The Art of Darkness

The Wicker Link Dump

September 12th, 2014 by Cobwebs

Nerf “Zombie Strike” Machete – Nerf has expanded into the zombie-hunting market. This might be a nice costume prop. (There are quite a number of other items in the Zombie Strike line, including swords, bombs, and crossbows.)

Mythic Articulations – Etsy shop specializing in 3D-printed skeletons of mythical creatures. (Hat tip to xJane)

Ghost Underground – Artist Livio Scapella’s series of marble sculptures look like veiled ghosts.

Sugar Skull Rum – (That link goes to a press release about the product; the official site is here, but it’s currently just a shell.) I have no idea what the rum tastes like, but the bottles are pretty. (via Cat)

Some cute kid-friendly fabric designs from Spoonflower: Chibi Great Old Ones, Monsters, There Once Was a Shark That Swallowed a Cephalopod, and Unusual Specimens.

Fiori Couture – Designer of really interesting corsets and accessories. Their Facebook page seems to have a lot more photos of their designs than the main site; I especially love the steel mermaid corset. (via WitchArachne)

The Gaslight Grill – Steampunk-esque London restaurant which specializes in “vintage” afternoon tea.

Good Omens on BBC Radio – Gaiman and Pratchett’s novel is being adapted for radio and will be broadcast this December.

Cheese “Cemetery” – This party cheese plate (complete with Brie casket!) is perfect for a Halloween party. (Hat tip to Pixel Pixie)

Author Claims to Have Identified Jack the Ripper – Yeah; let me point you to the important bit of this article (emphasis mine): “Jack the Ripper, one of the most notorious serial killers in history, has been identified through DNA traces found on this shawl, according to a book to be published Tuesday.” Uh-huh.

Posted in Link Dump | 2 Comments »

Artist: Wood-Splitter Lee

September 11th, 2014 by Cobwebs

Baby UnicornLee Cross, known professionally as Wood-Splitter Lee, is an Alaskan sculptor who creates astonishingly lifelike cuddly creatures. Some are real-world animals like wolf pups and ducklings, but most are fantasy creatures like Bunnyflies, Cloud Lambs, and Galaxy Stags. Browsing the gallery is sort of like a stroll through some fairy princess’ menagerie.

Her critters are all hand-made without the use of molds or patterns, so they’re truly one-of-a-kind. Most have articulated skeletons which are fully poseable; she also offers non-furry sculpted pets like “Boo,” which come in their own little habitats.

She appears to mainly sell her creations through Auction Adoptions on eBay. I can’t seem to find any information on whether she takes commissions for custom work, but since her routine auctions can run to several thousand dollars I imagine that if she does it’d be pricey.

She has a Facebook page here, and there are a couple of interviews with her at Geek Insider and mom.me.

(via Geyser of Awesome)

Posted in Needful Things | 1 Comment »

A Couple of Easy Prop Ideas

September 10th, 2014 by Cobwebs

Dybbuk BoxNeed a new addition to your wunderkammer? io9 recently posted a list of, quote, “Terrifying Cursed Objects That Actually Exist.” The objects are not particularly terrifying–a killer chair sounds like the plot of a B-grade horror movie–but item #7 has kind of a neat backstory:

7) The Dybbuk Box

In Jewish folklore, a dybbuk is an evil spirit. Supposedly, a Holocaust survivor accidentally summoned the demon while using a homemade Ouija board, but managed to trap it inside the wine cabinet. Kevin Mannis bought the box at an estate sale in 2001, and immediately started having nightmares about an evil hag — as did friends who stayed with him. Mannis gave the box to his mother, who suffered a stroke on the same day. The box’s later owners have also claimed the dybbuk has appeared in their nightmares as well. The last owner was Jason Haxton, Director of the Museum of Osteopathic Medicine, who not only had nightmares but developed a strange skin disease and began coughing up blood. At that point, Haxton contacted his local Rabbis, sealed the Dybbuk back in the box, and then hid it from the world. Thanks, dude!

