Wednesday, 30 September 2015

The Pillars & Tetragrams

This was going to be a huge challenge.

Not only did I have to make the pillars, but also the Tetrahedrons and the bases for supporting them when uncovered in some grades.

The temple Praemonstrator guided every stage of the process so they came out perfectly.  They were to be used in the Irish Golden Dawn Temple based in Dublin.

We initially sketched out the specifications to get an idea of the wood, paint, and perspex needed.

I used about 10m of 19mm x 19mm pine, 8 sheets of 3.2mm mdf, and 2 sheets (12" by 8") of translucent perspex.

The base is just over 40cm wide/deep. The total height of the pillars goes over 2m.

This was the point that I knew I'd need power tools.  There was no way I was going to be able to cut each pillar side anywhere near accurately or quickly.  It was at that point I discovered how useful the mask was when I made the first cuts.
One cut and covered!
After masses of research I eventually bought a smaller Makita circular saw for the job.  I'd thought about cheaper tools; but since seeing a drill go up in smoke I'd decided to get the best tools I could afford.

I started by assembling the base frames, and screwing/nailing those to increase stability.

Then I started with the pillar body frames.  These needed to have 0.91° angles for the joins (Yep, it can be done!), and got pretty close.  Everything was glued, clamped, and then screwed for stability.

Then came the moment of cutting the mdf.  Everything had been marked out, clamped (You must NEVER clamp the wood part that falls away... If you do, you risk severe injury due to the blade jamming in the groove and it leaping out with kickback.)

I was going to cut 4 sheets at a time for the pillar sides - everything had to be figured out beforehand.

You can see in the picture that one side of the wood being cut is not clamped and can move freely.
The assembly of the pillars body was now ready.

These were glued, and then the edges routed to give them a rounded edge. Primed, and painted shortly after.

The rough, raw pillars

The painting began, and while they dried I began to figure out how to make the capital.

That temporary capital literally fell off moments later

The paint drying was going to take a fair while.  This gave me time to create frames for the capitals and to start making the Tetrahedrons.

The tetrahedrons... [NOT suitable for real candles] well I had tried to make wood supports, but my head melted trying to work out the angles and then a tool to be able to do it...  I resorted to human ingenuity and 3d printed them at Shapeways.

3D printed Tetrahedrons skeletons

To shape the perspex you'll need to score the sheets with a blade designed that it points towards yourself.  You'll need to score the plastic deeply many times and right to the edges (or you'll get lumps on the edges near the points). To snap the perspex; Place the scored mark along a straight hard edge on table, the scored edge facing upwards - clamp it well and then use your body weight to push down and snap it.  It's going to send small shards everywhere - so goggles/gloves are a must, sweep up after... and cover with a cloth while snapping if you want to stop projectiles.
Perspex/Plexiglass Blade

You can attach the sheets with superglue or any other clear plastic glue.

The Perspex covers attached to outside

Light test

The capital, Tetrahedron and its base (the white is wood filler)

These came together really well and kitchen was getting cramped with all the separate items.  The Capitals and tetrahedron bases were painted and pillars assembled for first time.

The pillars had a special locking system in the base enabling them to be moved around easily.  You can fit both capitals, tetrahedrons and their bases into one pillar base (plus other temple tools if needed)

Monday, 28 September 2015

Triangle and Cross

I'd started by making the white triangle and red cross that is symbolic of the Golden Dawn and it's ceremonies for a group operating in Dublin (Ireland).

I mistakenly thought that this would be a easy task - How hard can a triangle be right?  I obtained some 19mm x 19mm lengths for the Triangles and 12mm x 12mm for the crosses.  Had a basic wood saw, small workbench and some awesome glue.

Initially i'd made cuts at 60 degrees and this was nearly impossible to get accurate.  At this point I was making the cuts manually and using a standard protractor to measure angles - 60 degree cuts are hard.
60° means a very thin wedge

The triangles i'd assembled that way were all slightly out and sub-standard, so went away and thought for a bit and It came to me that I could use a 30° angle on the inside edge - The 30° would also be easier to manually cut/sand.
Much better!

The end results were much more consistent, but a lot of waste was happening due to cuts being slightly out. I'd come to the conclusion I needed tools (and I've literally just picked all this up to do!) So, don't even know the names of what I'm looking for at this point.  Saved by the internet, I need a mitre saw.  

While I was searching around I made a 'jig' to make the cuts more consistent.
Jigs guide the saw in a straight line
Ignore sandpaper, used as sanding block for small things later!

