It's another Holy Grail! In a box...

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Daeothar

New Member
Here it is, my first prop to be shown here on the RPF; my interpretation of the Holy Grail.

Grail60.jpg

First a bit of back story: back in uni, I studied Archaeology, and one of my buddies there has remained a lifelong friend. I eventually ended up not in archaeology at all, but my friend did. He moved to another country, but we stayed in touch, and we got into the habit of sending eachother birthday gifts that were often Indiana Jones related.

I'll be honest about this; the Indy movies did warm me up to archaeology, and when I started my studies I found out two things. One: virtually everyone who got into archaeology since the early eighties has an affinity for Indiany Jones ranging from kinda liking him, to wanting to be him. And two: actual archaeology is nothing like the Indy movies. But that was never a real surprise (be it maybe a tiny bit disappointing...).

So we have exchanged Indy gifts for years. Most were just themed cards, a wallet, or T-shirt, but last year, I decided to up the ante. I initially wanted to give him a replica of the fertility doll, but I was behind the wave, and they were starting to become expensive, especially if I wanted a real gold look, as opposed to a gold-colored plastic look. So my idea changed into giving a grail instead.

But I did not like the idea of resin or wooden versions; I'm a stickler for detail, and any archaeologist worth his salt would know what a carpenter's cup would look (and feel) like.

So I figured I'd create one out of air-drying clay; how difficult could that be, right? I used some parts from the garage to make a turn table, and decided to use a plastic 'glass' as a base. I sat down with my contraption, mail-ordered clay and a cup of water, and went to work.

It was a disaster...

In the end, I had to admit defeat, and had to bin the entire thing. Because that's what it was; a... thing.

But now my mind was set on giving my friend a grail, and a good looking one too! So I looked up a whole string of potters in the area, asking them if they would be able and willing to turn/throw such an object (I had, by that time, plenty of reference material), but also for a reasonable price and pretty soon too, as I was running out of time.

Eventually, one readily accepted the challenge and after a couple of weeks, I was able to collect a perfectly shaped version of Indiana Jones' grail cup. There was just one hurdle: it was made from fired white clay, and not red as in the film!

Grail01.jpg

And there is where I faltered and lost momentum; I'm afraid my friend did not receive a grail last year, and the cup sat on my workbench for months, taunting me in its unfinished whiteness, all the while reminding me that I had not sent it off as a gift...

But I finally figured out a way around the clay color, as I read up on gilding ceramics. Apparently, the traditional basis for gilding to adhere to was a a powdered clay, containing iron-oxide, which needs to be mixed with water and painted on.

Which is what I did, and the result was perfect; I now had a red clay cup. And if it ever becomes clear that it is white on the inside, I suppose the cup will be beyond repair anyway!

Grail02.jpg

Then came the gilding: I did not use actual gold leaf, but rather an imitation product from the arts and crafts store. Still; it did look the part and was a heck of a lot cheaper too. The actual 'gilding' was done using watered down PVA glue, brushed onto the clay, with the 'gold' leaf pieces carefully placed on top, and then brushed flat onto the surface with a soft brush.

The fact that I was completely new to this process actually helped making the end result look worn and damaged. I started with the inside of the cup, and then moved to the outside. On the outside surface, since that would be obviously handled the most, I ended up brushing watered down PVA glue on top ofthe 'gold' leaf too, to give it a bit more protection, as I found the goldleaf to be rather fragile otherwise.

But that was after I made a start weathering the cup. First by simply handling it a lot, wringing my hands around the stem and bowl, wiping it down with a cloth and scratching it here and there.

Grail10.jpg

Then, after the watered down glue, I applied several pigment powders; a light grey-green, a rust colour and a sooty black, first brushing them on, then rubbing them in, and finally doing some passes with wet powders. The bottom especially received much attention, as this would be the surface having the most contact with other surfaces, and thus the most wear and tear.

All the while though, I had been thinking about how to present the grail. I already knew I wanted to send it to him without any warning, creating a little back story of how I came into possession of it and sending it to him for safekeeping. A lively imagination is an asset we both have retained in abundance, and I was sure he would appreciate this little spiel.

