The Art of Darkness

Monster Clock

October 30th, 2014 by Cobwebs

Monster ClockAutomata artist Dug North notes that his interests dwell in the area between art and technology, meaning that he creates neat little mechanisms like the Halloween Hat and this very cool Monster Clock.

I combined my love of clocks with my affinity for wooden monsters to create this new piece. The monster is made of basswood, ebony, and tagua nut. A small weight-driven German-made clock movement powers the eyes and clock.

There’s a short video of the clock in action at the link above.

This strikes me as a reasonably DIY-able project, at least in a scaled-down form. Clocks featuring moving eyes aren’t too difficult to find: The most common is probably the classic Kit-Kat, with wiggling eyes and tail. The easiest method would simply be to cover such a clock with a monster face. Second-easiest would be to remove the mechanism from the existing clock; that would allow you to switch out the faceplate and hands for something a little spookier, and repaint or replace the eyes too. Not quite as easy but probably cheapest would be to buy just the mechanism and make everything else yourself.

If you aren’t up to carving wood–although balsa wood is pretty easy–the monster face could be made of carved foam, papier-mache, or other lightweight material. If you’re feeling dedicated, wire some LEDs behind the eyes so they glow spooky. If you’re feeling really dedicated, this would look amazing as the face of a grandfather clock.

Incidentally, North also sells some simple wooden automaton kits, which would be a useful way to get your feet wet in building this kind of mechanism.

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Say It With Me…

October 29th, 2014 by Cobwebs

Catastrophe…it’s a cat-ass trophy.

These needle-felted cat butts are the work of an artist named Popolare, who made them briefly available in her shop; they sold out pretty much immediately and there’s no word on whether she’ll have any more available. I sort of love the carefully-embroidered asshole. There are several photos and more information in English over at Rocket News 24.

If you’re skilled at needle-felting, this would be an awesome project. For the rest of us, a small plush cat could be bisected and framed; you could insert a wire in the tail to make it stand proudly upright.

Give one to a friend to help them feel better after they made a mistake, or to anyone who you think would appreciate a framed cat’s ass.

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Fun Time-Waster

October 28th, 2014 by Cobwebs

NeedlepointI was recently trying to find the original source for this embroidered wall hanging (no luck, sadly), and stumbled upon the Historic Tale Construction Kit. It is kind of awesome.

It’s apparently been around for a while; the original kit was created as a Flash application by German students Björn Karnebogen and Gerd Jungbluth. Programmer Johannes Jander ported it to HTML/Javascript, giving it new life on more platforms. It allows you to drag a selection of images from the Bayeaux Tapestry onto a “linen” background, arrange them as desired, and add text in an appropriate font.

Mental Floss has a roundup of some of the resulting images, and there are plenty more around the web. I was amused by this and this in particular.

If you’re feeling particularly ambitious, use your custom image as a template for an actual embroidery piece. Otherwise, simply share and enjoy.

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The Green Ruby Pumpkin

October 27th, 2014 by Cobwebs

This short film is intended to capture the enchantment of Halloween and was made as a “passion project” by visual effects artists Miguel Ortega and Tran Ma.

There’s also a “making of” video. You can view more of Ortega’s work at his site.

(via ShellHawk)

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Link Dumps

October 24th, 2014 by Cobwebs

Rucus Studio – Neat folk art-y Halloween (and Christmas; whatever) sculptures by artist Scott Smith. Items featuring prints of some of his work are available at Society 6. (via Old Fashion Halloween)

Vintage Halloween Cartoons – ShellHawk has put together a great playlist of old-time Halloween cartoons.

Let’s Make Halloween Pompoms – Yes, let’s. Instructions for making cute li’l ghosts, skulls, and eyeballs. These would be a great accent for a hat or sweater. You could even make a brooch or earrings out of ‘em.

“Masque of the Red Death” Musical – Wendy Pini’s adaptation of Poe’s classic story is going to be a “science fiction horror musical.” Okay then.

OppoSuits – Men’s business suits made of…um…striking fabric. There are a couple of Halloween ones, like Pumpking and Bat Guy. (via Pixel Pixie)

Halloween Claws – Simple manicure idea which gives the illusion of sharp nails.