So, hit for 'cheap mitre saw' (we'll discuss just how bad 'cheap' can be later) and found this gem.
Cheap, accurate and fun.
This mitre saw enabled me to make any cuts I needed (within reason) - I was soon able to make lots of odd shapes.  Back to the plot, my triangle joints were now clean and straight.
Not bad.

Because this was much quicker to cut lengths, I was now getting through wood at a crazy pace and loving learning all these new skills arising from the challenge of making the tools.

Painting these was the next challenge.  I had to learn rapidly how to - wood was a new medium for me.

I used white primer starting with thin layers (Triangles have to be painted in sections) and soon discovered that it was really hard to get smooth finish.  Looking back I should have sanded the wood more - a LOT more.  Start with rough grade (80 or so) and then work your way up to 200-400 - This will give the wood a nice smooth finish.  You'll need the mask at least when sanding that primer - a very fine dust is released.

After apply what seemed to be 90 coats of primer and sanding each layer down to get the perfect flat finish I gave up - Always getting lines and imperfections...  So, I stumbled on a great trick... I used a nice large tube of titanium white acrylic, wet my triangle, wet my finger, squirted a healthy amount of paint on and smeared it with my very wet finger (a trick I learned a while back as an artist) - the result was a much better flat finish.  In future I'll use wood filler for the small gaps in some of the joins - Cutting the wood can sometimes cause chips in the edges (Keep in mind that all this is being done with a small budget, and am very new to all this (am sure there are many tricks yet to learn)

The crosses were much easier and forgiving than the triangles, and used acrylics also.  Using 12mm strips of wood meant that the height was 48mm / width 36mm.

Not too small

Once all these were done I waited until I could get outside and sprayed the items with acrylic lacquer a few times to protect the surface from dirt and chips.

The end result was just right.

Saturday, 26 September 2015


The Lamens were approached early on as they were fairly simple.  They are used to identify the officers in Golden Dawn ceremonies.

I sourced some mdf disks (10cm diameter) of varying thickness - 6mm too heavy, 3mm Just right.

3mm mdf disk

I used a small dremel to route the edges smoothly.

Dremel Tool

Router Bit

Dremel Router table

They were then primed, dried, and sanded in preparation for spraying.

I'd made a small station for painting/spraying so I could move the set around easily (With kids in the house I needed to be able to keep these out of reach) - But also served to stop the disks moving about and give some airflow near the edges and underneath.

I started the designs and masking areas needed, Then the masking was cut carefully.

I had tried to get the Kerux lamen tidy, but failed to cut the curves of the mask cleanly (I'm old and my hands shake lots lol) - Even though it was fun to paint these... I had a backup plan should the lamens not turn out cleanly.  Anyway, on with the process!

Then spraying over the mask next.

The spraying worked well and didn't bleed under the masking as it dries so quickly.
The finish after peeling the masking off was pretty neat, but as you can see below the Kerux was poor quality.

Kerux showed up my lack of a steady cutting hand

These could be done on a very cheap budget if you can get the masking cleanly cut before spraying - You just need the disks, primer, and small cans of spray.

If you can afford to, you can get circular printouts made of the lamen designs from various sites (I used, mount them on the mdf circles and then spray with lacquer after. Check out the Kerux design on these printouts (These are vinyl prints and not paper.

The collars for the Golden Dawn lamens were supplied by Seshet Designs who was able to make them to exact specifications and also supplied the velcro mounts (so the collars could be washed) - Will update with pictures soon.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Safety First!

Typical safety gear

Wise words, but a real bind when your goggles are steaming up while your cutting wood or painting (I guess I need better ones!)

Before you set out and get building the tools you'll need for ceremonial magic, you'll need some simple items for protection, a willingness to read the manuals for your tools (if using power tools, this is a must!), and a lot of common sense.

  • Get goggles, gloves suited to the work you are going to undertake and USE THEM all the time.
  • Make sure that you sweep your workplace often (the dust makes the floor very slippery)
  • Check that you are wide awake and focused before using any tool
  • Focus on job in hand, Do not let your mind wander while cutting/drilling etc...
  • Use common sense and take a few moments to look at possible problems you may run into
  • Read the manuals, research risks for the jobs you are doing
  • Use tools without knowing what they do
  • leave shavings/dust around
  • Get over confident and do jobs without protection
Cheap kitchen mat saves slip ups

I'll discuss specific safety issues as they arise for each piece also.  There are many accidents that can happen, most can be avoided with common sense.