So I imagined that after the events in The Last Crusade, some (secret, obviously) offshoot of the Knights Templar would have recovered the grail from the ruins of Petra the Temple of the Sun, and hidden it somewhere obscure. Some tumultuous times and a world war later, and nobody actually knew it had been hidden there, or even existed, languishing forgotten in some dark storage depot for the better part of a century.

So I had to 'find' it in some obscure museum's depot, and luckily, I knew exactly where! In college, I read an entertaining book called The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail. I'll spare you the pseudo-scientific details, conspiracy theories and wishful thinking in the book, but it centered around the idea that the holy grail ended up in/under a parish church in the south of France, or possibly Jesus of Nazareth's bloodline (Dan Brown's DaVinci Code was heavily based on this notion).

So I decided to create a museum storage box to contain the grail, and make it look like it had been (improperly) stored for (at least) decades in the museum at Rennes le Chateau (the village from the book. I've visited it myself, and trust me; sub-par artifact storage is very plausible).

I searched for the longest time for a suitable, old crate or box, but none came along, and like last year, the clock was ticking ever so loudly. So I eventually settled on making my own. This had the added advantage of getting the dimensions just right, and also, I could turn it into a display case, as I had some ideas about that.

So I bought a large sheet of 2mm thick card board, and measured out my design.

Grail13.jpg

Then, I had to make sure the folds would not break, as the card was too thick to fold unaided, and I have no access to the required folding machines. So I cut out triangular trenches on the insides of all folds.

I initially tried using a triangular gauge, but the structure of the card was such, that it bunched almost immediately, so I resorted to a more risky approach; using an X-Acto knife to make two opposing cuts at a 45 degree angle. I had to change out blades 3 times, as paper/card is just too abbrassive for any blade to keep an edge for very long. This eventually worked very well, but not after another, major hurdle along the way.

Grail17.jpg

After watching several tutorial videos on Youtube, detailing the aging of paper, I was confident I could pull this off on my (still flat) box. It was just a matter of scale; for regular Letter or A4 paper, a simple oven tray is usually enough to dip the entire sheets in, but I had to think bigger.

Much bigger.

So I appropriated the inflatable kiddiepool in our backyard (my wife and daughter were visiting family for a couple of days, so no distracting questions or interruptions), filled it with enoug water to submerge the sheet (and then some) and tossed in a whole load of tea bags (Earl Grey and English Bled, if you're wondering) and the contents of several coffee machine cups.

Grail18.jpg

And in the sheet went. So far so good, but then I decided it would be time to take it back out...

Which is when I discovered that it stuck to the bottom of the pool as if it had been glued, and trying to pull it out would result in it being torn to shreds. Completely soaked, pulpy shreds. And as it turns out, the card sheet also consisted of several glued together layers, which started to come loose. Panic ensued, and I now had to try and save what I could.

Grail19.jpg

I propped the pool up, so the sheet lay free of the tea/coffee, but taking it out in one piece proved to be impossible, and in the end I had to cut the template in two, at the fold where the lid attached to the box.

Ok, so that kind of worked, but now I would have to dry the parts again. I broke out a heat gun, normally used to remove paint, and carefully started to try and dry the things. But it had no significant effect. Mind; this was around 2200h already, and the thing is not exactly quiet, so sparing the neighbours, I decided to try another tactic.

The electric kitchen oven.

And here it was a good thing that I had cut the sheet in half, because now both parts (with some bending) actually fit in. I set the oven to 150 degrees (Celsius), using the grill function, which means a fan is blowing as well. Each part was heated in there for about an hour or so.

This worked, although the house now strongly smelled of baking wet cardboard. No problem; I was still home alone, so I just opened some more windows and ignored the cat's protests.

The next morning, I surveyed the damage, and it was dire. The card had warped dramatically, and had become seperated into three layers for the most part; two thinner outside layers, and a thicker inside one. And as I cut all those triangular trenches, two of the three layers had come off in parts too.

