Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Helm of Thor!

The trailer for the retro-cheese action film "Kung Fury" has been making the rounds this week. Saying it's over the top doesn't do justice to the sheer insanity on display.

Imagine my surprise that Jacob Petersson, no stranger to these pages, produced some of the props for the project.  That includes his outstanding version of Thor's helm and hammer.

Update:  Sweet Jebus, I don't know where I came up with Odin instead of Thor. 

Monday, December 30, 2013

The Silver Skull

Rick LaRue brings us this fantastic silver-gilt human skull.  All the materials are authentic, including the skull.  It's a really interesting spin on the traditional kapala skull that, at least to me, hearkens to the "brazen head" of occult history. This would be the centerpiece of any collection.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Wyvern Fang

Kristopher Maxwell brings us the fang of an armored wyvern.  Given the number of drake teeth that humans collect I suspect most fantasy worlds have a brisk trade in draconian dentistry. 

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Cthulhu Fhtagn! ShinyOne Edition.

TheShinyOne brings us a very unusual Cthulhu sculpt. What makes this different from the dozens of Cthulhu figures I've posted before is that it was sculpted digitally and then given physical form by a 3D printer.

This is the future of propmaking, and I'm really excited by the possibilities it presents. After years of on and off practice I'm just starting to reach the mediocre level of sculpting ability. A big part of that slow progress is that I have no feeling in the index finger of my dominant hand*, making fine tool control a real struggle. That's not an issue when I'm using a mouse, since I can manipulate it with my wrist instead of a single finger.

*The result of an unfortunate accident with an X-Acto knife.   You know the oft repeated warning to always cut away from yourself?  Obey it.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Deep One Relic

The talented Brandon Zimmerman returns to our pages with this relic of the Deep Ones.  It's a great sculpt, filled with flowing organic forms.
Uncovered in 2012 off the coast of New England, in an area formerly called Devil’s Reef, scholars have identified this strange metallic artifact as the invocation relic given to Captain Obed Marsh by the South Sea island Chief Walakea in the year 1846. This tarnished gold/lead object was dropped, by Marsh, into the abyssal depths of the Atlantic to summon the creatures known as Deep Ones to the legendary town of Innsmouth. The artifact is adorned with the strange heads of 3 fish-human hybrids, possibly Deep Ones, and is further decorated in a strange metallic amalgamation of unnatural and natural organic forms of marine fauna such as coral and mollusks.         

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Ancient Nord Armor

Harrison Krix returns to the world of Skyrim to bring us some Ancient Nord armor.  His build log includes some insights into using Worbla, a plastic composite material that's moldable at low temperatures.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Pulp Mad Lab Gear

Alan Taylor brings us the Z-8 device, just one of the pulpy bits of gear he's created for his collection of mad science instruments. Some beautiful assemblage work is on display in his gallery.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Wizard Runes Font

Data Becker brings us "Wizard Runes", a nicely done handwriting font.  It would be a handy tool for text obfuscation, when you just want filler text without any content. 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Delayed Gratification

Over the weekend I realized that I never added any Arkham Sanitarium swag to my Zazzle store.  In a shining example of my business acumen that's now been corrected, three years late and well after the Christmas shopping season.  Heh.

On the advice of an actual graphic designer I also tweaked the logo a bit.  The flat slabs of color in the original design look fine in smaller items like patches and pins, but come across as a bit bland when blown up into larger sizes.  A touch of shading helps fix that, providing some dimensionality and visual interest.

I'm going to give the same treatment to the expedition logos over the next week. Here's a look at how the revised Antarctic logo will look with shading.  It's relatively subtle, but provides that ever-elusive "pop".

One feature of Zazzle's apparel printing that I'm not crazy about is the premium on dark colored clothing.  If you'd like a T-shirt, but don't want to pay an exorbitant amount, try fiddling with the color and styles selector on the ordering page.  Switching the base shirt to grey can cut the cost nearly in half.  You can also put the design on things like heavyweight hoodies, which is pretty nifty.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Changing of the Year

Jason McKittrick at Cryptocurium celebrates the solstice with a new limited edition prop set. This time it's based on Lovecraft's "The Temple", and includes a variety of items drawn from the story.

