The Art of Darkness

Easy Apothecary Idea

October 21st, 2014 by Cobwebs

Apothecary JarEAB Designs has a super-easy idea for Halloween decorating: Fill the bottom of a pretty apothecary jar with popcorn and nestle a vintage photo inside. If desired, decorate with a fake raven, a bit of spiderweb, or maybe a big orange-and-black ribbon bow. (The other example on her site features a photo of Poe, being gazed at adoringly by a plastic raven.) I like the clean lines of the jar; it’s an elegant, restrained decoration and has the added benefit of allowing the contents to be changed as desired. A few of these massed together would like nice; vary the fillers (candy corn in one, M&Ms in another, etc.) for more visual interest. Personal family photos such as kids dressed up for trick-or-treating would look great featured this way. If you celebrate (gasp) those other holidays, you could keep the jars up year-’round and swap in appropriately-themed fillers and photos: Peppermint candies and an old-timey picture of Santa, for example.

When I was looking for the original source of the above image, I stumbled upon a couple of other sites with good suggestions for apothecary-jar decorations: Lori’s Favorite Things has a roundup of easy ideas–I especially like the candy corn-filled jars with the “BOO” letters–and Setting for Four has a lot of natural harvest-y fillers like acorns and Spanish moss.

Big glass jars, lidded or not, are widely available at all sorts of places. Check craft stores, the home-decor section of department stores, and even pet shops (for things like goldfish bowls). Also keep an eye out at thrift shops for unusual vases or hurricane lamps with large chimneys. It’d be easy to put several together in an afternoon, and it’s a good project for kids to help with. A jar would also make a nice last-minute hostess gift, particularly if you used “good” candy that could be nommed after Halloween is over.

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From Darkness

October 20th, 2014 by Cobwebs

Artist Nora Twomey made this neat short film based on the Inuit tale of The Skeleton Woman.

(via Spooky Moon)

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Attack the Link Dump

October 17th, 2014 by Cobwebs

DIY Spider Pumpkin – The glittery spiders would look cute on a brooch, too.

X-Ray Plates – This set of salad plates features an X-ray snake skeleton twining across them.

50 Sugar Skull Makeup Ideas – Big roundup of different designs from Skullspiration. And also there’s a whole site called Skullspiration.

Spiderweb Lanterns – Tutorial for making “lanterns” which would be great for lining a pathway at night.

Consentacle – Upcoming Kickstarter for a card game that explores consensual tentacle porn. Kotaku has a writeup.

Share Your Photos of Halloween – The U.S. Library of Congress is inviting Americans participating in holidays at the end of October and early November to photograph “hayrides, haunted houses, parades, trick-or-treating and other celebratory and commemorative activities” to contribute to a new collection documenting contemporary folklife.

Spider Cupcakes – The spider toppers are easy to pull off, since they use round chocolate candies.

Dracula Untold Told – I haven’t seen the movie, but I doubt it could live up to The Toast’s recap.

Silvery Claw Gloves – These are cute, but you could DIY the same thing with fake nails and superglue.

Young Frankenstein Halloween Party – Some great theme ideas using inexpensive Halloween novelties and paper cutouts.

Posted in Link Dump | 2 Comments »

Cthulhu ABCs

October 16th, 2014 by Cobwebs

Dapper Deep One

I hate it when a Kickstarter campaign doesn’t heave into my purview until it’s too late to donate; I missed this one by a mile.

The Cthulhu ABCs project was fully funded (and then some) clear back in May. Artist Kennon James is creating a Lovecraft-inspired ABC book, described as “fully colored and gloriously high-detailed.” I have to agree with the high-detailed part; the “D” illustration above (click to embiggen) has a zillion little awesome details, from the argyle socks on the Deep One to the wave pattern on the drapes. I think my favorite bit is the unconcerned dog snoozing on the back of the chair.