So I then proceeded to puzzle and glue all the layers back together, using PVA glue. I laid them down on a plastic sheet on the floor, put another plastic sheet over it, placed some 18mm MDF I had lying around on top, and placed as many heavy things on top of that as I could find and let this dry for at least a day.

And this worked very well! The parts were whole again, and what's more; the aging process actually worked! All that dragging around, putting it down, wet, on the dirty, sandy ground, heating it up etc had left just the right effect on the material and I was very relieved that this project had not only been saved, but was now back on track!

While the above was happening, I had also started preparing the staples I needed to assemble the box. I actually had a hard time finding suitable ones, as most, these days, are much thinner than the type I wanted, and also many have been coated with zinc, or some other corrosion resistant material.

But eventually I found some plain steel ones of a suitable width. Too bad I had to buy them in a box of 1000, while I only needed 10, but at least I won't be lacking for steel staples for a while...

I seperated a batch of them, and put them in a mix of lemon juice and vinegar. This was put in a small ceramic bowl, covered with aluminum foil, and then, you guessed it, put in the oven for a while. I had to repeat the process twice; it turns out the first round only removed a clear coating still covering the staples; probably the glue holding them together. So with that gone, a second acid sauna gave the steel a pleasing weathered dark colour, as intended.

Grail14.jpg

Finally, I let them sit on my desk on a paper towel soaked in water for the night, and the next morning, they were all rusted. Succes!

Then came the moment to start assembling the box.

This step was fairly easy, as it turned out. I pre-drilled holes for the staples with a small drill first, because I put them in manually (I do not have a machine that can handle this type of staple; I suppose I will still have 990 wide, steel staples by the time I retire...). I did glue the flaps with PVA glue as well, for added durability.

I had also bought some fabric tape, of a grey color, which I used when assembling the box. I used it on a corner, and on the connection between the lid and box. There really was no way around that anyway; the parts were seperate now, and this was the only way of re-attaching them in a structurally sound manner. But it added to the worn look of the box too, so I was again pleased with the result.

Grail21.jpg

Then it was time to continue the weathering process.

I brewed some more of the tried and tested tea/coffee mix, and manually applied it to the box here and there, where I thought it needed more weathering. I did this in several ways; dripping, rubbing, and even using a mug to create a ring on the top of the lid!

Grail39.jpg

This was also the moment I broke out the pigment powders again, and went to town with grey/green and black. I gave special attention to the line where the lid fits over the box, darkening this considerably, so when the box is opened, a clear line is visible.

Grail35.jpg

For the labels, I unearthed my trusty typewriter, sourced some suitable paper from my stash, and created two box labels and a tag. those were aged with the tea/coffee mix, plus some powders, roughing up of the edges and rough manual handling. the labels were then glued into and onto the box, and the tag was attached to the stem of the grail with a piece of (already old!) string, that I also aged with sanding paper and, again, the tea/coffee blend.

Grail36.jpg

Grail37.jpg

Grail38.jpg

Grail40.jpg

Some research also went into what to put onto the labels too; I ended up applying a common numbering system used by museums, and the description (in French, obviously) was ambiguous on purpose. There had to be a reason it got forgotten in the bowels of a depot after all.

By the way; I saw that another member here did the tag as well, but only after I had come up with the idea myself. So great minds, and all that...

With the box ready, I now had to fill it with a padding material. Period padding was often hay, and my initial idea was to find actual old hay, in old furniture that was being restored. I know of several places around town where I might be able to get my hands on 80 year old hay, which would be thoroughly dry and nicely browned with age.

But pressed for time as I was, I ended up getting a bag of hay at the local pet store. Of course I had to dry it some more, as there was still quite some green in there. So back to my trusty oven...

I slow-baked the required amount at 75 degrees for an hour or two and the hay was noticably drier, but not particularly browner. I could have soaked the hay in coffee first perhaps, but that would have dramatically increased the drying process of course. Still, I judged it aged just enough to be passable, and in the box it went. I used two large clumps; the largest in the box, holding the grail, and a second, slightly smaller one, on top of that.