He also has a nifty Esoteric Order of Dagon pint glass for those of you driven to drink by the Mythos.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Do You Hear What I Hear?

This nicely done preserved ear is brought to us by Reliquary Impressions.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Cthulhu Fhtagn! Tóbal Edition.

Tóbal brings us this beautifully well done faux bone Cthulhu idol.  It comes complete with a nice selection of accessories.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Vessel of Dagon's Heart

Brandon Zimmerman brings us this curious Mythos artifact.  The way he's revealed the details of the stopper through the encrustation of barnacles is a cool effect.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Cthulhu Noire

Brazilian gamer Luciano Paul Giehl brings us this impressive collection of props from an L.A. Noire/Atomic Age Cthulhu mashup game. Nothing brings a tabletop game to life like great props. One particularly clever technique was using screen caps from the video game to help model characters for the pen and paper game. You'll find the English translation of the original Portuguese blog posting over here.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Elven Dart

Jamie D. Macfarlane brings us this elven artifact from the vaults of the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense. It's a recreation of the poisoned dart from "Hellboy: The Wild Hunt".

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Mutagen Dispenser

French artist Ethis brings us this interactive mutagen dispenser.  It's a cool little bit of set dressing that incorporates some great custom art.  Not to mention mutagen containers.  They're always fun.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

"Game of Thrones" Dragon Egg Chest

Propmaker Eric Hart spent months crafting this recreation of the dragon egg chest from "Game of Thrones".  He not only brings us a detailed build log of the techniques used, but a video of the entire process.  It's a beautiful piece of work.  While you're over there be sure to browse around.  His propmaking blog is amazing.

Sadly, this project has been a source of strife here at Chateau Propnomicon.  I believe "Why don't you do more projects like that?  It would look great in the den." was the wording used.  I console myself that great art is never recognized in it's own time, particularly when your craft is mummified monstrosities.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Steampunk Gauges

Phil Bolton shares these printable steampunk gauges. They're perfect for anyone wanting to bash together some infernal devices.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Cthulhu Fhtagn! Storm Crow Edition

Durant Haire brings us a photograph of the massive Cthulhu figure at the Storm Crow Tavern in Vancouver.  I can't find a credit for the sculpture, other than a reference to members of the visual effects community.  I think this easily takes the number one slot in the "Largest Cthulhu Idols" list.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Necronomicon, AlexLibris Edition

AlexLibris brings us this beautiful Necronomicon grimoire.  There's nothing faux here- it's wood, leather, and metal.  One of the cool things about this is that it's just going to look better over time.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Soul Stone

The talented James Ewing brings us the Soul Stone, an occult artifact owned by his ancestor Victor Ewing.  It's just one part of a multi-media project that includes a detailed diary and the objects associated with Victor's travels.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Deep One Statuette

Maija Pietikäinen brings us this primitive Deep One statuette.  The aged patina looks great.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Saturday, December 7, 2013

The Oberon Wand

K. L. Turner brings us Oberon, a beautiful hand-carved wand.  The engraved detail in the knotwork is very impressive.

Friday, December 6, 2013

The Curious Case of the Commissioned Cthulhu

I'm an idiot.

A while ago I stumbled across a commissioned illustration that featured an Indiana Jones-style adventurer.  Behind him was a Mayan temple, and in his hands was this idol I did back in 2008:

Unfortunately, I was on my phone and didn't save the address.  Now I can't remember where I found it.  Would anyone happen to have a pointer toward it?  If not, I'm pretty sure both the artist and patron are readers, and I'm hoping they'll see this.

Just to be clear, I loved the illustration and was inordinately pleased it used an image of the idol.  I'm a huge supporter of sharing things so they can be reused and remixed, hence the Creative Commons license for everything here.  The illustration is a perfect example of taking something that was pretty cool and turning it into something awesome.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Cthulhu Fhtagn! Bondarenko Edition.

Dmitry Bondarenko brings us this jade Cthulhu idol, inspired in part by the Hickman statuette. 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Prop Paperwork

The talented Dean Adelaide created the prop handouts for Golden Goblin Publishing's "Island of Ignorance" tabletop adventure. He's now released the complete set as a downloadable PDF.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The White Wand

Maylar brings us this hand carved swirl wand, complete with storage case. 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Amulet of Nyarlathotep

Jason McKittrick returns with this Amulet of Nyarlathotep, nicely mounted in a velvet lined shadowbox.  It's only available for 24 hours from his website, where you'll find a variety of other Mythos items on sale for "Cyber Monday".

