Here’s a rich source of inspiration: The Portuguese site Vampyre Rag Dolls creates cute little dolls dressed up in a variety of gothic fashions. Each comes packed in a uniquely-decorated cardboard box with a coffin-shaped display window.
As nearly as I can tell the dolls are only sold locally, but if you don’t happen to be in Portugal it should be reasonably easy to DIY something similar. Googling “how to make a rag doll” turns up about a bazillion hits, so you can choose whatever method suits you (this one includes a pattern and easy instructions). Add the features (and fangs) with embroidery, fabric paint, or permanent markers.
Depending upon your skill and ambition, you can sew appropriate clothing or simply cut out simple shapes and glue them in place. Felt is good for the latter approach since it doesn’t ravel at the edges, but you can also fake-hem fabric with Fabri-Tac or other fabric adhesive. Embellish with ribbon, bits of lace, and beads as desired.
There are also free templates available for the boxes the vampires are, um, interred in. Search for “handle box template” to turn up lots of variations (the one about halfway down the page here is nice). Before assembling the box, cut a coffin-shaped window insert in the front with a craft knife. Decorate the rest of the box with paint, stickers, glitter, or whatever embellishments suit you. Cut a piece of transparent plastic (either from a craft store or cannibalized from commercial packaging) slightly larger than the window opening, place it over the hole (on the side that will face inward), and fasten in place with tape or glue. Put it together and introduce your vampire to its new home.
These would be fun to personalize as gifts, with the clothing and box decorations matching the recipient’s taste. It would also be neat to do a series of dolls, each depicting a different vampire from literature.
(via Geek Crafts)
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Spring is fast approaching in this hemisphere, and if you’re anything like me you’re being inundated by seed catalogs in the mail. If you’ve got some extra room in your garden, you might want to try growing some jewelry gourds for projects like these cute little placecard holders.*
These would be adorable for a Halloween party, or as placecards/favors for a wedding. There are several steps involved but none of them are difficult, and you could set up an assembly line to turn out a lot of them fairly quickly.
The variation in gourds will make each one unique anyway, but if you aren’t making a whole bunch of them you could add more detail and/or personalization; I think the skeletons would be particularly cute painted up like sugar skulls.
Obviously, you could also use the basic idea to create creatures other than the skeleton and witch shown in the instructions: The gourd could be the head of a dragon or the body of an octopus. You could also use the long bit as the nose (like for the witch) but turn it into a Nosferatu-esque vampire instead. For a kids’ party, it might also be fun to provide pre-drilled gourds, pipe cleaners, and paint and let them design their own creation.
Apparently the gourds are very popular for making jewelry and other crafts, so if you have any left over just google “jewelry gourds” for other projects. Little skull earrings might be especially cute.
*Incidentally, after some research I discovered that jewelry gourds are actually called Tennesee Spinners. If you don’t want to grow them yourself, you can find them lots of places online, like here and here.
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I am a complete sucker for faux “artifacts” that evoke mysterious pasts and forgotten history. Assemblages in particular just thrill me: Dodgy-looking parchment, strangely misshapen specimens in jars, and tools which hint at some eldritch purpose…these are a few of my favorite things.
Here are some spiffy ones that I’ve run across recently that I’d love to add to my (largely imaginary) collection.
The Dragon’s Path by JasonMcKittrick – This is a collection of documents which follow the search for Vlad the Impaler’s lost treasure. There’s a neat backstory and some really good-looking “old” letters and drawings.
Necromancer’s Briefcase and Portable Demon Oracle by FraterOrion – Both are chock-full of tools, equipment, and unidentifiable organic bits for use in summoning eldritch forces.
Steampunk Vampyre Slaying Kit by saqaxiwan – Destroying the spawn of the undead…with science! I just love the swoopy no-nonsense look of the gun, and how neat and shiny all of the equipment is. This is clearly the property of a gentleman who hunts nosferatu as a hobby.
Field Research Kit by Julian DiMarco – A Lovecraft-inspired kit for reanimating dead things. I like the nicely-organized look of the case, and the “logical” idea of practicing on a small skeleton before moving on to more dangerous reanimations.
Menes the Vampyr Pharaoh by Alex CF – Alex CF is a master of the assemblage, and his entire site is worth perusing. This “alternate history” box which details the reign of a mysterious vampiric pharaoh is wonderfully evocative.
After looking at all of these, I think I’m going to have to make another Vampire Slayer’s Kit. Time to start haunting eBay for Latin prayer books….
(Hat tip to Propnomicon for the Dragon’s Path and Necromancer’s Briefcase links)
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Flying Love Monsters – Cute little fuzzy monsters with bedroom eyes.
Reptilian Eye Ear Plugs – No source on these, although some similar “fake” ones are available here. The little “eyelids” really add to the realism.
The 10 Most Effective Horror Movie Killers – An interesting roundup.
Ghostbusters Cake – Ridiculously detailed wedding cake, complete with light-up proton streams.
Lego Haunted House – Astoundingly detailed “abandoned” Victorian house made entirely of Legos. (Hat tip to Kitten Herder)
Absinthe Party – Suggestions for an absinthe-themed celebration.
Dewey Decimal Crafts – Etsy seller specializing in adorable little crocheted skulls.
