Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Necronomicon, Open Source Edition

I wanted to get some feedback about an idea.

Over the last few weeks I've featured a number of amazing tomes and grimoires from a variety of artists. Every time I make one of those posts I'm reminded that such tomes are probably the pinnacle of Lovecraftian propmaking. They're undeniably impressive, but the amount of work needed to create one is shocking. To make a truly convincing eldritch book requires a huge amount of custom artwork to make the pages look authentic, and that all has to be done before you can even begin to think about the binding process.

But what if the necessary high-quality artwork were free?

Well, not quite "free". It would have to be paid for initially, but after that it would be freely available to anyone under a Creative Commons license. Then you could re-use it and remix it anyway you wanted for the rest of time. Print it out and bind your own evil grimoire. Make decorative scrolls for games. Heck, just lift the graphics to make Halloween party invitations.

I've tentatively called this idea "The Open Source Necronomicon".

The basic idea is a to create a crowd-sourced funding project, either through Kickstarter or a similar venue, to pay a professional artist to produce at least 40 pages of art and text. Once completed the pages would be freely available as high-resolution (600 DPI) scans for anyone to use under an open Creative Commons license. Any individual elements from the pages, either calligraphy, art, or text, could be reused and remixed by anyone for any purpose. The only requirements would be that any derivatives be made available under the same free-to-use license and that the project and artist receive attribution.

Personally, I'd be in favor of producing a more fantasy-influenced version of the Necronomicon and not one of the canon print versions. I'd definitely want the artwork to be firmly grounded in the Mythos, but beyond that I think a version that isn't tied to a specific time period would be more flexible. That should help with funding, since the project would appeal to a wider audience outside the Lovecraftian faithful.

As to the actual amount of funding, I'm open to suggestions. Ideally the project would use a proven artist with a record of reliability, skill, and familiarity with the Mythos. Artists deserve to be paid well, particularly for such a massive undertaking, so I think $15,000 would be an absolute minimum. All of the money raised, minus any fees from the funding organization, would go directly to the artist.

Your thoughts and suggestions would be appreciated.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Necronomicon, Valdemar Edition

Robert Olmstead of Innsmouthmania was kind enough to bring the design work for the Spanish film "La Herencia Valdemar" and it's sequel to my attention. One of the standout props from the series is their version of the Necronomicon, a massive tome incorporating a mixture of Mythos material and traditional occult symbolism.

For some reason the cover of the Valdemar Necronomicon looked very familiar, but it wasn't until this afternoon that I was able to remember why. It's based on the cover design of the titular book in the 1993 "Necronomicon" anthology film starring Jeffrey Combs. Here's the tome from that film.

Friday, July 29, 2011

The Rapture of Cthulhu

Another intriguing piece from artist Joe Broers. This time he brings us "The Rapture of Cthulhu".

"A small copy of unknown origins of a life sized statue that stood in a Russian aristocrat’s private sculpture garden on his estate south of Minsk until at least 1918, when it was destroyed by either the occupying Germans, or the Bolsheviks who followed."

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Cthulhu Medallion

Zaven Grigoryan sent over this custom made Cthulhu medallion crafted from silver. It's just the thing for the well dressed cultist.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

He Walks the Earth

It turns out that Mark Cordory's Cthulhu mask from earlier this month is part of a costume. An incredibly huge costume that towers above puny humans. Sweet fancy Moses, this is just insane.

The Cthulhu costume is mind boggling, but you'll find some equally impressive work in the rest of his gallery.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Innsmouth Gold

Jason McKittrick brings us this artifact from Miskatonic University's Special Collections, formerly held by the U.S. Government.

"A solid gold idol sculpture recovered from the Marsh Refinery during the infamous "Innsmouth Raid of 1927". The item's subject is unknown however it is speculated that it depicts one of the fabled "Deep Ones" of Innsmouth lore. This piece is characteristic of the odd style produced by Innsmouth goldsmiths. Innsmouth Gold is exceedingly rare.

Special Note: Item must be contained under glass at all times. Item has been observed to affect electrical instrumentation as well as emit a low frequency hum.

