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Topic: At the Mountains of (Cuddly) Madness: Elder Thing Dotee  (Read 435 times)
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EriChanHime
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« on: July 25, 2019 01:31:40 PM »



For our recent 2019 Dotee Swap, I was partnered with The Raging Sloth, who listed (among a bunch of other cool things) the Elder Thing from H. P. Lovecraft's novella "At the Mountains of Madness" and other short stories. I HAD TO! I had just read the novella for the first time a few months before, so the description of these radially symmetrical creatures was fresh in my mind:

Six feet end to end, three and five-tenths feet central diameter, tapering to one foot at each end. Like a barrel with five bulging ridges in place of staves. Lateral breakages, as of thinnish stalks, are at equator in middle of these ridges. In furrows between ridges are curious growthscombs or wings that fold up and spread out like fans ... which gives almost seven-foot wing spread. Arrangement reminds one of certain monsters of primal myth, especially fabled Elder Things in the Necronomicon.
--H. P. Lovecraft, At the Mountains of Madness


AND, I have a book with a painting of one (although there are many versions floating around on the internet, as well). I've had it since I was a pre-teen--found it in a stack of books in musty used books store in Alameda, CA--and it's an illustrated encyclopedia of creatures from formative science fiction series:


This was a dotee swap, so I needed to stay within about 6" in size, with some kind of tail. Since these creatures have tentacles on the bottom, with which they can swim and walk, I figured making dangly tentacles would be the way to go!

Armed with my inspirational illustration, I built two skeletons out of wire: one for the 5-pointed "head" and one for the tentacle attachment points. I sculpted over the wire frames with heavy-duty bake-able Sculpey clay. Each of the "foot" tentacles has a wire coming from the body end, which I planned to hang from the underside of the main "foot" area. I painted everything with acrylics and then sealed all the pieces.



Next, I made the body. It took a long time to decide how I wanted to render that 5-sided, textured shape. I based my end design on the felt cactus plushies you can find on the internet (they all have 6 peaks), and then once I had sewn everything together, I carefully cut off the extra "stave." Once I stuffed each channel, the tension of the filling hid the cut off seam. The body is made from soft grey jersey knit interlined with plain muslin to reduce stretch.



Next, he needed strange, membrane-y wings. I wanted them to be pose-able, and I didn't want to use fabric. After some experimentation, I decided on two layers of slightly crinkled plastic kitchen cling film (I used Saran), a layer of wire for the veins, covered in a second set of two layers of film. After pressing the layers tightly together, I heated them with a crafting heat gun (meant for stamp powder melting) to fuse the layers together. Finally, I painted them on both sides with a mix of black and white acrylic to get a pleasant grey.



Assembly time! On both body ends, I used a running stitch to gather the openings, ran heavy duty glue around the inside ridges of the clay pieces (I left them slightly hollow on purpose) and then tucked the fabric edges up inside the clay caps. After some drying, I used jewelry pliers to make the tentacle wires into hanging loops, and then attached them to the foot piece. At this point, I also wrapped his extra sensory tentacles (the plain wires sticking out from the clay foot piece) in grey embroidery floss and bent them into more dynamic positions.



For his hanging cord, I threaded several pieces of embroidery floss through one of the body segments, then did a square-4-strand braid with occasional beads added on. I used the good beads, y'all! Wink Lava stones and hematite and sparkly red glass with foil inside to match his coloring. I made a wire hook to hang him from and wrapped it in embroidery floss capped with a extra bead.