Grail42.jpg

Grail45.jpg

And with closing the box, the job was done! After a journey that took a full year, I finally had the end result sitting on my desk, and it was a joy to behold. I was very, very happy with the result.

So after showing it off to my local friends, the next day I packed it up, well padded inside another box, and sent it on its way to my friend. It took the better part of a week to get to him, but yesterday he called me to thank me for the gift. He was over the moon with it, also because he never knew it was coming.

Concluding, I am now certain I will be undertaking many more projects like this, as I absolutely loved every bit of the process. Ok; maybe not the near disaster with the kiddiepool, but as the inimitable Bob Ross used to say: 'happy little accidents'. Interestingly, the box proved to be much more work than the actual grail, but they are supposed to work together to tell their story, so that's fine I suppose. At least I learned a lot along the way and it turned out pretty great after all.

Finally; I'm sorry for the humongous wall of text, but I wanted to describe the entire process as detailed as possible, and I'm obviously not capable of being brief.

I'll work on that.

But at least there's plenty of pictures to illuminate the manuscript! :)

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Grail56.jpg
 

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airhead

Sr Member
Great story! And Thanks for all of the detail - much better than just a "Here's a thing that I built" post. Your background obviously adds to the authentic feel of the finished product. I'm sure that you will find plenty of source material for future projects here at the RPF.

David
 

RobertMuldoon

Well-Known Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
As an FYI for next time, the galvanised staples and paper clips can have their galv removed easily by just heating with a blowtorch. Do it outside though, as it gives off some nasty vapours. You should be able to rust them if you need to after that too. I typically heat them to red hot and quench in water.
 

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Daeothar

New Member
Thanks for the reactions so far; much appreciated :)

As an FYI for next time, the galvanised staples and paper clips can have their galv removed easily by just heating with a blowtorch. Do it outside though, as it gives off some nasty vapours. You should be able to rust them if you need to after that too. I typically heat them to red hot and quench in water.

And thank you for the info; that's certainly something to remember for the next time I'll be aging stuff! :thumbsup
 

g0rb

Active Member
I love all the little details you thought of, this is a beautiful gift. I know I would have been stoked to get it!
 

PlanetAlexander

Active Member
Can I get in on this friendship...?
Truly amazing build with a great story of dedication (that I'm sure we can all learn from!). I grew up being a massive Indiana Jones nerd, so I really appreciate the work put into this.
 

ecl

Sr Member
Wonderful work and presentation! I really like that you focused on the overall presentation and not just the prop itself. I think the box itself looks spectacular, and the entire piece feels more like a relic than a prop. The way the lid folds under to form a kind of display for the Grail is very smart. That’s the right way to approach these projects! thanks for sharing.
 

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Chimera59

New Member
Really interessant post! And great presentation idea!!
It confirm my though of the importance of good display. It can brings so much... !

Really well done !

Thanks for sharing

- François
 
Last edited:

Petertiger

Active Member
Here it is, my first prop to be shown here on the RPF; my interpretation of the Holy Grail.

View attachment 837472

First a bit of back story: back in uni, I studied Archaeology, and one of my buddies there has remained a lifelong friend. I eventually ended up not in archaeology at all, but my friend did. He moved to another country, but we stayed in touch, and we got into the habit of sending eachother birthday gifts that were often Indiana Jones related.

I'll be honest about this; the Indy movies did warm me up to archaeology, and when I started my studies I found out two things. One: virtually everyone who got into archaeology since the early eighties has an affinity for Indiany Jones ranging from kinda liking him, to wanting to be him. And two: actual archaeology is nothing like the Indy movies. But that was never a real surprise (be it maybe a tiny bit disappointing...).

So we have exchanged Indy gifts for years. Most were just themed cards, a wallet, or T-shirt, but last year, I decided to up the ante. I initially wanted to give him a replica of the fertility doll, but I was behind the wave, and they were starting to become expensive, especially if I wanted a real gold look, as opposed to a gold-colored plastic look. So my idea changed into giving a grail instead.

