Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Disney Way

Following up on Lee Krystek's take on 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, here's a look at how the professionals at Tokyo Disney tackle a similar display:

Not suprisingly, this snapshot from the MiceChat Disney fansite demonstrates the fanatical attention to detail that is a hallmark of the Disney park experience. All of these prop objects and documents were painstakingly assembled just to make the wait in line for a ride less tedious.

Friday, October 30, 2009

The Magic Book

From artist Tim Baker comes this beautiful example of tomecraft crafted from leather, steel, brass, river pearls, and hand-made paper.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The End Is Here

The final webisode of the Bob Burns' Hollywood Halloween documentary is now live.

The "Starlog" story that fanned my own interest in movie props and Halloween shows is prominently featured in this episode, along with the story behind the incredibly detailed recreation of "The Thing From Another World" that formed the basis of Mr. Burns' final show. It's amazing how many people, among them Guillermo del Toro, Frank Darabont, and Greg Nicotero, that article had an impact on. In my case it led to the construction of my very first prop- a paper mache recreation of an egg from "Alien". That was followed by a stun gun from "Space:1999" made from Legos, a talc tin turned into a lightsaber, and, eventually, this site.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Quick And Dirty Alien Artifact

A friend of mine is having an "Area 51" themed Halloween party and asked if I would be willing to come up with some decorations. He already had an awesome prop of a grey alien in a cryochamber from last year (created from a cylindrical Coca-Cola ice cooler he salvaged from a local convenience store) as well as some nifty plasma globes, fog machines, and lighting effects from his DJ set-up. After a little back and forth we decided I would do some alien artifacts and specimens that would be displayed around the "facility" in his garage.

After spending $2 on a pair of children's puzzles at the Salvation Army I had the makings of a "hyperdimensional energy tap". The first puzzle was a four-sided pyramid made from nesting plastic squares, while the second included about three dozen trapezoid-shaped tiles that could be combined to form different animal shapes. After fiddling around for an hour, and the liberal application of some gel-type superglue, this is what I came up with:

The basic frame measures roughly 8" by 6" by 6" and was formed by supergluing the pyramid squares together at right angles. The tiles from the animal game were then glued to the squares to provide some visual detail.

To provide a suggestion of age and some additional visual interest I added some scattered texture to the project by daubing on Bondo glazing putty. Once that was dry I spray-painted the whole thing with a black primer coat and then hand painted it metallic copper followed by a green wash in selected areas. That was all topped off by drybrushing the piece with some bright yellow and metallic antique gold. Here's the final result:

I'm pretty happy with how it turned out, particularly for a one night project with no real budget. The bizarre geometry of the piece is purely the result of stumbling across a puzzle that had such interesting shapes, but it certainly captures the look of an alien technological artifact. If I ever try something like this again the only change I would make is the paint. I like the final color scheme, but if I'd used enamel paints with metal particles instead of craft acrylics the finish would look a lot more like real metal. Testors used to have an aluminum paint that you could drybrush on and then buff to a beautiful metallic shine

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Last Possessions of Professor Aronnax

Inspired by Jules Verne's classic 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Lee Krystek created this wonderful collection of props and ephemera- The Last Possessions of Professor Aronnax.

"My first job was to get or make a journal that could pass for one owned by a French academic in 1866. One of the prerequisites for the journal was that it should have removable pages to make it easy for me to create the contents. I found someone on Ebay who makes journals that fit the bill. The one I selected has a leather cover with rough-looking paper. The pages are held in with a string that double as a means to tie up the journal when not in use. It looks precisely like what I might expect somebody to be carrying as a diary in the mid-19th century."

Despite having a bias against static displays I particularly like the project's presentation. A great deal of thought went into the selection and creation of the documents and props, but their arrangement within the shadowbox kicks things up to the level of true art. You could stand in front of it, picking out all the little details and references to the source material, and easily lose track of time.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The "Pickman's Model" Costume

In response to my mention of the "Pickman's Model" ghoul costume from "Night Gallery" being reused by the Bob Burns Halloween Show, a kind reader sent along this scan. It's from the November 27th, 1971 issue of TV Guide and includes some detailed pictures of the costume's creation for the episode.

