Introduction: Make a Golden Filigree Dragon's Eggcase

Dear Instructables Member

It is my absolute honour to relate to you the following story.

One afternoon last week, quite by accident, while looking for my trusty ivory ophthalmoscope in a tea chest I had not opened for nearly 50 years, I came across one of my old journals. Lazy, late-day sunlight filtered through the dusty attic window, and as time was not pressing, I idly thumbed through the pages. The adventures therein, though captured in such a naive and faded narrative, reminded me of my wilder days, long since passed, and rendered the rest of the afternoon to an oblivion of reminiscing and recollection. Nought further might have come of this chance discovery had not my manservant, Collinworth, suggested over the lightly buttered toast the next morning, that the very pages that had been so demanding of my attention the day before could yet render me, and others, an invaluable service, in permitting me to describe the delicate process of constructing a Golden Filigree Dragon's Eggcase, and the use thereof to extract an original of the same against the auspices of a wary and ever watchful eye of the Tibetan Lung. Now you can read more about this story, follow my instruction herein, find out how it was my endeavours that inspired Carl Faberge to make his first egg for the Tzar and also learn how I got my name.

Your most humble servant,

Kaptin Scarlet

Step 1: Research the Draco Beast's Eggcase to Get the Form Right

As a boy I eagerly listened to my father's tales of the daring expeditions that had attempted to recover a perfect example of what must be one of the rarest artifacts know to man, the Tibetan Lung's golden filigree eggcase. As soon as I could read and was permitted entry to our small library, scarcely an evening would go by that wouldn't find me sitting in my favourite winged reading chair with a large, leather bound first edition of Dicta Johannis Chrysostomi de Naturis Bestiarum crushing my knees, as I pawed over each page, searching for clues that might one day be useful for the expedition that I planned to make when I was old enough.

Fifteen years passed and by the early 1870s I was in my twenties and already had a few adventurous voyages to my credit, when I was indirectly approached by the King of Norway, whom I learned had heard of my successful exploits, and wished to sponsor me on an expedition of his own bidding to Nepal, to discover and bring back none other than the Golden Filigree Dragon's Eggcase.

A venture of this nature is not one to be taken on lightly, and certainly was no more so in 1872. You will of course be aware that in the latter half of the 19th Century less was generally known of the perils that lurked in the darker corners of the World, and even though I was young at heart and possessed the constitution of an ox, even I, myself would not have considered the trip, had not such an illustrious patron personally requested that I undertake to lead the expedition. It was a question of love:- He wished me to acquire, or procure by any means, one of the rarest artifacts known to mankind; an example of a fabled Tibetan Dragon's Golden Filigree Eggcase, so that he might court the attentions of the woman he desired as his consort, Sofia of Nassau.

In those days, I knew nothing much of love, but in matters concerning the mountainous Nepal's most fearsome Draco Beast, I was certainly no novice, having prepared for this eventuality since I could remember. On accepting the challenge I had immediately decided upon the course of action that had resulted in my success on previous occasions, namely to make a replica and swap it for the authentic piece and having done so make good my retreat.

Our preparations and voyage (a long sea passage, and a three week overland trek) are interesting indeed but too much of a distraction to be related here. Needless to say, we arrived at the locality of the dragon's lair in high spirits and ready for almost any eventuality.

If you possess the talent of drawing, then generally, I urge you to carry a journal with you at all times so that you may make visual notes to remind to you of crucial details later that might othewise be forgotten. On an expedition such as this, a journal is invaluable. In order to steal the dragon's eggcase, you must first make a replica to take it's place while you make your retreat. Choose the most complete eggcase to copy and take, (for many are broken in the hatching process). Make sketches of your chosen eggcase so that you may be able to fashion a replica good enough to fool the Draco Beast, a cunning creature if ever there was one.

Collinworth has reminded me to point out that should you wish to make a Dragon Journal page of your own, blank pages for your own illustrations can be found here

If drawing is not one of your expert skills, then you will have to ask someone else to perform that task for you, or take a camera so that you make expose a plate or two. This is not as satisfactory as might be expected, because of the weight of the equipment, the sensitivity of the developing chemicals and the long exposure needed, which can result in a less than perfect image.

