Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Last month at work

As I've mentioned earlier I'm working at the mine museum in Falun, and last week we finished off the biggest new exhibition in the museum since the 1960's. We are basically rebuilding the whole museum and next year it will be totally finished. This year we opened the largest part though, which is about the heydey of the mine in the 17th and 18th centuries. The last few weeks were really hectic, in fact when I posted about my trip to the medieval fair in Leksand, well that was my only day off, and I've been working well into the late evenings as well. Outside of arranging the geological part of the exhibition, I did get to have some fun with my costuming/cosplay skills.

I have carved charcoal into smaller pieces that could fit a model of sled, and I made mini-blankets and halters for some wooden horses. (it's part of a miniature stable where you can take the horses out and play with them). I also had to weather some copper to make it look like it had been down in the mine for more than 40 years.

The copper was a snuff box and at first I thought that I would actually put it in a bucket of mine water, which is very corrosive, but I figured that it would be easier and less messy to weather it myself.

I don't have any before photos, but it was a brand new snuff box in shiny copper. On the outside I first dabbed some green paint on it and wiped most of it off with some tissue, then I did the same with black paint. I did this two times over. The inside, which was tin coloured, I only used the black paint. In the box you can also see the fake snuff that I made by grinding coffee and black tea together. In the end the snuff box was put in the exhibition with the lid on, so outside of this blog nobody will see the inside or the snuff.

Even more fun than weathering was to create fake blood. A part of the exhibition is about the health care and social security for the workers, and horses. The workers were provided with the best the 16th century could offer, unfortunately that wasn't much. As a visitor you get the chance to experience what it's like to amputate a leg.

The producer of the exhibit and one of my colleagues
When the leg arrived, it was just a leg wound in some white fabric, so me and the producer agreed that it had to look more realistic. I volunteered to fix that.

Now looking up fake blood wasn't totally easy. Most fake blood recipes are based on sugar/glucose and sticky and messy. We can't have our visitors getting stains on them, so the blood had to be dry, but still look good. I went up into my dye box that I have in the attic and found that I had some Dylon terracotta fabric dye. Blood is a lot browner than most people think so I started with just a few grams of the dye and water, to that I added some regular red hobby paint. The paint didn't quite mix with the water, so there were still some lumps in it, perfect for looking like blood cloths.

The blood was very thin and runny. I splashed it onto the leg with a big brush, and also poured some of it down the sides so it ran down on the table. I felt that the wound still looked to clean though, so I took some beeswax and melted it and poured it on the leg as well. Then another round of the fake blood so that the wax was covered. To finish the leg I took a piece of wool cloth and covered the upper part of the leg, to make it look like a trouser leg. But first I made sure to go over the cloth with a knife to thin out the fabric and make holes in it. I also used black paint and more of the fake blood to weather the cloth.

I'm really satisfied with the result, and the fact that people who've seen it have commented on that it look scarily realistic.

Here is an article about the new exhibition, in Swedish.

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