Friday, May 13, 2011

Doctor Glamour - Necronomicon (pt. 3)

Click here to get on this train from the beginning.

So, as I was saying. I finally decided on the design for the iron bindings that were going to wrap around the spine of this Necronomicon, and made paper templates to full scale. The next step was to sculpt the pieces in plasticine modeling clay.

I rolled out the clay with my pasta maker (not used for food, obviously) and traced around the paper template with an xacto knife. I thought I was being clever by using glass as a work board, thinking that the silicon rubber would not stick to the glass. Wrong. Pro Tip: They say silicone rubber doesn't stick to much, but that has not been my experience. The one thing that I have found that neither it, nor urethane resin sticks to is vinyl contact paper. If I had been really clever, I would have stuck a piece of contact paper over the glass before beginning.

I cut out three designs from the clay. Two of the front/back board pieces (above), one facing up and a mirror image facing down, and one for the spine piece (one mold would work for both spine pieces needed). I made sure to texture the surface with my tiny ball peen hammer to give it that hammered iron look. I made a little dam wall around the pieces and then poured in the RTV silicon rubber.

Then, each mold was cast twice in urethane resin. To save on rubber, I made the molds a little thin. To give them a solid backing, I poured plaster of paris on top of the rubber before removing the clay. You can see the plaster backing in the pic below.

Once I had cast pieces to work with, I could get a better idea of where things were going. I laid them out and agonized over the fitting and trimming for a little while.

For added security, I decided to use machine screws, instead of glue, to fix the spine pieces in place. I drilled a hole though the resin pieces and the cover and ran the screw in from the back side of the spine. I would later have to trim the screw end down a bit with the Dremel, and create a small cavity on the back of the skulls, with same said Dremel, to cover over the screw ends.

With the pieces laid out to see, I decided that the hinges I had made with the epoxy putty and wood dowels were too small for the spine hinges. After more agonizing, I decided to use a similar method, but just take it up a size with a larger dowel. However, I was hesitant to run the epoxy putty through the pasta machine again, as it nearly broke the thing on the last attempt, and it took me two days to clean it out and get it back together. So this time I cut the dowels to size, drilled out the ends and cut in two grooves with the Dremel before coating both of them with brushed on polyurethane resin.

I had to coat them twice, and ended up having to re-cut the grooves afterward. I also gave them a few good whacks with the ball peen hammer while the resin still had a little give to it. This provided some texture. While the epoxy putty would have served as its own adhesive for attaching the hinges to the other resin pieces, like it did in the clasp, now I would have to use more brushed on urethane resin as an adhesive to glue the pieces together. More resin should fuse the resin coated dowels and the resin pieces together into a solid piece. Should, begin the operative word. It did work, but I had some cracking problems at the joint. I had to re-fix them twice and put the resin on extra heavy, and the joint was still a little more delicate than I would have liked. I laid in a piece of waxed paper to keep the brushed on resin from getting all over the leather.

 Once the hinges were fused in place, I could remove the whole assembly (another up side to the screw method) and they were ready to paint.

I had actually already started painting these before I remembered that I wanted to add some scrapbooking "dots" as rivet heads, so I had to paint them over again.

Finishing off the clasp presented a challenge. Even with the 4" wood screws in the text block, the cover would have a little flex to it. My resin clasp would have none, creating stress that could crack the clasp, or pop the glue holding it to the cover. I needed a way to give the clasp a little flex too. Then it dawned on me. In the past when I had made hinges for books- working hinges, I used a piece of leather as a backing and glued the ridged metal hasp parts to it. So, I measured the distance the clap needed to bridge and cut a piece of leather to fit. I used a thick piece of black latigo leather and glued it to the back side of the resin clasp pieces. Then a made another bridging piece out of sculpey and sanded it to fit in the gap between the two resin pieces. I also found a use for those extra hinge pieces I had made earlier. The bridging piece and the faux hinges were glued to the leather backing, not to each other or the resin pieces. This allowed them to "float" a bit and slide over each other as the piece flexed a little.

Now that all the pieces had been fabricated, they all got a primer coat of flat black paint. Then, they got dry brushed with metallic finish paint that contains actual steel as the pigment. Here is our first really good look at what the book will look like. The end is in sight.

Now that all the fabricating and test fitting was done, I could glue the text block into its cover.

And then send the resin pieces over for their final paint effects. I decided to go with rusted iron for the look of the bindings. The effect comes from a two part kit from Rustolium. I don't know if they make it anymore, as I can't find it on their website. I had used this kit once before while doing the iron bindings on the chest for the Black Duke project. But I didn't have a lot of experience with it. One thing I added this time, was to sprinkle some play sand onto the wet paint in spots. This gave a very grainy, granular texture, like real crumbling rust.

Finally, the finishing touches. Once all the pieces were secured in place, the areas around the pieces were dry brushed with green, black, brown and purple to simulate the build up of grime on the cover and in the recesses. I also made some cuts in the cover with an xacto knife and widened them with the mini butane torch.

 That's it! Build complete. It was a very complex project, but I think it is my best work to date. I'm also very excited to see it on film. Filming has wrapped on Doctor Glamour and they are now in post production. It will still be about eight months before the film is finished, since just about the whole thing is green screen.

Now, here come the glamor shots...

See also:

Doctor Glamour - Necronomicon (pt. 1)
Doctor Glamour - Necronomicon (pt. 2)
Doctor Glamour - De Vermis Mysteriis
Doctor Glamour (fini)


  1. Your build log and the Necronomicon itself are both incredible pieces of work. Congratulations on such a wonderful prop, and my sincere thanks for such an incredibly detailed record of it's creation. This is the kind of resource people are going to be using for years for come.

  2. This is just amazing. I have to ask, how much would you take to make a another one? Because this is the way (with some small alternation) I want my Necronomicon to look.
    Sorry for my english, I hope you understood my question.

  3. Please email me if you are interested in a commission. The details will make a big difference in cost. I would need to know exactly what you want before I could quote you a price.