Friday, October 31, 2014

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Cthulhu Fhtagn! Sadan Edition.

This unusual take on Cthulhu is brought to us by Sadan. I'm not a fan of overly athropomorphized depictions, but the anatomical detail is amazing.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Terrible Tome

Propmaker Stefan Askernäs brings us a prop version of the Necronomicon from the upcoming independent film "Into the Town of Madness". His post includes a complete build log and a nifty prop shipping label you should check out.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Missing Movie

Google is failing me, so I thought I'd ask for your help.

I'm trying to track down a movie that I only know from it's trailer.  It's a relatively recent indy film, a neo-noir with strong action/martial arts elements.

- The trailer opens with a guy waking up in a pool of water and blood. He says something like "I could taste blood in my mouth.  I wasn't sure whose blood it was."

- One scene features the protagonist getting beaten up and giving his attacker pointers, including a reference to using proper form to get an explosive release.

- At least one scene involves a field of wind turbines.

- The closing scene of the trailer has the protagonist sitting across from an older man while they eat sausage with a knife.  The older man makes a reference to something along the lines of  "when two masters meet the battle is decided before it even begins" and then lunges with the knife.  The older man is played by a character actor who I've seen a million times, but I can't think of his name.

- The trailer uses either the theme from "The Third Man" or something very close, with the action beats of the trailer edited to the music.

I know this seems incredibly obscure, but I'm at my wits end.

Update:  My thanks to bob_d, a god amongst men.  Despite my vague and inaccurate description he recognized it as "The Perfect Sleep" from 2009.

This does have a Lovecraftian connection.  I remembered this trailer had an absolutely perfect rhythm edit that I wanted to point out to a fledgling filmmaker working on a Mythos project.  The middle of the trailer is mushy and kind of formless, but at 1:22 from the kick onward it's a beautiful piece of work.  What's interesting about it is that the dragging middle actually increases the impact of the final 30 seconds.  It's flacid and dull and then..boom!  Music stinger and kick, action pause as music rolls in, and then a series of shots perfectly edited to the music cues.  Notice how the editor used sound effects as a counterpoint to the music.  That's a pro at work.

And, yes, I realize how freakish it is that I would remember this trailer's editing and forget the film's actual title.  I was an editor for years before my career path went horribly awry.  Heh.

The Dubious Expedition

The age of exploration is filled with strange tales, but none more remarkable than the story of the H.M.S. Chimera.

"While other ships’ logs mention coming across the H.M.S Chimera during their own voyages, reporting the crew in good spirits and great health, the H.M.S Chimera disappears from records in 1877. In 1878, the ship and her crew are considered officially lost at sea.

In 1900, the H.M.S. Chimera returns home with a cargo hold full of dazzling and wonderful things, but only two crew members - the ship’s navigator, and the cook. Neither navigator nor cook were able to explain the contents of their cargo hold, or in fact - any aspect of their voyage at all. The ship’s cook was institutionalized shortly thereafter, and the navigator spoke of little else but the “glorious horrors” until he disappeared on a Scottish moor three months later."

Tóbal brings us a collection of items recovered from the ill-fated expedition.  You really need to follow the link and take a look at his work.  The sheer number and variety of items is quite impressive.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Werewolf Fetus

Tammy Maggard brings us this interesting fetal lycanthrope.  This is going to look awesome when it's displayed floating in a jar of preservative.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Mara's Eye Font

Neale Davidson of Pixel Sagas brings us the "Mara's Eye" font.  It's based on the characters used in the Indiana Jones ride at Disney, but would make a great filler font for fantasy maps and scrolls.  The Larry Niven fan inside me thinks it comes pretty close to matching the "commas and dots" description of written Kzinti.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Fowler Imprint

"There was also a queer triangular, striated marking, about a foot in greatest diameter, which Lake pieced together from three fragments of slate brought up from a deep-blasted aperture."

"Tough, muscular arms four feet long and tapering from seven inches diameter at base to about two and five-tenths at point. To each point is attached small end of a greenish five-veined membranous triangle eight inches long and six wide at farther end. This is the paddle, fin, or pseudofoot which has made prints in rocks from a thousand million to fifty or sixty million years old."
 Greg Onychuk brings us the first 3D print of his recreation of the Elder Thing imprint from Lovecraft's "At the Mountains of Madness".   I believe this is the first time anyone has taken a crack at this iconic artifact.

As an aside, I think we're seeing the future of propmaking in Mr. Onychuk's work.  His physical sculpting skills are impressive, but he's now creating his works digitally and then having the masters printed.  The process is both revolutionary and evolutionary.  The technology allows an artist to perfect their work in a virtual environment, but still relies on the appreciation of form and texture of a traditional sculptor.  The possibilities are very exciting.

