Monday, February 28, 2011

Latex Longevity

This is a followup to Saturday's post about the effect on long term immersion on the kind of latex creatures using in "things in a bottle".

After 48 hours out of the solution the worm has dried and shrunk back to it's original size. Based on that I think it's safe to say that the swelling is caused by the latex acting like a sponge and absorbing the water, as opposed to actually reacting with anything in the solution. The latex is firm and tight, in contrast to the soft consistency it displayed right after being removed from the fluid.

After eight months of immersion there's absolutely no degradation of the latex. I have older specimens that look fine, but this is the first one I've opened up and closely examined. The only noticeable change to the body is the loss of some applied weathering to the surface. That appears to be the result of abrasion against the inside of the glass and not any kind of breakdown.

I'm still trying to figure out how the green dye from the fluid colored the epoxy resin of the teeth.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Saturday, February 26, 2011

"Thing in a Bottle" Longevity

Today I opened up a latex "specimen" that I bottled up in June of last year. Why? To test the effects of time on both the bottle seal and the critter inside.

The seal, consisting of an internal and external layer of silicone for the lid and a coating of melted wax, was in absolutely pristine condition. It took a considerable amount of force to break the wax away, so I think it's safe to say it won't flake off under normal use. The lid wasn't quite so easy. There was some minor movement when I tried to twist it off, but the seal didn't break until I cut the silicone along the entire circumference with an X-Acto blade. Once that was done the top came off with only minor resistance.

Here's the specimen right after it was decanted.

The latex is fully intact, but it has absorbed some of the fluid and swelled up. Not surprisingly, the thickest latex bits, particularly the "horns" along the body, are the ones that have grown the most. At a guess I'd say they're 30 percent larger than in their pristine state.

Outside of that the latex is in tip-top shape. The fluid was a 90/10 mixture of distilled water and glycerin with a few grains of potassium metabisulfite to sterilize the contents, so there shouldn't have been anything for the latex to react with. Without bacterial action or UV light the latex should be stable for years.

The teeth are the real surprise. They were sculpted from Apoxie Sculpt, and they've obviously absorbed the green dye used to tint the preservative fluid. That seems odd given the resistance of epoxy resin to most chemical attacks. It's not a bad effect, just not something I expected.

I'll have some more pictures tonight once the specimen has had a chance to dry.

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Guinea Naga

Julian DiMarco brings us another oddity from the Able Workshop, this time a preserved example of the "Guinea Naga".

As an aside, it's always a good idea to check the publish date for your posts. Otherwise the feature you intended to show up this morning might not pop up until you finally get around to checking the blog at night. Not that I would ever make such an error, of course. Heh.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Cthulhu Fhtagn! Beldapriest Edition.

Artist "beldapriest" brings us this intriguing ceramic Cthulhu. The inset glass eye is a nice touch.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Burn, Baby, Burn

Dammit, even if I'm falling apart I'm going to make sure there's a post every day. Heh.

I've been stretching myself a bit thin over the past two months and it finally caught up with me this weekend. Remember that bout with the flu earlier this month? Well, it never really went away. It just smoldered, leading to the combination of bronchitis and a nasty sinus infection that currently has me laid low. That's the bad news.

The good news is that everything else has just been going spectacularly well. Thanks to the popularity of the mummified vampire heart gaff from last year I've been lucky enough to get a steady stream of commissions for sideshow-style specimens and presentations. Much of that has been from the magic community, which is why there's been a dearth of projects getting featured lately. I like to share things, but one of the necessities of the illusionist trade is a certain level of secrecy. I just can't post pictures and detailed descriptions of a prop on the web when it's whole reason for existence is it's unique nature.

At the same time I've rather improbably found myself returning to broadcasting. That's also been going swimmingly, which is downright shocking considering my disdain for what the business has become. If anyone had suggested a year ago that I'd be enjoying a stint in front of a microphone again I would have laughed in their face.

Unfortunately, all this wonderful good news is just killing me.

Between the radio gig, propmaking, and my voiceover work I've been consistently running a 3:00 AM to 9:00 PM schedule since the start of the year. Day in, day out, weekdays and weekends. And in the past week I've started showing the inevitable signs of burnout, both physically and mentally.

First off, I want to apologize to anyone that has emailed me in the last week. I have over a hundred messages I haven't even looked at. It's going to take some time to get through them all, but I will get to every one by the end of the week.

Secondly, the Miskatonic University project is on track despite my egregious lack of updates. I'll have the update issue taken care of later this week as well, and the whole project will be wrapping up next week or the week after (taking into account a possible shipping delay on the pennants). That's almost exactly in line to the original schedule. As always, donors just have to ask to get a full refund.

Finally, I should start having more substantive posts soon. Once I get the current backlog of projects cleared I'm going to be far more realistic about my time investments.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Werewolf Fetus

"Shadechristiwolven" brings us this preserved werewolf fetus sculpted from polymer clay over an aluminum foil armature. In the project description she mentions using Pepsi to color the fluid. I'd be interested in finding out if the acid in the cola reacted with the aluminum of the armature.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Aging Photos Digitally

ToNToN CoPT has posted an excellent collection of Photoshop scripts that make aging photos a breeze. There are other packages that do similar work, but his approach replicates the look of photos based on the era they were taken.

This collection is so useful because photographs are easily the most cost effective props available for live action and tabletop games. Prints are ten cents or less at almost every drugstore or retailer and they're inherently immersive. Frankly, I'm surprised they aren't more widely used in commercial products. The source files for a couple of retouched photos can add immeasurably to the immersiveness of a scenario while costing just pennies to make available.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Quick and Dirty Plastic Casting

A demonstration of plastic slush casting using recycled materials. This technique will work with almost any kind of plastic, but I would caution anyone trying it to make sure they have good ventilation. Acetone is extremely flammable and stinks to high heaven. I speak from personal experience.

