Saturday, July 21, 2018

DIY Sherlock Apple: Making Moriarty's Famous "IOU"

My friends Chris & Christie are HUGE Sherlock fans, and are steadily turning their living room into Sherlock's apartment set. (Remember our Sherlock wallpaper stencil?) So for Christie's birthday I decided to surprise her with a little Sherlock prop I haven't seen many people try before:


See, Christie also loves Moriarty - even did this bang-on gender-swapped cosplay of him at Dragon Con several years back:
So the apple seemed like a perfect fit.

It took me about 3 nights, since I had to wait on things to dry, but in the end I had this:


Lucky for me (and for you, if you want to make your own) there are some VERY realistic fake apples out there. They're even weighted! Check your local craft stores - or I remember finding some at Walmart back when I did my glowing poison apple. It shouldn't cost more than 3 or 4 dollars.

Other than the apple, all you need is a craft blade, a stick of chalk, epoxy putty (I used the leftover epoxy dough from our Thestral build, but an air-dry clay might work, too), and a little craft paint.

 Then if you want to go the EXTRA mile, go on ebay and buy a used Leatherman Squirt S4 multi-tool in gray:

This is the exact make and model of the knife Moriarty leaves behind in the apple. New ones cost around $60, but you can find them used for closer to $20.

Now, let's carve up an apple!

First sketch the I O U on your apple with chalk. Use reference pictures on Google for this to get the size and shape as close as you can.

Next start cutting with a craft blade:

You only need to get through the skin here, which is a thick flexible plastic. It helps to use a sawing motion - and go slow!

Peel off the apple skin, revealing the Styofoam underneath.

Using your craft blade again, dig out as much of the Styrofoam as you can, making deep channels in the apple:

My own apple cuts are too shallow, so learn from my mistake and dig deep! You'll fill in some of that depth with the epoxy putty later, so err on the side of more.

That said, you WILL hit the concrete center at some point. Just do your best to dig around it. (Or remove it entirely, if it's really in the way.)

Once you've cored out as much of the foam as you can, carefully mash in some epoxy putty, and smooth it out with the handle of a paint brush (or clay tools, if you have any).

Let the epoxy cure, then paint it a yellowish-white:

At this point my apple bite looked super fake to me, so I decided to age it a little, as if it'd been sitting out and started to brown. To do that, I carefully rimmed the edges of all the cuts with watered-down brown paint, darkening them up and adding more shadow (which also helps the cuts look deeper.) Next I used an orangey brown color to give that toasty, newly-browned look to the flesh. It was a huge help to have some Google images of browned apples open on my computer while I did this - use those references!

Oh! Nearly forgot: I yanked out the fake plastic stem and glued in a real apple stem instead. Just another touch to make it look more realistic.

Ta daaa!

The final touch is sticking the Leatherman tool into the base of the apple - again, use a reference for that to get the angle right. As an added bonus, the multi-tool acts as a stand, and holds the IOU facing up when you lay the apple on its side.

I decided the apple needed a nice container, so next I aged and oiled this wooden craft box:

I gave it a good sanding, then, since I didn't have time for wood stain (takes too long to dry), I watered down some brown and black acrylic, brushed it on, and wiped it down with a rag.

Keep in mind that if you use water-based paint on bare wood it will raise the grain - meaning make the wood rough again. So you'll need to sand it again - just lightly - after painting. Finally I added an orange oil furniture wax (we had some in the garage) to give it a nice sheen.

 The brass hardware was too shiny, so I used a Q-tip to rub on some alcohol ink to darken it. (I mixed both blue and orange ink to get a nice burgandy-bronze color.)


Here's the finished box:

I filled the box with scraps of black fabric (left over from our Death Eater capes, if you can believe it - I realllly like recycling craft stuff!) and nestled the apple on top.


Christie's surprise party was tonight, so I've had to wait 'til now to show off her gift. Her party was at a geek bar here in Orlando called the Cloak and Blaster, and her other gifts included My Little Pony face masks, Funko Pops, and Avatar DVDs.

Did I mention this is her 40th birthday?

See, it's good to be a geek.

And finally, here's my best attempt at recreating Sherlocks' dramatic apple reveal:

Hope you guys enjoyed! As always, if you make your own please share pics over on the Epbot FB page, or tag me on Instagram. It makes me super happy seeing your projects, so humor me, k? ;)


Want more? Then check out my Craft Page for over 150 more geeky projects and tutorials!


  1. That looks fantastic!!! Thank you for sharing this idea!

  2. Oooh my husband and I went to the Cloak and Blaster on our honeymoon! It was New Years Eve and they had a viking theme going on. So much fun! Love the apple too!

  3. Have you ever tried mixing stain and wipe on poly 50/50? Finished look much faster and gives it that deep color of that the wood has when you first put on the stain .

  4. Gasppp I absolutely love Sherlock, and this is fantastic. Great job!!


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