Friday, October 24, 2014

The Silver Key

Jason McKittrick opens the doors of Nyarlathotep's Bazaar to bring us another intriguing item.  This time it's the Silver Key and dream parchment once owned by Randolph Carter.  The limited edition item is only available for the next seven days.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Deep One Dave

Lovecraftian comedy is pretty hit or miss.  Like comedy as a whole, the vast majority of projects are more amusing than funny.  That's why I had such low expectations when someone sent over a link to this video.  It is, hands down, the funniest piece I've seen in years.  "Ephemeral Rift" has a surprising depth of Mythos knowledge and a biting sense of self-awareness when it comes to the tropes of ASMR videos.

Dawnguard Axe

A.J. Wodewose brings us this beautiful recreation of the Dawnguard axe from Skyrim.  The metal finish of the cast resin is very well done.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Deep One Death Mask

Joe Broers brings us this Roman-era death mask from a Deep One hybrid.  It's cool how many historically inspired Mythos items we've been seeing over the last few months.

On a related note, a weekend spent gorging on the "Vikings" television series was one of the reasons I started fiddling around with the Viking Mythos Project.  This past weekend I started doing the same for the first season of HBO's "Rome" on Amazon Prime.  One of the pivotal episodes features a wall of illuminated death masks that I thought was impressively spooky.  Two days later, this shows up.  Synchronicity!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Scarification Blade

This is a test run for the Viking Mythos Project.   Conceptually, it's a shamanistic blade for applying ritual scars.  The handle is antler and the gar scale blade is mounted with real pitch.  For a first attempt it's not a bad effort, but there's obviously a lot of room for improvement.

The biggest issue with carving antler is it's variable density.  The outer layer is incredibly hard, but the core is considerably softer.  It requires a very firm hand to keep the engraving head from skittering across the surface.  That's something that will come with practice.  It is a bit humbling to realize that even with the benefit of a power engraver I'm a long way from duplicating the delicate work done in-period with simple hand tools.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Vampire Killing for Fun and, Mostly, Profit.

It was just a matter of time before the market was flooded with craptastic vampire hunting kits.

The large sums fetched at auction in the past have proven to be an irresistible lure to a variety of "artists" and their enablers in the antiques trade.  Sadly, the level of craftsmanship is absolutely appalling, particularly given the prices their sponsors are projecting.

Lets take a look at one of the current offerings from Sterling Associates of Closter, New Jersey.  This particular piece has a starting bid of $5000 and is described as:

19th Century European Vampire hunting kit in wood coffin box . Complete with hand carved wood stakes, holy water, garlic and much more. Length: 61 1/2", Height: 14 3/4", Depth: 26"
19th Century?  Really?  Given the total lack of provenance for the piece that's an impressive claim.  Even more so when one discovers that Sterling Associates has, somehow, been able to uncover a hidden stash of vampire killing kits.  How else can we explain the steady stream of such items they've been presenting at auction?

What's that you say?  Perhaps I'm being cynical?  You may have a point, my friend.  After all, just look at the craftsmanship of this kit.  Note the smoothly planed wood, the expert joinery, the rich, buttery finish.  It truly is a beautiful antique.

Now lets take a look inside and SWEET FANCY FREAKIN' MOSES.  What the hell is this?  What happened to the fantastic craftsmanship?  It's almost as if  some hack took a well done period box and took a big, steaming crap inside of it. 

Wait, it's worse than that.  They not only filled it with crap, but they went out of their way to actually ruin the interior of that wonderful box we saw up above.  Just take a look at the horrific "aging treatment" on display.  Randomly placed gouges.  Identical, repetitive tool marks (almost certainly the flat of a screwdriver and an awl point).  Flame aging the wood with, apparently, an industrial plasma torch. 

And the ax?  Nothing says "cool vampire killing tool" like tiger stripes.  Or a half-assed attempt at flame aging.  Take your pick.

Looks like interior of the lid was lucky enough to escape with only a quick pass of the blowtorch.  Unfortunately, the master craftsman who did the joinery for the exterior of the box appears to have thrown up his hands and just given up when he did the interior work.  After poking some random pieces of softwood with an awl be nailed it all together with...upholstery tacks.

And what are these...things?  Wooden stabbing knives?  With a vanishingly thin blade that would  snap if  you poked it against skin?

Somebody took a torch to Jesus.  Say what you will about the Romans, but they had some craftsmanship.  When they nailed someone to the cross they used real iron spikes, not stamped brass decorative tacks sourced from China. 

Take a good, long look at this picture.  Somebody saw a gorgeous, vintage wooden box and said to themselves "I really need to ruin this thing by gouging the hell out of it".  To make it even more egregious, they thought it would be a good idea to do all this hackery to the interior of the box. 