The original box has its own Wikipedia entry which goes into a little more detail about the legend and the box’s contents: Two 1920s pennies, a lock of blonde hair bound with cord, a lock of black/brown hair bound with cord, a small statue engraved with the Hebrew word “Shalom”, a small, golden wine goblet, one dried rose bud, and a single candle holder with four octopus-shaped legs. (The legend also inspired The Possession, a horror film produced by Sam Raimi.)

You could get endlessly creative with both the container and its contents: The “real” wine cabinet, pictured above, is just a cheap wooden thing and pretty much any box of your choice would be a fine substitute. A lidded clay jar, a corked bottle, or an interesting jewelery box would be other good choices; I don’t think dybbukim are constrained by any particular physical dimensions so you could make the “prison” whatever size suits you. The contents could be any thrift-store stuff that seems creepy: Rusty keys, an old rag doll, a piece of parchment containing lines from the Kabbalah, and so forth. Display everything along with a little sign describing an appropriate provenance and legend for your “cursed artifact,” and you’ve got a great, creepy prop.

Spirit TrapIn a similar vein, I ran across this “spirit trap,” described thusly:

Shaman spirit trap in hard wood (made up of two halves), Burmese in origin. Probably early nineteenth century. Bound loosely with recent leather thong. Overall size 14 cms. Used by Burmese shamans or medicine men to capture and transport supernatural entities.

Let me just say that I am vastly taken with the idea of a handy container for transporting supernatural entities. It’s like Tupperware for ghosts.

Anyway, like the dybbuk box, the story is the important bit: The “spirit trap” could be just about any portable container you want, although something decorated with mystical symbols would be cool. A belt containing several traps would be a neat part of a demon-hunter costume, or would look great displayed as an inherited artifact from an adventurous ancestor.

Posted in Paint It Black | 4 Comments »

All Hallow’s Read

September 9th, 2014 by Cobwebs

In October of 2010 Neil Gaiman posted A Modest Proposal (that doesn’t actually involve eating anyone), in which he mused that there aren’t enough traditions which involve giving books and suggested a solution to that:

I propose that, on Hallowe’en or during the week of Hallowe’en, we give each other scary books. Give children scary books they’ll like and can handle. Give adults scary books they’ll enjoy.

I propose that stories by authors like John Bellairs and Stephen King and Arthur Machen and Ramsey Campbell and M R James and Lisa Tuttle and Peter Straub and Daphne Du Maurier and Clive Barker and a hundred hundred others change hands — new books or old or second-hand, beloved books or unknown. Give someone a scary book for Hallowe’en. Make their flesh creep…

I wrote about the tradition back in 2011, but was just reminded about it by this retweet from Gaiman:

It’s a tradition that’s well worth supporting, and there are plenty of ways to participate. Gift a book to a friend, or give one–along with a nice tip–to the pizza delivery guy. Bring a printout of the poster to your local library and suggest a spooky read-a-thon. Arrange a book-swap party: Have everyone bring a favorite scary book (with which they can bear to part) and leave with a different one. Read from a book of age-appropriate spooky stories at a child’s Halloween party and send the guests home with copies.

And if you hand out books to trick-or-treaters, I hope you follow the advice of the All Hallows Read site’s FAQ:

You can give out scary books or comics to trick or treaters on Hallowe’en if you want to, obviously. (We recommend looking the child in the eye and saying, “Take it. Read it. Trust me… around here… a book can be… safer than candy.” Then chuckling to yourself, as if remembering something unfortunate that happened to some of the local children only last year.)

Posted in Whatever | 1 Comment »

Attack of the Spider Dog

September 8th, 2014 by Cobwebs

First thought: “Spider dog, spider dog, does whatever a spider dog can…”

Second thought: “That bit with the hanging body parts is stupid; spiders don’t dismember their prey before wrapping it up.”

Third thought: “I want a spider dog.”

Posted in Funny Peculiar | 5 Comments »

Guardians of the Link Dump

September 5th, 2014 by Cobwebs

Edgar Allan Poe Sweater – Some people wear Christmas sweaters. This is a Halloween sweater.

Cabinets of Wonder – Neat book about wunderkammer.