Feeling Halloween – Dooce has a roundup of some upscale Halloween-ish items. I love the bat cocktail napkins.

What It’s Like to Run Into a Puppy-Sized Spider in the Middle of the Night – Naturalist’s description of his encounter with a giant spider. I didn’t know spiders could hiss. Neat. (Bonus link: Giant Spiders)

Werewolf Cupcakes – These take more time and effort than I, personally, put into decorating cupcakes, but they’re quite cute and the method isn’t difficult.

Phantom of the Opera Pumpkin – This definitely qualifies as “serious effort.”

Posted in Link Dump | 4 Comments »

One-Off Costume Idea

October 23rd, 2014 by Cobwebs

Estimable commenter Cookie recently sent me a link to an article about mysterious clowns terrorizing a city in California (where almost every word in the headline should probably be in sarcastic quote marks), which I found interesting mainly because:

  1. The clown uses various social media platforms to raise public awareness of his creepy lurkings.
  2. There have apparently been so many copycat clowns that the original scary clown has had a Twitter account, @RealWascoClown, to make sure that everybody knows he’s the real scary clown.

Well that’s just pathetic. Two things that monsters shouldn’t be are social media-savvy and starved for attention. I don’t know about you guys, but the thought of that creepy kid from The Ring sitting on hold with tech support to reset her Tumblr password or Michael Myers bitching that he was a masked slasher long before that Jason guy sort of removes from the moment for me.

So this scary clown gets a D+. However, Cookie followed up with a rather cool idea:

How about a slight variation on your Tuesday column? One shot suggestions for Halloween. Here’s mine; Dress as a clown BUT instead of handing out balloon animals hand out balloon Ebola viruses. I’ve looked at pictures of it and it seems like an easy thing to twist a balloon into, far easier than a dog or a bunny and lots of fun as people puzzle over what the hell it might be then watching the slow dawning of realization spread over their face. Oh. Be sure to smear on lots of red on your clown lip make up. lots.

I kind of love the idea of a blood-smeared clown handing out balloon Ebola viruses.

I also like the idea of one-shot, topical, Halloween costumes. If you’ve got an idea for a costume that riffs on current events, let us know in the comments!

(Thanks, Cookie!)

Posted in Resources | 3 Comments »

Pumpkin Fairy Garden

October 22nd, 2014 by Cobwebs

Fairy GardenWhen I first saw this I thought, “Wow, that’s a lot of effort for something that’s going to rot in two weeks.” Then I realized that it’s probably a Funkin instead of a real gourd. Duh.

In that case, it’s a great way to have a little Halloween on display year-’round. Not only could you carve the fake pumpkin with an interestingly spooky design, the interior planting could be gothed up as desired. I love the miniature pumpkins nestled into the foliage of this one (Pumpception!), but little gravestones would be cute too. The plants could be swapped out for trailing miniature ivy, one of the darker varieties of Peperomia, and other shade-tolerant varieties.

Fake pumpkins can be on the expensive side, but they’re often on clearance after Halloween so be sure to keep an eye out for them.

The creator of this garden, incidentally, appears to be a business called Cottage Home and Garden; their Halloween at the Cottage Pinterest board has a couple of other “fairy garden” plantings like this black one, and they also sell miniatures for decorating the gardens. Most of them are a little on the cutesy side, but this trellis is nice.

Searching for “fairy garden” brings up plenty of other suppliers; My Fairy Gardens has some attractive landscaping and seasonal items, and The Fairy Garden Store has a large selection of stuff. You could also look for appropriately-scaled dollhouse or model railroad miniatures as well.

Bonus link: Check out this fairy garden housed in a book (fourth photo down). Something like a row of gravestones set into a copy of Dracula would be kind of awesome.

(via Halloween Crafts)

Posted in Paint It Black | 1 Comment »

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.

Posted in Bad Things | 1 Comment »

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. (Update: The item is “not available” at the original link; this is what they looked like.)

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

Posted in Link Dump | 4 Comments »

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