But I did not like the idea of resin or wooden versions; I'm a stickler for detail, and any archaeologist worth his salt would know what a carpenter's cup would look (and feel) like.

So I figured I'd create one out of air-drying clay; how difficult could that be, right? I used some parts from the garage to make a turn table, and decided to use a plastic 'glass' as a base. I sat down with my contraption, mail-ordered clay and a cup of water, and went to work.

It was a disaster...

In the end, I had to admit defeat, and had to bin the entire thing. Because that's what it was; a... thing.

But now my mind was set on giving my friend a grail, and a good looking one too! So I looked up a whole string of potters in the area, asking them if they would be able and willing to turn/throw such an object (I had, by that time, plenty of reference material), but also for a reasonable price and pretty soon too, as I was running out of time.

Eventually, one readily accepted the challenge and after a couple of weeks, I was able to collect a perfectly shaped version of Indiana Jones' grail cup. There was just one hurdle: it was made from fired white clay, and not red as in the film!

View attachment 837473

And there is where I faltered and lost momentum; I'm afraid my friend did not receive a grail last year, and the cup sat on my workbench for months, taunting me in its unfinished whiteness, all the while reminding me that I had not sent it off as a gift...

But I finally figured out a way around the clay color, as I read up on gilding ceramics. Apparently, the traditional basis for gilding to adhere to was a a powdered clay, containing iron-oxide, which needs to be mixed with water and painted on.

Which is what I did, and the result was perfect; I now had a red clay cup. And if it ever becomes clear that it is white on the inside, I suppose the cup will be beyond repair anyway!

View attachment 837474

Then came the gilding: I did not use actual gold leaf, but rather an imitation product from the arts and crafts store. Still; it did look the part and was a heck of a lot cheaper too. The actual 'gilding' was done using watered down PVA glue, brushed onto the clay, with the 'gold' leaf pieces carefully placed on top, and then brushed flat onto the surface with a soft brush.

The fact that I was completely new to this process actually helped making the end result look worn and damaged. I started with the inside of the cup, and then moved to the outside. On the outside surface, since that would be obviously handled the most, I ended up brushing watered down PVA glue on top ofthe 'gold' leaf too, to give it a bit more protection, as I found the goldleaf to be rather fragile otherwise.

But that was after I made a start weathering the cup. First by simply handling it a lot, wringing my hands around the stem and bowl, wiping it down with a cloth and scratching it here and there.

View attachment 837475

Then, after the watered down glue, I applied several pigment powders; a light grey-green, a rust colour and a sooty black, first brushing them on, then rubbing them in, and finally doing some passes with wet powders. The bottom especially received much attention, as this would be the surface having the most contact with other surfaces, and thus the most wear and tear.

All the while though, I had been thinking about how to present the grail. I already knew I wanted to send it to him without any warning, creating a little back story of how I came into possession of it and sending it to him for safekeeping. A lively imagination is an asset we both have retained in abundance, and I was sure he would appreciate this little spiel.

So I imagined that after the events in The Last Crusade, some (secret, obviously) offshoot of the Knights Templar would have recovered the grail from the ruins of Petra the Temple of the Sun, and hidden it somewhere obscure. Some tumultuous times and a world war later, and nobody actually knew it had been hidden there, or even existed, languishing forgotten in some dark storage depot for the better part of a century.

So I had to 'find' it in some obscure museum's depot, and luckily, I knew exactly where! In college, I read an entertaining book called The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail. I'll spare you the pseudo-scientific details, conspiracy theories and wishful thinking in the book, but it centered around the idea that the holy grail ended up in/under a parish church in the south of France, or possibly Jesus of Nazareth's bloodline (Dan Brown's DaVinci Code was heavily based on this notion).

So I decided to create a museum storage box to contain the grail, and make it look like it had been (improperly) stored for (at least) decades in the museum at Rennes le Chateau (the village from the book. I've visited it myself, and trust me; sub-par artifact storage is very plausible).