John Brosio – Painter of weird, often unsettling scenes. The site gallery is somewhat annoying to navigate; you can see examples of his work collected here. (My favorite is the guy with the giant squid. You can just see him thinking, “Dammit, again?”)

The Frosted Petticoat – Etsy shop full of unusual, very detailed, chocolate in the form of things like gears and buttons. (via Cat)

The Graveyard Book – Neil Gaiman’s wonderful book has been adapted as a graphic novel, with each chapter illustrated by a different artist. That link is Vol 1; here’s Vol 2. There’s an excerpt from the first chapter here.

Creepy Carnival Bat Ride – Online class for creating a Halloween decoration themed like a spooky carnival ride. (Hat tip to Kathy)

Great Moments in Dystopian Knitwear – An amusing roundup of knitted garments in dystopian movies. (via Burning Prairie)

Unicorn Princess Shoes – The “horn” heel is…certainly unique.

Best Friends – I love this illustration by Khoa Le of a “pet” who just wants to sit on its owner’s lap.

“Rocky Horror” Makeup Collection – MAC Cosmetics is releasing a 21-piece collection themed around RHPS.

Posted in Link Dump | 6 Comments »

Yet More Stuff I Found While Looking Around

September 4th, 2014 by Cobwebs

Duck! Here’s another bunch of random stuff I’ve found whilst trawling the deeps of the intartubes. A few have no attribution, so if you happen to know the source for any of these please leave a note in the comments. (Click to view larger.)

Dusty Raven

Wire Trellis

This six-foot trellis made from barbed wire is by The Dusty Raven.
Chippendale Cabinet

Chinoiserie Cabinet

This antique cabinet is by Thomas Chippendale. In the home of my dreams, this houses my wunderkammer.
Skull Boot

Skull Combat Boot

These are Iron Fist’s “Sugar Hiccup” design, also available as heels. I initially thought the skulls were made of seed beads, but up close they appear to be sequins. If you’ve got a steady hand the design would be reasonably easy to DIY.
Monster Matryoshka

Monster Matryoshka

These gorgeous things are cast resin, hand-painted by Gravlax? (That isn’t a question. The blog name is “Gravlax?”)
Slug

Crocheted Slug

This cute li’l gastropod is by Lesley Stanfield. She also has a snail and caterpillar.
Vampire Shoes

Vampire Shoes

These are some of the most hilariously over-the-top shoes I’ve ever laid eyes on; extra points for taking “stiletto heel” literally. They’re a custom job by Jitterbug Boy.
Skull Dress

Lace-back Skull Dress

As nearly as I can tell, this is by Premonition Designs. It’s available at Amazon.
Maleficent Cupcake

Maleficent Cupcake

These dark chocolate cupcakes with raspberry filling are by Sinister Sweetshop. There’s a recipe at the link, plus a “raven wings” version of the decoration.
Ombre Nails

Ombre Nails

There’s a tutorial for this effect at Style Den.
Skull Shawl

Skull Shawl

I am heartbroken that there seems to be no pattern or design source for this. The original photo appears to be from a photo shoot done by Russian photographer Dis.
Ouija Cake

Ouija Cake

This is a replica of the Parker Brothers’ game board, and since the small print looks hand-lettered I’m going to assume the pictures are also drawn by hand. I like the slightly-3D larger letters and numbers; they appear to be icing or possibly chocolate. They seem to be a little more regular in shape, so they may have been filled in over a template and then placed on the cake when set.

Country Living has a free download of the same design which can be printed onto an edible cake topper (or printed on paper to use for non-cake purposes); the rest of the cakes in the slideshow are also worth browsing. Also check out this roundup of ouija cake designs that I found during my search for this cake’s creator.

Shining Manicure

“The Shining” Manicure

The artist says that she did this by hand using “a striper brush and a lot of patience.” You can do the same if you are similarly endowed with a small brush and patience. I expect a similar effect could be achieved by gluing down thin printed paper and then embellishing with “blood.”
Skull Ear Cuff

Skull Ear Cuff

This is available at eBuy9. Considering the surprisingly low price I question if it looks this good in reality.
Vampire Nails

Vampire Nails

I have no bloody–so to speak–idea where these originally came from. Instead I will point you to Tea & Vampires, which has a nice roundup of vampy nail art.
Ceramic Vases

Ceramic Skull Vases

These are by Pottery Barn, and are lovely if you have the sort of disposable income that will allow you to drop $100 on a vase. Otherwise, I’m thinking this might be fairly DIY-able with an existing vase, a clay skull, and some paint.

