Monday, September 29, 2008

Vintage Poison Labels has posted some awesome scans of vintage poison labels. You can download each label individually or grab the whole bunch as a zip file.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Sounds of Cthulhu: Dance Tunes of the 20's

If you're looking to create some atmosphere for your next "Call of Cthulhu" session you should visit The Hot-Dance & Vintage Jazz Pages. The site features a variety of period music in MP3 format at no charge, but if you really want a ton of tracks to work with I think it's worth paying for one of the very reasonably priced archive CDs. There's something about the juxtaposition of the jaunty tunes of the 20's with the horrors of the Mythos that really kicks things up a notch.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Quick and Dirty Tomecraft

Artist Dave Lowe has posted an excellent how-to for creating creepy old books at his blog:

I love old dusty books that look like they came from another time containing forgotten knowledge or secrets. I thought I'd make a few to accent some of the interior decorating this year.

The results speak for themselves. While his tutorial is more concerned with static props than producing Mythos tomes the utility of the construction technique should be obvious. I've used the paper towel faux leather technique to create covers before and the only real problem I encountered was cracking along the joint where the cover flexed when opened. Using a flexible adhesive like, not surprisingly, flex glue helps take care of the problem. If you try Dave's technique the only change I would make is to mix your base colors of paint into the glue when you decoupage the paper towels to the cover. That will save you a step when you start painting and produces deeper, richer colors.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Powder of Ibn Ghazi Label

See the invisible! Dispell all illusions! For immediate results, apply vigorously to creatures not of this earth or beings cloaked by an eldritch veil.

I know I'm skirting dangerously closely to the dreaded "Cute Cthulhu" syndrome, but a little frivolity is good for the soul. This is another patent medicine style bottle label for Halloween.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Tillinghast Field Warning Sign

The unfortunate results of Crawford Tillinghast's original experiments with his "Illuminator" device haven't deterred others from exploring it's potential. Cruise conspiracy sites on the web and you'll find dozens of stories that paint a disturbing picture of how his creation lives on long after it's inventor's death. Rumors of secret experiments in "stealth" technology using high-frequency energy fields aren't anything new, but the whispers of horrific accidents involving dimensional phasing are all too reminiscent of Tillinghast's unsettling end.

This warning sign is based on the idea that research into Tillinghast technology has considerably refined the capabilities of the original device described in Lovecraft's "From Beyond". Somewhere, hidden behind barbed wire and armed guards, there are labs and hangers where carefully marked areas are surrounded by signs like this.

Just click through for the high resolution version. Print it out on a sheet of sticker paper and you're good to go.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Marriage License Prop

Here's another marriage license, similar to the one I posted last week.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Whately's Vitalizer

So what exactly was Old Whately doing for all those years before "The Dunwich Horror"? He was quite the hermit in his dotage, but that extensive library of occult tomes probably took some traveling, and some money, to put together in his younger years. could a magically gifted follower of Yog-Sothoth fund his collecting and travel at the same time?

I wish I could say that backstory was foremost in my mind when I came up with this, but the truth is I was just messing around with ideas for Halloween bottle labels. After all, you can never have too many questionable elixers for your party. As always, click through for the high resolution version.

Monday, September 22, 2008

More Telegrams

A kind emailer sent me a pointer to a collection of blank telegram forms for "Call of Cthulhu" players. It doesn't look like the site has been updated since 2003, and the other pages are dead, but for now it offers ten different designs for Keepers looking to liven things up.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Seal Of Dagon

This is a conjectural "Seal of Dagon" based on the trident design used in Stuart Gordon's 2001 film "Dagon". As a low-budget adaptation of "The Shadow Over Innsmouth" it has it's moments, but one thing I really enjoyed was the design work for the "Deep One" architecture and implements. It's suitably organic and evocative of deep-ocean life forms without ripping off H.R. Giger, a design trap that far too many low-budget films fall into. Personally, I think "Gigerization" happens because production designers without a lot of money to work with look at Giger's work and decide that "organic" means "covered with corrugated plastic piping". Since corrugated plastic pipe is cheap, and you can stick it into and onto almost anything, we get film after film with piles of props and even entire sets built from great snaking mounds of the stuff. Sci-Fi Channel, I'm looking at you.

But I digress.

In addition to drawing on the "Dagon" trident for inspiration I wanted a South Seas feel for the seal, in reference to the original home of Innsmouth's Deep Ones. Something that would echo Maori moku designs or Polynesian aesthetics without falling too deep into the "tribal" design ghetto. You can decide for yourself if I succeeded.

As always, click through to get the full-size version and then save it to your hard-drive.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Period Western Union Telegram

What would a "Call of Cthulhu" prop site be without the obligatory Western Union telegram?

Click the picture below to get the full-size, high resolution version and then save that to your hard drive.

If you just want to bang out a quick and dirty telegram, open the blank telegram image in a graphics program, add a layer with your message text in a typewriter font, and print.

If you want something a little more realistic you'll need some yellow paper and a word processing program. Open a new 8 1/2" by 11" document and put the blank telegram image on the top of the page. Then use the bottom half of the page to type out your message, again with a typewriter font. Print out the document, cut the page so the blank telegram is on one sheet of paper and your message text is on the other, and then carefully cut out the strips of paper containing your message text. Then use a glue stick to attach the strips of text to the blank telegram sheet.

Tada! An almost instant telegram.

Here's a rough guide to how your document should look if you're using the more involved technique I described above.

Here's an actual Western Union telegram to give you an idea how it should look.

