The Art of Darkness

Custom Printed Signet Rings

May 12th, 2015 by Cobwebs

Signet RingPropnomicon recently mentioned this custom 3D-printed Elder Sign Signet Ring and noted casually, “Like a growing number of Mythos items it was designed on a computer and then printed out at Shapeways.” And my brain went, “record scratch You can DO that?”

Why yes, yes you can. I am so behind the times.

Shapeways provides a variety of 3D design and printing services, and many of their users sell cool custom jewelry. Nonconformity, the shop owner who designed the Elder Sign ring, offers a ring from Once Upon a Time, and also does custom designs on request. If you search the Shapeways site for “signet ring” you’ll get lots of other designs including lions, skulls, and even My Little Pony. Several other shops also offer custom work, so if you have a family crest or other design that you’ve always wanted as a signet, you can check those out.

Depending upon the material selected, the rings are surprisingly inexpensive. A plastic one suitable for cosplay is around $12US, stainless steel is $25US, and brass is $50US. Even rings with fancier metals, like sterling silver or gold plating, are less than $100US.

This type of affordable bespoke design is a perfect accessory for a costume (or just to wear as jewelry). Dracula, for instance, surely wore a signet ring (there are some licensed ones floating around, such as this and this, that you can use for inspiration). Boris Karloff’s mummy wore a scarab. There’s a cool vintage-y “wolfman” ring here. And that doesn’t begin to cover all of the modern possibilities like a house crest from Harry Potter or Game of Thrones. (Obviously, many designs are licensed and can’t be copied exactly, but you should be able to create something that captures the flavor of the design without running afoul of copyright.)

If you’re handy with 3D design, you can cut out the middleman and use Shapeways to print your uploaded patterns directly. Custom rings made of an inexpensive material would be a very cool party or wedding favor, a useful way to identify team members in a LARP, and they’d also be handy for things like “largesse” at SCA events.

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Eat My Face

April 15th, 2015 by Cobwebs

Chocolate FaceBompass & Parr is a sort of culinary think-tank, whose projects include a whiskey pipe organ called The Flavour Conductor, a theatrical “dinner adventure” with an Alice in Wonderland theme, and something called Scent of Darkness in which they “traversed London between sunset and sunrise to chart the scents of the city at night. Londons (sic) aromas were composed as perfumes and shipped to Thomas Brown who photographed them with stylist Lyndsay Milne.” I’m a little fuzzy on the point of photographing perfumes, but I am clearly not high-concept enough to be their target audience.


Their latest offering is Eat My Face, a 3-D printed cast of your face suitable for molding chocolate or gelatin. Putting aside the fact that “eat my face” sounds like a mild epithet, the price for one of these beauties is “available upon request” which means that they’re likely well outside the range of anyone so plebian as to wonder why somebody would bother photographing perfume.

However, if you simply can’t bear the idea of not owning what amounts to a chocolate death mask, this is DIY-able with a little time and effort.

Bompass & Parr’s service uses facial scanning software and 3-D printing. The low-tech approach is to take a mold of your face (or, um, body part of your choice, I guess), make a positive plaster cast from that, then use the cast to create a food-grade silicone mold. (Note: There are “lifecasting” products that use silicone, but unfortunately it’s not food-grade silicone, so you can’t skip the plaster-mold step.)

Casting your face is a fairly straightforward process; googling “how to make a cast of your face” will turn up several helpful tutorials like this one. You use a material called alginate, which is available online at Amazon or at companies that specialize in lifecasting products like Reynolds.

Make a positive plaster cast from the alginate mold as described in the tutorial, then use food-grade silicone to create a mold from that. Smooth-On and Make Your Own Molds sell the right kind of silicone, and also have instructions for using it for mold-making. You can also get tips on successfully making silicone molds (such as making sure you have room to wiggle out the original cast) by googling for tutorials like this. (Once you’re done with the original plaster cast, incidentally, you can display it as an objet d’art. Paint it like a calavera. Cover it with rhinestones. Follow your bliss.)

