One of my favorite movies is Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade starring Harrison Ford and Sean Connery. I’ve already reviewed a prop replica of the Grail Diary. This time I’ll show you how I created a replica of the second artifact – the Holy Grail.
What is the Holy Grail all about?
I very (very!) brief overview of the Grail in the context of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: The Grail is the cup in which Joseph of Arimathea caught the blood of Jesus Christ, who was crucified. According to the legend, he who drinks from the Grail attains eternal life. For more information, please visit the Indiana Jones Wiki.
For more information about the Holy Grail, spend the rest of your life researching it – Just kidding. Seriously, there are so many aspects to it that you have no idea where to start. Maybe start with the Dan Brown movies. Or start being a scientist for history. Or philosophy. Or start theological studies 😉
Holy Grail Prop Replica
In this post, we will deal only with the physical artifact from the movie 🙂 Let’s have a look at it to see what we are facing. In case you don’t know it yet, it’s the small cup in the middle of the image below.
“That’s the cup of a carpenter.“
What we can see at the picture:
- it looks like it’s made of clay
- reddish (colored for protection or fired ceramics?)
- sprinkles of gold
- some sort of dust or patina, respectively
You find tons of prop replicas of the Grail from The Last Crusade On the Internet, but I wanted to make one of my own. Mostly they are made of resin, and if you have looked at the necklace from Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, you know that I like to make props not necessarily realistic, but at least a little plausible.
For my Grail prop, I chose clay for the cup, acrylic paint for the reddish color, and gold foil for the golden applications. For the patina, I will use diluted white acrylic paint.
Ceramics and gold foil are appropriate, even though I am quite sure that gold leaf didn’t exist 2000 years ago. The acrylic paint is a compromise because I couldn’t find a suitable alternative by hook or crook.
Let’s go down to business
First, I had to get the cup. Although I took some pottery courses as a child, I have neither the skills nor the necessary workshop. So I decided to order a cup from Keramikwerkstatt & Töpferei Johanna Brückner, a pottery with an online store that I can highly recommend.
As you may see, the shape is not completely screen accurate but so what? To give it the reddish look, I coated it with reddish-brown acrylic paint. The look is quite close to the Holy Grail from the movie, but nevertheless I will use glazed ceramics in the next version of the Grail.
Johanna kindly provided me some unneeded pieces of pottery so that I could try the paint before I applied it to the cup – Thanks, Johanna 🙂
And now what you have probably seen as the teaser image, my first attempts at gilding. By the way: It’s not real gold foil. It’s an alloy. The kind reader may forgive the click-bait, but I didn’t want to waste it on my amateurish tryouts 🙂 The foil I used is also a bit thicker than real gold foil, which makes it easier to apply it for beginners.
In the background, you can see how I tried to gild one of the pieces. It escalated quickly when the wind started blowing on the balcony… ^^
Slowly but surely I have come to a first result and now I am a little proud of it.
Before I started, I watched a lot of tutorials about gold-plating, and they all say, it’s very simple.
It’s not. In fact, it is relatively easy if you have a flat surface, but an inner rounding is quite difficult. And even on a flat surface it will take time to achive a straight result.
As you can see in the last picture, there are some gaps. For some reason, some of the pieces have different shades of colors. Maybe it’s because some of them overlap. I will rework this completely, but you can see where we are going.
I continued with gold plating and here is the result
Due to the inner shape of the cup, I was not able to apply the sheet metal without wrinkles. But it makes it look even more ancient but still shiny. In the last step, I applied clear lacquer to both protect the gold leaf and give it an additional sheen.
Below you can see my gilding-workshop after all the work was done…
What you don’t see are all the tiny pieces on the carpet and on the couch. Do I have to say that I used the vacuum cleaner a lot while doing this project?
Thank you for reading and have fun with the next post where we make the Holy Grail look movie ready!