Sunday, January 1, 2012

How to make your very own Turin Shroud at home - while choosing your own image

This is a brief synopsis of the previous post. OK,  so it was a bit wordy on account of my relating the progression of an idea to a finished product, blow-by-blow so to speak.  The finished product was a recognizable image, scorched onto fabric, with no clues as to how it was created.

Well, here's my home-made "Turin shroud" with a recognizable image of a smiley.

How was it produced?  Simple. Sketch the image in charcoal on some cloth (barbecue lump charcoal will do). Then hold the cloth up close to a source of radiant heat, eg, a ceiling spot light.

Observe the rear side closely. When you see it scorch, but only in the charcoal coated areas (black pigments absorb heat, white areas reflect and stay relatively cool), remove, then wash out the charcoal with soap and water. For fuller details, see the previous post.

Here by the way is a link to an excellent site that I cannot recommend too highly, discovered purely by accident. The site's name is Silly Beliefs, and its page on the Turin Shroud is packed with telling observations.

So what next?  Posting to Tom Chivers is a complete waste of time. Not one of the 10 comments I have posted so far - describing the genesis of an idea to its practical demonstration - has earned me a single recommend, while those who snipe or nitpick are rewarded. It would be nice if Tom himself, who frequently enters the fray on his own posts, were to proffer a word or two.

So what next on the experimental front?  There's a detail that needs attending to - minor perhaps, but irritating. It is difficult to wash out all traces of the orginal charcoal - not surprising perhaps, given that it is microcrystalline graphite. That faint but residual sketch detracts somewhat from the "Turin Shroud- like" simulation.

Today I might try grinding up some charcoal, and making it into a water or oil-based paint that can then be lightly brushed on the fabric. The trouble with yesterday's procedure, using lump charcoal, unlike the artists' charcoal stick intended originally, is that one has to press quite hard to draw the image, thus grinding carbon particles into the body of the fabric.

Update October 14, 2018

First, ignore the comment below about using a desiccated 'mummy' as template. That was (over)influenced by a visit to Brno,  Czech Republic, where my wife and I saw those mummified monks in the flesh, so to speak.

No, after a further 7 or so years  of  hands-on reseacrh,  progressing from thermostencilling (Model 1) to current Model 10 (arrived at 3 or more  years ago), I'm now firmly of the belief that the TS body image is a SIMULATED ('faked') sweat imprint of the newly crucified Jesus onto Joseph of Arimatheas's 'fine linen') . It was created in the 14th century, probably by the clerics and their helpers at Geoffroy de Charny's generously-staffed private chapel in Lirey, France, and made to look as if the sweat imprint had been yellowed with 13 centuries of age. How made? Probably as a flour imprint from two recumbent adult male volunteers, aligned head to head, one face up, the other face down, smeared with oil, sprinkled with white flour, draped with wet linen, the latter then pressed down manually to access and imprint as much of the body relief as possible. Blood (correction, 'blood' ) was then added and the the linen with flour imprint was then roasted gently over red hot embers to produce the straw image colour (via Maillard reactions and final melanoidin formation comparable to bread baking) and then given a final wash with soap and water to dislodge loose surface encrustation, leaving just the faint negative (light/dark reversed) image.  (I have deliberately omitted details re the "blood" for now. Suffice it to say that a thermostable blood substitutre. eg. red clay slurry, was perhaps used in place of real blood initially,and later touched up with real blood later, after the roasting step).

Takeaway message: the TS is an ingenious SIMULATED SWEAT/BLOOD IMPRINT of medieval (14th century) fabrication. It may have been inspired by the then-celebrated 'Veil of Veronica' - alleged to be an analogous sweat/blood imprint  (face only) acquired en route to the cross. The TS trumped that, being the whole body post-crucifixion image acquired en route from cross to tomb.

1 comment:

sciencebod said...


Since this post was written, this blogger/retired science bod has proposed a more comprehensive theory as to how the Shroud was created in the 14th century as a ‘holy relic’. The essence of the theory is the making of a thermo-stencil, using linen impregnated with a heat-sensitive chemical substance or cocktail, from a partially-mummified, minimally-skeletonised cadaver possibly in a monastery (think Brno). The desiccated proxy for the crucified Christ would have been heated in an oven of some kind, until radiating sufficient infrared as to be capable of leaving an image on thermo-sensitized cloth.

link to mummy theory