Finally, it’s time to cast the chocolate. You can get general guidelines for molding chocolate from a variety of tutorials, such as here and here. After going to all the work of making a mold, you’ll want to make sure to temper the chocolate so it doesn’t develop white streaks. Rather than just pouring in chocolate, you may wish to paint on a thin layer with a (new!) paintbrush or basting brush to make sure there aren’t any teensy bubbles. If you do pour in the chocolate, give the mold a couple of whacks on a firm surface to help burst the bubbles and ensure a nice smooth surface.

Once unmolded, you can present the chocolately face as-is (preferably nestled in a pretty box), or you can paint on details with a (new!) small paintbrush and colored candy melts.

Bonus link: When researching this article I discovered that edible chocolate buttholes are a thing. If you want to try that at home, you are totally on your own.

Posted in Needful Things | 3 Comments »

The Gentleman’s Single-Use Monocle

April 1st, 2015 by Cobwebs

Bear with me, because this sounds like an April Fool’s prank but in fact is not.

Zach Weinersmith, creator of the webcomic Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, currently has a Kickstarter project for The Gentleman’s Single-Use Monocle. It’s a simple visual joke, the punchline being that it’s not a condom.

Although we have worked hard to keep the price low, we have also taken care to make sure the monocle is of a better quality than the cheap ones you usually see in novelty shops. Our monocle is mostly plastic, with a metal chain that gives it a pleasant jingle, and color choices that give it a realistic look. The monocle itself is very durable and would be a fine addition to a cosplay costume.

Its wrapper has a clear back so you can show it off without opening it, but he also plans to sell them in multipacks in case you use them. It’d be a mildly amusing addition to a steampunky cosplay ensemble, but if they can be bulk-purchased cheaply enough I’m thinking they’d also be an excellent promotional freebie for vendors at conventions to hand out.

Here’s his Kickstarter video:

This might seem like a simple attempt to cash in on the popularity of steampunk, but if you go over to his site and read the promo ad you’ll see the real reason he’s doing this: “Please do your part to make me right and my wife wrong.”

The Kickstarter runs through April 15.

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Cooking with Vincent

February 24th, 2015 by Cobwebs

Cooking with VincentVincent Price was kind of awesome, you guys. In addition to being THE campy horror-movie guy, he was a world traveler, art collector, author, and noted gourmet chef (his specialty was Chinese).

In 1965 he and his wife Mary published a volume of recipes collected from their favorite restaurants, titled A Treasury of Great Recipes. The original book is expensive on Amazon, but fairly reasonable at sites like ABE Books. However, 2015 is the 50th anniversary of the book’s publication, and a new edition is scheduled for release this fall. There’s a website, Cooking with Vincent, where you can reserve a copy and read a “road trip blog” by their daughter as she visits some of the restaurants from the original book.

But wait, there’s more! In 1967, Mary and Vincent published a 5-volume set called Mary and Vincent Price present a National Treasury of Cookery, and in 1969 followed up with Come Into the Kitchen.

And then, in 1971, Thames Television gave Price his own cooking show. Cooking Price-Wise with Vincent Price ran for six half-hour episodes, and spawned a cookbook of the same name. The cookbook originally sold for 30p, and the cheapest I can find a copy online is $125US.

The TV episodes also sadly don’t seem to be available online; according to Horrorpedia their titles were:

Dishes from Italy, America and Turkey (18/05/1971)
Dishes from the Gulf Coast, Hawaii and Indonesia (11/05/1971)
Dishes from California, Switzerland and Austria (04/05/1971)
Dishes from Great Britain (27/04/1971)
Dishes from Greece and Morocco (20/04/1971)
Dishes from New York, Savoy and Holland (13/04/1971)

Price also recorded audio cooking tutorials–his recipe for Viennese Stuffed Eggs can be heard here–and did talk-show appearances like this one with Wolfgang Puck.

If you wanted to throw a particularly offbeat goth dinner party, you could play some of Price’s horror movies in the background whilst serving some of his recipes.

Posted in Needful Things | 2 Comments »

Nightmare Catcher

December 4th, 2014 by Cobwebs

Nightmare CatcherThe Wandering Mermaid Etsy shop sells “vintage inspired treasures” such as antiqued journals and little charms. The shop also offers a variety of pretty bottles labeled with things like “Fairy Godmother Wishes” and “Mermaid Song,” but the one I was particularly taken with was their bottle of Nightmares. It’s filled with black glitter and little sparkly stars, in which are nestled bits of paper listing “classic nightmare themes” which you may wish to keep bottled up.

