When the Shadow Family attended the county fair a few weeks ago, I snapped this photo in the Home Arts exhibit (click to enlarge): It’s a spooky little scene set inside a real egg.
Decorating eggs like this is easier than you probably think it is: Certainly, you have to be more careful with a real eggshell than with a plastic one, but the shells are actually pretty sturdy and can be decorated with a huge variety of techniques. (Plus there’s a kind of satisfying ship-in-a-bottle aspect to working with something that seems so impossibly fragile.)
Working with real eggs is a popular hobby, and there are lots of resources for both techniques and materials. You can experiment with chicken eggs and then move up to the eggs of more exotic species. The next time you need eggs for a cake or want scrambled eggs for breakfast, blow them out instead of cracking them:
Bring the egg to room temperature (it’s harder to blow out a cold egg).
Take a large (clean) sewing needle and poke a hole in one end of the shell, then poke a hole in the other end and wiggle the needle around a little to enlarge the hole. Make sure you also puncture the yolk.
Hold the egg over a bowl and blow gently in the small hole. The egg’s guts should run out of the larger hole. (Be prepared for the occasional broken egg.)
Rinse out the egg and then place in an egg carton with the large hole down so that the water and any leftover egg bits can drain out.
You can paint or decoupage the eggs (Martha Stewart has an article on decoupaged eggs here), cover them with beads, use a dremel tool to cut shapes, and much else. Some resources to get you started are here, here, and here).
The egg shown above, incidentally, has had doors cut in it with a dremel tool and then reattached using little hinges made for that purpose (the stand it’s sitting on is purpose-made too; as I said, egg decorating is a popular hobby). It might be a painted goose egg or may be an emu egg, which are naturally black. The interior is painted and decorated with miniatures, just like a diorama.
Don’t limit your scary-egg activities to springtime (although a few eggs painted like skulls will certainly enliven an Easter egg hunt). A basket of spookily-decoupaged eggs or a showpiece egg like the one above is a lovely decorative accent year-round.
Creepy Queen Magazine has posted some great ideas and lots of links for throwing a Steampunk Party, complete with theme inspiration (I love the seance and time travel suggestions), decorating and food ideas, and even some music and game recommendations.
Since steampunk fits in well with all things Victorian, you could borrow elements from traditional Victorian parties to round out the festivities. (You could also go the other way and use steampunk trappings to spice up a Victorian tea with a “mad scientist” element.)
If you’re casting about for something different as a party theme this year, this might be an excellent jumping-off point.
The Vampire Is Just Not That Into You – “Self-help” book from an undead dating specialist to help you decide whether your vampiric relationship is the real thing or not. (Once you go vamp, you never decamp.)
The enemy of my enemy is my vacuum (my enemy is a dog).
Styrofoam board $30+- per
Silver glitter $2+- a bottle
The look on your teen daughter’s face when she sees a Edward Cullen tombstone all glittery in your yard PRICLESS!
— DiggerC, on the Halloween-L list.
The Count embraces his nature: “ONE blood-drained corpse… TWO blood-drained corpses… THREE blood-drained corpses! AH-AH-AH!” [Thunder.]
If it’s a good idea and it gets you excited, try it, and if it bursts into flames, that’s going to be exciting too. People always ask, “What is your greatest failure?” I always have the same answer – We’re working on it right now, it’s gonna be awesome!
— Jim Coudal
Dogs go to Doggie Heaven. Hopefully, so will Michael Vick.
The pomp, circumstance, flowers, and uncomfortable clothing of funerals make them feel like a birthday party for a royal with sleep apnea.
I love the stereotype that Stay At Home Moms are meek and boring because if anyone is about to lose their shit and go postal, it’s us.
Now that Disney has bought Marvel, I can’t wait for She-Hulk to be the new Disney Princess
If you love something, hold onto it until Stockholm Syndrome kicks in.
Marching Dog has created this amazing hand-sculpted chess set featuring monsters vs. hunters, and is offering a limited-edition series of 750 sets. Each one is cold-cast marble, and they are simply gorgeous.
The pieces for each side are captured in the same pose, and they’re (more or less) each other’s opposite:
Kings – Van Helsing vs. Frankenstein(‘s Monster)
Queens – Redneck vs. Death
Bishops – Priests vs. Vampires
Knights – Soliders vs. Werewolves
Rooks – Churches vs. Haunted Castles
Pawns – Villagers vs. Zombies
I especially like the queens; the “redneck” has a chainsaw, wooden stakes, bandolier of shotgun shells, and a shotgun hidden behind her back. Death’s robe is torn in the back, exposing her ribcage.
These aren’t cheap–they’re $400 per set and don’t include a board–but if you’re looking for a truly unique gift I think this would qualify.
The Ghostess took leave of her senses got really ambitious and decided to make little “spell book” invitations for her annual Dead End party. She’s posted a tutorial on how she made them, including information on burning the edges and doing the nice hand-stippling on the covers.
It’s a lot of effort for invitations, but you can’t beat them for style. This would be fantastic invitations for a spooky dinner party or a (small, lest you lose your mind) wedding. As with most of the projects I particularly admire, these lend themselves well to an assembly-line approach, and you can do a bit whenever you have some spare time.
Also check out her main invitations page for previous years’ designs. I especially like 2006, with the little “eye of newt” bottles.
In 2003, Los Angeles-based artist Julianna “JP” Parr had the idea of creating an online Halloween countdown calendar with advent-like goodies every day. She recruited several artists to provide the content, and things kind of grew from there.
Each year has a different theme, and this year is drive-in movies.
Ever go to a drive-in movie theater? Well, that is this year’s Gothtober theme. Driving along the highway in your convertible on a late summer evening, this sign beckons you to pull in, clip the speaker to your window, and get ready to see the spooky double-feature. Don’t forget to swing by the concession stand for some popcorn and hotdogs!
Their press release says that some of the features this year are a piece by animator Billy Kheel, a recipe by SLO Cooking, Paper folding crafts from Lush Newton, an instructional movie from “Art of Bleeding,” and works from filmmakers Christine Panushka, Amy Lockhart, Lori Meeker and Barry Morse.
The main Gothtober site is here. It doesn’t kick off until October 1, but you can visit the archive for a look at all of the pieces from past years. Also check out the Trick or Treat page for some downloadable goodies.
(Props to their Webmaster, who upon noticing that I complained last year about not discovering the site until the end of October, dropped me a line last week to remind me that it was about to launch again. That’s service.)
(Oh Noes! Where is this week’s link dump?!? It’ll be back soon; I plumb ran out of links this week.)
CRAFT has a great two-part video post on how to turn a digital image into a knitting pattern, and then how to turn that pattern into a cute skeleton cardigan.
They include a downloadable PDF of the pattern used in the video, but you could use the same image processing technique to turn all kinds of spooky stuff into knitwear. Winter is coming (at least in this hemisphere) and you may as well greet the cold stylishly.
There’s still time before Christmas to run up one or two of these as presents, too. Matching his-and-hers skeleton sweaters would be an adorable and relatively inexpensive gift.
The University of Texas’ Ransom Center has digitized their Edgar Allan Poe collection, including books annotated by the author. The collection was launched to accompany the bicentennial of Poe’s birth.
The digital collection incorporates images of all Poe manuscripts and letters at the Ransom Center with a selection of related archival materials, two books by Poe annotated by the author, sheet music based on his poems, and portraits from the Ransom Center collections. Poe’s manuscripts and letters are linked to transcriptions on the website of the Poe Society of Baltimore.
There’s lots of interesting stuff, including some manuscript pages that would be lovely printed out and framed or used as part of a collage.