The Art of Darkness

DIY Vampire Hunting Kit

May 8th, 2013 by Cobwebs

Vampire Hunting KitA while back I stumbled upon this link, which details ten unusual eBay purchases. One of the items was what purported to be an 18th-century Vampire Killing Kit. It was more likely a Blomberg Kit (which have a murky and tangled past of their own), but I quite liked the idea of such a project so I decided to take a crack at making one myself. I gave this one to my Secret Pumpkin this year, but my notes are below if you’d like to make one of your own.

Although this project is somewhat on the involved side, no single piece is particularly difficult; there are just a lot of pieces and it takes a while to put everything together. However, I think the results are worth the effort. You can create a stripped-down version to carry around as a prop when you go clubbing, or display a full kit on a bookcase as an decorative object. Plus you can also use it to kill vampires, should you encounter any.

First I had to decide what items to include. A quick canvass of the Internet turned up a surprising number of sites devoted to “vintage” kits; I chose interesting equipment from a variety of sources, and came up with the following list:

  • Wooden mallet
  • Stake
  • Large cross
  • Various blessed medals (the Seal of Solomon and medals depicting St. Michael are supposed to be particularly effective)
  • Small box containing several vials or bottles of vampire-fighting substances:
    • Holy Water
    • Garlic (in this case, powdered “Flour of Garlic”)
    • Cemetery earth
    • Brimstone
    • Holy incense
    • Salt
    • Poppy seeds
    • Coffin nails
    • Thunderstone (fragment of iron meteorite, claimed to be effective against dark forces)
  • Coffin key
  • Bottle of “trophy” fangs
  • Mysterious note in Latin

The Secret Pumpkin exchange is supposed to have an upper cost limit so I couldn’t get too elaborate, but some other items that you might wish to include are:

  • Anointing oil
  • Faery Stone
  • Bat’s Head Root
  • Ritual dagger
  • Brass Phurpa
  • Surgical scissors
  • Metal tooth pliers
  • Metal syringe
  • Prayer book or Bible, preferably in Latin
  • Rosary with crucifix
  • A leather valise, compartmented box, or similar container which would keep all of this equipment carefully organized (seconds count when you’re fighting vampires, and you don’t want to grab the brimstone when you need holy water)

The mallet was an inexpensive woodworking mallet, which was artificially aged: It was whacked with a hammer, gouged with a screwdriver, abraded with steel wool, then stained with a dark wood stain.

The stake started life as a piece of 2×2 lumber. It was cut down to reasonable stake size (you can ask the hardware store to do this for you; one piece of 2×2 should yield several stakes) and then one end was whittled to a point. A dremel tool was used to cut a shallow channel about 2″ wide around the other end and to carve a little cross shape on two opposite the sides below the channel. The stake was then aged the same way as the mallet. The little crosses (unfortunately not visible in the photo above) were filled in with a darker stain. Finally, rough twine was wrapped around the stake in the carved channel and hot-glued in place.

The cross was found at a craft store in the decorate-it-yourself wood section. It had a hole in the back for hanging on a wall; that was filled in with wood putty and then the wood was aged as for the mallet and stake. A small saint’s medal (which was bought on eBay but can also be found at many places online) was bound to the front with sinew thread.

The box for the vials was a wooden recipe box found in the same section of the craft store as the cross. It was similarly aged, then some little strips of leather (which originally came from an upholstery sample swatch) were hot-glued over the little channels that recipe boxes have for no reason I can fathom. The leather was made to look worn by going over it with sandpaper. A metal cross (which I think originally came from Oriental Trading, although they don’t seem to have the same style now) was hot-glued on top.

The glass vials came from a variety of sources; the matching ones for the garlic and similar substances were from Specialty Bottle; the mismatched ones were left over from some past project. The glass and corks were aged with a bit of stain. The labels were scans of handwriting (my sister does calligraphy as a hobby and was kind enough to write out the list of words I gave her; any “handwriting” font would work too) which were printed out and then aged. I initially tried dipping the paper in tea but the result wasn’t dark enough to suit me, so I wound up diluting brown acrylic paint with water and brushing that over the paper.

The actual contents of the vials were mostly stuff available around the house: The “flour of garlic” was garlic powder from the spice cabinet; the poppy seeds were likewise from the pantry; the cemetery earth was potting soil; the salt was simply rock salt (and the “holy water” was just an empty vial, since one would assume that’d evaporate eventually). The “thunderstone” was, y’know, a rock (although for added veracity you can buy real ones: Search for “tektite.”)

A few of the items were more authentic: Brimstone is just another name for sulphur, which is extremely cheap; I got the holy incense from the same vendor. The coffin nails were likewise authentic; you could use any small nail but I liked the antique look of the heads on these.

The “coffin key” was a real antique skeleton key; it was found on eBay (it was actually part of a set of six different ones that was sold as one lot, so there were leftovers for other projects). It was too big to fit in a vial so I sewed a simple little bag out of scrap muslin dyed with strong coffee.

The “trophy fangs” were fox teeth.

The Latin note, also penned and scanned by my wonderful sister, had text as follows: “Is est Sanctus Res ego sum decessio secundum ut meus pius futurus adsuesco assuesco obviam Malum, Nox noctis Ingredior Nosferatu, Lamia quod Intentus. In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti. Amen.” Which translates roughly to, “This is the Holy Thing I am leaving behind to my own kind to be used against the Evil, the Night Walker, Nosferatu and vampire. In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.” That note was aged with dilute paint as for the labels, then the edges were carefully burned to make them ragged.