As I mentioned before, it appears that the the ghoul costume incorporates the arms and legs of the ornate Gillman costume from "Creature from the Black Lagoon" and it's sequels. Based on the information in the article it wasn't a direct case of recycling, using a set of the original arms and legs, but a reuse of the original molds for the scales that formed the skin of the Gillman. The Night Gallery crew appears to have cast new appliances using those molds and then glued them to the spandex body suit that forms the base of the ghoul costume.

You can view Night Gallery's adaptation of H. P. Lovecraft's "Pickman's Model" on Hulu.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Oh, The Pain

Life sucks sometimes.

Thanks to Propnomicon getting some very nice attention, both on the internet and the conventional media, the last two weeks have been a real adventure. I'm getting more traffic and downloads than ever before, and that's something that I find immensely rewarding. The blog now gets more visitors every hour than it received during the entire last quarter of 2007.

So, of course, something has to go horribly wrong.

I've been suffering from horrific back and shoulder pain that hasn't responded to physical therapy or pain management for a few months. I've mentioned it when the discomfort prevented me from posting, but for the most part I've been able to work around it by staying off my feet and using a cane when I had to walk long distances. That isn't cutting it anymore.

Later this week I'm going to, hopefully, get the problem fixed once and for all by having the damage that's causing the pain surgically repaired. For the most part you won't notice any real changes- I've pre-scheduled posts and I'll be able to keep things updated regularly once I get back home. Unfortunately, the realities of recuperation force me to push back any major projects till late December or early January. That means the Antarctica map and the Innsmouth project won't be happening till then at the earliest. I sincerely apologize for the delay, but I'm already making some hefty demands on my family and can't ask them to pick up the slack on something that can be put off until I can handle it myself.

On the bright side, I'll be able to work at the computer during my convalescence, so that should translate into some more paper props being available for download.

Update: My thanks to everyone for the well wishes, they're most appreciated. In the spirit of "when life hands you lemons, make lemonade", a kind emailer also pointed out that this would be a golden opportunity to sculpt a Cthulhu cane handle. Just because my back is all wonky doesn't mean I can't have a little style while I hobble around. Heh.

The Secrets Of Howard Hughes

Few realize that reclusive multi-millionare Howard Hughes was heavily involved in a variety of secret, occult related projects during the 1970's. Thanks to the internet, we can now catch a glimpse of one of his hidden technological breakthroughs.

The backstory behind this wonderful prop is appropriately insane, but suprisingly believable when you consider the things the real Howard Hughes was actually involved in. To this day there are people convinced he was part of everything from Area 51 to the demolition of the secret Nazi base in Antarctica using a miniature nuke.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Cthulhu Fhtagn! Jim Tierney Edition

This immense Cthulhu bust from artist Jim Tierney is not only huge, but it features a secret compartment. At 14" high, and weighing in at over 20 pounds, it has to be one of the largest depictions I've ever seen.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Papercraft Props

Tektonten Papercraft uncovered some interesting Lovecraftian papercraft projects in a French blog. The Cthulhu is a little too "urban cute" for my tastes, but I love the tomes.

The black book is a papertoy of Unaussprechlichen Kulten, a book first appearing in the works of Robert E. Howard. The yellow papertoy book is De Vermis Mysteriis first seen in the works of Robert Bloch. On top of the books is a papertoy of Cthulhu, one of the ancient entities often mentioned in Lovecraftian literature. Each of these toys was created by Jerom, France, 2007...

I'm linking to Tektonten instead of directly to the host blog because I never would have discovered these on my own.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Steampunk Masks

The incredibly talented Tom Banwell has a few shots of his masks at the Oxford Steampunk Exhibit. His creativity and craftsmanship is, as always, stunning.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

How To Write Telegrams Properly

There are few props with more storytelling potential than the telegram.

They're easy to produce, have an attractive physical appearance, provide an immediate motivation for players, and their method of delivery helps foster a period atmosphere. While useful, for most purposes they're still just a prop- a physical object that just happens to contain information to nudge players into a pre-planned story. The message is what matters, not it's method of delivery. In the vast majority of cases the details of how the telegram was sent have little impact on the story.

But, sometimes, the little details behind a telgram do matter. For those occasions, the wonderful "Telegraph Office" website has the text of a 1928 pamphlet entitled "How to Write Telegrams Properly" . It's a fascinating look at the ins and outs of the system, from the basics of conveying messages in as few words as possible to the things an adventurous Mythos investigator or pulp protagonist needs to know. How can you make sure messages sent to your home office arrive at your field location? How do you send money? How do you confirm receipt of a message? How do you wire money?

