The Art of Darkness

Free Osteoarchaeology Course

September 12th, 2016 by Cobwebs

If you like to look at bones (and who doesn’t?), the faculty of Archaeology at Universiteit Leiden is offering a free online course on the subject.

We are pleased to announce that on the 30th of September Dr. Andrea Waters-Rist from the Faculty of Archaeology of Leiden University (The Netherlands) will be launching a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) all about human osteoarchaeology! “Osteoarchaeology: The Truth in Our Bones” provides a basic introduction to human osteoarchaeology for people with no previous experience in this scientific field.

In this free online course, learners will explore the many things that can be learned about life in the past and present by studying the human skeleton. After starting with sex, age-at-death, and stature estimation from skeletal remains, other themes including disease and trauma, diet and infant feeding, activity patterns, and mobility and migration are discussed. Students will learn how to reconstruct the lives that past peoples were living from the clues that are contained in their bones and teeth.

More information is available here.

We would be very grateful if you passed on this information to any individuals that might be interested in being introduced to the study of archaeological human skeletal remains.

(via Girls With Bones)

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Digitized Demons

June 21st, 2016 by Cobwebs

DemonThe Morgan Library in New York is exhibiting the wonderful illuminated manuscript The Hours of Catherine of Cleves, and has also digitized all of the miniatures.

This digital facsimile provides reproductions of all 157 miniatures (and facing text pages) from the Hours of Catherine of Cleves. The original one-volume prayer book had been taken apart in the nineteenth century; the leaves were shuffled and then rebound into two confusing volumes. This presentation offers the miniatures in their original, fifteenth-century sequence.

The Hours of Catherine of Cleves is the greatest Dutch illuminated manuscript in the world. Its 157 miniatures are by the gifted Master of Catherine of Cleves (active ca. 1435-60), who is named after this book. The Master of Catherine of Cleves is considered the finest and most original illuminator of the medieval northern Netherlands, and this manuscript is his masterpiece.

The images are simply chock-full of little demons (illustrating that the devil really is in the details). The scans are fairly high-resolution, and they’d be wonderful source material for all kinds of projects.

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The Dragonry

June 15th, 2016 by Cobwebs

Dragon EggsI’ve mentioned DadCanDo in the past, but since they’ve done a bit of reorganizing I wanted to call your attention to The Dragonry.

It’s a whole section of dragon-related items, like these dragon eggs made from blown eggs and hot glue, the Dragon Hunter’s Goggles which could double as an inexpensive Steampunk accessory, and loads more. The projects are fairly easy and use readily-available materials, and they’re a marvelous source of inspiration.

A “real” dragon’s egg would make a wonderful and unique gift for a child (or a Game of Thrones-obsessed adult). It appears that their example uses a chicken egg, but since it’s embellished with hot glue and then painted there’s no reason you couldn’t use a larger plastic or wooden egg instead. Add some suitable documentation as to the egg’s provenance and perhaps a pretty wooden box to keep it in, and you’d have a lovely display piece.

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Art of Mourning

June 2nd, 2016 by Cobwebs

MiniatureHayden Peters is one of the world’s foremost collectors of “mourning jewelry,” and he showcases “memorial, mourning, sentimental jewellery (sic) and art” on the wonderful Art of Mourning site. There are photos and descriptions of art, jewelry, accessories, textiles, and ephemera from many different periods and cultures. The site also has a nice resource section, including a discussion of common symbolism, a list of books on “funeralia,” and contact information for several vendors who handle such items.

This is a fantastic resource for funeral artwork and mementos mori, and it makes me wish I had the kind of disposable income that would let me collect this stuff. It’s just gorgeous.

Bonus Link: Collectors Weekly did an interview with Peters, discussing the history of mourning jewelry and how he got started collecting it.

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Labyrinth “Junk Lady” Cosplay

May 25th, 2016 by Cobwebs

Junk LadyJen and John from EPBOT are DIY-ing fools, creating amazing props and costumes from “dirt cheap” materials. When they learned that this year’s DragonCon was going to feature a Labyrinth-themed ball, they immediately started work on an appropriate cosplay costume. Rather than choosing one of the main characters, they decided to focus on the rarely-portrayed Junk Lady.

The costume isn’t done yet, but they shared a “first look” and it is awesome.

They’re striving for total screen accuracy with her junk pile, and are going all-in:

Me: “John, that toy desk-organizer with a built-in abacus on the back of her pile is barely visible even with the TV brightness set to max. Do you REALLY need to build one from scratch?

John: “…. ” [already in the garage building one from scratch]

The post has loads of build notes and some great ideas for building the costume frame, just in case you’re looking for some Halloween inspiration. This is a brilliant project and I can’t wait to see the final result.

Update: – They just did another build post, detailing some of the junk. It is awesome.

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Wonderland Expedition Kit

May 19th, 2016 by Cobwebs

Mome RathThat Lucky Girl is a fan of Alice in Wonderland, so for her birthday her boyfriend made her a “Wonderland Expedition Kit.”

In 1867 a biology professor was sent to investigate a mysterious fire at the Liddell household. This kit is full of samples and documentation from the final known trip down the rabbit hole.

Included in the kit:
-Card Guard specimen, mounted
-fetal Mome Rath
-caterpillar, preserved
-rose painted red
-raven’s feather (like a writing desk?)
-pocket watch
-looking glass
-Cheshire Cat teeth
-Cheshire Cat fur samples
-framed photo of Lewis Carroll
-various photos of Wonderland inhabitants
-Eat Me and Drink Me bottles
-vial of water from Pool of Tears
-bottled mushroom bits, one from each side
-map of nonsense occurrences in England, leading to rabbit hole
-map of Wonderland
-typed copy of “You Are Old, Father William”
-typed letter from Professor Lake, detailing his journey to England
-half-burned print of the courtroom scene (removed from the scorched remains of the Liddell house)

That’s some true devotion right there.

