The Art of Darkness

Personalized Pin Boutonnieres

November 19th, 2015 by Cobwebs

BoutonniereA few years ago some unnamed marketing genius at the Walt Disney Company hatched the idea of pin trading: You get a lanyard and purchase little enamel pins depicting characters and attractions and other Disney-esque faff (there are roughly nine bazillion different designs). Then you can offer to trade pins with other guests you see wearing the lanyards, plus many employees wear them and are required to trade with you if you ask. It’s a hugely popular pastime, and there are pins for pretty much any Disney property you care to name.

Many of the pins are offered in themed sets, such as the much-sought-after princess mystery pins, the “pumpkin” villains from their 2015 Halloween collection, and the character silhouettes used in this neat project by Craftster “maleficent.” She made personalized boutonnieres for each of the groomsmen in her wedding, and the result is rather elegant.

There are lots of spooky sets which could be put to similar purposes–the Haunted Mansion alone has at least four (1, 2, 3, 4)–and then there are Nightmare Before Christmas, villains, Tower of Terror, and on and on and on. (It looks like Universal has also gotten into the pin-trading action: There are lots of Harry Potter-themed sets, like the Hogwarts crests.)

It’s apparently fairly popular to turn the pins into necklaces as well, so you could make a matching set for the bridesmaids.

Even if you don’t have any bridesmaids or groomsmen to attach these to, the pins would make lovely brooches or lapel pins to give as gifts.

Posted in Terror in the Aisle | 1 Comment »

Andie’s Specialty Sweets

December 3rd, 2014 by Cobwebs

Candy LeavesMartha Stewart recently did a feature on an Etsy shop called Andie’s Specialty Sweets, and when I saw the thumbnail for the Edible Autumn Leaves I thought, “Wow, $60 for two dozen leaves is kind of pricey for something so easy to make.”* Then I clicked over to the store and discovered that the leaves are pretty much the only thing that are easy to make and their stuff is worth every penny.

They offer a wide range of astonishingly realistic-looking edible items, from steampunky buttons and gears to delicate coral (I particularly love their black bird feathers and their ridiculously-detailed toadstools.

They also sell themed decorating kits, such as their Woodland kit featuring wild mushrooms, toadstools, ferns and fiddleheads, acorns, fill-in foliage, and ladybugs: All gorgeous, and all edible.

Although certainly not cheap, their stuff would be perfect for decorating something special like a wedding cake, and some of the smaller items like gears and sea glass could be included as part of a themed party favor.

Even if you’re not currently in the market for sculptural candy, be sure to click over to their shop just to browse around. The artistry is just astonishing.


*Which they are. You make standard chocolate leaves by painting melted chocolate on real (non-toxic) leaves and then carefully peeling them off when dry. For pretty multicolored leaves, use tinted white chocolate instead.

Posted in Needful Things, Terror in the Aisle | 2 Comments »

Easy “Bloody” Party Favor

September 25th, 2014 by Cobwebs

Blood JamA couple of Halloweens ago One Charming Party threw a splendid Blood Bar party, serving Gin & Tourniquets out of “blood vessels” and decorating with surgical gauze. One particularly great touch was the choice of party favors: Homemade strawberry jam labeled as Clotted Blood.

This is such a great all-purpose Halloween party favor that I’m retroactively annoyed at all of the past parties where I could have used this idea.

Strawberry jam is easy to make–hit Google for more recipes than you can shake a stick at–but if you’re pressed for time or want to make up a large number of jars, buy good-quality jam in bulk and re-package it in smaller containers. There are plenty of interesting canning jars: Bail-top, tulip, round, square, and many others.

One Charming Party has the labels for free download (and also includes them if you buy a print package of all the party signage), but I have to admit that they’re a bit on the plain side. Fancier labels could be created in your favorite graphics program, using clipart and spooky fonts of your choice. You could also age the labels to make them a little spookier and vampire-ish; The Happy Heathen has an easy tutorial for that (if your printer’s ink won’t run when it gets wet, it’s way easier to faux-age the paper after printing).

The plain white paper covering on the lids could also be spooked up a bit: Use rough brown paper, cover the lids with scraps of Halloween fabric, or hot-glue a big novelty spider to the top.

You could also gift thinner “blood” in the form of strawberry syrup, or branch out with other monstrous jam flavors: Peach “Jack-o’-Lantern Guts” or mint “Radioactive Waste,” for example.

