Professional designer George Ledo brings us this insightful discussion about antiquing props. He's speaking to an audience of stage magicians, but his thoughts on developing an aging treatment hand in hand with the item's backstory are equally applicable to Lovecraftian artifacts.
Antiquing isn’t a formula; it’s a concept. That’s a phrase I learned a few years ago when Donna and I attended a class on how to make paella, which is a Spanish seafood dish. One of the first things the instructor said was that there’s no “classical authentic recipe” for paella. Paella is not a recipe: it’s a concept--a traditional way to use rice, and chicken, and chorizo, and locally available seafood, to make a one-course meal for several people.
An effective technique is to think of the object as having a history, and of each part of its history as being a “layer” that can be addressed separately. Although it’s impossible to create a “how to” list about antiquing props, I’m going to show a couple of hypothetical examples of how I would go about doing this, using standard theatrical techniques. This will of course delve into the actual design of the prop, but I’ll focus on the antiquing.