"The procedure is simple. A person wishing to send a sum of money by wire merely calls at the telegraph office, fills out an application blank, and pays the clerk the amount to be sent and the fee for its transmittal. The telegraph companies have a secret code which they use in directing their agent in the distant city to make payment to the person designated. The payee is notified to call at the office for a sum of money, or a check is sent to the payee, as may be directed. It is optional with the sender of the money order, whether the payee shall be required to identify himself absolutely or whether identification shall be waived. The Western Union Telegraph Company alone handles more than $250,000,000 annually in telegraphic money orders."

Read it and you'll know exactly what to do the next time you're shivering in the middle of nowhere covered in slime and gore. Well, maybe not everything you need to do, but at least you'll be able to tell Armitage you survived and need some money for new clothes and a hotel room.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Loose Swag

Filmmaker and artist Jason Heath has a brief review and some nice photos of the Miskatonic Journals at his website. I can't wait to see how they look in his film project.

Moving On

Now that I've had a little time to recover from last week's insane rush, it's time to start looking forward to what's next. Well, kind of. Over a year ago I first mentioned producing a period map for the "At the Mountains of Madness" project. Thanks to the influx of capital from the Miskatonic swag I finally have enough funds to cover the printing costs, so that will definitely be the next item I produce. Realistically, I know there isn't going to be enough demand for a 1920's era map of Antarctica to justify the printing costs on it's own, but I think offering it as part of a complete "At the Mountains of Madness" prop set is economically viable.

Beyond that, I'm not sure. I'm going to spend most of this week working on some Halloween projects for friends, but after that I think I might take a sojourn to Innsmouth.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Indiana Jones Medallion

From deMiguel comes this reproduction of the medallion from the "Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis" videogame. As I've said before, I'm sure that Dr. Jones is well acquainted with the "Special Collections" stacks at Miskatonic.

Certain experts have even speculated that the famed golden idol from "Raiders of the Lost Ark" is a depiction of Shub-Niggurath, but I'm not sure how that jives with the whole face-melting, wrath of god thing. Well, other than waving your hands around and than embracing the sheer pulpiness of it all.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Vintage Atlantic Cable Telegrams

As part of his comprehensive website covering the history of the telecommunications cables crossing the Atlantic Ocean, Bill Glover has created an amazing archive of vintage telegrams. It's an invaluable research source for anyone looking to duplicate international telegrams from the late 19th to the middle 20th centuries.

A hat tip to Alban for discovering the link and passing it along.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Excarnate Mask

From artist Jason Soles, who I believe did the cover treatment for the grossly under-appreciated D20 version of "Call of Cthulhu", comes this wonderful Bronze Excarnate Mask . I love how it takes the shape of an anatomically correct skull and subtly stretches and deforms it. This is just the kind of thing a well-dressed, and well-funded, cultist would be wearing.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Mythos Tokens

Artist Joe Broers produces impressive Mythos sculptures and then recycles the excess resin to craft these cool Cthulhu and Elder Sign Tokens .

I hope he makes them commercially available soon, because they would look awesome on my Mythos Christmas tree.

Fellow Travelers To The Mountains Of Madness

Carolyn Kellog at the L.A. Times book blog did very nice write-up about Propnomicon yesterday , and I wanted to thank Chris Perridas for the mention at his excellent H. P. Lovecraft and his Legacy blog.

Ms. Kellog touches upon something that I think many people overlook- H. P. Lovecraft was a strong advocate of the principles behind the free culture and DIY movements. One of the factors behind his continued popularity is his tacit encouragement of anyone and everyone to come play in his sandbox.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Miskatonic University Field Journals

One of the distinguishing features of Miskatonic University is it's long-standing commitment to exploring the boundaries of science. It's students and faculty have traveled the globe, demonstrating a willingness to quite literally go to the ends of the earth in their quest for knowledge. On every continent, from the icy plains of Antarctica to the burning sands of Australia, Miskatonic has left it's mark.

And now you can own a small part of that impressive legacy.