Some of the other pages will be:

A – Ambling Around Arkham, Abel Assesses Azathoth Actions
B – Byakee Boy Band Bellows Boohoo Ballads
F – Five Fanatical Fiddlers Flaunt Fabulous Felt Fezzes
R – Rats Rattle Relentlessly

James has set himself a goal of 18 months to have the book completed and shipped, so it’ll go out to backers around December of 2015. I do hope it will eventually be available to people who didn’t back the Kickstarter because I plan to make it my standard baby shower gift.

(Hat tip to pdq)

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This Year’s Costumes

October 15th, 2014 by Cobwebs

Egyptian DuoIt’s time for the annual costume recap! Every year I spend entirely too much time making costumes for Shadowboy and a friend’s niece, then have professional photos taken. Sometimes I’m lucky and can talk them into matching costumes–like when they were a vampire and a bat–and this year after she decided she wanted to be Cleopatra I was happily able to talk him into being King Tut (showing him this may or may not have had anything to do with it).

I was thrilled because: 1) Yay, no street clothes! and 2) Lots of room for embellishment. Here are the results: Pharaoh 1, Pharaoh 2, Cleopatra, Cleopatra 2, Duo, Duo 2

For years now, one of Butterick’s staple costume patterns was a child’s “Egyptian princess,” and in keeping with my normal luck where the Gods of Crafting are concerned, the year that I finally needed it it was discontinued. Fortunately my habit of buying likely-looking patterns whenever the local fabric stores have 99-cent sales came to my rescue; after digging through my entire stash I found a copy of the pattern which I’d purchased years ago. It’s Butterick 3586, but if you can’t find one from a discontinued-pattern reseller the dress is just a simple sheath and could be adapted from any number of other commercial patterns. The only change I made was to shorten it and make the hem rounded instead of straight.

The decorative collars and the boy’s overskirt are from the same pattern, but they would also be pretty straightforward to make freehand. The gems on the collars are self-adhesive jewels from Oriental Trading. (The adhesive works surprisingly well, so be sure the gems are right where you want them before sticking them down. When I tried to pull a misaligned one back up, it took the gold top layer of the fabric with it.)

The girl’s belt was made freehand from a piece of brocade; it’s fastened with velcro underneath the front flap.

The boy’s tunic was Simplicity 4213, shortened and with a cutout in the front of the skirt. The boy’s headdress is another discontinued pattern, Butterick 4313. I first tried it freehand but couldn’t seem to get the proportions right, so I broke down and bought the pattern from an Etsy seller.

The girl’s headdress is hand-beaded because I am clinically insane. I followed the general guidelines found here, but I don’t have a styrofoam dummy head so I just laid everything out on a flat work surface and tied it that way (I also used monofilament beading thread instead of the waxed thread mentioned in the instructions.)

The girl’s staff is a wooden dowel spray-painted gold, topped with a cobra head finger puppet which was spray-painted and then embellished with beads: The plastic was soft enough to just push a needle through the base and tie off the thread on the inside.

The boy’s crook and flail were made from a wooden cane, cut in half and painted. The flail’s head is a couple of pieces of PVC plumbing pipe stuck together and spray-painted; I strung some beads on monofilament and fastened them inside of the pipe with duct tape.

The boy’s belt and sandals were lucky thrift-store finds, and the girl’s sandals were purchased at a costume shop.

My friend did her niece’s makeup–in her words, “Thank heaven for Pinterest”–and also put a little Egyptian-style eyeliner on Shadowboy. It didn’t all come off with makeup remover, so he looked like Robert Smith for the rest of the afternoon; I considered that sort of a bonus.

Shadowboy’s portrait will be framed appropriately and added to my Big Wall o’ Costumes, and now it’s time to start planning for next year.

