Monday, August 11, 2014

The Map from Pnakotus

Dale Bigford returns with another amazing prop set.  This time the centerpiece is an ancient map of the world containing secrets man was not meant to know- the Map from Pnakotus.   The well done accessories include multiple containers from its journey around the globe and through history.

The map itself is scribed on real parchment from Pergamena, one of the few companies still producing the real thing. 

Mr. Bigford was kind enough to share his technique for creating those nifty wax seals:

Go to a trophy place or any place that does laser engraving (wood plaques etc) bring them in the image (better to email them a digital one they can manipulate) and bring them in a piece of THICK plexiglass.

They can engrave plexiglass as easily as wood. BE SURE to tell them you want the image REVERSED ( the PICTURE cut IN and the outlines and BORDERS left RAISED) for a wax seal.

Once it's done cut them out (I recommend a bandsaw then a table top disk sander). Then glue (GORILLA GLUE) a "stamp handle" of some sort to the back.

NOW: It's TRICKY to make the seals. Plexiglass does NOT let go of the wax as easily as metal. Pour the wax onto a pane of glass, let it cool a bit (this takes practice to gauge) then press in the seal and LEAVE IT until the wax is totally cool (I place it in the fridge, it shrinks the wax and plexiglass, makes them harder and allows them to separate easier).

It's COMMON for the seal to not want to let go. You can experiment with breathing condensation onto the seal first, using water or a THIN coat of oil. The wax will be vacuumed to the glass. Start working the seal off slowly (NOT EASY) then razor blade the seal off the glass.

If the wax tears or will not come out of the seal properly (the smaller/more intricate the design the harder it is to release from all the nooks and crannies) Run it under VERY hot (you may have to boil some then pour it over it slowly) water and it will melt out the wax/clean the seal out. Then TRY TRY AGAIN!

After that drip some of the hot wax on whatever you want then lay the seal into it to attach it.

With the engraving: the SHALLOWER the image is cut the EASIER it is to make and remove the stamp!

1 comment:

CoastConFan said...

What an outstanding assemblage of props Dale Bigford has made. I like the subtleness of the story line and the aging of the props as well as using actual parchment. The packet with the papal seal is nice and the chest from the Nautilus with Capt Memo’s motto is really fun. Of course the NAZI crate (shades of Indiana Jones) is de riguer for you Thule Society prop types. I am glad he explained about what a pain wax seals are. BTW sealing wax and candle wax are not quite the same as candle wax really does not stand up to handling. My suggestion is to use polymer clay for durability in making seals for some of you prop makers, which would also be perfect for making “lead” bulla seals. It’s been a while since I saw such attention to detail in props.

To you general prop makers: paper and parchment react with the environment: humidity, bugs, heat, sun, and handling & etc, each leaves a distinctive mark on the parchment. Under optimum conditions parchment will look new for hundreds of years. However people unused to parchment expect a certain look for their props.

Parchment seldom darkens or yellows on its own, like modern cheap pulp paper yellows because of high acid content. Parchment will yellow due to constant handling and the transfer of hand oils to the surface of the parchment. The hand oils impregnate parchment and paper and then decays. It’s also attacked by bacteria, which exudes an enzyme to break down its dinner and the waste material from the bacteria stain the page, generally yellow. Smoke can damage and yellow parchment. This might be common when heating areas with braziers or later people smoking cigarettes and pipes.

Remember that this was once animal skin, which has been processed into a writing surface by scraping and then sized to take the ink. The ink can flake off, as it does not fully penetrate the parchment.

Mold leaves distinctive marks on the parchment. Constant folding and unfolding fatigues the joint and eventually there will be separation. Some repair might be in order for heavily referenced items such as maps. Backing like on this fragile map is also correct although it would be glued to the cloth as well as being tacked down to keep it from peeling up. Little things like this add up to real curb appeal for props. I’ve got to say it one more time “great job”!

A short PDF about repairing parchment with some good images that can give you prop makers some ideas

Fire damage repaired

If you are really into it, this 144 page PDF goes into detail about restoring parchment

Parchment repair, Wikipedia style