The Art of Darkness

“Devil Baby” Prank

November 20th, 2014 by Cobwebs

I’m having a Deep Thought(tm). Bear with me.

A friend pointed me to this video of a prank involving an animatronic “demonic” baby, scooting around in a remote-controlled carriage and startling people. My initial thoughts were: A) That is a remarkably realistic-looking baby, and B) I hope they’ve got lawyers on hand for when a kindly little old lady goes over to coo at the baby and has a massive heart attack.

The next thing that struck me, though, was this: After the initial startle most people just go, “Huh” and keep walking. It seems as though encountering a carriage moving of its own volition and then having a clearly-possessed baby pop up out of it should have more of an impact. Nobody calls the police or even looks around for a priest. It could be that the animatronic doesn’t look as realistic in real life. It could be that this takes place in New York, where they pride themselves on refusing to impressed.* It may also have something to do with the location: Being surrounded by crowds of people might lessen the perceived threat (and also might explain why nobody calls the authorities; they all expect some other bystander will do it).

Regardless of the cause it’s an interesting reaction, and it sort of calls into question the way that crowds react to monsters in horror movies. In the movies, a demonic baby tooling around in a self-propelled carriage would cause widespread panic; in reality it seems that it causes more of a collective shrug. It’s possible that when zombies invade or a doorway to Hell opens up nobody will even notice.

*This is why Cloverfield was so unrealistic. If an actual kaiju showed up in New York everybody would go, “Pfft. I’ve seen bigger” and then studiously ignore it.

Posted in Funny Peculiar | 1 Comment »

Stuff I Found While Looking Around

November 19th, 2014 by Cobwebs

Here’s another bunch of random stuff I’ve found which I want to share but might not be able to hang a whole post on. Some of them 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.)

Bat Cake Pops

Bat Cake Pops

This kit is by wholesaler BrandCastle and is available at Amazon. The price is fairly reasonable, but if you wanted to DIY them (or make more than the kit contains), you could use Bakerella’s cake pop guide and print the little paper wings on a computer.
Ouija Placemat

Ouija Board Placemats

These are available on Etsy, but they seem to be just a plastic-laminated paper printout. A set of fancier ones made with custom-printed fabric (or embroidered if you’re feeling really ambitious) would be a great hostess gift.
Chandelier

Ghostly Chandelier

Neither Google Image Search nor TinEye could find any matches for this, so I have no idea where it came from. The kindly-looking specters appear to be soft-sculpture of some kind. It’d be a heck of a room accent. (Hat tip to Kathy)
Spider Slippers

Spider Slippers

Virtually every site with this picture is a humor aggregator, so I can’t provide an original source. I desperately want these to be a real thing, but I’m pretty certain they’re just a ‘shopped photo of a real tarantula with added googly eyes.
Vulturemingoes

Vulturemingoes

These altered lawn flamingoes are by Halloween Forum member Tannasgach. I’m sure they’re meant to be a Halloween yard decoration, but if it wasn’t for their neck ruff being fragile I’d be happy to leave them up year-’round.
Zombie Pincushion

Zombie Pincushion

This easy felted pincushion was made by Craftster member Supervelma. If you aren’t a fan of zombies, you could use a simple gravestone instead.
Petal Pumpkins

Petal Pumpkins

These are sold by Grandin Road and like so much Grandin Road stuff they are insanely expensive (originally $99 each, now on clearance for $59; oh my stars) and highly DIY-able. This is like, half an hour with a fake pumpkin, a bunch of silk flowers, and a glue gun.
Ghost Caught on Tape

Ghost Caught on Tape

This made me laugh and I’m not even going to apologize.
Bat Cheese Balls

Mini Batty Cheese Balls

These are the cutest li’l party snacks ever. There’s a recipe here, but you could substitute whatever kind of cheeselike substance you want. The blue-corn tortilla chips make great wings.
Eye Book

Latest News from the Year 1732 and 1733

This is a work by German artist Hubertus Gojowczyk. It’d also make a darn fine spellbook prop and should be reasonably DIY-able with a thrifted book, a pair of taxidermy eyes, and an Xacto knife.

Posted in Whatever | 5 Comments »

Great Gift: Bath Salts

November 18th, 2014 by Cobwebs

Poison Ivy Bath SaltsI am a big fan of bath salts as a gift idea, and here’s why:
1) They’re easy to make
2) They’re inexpensive to make
3) You can make loads of them in a single afternoon
4) They look like they took way more time, money, and effort than 1-3 would suggest

Despite how simple and cheap they are, they’re a gift you can be proud of giving: It’s fun to create something that looks like it came from a high-end spa, and recipients are generally pretty enthusiastic. Some interesting containers, a clever label, and a few simple ingredients are all you need for a splendid last-minute hostess gift, party favor, or stocking stuffer.