When the gift was shipped to my Secret Pumpkin, the following note was included:

Vampire Hunter’s Kit

Provenance:

Shadow Manor acquired this assemblage in 2013 from a combined estate auction in Philadelphia PA. It was one of several offerings in a small series amongst what was otherwise a rather commonplace collection from the estate of Charles Gibson Jr. of Clover St., Philadelphia PA.

These items were listed as follows in the auction guide:

“The following four offerings are being separated from the main body of the estate due to their similar and curious origins. These items were discovered beneath the floorboards in a second level bedroom by Mr. Gibson during a renovation project at his Clover St. townhome in 1973. These pieces are tentatively dated to mid-1930 due to several pages of the Philadelphia Inquirer from May-June of that year having been used to line the cache where the objects had been stored. As to their original source, it should be mentioned that Mr. Gibson purchased his home on Clover St. in 1961 from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. The Archdiocese owned this home from 1914 – 1961, and it was used exclusively as a rectory during that period. Accordingly, and without prejudice or further inference, we offer the following items:

  1. A collection of diverse items, all originally contained within a badly-disintegrating leather valise and thus offered as a group:
    1. One wooden cross with a saint’s medal bound thereto with sinew.
    2. One wooden box holding several vials labeled as follows:
      1. Brimstone powder
      2. Salt
      3. Several coffin nails
      4. Flour of garlic
      5. Cemetery earth
      6. Holy incense
      7. Poppy seeds
      8. A “thunderstone,” or fragment of iron meteorite, widely claimed to have power against dark forces.
    3. One cotton bag containing a coffin key.
    4. One glass vial, intended for holy water.
    5. One small corked bottle containing a number of sharp fangs of some animal of unidentified species.
    6. One large wooden mallet, well worn.
    7. One wooden stake, carved with a crucifix.
    8. One handwritten note, in Latin.

    (Our note: Shadow Manor attempted to acquire the items below as well, but our agent was outbid.)

  2. One inscribed first edition copy of Montague Summers’ 1928 treatise “The Vampire. His Kith and Kin. – ‘The Philosophy of Vampirism’ ” Title page inscription reading: “To my dearest Ambrose, treasured ally in the only war that matters.”
  3. One folding metal spade of U.S. military issue.
  4. One pair of men’s black workboots, well worn.

She seemed pleased with the effort (there are more photos of the kit at her post, and I yoinked the one above from there as well because hers turned out better than my reference shots. Photography is not my long suit).

Incidentally, as for the optional kit items mentioned above:

Anointing oil could simply be olive oil or other oil of your choice (I didn’t include it in the kit I mailed for fear it might leak).

Faery Stone is another name for Staurolite, which frequently grows into a natural cross shape. You can buy the formations online at both gem-and-mineral shops and metaphysical/witchcraft suppliers. They often come polished as jewelry, but the rough uncut type might look nicer for the kit.

Something called “Bat’s Head Root” is often sold as a protective magical charm, purporting to be a rare root from Mexico. They’re actually either the seed pods of Martynia annua (which you can see here, halfway down the page) or the fruit of Trapa bicornis (seen here). Either will work, since you’re interested in the shape more than the provenance.

The ritual dagger could be any knife you want; wooden-handled athames are inexpensive and could be aged as for the other wooden items in the kit.

A Phurpa is a Tibetan “magical dart” that’s used to ward off evil. They’re widely available at both metaphysical/witchcraft sites and at import stores.

The surgical scissors, tooth pliers, metal syringe, Latin prayer book, and rosary are all available on eBay in various sizes and price ranges. Shop around until you find the perfect piece for your kit.

The leather valise can be purchased on eBay as well, or you could make a carpet bag, velvet-lined box, or some other container. What you’re mainly looking for is something fairly old and beat-up, which is large enough to hold your gear but small enough to carry easily.

So that’s the kit. It was a lot of fun to build, and the result was very satisfying.

Posted in Doom It Yourself | 7 Comments »

7 Responses

  1. Pixel Pixie Says:

    Wow, that turned out fantastically! I am impressed.

    A friend of mine did something similar for her boyfriend with a zombie survival kit, but it wasn’t nearly this nice.

  2. Cat Says:

    I totally should have photographed the stake with the cross facing up. I was a little excited and addle-brained.

    Thanks for this post–I was hoping you’d tell all about how you put this together!

  3. Sisifo Says:

    I’m going to need two houses. One for “normal” crap and one for all of the awesomeness.

  4. StoneMaven Says:

    I did one of these for my Secret Ghost last Halloween! I used a wooden cigar box and made pseudo-Victorian labels to cover the cigar adverts. I called it “Dr VanHelsing’s Vampyre Eradication Kit and Gentleman’s Companion” and put a list of the preternaturals it was effective against on the bottom with disclaimers! It was so much fun to put together.

  5. xJane Says:

    So much awesome. I want a glass display case so that I can make something like this and then put it on display.

  6. Blueflamingo Says:

    If you scaned the note and lables your sister wrote, can you attach a copy here so we can print one out?

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