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what to do for someone who loves criminology, psychology, and gritty casework? how about an anonymously-sent, mysterious casefile with nearly complete ambiguity? and their name written all over it? something to pour over, examine, absorb? this is my casefile loveletter.

Step 1: Confidential

first things first. make it official. and not at all. what prompted all of this was a raggy old manila file folder getting thrown out at work. I couldn't bear to part with something so beautiful, so I whittled it down to half-sheet size with my trusty pencil, ruler, paper slicer, and scissors. I bent it out of shape a little more and dragged the ruler along the fresh cuts to make it softer and more worn. page one? a pseudo confidentiality statement from our boys n babes of the Bureau.

Step 2: You're Being Stalked

thanks to google, you can make a fine surveillance shot of said person's hideouts. zoom in on home or work using the satellite or street view, copy the image, and send it to an editing program that allows you to switch into B&W. then label the images with an address or coordinates, using a very blocky commodore kind of font. print a glossy photo shot, and you've got someone's attention almost immediately.

Step 3: The Zoom-in Shot

for this, I grabbed an image from someone's random vacation pics online. I searched for city traffic or cabs or something, and this turned out to be the perfect shot. It's got someone's elbow in it, even, as if the surveillance was taken from a hotdog stand in the thick of the city. how anonymous! I then dropped in a photo of my subject and switched it to greyscale. I dragged pixelated lines from the cab window to the four corners of the inlay, and again printed it in high gloss photo.

Step 4: The Confession

this is perhaps the biggest, most important document of the file. the confession. the voluntary interrogation. the way you met the subject, in detail. the essence of what you remember. the mystery of it. the allure. I wrote this out with century old slang in mind, and a modern aire. it had to be voluntary, the interrogator slapping down questions and trying to direct the flow, but a sweet confession of events, and an eminent sense at the end of the interviewee walking away having defended something indestructible.

Step 5: The Prints

I found a fingerprint analysis book at a thrift store a while back, published by the dept of justice themselves. I clipped out an image of a fingerprint card, used whiteout to get a clean slate, altered names and dates, and put her in for life. I printed this one on an eggshell colored cardstock for the heavy effect of it. the result was almost a raised-print effect that looked like fresh ink.

Step 6: Something Borrowed and Blue

I happen to have a good stack of xray mess-ups from a veterinarian, who was kind enough to save them for me because I asked nicely. I used my paper slicer to zip this down to an appropriate size. it adds a strange effect, a dark thick plastic amid all this. what is this? it's not at all recognizeable, but... maybe... if you hold it up to the light...

Step 7: Meet My Good Friend, Poly Graph

if you do some more online research, you can find cool relics like this. I searched for a polygraph results image, and with a little replication, created a five-question, yay-or-nay answer, can't-hold-up-in-court-but-thanks-for-playing document. did you go home with blanky-blank on the night of such-n-such? did you revisit said whereabouts with the intention of becoming romantically involved with so-n-so? let's hear it, give us your guts.

Step 8: Handwriting Analysis Evidence

all those old notes you've been squirreling away that she's forgotten about? go through 'em. pick one out that she won't remember writing. maybe a few she will. I made an evidence envelope in a word processing program, based on what images I could find online. I printed it out on half of a sheet of velum, folded it over and and glued a seam, and pressed in in a dictionary to dry. you can get a friend to fill in the blanks so your own writing doesn't fall into suspicion.

Step 9: MO/police Report

another image stolen! type police report in a search and you're bound to come up with something like this. I wanted this form, but creating a document like this wasn't in my time budget. ready for a new trick? in newer versions of Word(up), is a feature called "watermark". you can use any picture (or form), and type over the image. if you uncheck the washout button, you'll have the whole shebang and not the watermark effect. fill in the blanks, report that stolen ventricle/atria apparatus (your heart, fool!), plug in MO still unknown, Be On the LookOut (BOLO) dispatched, and print away.

Step 10: Confiscated ID

a little research online led me to a crime scene shoppe, which sells evidence bags, crime scene tape, biohazard tubes - you name it. I filled my cart and waited patiently on its delivery. meanwhile, I found this great app on my phone that let's you create fake spy IDs. I sent the image to my email, went to the local copy shop, and printed and laminated it for a mere couple bucks. when my crime scene evidence tape arrived, I stuck the ID in a sandwich bag, and taped it shut. a messy signature seals the deal.

Step 11: Misc Docs

get everything in there you can think of. I threw in a psychologist's examination of my character, a numerology report of the subject, a postcard mailed to myself with only a symbol on its reverse and the address marked out, a handwritten letter in a code developed by Heinrich Agrippa, and several images on one sheet of alchemist theory, ideally leading her to discover the code. in any instance of my name, it was blocked out with a sharpie, protecting the (not-so)innocent. have fun with this. go elaborate. make her feel elite. challenge her smarts.

Step 12: Ransom Note

finally - I love ransom notes, and knew this kind of thing had to be included. it's the first thing she'll see upon opening that strange oversized envelope with no return address on it, and only a bleakly-printed label with hers. it's from someone on her side, working for her, to gather everything confidential they could get their hands on. highly classified. for the raggy manila file itself, print another label, last name first. stick it on awkwardly and try to make it look routine and not artistic. this is a stolen file. her insider risked everything to get this, and here it is in her possession. what are they after? what do they know? and who are they? what does it all mean?? to the girl who always has a mystery churning in her head, this makes the perfect confessionist confectionist loveletter. best of luck, agent. and remember, you didn't get this from me.

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