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Vlad Tepes Shrine

Yesterday, I put the finishing touches on my Vlad Tepes Shrine. I cannot begin to count the hours it took to create this thing or the number of times something didn't quite work out right or look right. After these photos, I ended up lowering the "dinner scene" so that it was more centered on that bloody field of red.

I first started this piece with the red background and knew I was aiming at making a vampire shrine because, well, I have a thing for vampires. After staring at an image of Vlad Tepes in his iconic crown, I knew I wanted to try to recreate it.

The crown is a piece of wood with glass pearls, a heat-treated bronze star, and a rhinestone "ruby." I used a special clay to mount the pearls and painted a metallic gray layer over the clay, adding black paint with a dry brush to make it "grungy" before mounting the bronze piece.

I created the bloody pikes by cutting down wooden dowel rods and running one end through an electric pencil sharpener. I added stain  in brown and red then covered in my go-to: Glossy Accents. I used the special clay to mount them in the frame and added black paint. The bones are just plastic table decorations from Halloween that I covered with a metal paint and a rusting agent. I did the same to the lozenge-shaped doorknob mount. I found the dragon at a craft store in the jewelry aisle. I knew Vlad's father was a member of the Order of the Dragon, so I couldn't pass it up.

In one of my many books on vampires, there is a wonderful image of an old carved wooden print depicting Vlad dining amidst the slumped bodies impaled on wooden pikes. I wanted to include this image, but didn't just want to tea-stain paper...I wanted something different. As I worked on other parts of this piece, I remembered I had Shrinky Dinks paper and thought that would be an unexpected twist. I traced as much of the image as I could, worried that the many lines in the original print would just blur together as the plastic shrunk. In the end, I could have added more, but it was a good learning experience! When the plastic shrunk, it had a slight "wobble" to it that looks neat in-person. I tried to stain the finished piece, but the plastic wouldn't take it. If I try that again, I think I'll color the plastic with faint colored pencil before baking it.

All in all, I am very pleased with the outcome of this piece and learned a lot of new tricks. I've also developed quite a fixation on rusting things that normally don't rust...


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