Step 2: Bind Two Small Cups Together to Make the Former

Once I had taken all the reference images I needed, and before we had spent too much time in the vicinity of the dragon's lair, we retreated to our camp, some miles distant and began the replication process.

So that you might follow this process and replicate an egg of your very own. I had Collinworth instruct a local artisan to draw out the fabrication steps in as simple and as clear way as possible. The paper has become slightly aged over time, but I feel that he has done an acceptable job, and you should be able to follow them with little difficulty.

Of course we had bought ample equipment for our endeavour, but metal working apparatus and machinery are far too heavy to carry and i had previously been informed that the locals possessed an uncanny ability to work metal in a way that we were unlikely to better.

I made contact with the local village elders and after only a short negotiation, had secured the employ of the province's most skilled precious metalsmith. The language is melodious but difficult to master, nevertheless, using the few words I had learned on the voyage, my rough and somewhat ready empire French, and hand gestures, we managed to communicate reasonably enough, and the first task was completed swiftly without incident.

Two hollow ivory cups were fashioned and joined together using a short piece of adhesive bandage.

Nowadays, I learn from Collinworth, you can create an effect not unlike ours, by using the closures from any suitable beauty care product (such as, deodorants, hair sprays or shaving gels) as the cups, and that they may be bound together using any suitable clear adhesive tape.

Step 3: Coat the Bound Cups in Release Agent

Once the cups are securely joined, you must coat them in a release agent of some kind. To the local Nepalese, oil is a rare and expensive commodity, and knowing this we had brought a couple of barrels to use as payment for the many and various services we required during our stay in the area. Notwithstanding this, the metalsmith refused to use any other than his own oil preparation, which by various utterances and animated hand signals, he managed to convince me was better suited to the task than our own.

You may not be able to get his preparation where you live and I therefore recommend the use of a thin coat of vegetable oil and or silicon furniture polish, which I understand comes in small metal atomiser containers these days.

Step 4: Apply the Filigree

Since I had first considered this expedition and known that at some point I was going to have to fabricate a Golden Filigree Eggcase, I had pondered the creation of the filigree itself, and more importantly how I might hold the egg-shaped cups while applying the filigree in it's hot and liquid state. Tough as I am, even I wish to avoid unnecessary burns to the fingers.

The night before the filigree application, when everything else was ready and I had still no notion as to how this step was going to be successfully accomplished, when by chance it came to me in a flash of inspiration.

It was a beautiful evening and the labour of the day had passed. All about we were settling in for the night and Collinworth had just served me a pre-dinner cocktail dressed with the fruit of the olive tree. As was my habit, idly I chewed on the olive, when as a flash, it came to me... why not use a cocktail stick to hold the egg shaped blighter while applying the filigree. Much to the party's consternation, I had the men unpack the equipment and drill a small hole in the end of one of the cups, just large enough to insert the very same cocktail stick by exerting a little pressure. It provided the perfect purchase on the slippery egg shaped forme.

In fact, I was so excited by the discovery, that I ordered dinner to be delayed while I coated the bound cups in their filigree there and then.

I used a hot glue device of my own invention. The hot glue device is an invaluable tool, which I hope to commercialise upon my return to England. It is of solid construction and is endowed with a central cavity just big enough hold a glowing coal taken directly from the fire. When the coal is placed in the cavity, a small door is closed, securing it in place, and by way of a heat conduction path, a reservoir of animal adhesive particles are heated and by degrees rendered into their liquid state. A leaver exists at the bottom of the device which is employed to pump air into the reservoir, which due to the increasing pressure may expel the liquefied adhesive through a small nozzle, on the pressing of a trigger leaver, thus allowing the user to direct the adhesive as and where required.

The device takes some skill to master, but the effects are useful and pleasing. I am currently working on a device that will be able to melt the glue using electrikal-discharge energy, but I believe that the perfection of that device will take many years.

Step 5: Carefully Remove the Filigree

Having coated the bound cups egg shaped forme in hot glue, I set the piece down to harden and dinner was at last served.

