The Art of Darkness

X-Ray Lampshades

April 23rd, 2015 by Cobwebs

X-Ray LampshadeOooh, what a neat idea.

Spike Vain, a veterinary tech in LA, uses X-rays of some of her patients to make awesomely creepy lampshades. You can see more photos of her work here. (She also has an Etsy shop where she has a few X-ray bookmarks for sale, but doesn’t appear to sell the lamps there.)

I figured that you’d have to ask your local vet (or hospital) about purchasing discarded X-rays, but it turns out you can buy them online. A couple of sites, like Buy X-Rays and Buy X-Rays Online specialize in them, but you can even find a few at Amazon: Human | Animal.

After that, all you need is a suitable lampshade. DIY lampshade kits are available at craft suppliers, but you could also just pick up a cheap lamp from a thrift store and re-use its shade. Be sure to choose a shade with a sturdy frame that’s attractive enough to display, since the X-rays are suspended from ties instead of being glued on top.

From the photos, it appears that Spike cuts the X-rays to shape, covers the edges with some sort of binding (possibly fabric tape?), then inserts grommets into each corner. Ribbon (or in some cases, possibly wire; it’s hard to tell from the photos) is threaded through the holes and used to tie each panel in place on the frame.

The result is really striking. The lamps would be a perfect decorative accessory for Halloween, but they’re certainly attractive enough to use year-’round. They’d also make an interesting gift for a physician, dentist, or anyone else who works with bones.

(via WitchArachne)

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Ticket Stub Fabric

April 2nd, 2015 by Cobwebs

Ticket Stub PillowsThis is a neat, fairly simple way to commemorate a favorite concert or similar memento: Scan them, upload the images to Spoonflower, and print them out on fabric.

Redditor Sunflower_Fortunado posted some that her mother had turned into throw pillows, and noted in the comments that her mom had used the service previously to make kitchen towels out of a handwritten recipe and given them as gifts.

Someone else in the comments suggested making a quilt, which is a neat idea but could get expensive if you custom-printed a lot of different tickets. A repeat print of a single ticket would be interesting fabric for a dress or shirt, too.

If you’ve saved ticket stubs from a special occasion, this would make a really thoughtful gift; one of the other thread commenters said that his wife still had the movie tickets from their first date, and he was going to have fabric made from them.

Throw pillows require minimal sewing skills, so even a novice should have no trouble turning out an attractive, very personalized, decorating accessory.

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Vegan Antlers

March 12th, 2015 by Cobwebs

ElkebanaIkebana is the Japanese art of flower arranging. The aptly-named Elkebana bills itself as “the first trophy for plant lovers,” and consists of a wall-mounted plaque with two hand-blown vases for arranging botanicals. The photo section of their site has a number of floral designs with fanciful names like, “Xavier the Deer,” “Isodoro the Oryx,” and “Pierre the Chamois.”

The only drawback is the price; at €99, this sucker is priced for the sort of people who would name an oryx Isodoro.

This would, fortunately, be pretty easy to DIY. Depending upon your skill level, you could either cut a thick plywood trophy base and sink a couple of wells to accommodate the vases, or just buy a cheap antler mounting kit and some slender glass bud vases which fit into the antler holes.

The floral arrangements can be long-term, like curly willow branches or silk flowers, or changed with the season. Then you can point to the trophy and proudly tell guests that you bagged it yourself.

(via BoredPanda)

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Creepy Mannequin Lamp

November 6th, 2014 by Cobwebs

Mannequin LampGot a room you want to discourage people from hanging around in? Problem solved.

Kuwaiti designer Al Hamed has a whole line of “Embarakiya” floor lamps fashioned from life-size mannequins sporting lampshades where their heads should be. The dummies all wear traditional Kuwaiti dress, and the shades are made of matching material.

Here’s the best part: Each mannequin has a sensor in its hand, so you switch on the lamp by shaking hands with this abomination.

I cannot love this hard enough. The seated “woman” has such a lurking-ghost vibe about her that I believe I’d be more startled if she didn’t go for my throat.

It looks like retail mannequins run around $100, but if there’s a clothing store in your area which is remodeling or closing you might be able to pick up a used one cheaper (they’re also sometimes available on eBay). Wiring a lamp into the neck wouldn’t be terribly difficult, and if you didn’t want to go to the trouble of installing a switch in the hand you could just stick with the standard one near the bulb.