At this point, I was thinking: Yay, finished! Started photographing him and all, and then realized he had no arms! Poor darling. The original illustration has hand tentacles, that are described as branching twice (one tentacle that branches into five, that each branch again into five, for a total of 25 "fingers"). Id given up on managing that in clay, but then at the last minute I decided to try floss. I made three to cover the front part of his body that you see. Each tentacle starts with 3 sets of 5 individual floss strands. I tied knots down those to secure them into bundles, and then I wrapped each bundle together to form one main stalk. I used an awl to wiggle a hole in the body fabric, tucked each tentacle bundle into place, and then hand-stitched them down inside. Success! Grin



NOW hes complete. Cheesy Originally I planned to attach his wings, but in the end it worked better to leave them separate. The tension between his body segments means that you can tuck his wings anywhere you want, at whatever angle you want, and they stay in place! (Bonusthey were much easier to ship safely being flat) He totally still counts as a dotee, because he is almost exactly 6 top to bottom, not counting his tentacles (totally his "tail"). Wink The tentacles dangle freely like little wind chimes of doom when he is hanging, but they are strong enough to support his weight, and he can actually stand on them without any additional support.

I must say that he turned out even better than I had hoped, and I absolutely ADORE him. I named him Binky, because I am a sentimental dork, but Im sure Raging Sloth may wish to give him a new name. *snicker* I was so excited for her to have him, and he fits beautifully with her other personal Lovecraft crafts. I had such fun working on him, improving my sculpting and miniature painting skills, problem solving for making something with 5-way radial symmetry, and making my first ever dotee! It was awesome!

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« Reply #1 on: July 25, 2019 02:52:14 PM »

That is crazy amazing!
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« Reply #2 on: July 25, 2019 09:21:27 PM »

Incredibly well done... great detailed info on creating ir...
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EriChanHime
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« Reply #3 on: July 26, 2019 08:26:31 AM »

That is crazy amazing!

Thank you! Cheesy

Incredibly well done... great detailed info on creating ir...

Appreciate that! I know I love looking at step-by-steps on other people's projects, so I definitely try. Smiley
« Last Edit: July 26, 2019 08:26:47 AM by EriChanHime » THIS ROCKS   Logged

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« Reply #4 on: July 30, 2019 02:49:20 PM »

Wonderful mixed media interpretation of a classic critter with some very unique anatomy!

That Barlowe's Guide to Extraterrestrials book is indeed awesome (my older sister checked it out from the high school library when I was a little boy and the artwork definitely left an impression on me).  He also did a similar companion book of mythical creatures/characters from literature that you should also consider checking out if you haven't already done so.
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EriChanHime
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« Reply #5 on: July 31, 2019 01:33:03 PM »

Wonderful mixed media interpretation of a classic critter with some very unique anatomy!

That Barlowe's Guide to Extraterrestrials book is indeed awesome (my older sister checked it out from the high school library when I was a little boy and the artwork definitely left an impression on me).  He also did a similar companion book of mythical creatures/characters from literature that you should also consider checking out if you haven't already done so.

Thank you so much! Trying to do things in fives definitely took thought, since it's not a flat symmetry. Smiley I love him, though.

I will definitely go see if I can find the Mythological companion to the Extraterrestrial book from the library! I'd not seen that one before. *excited!*



Here's an extra picture that shows the little dude's hanging cord and hook more clearly. This was without wings, and before I'd figured out how to do his arm tentacles. Smiley
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« Reply #6 on: July 31, 2019 01:38:38 PM »

Congrats! This has been chosen as a Featured Project! Smiley
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« Reply #7 on: July 31, 2019 09:01:14 PM »

I love my Elder Thing so much! Your work on him was ingenious!! So cool that you showed your progress.
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EriChanHime
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« Reply #8 on: August 01, 2019 09:20:33 AM »

Congrats! This has been chosen as a Featured Project! Smiley

Thank you all so much!! Cheesy

I love my Elder Thing so much! Your work on him was ingenious!! So cool that you showed your progress.

Woo-hoo!!! Thank you! I'm so happy that you are enjoying him. *heart* I had so much fun figuring out how to make him work. He's such a sweet creature of eldritch horror. Wink
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« Reply #9 on: August 01, 2019 06:55:30 PM »

Here's the book I'm talking about:

https://www.amazon.com/Barlowes-Guide-Fantasy-Douglas-Barlowe/dp/0061052388
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