Every now and then you have to deviate from your usual paths, and so these two distinctive little machines are two very spontaneous commissions to decorate a film set that I simply couldn't resist. The film we are talking about was «The Alchemaster's Apprentice» by Walter Moers - a project of the film graduation class of the Babelsberg Film University. For me as an old-established Moers lover, the planned adaptation of one of my favorite works was a long-standing dream come true, which is why it was clear to me that I absolutely wanted to support this small but fine production with one or the other prop.
The results are two alchemical devices to equip the laboratory of the evil alchemist: A Distillation Squeezer and an Oculuscope - both freely invented alchemical-looking devices, which are taken in their functions from the descriptions of the novel, even if they are not explicitly named. Needless to say, the construction gave me particular pleasure. Since building my Steampunk Beamer, I hadn't tried my hand at building dummy devices, and especially with Moers' thematic in focus, I could really let off steam here again.
Designing the machines it was particularly important to me that the devices, despite their bizarreness, should be logical in themselves, and their functions should be visually recognizable, and so both devices also differ fundamentally from each other in size, shape and function.
The Distillation Squeezer
My Distillation Squeezer is inspired by the main theme of the novel, in which the evil alchemist Eisspin makes a starving crat an offer to fatten it up princely for a month if it agrees to let him slaughter it and boil its fat at the end of the month. As we learn in the novel, Eisspin habitually kills numerous creatures in this way to replenish his alchemical supplies - and my machinery reflects just this morbid procedure. Thus, at its upper end is a device by means of which one can squeeze out the life essence of a poor critter, which is then boiled up and distilled in the lower areas in a highly scientific manner.
The construction of the machine was under enormous time pressure in view of the planned start of shooting. In fact, my Squeezer was built in just a bit over 1.5 weeks. How exactly the construction process looked like, you can see in the following WIP album. As usual, you will find a much more detailed construction documentation in my blog (though in German) - and all the visitors who are not interested in the technical details can just jump directly to the next device =)
Building the Squeezer
Like my distillation squeezer, also the oculuscope is based on certain descriptions of the novel, more precisely on a little story that Eisspin tells to the crat while he is working on his microscope. The story is about one of the smallest still visible representatives of Zamonia, a so-called root man, who accidentally releases a demon from a bottle.
Originally, my assignment was simply to build this small root man figure. Since according to the novel these tiny creatures are smaller than a chestnut, this representation would have turned out very poorly. I therefore decided to place the root man under an alchemical microscope (the oculuscope), which also fits nicely with the narrative framework of the story.
Also optically I have based my oculuscope on some Moers-themes. Thus, with the cyclopean-looking eyeball lens, we have a small homage to the bookling theme, the demonic hands, in turn, refer directly to the story of the root man and the freed demons.
And as usual also to this construction gives the story of its creation was documented in numerous pictures... :
Creating the Oculuscope