Posted in Whatever | 9 Comments »

Great Party Activity Idea

September 3rd, 2014 by Cobwebs

Celtic CrossBoingBoing recently featured an article about the creation and marketing of a new card game called Slash, the object of which involves pairing up fictional characters. That game sounds fun, but what caught my eye was something in the comments: The thread included several complaints about the game Cards Against Humanity and its playability seeming stale after a while. Commenter snowmentality offered this solution:

You know what also works amazingly well? CAH tarot readings. A simple Celtic Cross tarot spread, laid out with CAH cards: hours of party entertainment.

Well that’s just brilliant.

For those not familiar with the game, Cards Against Humanity is an irreverent card game in which players select their “answer” cards which best fit a “question” card. (So, for the question “What are my parents hiding from me?” answers might include “Harry Potter erotica,” “Italians,” and “Grandma.”)

So yes, I can definitely see the potential hilarity in having one’s “future” card in the tarot spread wind up as something like “Tentacle porn,” “Grave robbing,” or “Raptor attacks.”

CAH is a great party game anyway, and once you feel that you’ve exhausted its potential in its intended use, you can start all over again with this variation. Good stuff.

Posted in Paint It Black | 3 Comments »

Trivia Tuesday

September 2nd, 2014 by Cobwebs

  1. In ancient Egyptian mythology, after death your heart is weighed against a feather. If it’s lighter than the feather, you may continue your journey. If not, it’s devoured by this demon.
    A) Tawaret
    B) Ammit
    C) Sekhmet
    D) Bes
    E) Ma’at
  2. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are Pestilence, War, Famine, and this entity, who rides a pale horse.
  3. In Norse mythology, people who don’t die in battle generally wind up in the murky realm of Hel. Warriors who die in combat are sorted by the Valkyrie: Half go to Valhalla to hang with Odin and the other half go to the field of Fólkvangr, ruled over by this goddess of love and beauty:
    A) Frigg
    B) Sif
    C) Freyja
    D) Angrboda
    E) Gefjon
  4. Who is the House ghost for Hufflepuff?
  5. “Catrinas” have become closely associated with Day of the Dead celebrations. What are they?
    A) Glass ornaments
    B) Bread decorated with bone-shaped cutouts
    C) Drawings of the deceased
    D) Little tin altars
    E) Skeletons dressed in fancy clothing
  6. In Greek mythology the god of death, Thanatos, is the twin brother of this god of sleep.
  7. The ghost of a dog named Kabar is rumored to haunt the Los Angeles Pet Cemetery. Who was Kabar’s famous owner?
    A) John Wayne
    B) Rudolph Valentino
    C) Marlene Dietrich
    D) Errol Flynn
    E) Bette Davis
  8. The events of this Shakespeare play are all set in motion by the appearance of a ghost.
  9. One of the most famous ghost photographs is the 1936 picture of the “Brown Lady” descending a staircase. What building does the Brown Lady allegedly haunt?
    A) Peoria State Hospital, Bartonville, Illinois
    B) Princess Theatre, Melbourne, Australia
    C) Napier Prison, Napier, New Zealand
    D) Empress Hotel, Victoria, British Columbia
    E) Raynham Hall, Norfolk, England
  10. The supernatural Wild Hunt has various leaders in different folklore; Odin is most popular in Germany and Scandinavia. In France and England the Hunt is most often led by this legendary king when he isn’t snoozing in Avalon.

(Answers below the fold)

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Whatever | 5 Comments »

Dust

September 1st, 2014 by Cobwebs

This short film featuring Alan Rickman stalking a young girl has an awesomely creepy twist ending.

(Hat tip to WitchArachne)

Posted in Whatever | 2 Comments »

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