The entire kit is simply wonderful; I love all the thoughtful little details.

(This post was first published in August 2008; I’ll be doing a few days of “blast from the past” archive posts in a probably-vain effort to catch up with real life.)

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World Dracula Day

May 5th, 2016 by Cobwebs

World Dracula DayMay 26 is the original publication date for Dracula, and there’s a Facebook page and Twitter feed set up to celebrate the upcoming anniversary. (The website linked on the FB page just goes to a generic placeholder.) The event doesn’t seem to have gained much traction online, but last year The Vampire Historian did a special mini-sode and there were scattered mentions on history and literature sites.

There’s still time to plan a party, or at least a get-together with a few friends. There are loads of thematic recipes and party ideas–one thing the internet is not short on is vampires–and a search for “vampire dinner party” turns up suggestions from Food Network, PopSugar, AllYou, Hostess with the Mostess, and Not Quite Nigella, and that’s just the first page of results.

For something a little less involved, just invite a few friends over for a vampire movie marathon and order a pizza with extra garlic.

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Spooky Time-Wasters

April 12th, 2016 by Cobwebs

I’m having one of those hair-on-fire sorts of weeks, which means blogging is going to be a bit on the non-substantive side. Here are some scary discussion threads to keep you busy.

Fark’s Annual Scary Story Thread – They do this every year around Halloween: 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004

Ask Reddit has a bunch of scary/creepy threads. BIRDGHOST has a Creepy AskReddit Thread Masterpost of several, and there’s another big list at Rebrn. If that isn’t enough, just google “askreddit scary” or “askreddit creepy” for plenty more.

Also check out MetaFilter’s horror and chill list.

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Monster Scouts

January 19th, 2016 by Cobwebs

Monster Scouts Poster“A Crow Scout is kind, odd, honorable, spooky, thrifty, and irreverent.”

Daniel and Dawna Davis run Steam Crow, which sells “good monster goods” like T-shirts and prints. A couple of years ago they wanted to foster a community of monster-loving folks, so they created the Steam Crow Scouts:

The Steam Crow Scouts were founded in 1903 by Baron Davis, who created a Monster Scouts organization to help Youth BELIEVE, LEARN and SEE the MONSTERS that surround us.

Today, the Crow Scouts continue DISCOVER and AID MONSTERS against the oppression of vile Monsterology.


You can become a Monster Scout–they appear to use “Steam Crow Scouts,” “Crow Scouts,” and “Monster Scouts” fairly interchangeably–and mingle with like-minded monster lovers. They even have uniforms.

Members can earn achievement badges for various activities, chat with other scouts in their forum, and even go camping at the annual Shindig in Arizona.

If you’ve been looking for some way to make life a little more monstrous, this looks like an excellent way to do it. Just remember to abide by their code of conduct:

I shall hurt neither Monster or Man.
I will behave with Uncommon Sense.
I pledge to have fun with my Crow Scout friends, imaginary or not.
I shall laugh first at myself.
I will celebrate my flaws, oddities and broken nature.
I will strive to make the 2 worlds less ungood.

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Elvira Sings

December 30th, 2015 by Cobwebs

Elvira Album CoverLong ago, my pal Kitten Herder made me a lovely mixtape of Halloween-related music. One track was “Full Moon,” a song I didn’t recognize, and the first time I played it I thought, “Wow, that really sounds like Elvira.” And lo, it was.

Back in the 80s when Cassandra Peterson was expanding her media empire beyond television, she released several Halloween-themed albums. Most of the songs were about what you’d expect (“Monster Mash,” “Dead Man’s Party”), but she also recorded several tracks herself. They’re…fun. Peterson is an adequate singer, and she does all of the songs in-character as Elvira. Here’s a list, if you want to explore her oeuvre.

Elvira and the Vitones 3-D TV (Rhino Records, 1982) – A single. The title track is here. The flip side was “Elvira’s Theme,” which may have been the same version as this one.

Vinyl Macabre (Rhino Records, 1983) – As nearly as I can tell from various online sources, Elvira did spoken intro/outro and “end of side one”/”beginning of side two” (remember those?) pieces, but the only singing was her theme, above.

Elvira Presents Haunted Hits (Rhino Records, 1987) – Full Moon.

Elvira Presents Monster Hits (Rhino Records, 1994) – She did two songs for this one, Monsta’ Rap and Here Comes the Bride (The Bride Of Frankenstein).

Elvira Presents Revenge of the Monster Hits (Rhino Records, 1995) – There were two for this as well, Haunted House and Zombie Stomp.

After this there was a hiatus of several years, then in 2008 she performed on a track called “Zombie Killer” for the band Leslie and the Ly’s. It was released as a single, but here’s the music video:

In 2010 she released Elvira’s Gravest Hits (Shout! Factory), which collected all of the songs listed above plus two new ones, Here I Am and “Le Music Hall,” which seems to be the song that she sings in Elvira’s Haunted Hills.

And she’s still chugging along. In 2014 she released another single (as a purple vinyl 7″), 2 Big Pumpkins. Both the title track and the B side “13 Nights of Halloween” were written by the B-52s’ Fred Schneider. The latter doesn’t seem to be available on YouTube, but if you can’t live without hearing it, it’s available on iTunes.

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