Back when the radio business insured a steady supply of CDs I used to toss shards of the clear plastic from jewel cases into a gallon-sized glass jar and pour in a cup or two of pure acetone. After a few days the plastic would melt into a thick, viscous goo that was suitable for all kinds of redneck casting projects. If you dropped in a few tinted cases you could produce huge gobs of bubbly, translucent plastic suitable for large cardboard and duct tape molds. The only real drawback to the technique, other than the dubious environmental impact, was that it took forever for the plastic to harden if there wasn't enough exposed surface area.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Matchbox Templates

One of the tropes of pulp-era fiction was the matchbox-as-clue. The discovery of one on a body or during a search served as a handy plot token to send the protagonist off to the next scene of the story, be it a swinging jazz club or the storefront serving as the villain's headquarters. From a live action or tabletop gaming perspective they're an easy way to move the scenario along without being too railroady, and they make cool little mementos of the adventure. Mel's Stampz has templates for just about every possible variation of matchboxes imaginable.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

1927 New York City Pistol License

Today we have some reference photos of a classic era pistol license from New York City. At first I was a bit surprised that the card included both a pasted photo and a fingerprint, but by the late 20's the revolution in investigative policing was well under way.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Tatzelwurm

Markus Felix Bühler is an incredibly talented artist that produces creatures for a variety of exhibitions. His Tatzelwurm was in response to a contest to create a believable photograph of a cryptid, and he certainly did that.

The rest of his site is filled with more examples of his beautiful zoological models and a variety of bizarre preserved specimens. And a few fantastic creatures...

Sunday, February 13, 2011

From the Deep

Brian Cutty brings us this impressive Deep One sculpt. The thread includes detailed photos of the work in progress that demonstrate the buildup of the forms and textures. If I keep studying things like this I might someday be half as good.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Mother Hydra

Dave Carson shares this sculpture of Mother Hydra by Bruce Attley. The piece is a wonderful interpretation of Carson's original illustration.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Little Sis

Artist David Presnell brings us this recreation of a traditional sideshow-style pickled punk. It's a shame the gloriously seedy curiosities that were such a big part of traveling carnivals are rarely seen today.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Miskatonic University Update

I've discussed my paranoia about complications popping up during a project before, and now Murphy's Law has met my expectations.

The manufacture of the patches, pins, and notebooks went off flawlessly. They're done and in my hands. The postcards should arrive by the end of the week at the very latest.

The Miskatonic pennants? They haven't even started production, thanks to a single misplaced digit in my credit card number and a total communications failure. That was resolved yesterday, but now production is going to take another 12-15 business days. Followed by the inevitable shipping delay.

Based on my initial project timeline the project is still on track for being done by the end of the month, but I had been hoping to wrap everything up next week.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

They Float

Artist "ZombieArmadillo" brings us this collection of bottled specimens created for an indy film. As they say, quantity has a quality all its own.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Tooth Fairy Calculator

Artist "Rubesart" brings us this Tooth Fairy Calculator. Despite it's frivolously silly name it's a wonderfully evocative artifact that includes delightful extras like inset glass windows and rotating gears. That kind of tactile gilding, making it an object designed to be handled and not just looked at, fills me with glee.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Pinkerton Credentials

Julian DiMarco has updated his Pinkerton detective credentials from last year. He'll be making blank copies available on his website soon.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Egypt, 1922

A camel caravan crosses the outskirts of the Memphis ruins in Egypt.

Another snapshot from the "Masks of Nyarlathotep" project.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Cthulhu Fhtagn! FComin Edition, Part Deux

Artist FComin was kind enough to send over pictures of his latest Cthulhu idol, the second in as many weeks. Clearly, something is stirring in R'lyeh.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Age in a Can

Rose Howard introduces us to the the miracle that is Glossy Wood Tone. It sounds like the ideal solution for quick and dirty aging treatments.

One of my absolute favorite things in props land is a product called Design Masters Glossy Wood Tone.

I was lauding it to the Tall One and marvelling at how awesome it is, and he said, "You might as well call it Patina of Age".

And it's true. This product is the magic 'Patina of Age' when it comes to props.

I've used it to age things in seconds.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Goblin Box

Liv Duval brings us this "Labyrinth" inspired Goblin Box carved from wood. I'm a long-time fan of Brian Froud's production design for "Labyrinth" and "The Dark Crystal" and an ornate case for Jared's crystal spheres fits right in with his sensibilities.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Eldritch Reliquary

The talented Jason McKittrick bring us this eldritch reliquary and was kind enough to share some of his build notes.

I used a dark walnut stain (on the case)...after it was dry I sand papered the edges and a few other spots for an uneven texture. I also chipped off some of the wood around the edges to simulate water damage. I attached felt to the inside of the case and stained it using washes of black acrylic paint in various thicknesses. The aged engravings are heat transfers on to coffee stained paper with some wrinkling and then some sand papering along the edges. The Necronomicon pages are rag paper once again soaked in coffee and then baked in the oven to achieve the spots that appear to be water damage.

The glass vial with the specimen was a multi-step process. The creature itself is super sculpey III and then glazed with several layers of tinted gloss medium. The vial was wrapped with hemp cord and then red sealing wax was used for the seal. I then dirtied it with black acrylic while rubbing some off so that just the cracks and crevices would be really gunky. I applied one coat of matte fixative to the glass and then after it was dry applied several tinted glazes of matte medium. There is actually no liquid inside but gives the appearance that there possibly is or that it dried up and left a dirty residue.

The piece is available on Ebay.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Wand of Mab

It says volumes that even a broken prop from Julian DiMarco still looks cool. I'll second his endorsement of Alpha Stamps for all sorts of nifty little bits.