Tuesday, January 27, 2009

From the Mountains of Madness: Part Four

In Part One of the "From the Mountains of Madness" project I talked about selecting a case to hold all the artifacts and why I chose the one I did. Part Two discussed scientific specimens you might want to include based on what Lovecraft's story actually describes, with a brief foray into making muslin storage bags for the samples. Part Three covered how to obtain rock cores for the project and the creation of Pabodie's plans for his revolutionary drilling rig. In this installment I'll add a few more items to the case and turn a jewelry box into a specimen case.

One of the reasons for such a long delay between this installment and the last one is that I decided to build a large light tent to help improve the quality of my photos. It's just a basic framework of PVC pipe draped with a white sheet, but the diffuse illumination it provides has helped eliminate the glare problems I was having with my earlier photos.

Isn't that better? The diffuse light gives reflective items some nice highlights without generating blinding glare. With a little more tweaking of the light arrangement my pictures might be able to transcend my lack of photographic ability.

Here's the first major addition for this update: a pair of Lemaire Model IV binoculars. Made from leather covered brass, these were produced from the 1880's to the late 1920's at the Lemaire factory in Paris. During that time the design was basically unchanged other than some upgrades to the quality of the optics. Once again, I chose this particular brand because it was carried by the Byrd expedition Lovecraft used as his model for the Miskatonic expedition in "At the Mountains of Madness".

Here's the second major addition: a Lufkin 100 foot surveyor's tape from the late 1920's. It's in amazing condition for it's age, especially since the ruled tape is made from oiled linen. In my mind's eye I can envision Lake carefully marking off the survey grid inside the underground cavern with a tape just like this one.

Finally, this is a specimen box for one of the fossils collected from that same cave. It started life as an off the shelf cotton-lined jewelry display box made from kraft paper. After giving the edges and corners a light sanding I hit it with a spritz of walnut ink to age it and then rubbed it down with cocoa powder and some powdered charcoal to add a little grime. The collection notes were written with a medium nib fountain pen using brown ink.

The trilobite fossil is a resin reproduction that I picked up years ago as part of an educational toy set. Since then I've been desperately trying to find more of them, but it looks like whoever owns the molds quit casting replicas and is now using them to produce soap. The only modification I made to the fossil was the same grimy cocoa and charcoal rubdown I gave to the box.

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