Classification: Hazardous

Idol Measurements: 3 1/2 in tall x 2 in wide
Container Measurements: 4 1/2 in tall x 5 in wide"

It happens to be available on Ebay .

Monday, July 25, 2011

Bronze Deep One

The gifted Mark Arnold was kind enough to send over some shots of his latest sculpt, a beautiful bronze Deep One.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Quick and Dirty Bookbinding

If the Mythos tomes off the past few days have whetted your appetite for creating your own, here's a handy tutorial on bookbinding using the slotted spine method. Odds are you have all the required materials and tools, and it's a relatively simple technique that scales from small booklets to large tomes.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Deep Ones

Artist Wesley Remory brings us another example of a beautiful Mythos tome. There's just so much to like here, from the hand-inked calligraphy to the fantastic artwork.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Forgotten Lore

Artist Agustina PiƱeiro is crafting a Mythos tome, and the initial pages look wonderful. I look forward to seeing how this develops. A hand-made tome is the holy grail of Lovecraftian props, but the sheer amount of work required is daunting.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Wooden Cthulhu Fetish

From the Miskatonic University Special Collections, a native artifact recovered from an archeological dig in the summer of 1926. Traditionally, Dr. Francis Morgan would use first and second year students to explore interesting historical sites across the state to give them some experience with actual field conditions. That year he decided to excavate the area around the mysterious standing stones at the edge of the Big Cypress Swamp just off the Gainsville pike.

The dig uncovered extensive evidence of habitation, including an interesting pattern of post holes and firepits, along with hundreds of stone tools and pottery shards. This particular artifact was actually found outside the area of the excavation proper when a student wading across a swampy patch of ground found his feet trapped in the thick, viscous mud of the swamp. After being pulled out by his comrades, who were much amused by the loss of his boots in the mire, he attempted to retrieve his footwear. Using small logs picked up from the surrounding forest he built up a rough layer of brush that would support his weight and was able to extricate his sodden boots from under the water. After reaching dry ground he dumped the accumulated muck out and discovered this curious wooden figure nestled in the mud. Attempts were made to further excavate that site, but the watery conditions made serious work impossible.

The carved wooden figure was remarkably well preserved by the swamp, much like the archeological finds recovered from the bogs of Great Britain. Morgan initially identified it as a fetish of pre-colonial Wampanoag manufacture in the site log, noting that it had been carved from a tree root and depicted some sort of nature spirit. While the rest of the artifacts from the dig were cataloged in the University's general collection the fetish was sent to the special collections annex. Curiously, despite the potential importance of the find it only received a passing reference in the final dig report. Custody records show that Dr. Morgan had the figure in his possession from 1927 to 1931, but the fetish was never mentioned publicly again.

This was a fun little project, but incredibly time consuming. The fetish is pretty much as described- a carved root. I wanted something with the look of a real native artifact, so I tried to blend the features of Cthulhu with the naturally twisting shape of of the wood. The carving was done with a variety of x-acto knives. Then I aged the wood using a combination of high heat and ultraviolet light exposure under carefully controlled conditions. A technique otherwise known as "throwing it on my front dashboard to bake in the sun for a week or two". The final finish was a light wash of brown and black ink to accentuate all the textures produced by the weathering process.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Foam Sweet Foam

In the comments to yesterday's post on the R'lyeh calendar stone the subject of producing a similar artifact on a DIY basis came up. Alex Kaeda brought up the idea of carving one out of foam and then linked to this tutorial on using exactly that technique to recreate the Grail Tablet from "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade".

Foam would be ideal for creating a similar Lovecraftian item, but I suspect it would take a great deal of patience to carve away the fine detail work. I used carved foam to create the backdrop for my collection of items from "The Shadow Out of Time" and the results were pretty good for a relatively quick project. As I mentioned at the time, one of the nice things about working with foam sheets is the sheer amount of material you get for the money. I still have a huge chunk of the stuff in my closet from that effort.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

R'lyeh Calendar Stone, Part Deux

I originally stumbled across the R'lyeh Calendar Stone from UndertakingFX back in May. Now that I actually have one I can safely say that the pictures don't do it justice. The plaque is approximately 1 foot in diameter and around 1.5 inches thick at its thickest point.