These would be a great, inexpensive favor for a Halloween wedding, too.

Posted in Paint It Black, Terror in the Aisle | 1 Comment »

Desktop Tentacles

January 2nd, 2014 by Cobwebs

Finished TentaclesI recently found–and then promptly lost the link to–some stripey little Tim Burton-esque tentacles peeking out of a mossy flowerpot. They appeared to be pretty straightforward to make, so I took a crack at a DIY version.

They’re almost too simple to require a tutorial: All you need is some sort of modeling compound (I used some Model Magic that I had left over from another project, but polymer clay or something similar should work fine). Roll pieces into “snakes” the way you did in Kindergarten, but taper them along their length so that one end winds up pointy. Gently form them into tentacle-y poses; I wrapped a couple loosely around pencils and draped the third over a cardboard tube. Let dry.

When they’re nice and hard, hit ’em with spray paint–I used clothespins to hold them upright so I could get all sides evenly–and let dry thoroughly. I decided to leave mine a plain glossy black, but you could use a contrasting color (or two) to add stripes, polka-dots, or similar decoration. If you want to get fancy, spray them on just one side with a contrasting color, holding the spray can far enough away to mottle the edges.

You can stick them down into the soil in an existing flowerpot, or give them a pot of their own. To do that, use a little modeling compound to hold them in place; I used a tiny flowerpot to make the tentacles appear comically oversized. If you want to add live moss, fill the pot with potting soil and then carefully press the moss around the tentacles (be sure to water the moss occasionally). You can also top off the pot with pretty stones, fake moss (found in the floral section of craft stores), or even–again, if you’re feeling fancy–wax or resin to represent water.

The number and size of the tentacles is entirely up to you; mine are all similarly-sized, but a pot studded with lots of different sizes would make it look less like some dirt-dwelling monster and more like the shoots of a really peculiar plant.

They’re the perfect low-maintenance desk accessory, and small ones would make really unique wedding favors (especially if they were striped in your wedding colors). In my case, Shadowboy asked to adopt the tentacles as a pet and tried to feed them snacks.

Start to finish these take less than a day, and 90% of that is drying time. The actual active project time is closer to 15 minutes. Easy! Super-cheap! Both are things that I like in a project.

Posted in Doom It Yourself, Terror in the Aisle | 2 Comments »

Ghostly “Bab Ballads”

November 12th, 2013 by Cobwebs

Courting GhostsW. S. Gilbert (of Gilbert and Sullivan fame) wrote a large number of poems, ballads, and “funny articles” for the magazine Fun under the pen-name “Bab.” These came to be known as “Bab Ballads,” and in addition to being famous in their own right some were the source for plots and songs for the G&S operas.

This one, The Ghost to His Ladye Love, would be a fine addition to a wedding invitation.

Fair Phantom, come! The moon’s awake,
The owl hoots gaily from its brake,
     The blithesome bat’s a-wing.
Come, soar to yonder silent clouds;
The ether teems with peopled shrouds:
We’ll fly the lightsome spectre crowds,
     Thou cloudy, clammy thing!

Though there are others, spectre mine,
With eyes as hollow, quite, as thine,
     That thrill me from above —
Whose lips are quite as deathly pale,
Whose voices rival thine in wail
When, riding on the joyous gale,
     They breathe sepulchral love.

Still, there’s a modest charm in thee,
That causes thee to seem to be
     More pure than others are —
Though rich in calico and bone,
Thou art not beautiful alone —
For thou art also good, my own!
     And that is better, far.

United, we’ll defy alarms:
A death-time in each other’s arms
We’ll pass — and fear no dearth
     Of jollity: when Morpheus flits
O’er mortal eyes, we’ll whet our wits,
And frighten people into fits
     Who did us harm on earth!

Come, essence of a slumb’ring soul,
Throw off thy maidenly control
     Un-shroud thy ghastly face!
Give me thy foggy lips divine,
And let me press my mist to thine,
And fold thy nothingness in mine,
     In one long damp embrace.

And here’s another, The Ghosts’ High Noon, which would be great as part of a party invitation.

When the night wind howls in the chimney cowls,
and the bat in the moonlight flies,
And inky clouds, like funeral shrouds,
sail over the midnight skies –
When the footpads quail at the night-bird’s wail,
and black dogs bay the moon,
Then is the spectres’ holiday –
then is the ghosts’ high noon!

