Category Archives: blog

Alien perfume monolith

My daughter was going to throw away an empty bottle of Thierry Mugler Alien but I managed to snatch it before it reached the bin.

Look at that thing! It’s an amazing design and I thought I could do something with it.

I thought I could put it on a base and create something to use as scenery for Warhammer, Gaslands or any other tabletop game. I washed it down and buffed off the lettering on the front before sticking it to a chunk of wood.

Sadly, I didn’t take many pictures of it being made but I basically chopped up a base, covered it on filler and rocks to make a rough base then hit the whole thing with black primer.

To get some colours down, I sprayed the whole thing with a series of lighter colours. Once dried it was weathered with inks and powders. The base was covered in flock, moss and some skulls from the GW skull pack. A Christmas pressie from my daughter, she basically supplied a lot of the part for this in the end.

I think the final piece looks suitable for some monolith from a long lost Xeno species in 40k. It will also work as a place of worship for a chaos tribe in AoS or Warhammer Fantasy.

Not bad for an empty Alien perfume bottle.

Cthulhu vs Cancer pt 2

I’m really pleased to say that the sale of the green Cthulhu on ebay for Cancer Research UK sold this afternoon for £180 and I’m blown away by how much it went for. I honestly didn’t expect it to go for so much and thank you very much to the winner (who ever you are), I hope it helps you to keep the shoggoths at bay. Remember, all of my Cthulhu statues come with a guarantee that you won’t be eaten by a Great Old One or your money back, no quibble.

Well done to Mikimus Prime/Mike Jackson for organising it and the huge success of his auction in raising £633 and well done to everyone else who donated. I did bid on one of the items, sadly I was outbid but it was good to remember some of the fun in bidding on ebay.

Thank you to everyone on Facebook and Twitter who retweeted or shared the info. I know some of you have no idea who Cthulhu is, but he knows who you are now. (psssst go edjucakat yurselfs wikipedia.org/wiki/Cthulhu )

Thanks to:
Matthew Applegate – pixelh8.co.uk @Pixelh8
Duncan Craig – facebook.com/zombiemedia @zombie_media
Karl Dawson – multicelldesign.com @multicelldsgn
Anders Fisher – andersfisher.com @atleastimtrying
Bruce Kirkby – brucekirkby.com @bruce_kirkby
Kirsty Lewis – Who appears to only lurk on FB.
Anthony Mann – wmavideo.co.uk @wmavideo
Dana McKeen – @zircadia
Steve Shaw – greatbritishhorror.com @Dr_Terror
Geoff Smith – @necron1967
Matt Smith – matt40k.co.uk @matt40k
Rebecca Twiss – Another FB lurker

I should also give a thanks to Cthulhu himself who posted it on his facebook page. facebook.com/iaiacthulhufhtagn

As a result of this auction I’ve started thinking about listing the green as an option on Etsy with a donation to Cancer Research UK for each one, but I’m worried about devaluing the one that just sold. Possible alternative options include different colours but green is obviously the preferred version as the statue is described as that shade in the story.

I’m going to have a ponder over this.

The Spice Must Flow

There’s nothing like a good quote from a Sci-fi book to spice up your blog entry but how about a photo as well?

final-board-pre-brass

I first read Dune by Frank Herbert many years ago while I was still in high school and still read it now and then, I’ve seen the film umpteen times, played various computer games, own trading cards blah blah blah… yeah I like the stories and there’s something awesome about guys riding giant worms and fighting over spice which is made from the poop of baby worms and water. Oh and the politics and characters are pretty good as well, its not all about worms and spice.

Old Spice

Several months ago I got to see, hear, touch and smell an original copy of the 1979 boardgame based on Dune (I would have licked it if I had the chance). It was a thing of beauty… even though it was fairly beaten up and well played. It’s filled with 70’s artwork which sets a different mood to everything that came ‘post Lynch’ that most people know and I really wanted to play it… badly. Unfortunately it wasn’t possible, but I did some digging and managed to turn up a reprint which was released short after the film came out and was almost the same except it had a figure on the front based on Feyd-Rautha/Sting from the film. While my finger hovered over the ‘buy’ button I couldn’t find it in me to click it… something was nagging at me. While reading up on the game earlier I had uncovered a lot of info about the game and the three main bits that I turned up was that the company which made it (Avalon Hill) had gone out of business years before, another company had bought the rights to the rules but couldn’t get the theme so they released it as Rex: Final Days of an Empire and that the rules and there is a wealth of details about Dune available on board game geek. While the possibility to buy an updated version in the form of Rex seemed tempting, I was left cold by the theme and the more I thought about it, the more I realised that I could work on making my own copy based on the resources available to me. What I would hope to end up with was a unique piece that reflected some of the love

I decided to wait while we went on holiday for two weeks and that would allow me a cooling off period which didn’t work as all I could think about was how I would make it. I know printers in the Ipswich area so I knew I could easily get them to run off anything I sent them but that seemed too easy, where was my involvement? I needed to make something and just having it all printed by someone else seemed too simple for me.