Dress it in the costume of your choice. Change its outfit periodically. And some night you may wake up to find it standing beside your bed…just before its light goes out.

(via Scary Jane)

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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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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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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)

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“Shining” Bath Decor

June 10th, 2014 by Cobwebs

Shining Bath

Check out this great, reasonably low-effort bathroom makeover inspired by The Shining. It seems to be the work of somebody who goes by the handle “Beta Man;” I found a couple of places where he posts additional pictures of the room and requests suggestions for accessories (like the bloody-footprint bathmat shown in the first link).

The execution (so to speak) could hardly be simpler: The words are just stenciled all over the walls, and the towel rack is a hardware-store axe mounted on a couple of wall brackets. I would probably have the axe head ground down so it no longer held an edge, and would also make sure it was secured to the brackets so there was no way it could be bumped off of its mounts; even blunted, an axe falling on your bare foot would be less than hilarious.

And, of course, there are plenty of blood-themed bathroom accessories to complete the look. In addition to the pictured bath mat, there are shower curtains, mirror decals, and even shower gel.

If you wanted to go all-out, you could even add painted “blood spatters” to the sink, toilet, bathtub, and tiled floor; there are numerous tutorials for painting porcelain fixtures, such as this one. (Obviously, this is not such a hot idea if you rent. The wall stencils can be easily painted over; the painted porcelain, not so much.)

The “all work and no play” message is really effective scrawled all over the small space, especially since it’d be reflected in all of the mirrors as well. The painting could easily be done in the space of a weekend, and would certainly make an impact (especially in a guest bathroom).

(Hat tip to Pixel Pixie)

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Great DIY Wall Art Idea

May 14th, 2014 by Cobwebs

Wall Stencil

This nameless artist (curse websites which offer no attribution!) says that he has no drawing skills, but he wanted to decorate a plain wall in his kitchen. Technology to the rescue! He took a movie still from The Seven Samurai, simplified it into a black-and-white graphic, then used a projector to beam it onto the wall where he wanted it. After that it was simply a matter of coloring inside the lines. He provides a step-by-step guide here.

Well. I don’t know about you, but I can think of a heck of a lot of movie stills that would look pretty darn awesome as a wall stencil. The shadow of Nosferatu, for instance; or Carol Ann in front of the TV. If you were really feeling ambitious you could fill a wall with a bunch of smaller stencils, each representing a different iconic scene.

The tutorial touches on it briefly, but you’ll definitely want to take great care that the projector is stable and can’t be jostled out of alignment. If your project is going to take more than a few hours, it might be worthwhile to lightly trace guidelines for re-aligning the projected image so you can come back to it later.

This is a unique, inexpensive way to spruce up a room, and should even be suitable for rentals since removing it is simply a matter of repainting the wall.

(via ShellHawk)

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Hearse Aquarium

May 8th, 2014 by Cobwebs

AquariumHere’s another item that goes in the house of my dreams. It’s an aquarium cabinet made from the rear of a Victorian horse-drawn hearse.

I learned of its existence when a member of the FB Goth After 30 group posted that his wife had just purchased it at auction (are you insanely jealous? I am). I did a bit of googling and found the auction details (although that page now seems to be broken):

Large Victorian Ebonized Aquarium Cabinet, 19th century and later. Fashioned from the rear glazed doors of a New Orleans style horse drawn hearse, adapted on modern stand to accommodate tank, filter and lighting, all included, 80.5″ x 57″ x 41″ – 204.5 x 144.8 x 104.1 cm.

Someone with good woodworking skills could probably make a reasonably similar replica (or a reduced-scale version, since the full-sized one is enormous). It might also be possible to decorate a modern cabinet with faux wooden detailing carved from insulating foam of the sort used for prop tombstones). It’d certainly be an amazing focal point for a room, especially if it was decorated with miniature shipwrecks and stocked with black fish (or varieties, like glass catfish, where you can see all their bones). I guess you could go all-out and make it a piranha tank, too.

I’ve always loved the look of horse-drawn hearses, but had never considered their potential for displaying anything besides coffins. Repurposing one as an aquarium (or simply a curio cabinet) is just brilliant.

Bonus Link: Whilst I was looking for the auction info I also stumbled upon this cabinet which also has a distinctly hearsey vibe; I think it’s the oval windows.

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