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Void

Jade Cthulhu Idol

I banged this Cthulhu idol out in a couple of hours, more out of an interest in trying a faux jade painting technique than anything else. The idol itself is Sculpy polymer clay over a core of armature wire and a big honkin' bolt. Why the bolt? So the idol can cause compasses in close proximity to swing towards it. The steel in the bolt is probably enough to do that on it's own, but I went to the trouble of using a massive salvage magnet to fully magnetize it. Yeah, it's a cheap effect, in every sense, but it amuses me to no end.

I'm really happy with how the jade finish came out. The paint job was done by hand, with a base coat of dark green and then two shades of lighter green applied by stippling with an old, worn out craft brush. That produced a great mottled green appearance that I finished off with two coats of Future acrylic for a smooth, polished stone finish.

The pictures really don't do it justice. The combination of my poor photography skills and the unholy glare produced by the acrylic finish made getting any decent shots an impossible task.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


One of the things I enjoy about the "Call of Cthulhu" community is the incredible number of artists it attracts. A prime example is Tommy Allison of Mad Robot Studios, who sculpted this incredible Cthulhu bust:

Poke around in his Werks gallery and you'll find a ton of other great art, including some stunning comic-inspired pieces. I'd count myself lucky if my sculpting skills were half as good as his.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

ATMOM Explorer Costume

I spent part of today exchanging emails with someone trying to put together an ATMOM explorer costume. In case you were curious, the most reasonably priced idea I could come up with is adapting something like this - a military surplus winter anorak and trousers set. For just $15 bucks it's a great base to work from.

A little dye, some fur trim, and you're good to go. Oh, and it wouldn't hurt to add a Miskatonic Antarctic expedition patch. I understand some loon on the internet is selling them.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Period Marriage Certificate

This is pretty self-explanatory: a high-resolution scan of a period marriage certificate. I've seen far more ornate versions, but this one strikes me as the kind of thing the New England folk of Lovecraft's stories would favor. As usual, click on through for the full size image.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

ATMOM Photographs

This is a selection of photographs from the original Miskatonic expedition that we're using as props when we run "Beyond the Mountains of Madness". Click through for the full size versions. And when I say full size, I mean it- the files are crazy large, but look great as prints.

If you're really anal about them looking period you're probably going to need some fine sandpaper and a big, honkin' eraser to remove the branding information from the back of the developed prints. Nick the emulsion on the front a bit, add a little wear and tear, and you're good to go.

Expedition ship being unloaded at the landing point on the Ross ice shelf:

Sled dogs crossing the ice:

Dogs transporting Pabodie's revolutionary drilling rig. Portable, in this case, is relative:

Pabodie and Danforth taking position readings. The close proximity of the south pole made compasses useless and required regular celestial fixes for navigation and survey work.

Photograph from the camera mount on one of the expedition's Dornier "Wal" aircraft. The main wing is visible along the top of the picture, while the stubby structure to the right of the frame is a float on the plane's forward hull.

Prof. William Dyer relaxes on deck during the journey south:

Miskatonic Antarctic Expedition Patch Now Available

In 1930 an expedition from Miskatonic University arrived in the Antarctic. Shortly thereafter a remote survey camp began exploring a newly discovered chain of mountains and radioed back the details of an incredible discovery.

Hours later, every man in the camp was dead.

The controversy over what happened to the poor souls in that isolated outpost still rages today. Where they killed by a freakishly powerful storm, as the official inquiry ruled? Or were they the victims of a mass, homicidal rage induced by tainted food, as some have suggested? And what of the mysterious discovery they claimed to have made shortly before radio contact was lost?

Those questions may never be answered, but now you can own a small piece of that ill-fated expedition's history: the famed "Wings Over Antarctica" Miskatonic University Expedition Patch.

Each 4"(10cm) diameter patch has an iron-on backing so they can easily be attached to the garment of your choice. The price for European customers is slightly higher because of the increased cost of shipping.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Things In A Bottle

"I Make Projects" has a great how-to posted on creating things in a bottle:

It can be really fun to see what can be made! Jars can be saved and washed, or purchased cheaply at thrift stores. Old toys, plastic animals, fishing lures and all sorts of other things offer great possibilities.

A good talent to develop is what to show and what to cover. Colored or murky water can be used to shadow or otherwise obscure specimens that you don't want seen in too much detail. Strategically-placed labels can cover up bits that don't look quite right. Adding things to the inside of the jar (like sand, rocks, fake plants, etc) can also conceal or highlight things on the inside.

Knowing what to highlight and what to conceal can go a long ways to making a good specimen great! Have fun, and remember that if you don't like how it looks you can always start over!

I think the best part is that the results look great while being amazingly cheap to produce. There's a place for high-end props that take time and money to create, but quick-and-dirty is equally useful.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


It's not quite as nice as a full-blown movie, but I finally finished my faux trailer for the Hollywood version of "At the Mountains of Madness".

Hopefully, this will also mark the start of a project that I've been slowly building towards over the last couple of months. Next week I'll begin taking orders for the ATMOM Antarctic expedition patch and after that I hope to produce one limited edition Mythos-related item every six weeks.

There's been an explosion of "Call of Cthulhu" and Lovecraft related merchandise over the past year, but I think there's still an under served demand for limited-run props and Mythos paraphernalia. I know I'm not going to get rich serving that market, particularly when I intend to keep the price of anything I produce under the $10 mark, but there's enough demand there to justify production runs of items what would be cost prohibitive to produce individually.