I searched for the longest time for a suitable, old crate or box, but none came along, and like last year, the clock was ticking ever so loudly. So I eventually settled on making my own. This had the added advantage of getting the dimensions just right, and also, I could turn it into a display case, as I had some ideas about that.

So I bought a large sheet of 2mm thick card board, and measured out my design.

View attachment 837476

Then, I had to make sure the folds would not break, as the card was too thick to fold unaided, and I have no access to the required folding machines. So I cut out triangular trenches on the insides of all folds.

I initially tried using a triangular gauge, but the structure of the card was such, that it bunched almost immediately, so I resorted to a more risky approach; using an X-Acto knife to make two opposing cuts at a 45 degree angle. I had to change out blades 3 times, as paper/card is just too abbrassive for any blade to keep an edge for very long. This eventually worked very well, but not after another, major hurdle along the way.

View attachment 837477

After watching several tutorial videos on Youtube, detailing the aging of paper, I was confident I could pull this off on my (still flat) box. It was just a matter of scale; for regular Letter or A4 paper, a simple oven tray is usually enough to dip the entire sheets in, but I had to think bigger.

Much bigger.

So I appropriated the inflatable kiddiepool in our backyard (my wife and daughter were visiting family for a couple of days, so no distracting questions or interruptions), filled it with enoug water to submerge the sheet (and then some) and tossed in a whole load of tea bags (Earl Grey and English Bled, if you're wondering) and the contents of several coffee machine cups.

View attachment 837478

And in the sheet went. So far so good, but then I decided it would be time to take it back out...

Which is when I discovered that it stuck to the bottom of the pool as if it had been glued, and trying to pull it out would result in it being torn to shreds. Completely soaked, pulpy shreds. And as it turns out, the card sheet also consisted of several glued together layers, which started to come loose. Panic ensued, and I now had to try and save what I could.

View attachment 837479

I propped the pool up, so the sheet lay free of the tea/coffee, but taking it out in one piece proved to be impossible, and in the end I had to cut the template in two, at the fold where the lid attached to the box.

Ok, so that kind of worked, but now I would have to dry the parts again. I broke out a heat gun, normally used to remove paint, and carefully started to try and dry the things. But it had no significant effect. Mind; this was around 2200h already, and the thing is not exactly quiet, so sparing the neighbours, I decided to try another tactic.

The electric kitchen oven.

And here it was a good thing that I had cut the sheet in half, because now both parts (with some bending) actually fit in. I set the oven to 150 degrees (Celsius), using the grill function, which means a fan is blowing as well. Each part was heated in there for about an hour or so.

This worked, although the house now strongly smelled of baking wet cardboard. No problem; I was still home alone, so I just opened some more windows and ignored the cat's protests.

The next morning, I surveyed the damage, and it was dire. The card had warped dramatically, and had become seperated into three layers for the most part; two thinner outside layers, and a thicker inside one. And as I cut all those triangular trenches, two of the three layers had come off in parts too.

So I then proceeded to puzzle and glue all the layers back together, using PVA glue. I laid them down on a plastic sheet on the floor, put another plastic sheet over it, placed some 18mm MDF I had lying around on top, and placed as many heavy things on top of that as I could find and let this dry for at least a day.

And this worked very well! The parts were whole again, and what's more; the aging process actually worked! All that dragging around, putting it down, wet, on the dirty, sandy ground, heating it up etc had left just the right effect on the material and I was very relieved that this project had not only been saved, but was now back on track!

While the above was happening, I had also started preparing the staples I needed to assemble the box. I actually had a hard time finding suitable ones, as most, these days, are much thinner than the type I wanted, and also many have been coated with zinc, or some other corrosion resistant material.

But eventually I found some plain steel ones of a suitable width. Too bad I had to buy them in a box of 1000, while I only needed 10, but at least I won't be lacking for steel staples for a while...

I seperated a batch of them, and put them in a mix of lemon juice and vinegar. This was put in a small ceramic bowl, covered with aluminum foil, and then, you guessed it, put in the oven for a while. I had to repeat the process twice; it turns out the first round only removed a clear coating still covering the staples; probably the glue holding them together. So with that gone, a second acid sauna gave the steel a pleasing weathered dark colour, as intended.

