Erich's hats


TONMO Supporter
Nov 19, 2002
Erich's amazing ammonite helmets look so good in the photos I think they deserve their own tribute thread.

How the devil did you make them Erich? What materials did you use, and how did you shape them? Were they based on any particular ammonite species?

Stunning, sir!

Thanks Phil!

Remember many months ago when you and Kevin were both gracious enough to answer questions I had, and Kevin sent images to you that were then sent to me? The two of you, as well as Neale Monks' great work, and the illustrations from that Japanese website you posted in the Discussion of the Reconstructions of Nautiloids and Ammonoids thread provided all the inspiration I needed. Basically, you could say the Fossils and History forum built these two.

There will be more to come. Maybe not Nipponites (can you imagine wearing that shell on your head?), but there are several I want to take a crack at, both stylized theatrical gear like these two, and a few that would be a lot more strictly accurate and not for wearing.

I'm still in and out running errands this evening after being under the weather since we got back from Tonmocon. I'll have construction details and materials information to share shortly.
Ammonite Shell #1

Back again. Those errands took so much out of me that I ended up relapsing. Ah, sweet Summertime colds...

The fossil jazz instrument ammonite is hamites maximus. This would be a juvenile specimen. Note that it actually bends the wrong direction just at the larger end. Ideally it ought to begin turning back in on itself in a new u-bend instead of away, but I found it impossible to balance securely atop my own big skull, let alone the more delicate craniums of some of my performers, so I made a theatrical decision at the expense of accuracy.

Hamites maximus began life as a styrofoam cone. I proceeded to thread 1/8" aluminum armature wire into the tip and bend it into the desired saxophone shape. From there, styrofoam spheres were pushed onto the wire one by one, largest near the top of the cone, graduating into smaller diameter spheres near the end of the wire, which was then bent into a spiral shape. All the spaces between the spheres were filled with a buildup of aluminum foil that was then compressed in place until the gaps were filled. Cardboard (chiefly from beverage packaging :beer: ) was layered at the base to form the ammonite's living chamber and taped in place. From there, the entire shell was wrapped in large sheets of foil and taped in place until there was a uniform shape from end to end (this was sometimes aided by hand-crushing the foam spheres to create a smooth underskin). The foil was then entirely covered with multiple layers of art grade masking tape (drafting tape works very well, too). This was in turn covered by a process of mache using tissue paper and glue, which creates a very smooth, seamless appearance. Lastly, everything was primed, painted, and sealed in acrylic.

Hmm... the pic of this shell under construction appears to be a trifle too big... I'll see what I can do and try to post it tomorrow.
Erich sir, you are a genius. I can't imagine how long it took to make those, three or four days each? Thats a really complex process too, in awe here.

For inspiration for a future fossil ceph hat, how about the Ordovician nautiloid Gonioceras? This was a very flattened orthocone and would make a great Bishops Mitre for your Church of Cthulhu.

I'd still love to see a Nipponites hat though!


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Phil said:
For inspiration for a future fossil ceph hat, how about the Ordovician nautiloid Gonioceras? This was a very flattened orthocone and would make a great Bishops Mitre for your Church of Cthulhu.

Church of Cthulhu is a different group, as are Campus Crusade for Cthulhu and the Cult of Cthulhu.

My traveling ministry is the Mighty Cthulhu Old Time Revival Show. I don't need to get into any sectarian conflict here; nothing is more obnoxious than everybody calling each other heretics and spraying ink everywhere. The dry-cleaning bills alone are monstrous!

Finally deciding upon a fossil ceph, sticking the wire in the top, bending it around, and then staring at it, waiting for it to call to me took a couple days.

The basic hamites maximus foam/foil/tape process took all of "The Eiger Sanction" and part of "Kelly's Heroes". The mache process - the really messy, annoying part - that was about three more hours a few nights later, plus until the following evening to dry.

Rebecca poured over my mollusc sources and boxes of shells, studying natural patterns, and then painted it.
Had fun wearing / discussing these at the Crown & Anchor. Erich was very modest about their creation, but I'm with you, Phil -- genius! And they're maleable -- you can twist the arms however you like.
erich orser said:
Church of Cthulhu is a different group, as are Campus Crusade for Cthulhu and the Cult of Cthulhu.

Good lord, in my ignorance I had no idea there was a 'genuine' Church of Cthulhu, I thought I'd just made it up!

I think next year Erich should make a life size Architeuthis hat.
Here are pictures of both ammonites under construction to give a better idea of the buildup process. I hadn't crafted the faceplates yet, so we inserted a stuffed octo.


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Ammonite #2

The second shell was much more straight-forward than the first.

I decided to buy medium and small aluminum dryer hose at the hardware store, using extra-sharp, heavy-duty wire cutters to cut the wire coils lengthwise until they were like long funnels. From there I just inserted the larger diameter length into the smaller diameter length, bound them with duct tape and rolled them into a big spiral coil. The inner portion of the coil was finished off by bending aluminum foil into the correct shape/size (an even smaller funnel) and coiling it as well. Once I had the right look, I wired it all in place and taped everything completely using art-grade masking tape.

The above photo was taken at this stage.

Next I did the tissue paper/glue mache process, allowed it to dry overnight, and then primed it and painted it. Clear acrylic sealer finished it off.

The species I based it on was from an image I found of douvilleiceras mammillatum.

This headdress, although cumbersome by virtue of it's center of gravity, is extremely light on the wearers' head.

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