200th blog post: a challenge

This is the 200th blog post I've published.  Thank you so much all you readers who make doing this worthwhile!  

To mark the occasion, I've got a game for you excellent readers.  I've made a cryptographic puzzle and encoded it into the base of my Feejee mermaid.  

First up, a couple of shots of the mermaid sitting on its nice new base.  Sculpture looks so much better when it's mounted on a base.

The base is my acknowledgement of P. T. Barnum and his original mermaid, as well as being my signature.  There are 120 characters in total, which doesn't allow for a very large message, but there are several in there and in two different languages which is not bad for a piece of text smaller than a tweet.  I've used a mix of cryptography and steganography to encode the words, but none of the techniques I used are very sophisticated.  I'm not trying to recreate Kryptos here, I wanted to make something that any moderately determined person can figure out.

So, let's get down to it.  I mucked around with the contrast on these photos a bit, which will hopefully make it easier to see the letters -  as you'll see contrast is quite important.

Image 1

Image 2

Image 3

Image 4

Image 5

There is nothing encoded into the image files themselves or the blog text.  Most steganography today relies on hiding data in digital files, but I haven't used any digital methods because this is, after all, a sculpture.  If the message is actually hidden in a photo of the object, it isn't a cryptographic sculpture.