The Art of Darkness

Family History

December 19th, 2007 by Cobwebs

Today, for something completely different, I thought I’d share one of my favorite, rather macabre, family anecdotes. If nothing else, it’s a hell of an ice-breaker at parties.

This is a bit of familial lore related by my late paternal grandmother.* She was born in 1905 so these events would have taken place in about 1911 or 1912, when medicine was still on the primitive side and rural folk didn’t bother with a doctor much anyway.

Anyway, it happened that one of my grandmother’s great-aunts died, and in the tradition of the time her body was laid out at the house to allow the relatives to pay their respects. Normally you’d have to worry about the body beginning to decompose, but it was the middle of winter in Nebraska so they just put her in an unheated enclosed porch. For three days.

When they finally went to bury her, the body was still warm.

And…they buried her anyway.

At this point I said, “Um, grandma…?” And she looked sort of embarrassed and said, “Well, apparently nobody liked her very much.”


*She related it when she was still alive, you understand.

Posted in Whatever | 1 Comment »

Pretty Skull Housewares

December 18th, 2007 by Cobwebs

Skull DinnerwareIf nothing else, the Pirates of the Caribbean movies have been a boon by making skulls mainstream. They’re everywhere these days.

Z Gallerie has a nice collection of skull-themed items, including this set of dinnerware. They’ve also got wall clocks, cocktail shakers, and quite a bit else.

I like these because they look like anatomical drawings and are creepy rather than kitschy. The dinnerware is a little expensive but not outrageously so, and many of the other items are pretty reasonable. If you’re looking for some nice-quality spooky housewares, this collection might be for you.

Posted in Bad Things | No Comments »

“Inner Monologue” Gift Tags

December 17th, 2007 by Cobwebs

Gift TagAngry Chicken has collected all the things we think but never say and put them on handy printable gift tags.

I’d like to see a series of “subtle hint” tags, too; things like, “You’re getting this perfume because you smell like a hog rendering plant.”

Link (via CRAFT)

Posted in Funny Peculiar | No Comments »

Halloween Tree Part 5

December 17th, 2007 by Cobwebs

Winter AngelNow for the tree topper!

This pretty angel would be appropriate for a Victorian tree as well as a gothy Halloween one. You could also use black feathers instead of white for her wings, or give her bat wings instead.

The Gothic Martha Stewart site has instructions for making an angel like this, and also has some great ideas for garlands and other decorations. I love the rich world that all of Trystan Bass’ projects seem to inhabit.

Halloween Tree
Halloween Tree Part 2
Halloween Tree Part 3
Halloween Tree Part 4

Posted in Doom It Yourself, Paint It Black | No Comments »

Halloween Tree Part 4

December 14th, 2007 by Cobwebs

Zakka OwlToday’s ornament is inspired by this adorable Zakka Owl by Moonstitches. She’s posted complete instructions, with pictures, for making these little guys.

Owls are nicely spooky, but we’re going to up the goth quotient by turning them into bats.

The owl instructions call for wool and linen, but I think these would be nice in rich fabrics like brocade or satin. For my mockup, I just used cotton.

I followed the basic instructions for sewing the owl, but I put the eyes on the other end and added ears and fangs.

Bat EarsThe ears are rounded triangles of fabric. Fold the corners of the wide end to the middle, then tack with a couple of stitches. You can either sew the ears to the back of the body piece after it’s turned rightside out, or stitch them into the seam when you’re making the body. To do the former, tack the ears with a couple of stitches or attach them with fabric glue. To do the latter, lay them on the seam line so that the tops of the ears point toward the middle of the body and the bottoms are even with the edge of the fabric. When you turn the body rightside out, the ears will pop up.

Bat OrnamentI happened to have a couple of shiny beads laying around, so I used those for eyes. You can also use buttons as the owls do. I used one of my sewing machine’s preset decorative zig-zag stitches for the mouth, but you could also hand-stitch fangs with embroidery floss or omit them altogether. (Click thumbnail for larger.)

This bat took about ten minutes start to finish, and that included chasing down a toddler who’d run off with my measuring tape. You could create a whole bunch of these little guys very quickly and string them in a garland around the tree.

Halloween Tree
Halloween Tree Part 2
Halloween Tree Part 3

Posted in Doom It Yourself, Paint It Black | 2 Comments »

Christmas of Curiosities

December 13th, 2007 by Cobwebs

Curiosities NecklaceThreadbanger has a great post about stepping back in time with creepy, vintage Christmas gifts.

