Here is a work-in-progress of a prop I am working on for a speculative Call of Cthulhu roleplaying scenario.
It is an amazing game, where you play characters who navigate the world of H.P Lovecraft – a universe of unimaginable cosmic horror and mind-shattering madness, where there is no meaning to life and the best fate you can hope for is death.
Blasphemous and mindless things creep and slither and undulate in the fungal darkness, inflicting terror and insanity on humankind. A bit like Monopoly. But a lot more fun.
This actually began life as the concept of my great English novel (which I haven’t got the discipline to write) – the tale of a man who was born covered in tattoos which foretell the misfortunes and misadventures of his life as a sailor in the 19th century. This tattooed skin would eventually become bound in a book that tells his story.
First up, I sculpted the face in plasticine. It’s very shallow, mostly just a few millimetres thick. Then I created a plaster mould with the intention of casting the face in latex, which should hopefully offer a more skin-like texture to the final product. I’ll hopefully be able to paint the latex, sew up the mouth and eyes, and somehow fit it to an actual book.
I’m hoping the plasticiney texture will work nicely as sloughed skin. I realise that there would be no bone definition to the face in reality, but I have to take some artistic liberties to make it work, and hey perhaps the book-binder added some padding?
It’s ended up looking alarmingly like Donald Trump. I’m hoping that this is more a consequence of the colour of the plasticine rather than the facial features.
There is an interesting and gruesome history to human skin-bound books. Many of the genuine ones in existence are 19th century bindings, and often using the skins of condemned criminals. Here is an interesting BBC article about it.
This piece should sit nicely side by side with my Hand of Glory in the Cabinet of Monsters Museum of Horrors.