It was late and we were exhausted after our labours of the day. The Sherpas had joined us in the main tent for a nightcap of the most evil tasting wood spirit, the drinking of which, we had discovered was the only way to keep warm through the freezing Nepalese nights. When the general hubbub of voices had quietened our head guide began relate to us his old family's tales of the dragon we sought to trick out of one of it's most precious possessions and its various natural and perverted habits.

I asked him if he knew of the reason for the golden filigree itself, as such structures were not to be found on any other dragon's egg. He told us that like all dragons, Tibetan Lungs often jealously guarded a large treasure horde. Despite its size, the lung was an anxious beast and over centuries had developed the nervous habit of gnawing at such pieces of gold that it might conveniently claw into its terrible jaws, which by degrees it ingested. Over time the beasts had evolved the curious trait of excreting a layer of fine golden filaments over the surface of the eggs that they were brooding. The villagers thereabouts had long believed that this "golden filigree" was beneficial to the survival of the dragon chicks, as it had been seen to protect their brittle egg shells from damage on the hard rocks and stones that littered the draco beasts' nests.

We retired, I at least, satisfied to know at last something of the evolution of the Golden Filigree EggCase.

The next morning the filigree was set and I was able to remove it from the forme. To do this, using a sharp surgeon's scalpel, I first made an incision from top to bottom on one side of the egg shaped piece, taking extreme care not to injure myself. I then began to gently peel the filigree away from the former. In places it was easy, in others, it resisted my efforts somewhat, but by careful working and the occasional use of one of our butter knives, I was able to work the filigree free all round and slip the egg shaped forme out from inside the filigree latticework.

When the latticework was free of the form, I opened it slightly and painted the inside of the filigree with a black lacquer. Once that was dry, I reheated the molten glue applicator and neatly welded up the cut edges to make the filigree egg whole once more.

Step 6: Coat the Outside of the Filigree in Gold

You may choose to have your filigree egg case metalised using electroplating or dipping, or you may choose to paint it carefully with a brush, as the local Nepalese had been doing for centuries before we came to their mountainous land, but I set my heart on coating the piece using another of my inventions, my patent golden lacquer atomiser.

It must be borne in mind, that in our endeavours it was only necessary to make the filigree eggcase sufficiently close to the appearance of the actual Draco's Eggcase to fool the Lung while we made good our escape. It is widely known that the dragon has a very sensitive sense of smell, and by means of some strange infernal olfactory mechanism, can smell the presence of gold, many yards distant. In fact as you will know, the dragon's nose has been an invaluable tool employed by generations of gold miners using quenched and de-clawed juvenile dragons to find new precious metal seams in their workings. However for us, this strange ability is not to our benefit. Despite the fact that we were gaining a priceless return, I did not want to leave one ounce more gold on the mountainside than I needed to. I had learned that this particular Tibetan Lung was an old specimen and knowing that a dragon's sense of smell dulls with age, I had calculated that the quantity of powdered gold present in my lacquer coating preparation was going to be more than adequate to fool the aged beast for long enough for us to successfully work our treachery.

While I was waiting for the first coating to dry, Collinworth advised me that the party was nervous that we were not using pure gold. After some discussion I managed to quell their fears by employing an extra coating of the bright golden lacquer. Personally I think that a sprayed metallic finish provides an more than acceptable end result.

Step 7: The Finished Eggcase (and How I Came to Be Known As Kaptin Scarlet)

The final day arrived. The morning was still and we left the camp before daybreak. All was quiet at the dragon's lair, the fearsome beast either asleep, or still out at on its previous night's hunting. Carefully we located the original filigree eggcase and without any trouble, affected the swap.

We never knew what became of the dragon; if and when she discovered the switch we had made, and if so, what wrathful vengeance she must surely have rained on the locale after our departure. Upon my return to Europe, I gained audience with my sponsor, the King of Norway and presented the Golden Filigree Eggcase to his Royal Highness at Court; along with a model of the tiny dragon chick that must surely have come from that very egg.

After our extensive journey, our supplies were running low and in order to finish the presentation case we used to store and later show the egg, the luscious scarlet velvet lining of my favourite all-weather coat had to be cut up for to make the pillow covering. I made such a fuss over this calamity that the rest of the party nicknamed me Kaptin Scarlet, and name that has endured to this day.