There are a zillion recipes for bath salts, some of them involving an astonishing number of ingredients, but all you really need is Epsom Salt. It’s the basis for most bath salts, and I suppose if you were in a real hurry you could just bung some into a jar and call it a gift. However, a few additional ingredients make things a lot nicer: Salt (of the sodium chloride variety) is better at absorbing fragrance and coloring than Epsom Salt, and different-sized grains can be used to vary the texture of the finished product. Sea salts add trace minerals and natural color. Even table salt can be used, although be aware that some people’s skin may be sensitive to the added iodine and/or anti-clumping agents. Baking soda acts as a skin softener and water conditioner. All of those can be found at your local grocery store or, if you plan to make a large quantity, can be ordered online from soap- and skincare suppliers (I like From Nature With Love). The other ingredients you might want are skin-safe fragrance oils, colorings, and botanicals (like dried flowers or herbs).

An easy recipe with a spooky twist is this Poison Ivy Bath Salts from Paging Supermom: Dried mint provides wicked-looking green flecks, and they even have a downloadable label if you don’t want to design your own. These Blood Orange salts are also attractive, and even includes instructions for a little witch-hat bottle topper. These Pumpkin Spice Bath Salts are just Epsom Salt with fragrance and coloring.

If you want to get a little more ambitious, you can layer different colors of salts in a clear container: These single-serving Candy Corn Bath Treats are adorable. You could just use three colors of bath salts, but if you want to make it fizzy as the recipe suggests, that’s easy too. (Citric acid is available from soapmaking suppliers, but it’s also used for canning fruit and can be found at some grocery stores.) For another layering idea, the fragrances and colors suggested in this Halloween Foaming Bath Salts recipe sound nice (it’s based off of the same site’s Foaming Fruity Layers recipe, which has some helpful pictures); the “foaming” part is optional if you don’t want to bother with Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate.

Once you’ve got your salts, you can choose a suitable container. You can find all kinds of interesting bottles and jars at craft stores or online; if you’re giving just a few gifts you might select a container that can be re-used later: A pretty salt cellar or sugar jar, for example (or really go nuts with a themed sugar shaker). If you’re making a large quantity of bath salts as gifts, you can find a variety of containers at wholesale specialty suppliers like SKS.

You can also get creative with labels and decoration: This packaging for Halloween Bath Salts is attractive and easy, and I love this set of Halloween Party Favors, each with a different label and scent.

If you want to gift a whole set of differently-scented bath salts, take a leaf from the seasoning salts sold by Hoxton Street Monster Supplies (whom I’ve covered previously): Their Tears in a Bottle series boasts:

Salt Made From Tears combines centuries-old craft with the freshest human tears which are gently boiled, released into shallow crystallisation tanks, then harvested by hand and finally rinsed in brine. Experience the full range of these flavours in this exclusive collection.

~ Salt Made From Tears of Anger
~ Salt Made From Tears Shed While Chopping Onions
~ Salt Made From Tears Shed While Sneezing
~ Salt Made From Tears of Laughter
~ Salt Made From Tears of Sorrow

Each variety has its own description, which could be easily modified for scents rather than flavors: “This delectable salt, made from tears of abject sorrow, is collected only at moments of complete misery. With its delicate lavender flavour, it’s the perfect seasoning for limbs and organs.” “This robust salt is made from tears that sprang forth during explosions of anger. With a rich and smokey flavour, it can help to induce fit of uncontrolled rage, as normally experienced only by Ogres and Trolls.” and so on.

Blood Bath SaltsFinally, check out this super-awesome “Blood Bath Salts” canister which I can’t seem to find out much about other than that they were some sort of limited-edition Halloween home decor item and are widely sought after. (Click to embiggen.) A reasonable facsimile might be created by hot-gluing a novelty plastic skull to a canister lid and then spray-painting it with metallic paint. A similar label could be created in the graphics program of your choice and either glued on or (if you’re particularly ambitious) used as a template for stenciling. Color bath salts red and add some dried rose petals or hibiscus flowers for additional color, and you’ll have an extremely cool bathroom accessory.

Bonus link: For a Christmas rather than a Halloween gift, The Idea Room has a neat set of Myrrh Bath Salts and Frankincense Sugar Scrub. (The “gold” was represented by chocolate gold coins, but you could substitute a little bottle of Goldschläger.)