The Miskatonic University Field Journals are patterned after the notebooks used by scientists and researchers in the field to record observations. Each book measures 3.5" by 5" (8.89 cm by 12.7 cm) and has a saddle-stitch binding, 1/4" rounded corners, a heavyweight cover, and 32 pages of high quality lined paper. All materials are 100% recycled and the cover designs are printed with environmentally friendly soy ink.

The back of each cover is printed with the procedural notes and ruler as above, while the front features one of three designs: the Miskatonic University seal, the Miskatonic Antarctic expedition logo from "At the Mountains of Madness", or the Miskatonic Australian expedition logo from "The Shadow Out of Time".


The Field Journals are available as a set containing one of each cover design for $7.50. After clicking "Add to Cart" a second PayPal window will open where you can finalize your purchase. Shipping and handling is $2.50 per set to the US, $4.50 internationally. If you're interested in purchasing more than two sets of journals please contact me by email at propnomicon-atsymbolhere-gmail-dot-com to save significantly on shipping.

Sold Out. Thanks to everyone that ordered for making the project a success.

More From Bob's Basement

Over the weekend I posted a link to the new website and video documentary about Bob Burn's and his famed Halloween shows. The second part of the documentary is now available, and it demonstrates that Lovecraft pops up in the most surprising places. The final minute of the webisode includes a surprising tidbit of information that, if my eyes don't deceive me, also provides a handy link between Lovecraft and "The Creature from the Black Lagoon" when you're playing "Six Degrees of Separation".

If you can't wait, the Reverso-Text(TM) spills the beans:

."noogaL kcalB eht morf erutaerC ehT" morf tius namlliG eht fo sgel dna smra eht setaroprocni emutsoc eht taht wohs ot sraeppa hpargotohp llits ehT ."ledoM s'namkciP" fo noitatpada "yrellaG thgiN" eht morf emutsoc luohg eht gniraew rotca na derutaef snruB .rM yb no tup wohs neewollaH "tenalP neddibroF" ehT

Just cut and paste it over here to decode.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

It Was The Best Of Times, It Was The Worst Of Times

It's been quite the day.

First off, everything is in the mail. All 89 packages, including the 37 traveling internationally. Given my rural location that was considerably more volume than the nice folks at my Post Office normally get from their patrons, but they soldiered on without complaint. Things went surprisingly smoothly, despite the Innsmouth-like, bug-eyed look of shock on the clerk's face when I plopped my boxes o' mail on the counter. When we finally finished, and I paid the first triple digit postage bill I've ever run up in my life, the clerk politely pointed out that I should probably look into getting my postage printed online, and then made sure I took a couple of butterscotch candies on my way out.

I'm definitely going to follow up on his online postage suggestion. Particularly since there was a typically pleasant, but firm, "Or else" edge to it.

My postal adventure, and yesterday's rather abrupt "Sold Out" message, are the result of the huge spike in traffic I enjoyed yesterday. First Make did a post about the "From the Mountains of Madness" project. Then io9 picked it up, and the floodgates really opened. Then it got Twittered and blurbed at a number of sites, including the one that still has me smiling- Jerry Pournelle's Chaos Manor blog.

Jerry Pournelle linked to my blog. That's just insanely cool in my book, 'cause I'm an ol' skool geek. Shout out to the tribe, and all that.

So I've had my 15 minutes of internet fame. I'm certainly not complaining about all the new visitors, but things should be back to normal after today. I'll have some of the leftover notebooks available tomorrow. Better than that, I've already reordered everything for next month.

Monday, October 12, 2009

"At the Mountains of Madness" Props

If you're here from Make or io9, welcome! You'll find material related to the recreation of the "Dyer Materials" from the Antarctic expedition in the "From the Mountains of Madness" postings, while the "At the Mountains of Madness" section deals with secondary projects related to Lovecraft's story. Almost every single document, photograph, telegram, and sketch that's part of the project is available free for download and use under a Creative Commons license, so help yourself!

Miskatonic Madness Rolls On

I want to thank everyone that has purchased one of the Miskatonic Prop Sets. As of this morning I've sold roughly half of the run, leaving me with about 50 complete sets to go. That's amazing considering I haven't done any promotion at all. Which isn't to say there hasn't been any promotion- I owe you all a great debt of thanks for telling your friends about my humble wares. Word of mouth, or the modern alternative of Twitter messages and blog postings, is the very best advertising there is.

