DIY Quotation Mark Bookends

Quote bookends DIY via abeautifulmess.comProbably my favorite feature in our whole house (or at least top 5—what can I say, I love my house) is our floor to ceiling bookshelf in the living room. It makes our television set feel like part of the space, and it adds a lot of color and texture to that side of the room. Recently I made these giant quotation mark bookends to add to the shelf and it really adds a fun, graphic element to the whole collection. 

Quote bookends DIY via Quote bookends DIY via These quotation mark bookends are inspired by this set from Anthropologie. I had planned to paint them gold, but then I ended up loving the black and white. 

How to make paper molds for plasterSupplies:
-poster board
-painter’s tape
-pottery plaster (sometimes called craft plaster)
-acrylic paint (black and white)
-mixing bowl (for crafting, not also used for food)
-disposable mixing stick or spoon
-fine sandpaper
-heavy duty (epoxy or gorilla) glue-scrap wood
-hammer (or nail gun)
-power saw

In case you’re curious, this project cost around $22 to make considering I already had the scrap wood and tools needed (like the mixing bowl, scissors, saw, etc.).

Step One: Make your molds. Draw your shapes onto the poster board and cut out. Then cut long 2 inch strips of poster board to be the edges. Tape the strips along the outside of the shape. As you can see in the photo above, the mold doesn’t have to look perfect on the outside. The main thing is to get the shape you want and to make sure no holes are present (or the plaster could seep out when you pour it).

It’s really up to you how large or small you want your shapes (the quotation marks) to be. I went for an over-sized look on mine, but you can make them smaller depending on your bookshelf/space.

Pouring plaster projectsStep Two: Pour the plaster. Consult the plaster packaging to see how much water you should mix with your plaster. Use a mixing bowl and spoon/stir stick that you don’t also use for food, as it may be difficult to get all the plaster off. Keep in mind that the plaster will heat up as you stir, so take care as you work.

Removing plaster from moldsStep Three: Remove the molds. My plaster package said to wait 30 minutes after pouring to remove the molds and then to let the shape dry out for at least 24 hours. Check your package for any drying time or other directions on this as it may vary.

As you can see, some of the blue from the poster board didn’t come off all the way when I removed the molds. I chose blue so you would be able to better see this project in the photos, but it turned out not to be the best choice. I actually completed this project a couple times (more on that in a second), and found that the best poster board to use is either white or the “dry erase” poster board (it has a slick side that easily peels off of the plaster). I recommend using these. But if you do find that some of your mold just doesn’t come off, you can easily sand it off once the shape fully dries. 

Book end wood framesStep Four: I used scrap wood to create a base and back for my shapes. I simply cut the boards to the size of my quotation marks, and then nailed them to each other (you could also glue with wood glue and clamps or use screws). I then painted these black to match my existing bookcase. I wanted the quotation marks to look like they were floating on the shelves. 🙂

I sanded my plaster shapes, painted them, and then glued them to the already painted wood base. Be sure to check all paint and glue packaging for proper dry/curing times. 

Plaster project fail!Here I wanted to show you a failed attempt. I wanted to add dowel rods to the center of these so the quotation marks would really be floating over a wood base on the book shelf. But I had to pour so much plaster to cover the dowel rods that the thickness just didn’t work well with this type of craft plaster, and it cracked as it dried. So, I changed up my design slightly and made thinner (but still over-sized looking) shapes. 

Another tip I learned while working on this project is it’s best to let your plaster shapes dry out for a couple days before painting with acrylic paint. I painted mine after the suggested 24 hour dry time and the paint ended up peeling off (I think because the shapes weren’t fully dry so the moisture messed with the paint). If this happens, you can sand off the peeling paint, let dry, and paint again. Which is what I did. But, better to wait too long to let it fully dry than have to go through those extra steps if you ask me. 

Quote bookends DIY via And yes, I currently have my bookshelf organized by color and I love it! Thanks for letting me share my new bookends with you! xo. Emma

Credits // Author: Emma Chapman, Photography: Janae Hardy and Emma Chapman. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.

  • I really love the bookends, but must tell you I would never be able to find the book I wanted if they were organized by color instead of by author, alphabetically.