View attachment 837480

Finally, I let them sit on my desk on a paper towel soaked in water for the night, and the next morning, they were all rusted. Succes!

Then came the moment to start assembling the box.

This step was fairly easy, as it turned out. I pre-drilled holes for the staples with a small drill first, because I put them in manually (I do not have a machine that can handle this type of staple; I suppose I will still have 990 wide, steel staples by the time I retire...). I did glue the flaps with PVA glue as well, for added durability.

I had also bought some fabric tape, of a grey color, which I used when assembling the box. I used it on a corner, and on the connection between the lid and box. There really was no way around that anyway; the parts were seperate now, and this was the only way of re-attaching them in a structurally sound manner. But it added to the worn look of the box too, so I was again pleased with the result.

View attachment 837481

Then it was time to continue the weathering process.

I brewed some more of the tried and tested tea/coffee mix, and manually applied it to the box here and there, where I thought it needed more weathering. I did this in several ways; dripping, rubbing, and even using a mug to create a ring on the top of the lid!

View attachment 837482

This was also the moment I broke out the pigment powders again, and went to town with grey/green and black. I gave special attention to the line where the lid fits over the box, darkening this considerably, so when the box is opened, a clear line is visible.

View attachment 837483

For the labels, I unearthed my trusty typewriter, sourced some suitable paper from my stash, and created two box labels and a tag. those were aged with the tea/coffee mix, plus some powders, roughing up of the edges and rough manual handling. the labels were then glued into and onto the box, and the tag was attached to the stem of the grail with a piece of (already old!) string, that I also aged with sanding paper and, again, the tea/coffee blend.

View attachment 837484

View attachment 837485

View attachment 837486

View attachment 837487

Some research also went into what to put onto the labels too; I ended up applying a common numbering system used by museums, and the description (in French, obviously) was ambiguous on purpose. There had to be a reason it got forgotten in the bowels of a depot after all.

By the way; I saw that another member here did the tag as well, but only after I had come up with the idea myself. So great minds, and all that...

With the box ready, I now had to fill it with a padding material. Period padding was often hay, and my initial idea was to find actual old hay, in old furniture that was being restored. I know of several places around town where I might be able to get my hands on 80 year old hay, which would be thoroughly dry and nicely browned with age.

But pressed for time as I was, I ended up getting a bag of hay at the local pet store. Of course I had to dry it some more, as there was still quite some green in there. So back to my trusty oven...

I slow-baked the required amount at 75 degrees for an hour or two and the hay was noticably drier, but not particularly browner. I could have soaked the hay in coffee first perhaps, but that would have dramatically increased the drying process of course. Still, I judged it aged just enough to be passable, and in the box it went. I used two large clumps; the largest in the box, holding the grail, and a second, slightly smaller one, on top of that.

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And with closing the box, the job was done! After a journey that took a full year, I finally had the end result sitting on my desk, and it was a joy to behold. I was very, very happy with the result.

So after showing it off to my local friends, the next day I packed it up, well padded inside another box, and sent it on its way to my friend. It took the better part of a week to get to him, but yesterday he called me to thank me for the gift. He was over the moon with it, also because he never knew it was coming.

Concluding, I am now certain I will be undertaking many more projects like this, as I absolutely loved every bit of the process. Ok; maybe not the near disaster with the kiddiepool, but as the inimitable Bob Ross used to say: 'happy little accidents'. Interestingly, the box proved to be much more work than the actual grail, but they are supposed to work together to tell their story, so that's fine I suppose. At least I learned a lot along the way and it turned out pretty great after all.

Finally; I'm sorry for the humongous wall of text, but I wanted to describe the entire process as detailed as possible, and I'm obviously not capable of being brief.

I'll work on that.

But at least there's plenty of pictures to illuminate the manuscript! :)

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it's good to know I'm not the only one who as failed with air dry clay when it comes to making the Holy Grail.
 

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