Make the Indiana Jones Grail look ancient

This time we make the Holy Grail from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade look ancient! Last time, we gilded the inner face of the cup with sheet metal. Now it’s time to do the rest and make it look movie ready!

For those who haven’t read the last article, see that brief overview below where we started and where we are now…

The reddish color makes it look like fired ceramics. Next time, I will use fired and glazed clay. Below, again what it should loke like in the end:

Grail Front

Gold plate the outside

The next step was to put gold leaf to the outside and make it look as if it has been used and standing around for 2000 years. So, what would the structure look like? Suppose, the outside has been covered with gold foil. After hundreds of years without taking care of it, most a lot of the gold would have disappeared. The difficulty is to find a realistic pattern.

So far, so good, huh? But we have a problem: Even though it looks like the metal has come loose, it still looks brand new. This happens for four reasons:

  • The gold is too shiny. Gold is very stable and reacts hardly with other elements. But dust, sweat, usage, and moisture make it cloudy over time.
  • The edges of the sheet metal are too hard. Imagine it falls off a table several times. The impact has not the same power at the whole scratch. So scratches and edges would be more uneven.
  • The pieces are too even. Underneath the gold leaf, there are air bubbles that push the metal up. Then you need only a small push to loosen it. So, in reality, you would find gaps spread all over the pieces.

How to make gold leaf look ancient

Sand the sheet metal with fine sandpaper carefully. Keep in mind that gold leaf is extremely thin!

Age Gold Foil

Rub it with dirt. Yeah, you read that right: Let’s get back to childhood and play with sand 🙂

Make Gold Foil Ancient

After that, we have already got a Grail that looks pretty used…

But does ît look ancient? Not really – The traces of time are missing. But what would these traces look like? When looking at movies and pictures, three attributes stand for ancient relicts:

Dirty, Dusty, Shabby

I am sure that the Holy Grail, after being transported across the desert by some knights and laying around for hundreds of years, would be covered with an already hardened layer of dust and dirt. My first idea was to use diluted white acrylic paint. But it also looked like diluted white acrylic paint, so don’t do that.

Age Acrylic Paint

So how to do it? Why not just use dirt? Fortunately, the soil in my area is quite sandy. I only had to filter out the small stones and twigs.

Blended with plaster, we got a suitable homogeneous powder with a nice ancient-looking color.

Ancient Look Plaster

The dirt, which is rather dark sand, gives it a better texture. Now, spray the surface with hair spray, and rub it with the powder. You can hardly do anything wrong. It’s patina – it’s expected to be uneven!

Holy Grail from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

And here it comes – The HOLY GRAIL

It’s an excellent Grail, isn’t it? In the movie, the “patina” is even stronger. Since it’s not screen accurate anyway, I like it more that way. That way, you can also remove the “patina” later and make it new. Alternatively, you can mix plaster only with water and “paint” the surface. Some people like it better that way.

Anyway – Thank you for reading that post. I hope you enjoyed it and looking forward to seeing you next time!

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I, Marc Zahn (Place of residence: Germany), process personal data to operate this website only to the extent technically necessary. All details in my privacy policy.
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I, Marc Zahn (Place of residence: Germany), process personal data to operate this website only to the extent technically necessary. All details in my privacy policy.