Now, after all these years I am honoured to be able to relate to you the story of the construction of the Fabled Golden Filigree Dragon's Eggcase in such a way that might easily enable you to make your own copy, so that even if you never have the opportunity to behold an original, you will be able to make something capable of deceiving even the most cunning of creatures, and a treasure to keep for all time.

Step 8: Fine Copies of the Golden Filigree Eggcase

Epilogue

On making copies and the origination of the Faberge legend.

On the sea passage back to England, I had the pleasure of dinning at the Captain's table and it was there I made the acquaintance of the Russian jeweler Carl Gustavovich Faberge, next to whom I was seated on a number of occasions. He was a similar age to me and it seemed that we had a great deal in common. Carl told me he was traveling to England to gain inspiration for his jewelry.

Though I am a modest man, it was not long before he had pressed me to reveal the nature of my trip and the artifact that I so proudly bore to my sponsor. I opened the ship's safe and was pleased to see that he took a great interest in the specimen. Over the following decade we kept in touch by occasional correspondence, and it was by this means that in the early 1880s I first heard of his endeavours to produce a gift for Tzar Alexander III, whom he wished to win as his patron. I wrote back immediately suggesting that the subject of his work should be none other than the Fabled Golden Filigree Eggcase that I had shown him all those years before on that sea voyage across the Baltic Sea.

In subsequent correspondence, he thanked me profusely for the assistance I had rendered to him and later to my amazement, presented me with one of his copies of the Filigree Eggcase.

The Faberge Eggcase is a beautiful object. Pure gold latticework coated with a rich, deep and lustrous azure enamel on the inner surface. It is presented and displayed in its own climate controlled, unbreakable, domed display case, which has been kept under 24 hour guard since I received it over a century ago.

If you would like to be able to make a Victorian glass case exactly like this one Collinworth, old though now he is, reliably informs me that full instructions for its easy manufacture may be found on the telegraphic internet here.

All that remains is to wish you the best of luck with your Instructables and remember my family motto:

Vita Est Vestri Adventum

Kaptin Scarlet

Comments

author
LMJPR (author)2014-10-17

Clever idea and a HILARIOUS read. Thanks for sharing your creativity at many levels!

author
KaptinScarlet (author)LMJPR2014-10-17

thanks and so glad you like it... on every level!

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eperez43 (author)2014-03-23

What about plain ol' lost wax casting? Fancy specialized equipment, yes, but only if you're a real pro jeweler. This project you could do with simple steam casting and a butane torch, for practically nothing. A large tin can or piece of scrap plumbing pipe would work for a casting flask. You could do the wax burnout using a kiln, or even a hotplate, if a kiln is not handy.

author
TheGeekFather (author)2008-12-13

I'm just wondering why you used two cups and not just use a blown out egg? I haven't used hot glue on one yet but you should be able to just mash it a bit afterwards and pull out the shell. I do like the shape of yours however as it does not look like it was formed around a hens egg. Great job. I have been checking this out for a while thinking it would be a great craft to to with the kids one weekend.

author

If you wanted, you could probably get a goose egg at an organic store and use it instead. They have a more elongated shape. Or sometimes you could get duck eggs, ostrich eggs, all kinds of eggy possibilities.

author

I think you answered the question yourself. I had already done one round a hen's egg and I wanted a different look, a bit more oblong, like a dinosaur egg. Have a look at my site, <a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.dadcando.com/">dadcando</a>dadcando.com , for tons of cool things just like this to do with the kids.<br/>

author

Cool. Thanks for the response. And I have been to your site. lots of good stuff there.

author
eulaliaaaa! (author)2010-08-10

This is great! I am making one now, along with a dragon embryo, and I am going to make a museum style display case with information plates and other artifacts like claws, and I am going to enter it in the county fair. Should be first place material! Oh, by the way, I made the egg with a real egg shell (Empty, of course!) and dissolved the egg in vinegar. The dragon embryo was my design, and I am giving it partial scales along with other details of only partial construction at pre-natal stage.

author

How are you making the dragon embryo?? I'm looking for interesting Christmas gifts for my boyfriend.