As the sob of the breeze sweeps over the trees,
and the mists lie low on the fen,
From grey tombstones are gathered the bones
that once were women and men,
And away they go, with a mop and a mow,
to the revel that ends too soon,
For cockcrow limits our holiday –
the dead of the night’s high noon!

And then each ghost with his ladye-toast
to their churchyard beds take flight,
With a kiss, perhaps, on her lantern chaps,
and a grisly grim “good night”;
Till the welcome knell of the midnight bell
rings forth its jolliest tune,
And ushers our next high holiday –
the dead of the night’s high noon!

(via SheWalksSoftly)

Posted in Resources, Terror in the Aisle | No Comments »

Hanging Jellyfish Plant

August 14th, 2013 by Cobwebs

Jellyfish PlantThese lovely little “jellyfish” are made of airplants and sea urchin shells. I originally saw them at This is Why I’m Broke and assumed they came pre-assembled; however, the actual Etsy listing calls them a “kit” and specifies DIY assembly. If you’re gonna have to do that, you may as well just get the supplies yourself.

The plants appear to be one of the bajillion varieties of Tillandsia, which are widely available at nurseries and online (they even come in pretty colors.) If you want something a little more exotic, there are dozens of other varieties to choose from.

Sea urchin shells are similarly ubiquitous; you can find them at souvenir shops, craft supply stores, or online.

Stick the one into the other and you’ve got yourself a jellyfish. Hang with a bit of clear fishing line: You can drill holes in the shell if you’re feeling really ambitious, but it’s probably easiest to just thread the line through the hole and tie it around the base of the airplant. You can also hang several by repurposing a cheap photo mobile.

Plant care is minimal and easy. BHG has basic instructions.

These are a great decoration for an office or other area where there isn’t much natural light. They’d also make an interesting favor for an undersea-themed party or wedding.

Posted in Needful Things, Terror in the Aisle | 3 Comments »

Zombified Wedding Photo

June 12th, 2013 by Cobwebs

When digital artist Josiah Moore got married last year, he had the wedding party pose as an attacking zombie horde. As you do.

The resulting photo was, of course, simply a bunch of people looking sort of shamble-y in front of a scenic building on a lovely sunny day. So he plugged into into Photoshop and manipulated it into something quite wonderful:

Zombie Wedding

There’s a large, high-quality image of the finished photomanipulation here.

He also did a time-lapse video of the work in process. It’s a little seasick-making because it jumps around a lot, but watching how he altered the image (erasing people in the background, using parts of other photos to add fire and rubble) is really interesting.

Even if you don’t have the digital chops to do a full-on transmogrification of an image, a group pose like this would be a fun addition to wedding photos.

(via When Geeks Wed)

Posted in Terror in the Aisle | 1 Comment »

Homemade Candy Buttons

May 30th, 2013 by Cobwebs

Candy ButtonsRemember those hard-sugar dots that came arranged on strips of paper that we all ate as kids? It turns out that they’re super-easy to make at home, and if you use the right kind of paper you won’t even wind up with shreds of it stuck in your teeth.

The candy is simply royal icing that’s dotted onto freezer paper and allowed to dry. Sweet Sugar Belle has a great start-to-finish tutorial on making and packaging the buttons. She also has a recipe for the icing hidden in the wall o’ text, but here’s another one:

1 lb (about 7 C) confectioners’ sugar (you may need slightly more)
6 Tbsp water
2 egg whites or 2 Tbsp meringue powder plus 2 Tbsp additional water
1/2 tsp flavoring extract (almond, vanilla, lemon, peppermint, coconut, etc.)
Food coloring (gel is best; if you use liquid, reduce the amount of water slightly)

If using egg whites, separate the eggs (if salmonella is a concern, use pasteurized eggs or go with the meringue powder instead).

Place the sugar, water, egg whites/meringue, and flavoring in a bowl and beat with an electric mixer on medium-high speed for about 6 minutes, until thick and glossy. The icing should fall in ribbons when lifted with a spoon and allowed to fall back into the bowl, and the ribbon should sit on the surface for a few seconds before melting back in. Add a little additional water or sugar to thin/thicken it if necessary (remember that it should be a little thick if you’re going to use liquid food coloring).

