Monday, April 28, 2014

The Tillinghast Legacy

Today we dip into the Tillinghast specimen well once again. 

One of the things I didn't like about the first iteration of this subject was the presentation.  The storage box was an off-the-shelf model from Hobby Lobby and, well, it looked exactly like what it was.  This time around I took the time to flame age a plain wood box.  That involved charring the surface with a blow torch and then using a wire brush to remove the burned wood, exposing and enhancing the grain.  That technique produces a great worn finish.

The specimen itself is considerably improved over the first one.  The head has a definite skeletal structure and there's developed musculature anchoring the mandibles.  The multiple eyes really bring the whole thing to life.  Or at least make the illusion of something that was once alive more effective.

The barbed stinger has a great organic look.  I was surprised how much it's appearance improved after I added a subtle S-curve to it's length.

The dorsal view gives you a better feel for the head structure.  The spine is visible under the skin, with multiple vertebrae stretching from the head back to the tail. 

The ventral view gives you a good look at the eight mandibles surrounding the mouth.  I also added two sets of motive vanes.  Having them run the entire length of the body is a callback to the look of segmented deep sea worms.   

Some closeup shots of the fore-body.  I like the rich color provided by the shellacked finish, but it's hard to photograph effectively because of all the highlights from the shiny surface.   I think the next time time around I'm going to try giving it a rub down with wax-based schmutz to dull the highlights and bring out more of the surface detail.

If you like the piece it just happens to be available on Ebay.


Phil said...

Yes, the plywood boxes from Michael's are okay in a pinch, but theres nothing I love more than stumbling across an old wooden box while exploring Goodwill that can be converted into something amazing.

And well done on the specimen sir.

Propnomicon said...

@ Phil

Thank you for the very kind words.

I really need to do a post looking at presentation boxes. The Hobby Lobby display boxes really are quite nice in terms of construction and price. Unfortunately, they have a distinctive look that just breaks any immersion.

Phil said...

Very true. I've used Michael's ply, and balsa wood boxes for most of my projects. Like you said, they come in a variety of shapes, are inexpensive, and look quite nice when stained, varnished and weathered. Certainly more than adequate for displaying lab specimens. They also make a wonderful unfinished lidded shadow box for around $10.
The only really major drawback is that they use very cheap hinges and latches.

Otoh, its hard to beat a real hardwood box for those special pieces. For example, today I found a very pretty sloped sided chinese box at Goodwill for $3. All it needs is a less flowery finish, and a satin interior and its all ready to hold a mysterious jade idol. :)

Propnomicon said...

@ Phil

That Chinese box wouldn't happen to be a truncated pyramid shape, smaller on the bottom than the top? About 9" high?

I'm literally repainting the exact same box right now. I should have some pictures of the finished project soon.

Phil said...

Well, if you meant to type "smaller at the top then the bottom", then yes.

Been searching Ebay for appropriate brass hardware to add to it. Looking forward to seeing what you do with yours.