The Sleeper Must Awaken

The first thing was to find out exactly what I needed in terms of board, cards, counters and rules. Scouring the Dune section of BGG I found a couple of places which had the full set of resources and settled on the set by Ilya 77 which quite a few people seem to have used and there’s it’s a wonderful design which has a art deco/20’s feel to it which fits with the abandonment of technology that the books have. One chap has even collected all of the cards into three artscow galleries for ease of printing so theres a big time saver thanks to the hard work of kevintlee for pulling these together.

cardsI ordered the cards (sorry, a touch blurry. I will take some better photos when the whole thing is finished) and they came in a couple of weeks which isn’t bad going as they came all the way from Hong Kong.

While that was all in transit I picked up some wooden discs and some mosaic tiles to use as counters in the game as the troops/spice.

dune-tokens

The discs got coated in sanding sealer, rubbed down, coated again, sanded, coated, sanded… on and on until they became smooth and then I glued the front and back of the leader discs to each one.

spice tokens

I bought seven colours of the mosaic tiles and they match the colours of the six houses well, and another pack being used for the Spice tokens. All of the troop tokens are clear but the spice tokens have gold and brown flecks in them which really helps to make them look like compressed packets of Spice Melange.

For the map I could have gone the easy route of printing it on a large printout via a local printer but wanted the board to be unique. I’d been toying with the idea of a wooden one as several people on BGG had posted photos of homemade wooden boards and I’d already made contact with Kieron at Funky Lemon Design over finding out his pricing for laser cutting on something else previously. That didn’t go through but and I got back in touch to work out how the board could be done. After a quick chat, I found a copy of the board file as a coraldraw file (which I had to convert to .ai) and I then set about turning it into a version I could pass on for engraving. Some of the details didn’t survive the conversion (no text, some of the shapes) and I made a few changes to the design such as the same font over the whole thing and moving some bits around. One of thoughts that came up at one point (not sure where) was to have the map raised above the base to give it a slightly extruded feel so I supplied the final artwork as two files. One base, one map.
DuneMap-baseDuneMap-map

and what came back?

BVk_MsSCcAAmLfp

Which is actually two bits and ready for staining like this:

board-stained

and the map goes from this:

map-prestain

to this:

map-stained

The middle bit (the polar cap) is just sanding sealer over the bare wood, the sand, mountains and sietch spaces are all different coloured wood stains and finally it will look like this when it is glued together:

board-assembled

But it isn’t glued together, not yet, as I have one more thing to do to it. I’m going to mix up some easyflo and some brass powder and fill the engravings in the wood. I was going insane just staining the base so I’m not looking forward to the metal stage as that will be quite a bit to do. I also don’t have the final bits just yet as Funky Lemon are putting together a carefully put together box which will act as storage and a base for the map, this will need gluing and staining to match the base. The one last thing will be to play test to make sure I have every last bit, at which point I find out I’m missing some massive piece but at least I’ll have a funky map. I can theoretically have more of the map/board pieces made up now that one has been done so I’ll be fine if it ever gets damaged, I’ll also post some better pictures of the final setup when the whole thing is finished.

The Commerce of Cthulhu

With little fanfare, absolutely no pomp and not even a smidgen of ceremony I present my latest scheme, Cthulhu on Etsy! (Sounds like a dance routine)

Yup, I’ve gone all serious and have stopped operating out of some dodgy three wheeler in the back of the internet. All of my Cthulhu sales will now be through Etsy although I hope I’ll still be operating the odd enquiry for custom sculptures and castings out of this place. My first few listings are now on Etsy and I’ve racked up debt of the princely sum of $1 to get five up and running.

The shop is now open at etsy.com/shop/CastingsofCthulhu

In other news I’ve had a busy Easter weekend, one night of sculpting to produce some sharp trousers and shoes and a day of C4Ding (is that the right term?) to produce… something which will be unveiled later in the week. Or next week. It depends. To keep everyone happy, heres a picture of those trousers.

trousers

Everyone loves a sharp dressed man as the saying goes. I’ve been messing around with Super Sculpey firm so thought I would get round to actually making something with it and I have to say this stuff is really nice to work with. Unlike regular scupley which is slightly translucent, it’s much easier to see all the marks and fingerprints on the surface and I’ve found its easier to make sharp edges with. It softens up easily when kneaded, then seems to firm up much faster and harder than the regular stuff. Unless I suddenly become a wax convert (I’m open to offers of free wax from any suppliers) or get a load of monster clay (see previous brackets) then I think I’m going to be sticking to this firm stuff. Actually, saying all that, I’ve been cutting the firm with regular sculpey when I was bulking out the base shape, then laying firm over the top so I may get some regular just to do volume work with. Either way, it’s nice to find new materials that work so well.