Miss Monster – Artist Melita Curphy makes all sorts of odd things. I particularly like her Demon-Skin Rug.
Nightshade is Growing Like Weeds – A look at Edward Gorey’s influence on modern culture.
Wondermark – I foresee a huge uptick in the number of werecats.
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Made with a foam wreath form, some satin ribbon, and a piece of lacy fabric. Project cost: $3. Whoa.
The blogger used some lace from a damaged jacket, but stretchy lace is easy to find at fabric stores (if you’re like me, you’ve probably got some scraps left over from other projects lurking in your sewing room).
She doesn’t provide a lot of detail about adding the lace covering, but her description, “I cut a circle out of the lace jacket a few inches larger than the wreath and snipped and stretched and maneuvered it to cover the front and sides,” sounds overly complicated. I think it would be easier to sew the lace into a tube, place the seam at the back, and hide the open ends under the ribbon tie at the top.
Her instructions for making the outer petals of the flower are pretty straightforward, and if you aren’t sure how to make a ribbon rose for the center, this video makes it easy.
This is a gorgeous decoration for a door, and a bunch of them laid flat would make interesting table centerpieces at a wedding reception.
(via Creepy Cupcakes)
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Last year roboticist Hiroshi Ishiguro of Osaka University unveiled the Telenoid, a toddler-sized robot designed to “transmit the presence” of a person remotely. The idea is to have webcams track a user’s face and head movements and then have the robot mimic those movements, which is supposed to increase the “humanness” of the interaction despite the fact that the thing falls smack into the Uncanny Valley.
Ishiguro and his colleagues have now shrunk the Telenoid into the Elfoid, a prototype cell phone that allows callers to “feel each other’s presence.” So you call somebody, and their Elfoid wriggles to life in their shirt pocket, and after they’re finished pissing themselves they can totally bask in your telepresence.
Please join me in being utterly unsurprised that this thing is Japanese.
Anyway, the designers feel that a more humanoid design (which will ultimately be able to exhibit facial expressions and make gestures) will overcome some of the limitations of voice-only communication. It’s an interesting idea, and I can already foresee all sorts of interesting customizations being possible. I can also foresee these things being a major plot point in at least one horror movie in the next five years. Yeesh.
Posted in Needful Things | 6 Comments »
I first encountered the 826 stores a couple of years ago in the form of some photos of The Echo Park Time Travel Mart. The link was presented without any sort of background, so I was left scratching my head as to whether it was some kind of temporary art installation, an actual store, or perhaps an elaborate work of private whimsy.
I recently ran across some photos of products from Hoxton Street Monster Supplies, and with a combined sense of déjà vu and WTF decided to investigate further.
The names of the stores come from the address of their first location, the Pirate Supply Store at 826 Valencia in San Francisco. Proceeds are used to fund the 826 National writing program, which tutors kids ages 6-18 in expository and creative writing. The stores are works of creative genius all by themselves, consisting of (in addition to the Time Travel Mart and the Pirate Supply Store), The Brooklyn Superhero Supply Company, Liberty Street Robot Supply and Repair, the Greenwood Space Travel Supply Company, The Boring Store, the Bigfoot Research Institute of Greater Boston, and The Museum of Unnatural History.
Inspired by the 826 program, a group in the UK created (with the founders’ blessing) the Ministry of Stories. They are responsible for the Hoxton Street shop, and perhaps we’ll see additional locations in the future.
If I have one quibble, it’s that the various stores don’t have extensive online catalogues. The relatively new Museum of Unnatural History happens to be near me (and I’m already planning an excursion there), but I may never get to sample Golden Horde brand powdered horse milk or pick up a couple of cans of A Vague Sense of Unease.
Fortunately, there’s also a book about the stores: Essentially Odd features photos of products from the various stores, plus anecdotes and design notes from the artists and designers responsible.
If you’re looking for some fantastic creative inspiration, the 826 product lines are an incredible resource.
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Damsel in This Dress – Artfire shop featuring all sorts of gothy loveliness.
The Mymble’s Daughter – Etsy seller who makes interesting jewelry inspired by steampunk, fairy tales, Victoriana, and whatnot.
Thorn Manicure – Not particularly practical, but undeniably dramatic.
Terror-iums – Ideas for using carnivorous plants as temporary decorations.
Bones Sprinkles – Little edible bones for decorating cakes. (They also have ghosts and spiders.)
Midnight Pastoral – What appears to be traditional toile fabric is actually covered in skeletons. (via Old Fashion Halloween)
Anatomology – Jewelry and other items based on human anatomy, heavy on the brains and hearts. The store also has some embroidered spider webs which are just lovely.
Ultra-Creative Halloween Cocktails – Obviously, you don’t have to limit your creativity to Halloween. Some fantastic garnish ideas.
The Cracked Dresser – Three whimsical (expensive, unfortunately) dressers. The “melting” one is very Goreyesque.
Pirate Booties – Well, the listing calls them “pirate,” but with a skull on one bootie and crossbones on the other, they’re sufficiently generic to just be gothy.
Bellevues – Wonderful retro shoes that would be perfect for steampunk ensembles. I’m particularly taken with these. (Hat tip to Kitten Herder)
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