That said, I expect things will slow down a bit today based on the initial demand being met and the holiday here in the US. Based on that I'll be posting a page where you can purchase individual items sometime this afternoon. I may not have many of the Miskatonic patches and pins, but I'm sure to have about 100 of the postcards and various notebooks available.

Just as a reminder, the holiday also means I won't be posting everything until first thing tomorrow morning. That said, when I say your package will go out first thing, I mean it. Every order will be on it's way through the mail by 9 AM on Tuesday morning.

Update: Ack! I'm totally sold out of everything. My sincere apologies to everyone.

Update, Part Deux: Just as a bit of explanation, I didn't realize I'd been linked by the nice folks at both Make magazine and io9. Believe me, I'm not complaining, but orders were coming in so fast that my sophisticated stock tracking system (a sheet of paper with hashmarks) was overloaded. So much for the "things will slow down because of the holiday" thing.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Miskatonic University Prop Set

Since it's founding in the 18th century Miskatonic University has been one of the most influential and prestigious schools in the United States. It's students and faculty have traveled the globe, earning a reputation as tireless researchers and scholars without peer. Their willingness to quite literally go to the ends of the earth in their quest for knowledge has produced a body of work of unparalleled quality and depth. With that comes a sense of pride, in both the individual and collective accomplishments of the school's alumni.

We're proud to offer this collection of keepsakes in honor of that unquenchable spirit.

The Miskatonic University Prop Set

Intended as both collectables and props, the complete set consists of four items: An embroidered patch and lapel pin featuring the Miskatonic University seal, a period postcard of the school's Orne Library, and your choice of one of three different field journals.

The 4" (10 cm) patch is embroidered on a tough cotton twill backing that will last for years of use, and the heat-sensitive adhesive makes it easy to iron it on to the garment of your choice.

The handsome lapel pin is 1" (2.5 cm) in diameter and would look perfect on your Miskatonic varsity jacket. It's constructed of solid brass with an antiqued finish and a butterfly clasp backing.

The pocket journals are patterned after the notebooks carried by scientists and researchers in the field. Each book measures 3.5" by 5" (8.89 cm by 12.7 cm) and has a saddle-stitch binding, 1/4" rounded corners, a heavyweight cover, and 32 pages of high quality lined paper. All materials are 100% recycled and the cover designs are printed with environmentally friendly soy ink.

You have your choice of which cover design you'd like to purchase. The back of each cover is printed with the procedural notes and ruler as above, while the front features one of three designs: the Miskatonic University seal, the Miskatonic Antarctic expedition logo from "At the Mountains of Madness", or the Miskatonic Australian expedition logo from "The Shadow Out of Time".

Update: Unfortunately, I'm now sold out. My thanks to everyone that ordered.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

It's A Mythos Miracle!

4:30 PM, Friday afternoon- I receive an email from FedEx that my lapel pins have been scheduled for pickup.

12:05 PM, Saturday afternoon- I arrive home from the Farmer's Market to discover the package filled with Miskatonic goodness on my doorstep. I didn't think they would be here till Tuesday, but it turns out FedEx delivers on Saturday.

I need a little time to take some photographs of the goods, but the ordering page will be up tomorrow. Initially I'm just going to take orders for the complete set (Miskatonic patch, lapel pin, Orne library postcard, and your choice of one of the three pocket notebooks), but once those orders are satisfied I'll have anything left over available individually.

Despite the delay things actually worked out well. Because Monday is a national holiday I'll have time to get everything packaged up and in the mail first thing Tuesday morning.

The Man With A Thousand Young

Bob Burns is a legend.

For decades he's been an unofficial historian of science fiction and horror film making, amassing a collection of props, models, costumes, and memorabilia from some of the greatest, and not so great, genre efforts. He's been a huge influence on multiple generations of both fans and professionals, selflessly giving of his time and talent to both preserve and nurture their efforts. Like the late Forry Ackerman, he's opened his home to thousands (if not tens of thousands) of fans to share his treasures, but his influence extends far beyond those lucky enough to visit.

Part of my own interest in props can be traced back to a series of articles on Mr. Burns that ran in "Starlog" magazine back in the 70's and 80's. Seeing pictures of his ornate Halloween shows inspired my own efforts, helping to launch a love of fantastic items that ultimately led to a lifetime hobby and the creation of this blog.