  • Is that Kushiel’s Dart I see on the top shelf?! 🙂
    I love the look of color coordinated book shelves, but I can’t stand the thought of book series and multiple books of a single author not shelved together!

    Cute bookends. I’ve always wanted some cute bookends.


  • Thanks for the DIY! I’ve been looking for a cute bookend DIY, actually.
    Also, where did you get that awesome geometric thing by your yellow books? Or did you make it? It’s awesome!

  • What an adorable idea!! (And thanks for sharing a mistake; it’s always helpful to remember we all make them!)

  • These are so adorable! I’m definitely making these for my bookshelf.

  • omg! these are amazing! I wish I could add these to my bookshelf. if only there was more room for them. maybe I can somehow do them in slightly smaller. going to pin this and figure it out but regardless thanks for the inspiration! love them! xx. gigi.

  • Agreed! I was thinking that cutting them out of wood would be easier too!

  • These are such a good idea! It looks so neat and tidy – I love them!
    Thanks for sharing!

  • These look great! X

  • Love this idea, I need some bookends as well since my book collection keeps on growing, this would be really fun to try. Is there something else I could use to substitute the plaster? Thanks for sharing

  • Great idea. I would love to have bookends like those but I don’t have enough space in my small apartment 😛

  • Love these bookends – such a clever idea! On another note, a colour coded bookshelf is probably the least practical but most beautiful way to arrange your books! Love it!

  • Such a cool and unique idea, I love it!

  • I so want to do this! Also I love your colour coordination. 😉

  • Easy and original, thanks for sharing.

  • I am in love with your bookshelf as I am with your DIY bookends!

  • aw these are really cool! and they look really cool against your black book shelves. and i organize my books by color too, what other way is there? 😉

  • love this idea…and a good pocket friendly alternative for the anthro one..


  • Those are so cute! What a great idea! Can’t wait to try something like this.

  • Oooh these are so much fun! I also have a colour coded book case – and they look so great on yours I might have to give them a try!

    xx Kathryn

  • That is such a fabulous idea! Quotation marks! Love it. And I have secretly always wanted to remove all book my book covers and organize by color. Now I think I have to!

  • Love it! Where did you get the geometric knickknack next to your yellow and white books?

  • very great idea, but sadly my book collection is not big so I will collect lots of book and after that made this 🙂

    xo June

  • I absolutely love this idea! The effects are brilliant, well worth the mess I’ll no doubt make when I try it 🙂

    little miss fii || Fii x

  • This is such a neat idea for a book end. Making an ampersand sign would also been a really cool idea – those are everywhere right now!

    Monica – Mocha and Moccasins

  • What an awesome idea! I’ve been thinking about getting some book ends. I don’t have a floor to ceiling book shelf (yet!), but I have a decent amount of books stocking up my shelves and want to spruce them up with book ends like these. Thanks for the post!

  • I love this project! I orgAnime my books by color too and get so ma u compliments on them.

  • Love that you showed the failed attempt because I was reading through wondering why you hadn’t tried adding rods through the centre. I think it looks good either way. 🙂

  • Such a great idea! would love to make these once I have a house with big enough book shelves! 🙂

    My Blog – FloralConstellation
    My Etsy Shop

  • Fantastic idea! They look relatively simple to make and my books have been sliding lately – thanks for sharing!

  • You guys are great! What a fun idea! I actually like your version better, which is saying a lot. I like the dowel idea. Is there a particular reason you decided to use plaster as opposed to just cutting out the quotes from plywood with a jigsaw and painting? The dowel idea would work with plywood I think.

  • I love! They’re so quirky and clever, plus the perfect balance of bold and statement-making while still not being too gaudy or overwhelming. Great idea!


  • I love these bookends so much! And they don’t look overly hard to make, which is always a bonus. I’m also kind of in love with your colour coded bookshelf

  • Love this! I also coordinate my books my color. As someone who remembers things visually it’s honestly faster for me to find them this way! Quotation bookends are just great though!

  • These are so cute! I love how they look like they’re floating 🙂

    Warm Regards,

  • great idea! There’s nothing better than a color-coded bookshelf to make a statement 🙂

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