Divide into bowls and tint with food coloring. Cover until ready to use. The icing will keep for at least a month (refrigerate if you used fresh egg whites).

Most tutorials suggest piping the dots using a decorator bag or a sandwich bag with one corner cut off. That’s fine if you’re only going to do a few, but if you plan to make a lot of these (and they do lend themselves really well to an assembly-line approach), I’d recommend using condiment squeeze bottles instead. They’re much less messy (I seem to have a talent for squeezing icing out of the top of a decorator bag and all over my hand), and they can be capped and stored if you don’t want to use them all at once.

Instead of piping them in a simple rectangle, you can also get creative with the arrangement of the buttons on the paper. Quake N Bake has a video tutorial for making Space Invaders dots, and any simple pattern that fits on a grid should be suitable: Cross stitch patterns (like spiders), 8-bit computer icons (like skulls), or letters and numbers.

Packages of the buttons would make wonderful party or wedding favors; Halloweenish dots can be tinted orange and black, wedding dots could use the bride’s colors. You could also leave them white and, once dry, draw pupils (and, optionally, bloodshot lines) on them with a food coloring pen for a whole package of googly eyes. The eyes are great for decorating cupcakes, too; just pop them off the paper backing and stick them on.

The packaged buttons can be stored in a cool, dry place for several months, so they’re an excellent make-ahead project. They’re also simple enough to make that they’re a good activity for kids.

Posted in Bittens, Terror in the Aisle | 2 Comments »

Quernus Crafts

April 30th, 2013 by Cobwebs

Teeny GhostThe cute, I am dying of it.

Kirsten of Quernus Crafts is an artist who specializes in polymer clay sculptures of small animals. To say that she is prolific is something of an understatement; the Flickr stream displaying her work runs to 150 pages. To say that she is talented is also something of an understatement; her creations include bookish dragons, rodentine grim reapers, and Snape, Dumbledore, and Harry Potter if they were mice. (Other mousy notables are Angus Young, Freddy Mercury, and Ozzy Osbourne.) She also has Viking snails because why not.

She sells pre-made “miniature masterpieces for your mantelpiece” on the site and also does commissions (although a note on that page says that she isn’t accepting new ones right now): Her “Quernus Your Pet” service will render your pet in miniature, and she also does custom wedding cake toppers; a few of those latter provide interesting glimpses into the minds of her customers, since some of her requested couples include a mole and a marmoset, a penguin and a tortoise, and–my favorite–“a girly mole and an army boy T-Rex”.

Her gallery is a lot of fun to browse, and is an excellent source of inspiration if you like to work with polymer clay. If she begins accepting commissions again soon, her prices are quite reasonable and it looks like she’d be a great resource for a one-of-a-kind cake topper or other memento.

(via Geek Crafts)

Posted in Needful Things, Terror in the Aisle | 4 Comments »

Conjurer’s Kitchen

April 4th, 2013 by Cobwebs

Skull Wedding CakeI occasionally run into a wedding cake that sort of makes me wish I could get married all over again, and this is one of them. Food artist Annabel (“Annabel Lecter”) de Vetten of Conjurer’s Kitchen made this “‘Til Death Do Us Part” cake for a wedding show in Birmingham.

It features solid chocolate skulls of 16 carrion crows, 12 domestic kittens, 3 Vervet monkeys, and 4 barn owls, all of which the artist sculpted by hand. Made from White Chocolate Mudcake, the cake took her over 100 hours to complete in total. There are two options of toppers: a chocolate conjoined kitten skull, or dried flowers from an actual wedding bouquet

This isn’t her first excursion into detailed chocolate skulls; she’s got a Death in Chocolate page which showcases her work with chocolate animal and human skulls, including some painted ones meant to mimic skulls on display at an Austrian Ossuary. I can’t get over how lifelike she’s gotten the “bone” to appear.

Her site has all kinds of other great stuff, too: Creepy Confections has cakes based on 18th-Century anatomical wax models, a bloody heart in a box, and those spooky-ass chocolate baby heads that showed up on Etsy a while back and freaked everybody out. I’m also completely in love with her Beetlejuice-esque Tim Burton cake and the Hitchcock Movies cake.

Even if you aren’t in the U.K. and thus can’t contract her services directly–although it does look like she might ship some small items–the site is a great place to browse just to drool over her creations.

(via BoingBoing)

Posted in Terror in the Aisle | 3 Comments »

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