Monday, August 25, 2014

Witch's Jawbone

This is one of those props I wanted to make as soon as I heard about it. I recall hearing about it a long time ago, before I made props and it just never resurfaced as an prop idea before until recently.

What makes this piece a little more creepy or weird than say a random Cthulhu statue, is that this is a real thing. It's something you could actually find - perhaps it wouldn't look exactly like this though.

The story behind it is that back when people used to hunt witches and do all manner of ridiculous, superstitious things, when a witch was killed - presumably when there was still a corpse, so probably through drowning - in order to prevent her (or I suppose him) from returning from the dead, spikes were driven through the body. There have been actual skeletons found with iron spikes driven into the bones. I thought this was just too bizarre to ignore, so I set upon creating a Witch's Jawbone.

I elaborated on the real version by supposing that if the iron spikes were to prevent the witch from returning from the dead, that they somehow locked her (or, still could be his) powers away inside their bones unable to escape or be used after death. So these Witch's Jawbones became a black market kind of item, used by either apprentice witches, wizards, warlocks and anyone dabbling in dark magic in their practices as a source of magic to enhance their own or as a magic catalyst in alchemy or supernatural devices.

I just happened to have a jawbone from a medical skeleton, so I cleaned up the seams as best I could, moulded that and cast it in clay so I could, rather than sculpt it from nothing, sculpt the damage and whatnot from the spikes and speed up the process a little bit. I was attempting to have this done last minute for a local Horror Festival, but I wasn't able to.

The sculpt turned out great. I was originally supposed to get a small supply of old blacksmithed nails, the squared off kind, but that never happened although I did get my hands on one. So I moulded and cast those in clay, altering each of the seven nails I'd use accordingly. I moulded and cast them in resin - which wasn't the best idea as they came out somewhat fragile, making this not a great idea for a limited run. I'd like the piece to be sturdy, not something you can't even handle without fear of breaking it.

But I kept going, and with very little time and even less supplies, I attempted to mould the jawbone. I did a miserable job of it and ran out of silicone halfway through so the mould itself was pitiful and probably wouldn't hold up to more than one casting. It didn't.

I managed to cast it and get it cleaned up, got the nails into the more or less right spots on the jawbone and I'm pretty happy with how it turned out, but I'll definitely be using real nails I think if I try this for a limited run. How limited will depend on how many nails I can get my hands on, I don't want to order online as it'll just jack the price up on the final piece big time, so I'm on the hunt locally for a batch of nails all produced together, I don't want random sizes, it just makes fitting them too much effort in the end and again would drive the cost up.

But I have a copy for myself for now and it sits on the shelf with all the other random stuff I've made over the years. This is definitely a display piece though that I'd really like to attempt a small, limited run of, boxed up just like this as well so it's something that has a little more of a completely finished display piece for wherever or even as set decoration for a movie or tv show.

UPDATE: if you made it this far and actually read everything - first off, congratulations - and secondly, I've sourced some real antique nails, possibly even iron, so I will within the next month be doing a very limited run of only 5 of these, case included as well. No idea of the pricing at this point though.


  1. You can get hand made nails via Lehmans.
    you might have to all them up and find out who is making them.

  2. Anonymous2:52 PM

    I think that the act of driving nails or spikes through parts of a witch (or a cow's heart to fight a witch) was actually a kind of reverse curse to silence or wound. Smacks of actual witchcraft to me, but mediaeval churchgoers didn't have a firm grasp on irony.

  3. Let me know if you want to sell one.