Posted in Whatever | 4 Comments »

Seen Online

October 14th, 2014 by Cobwebs

When clowns first attacked these shores nobody took it seriously. It’s just one boat, how many could there be, they said.
ceejoyner

“DADDY DADDY there’s a monster under the bed!”
*jumps up*
WHICH BED?
“mine”
OH THANK GOD. You’re on your own kid. Here’s a knife. Good luck.
EndhooS

If I was invisible, I’d find bad mimes and silently beat them to death. Just to give them one final, fantastic performance.
rolldiggity

Terrible night. Dreamt something bit me on the neck. Got up to check, but the mirror wasn’t working.
MooseAllain

A graveyard full of blank gravestones and a can of permanent markers by the gate.
NightValeRadio

Wait — did Venkman just HAPPEN to have 300ccs of Thorazine on him when he went on his date with Dana? What was he planning?
pattonoswalt

Math problem. I have three apples and am traveling towards you at 17mph. It’s not really a problem, more of a warning. Apple time, bitches.
vladchoc

Write the name of someone you hate on your body everyday in permanent marker, so no matter how you die they’ll become a suspect.
markleggett

technically any building is a mausoleum if you die in it and they don’t find your body
shutupmikeginn

12yo: Can we go to a haunted house this year?
Me: What’s wrong with the one we live in?
12yo: WHAT?!
Me: Goodnight, son.
TheMichaelRock

Posted in Funny Peculiar | 1 Comment »

Underappreciated TV: The Storyteller

October 13th, 2014 by Cobwebs

In 1987 Jim Henson launched an unfortunately short-lived TV series called The Storyteller, which was a mix of human actors and puppets from Henson’s Creature Shop. Each episode featured the Storyteller (played by John Hurt), accompanied by his dog (played by Brian Henson), telling a traditional European folktale.

The StoryTeller series was originally conceived by Jim Henson’s daughter Lisa after talking a folklore class at Harvard University. Jim was enchanted by the idea of a television series that remained true to the subtlety and metaphoric richness of ancient stories. He and Lisa brainstormed the concept of the series, basing all of the episodes on authentic folk tales. The result of a strong literary research team joined with the magical visual effects and animatronics produced by Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, The StoryTeller is a rare combination of ancient tradition and modern technology artistry.

The Muppet Wiki

Although the show is suitable for older kids, the puppets are definitely more Labyrinth than Muppet in appearance and the storylines can be a little bit weird and dark.

There were 9 episodes in the original series (according to the Wiki it also spawned a four-episode spinoff of Greek myths); they’re available on DVD and on several streaming sites, but YouTuber TheMiserarium has also posted them all.

Here’s the first one, “The Soldier and Death:”

The others were:

Hans My Hedgehog
Fearnot
A Story Short
The Luck Child
The Heartless Giant
The True Bride
Sapsorrow
The Three Ravens

It was a fun show; I’m sorry it didn’t run longer.

(via Laughing Squid))

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Hour of the Link Dump

October 10th, 2014 by Cobwebs

The Haunting of Netflix House 2 – Roundup of spooky movies to stream. (Hat tip to hng23)

Ghostbusters 3 is Official – Paul Feig (director of Bridesmaids) and Katie Dippold (writer of The Heat) are teaming up to do a new sequel starring “hilarious women.” If Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig aren’t in it I will eat my hat. And not the hat made of lunchmeat that I keep around for such occasions. My real hat.

Gourdy – “The world’s first Jack-i-lantern.” Open-source code and instructions for creating an interactive “magic pumpkin.”

Dexter Tablecloth and Cocktail – Even if you aren’t a fan of the series, the blood-spattered tablecloth and toe-tag drink straws are great for other party themes.

Kraken Umbrella – Despite the big Kraken Rum logos on the outside of this umbrella, I want it just for the tentacle handle. (Hat tip to Kaitlin Michell)

Secret Lobster Claws – The wonderful Tragedy Series will have all tragedies collected in book form, plus a lot of other print-exclusive material.

Delightfully Twisted Porcelain Sculptures – Sculptures by Maria Rubinke combine cute little kids with creepy, surreal imagery.

Twin Peaks Returns – A nine-episode series is planned for 2016. It will continue where the original left off.

Lilith – Unsettling sculpture on display at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts.

Spooky “Monster High” Parties – More than a little too cutesy for my taste, but there are a few useful ideas for kid-friendly Halloween parties. (Here’s another witch-themed party.)