author

Now that is a good idea, and the results speak for themself. I wish I had thought of that :-)

author
chocolatechip (author)2013-03-30

Can you use hot glue insted of filigree?

author
oldhamedia (author)2008-09-29

I have found that when the hot glue is still fresh and largely un-handled, gold leaf will adhere quite nicely and buff up toa bright, solid gold sheen, much more solid-looking than a sprayed finish. Wait until the glue has cooled (applying the leaf while warm will cause wrinkles as the glue contracts slightly during cooling, whereas the metal leaf will not shrink... an effect one might happily explore as well.), work the leaf onto all surfaces with a soft paintbrush. Slicing the gilded glue with a scalpel (Xacto) to extract the cups should be easy to reseal with a little heat and smoothing on another bit of leaf.

author
KaptinScarlet (author)oldhamedia2008-09-29

great idea, I think that would look very very nice. I am just getting a quote to have it cast in bronze and then gold plated, and then blue enameled on the inside, which is not as expensive as you might think. But I think i might try the gold leaf idea, I do have some and I noticed that the surface was slightly tacky. however when you peel off the layer of glue you do bend it about quite a bit, wouldn't this wrinkle up the leaf?

author
oldhamedia (author)KaptinScarlet2008-09-30

Hmm.. don't know. Whenever I've leafed hot glue, it was never bent much - usually on stiff substrates. Here's an idea, once you peel it and are done bending it, give it a quick shot with a blow dryer... it should re-tack the surface and smooth any fingerprints and scratches. Leaf it cool, and then hit it with a spritz of clear sealer.

author
KaptinScarlet (author)oldhamedia2008-09-30

that's a good idea I might try that on my next one. I have just got a quote from a small nonferrous foundry to have the egg latticework cast in bronze and then gold plated and coated with iridescent blue enamel on the inside.... that should be really nice

author
Crucio (author)KaptinScarlet2010-03-17

If you had it done, I'd be most interested in seeing the result!

author
KaptinScarlet (author)Crucio2010-03-17

It worked out so expensive at the time (I think it was something like £750 for the first one) I just couldn't get it done. I might go back to them one day. I'm working with them on another project. The gold plating is very cheap by comparison, about £25, and silver plating is even cheaper at about £15, but you have to start with a metal object (mostly).

author
paqrat (author)KaptinScarlet2011-03-01

If the price included making a mould from your completed egg you could possibly avoid that price by making the egg from wax. Removing the egg from the master egg would be a different matter though as you'd need some way to dissolve or cut up the master egg. What you should end up with though would be a wax model that could be cast either in silver, brass or bronze. Another way to go would be to make the egg as you usually do then use an electroformer to apply a metal coating to the surfaces. Using a conductive paint you electroform ( a process similar to electroplating) a metal coating over the constructed egg.

author
eulaliaaaa! (author)2010-08-10

Very clever! Four thumbs up! I really like the story.

author

Thank you, I thought I would try something different with this instructable and I like d the idea of a fantasy back story. Glad you like it.

author
eulaliaaaa! (author)2010-08-13

Here is the finished egg! I am not yet finished with the embryo, it just needs to be painted.

web pics 036.jpgweb pics 034.jpg
author

This looks absolutely fabulous... I'm impressed. Nice pictures too, well done.

author
FrozenIce (author)2010-05-11

 how do you make the small Dragon?

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KaptinScarlet (author)FrozenIce2010-05-11

http://www.dadcando.com/default_MAKING.asp?project=DragonEmbryo&catagory=TheDragonry&lhs=TheDragonry

author
FrozenIce (author)2010-05-11

 how do you make the immature dragon??

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tsienra (author)2010-01-02

Hi. :D
I know this has been up for a while but I only came across it now. I suggest using those plastic eggs which split open kind of like in Kinder Surprise.

Do the halves separately. Then make a separate "belt" to bind the middle. You can even embellish it with some sort of "buckle."

