Most guides to style and beauty concentrate nearly exclusively on the living, who are perceived as being the demographic possessing all the cards — money, prestige, vitality — whereas the undead population occupies a marginal position largely devoted to mere subsistence issues. Yet in recent times certain individuals have been working to change this perception, starting with the undead preserved minions of powerful and charismatic evil lords. The high profile supervillain leading a contingent of cursed mummies is naturally interested in presenting the trappings of status in his or her minions' appearance and in their demeanor, so as to bring about all the advantageous kinds of associations in the minds and hearts of anyone who sees or hears of the spectacle. There are just a few special guidelines which the prudent mummy-rancher ought to bear in mind as they embark on this rewarding bit of historical mischief so as to get high marks.
- Inventory of parts. Check whether the body you are preparing has all of the usual parts present before you begin. If not, you need to decide whether you will be installing prosthetics to disguise the horrifying losses, or taking a bolder approach by putting them out there front and center. In most cases, extra body parts beyond the usual complement are to be avoided so as not to present a confused effect to the viewer.
- The juice. Embalming helps bolster the overall durability of a corpse partly by retarding the process of decomposition, with its unfortunate tendency to produce off-odors and laxness of posture, and partly by providing a fluid medium conducive to a more natural range of motion. Choose a preparation which is certified by international standards organizations for a superior working life, an off-brand or a homemade formulation for better economy in cases where quick and dirty measures suffice.
- A flair for style. With an understanding of basic wrapping technique, your mummified charges can be the center of attention at the most prestigious runway shows catering to the seedier element. You are aiming for a decent amount of coverage, a smooth gradation of texture from the torso on outward, and good delineation of the anatomical forms lying underneath. Pay special attention to the loose ends, which can be tucked in for a tailored appearance or allowed to trail for additional interest.
- A semblance of personality. The head wrappings are the most important area for conveying the spirit of the mummified being. Horizontal stripes appeal to tradition, while bias plies and herringbone patterns bring a more modern sensibility into play. The eyes (if present), ears, nose, and mouth may in many styles peek through the bandages to suggest to the viewer that the being underneath is something unconventional, since dead people have no need to display these organs.
Strokes of genius
- The long line. Even a mummy short in stature can have a commanding presence by disposing the wrappings in a cunning fashion, more spiral and less circumferential, with subtle pinstripes running vertically if desired. The use of ritual headware (crowns, crests, etc.) and platform footwear can further lengthen the body shape. A sleek appearance can be enhanced by lightly shellacking the mummy. Step back from your creation to take in the first impression that an observer will have upon encountering it.
- Massed effects. If you are fortunate enough to have a number of bodies to work with, your expressive vocabulary can expand greatly, using the language of choreography in your creation. Subtle variations in coloration, surface texture, and odor can provide an interesting counterpoint and work against the impression of uniformity that an unvaried grouping of mummies can sometimes have. If you have additional undead elements to work with you can try sprinkling these among the mummies as focal points of interest.
- The role of color. Linen has a light neutral color tending toward the warm side of the spectrum. By bleaching and dying the bandage strips, you can tint them to suit any color scheme you may have in mind. Some people like to match their mummies to the color scheme of the tomb or churchyard where they will be hanging out, while others play up the contrast between the elements by playing with the color palette: cold vs. warm, organic vs. artificial, dead bodies vs. living.
Traps for mere fools
- The curse of homeliness. Do not imagine that because the body is covered from head to toe that you can begin with substandard quality materials. Beauty is more than skin deep when it comes to mummies, and a high grade of natural beauty combined with superior materials is the best way to achieve a truly memorable result.
- Fire in the hole. If you do not pay attention to proper hydration of materials, especially in proximity to hot desert settings, a mummy collection can represent a significant fire hazard. Incorporate retardant chemicals into the solution impregnating the wraps if you can, following label directions.
- Dry rot. If too dry is bad, too wet is positively catastrophic, as it invites in mold, fungus growth, and vermin infestation, all marks of a duffer of a mummy-master. Employ dessicants and ensure proper ventilation in the first place, and make sure your creations are not exposed to the kind of damp that can penetrate the preservative resins you apply to the exteriors of the leathery corpses.
- Junk in the trunk. Obese individuals make laughable mummies no matter how tightly you try to cinch the windings, even worse than gaunt ones which have a proper skeletalness about them. If you must work with more voluptuous source material, consider a course of liposuction either pre- or post-mortem to trim off some of the more offending excess.
Precious and needful
- Mod Podge.
- Splints. Armature wire may also be useful in posing the fine articulations of such things as fingers or the set of a jaw, and is easily hidden beneath layers of linen.
- Amulet of protection.
- Bleach solution.
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- Image credit IL PROF. CAMPANA ASSISO AL GHOTA DEGLI DEI EGIZI by ”RICCARDIN dal CIUFFO” ex RICKYTREK
- Image credit MummyManWavesHello by moleratsgotnofur
- Image credit Istanbul Archeological Museum by NAME
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