Some of the thousands of folks he's entertained and educated have created a website devoted to those incredible Halloween spectacles called, appropriately enough, BOB BURNS' HOLLYWOOD HALLOWEEN . You'll find a ton of information about his efforts, but the real treat is the documentary recapping the haunt's development and increasingly ornate staging over the years. It's very well done, and a new segment is released each week leading up to Halloween. It's a fitting tribute to a great man.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Making The Mythos

My thanks to the Make magazine blog for the nice mention in their article on aging the pages of a forbidden tome. It's a great write-up that focuses on a technique using ammonium chloride and a heat gun to char paper.

If you're a Maker coming here from the link you might want to try creating a "thing in a bottle", whipping up a Lovecraftian tentacle, or go totally over the edge and recreate the Dyer materials from Lovecraft's "At the Mountains of Madness". That last one proves that even the most geeky and obscure thing in the universe will have a fan somewhere on the internet. Heh.

Oh, and be sure to pay Curious Goods and Dave Lowe Design a visit. They're both just chockablock full of projects.

Of Unknown Origin

Artist Heather M. Morris created this bottled specimen .

One of the reasons I'm so enamored of this particular kind of prop is the effectiveness of the "thing in a bottle" technique. By altering the saturation of the fluid, the extent of the surface weathering, and the placement of the label you can control just how much of the specimen is visible, and in many cases the less you show the more intriguing it is.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Miskatonic Nightmare

In my study I have a beautiful old travel trunk. I found it at the side of the road on junk night almost 20 years ago, brought it home, and spent close to a month painstakingly restoring it. The rotting leather that covered the exterior was replaced with hand-oiled cowhide, the interior was relined with imported coconut-fiber paper, and all the hardware was lovingly stripped, polished, and reattached.

It's where I keep my treasures.

Inside I have all kinds of oddments, including 100 Miskatonic University embroidered patches, 250 custom printed Miskatonic University notebooks, 200 Miskatonic University postcards....and a big honkin' empty space where my 100 ANTIQUE BRASS MISKATONIC UNIVERSITY LAPEL PINS SHOULD BE SITTING!!!!1111!!!!!

And all that other wonderful stuff just sits there as I wait, and wait, and wait for the lapel pins that should have been here a week ago. All I can do is apologize for the delay.

That Which Dwells In The Depths

This amazing mask of Dagon from artist Richard Svensson is a work of art. The superb sculpting is perfectly complimented by the paint job, and the eyes are both convincing and disturbing. This has to be one of the best portrayals of a Deep One I've ever seen.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Cthulhu Fhtagn! Bustamante Edition Part Deux

We first looked at this Cthulhu idol from professional toy sculptor Alexi Bustamante when it was a work in progress. Now, it's finished. A resin kit is currently available, while a version cast in pewter is in the works.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Miskatonic Update

Unfortunately, I don't have anything new to report. I'm still waiting for the factory to finish the pins, so things are in a holding pattern for at least a few more days.

Cthulhu Fhtagn! Titus Cr0w Edition

Artist "TitusCr0w" brings us this Cthulhu sculpture on a plaque. I like how it mimics some of the styling of a classic "Green Man" hanging.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Making A "Thing In A Bottle": Addendum

Based on a few experiments I carried out over the weekend I'm going to add one more step to the Making A "Thing In A Bottle" project from back in March. As you can imagine, that tutorial has been getting an increasing amount of traffic as Halloween approaches.

In the vast majority of cases it isn't necessary to do anything more than what's in the existing post, but if your specimen bottles are going to be moved frequently, or sent through the mail as a gift, I would strongly recommend that you apply a layer of silicone sealant to the bottle top before adding the wax seal. First, whether you're using a cork or conventional screw-top, apply a bead of silicone along the gap between the top and the glass. Then use a cheap craft brush or toothpick to smear a thin layer all over the top. Wait for the silicone to cure and then apply the wax as normal.

This accomplishes two things. One, it significantly increases the integrity of the lid's watertight seal. Two, it provides enough flexibility between the container, lid, and the wax that changes in temperature or air pressure won't crack it. Some minor fissures are inevitable, and even desirable from an aesthetic standpoint, but any major breaks will compromise the long-term integrity of the preserved specimen and it's fluid.