And what's up with the letter opener?

"I know!  I'll brutally gouge and flame age this piece of wood and then I'll glue a random map of Transylvania to it!  Spooky, spooky!"  Also, brass stuff. 

Take one glass apothecary jar.  Seal it with wax.  Watch with dismay as the seal breaks.  Every.  Single.  Time.

There's a reason glass on glass stoppers were sealed with resin products like pitch or shellac. 

Vampire Killing Kit ProTip:  Just because you buy upholstery tacks in 100 piece lots doesn't mean you have to use every single one of them.

I have no experience killing actual vampires, but I would think you would want your stakes to be easy to use.  Grab mallet...tap, tap...dead vampire.  Making the head of the mallet as narrow as physically possible would, I think, complicate the process.  As would adding a carved lion finial from a restoration hardware store to the top of the stake.

This kit is a terrible piece of work, and I don't say that lightly.  If  you go back through the archives you'll find this is the first time I've ragged on the quality of a prop.*   Given the over reliance on flame aging, the hack weathering treatment, and the geographic area involved I have a pretty good idea of who did it.  They, and their sponsors in the antiques and auction community, should be ashamed that this is being offered up for sale.

* Other than criticism of my own stuff.   I'll show work that sucks because there's something to be gained by pointing out why it's bad.  I know I'm a hack, and hopefully others can learn from my mistakes.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Quarantine Containment ID Badge

Just when you think biohazard gear for the zombie apocalypse is passe, along comes Ebola to give it new life.  A friend is going as an armed "Disease Control Specialist" for Halloween and asked me to create a faux ID card for his costume.  Given the popularity of the idea I thought you might find it amusing as well. The graphic is sized to match a standard ID card at 3.375″ x 2.125″ and includes a 4:3 ratio opening for an identification photo. The spaces for the photograph and user name should be easy to customize with even a basic imaging program.

The card should fit perfectly inside a cheap, off the shelf badge holder, but he's using this ID carrier from Amazon. With Prime it's about a buck apiece for a nice faux leather card holder with a breakaway lanyard.

If I have time this weekend I'll crank out a customizable PDF version.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Track of the Wolf

Camille Renversade shares his research into the physiology of lycanthropes. His props and presentation aids are phenomenally well done.   That includes his personal costuming, which makes him look like the lead in a lost Hammer film. He reminds me of a young David Hemmings.  The English translation of the original French post is over here.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Going Postal

Philatelist Michael R. Maranda brings us postage stamps imported from the city of Ankh-Morpork.  I'm a sucker for postal props.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Cthulhu Fhtagn! It's In The Trees Edition.

"It's In The Trees" brings us this nicely done Cthulhu idol.   I really like the inscribed font on the base.

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Legacy of Obed Marsh

Muninsheim travels to Innsmouth to bring us this intriguing idol and necklace.  I like the abstracted imagery of the statuette.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Tablet

Jason McKittrick has his latest offering from Nyarlathotep's Bazaar up- the Miskatonic University Archaeological Dig Kit.

- The “Dream Tablet”- A solid plaster block bearing the tentacled head of Cthulhu above an alien inscription and a star chart. An unknown “dream inducing” artifact is said to be contained inside. Comes with a wooden pick and hogs hair brush for artifact removal. (Measures 4” x 3” x 2”)
- Miskatonic University Department of Archaeology Notebook – A pocket-sized notebook for recording the process of excavating the “Dream Tablet”. Colleagues will want to read about your descent into madness! (Measures 3.5” x 5.5”)
- A page from the infamous “Cultes des Ghoules” showing an entry referring to the “Dream Tablet”. (Measures 8” x 10.5”)
-A charcoal rubbing of the “Dream Tablet” done by Dr. Ward. (Measures 4” x 5.5”)
- Catalog letter from the Miskatonic University Department of Archaeology pertaining to the Dr. Anna Ward and the “Dream Tablet” (Measures 8.5 “x 11”)
- Handwritten letters from Dr. Anna Ward after her committal to Arkham Sanitarium. The decline of her mental faculties can be glimpsed upon the page. (Measures 5” x 7” each)

I'm an unabashed fan of Mr. McKittrick's work.  He's produced some amazing statuettes and artifacts.  That said, I really like how this project adds a narrative element to the item in question.  One of my long-running interests has been the use of props as epistolary devices.  I dearly love a well done Cthulhu idol or intriguing amulet, but a singular item exists in a vacuum.  Giving it a history and context, telling its story with supplementary items and documents, turns an objet d'art into a genuinely interactive experience.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

You Gotta Have Heart

One of the blackest of black magics is the binding of a human spirit.   In occult circles the abhorrent rituals required to place a soul under the control of a necromancer are rightly feared, both for their immediate and long term consequences.   More often than not the practitioner who dares to experiment with such matters finds their own spirit at risk.

