Thursday, December 3, 2009

Thing in a Bottle v1.0

This is my first attempt at making a Lovecraftian "Thing in a Bottle." The jar itself originally held bath crystals and stands about eight inches tall. It came with a cork stopper (one of those crappy reconstituted kind). I soaked the cork in a hot pan of melted paraffin wax and held it under until all the air bubbles were gone, completely saturating it. I expected that would take care of any leakage or evaporation issues. Sadly, it did not.

The thing inside the bottle is a toy starfish that I got at the dollar store. It is one of those kind that grows "600 times its size" in water. It did not grow 600 times its size, but it did grow substantially. Probably more like a 600% increase in size. I saw on another blog last year someone suggested using these to create creatures in bottles, and I thought the idea had merit. I searched around for a while before I found the right kind of toy.

I wanted to test the toy and see how big it would get (and if indeed it would grow at all) before putting it in the jar. I placed it in a bucket with water and left it there for several days. The growth is very slow, and after it has expanded, it ends up covered with a weird sort of jelly slime like substance. The slime is clear, and though it felt good and icky, it wouldn't help my project any, so I washed that off and then let the toy dry out and shrink again (which also took several days). Before placing the starfish in the jar, I painted it with latex rubber and a little acrylic paint. Then I rubbed some of the latex off, to create holes in the coverage. This made for a very interesting mottled sloughing skin sort of effect.

Once stuffed into the bottle, I refilled it with water and let the expansion begin again, refilling as needed. When it had filled the jar, I topped it off with water and added a few drops of green and yellow dye. In hind site, I should have added more dye and maybe something to make the water a little more murky. The starfish is still a little too visible and identifiable. Then I put the cork in. That was much harder than I thought it would be. Because there was very little air int he bottle, and the cork was not readily permeable, the laws of hydraulics made it very hard to get the cork to stay in. The compression of the little air that was trapped inside kept pushing it up. I was worried that if I pushed down on the cork too hard, the glass bottle would break (that's how hard I had to force it in). I did my best to force the cork down and left it sit for a while. Within a few minutes, I started noticing small droplets of colored water forming on the top of the cork. The pressure inside was causing the liquid to force its way through the cork, even through the wax. I figured that once enough pressure was released, the leaking would stop and the very few pours in the cork would seal themselves up again.

I used an old trick I came up with when I made my Ichor of Abn-Sur prop, and tied the cork in place with hemp twine. It makes for a very un-modern looking yet sturdy seal. I never liked the 'whole bottle top glommed with wax' look that many people use. I had intended to make a Miskatonic label for the bottle, but I never got around to it. Recently I took a look at the jar to measure it for the lablel, and I noticed that some of the water had indeed evaporated even through the wax saturated cork. The top of the starfish is now sticking out above the water. I find this unacceptable, and very disappointing. I guess I will just have to disassemble it and try again. Back to the drawing board.

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