Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Cthulhu Fhtagn! Miller Edition.

Britta Miller brings us this faux jade Cthulhu idol. The gloss finish and mottled coloration really sell it.


CoastConFan said...

It looks pretty good; my only caution is on the eyes. Jade and other hard stones were worked by slowly by abrasion, before the use of steel tools (or any metal tools for that matter). Hand powered dental drills show up in jewelry making in the late Victorian era, giving way to electric tools very soon after. The easily identifiable cuts made by these modern tools are a dead giveaway on fakes. This is just for prop purposes, if you want to kick it up a notch in making copies of early period figures.

An eye socket might be made by a bow drill with a flattened tip and abrasive, giving a more rounded bottom as the soft stick also abrades rather than an abrupt ending in the socket that is utterly flat. This is why on ancient hard stone beads such as carnelian the piercing holes taper as the abrasion rod wears away. Line cut work was done with string covered in abrasive material. Overall the squared shape with limited removal of material works well for this piece and gives a decent of authenticity. The slight glaze looks pretty good as well, although it does pick up the lighting in photography, but often that can’t be helped.

The ancient abrasion techniques can work marvels even on the hardest stones, but it requires mastery of technique and a great deal of time. See also the Mesoamerican masterpieces such as the crystal skulls, the magnificent basalt sculptures of the Egyptians, the early and wonderful work done in China thousands of years ago in jades and other stones.

As a cautionary note to advance prop makers, first cameos (as opposed to intaglios) in hard stone were only produced centuries after gem carving became an art because of the difficult technique was only mastered in Alexandria circa 100 BCE, while intaglios had been around for a couple thousand years previously. But the good thing is that intaglios made good seals and cameos generally were not used as such.

This is a darn good effort and minimalist figures are some of the hardest to produce convincingly. Keep up the good work, because understanding the process of the items you are reproducing (by other means) is key in a good prop. It really simulates a Chinese chop stamp quite well in mood.

SavageGoldfish said...

Hey, thanks for all the pointers! To be honest I hadn't really thought much about imitating actual stone and stone carving techniques/tools--this guy was a quick little thing to see how the coloured clay looked. But that'll be a thing I keep in mind in the future when I'm looking to make convincing "artifacts."
And yeah--minimalist figures are a pain in the neck! Every little imperfection and fingerprint shows up on them if you're not careful.