Monday, November 25, 2013

For That Special Someone

I was finally able to finish up the "Deep One" fetus project I mentioned last month.  It's available on Ebay, and would make the perfect gift for that special someone who appreciates mummified creatures.  Heh.

On a related note, I've been trying to get a handle on what kind of packing materials were used in the vintage era.  As you can imagine, there isn't an overwhelming amount of material available on the subject.  That means tracking down things like period office manuals and shipping guides in order to get some solid references.  So far it appears that wood excelsior or wood wool was the preferred packing material, followed distantly by packing paper and Spanish moss.  The latter two only seem to be popular in locations where they were dirt cheap.  For packing paper that would be mill towns with access to cut-offs from paper rolls.  Dried Spanish moss was primarily used in the deep South, where it was literally free for the taking.


bea said...

I think wood shavings, straw, or the "horse hair" (which is actually a straw-like substance) found inside old furniture or even car seats.

Anonymous said...

the standard rule seemed to be whatever was cheep and at hand.long grasses,Spanish moss ,cotton batting(there were a lot of cotton mills back then ),raw wool ,wood wool(wood shavings) , old news papers ,rags , pieces of old quilts ,straw ,pine needles , hay or any combination.( the Maltese falcon was wrapped up in cotton batting old newspapers and twine.) so i think anything organic and not plastic would be fine taking into account the regonality of where ever it was packed.hope this helps, love the sight by the way

Pat G said...

As bea suggests - look for excelsior or wood wool. Wooden packing crates would have the right feel as well.

Barry John said...

That looks fantastic! Love the skin texture. Did you use paper mache?

Stella Anderson said...

I really like the way you've used colour contrasts in the paintjob, and the way you've formed the jaw bones. For some reason the effect reminds me a bit of a mummified rat's jaw in a way that's quite disturbing. What an awesome prop!

As far as packing it goes, I would think you probably can't go wrong with wood wool.

CoastConFan said...

Cotton batting is an easy material to get. Based on cotton waste from mills, it was a cheap packing material for fragile smaller objects. A good replacement is polyester quilting batting which has the good grace of not being as messy as cotton batting, although it might not take aging as well as the natural stuff.

For a really good period tutorial on how to pack things, watch The Maltese Falcon (1941) being unwrapped from its packing at the end of the movie. Burlap material as a packer is often overlooked. Good packing cradles fragile objects and provides support, keeping the object in the center of the box while in shipping.

Propnomicon said...

@ bea

I hadn't even thought of that. Thanks for the suggestion.

@ anonymous

It does seem that there were two classes of packing materials. Professional shippers appear to overwhelmingly favor loose wood shavings and excelsior pads. Regular folks used pretty much whatever was at hand.

@ Pat G

What's frustrating is how hard it is to find generic excelsior. It seems to have become a high end decorator material.

@ Barry John

It's all paper mache over a bamboo and plastic armature. Once I develop some skill with bamboo I think I'll be able to finish a piece with all natural materials.

@ Stella Anderson

Thanks. I was trying to capture the look of a deep sea creature and, in general, I think it works.

@ CoastConFan

That's an excellent suggestion, particularly for specimen-style pieces. I want to have some period authenticity, but at the same time I've been leery of materials that could scratch up the shellac finish.