Posted in Doom It Yourself | 2 Comments »

& Teller

November 17th, 2014 by Cobwebs

In 2008 Teller (the non-speaking, less-assholish member of Penn & Teller) released a video short about life after the zombie apocalypse. He released a second episode in 2010, then three more in October 2014. Here’s the first episode:

The rest are here. In the comments on #5, Ghost Works LLC (who filmed the videos) is ambiguous about additional episodes, replying to “I hope this can continue in another 8 (sic) years” with “Thanks. It won’t be that long.” but then following up “Is this the final episode of ‘& Teller’?” with “For now.” So I guess that some time before 2022 there might be another episode.

Anyway, these are more “I Am Legend” than “Dawn of the Dead,” so that’s nice.

(via BoingBoing)

Posted in Whatever | 1 Comment »

Another Doggone Week of Link Dumps: Day 5

November 14th, 2014 by Cobwebs

This concludes the latest Mega-Link-Dump. Regular posting (and once-a-week link dumps) will return on Monday.

Vampira: Dark Goddess of Horror – Biography of Maila Nurmi and the character she created. There’s a brief description of the book at BoingBoing.

Grump Notebooks – Notebooks entitled things like “Daily Disappointments” for the cranky person in your life.

Skull Tie-Dye Shirt – Tutorial for making a great-looking tie-dye skull.

My Little Cephalopod – Series of knitted squid themed like “My Little Pony.” Because why not.

Uncanny Furniture – When lit from a certain angle, this chair with an attractive leaf design throws a monstrous shadow.

Incredibly Rude Coasters – I need a set of these.

Mapsburgh – This artist sells hand-cut maps of real places drawn in the style of Tolkien. He’ll also do custom maps of any place in the world.

Why My Cat is Sad – Marvelous Twitter account detailing the various causes of cat sadness. I think this one is my favorite.

Dracula’s Bride – Gorgeous knitted shawl pattern from Ravelry.

Major to Minor – Chase Holfelder takes songs in a major (“happy-sounding”) key and transposes them to a minor (“sad-sounding”) key; the results are wonderful. As a bonus, here’s a fan-made “cover” of Type O Negative doing Britney Spears. (Hat tip to Bruno)

Posted in Link Dump | 3 Comments »

Another Doggone Week of Link Dumps: Day 4

November 13th, 2014 by Cobwebs

Dr. Mütter’s Marvels – A biography of the man behind the wonderful Mütter Museum. There’s a description and excerpt at BoingBoing.

Tortured Candles – Super-easy idea for making creepy Hellraiser-esque candles.

Japanese Candy Bugs – The Red Tent Coffee Shop in Aomori Prefecture sells some amazingly lifelike grubs and caterpillars, complete with gooey filling.

Ghosts in the Machines – Collectors Weekly did a “deep dive” of Victorian Spiritualism. (Hat tip to Lisa)

Supper-Natural – The Tree Lobsters amuse me.

Edgar Allan Poe Candy – Grape flavor; comes packaged in a “book.” There’s also lemon-flavored Shakespeare candy.

13 Classic Scenes That Explain How Horror Movies Work – Interesting overview of techniques that directors use to make effective horror. (via Bruno)

The Bureau of Communication – Fill out detailed forms like “Statement of Gratitude” and “Acknowledgement of Occasion.”

Cerberus in a Can – Marvelous 3D-printed (and articulated!) skeletal Cerberus. It and several other cryptids-in-a-can are available on Etsy.

The Story of Dolores Jane Umbridge – J.K. Rowling wrote a short profile of Professor Umbridge for the Pottermore site.

Posted in Link Dump | 2 Comments »

Another Doggone Week of Link Dumps: Day 3

November 12th, 2014 by Cobwebs

Calendar of Boring Men – This is one of those not-even-goth-adjacent links that just amuse me personally. The Dull Men’s Club has released a calendar featuring such worthies as the president (and founder) of the UK Roundabout Appreciation Society and a man who has spent 30 years collecting more than 20,000 milk bottles.

Paranormal Portraits – Use LEDs to give family photos glowing red eyes.

Rock On! – Instructions from Martha Stewart on “How to Throw a Punk Rock-Inspired Party” for kids “that won’t turn into a riot.” When I got to the “nosh pit” I facepalmed so hard that I combined phrenology with palmistry.

Janet Stephens – YouTube channel full of historical hairdressing tutorials based on archaeological research and primary sources. (via Jan)

Haunted Mansion Inspired Dress – Gorgeous Victorian-ish dress made with custom fabric. (Hat tip to Fiend4Halloween)

Gummy Python – Eight feet long, 26 pounds, 36,000 calories. And $150.