We present to you today a talisman used for that very purpose, crafted from the heart of a suicide.  Traditionally, those who took their own lives were viewed as a spiritual risk to the community as a whole.  Their restless souls could trouble a town or village for years.  In most cases they were mere annoyances, but particularly bitter or angry ones could be terrifying, lashing out at anyone nearby and slowly growing more powerful over time.  Preventing such occurrences required burying the heart of a suicide at a crossroads.

Unfortunately, not everyone viewed a restless spirit as a liability.  For some they were a precious resource with significant magical power.

The heart used in this binding talisman shows the characteristic distortion of one placed inside a box while fresh.  The moist tissue molded to one corner of the container and then dried out, displaying a distinctive ridge.  At some point the heart was recovered from it's resting place at the intersection of two roads and the spirit ritually bound.  During the ceremony iron spikes were nailed into the desiccated flesh, allowing the necromancer to trap the soul within.  Only through service to it's new master could the victim gain some measure of freedom and avoid the torments of punishment.

This was a fun little project.  Technically, it's just a variation of the vampire heart I did back in 2010.   You can check out the build notes in the archives- Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

I'm pretty happy with where it is now, but I think I might add a layer of dust.  The wax-based schmutz does a great job of bringing out the textures and griming it up, but I think it would look better with just a little more filth.  And, yes, I realize how odd that probably sounds.  Heh.

Here's a closeup of the surface texture under even illumination.  I spent way too much time working on those damn spikes not to show them off.  They were old store stock from Ebay and arrived looking like they'd just come out of the drop forge.  That shiny, fresh metal just wasn't going to work.  First I scrubbed them down with hot soap and water to remove the protective oil coating.  To induce surface pitting and rust they were boiled in a vinegar and salt solution and then air dried.  To get the buildup of crud where they entered the heart I drilled out every hole, schmutzed the spikes, and then drove them in to the heart.  That produced a nice little ring of material where friction peeled the wax off the shaft.

Now I just have to come up with an appropriate container.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Long Live the King

Joe Broers brings us this fantastic depiction of the King in Yellow.  He's transformed the original cover illustration from two dimensions into three dimensions.  The attention to detail is just stunning.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Cthulhu Fhtagn! Visceral Edition.

The Visceral Company is currently presenting a stage production of Lovecraft's "The Call of Cthulhu" at the Lex Theatre in Hollywood.   Their Cthulhu idol appears to be a custom piece closely patterned after the original sketch.  That's a nice touch, particularly for something that will only be seen by the audience at a distance.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Jenglot

One of the regular topics of discussion here is the ancient and admirable history of the gaff.   They've been created and displayed for centuries, in forms as diverse as the Christian relics of Europe or the temple mummies of Japan.  Marco Polo was even the first skeptic to expose their dubious origins.  

That said, I think the Jenglot is the first example of a society incorporating gaffs as a regular part of their culture.  In Indonesia they're the remains of sorcerers rejected by the Earth for their evil deeds.  Or, possibly, the remains of holy men.  It's hard to tell, since there's a whole lot of nuance lost in the English translations of Indonesian Malay.  What's undeniable is that there are a whole lot of them in existence, of varying levels of craftsmanship.

It appears they're treated as something akin to house spirits by their owners.  Although "spirits" isn't the right word, since they're apparently alive and fed with blood.  In some cases human blood obtained legally from the Red Cross, if the Wikipedia article is to be believed.

I'd love to hear from anyone with actual knowledge of the subject. 

Monday, October 6, 2014

Sunday, October 5, 2014

The Hound

Jason McKittrick returns with his recreation of the amulet from Lovecraft's "The Hound".  It's another limited edition piece from Nyarlathotep's Bazaar.

LARP Bottles

If you have an ALDI market nearby you may want to pay them a visit.  Their "Sparkling Spiced Pumpkin Cider" has a cool bottle that's easily re-purposed for fantasy and pirate LARPs.  The cider inside gets generally favorable reviews online, but it's a bit too sweet for my tastes. At $2 a bottle it's a bargain, and I mean that literally. Just ordering this kind of bottle from a supplier would cost you far more. Remove the labeling and bale, add a cork, and you have a serviceable, food safe prop. If the bale indents are an issue cover the throat of the bottle with a leather wrap.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Brass Bell

There were a couple of requests for a closer look at the brass bell from yesterday.  I don't remember where I picked this up, but it was probably from trolling junk shops.  I love the cast handle and hammered finish of the bell mouth.