Monday, May 2, 2011

Doctor Glamour - Necronomicon (pt. 1)

As I stated in an earlier post, I was recently commissioned to create two prop tomes for the upcoming film project, "Doctor Glamour".  While the first, De Vermis Mysteriis, was a fairly simple and straight forward build, the second and larger of the two, the Necronomicon, was a much more involved project. I had some difficulty finding the right book to use as the base of my tome. I wanted something that was very thick and had a large format. I was looking for a large unabridged dictionary type volume such as the one I used for the Black Duke project. Unfortunately I was not able to find exactly what I was looking for. Any book I could find that was of the format size I desired did not have the thickness I required. After considering my options, I decided to use a book that was roughly the same size as the dictionary used for the Black Duke project, but that was only about half as thick.

I started by tearing off the cover from the text block, and cleaning up as much of the glue from the spine as I could.

To my surprise, I found that the base book was not made of signatures sewn along the crease, as most hard bound books are, but was sewn from the side near the spine. Coincidentally, the book I used for De Vermis Mysteriis was also sewn this way. I had a plan to make the text block thicker and it would require that I cut the threads that held the signatures together. They did not however immediately fall apart, as they were also held by the remaining glue along the spine. Knowing that the signatures would eventually separate from one another, and that I would eventually have to re-sew the signatures back together anyway, I thought it would be easier to sew them now and leave the threads very loose to allow for expansion.

My plan was to soak the text block in warm water for a while allowing the paper to soak up the water and expand. I had a paperback book once that got wet and when it dried it had swelled to over twice its original thickness. I was hoping for a similar result here. It was actually more difficult than I had expected to get all the pages to soak up the water. I had to keep opening the book under water to different pages in order to get the water to flow between the pages. It took several hours underwater before I was satisfied that it had soaked up the water and expanded the paper fibers. I didn't want to leave it underwater too long or else I would risk the pages tearing. Some did tear, but that would not be a problem. I intended to distress the pages anyway, I just didn't want the whole text block disintegrating to mush.

After taking the text block out of the water bath, I used my finger nails, and also a dremel bit, to gouge up the edges of the pages a little. It was easy to do while the pages were wet and soft. I also tried to pry apart some of the signatures where they were glued together at the spine. This was more difficult than I had expected, but would be necessary, since the spine would also have to grow in thickness, and the glue would restrict the expansion of the pages at the spine.

Fearing that the thread I had used to re-sew the spine was too weak, I sewed it again with synthetic sinew. Then I set the text block on front of a heater fan to dry. The drying took four days, but when it was finished the pages had expanded to over twice their original thickness. I also took the opportunity while the pages were drying to brush on some dark stain mixture along the edges of the pages to make them look old and stained.

Meanwhile, I knew that the cover would need to accommodate the increased thickness of the text block, so I split the cover down the center of the spine. I had to wait until the text block was dry and I could be certain of the new thickness before I could splice in a new piece to widen the spine. When I was sure of how thick the book would be, set the boards the proper distance apart, then I glued in a piece of tyvek on the underside and a piece of mulberry paper on the top side. Tyvek is my new favorite material for making hinges and spines. It is extremely strong, tear resistant and glues well.

 While I had spent a lot of time conceptualizing the design of this tome, I still didn't have a clear idea of exactly what I was going to do when I started. I did a lot of test fitting and mock-ups to help me visualize what I wanted. I did have a general direction, but some of the details I would have to struggle with along the way.

I spent two days trying to come up with a design element for the front cover. I didn't want to use something as trite as the symbol from the "Simon Necronomicon", or as common as a pentagram. I tried to design my own Simon-like sigile, but I was not happy with the results. In the end i decided to use a symbol that I had designed for my "Book of IOZ" years ago, and which is featured on some of my Necornomicon Pages. I decided to cut it out of Sculpey, like I did with the title lettering for the De Vermis Mysteriis.

More on this build coming soon.

See also:

Doctor Glamour - Necronomicon (pt. 2)
Doctor Glamour - Necronomicon (pt. 3) 
Doctor Glamour - De Vermis Mysteriis
Doctor Glamour (fini)

1 comment:

  1. Fantastic work.
    One small remark (a bit late to be helpful, though): you can transfer print from either laserjet or inkjet on polymer clay by simply laying the printed side on it, burnishing, and letting rest a while. It would be more practical than going around it with a pin.