Posted in Link Dump | 2 Comments »

Monster Doors

October 9th, 2014 by Cobwebs

Monster DoorLast Halloween the lifestyle webzine goodtoknow had a “monster door” decorating contest using materials like party streamers and paper plates. The project is super-simple–it’d be a great activity for kids–and adds a little whimsy to your exterior.

Many of the design submissions were pretty similar: Crepe-paper streamers for hair, paper plate eyes, and the mouth, eyebrows, and other details made with tape (the type of tape isn’t specified, but you’d want to use painter’s tape or something else that’s easy to remove lest it peel the paint off your door). A couple of them were a little more creative: This polka-dotted critter with horns is cute, and I particularly liked this three-eyed monster; covering the whole door with brown paper and letting the red-painted wood represent the mouth is a great idea.

If you want to get a little more creative, there are plenty of other ideas floating around the ol’ intertubes. This crepe paper-mummified door is cute and could hardly be less expensive. I also like this fur-covered door with scowly eyes, with the caveat that it’d be more costly–faux fur ain’t cheap–and would take a bit more work to put up. On the plus side, it could be stored and reused.

For a somewhat more restrained decoration, I’m quite taken with this flock of bats scattered across the front of the house. The description says that they’re made of felt, but they could just as easily be made of construction paper.

If you live in a block-party sort of neighborhood, it’d be fun to challenge your neighbors to a door-decorating contest. Trick-or-treaters would certainly be impressed to come upon a whole street full of monstrous doors.

(via Janice)

Posted in Bad Things | 4 Comments »

Life-Size Ghost Decorations

October 8th, 2014 by Cobwebs

Human Ghost DisplayI found this Human Ghost Display by Grandin Road via Scary Jane, who was righteously outraged that: 1) Standing a mere 5 feet tall, they’re only suitable for scaring very short people, and 2) Despite all of the photos implying that they’re sold as a group of 3, they’re actually sold individually…for $129. Oh my stars and garters.

A foam wig head, bolt of cheesecloth, and some glue will run you about $15. You could make a whole army of these for less than a single pre-made one. The method could hardly be simpler: Tie long strips of cheesecloth around the neck of the dummy head, layering them to make the body. Paint white glue–liquid starch would probably work too–all over the dummy head, then press another big piece of cheesecloth into the glue; make sure the piece that covers the head is long enough to also cover the neck and hide the attachment point of the cheesecloth strips. Let dry. Boom. Done.

These would be really lightweight, so you could simply hang them from the ceiling using invisible monofilament fishing line. You could also drape them over hat racks, floor lamps, or other tall skinny furniture to loom over your guests.

If you want transparent ghosts instead, you can make good-looking ones using packing tape. The basic method involves wrapping transparent packing tape and/or plastic wrap around a human form (a wig head and dressmaker’s dummy if you have them, a willing assistant if you don’t), carefully cutting a slit up the back to release the mold/person, then taping back over the cut. With several layers of tape the resulting ghost is sturdy enough to stand on its own, and is also light enough to hang just about anywhere.

Googling “packing tape ghost” will turn up loads of tutorials; there are some good ones at The Crafty Geek, Bandit, John Rozum, and Tape Sculpture (which also has a gallery of examples). There are also a couple of Pinterest posts (with no instructions) for visual inspiration: I like these spooky ladies in dresses floating around a tree, and this great-looking ghost made from a combination of packing tape and cheesecloth.

Somewhat related is this Instructable for Ghost Shoes, which includes solar-powered lights so they glow at night. Their method involves hacking cheap solar-powered garden lights for components; you could also save yourself a couple of steps and just buy the solar circuit and LED (in whatever color you like) from someplace like Evil Mad Scientist (who also has a tutorial for making simple solar circuits).

A fun yard decoration would be to make individual packing-tape ghosts of each family member (and the pets, if they’ll hold still [they probably won't hold still]) and then pose them in a tableau. Whatever you do, I bet it’ll be cheaper than $129.

Posted in Doom It Yourself | 3 Comments »

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