This Week's Crass Commercialism

I have one of the few remaining Miskatonic Antarctic Photo Sets up on Ebay this week. I thought that finding a source of photographs that didn't use branded paper would be relatively simple, but that hasn't turned out to be the case. If anyone knows of one I'd appreciate a pointer. The only requirement is that their photographic prints cannot have any kind of modern marking or brand identity logos.

Later in the week I may have a few more bottled specimens. The unavoidable physical abuse of sending them through the mail, combined with the brittleness of the wax seal in cold temperatures, caused some problems in the last batch. I've been doing some experiments and think I've found a relatively simple solution.

BTW, there are few things louder or more terrifying than the shrieks of a 13-year old girl discovering a preserved Lovecraftian beastie chilling in the freezer. Trust me, I know.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Bioshock LARP

Okay, it's not quite a full-blown LARP, at least not yet, but the marketing for the next Bioshock game has already embraced full-sized sets and props. Now they've taken everything one step further .

"Today, certain people - we're trying to figure out why - were delivered telegrams by an old-school bicycle messenger. The cable comes from "Mark G Meltzer," the loner searching for "something in the sea," on BioShock 2's hype Web site."

Sweet Jebus, I love stuff like this.

Like a lot of adult gamers with families I rarely have the time for a tabletop game, much less a LARP, but I've always wanted to try playing a game by mail. My basic idea was to have a team of players cooperate in solving a mystery by directing the activities of an "agent", for want of a better word, that only communicated with them via the post. As they steered his efforts from afar they'd receive a steady stream of packages containing documents and items gathered in his travels, all presented as period parcels from the exotic locations he'd traveled to.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Music To Hunt Monsters By

Alban emailed me this collection of internet radio stations playing vintage music from the 20's and 30's. There's an interesting spread of musical styles, including one channel that specializes in classic horror and mystery dramas. One unfortunate drawback is that the free audio streams have contemporary commercials.

In a wonderful example of just how small the world really is, one of the stations, Radiola! , is hosted by Andy Senior, a classic music fan from my area of upstate New York.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Bringing Arkham Alive

After an all too long absence, Cephalopod Productions is back with some impressive new paper props. Running "Beyond the Mountains of Madness"? Then you're going to love the Pemmican label. This is the thing that really caught my attention- a new selection of pages from the Arkham telephone directory:

If you haven't visited before you're in for a treat. Browse around and you'll find some stellar examples of paper props and beautifully realized physical props.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Good News, Bad News

First, the good news. The Miskatonic patches arrived today and they look awesome. Just click through for the super-sized high quality version.

One thing this scan doesn't capture is the reflective quality of the white and yellow areas of the patch. As the light-colored thread moves through the embroidery machine at high speed it actually gets polished, producing a finish that displays spectral highlights as the light catches it. That effect was mildly noticeable on the Antarctic patches and it really popped out on the Australian patch because of the areas of bright color. The reflectivity of the Miskatonic patch is somewhere in between those two in impact.

With the patches in hand I have almost everything for the final Miskatonic sets...except the lapel pins.

That's the bad news.

Unless there's a miracle the pins aren't going to arrive by tomorrow, which means I'll have to push back putting everything on sale until next week.

Hail, Miskatonic!

"Hail, Miskatonic", sung to the tune of the traditional "Araby's Daughter", was written by students Brian Overton (class of 1828) and John Cmar (class of 1826) in 1826. It quickly became a favorite of choral groups on campus and was recognized as the official school song when it was published in the Herald in 1838. One of the factors in it's initial popularity was an alternate set of lyrics featuring frequent mentions of beer, bourbon, and scotch.

Miskatonic Notebooks Arrive

The Miskatonic notebooks from Pinball Publishing arrived yesterday and I absolutely love how they came out. Here's a quick and dirty shot:

As you can see, at the last minute I decided to go ahead and order the standard Miskatonic field journal as well as the expedition fieldbooks.

I can't say enough nice things about the quality of Pinball's manufacturing- the printing is perfect, the cover stock is appropriately heavy and rugged enough for daily use, and the interior paper is wonderful. One of the most common problems with small notebooks like this is ink bleeding through one side of the paper to the other, making both pages difficult to read. That won't happen with this paper- even my brush-style artist's markers and dip pens loaded with india ink didn't bleed through.

I can't wait to hear your feedback once you actually have them in your hands. Based on their day-to-day utility and prop potential I can easily see these becoming my most popular items.