Put simply, it's a great prop with a huge amount of potential for customization and accessorizing. The calendar is cast from hydrostone and has a very nice heft to it, appropriate for something crafted from real stone. It displays nicely as is, but storing it packed in excelsior or raw cotton in a weathered shipping box would kick it up a notch. If you're really motivated there's no end to the ephemera you could produce, from excavation photos to dig notes. For that approach I would heartily recommend the work of Florian Mellies as an inspiration.

The calendar stone is available for $100 +shipping from I don't believe they have a website, but you can browse some of their other work in this gallery.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Heavy Artillery

CoastConFan has an interesting look at the massive LeMat revolver, a gun that pretty much defines "handcannon".

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Celtic Grimoire

The leather workers at Artisans d'Azure crafted this beautiful Celtic grimoire. Thanks to the heavy duty construction I expect it can not only handle heavy use, but will actually look better over time because of it.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

London's Natural History Museum

Another map from the 1922 edition of "Muirhead's London and its Environs", this time of the Natural History Museum. Click through on the picture below for the high resolution JPG. The PDF version is available from Google Documents over here.

Friday, July 15, 2011

LARP Grimoire

"NeesdanAneschmar" crafted this leather bound grimoire for a fantasy LARP. I'm always amazed at the props and costumes of Euro-LARPs compared to American efforts. Here the really high-end production quality is found in historical re-enacting, where people will spend thousands of dollars putting together costumes and accessories. A friend has a theory that the Protestant work ethic makes recreating American military history and the Old West a respectable pastime, while goofing off slaying dragons is self-indulgent. It sounds wacky, but if you've spent any time with re-enactors you know they're LARPers in all but name.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

London Zoological Gardens

A map of the London Zoological Gardens from the 1922 edition of "Muirhead's London and its Environs". This is another of the journal stuffer documents I adore. Just click through on the picture below for the high resolution JPG. You can download a PDF version from Google Documents over here.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Ring of the Magi

"BlossomRazor" brings us the Ring of the Great Magi. It's a nice repurposing of a commercial poison ring with a new Sculpey stone and paintjob.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Cthulhu Fhtagn! McKittrick Edition

Jason McKittrick has taken a break from his burgeoning line of Mythos candy to bring us another nicely done Cthulhu idol. It just happens to be available on Ebay.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Wrath of the Elder Ones

No, I'm not dead.

I'm posting this from work, since a downed tree branch took out my internet access in the wee small hours of Friday morning. The lovable scamps at Time Warner Cable say it should be back up later today once a thingamabob they're waiting for arrives. I'll catch up with all the missed posts once it's back up and running.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Cthulhu Masks

It's the very latest in cultist fashion. These leather Cthulhu masks are brought to us by Ben Parker and Jennifer Buffie of Austin, Texas, my old hometown.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

He Dreams

Mark Cordory brings us this outstanding Cthulhu mask. I absolutely love this sculpt. It captures all the features of Lovecraft's sketch, including the multiple eyes that many artists ignore, without being the standard "man with an octopus on his head" depiction. The anatomy is thoroughly alien, but totally believable.

Monday, July 4, 2011


Just hours after yesterday's post Rev. Marx posted the final installment of his steampunk phonograph build. It's a nifty little prop, complete with some interesting audio/visual components.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Prop Phonograph

Rev. Marx follows up his prop wax cylinders and the first part of building his prop phonograph with a third installment. This one features the final paint job for the amplifier horn and the construction of the phonograph body.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Cthulhu Fhtagn! Ritthanondh Edition

Daniel Ritthanondh of Teptec studios carved this stone Cthulhu figure. Head over to his site and you can see some interesting work in progress shots as it slowly emerges from the stone.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Prop Spellbook

"Ta-moe" is a huge fan of the Arthurian mythos, and created this reproduction of Merlin's spellbook using polymer clay embossments on a leather bound book. The results are surprisingly good for such a relatively simple approach. Some heavy weathering would really bring it to life.