Something wicked this way comes

Its only a few days to Halloween and for the last couple of years the Daughter and I have sculpted something for our window display as a way of having some fun and creating something unique. We’ve done tiny pumpkins, ghosts and she did a witch last year while I started the Jezail sculpture (which didn’t get finished anywhere near Halloween unless you count the following years). This year she wanted to do something a bit more complex so (leaving it until the last minute) she splashed around in Google for a bit and found a cat sketch by Chris Ryniak, so I went for another one of his sketches as inspiration.

To make it more interesting I thought of fitting a bulb into the top of the candle on one and we’ve talked about some glowing eyes for the cat. Nothing like making it as challenging as possible… Also the Daughters never done soldering before I thought this would be a good time to learn, she’s 10 so thats old enough to start hot-wiring stuff.

So Saturday consisted of harvesting as much of the bits needed from town. 3 packs of milliput to build the armature with, some aluminium tubes to run the wires through so I don’t have to bake the wires in the oven, a pack of mixed LED’s, a load of resistors, a flickering bulb from a £1 Halloween display, some wire, a couple of switches, batteries and I’ve even treated myself to a new soldering iron.

Sorry for the lack of “in build photos” but its been a bit of a rush to get this ready in time for the 31st. To start I cut up a couple of small MDF boxes to act as bases and housing for the batteries and wiring, drilled out holes and fitted the alu tubes. The daughters has it right up the middle while mine has a bend in the side as the legs are spread apart. Two packs of milliput then got spread all over them to act as keying for the sculpey. Baked for 20 mins to set the Milliput.

Next up was the circuits. In my shopping I also picked up a test breadboard for the wiring and two blow LED’s later I had my circuits worked out.

At this point it was sculpting time. The Daughter was packed off to bed a bit later and I carried on while the missus subjected me to “house nation”… How did that pass for music?

Sometime around 11pm, with my eyes burning, my back cracking and my ears bleeding, I had my basic shape blocked out.

pumpkin-headed-sculpture.jpg

This is the fasted I’ve ever finished sculpting something.

Halloween Sculpture
Halloween Sculpture

It was inspired by an original sketch by Chris Ryniak who also has a tumblr account which has now taken up residence in my Google reader.

What this whole thing has taught me is that I can sculpt stuff fast when I set my mind to it and that I need to do something about taking better photos of my work.

halloween window display

Due to not having a front garden or anything which can be filled with grotesque figures, we usually pop a couple of things in the window and the Dort and I make something every year as part of our build up to the 31st, she didn’t finish hers in time but we did put both of our new pieces in the window. Her cat is also based on a sketch by Chris and I’ll publish a pic when she finishes painting it. The eyes light up green when a button is turned on at the back and was built with half an old torch (cut up for the button), some green LED’s and a couple of decorative glass pebbles for the front of the eyes.

The chrome of Cthulhu

The summer holidays have been and gone and its been a long while since my last post. Besides basting myself in suncream to try and keep my lilly white skin tone, I’ve also had a bit of a cough, spent most of my time watching the first three series of ‘Breaking Bad’ (I’m now suffering withdrawal symptoms while waiting for series 4 to come out on DVD next month) and I’ve spent very little time doing anything digital in my spare time.

As I spend my working hours on a computer I’ve been trying to get away from them a bit and I’ve been trying to get back into none-digital art forms. Yes I know i’ve been going mad on the sculpting over the last year but I’ve always felt my drawing skills are lacking and I recently went to a
meetup called Suffolk Sketchup which made me think more about my 2d skills and how they need to be tightened up a bit. I’m not expecting to jump into the 2d pit and work to become an illustrator, but I know it will help my designs when I come to sculpting. Also I see stuff by Rob (the guy who runs the comic shop in town) and get all envious of people who can draw like that.

In the meantime I recently picked up a fresh batch of easyflow (is it easyflow or easyflo?) from Mouldlife in Bury and bought some Aluminium powder at the same time, this gave rise to the next casting which i’ve been cleaning up for the last two nights.

Not so much chrome as a dull metal.

The first coat was:
150 – Part a easyflow
150 – Part b easlyflow
200 – Aluminium
100 – Powdered steel
(all measurements are to the cup lines on the measuring cups I’m using so its not based on weight)

The steel and aluminium was mixed before adding the easyflow and I used some steel to try and get a darker effect to the aluminium. The body was then backfilled with 2/3 of a 1 kilo pack of fibreglass resin from the chandlery with aluminium trihydrate, some steel powder and a couple of drops of black dye. (the steel and dye was to try and make sure the whiteness of the aluminium trihydrate doesn’t come through the thinner shell).

In total this was roughly around £40 – £50 worth of materials and came out ok. A few air bubbles here and there which I shouldn’t have had but I stupidly didn’t work the mould as much as I should have. I spent last night rubbing it down with black dye and wire wool and the final effect is a dark metal shine to it, almost like a dark pewter.

The next one will have less steel powder as I want to get a much more silver effect without the dulling down.