I love the idea of having a place to capture bad dreams where you can keep an eye on ’em. Although the ones on Etsy are surprisingly inexpensive–for $15, you could hardly buy the glitter–something similar would be pretty easy to DIY if you wanted to use a different bottle or otherwise adjust its appearance. I’d also add a pretty pen and a supply of blank paper slips for writing down personal nightmares to bottle up.

This would be a particularly great gift for a child, but it’d be nice for anyone who could use a little midnight reassurance. The bottle or jar could be personalized with the recipient’s name, and little “magic charms” representing pleasant things like flowers or teddy bears could be attached to the outside or mixed in with the glitter. Nightmares aren’t nearly as scary when they’re sulking in a jar instead of running around freely, so having a place to store them might help ensure pleasant dreams.

Posted in Bittens, Needful Things | 3 Comments »

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 »

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.

Posted in Needful Things | 1 Comment »

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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Artist: Wood-Splitter Lee

September 11th, 2014 by Cobwebs

Baby UnicornLee Cross, known professionally as Wood-Splitter Lee, is an Alaskan sculptor who creates astonishingly lifelike cuddly creatures. Some are real-world animals like wolf pups and ducklings, but most are fantasy creatures like Bunnyflies, Cloud Lambs, and Galaxy Stags. Browsing the gallery is sort of like a stroll through some fairy princess’ menagerie.

Her critters are all hand-made without the use of molds or patterns, so they’re truly one-of-a-kind. Most have articulated skeletons which are fully poseable; she also offers non-furry sculpted pets like “Boo,” which come in their own little habitats.

She appears to mainly sell her creations through Auction Adoptions on eBay. I can’t seem to find any information on whether she takes commissions for custom work, but since her routine auctions can run to several thousand dollars I imagine that if she does it’d be pricey.

She has a Facebook page here, and there are a couple of interviews with her at Geek Insider and

(via Geyser of Awesome)

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Giant Isopod Phone Case

August 21st, 2014 by Cobwebs

Isopod Phone CaseThe Japanese really like giant isopods. Like, really.* Recently there was a lot of buzz around an iPhone case shaped like a super-realistic giant isopod; from what I can gather it was released to commemorate the death of “No. 1,” a giant isopod residing at the Toba Aquarium which gained notoriety by refusing to eat for over five years. The Rhubarb Gusokumushi** case was available in gold or silver. Unfortunately, it was also a limited-edition production run of only 500 units and also had the drawback of only being available in Japan.

Fortunately, all is not lost! There’s at least one other giant isopod iPhone case, manufactured by Strapya (also available here). While not quite so detailed as the limited-edition model, it has the advantage of being, y’know, not limited-edition. And also being available outside of Japan. It doesn’t clutch your phone in little spiky legs–a vast disappointment, to be sure–but would probably be a little easier to fit in a purse or pocket.

I suppose if you were feeling particularly resourceful it might be possible to find a cast-plastic model of an isopod (or another interesting creepy-crawly like a lobster, centipede, or spider) and fit a more conventional phone case into its underside. That would largely depend on whether the amusement value of saying, “Excuse me, my spider is ringing” would offset the inconvenience of lugging around an unwieldy, oversize phone. You have to admit that it’d be fairly entertaining to stroll down the street talking into the abdomen of a giant rubber cockroach and acting like you have no idea why anyone’s staring.

Anyway, giant isopods. Neat.

*It’s a little unclear why they’ve so caught the Japanese imagination; asking Google mainly brought back giant isopod hot dogs, giant isopod plush toys (through which I discovered that there are a bunch of stuffed toys based on Burgess Shale creatures, including Anomalocaris, Hallucigenia, and Opabinia, so that’s neat), and giant isopods sharing a snack. But I also found this list of 18 awesome facts about giant isopods, so let’s just assume that the Japanese simply recognize their intrinsic awesomeness and leave it at that.

**This is what Google Translate insists the name of the phone case is. Searching on that term turns up a lot of hits, but it’s entirely possible that everybody else just ran the same page through Google Translate. If anybody reads Japanese and would care to enlighten us, that’d be swell.

Posted in Needful Things | 2 Comments »

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