Friday, May 21, 2010

Let's Make Stuff: The Dice Box of Liveliest Awfullness

Alchemy is real. All you have to do is take a cheap wooden box from a craft store, a hot glue gun, some Sculpey and a can of black spraypaint. Mix them together and you get pure Metal.*

It's a common conceit that all DMs have a prop. Tycho has his cape. This... thing had his little hat, there.

I, personally, have never witnessed such a thing. If you're a gamemaster and you do adorn yourself in something to signify said title, perhaps something definable as garb, I'd love to hear about it.

But I do like atmospheric doo-dads, doubly-so when they are functional and double-dog-daredly so when I can make it myself. Enter... The Cube Box!

The pentagram at the top is actually an Elder Sign, a thing that's supposed to offer protection from all the evils of the universe in the Call of Cthulhu RPG. As that link notes, there's a debate about this (when isn't there), as Lovecraft himself never described the Sign looking like this.

However, his was lame. So there.

To build your own, just head to the nearest craft shop, walk past the knitting supplies, scrap-booking section and 356-day-Christmas decor, towards the woodworking section. They have a bunch of plain, hinged, unpainted pine boxes (and dollhouses and the baby Jesus). Pick a nice big one - this one was less than $10.

Get a hot glue gun. You need one. Not just for this. Everyone should have a high or dual temp glue gun. Then, just drip it all over the box in neat patterns, taking care that the door remain operable.

Added touches can be made with Sculpey (Super Sculpey, the fleshtone stuff. The normal will crumble in a year) and attached pre-glue. I also glued a felt lining and installed the chain to keep the door from flipping back too far. Once all external crap is on, whip out a can of Goth-O-Matizer (black spray paint) and have at it.

A final nice touch is to take some metallic paint (I used purple) and wipe it on with a sponge. This takes finesse, but basically the paint will get into the crevices but wipe back off the high spots, making a natural uncouth aged-metal look.

I love this technique and do it to everything, from picture frames to boxes, and I have my eyes on my laptop. Now's the part where I stop taking credit for the idea... you can find it in Paint It Black: A Guide to Gothic Homemaking.

Those little plastic baubles are the arbiters of Life and Death, the swinging pendulum of fate severing the neck of knights, mutants and professors alike and inspiring scissors to do the same to their character sheets. Don't they deserve a fitting home?

*Author is not Metal and lays no claim to being Metal, being more Metal than the reader, or imparting Metal unto reader through use of this web log.


  1. Cool! I think I feel a Tarot box project coming on . . . .

  2. A couple years ago, I had the idea to make a side business of out selling these on Etsy, and Tarot boxes were going to be one of the sizes. I couldn't move a single one, though. Etsy's harder than it looks.

    I've still got a very tiny one - maybe the size of a deck of normal playing cards - that's currently the coffin of a dead stag beetle my wife found. I also have a bunch of completely unadorned boxes, and one of them may be able to hold a Tarot deck. Hmmm.