneath on the glass. Take your time; these are intricate patterns. Fill in the thicker lines with a heavier marker or even glossy craft paint. Make sure to go over it a couple of times, so no light shows through the black areas.
Once the image is completely dry, turn it over and paint evenly over the back with turquoise glass paint, and let it dry.
If you feel confident enough, you can upgrade from a picture frame to a blue piece of stained glass instead. This way you can forego the painting.
Once the image and color are finished, go around the edges with a thin strip of black craft tape. Duck Tape makes some for crafting projects.
Use a large plate hanger to hold it and hang from a window with a thin black, chain. You can also set it on a shelf and with a small light source behind it.
John’s Book Safe
Wick keeps his stash in the hollowed out pages of the 1864 volume of Russian Folk Tale by Aleksandr Afanasyev. This is easy to make, but you have to have an old cruddy book you don’t mind cutting out.
Find a fairly weathered hardback without the dust jacket, about 300 to 400 pages long (to give it depth). I suggest a thrift shop, flea market or garage sale if you don’t already have one. These do not have to be antique (actually please don’t trash an antique book), but a book from the 70s and 80s that has been exposed to the elements in a used bookstore will look pretty yellowed.
The only requirement is it has the cloth textured cover, which by the way is referred to as “buckram” cloth. Don’t use a slick cover.
Once you’ve found the page you want turn the very first page to the left, and use a ruler to make draw a box about one-half to one inch from all four edges, depending on how big a book you find. Using a ruler and box cutter or precision craft knife cut, all the way through the pages along each line until you get almost to the back cover. Now, you have we have a hollowed-out “safe.” Using decoupage or an even mix of school glue and water, paint along the outside and edges of the book. Make as many layers as needed until all the pages are pretty much held together.
Using a thin piece of velvety cloth or dark red felt, line the inside of the pages, while they are still wet, and make sure they surface is fairly smooth around the edge.
Leave the book open and let the pages dry.
While the pages are drying, get some images of the Russian Folk Tale cover and page illustrations can be found on used book sites from like Thrift Books, so you can print out the image you want. Make sure you print the cover image and inside page image to match the sizes of the book being used.
I found a couple of Public Domain images from the same era as the book for both the cover page and front cover. I can’t remember the exact image from the movie, but I felt one of “Baba Yaga” would be appropriate.
When the pages are completely dry, gently trim any excess cloth or felt from the center. Close the uncut front page (which is likely a blank end page) over the top of the hallowed out pages and glue the inside page illustration the front.
Scrape off paint over any outside word on the book and paste a cut out of he book cover image on the front.
Once the images are pasted on, you can add a little text or outline on the spine and cover with a gold or silver gel pen.
Place your secret stash of coins, photos of long lost loves, or whatever you want to save inside, and place it on a shelf with similar books to keep your secrets safe.
I’m not advocating any violent action, but if the third movie is correct, these books also make effective defense weapons when being attacked by a 7′ 3″ hit man set on collecting the $14 million bounty on your head.