Want to have an unconventional…whatever holiday you celebrate this season? I’ll help you and so will Ok, let’s say The Decemberists are your favorite band and you can’t wait for Sweeney Todd to be in Theaters. Then you’ll need to have a Christmas of Curiosities! Forget getting ipod’s or Guitar Hero 3 or any technological gadget and think more 1800’s. Break out your suspendered trousers, bowler hats, petticoats, and Edwardian high collared black lace blouses because you’re getting antiquated.

I’m a sucker for “curiosities” of the type mentioned here any time of the year.


Posted in Needful Things, Paint It Black | No Comments »

Link Dump: Skull and Skeleton Patterns

December 12th, 2007 by Cobwebs

Time for another folder-cleaning. Here are a bunch of quick-hit links to patterns (knitting, cross-stitch, etc.) depicting skulls and skeletons.

Skull Scarf

Skull and Crossbones Lace

Skull Socks – These are stripy and adorable.

Skull Stockings – The subtle skulls are very nice.

Fair Isle Wristbands – Sorry, pulse warmers.

Camisole of DeathOpium Poppy, Sunflower and Other Flowers in a Glass Vase – This cross-stitch pattern is a riot of color, but there’s a skull lurking behind the vase at the lower right.

Skull Cross-Stitch – A simple pattern, suitable for all sorts of things.

Skull and Crossbones Cross-Stitch – Another simple chart, this one including the crossed bones.

Snowball’s Chance – These great fingerless “arm-warmers” morph a snowflake into a skull.

Buccaneer’s Booty – More socks.

Posted in Link Dump | 2 Comments »

Confession is Good for…Well, Something

December 11th, 2007 by Cobwebs

With the feel-good movie of the season due out December 21, the Sweeney Todd marketing vehicle has shifted into turbo. This particular campaign includes an interesting interactive feature in which you can “Confess Your Sins to the Barber.” Yes, you can post a written confession, create a video, or even call a telephone number and have your recording posted online.

It’s certainly a unique idea, but I’m sorta wondering if the Marketing folks thought through all of the potential liability and/or abuse issues.

Anyway, if confession (or voyeurism) is your thing, check out the confessional.

(I dunno if the movie is any good, but I’d watch it just for the costumes.)

(via RavensBarrow)

Posted in Whatever | No Comments »

Halloween Tree Part 3

December 10th, 2007 by Cobwebs

Seashell VultureOne of my favorite ornaments on my own tree is this little vulture, given to me by a friend. It’s made out of a mussel shell and a crab claw, with tiny rhinestones for eyes.

These are adorable little ornaments, and couldn’t be easier to make. If you like seafood, they’re also free.

To start, you need a mussel shell and a small crab claw; one from a blue crab is about the right size. The easiest way to obtain these is to have a seafood dinner and save the remnants.

To clean the shell and claw, pick out any scraps of meat (you may need to use tweezers to get up inside the crab claw). Scrub thoroughly with an old toothbrush. If they still smell funky, you can clean them further by freezing them overnight buried in a mixture of three parts salt to one part baking soda, or by boiling them for about 20 minutes.

After that, soak them in a 50-50 solution of bleach and water (wash them first if you’ve buried them in the baking soda stuff). Soak the claw overnight, and soak the shells until the “periostracum” (the flaky covering) is gone. Fish out and let dry.

Now the easy part: Orient the shell so that the smaller end is pointing up and hot glue the claw, beak-like, to the hinge. When dry, spray-paint black. Glue on a couple of little beads for eyes, and attach a loop of ribbon with a dot of glue.

You can make a bunch of these and have your own little flock.

For futher inspiration, check out Tideline Salvage (if you’ve ever attended the Maryland Renaissance Festival, you’re probably familiar with these guys), who make extremely elaborate versions of the same thing. Also bats, rats, roaches, and other oddities, all from salvaged natural items. Cute!

Halloween Tree
Halloween Tree Part 2

Posted in Doom It Yourself, Paint It Black | No Comments »

Halloween Tree Part 2

December 7th, 2007 by Cobwebs

Following on the previous Halloween Tree post, let’s tackle another homemade ornament: Shrunken heads!

Apple-head dolls are a common sight at craft fairs, at least partially because they’re so blinkin’ easy to make. You can make your apple heads cute and rosy-cheeked, or you can sew their mouths shut and stick hatpins in ’em. Follow your bliss.

You will need:

  • Firm, bruise-free apples
  • Vegetable peeler
  • Paring knife or other means to cut bits out of the apple
  • Solution of lemon juice and salt. Different instructions give different proportions, but 1/2 cup of lemon juice to 3 tablespoons of salt should do it
  • Decorative elements such as round beads for eyes, yarn or wool for hair, and so on
  • Sealant (optional, but recommended)

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Doom It Yourself, Paint It Black | No Comments »

« Previous Entries Next Entries »