Monday, October 20, 2014

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Scarification Blade

This is a test run for the Viking Mythos Project.   Conceptually, it's a shamanistic blade for applying ritual scars.  The handle is antler and the gar scale blade is mounted with real pitch.  For a first attempt it's not a bad effort, but there's obviously a lot of room for improvement.

The biggest issue with carving antler is it's variable density.  The outer layer is incredibly hard, but the core is considerably softer.  It requires a very firm hand to keep the engraving head from skittering across the surface.  That's something that will come with practice.  It is a bit humbling to realize that even with the benefit of a power engraver I'm a long way from duplicating the delicate work done in-period with simple hand tools.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Vampire Killing for Fun and, Mostly, Profit.

It was just a matter of time before the market was flooded with craptastic vampire hunting kits.

The large sums fetched at auction in the past have proven to be an irresistible lure to a variety of "artists" and their enablers in the antiques trade.  Sadly, the level of craftsmanship is absolutely appalling, particularly given the prices their sponsors are projecting.

Lets take a look at one of the current offerings from Sterling Associates of Closter, New Jersey.  This particular piece has a starting bid of $5000 and is described as:

19th Century European Vampire hunting kit in wood coffin box . Complete with hand carved wood stakes, holy water, garlic and much more. Length: 61 1/2", Height: 14 3/4", Depth: 26"
19th Century?  Really?  Given the total lack of provenance for the piece that's an impressive claim.  Even more so when one discovers that Sterling Associates has, somehow, been able to uncover a hidden stash of vampire killing kits.  How else can we explain the steady stream of such items they've been presenting at auction?

What's that you say?  Perhaps I'm being cynical?  You may have a point, my friend.  After all, just look at the craftsmanship of this kit.  Note the smoothly planed wood, the expert joinery, the rich, buttery finish.  It truly is a beautiful antique.

Now lets take a look inside and SWEET FANCY FREAKIN' MOSES.  What the hell is this?  What happened to the fantastic craftsmanship?  It's almost as if  some hack took a well done period box and took a big, steaming crap inside of it. 

Wait, it's worse than that.  They not only filled it with crap, but they went out of their way to actually ruin the interior of that wonderful box we saw up above.  Just take a look at the horrific "aging treatment" on display.  Randomly placed gouges.  Identical, repetitive tool marks (almost certainly the flat of a screwdriver and an awl point).  Flame aging the wood with, apparently, an industrial plasma torch. 

And the ax?  Nothing says "cool vampire killing tool" like tiger stripes.  Or a half-assed attempt at flame aging.  Take your pick.

Looks like interior of the lid was lucky enough to escape with only a quick pass of the blowtorch.  Unfortunately, the master craftsman who did the joinery for the exterior of the box appears to have thrown up his hands and just given up when he did the interior work.  After poking some random pieces of softwood with an awl be nailed it all together with...upholstery tacks.

And what are these...things?  Wooden stabbing knives?  With a vanishingly thin blade that would  snap if  you poked it against skin?

Somebody took a torch to Jesus.  Say what you will about the Romans, but they had some craftsmanship.  When they nailed someone to the cross they used real iron spikes, not stamped brass decorative tacks sourced from China. 

Take a good, long look at this picture.  Somebody saw a gorgeous, vintage wooden box and said to themselves "I really need to ruin this thing by gouging the hell out of it".  To make it even more egregious, they thought it would be a good idea to do all this hackery to the interior of the box. 

And what's up with the letter opener?

"I know!  I'll brutally gouge and flame age this piece of wood and then I'll glue a random map of Transylvania to it!  Spooky, spooky!"  Also, brass stuff. 

Take one glass apothecary jar.  Seal it with wax.  Watch with dismay as the seal breaks.  Every.  Single.  Time.

There's a reason glass on glass stoppers were sealed with resin products like pitch or shellac. 

Vampire Killing Kit ProTip:  Just because you buy upholstery tacks in 100 piece lots doesn't mean you have to use every single one of them.

I have no experience killing actual vampires, but I would think you would want your stakes to be easy to use.  Grab mallet...tap, tap...dead vampire.  Making the head of the mallet as narrow as physically possible would, I think, complicate the process.  As would adding a carved lion finial from a restoration hardware store to the top of the stake.

This kit is a terrible piece of work, and I don't say that lightly.  If  you go back through the archives you'll find this is the first time I've ragged on the quality of a prop.*   Given the over reliance on flame aging, the hack weathering treatment, and the geographic area involved I have a pretty good idea of who did it.  They, and their sponsors in the antiques and auction community, should be ashamed that this is being offered up for sale.

* Other than criticism of my own stuff.   I'll show work that sucks because there's something to be gained by pointing out why it's bad.  I know I'm a hack, and hopefully others can learn from my mistakes.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Quarantine Containment ID Badge

Just when you think biohazard gear for the zombie apocalypse is passe, along comes Ebola to give it new life.  A friend is going as an armed "Disease Control Specialist" for Halloween and asked me to create a faux ID card for his costume.  Given the popularity of the idea I thought you might find it amusing as well. The graphic is sized to match a standard ID card at 3.375″ x 2.125″ and includes a 4:3 ratio opening for an identification photo. The spaces for the photograph and user name should be easy to customize with even a basic imaging program.

The card should fit perfectly inside a cheap, off the shelf badge holder, but he's using this ID carrier from Amazon. With Prime it's about a buck apiece for a nice faux leather card holder with a breakaway lanyard.

If I have time this weekend I'll crank out a customizable PDF version.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Track of the Wolf

Camille Renversade shares his research into the physiology of lycanthropes. His props and presentation aids are phenomenally well done.   That includes his personal costuming, which makes him look like the lead in a lost Hammer film. He reminds me of a young David Hemmings.  The English translation of the original French post is over here.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Going Postal

Philatelist Michael R. Maranda brings us postage stamps imported from the city of Ankh-Morpork.  I'm a sucker for postal props.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Cthulhu Fhtagn! It's In The Trees Edition.

"It's In The Trees" brings us this nicely done Cthulhu idol.   I really like the inscribed font on the base.