Trilobite Beetles – I had no idea these awesome-looking bugs existed.

Broken Monsters – Novel by the author of The Shining Girls, which io9 describes as “gothic internet horror.”

DIY Spider Necklace – This is less a necklace and more a collar, but the method (puffy paint on tulle) is a great idea.

Edgar Allan Poe Lunchbox – I am heartbroken that I didn’t see this before Shadowboy started school this year.

Posted in Link Dump | 5 Comments »

Another Doggone Week of Link Dumps: Day 2

November 11th, 2014 by Cobwebs

The Post-Punk / New Wave Super Friends – I think my favorite is Siouxsie Sioux as Wonder Woman.

Edgar Allan Poe Digital Collection – UT Austin’s Ransom Center has digitized their Edgar Allan Poe collection and made it available online.

Tolga Bat Hospital – This Australian bat rescue has baby bats of lethal cuteness. (Hat tip to Kaitlin Michelle)

Beetle Display Kit – An amusing papercraft project from Tragedy Series.

Local Grandmother Quilts Giant Penises – After a successful Kickstarter, a sweet little old lady who used to work at a sex toy factory has created an art show entirely devoted to crafted penises. Penii. Whatever. You can’t make this stuff up. Anyway, sort of NSFW, but not as much as you might expect. (via Poopisan)

Coup – Card game described as delightfully vicious, set in a futuristic dystopia.

When the Veil Gets Thinner – deviantART user UnripeHamadryad (whose username I like) has a lovely take on Halloween.

The Art of the Obituary – Interview with Margalit Fox, who writes the obituaries for the New York Times.

Octopus Cuff Ring – This astonishing ring, featuring an enormous pearl, is made by Turkish jeweler Sevan Biçakçi

Question Bedtime – MC Frontalot’s spooky-ish nerdcore songs for kids based on fairy tales. You can see the video for the song “Shudders,” based on “The Boy Who Left Home to Learn What Fear Was,” here.

Posted in Link Dump | 2 Comments »

Another Doggone Week of Link Dumps

November 10th, 2014 by Cobwebs

Of all of the superpowers I could have chosen, “Be a magnet for random crap on the internet” wasn’t really on the list. But here I am with an overflowing links folder. So you guys get another full week of link dumps.

Skull and Crossbones Tea Infuser – This is adorable.

The Penguin Book of Witches – Historical accounts of accused witches. The author discusses the book here.

The Trials and Tribulations of Being a Skeleton – Cute animated short exploring the problems with being a skeleton. (Hat tip to Pixel Pixie)

Crystal Web Necklace – Tutorial for making a collar-style spiderweb necklace.

Crypt of the Necrodancer – 8-bit rhythm game which amounts to “dance dance roguelike.”

Death Becomes Her – The NY Met’s Costume Institute has a new exhibit featuring “A Century of Mourning Attire.” The article includes a slideshow of some of the clothing.

Stag Beetle Bread – These surprisingly realistic beetle-shaped loaves wouldn’t be terribly hard to replicate.

Sourpuss – Lots of goth-friendly throw pillows, cookie jars, shower curtains, and other housewares.

Deathsplanation – An archaeologist working on her PhD has a site devoted to “death (and science).” If nothing else, check out her fantastic Plague Poster. (via WitchArachne)

Sugar Skull Bakers – A group of bakers and cake decorators did an amazing collection of Day of the Dead-themed edibles.

Posted in Link Dump | 5 Comments »

Into the Link Dump

November 7th, 2014 by Cobwebs

Dark Galadriel – This method for creating “scale mail” armor with round sticker labels is brilliant.

Alessandro Gallo – Sculptor of marvelous human/animal hybrids, depicted in everyday situations. I like this insectoid creature, casually walking its crab.

Skull Toothpick Holder – Amusing “mohawk” toothpick holder. I concur with submitter xJane that it’d look even better if you used the picks with little colored tassels.

The Skulls of Human Kindness – Neat project from Skull-A-Day.

Caitlin Doughty AMA – The awesome mortician responsible for The Order of the Good Death did a Reddit AMA.

Night Terrors – This ‘toon isn’t funny so much as chillingly accurate.

Lovecraft – Kickstarter for a modern retelling of the Cthulhu Mythos which features Lovecraft “not as a writer but as a kick-ass action hero and alchemist.”

Kyla’s Favorite Halloween Fonts – Nice selection of free fonts for download. Part 2 is here.

Little Bat – Cute little finger-puppet book for small children. There’s also a Little Spider version.

Realistic Spider Prop – Unusual method for making realistic life-size spiders with melted paracord.

Posted in Link Dump | 4 Comments »

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