:D

author
KaptinScarlet (author)tsienra2010-03-17

Yes nice idea. You could actually do it on a real egg and then dissolve the egg shell out with vinegar... ooooh, I might just try that

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macrumpton (author)2009-12-07

Awesome presentation.

author

Yes I run the site and create all the stuff on dadcando... why?

author

I was looking at that website earlier this morning through google lol I thought it was an interested coincidence. XD

author
comodore (author)2008-12-11

Great job! This is an exselent gift! Please tell us how you made those uber cool pictures! rate:***** +I added it to my Mythbusters group

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KaptinScarlet (author)comodore2008-12-12

They were photographs post produced using Photoshop. I got my daughter to lean over my shoulder and take the photographs. A few like the spraying and the hot glue gun were adapted with bits and pieces of images I got of an antique medical equipment website. The I cut the photos out so that they were on a white background. Then in photoshop I: Enhanced the contrast Enhanced the saturation Used Poster Edges filter Further enhanced and tuned the saturation / contrast brightness Cut the image out so that it was on a transparent background Made up a page of old parchment type paper Composed the subject on the parchment Dressed the image with scanned in signature and fake family crest from a Dover book I have Easy really.

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jtlax (author)KaptinScarlet2009-01-25

What was the website you got the antigue med. equipment pics from?

author
KaptinScarlet (author)jtlax2009-01-26

I have no idea, I'm sorry. I searched for Antique Medical Equipment on Google Images and then looked at each site quite a few pages deep until I found one that looked like it had some decent stuff on. I didn't use the pictures as they were but cut them all up and used other images from other sites as well. YOU could try looking for antique amputation saw on Google Images, that should bring something up (if not your lunch)... try not to remember that these instruments were used before antisepsis was considered important and well before the advent of anesthesia... oooo makes me queasy just thinking about it.

author
comodore (author)KaptinScarlet2009-01-26

He didn't download them, he made him in Photo Shop, that's what the author of this instructables told me!

author
KaptinScarlet (author)comodore2009-01-26

Hi you're right, I am the author of this instructable and I didn't download the images, but I did use some images from an antique medical instruments aution site to get some of the bits I needed for one or two of the images. the handle of the glue gun is downloaded and then treated as I said above and then dropped into a picture that my daughter took of my hand, the same goes for the spray gun, that is a cut up image of an antique nebuliser I found somewhere. the original photos where then cut up and treated as above and then made to look like I was holding them etc etc. SO no not really downloaded, but then again some of the elements were taken and severely doctored by me.

author
comodore (author)KaptinScarlet2009-01-26

Hahahaha! Great job, once again! :P Do you want me to delete my comment so not many people would know your secret? :D

author
KaptinScarlet (author)comodore2009-01-26

No I don't mind, it's not really a secret, although thanks for the offer. Searching for the images took all evening and the retouching them wasn't a five minute job either, the result speaks for itself and I think I earned the look rather than just lifting someone else's work, and anyway, even the best artists (of which I am not one) use reference to get there images right... thx

author
comodore (author)KaptinScarlet2008-12-13

cool, thanks for sharing your secret... :) once more Great JOB!!!! :D

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Wolfram (author)2008-12-30

When i made mine, I painted the egg thing dark blue and the outer bit gold. My granny really did think it was a dragon egg... Until she tried to fry it!

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KaptinScarlet (author)Wolfram2008-12-31

eeeewwwww

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carpespasm (author)2008-12-25

A good set of cups for the form would probably be small tea or sake cups.

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hcold (author)2008-12-12

Amazing.

author
gmjhowe (author)2008-12-11

Nice work! the final thing looks really good.

btw, that glue gun looks mighty familiar...

author
KaptinScarlet (author)gmjhowe2008-12-12

Yes, except my handle was taken from an antique surgeon's bone saw... and grim it looked too, but interesting in that it was very intricate and fancy, and I would have thought impossible to sterilize, so obviously made before antisepsis was discovered

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gmjhowe (author)KaptinScarlet2008-12-12

yes, crazy times those.

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KaptinScarlet (author)gmjhowe2008-12-12

indeed, not a good time to be unwell...

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guitarman63mm (author)2008-12-12

It's an beautifully ornate item with a very well written tale to go with it, great job! I dig it.

author
Kiteman (author)2008-12-11

You simply must inform us how you formed those images as well.

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Bio: Eldest of five, son of two doctors, 10 years in Graphic Design and marketing, then retrained as a Biomedical Materials Engineer, don't ask me ... More »
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