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Dragon Skull

Jamie Cooling brings us this immense dragon skull sculpt.  The picture doesn't give a good sense of scale, but it's three feet long.  I can't wait to see the finished castings.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Package Trade

I've been doing some more research on classic-era packing options.  For years I've been using spanish moss and wood excelsior as a packaging material, since it looked nice, was readily available, and seemed plausibly period.  It was only while finishing up the "Deep One" fetus project that I actually started to wonder just how period it was.

Yes, I'm aware such thoughts are probably a sign of incipient madness.  Heh.

I had originally believed there wouldn't be much material on the subject available, but that turned out to totally wrong.  There's a huge amount of surviving literature, most of it targeted at commercial shippers.  That includes not only manufacturers and producers, naturally interested in getting their products to market without damage, but the entire shipping industry itself, commonly referred to as the express trade. 

In general, and this was a real surprise, small packages in the 1920s were done exactly as they are today- a corrugated cardboard box filled with cushioning material.  This period ad demonstrates that nearly every type of package available today was around in the classic era.

 Notice anything missing from those boxes?  Packing tape.  Gummed tape was available, but it wasn't regularly used because of issues with moisture and abrasion resistance.  Cardboard boxes were held shut with twine or strapping, giving us the familiar image of a package wrapped in kraft paper and twine.  It would be years before tape would replace twine as the go-to closure method.


 In almost every case the cushioning material filling those cardboard boxes was excelsior or wood wool made from fine wood shavings.  It was cheap and readily available, produced in both formed sheets and loose bales at mills across the United States.

Because excelsior can be somewhat abrasive items were frequently wrapped in lightweight paper before being nestled inside the fibers.  This was usually tissue paper or newsprint, available in both sheets and rolls to professional shippers.  Old newspapers were the wrapping of choice for consumer packages.  In most large cities there were multiple papers printing both a morning and evening edition, so there was a huge supply available for recycling.

The wooden shipping crate filled with excelsior we've seen in so many movies was normally limited to extremely delicate items, like glassware, or particularly dense objects along the line of machine parts.  Crating only made economic sense when the added protection and weight, and hence cost, was a fractional expense compared to the value of the item.

What's really interesting is just how advanced crate technology was.  I know that sounds like an oxymoron.  After all, a crate is just a wooden box.  But there was a huge variety of crates available, each tailored for a specific purpose using sophisticated construction techniques.  The familiar box made of nailed together boards was only the most basic type.  By the early 20s manufacturers had perfected the use of lightweight plywood in box construction and were beginning to use ultra-thin wood panels reinforced by internal pressure.  In some cases compression was mitigated using tightly packed excelsior, but they were also using "springs" made from bowed wooden struts.  Box skins were also being tensioned using strapping and twist-bound wire.

I've probably spent more time looking into this than the subject really deserved, but I started to find it interesting in and of itself.  One thing that comes up again and again when researching classic era technology is how often we underestimate it's capabilities.  I never would have thought that the myriad of shipping boxes on the shelves today were available back in the 20s, much less in substantially identical form.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Heavy Metal

The holiday shopping season is here, and our sponsor Forlorn Foundry is marking the occasion with a sale.  Just enter coupon code PROPNOMICON to get a 10% discount on any purchase.  The code is good until January 1st.  You'll find some wonderful bronze castings in their shop.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Forbidden Knowledge

Wesley Remory's long running tome project has some new pages.  It's a good example of why crafting tomes is so difficult.  To maintain a consistent art style across the contents you have to generate page after page of material, and that can take years.  You can view the previous updates on his effort over here.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Casting With Hot Glue

Arus brings us a nice tutorial on casting props using hot glue.  The materials are cheap and easy to use, making it perfect for small projects that don't justify the cost of resin.  Via Eric Hart.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Cthulhu Mask

Shane Vannest brings us this wonderfully detailed Cthulhu mask. He's included over a dozen closeup shots in his gallery.