The Art of Darkness

Mummified Vampire Heart

November 21st, 2012 by Cobwebs

Vampire HeartThis lovely wunderkammer piece was done by the fabulous Propnomicon a couple of years ago, but it just bubbled back up on Pinterest.

It’s a “vampire heart” complete with stake hole, along with the offending stake; they’re packed in a wooden box and include a backstory involving a vampire that stalked Louisiana in the 1900s. His posts about it are here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

He’s got photos of the finished prop and a few vague notes about the build (noting that it involved liquid latex and followed some techniques used to build sideshow gaffs), but unfortunately doesn’t have any pictures of the work in progress nor details about the construction. (A couple of his other posts indicate that he might build these on commission if you can’t live without one.)

Part of me is almost tempted to see whether it would be possible to achieve something similar by mummifying a pig heart (sometimes found at ethnic groceries; beef hearts are easier to find but they’re too big). I’ve covered DIY mummification previously, and if the heart were carefully trimmed of fatty tissue and well-packed with a drying agent it should get hard and leathery. The only thing I’m unsure of would be its long-term durability; treating it with a taxidermy rot preventive like Stop-Rot might help with that. Since the materials are fairly cheap, it might be worth an experiment.

Posted in Doom It Yourself | 1 Comment »

Windows 95 Tips, Tricks, and Tweaks

November 20th, 2012 by Cobwebs

Windows 95 Tip

Rob at BoingBoing said, “I’m calling it already: Windows 95 Tips is Blog of the Year,” and I sort of have to agree.

The site is nothing but tips, alert boxes, and screenshots, presented entirely without comment. They present a view of an operating system that is somewhat more…sinister…than I remember Windows 95 being.*

The site is only a month old and thus still pretty sparse, but every entry is a gem that chronicles a slow descent into madness. I’m definitely looking forward to future updates.

(Incidentally, it’s not noted anywhere on the site–which I sort of like, as it adds to the general sense of dislocation–but the creator is Neil Cicierega, who is also responsible for the Potter Puppet Pals.)


*Don’t get me wrong; Windows 95 was sinister, but it was more of a “incompetence mixed with utter disdain for the end user” vibe rather than something Lovecraftian. Either way, your soul got eaten.

Posted in Funny Peculiar | 4 Comments »

The Maker

November 19th, 2012 by Cobwebs

This is a lovely, poignant short in which “a strange creature races against time to make the most important and beautiful creation of his life.”

From the description:

The Maker has screened at over 60 festivals and won 11 awards. For the latest news and updates, visit http://themakerfilm.com, like us at http://facebook.com/themakerfilm or follow http://twitter.com/themakerfilm

Contact Christopher Kezelos the Director of the Maker at http://themakerfilm.com/contact

The music score for The Maker is called ‘WINTER’ and was composed by Paul Halley. You can download it from his website by going to http://www.paulhalleymusic.com/albums/string-quartets

(via BoingBoing)

Posted in Whatever | 2 Comments »

Poetry Sunday

November 18th, 2012 by Cobwebs

Catechism for a Witch’s Child

When they ask to see your gods
your book of prayers
show them lines
drawn delicately with veins
on the underside of a bird’s wing
tell them you believe
in giant sycamores mottled
and stark against a winter sky
and in nights so frozen
stars crack open spilling
streams of molten ice to earth
and tell them how you drink
a holy wine of honeysuckle
on a warm spring day
and of the softness
of your mother who never taught you
death was life’s reward
but who believed in the earth
and the sun
and a million, million light years
of being

— J. L. Stanley

Posted in Whatever | 3 Comments »

Sweet Saturday

November 17th, 2012 by Cobwebs

This is adapted from Baked Explorations, a lovely cookbook full of comfort food-type desserts. I’ll be honest: I tried making standard doughnuts, but when the recipe says the dough is sticky it means the dough is Really Fricking Sticky. I eventually gave up trying to cut doughnuts out of the gluey mass and just rolled tablespoonsful of the dough into doughnut holes intead. However, they tasted great, so the recipe is worth the annoyance. To cut actual doughnuts, flour the hell out of your work surface before patting out the dough, work with well-floured hands, and use a doughnut cutter instead of trying to fake it with a round glass or cookie cutter.

The other fun thing about these doughnuts is that you can color the glaze however you want. Divide the glaze into small bowls and add food coloring as desired (for a dark color, use paste-type food coloring instead of liquid so you don’t thin the glaze too much). Autumnal orange, red, and yellow would be attractive right now (and a pile of mixed orange- and black-glazed doughnuts looks spectacular on a Halloween party table, so tuck that idea away for next year).

Farm Stand Buttermilk Doughnuts
Makes 10-12 doughnuts, plus holes

3 1/2 C all-purpose flour
3/4 C sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
2 large eggs
3/4 C buttermilk
1/4 C sour cream
1/4 C (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and slightly browned and cooled
Vegetable oil for frying

For the Vanilla Glaze:

2 C confectioner’s sugar
1/4 C whole milk
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract or 1 tsp vanilla paste

For the Cinnamon Sugar:

1 1/4 C sugar
3 Tbsp ground cinnamon

Line one baking sheet with parchment paper and another baking sheet with two layers of paper towels.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon.

In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, buttermilk, and sour cream until combined. Add the melted, cooled butter and whisk again.

Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour the liquid ingredients into the well. With a rubber spatula, slowly fold the flour into the liquid until the mixture forms a sticky dough.

Turn the dough out onto a work surface thoroughly dusted with flour. Sprinkle the top of the dough with flour and with floured hands pat out until it’s about 1/2″ thick. Dip a doughnut cutter in flour and cut out as many doughnuts as possible, transferring them (and their doughnut-hole middles) to the parchment-lined baking sheet. Pat leftover scraps together, flatten back out, and cut more doughnuts until all of the dough is used up. Place the baking sheet with the doughnuts in the refrigerator until the oil is heated and you’re ready to fry.

Pour enough vegetable oil into a deep skillet to a depth of 1 1/2″. Heat over medium high heat until the temperature reaches 370F. Whilst waiting for it to heat, make the glaze and/or cinnamon sugar.

For glaze: Whisk together the sugar, milk, and vanilla extract. Add food coloring as desired and whisk to blend.

For cinnamon sugar: Whisk together sugar and cinnamon. (Easy!)

Once the oil has reached the correct temperature, gently lift the large doughnuts off the baking sheet and place in the hot oil. Work in batches, frying no more than three at a time. Once the bottom side has browned (2-3 minutes) flip over and continue frying the other side for another 2-3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the doughnuts to the paper towel-lined baking sheet to drain. Once you’re done with the large doughnuts, fry the doughnut holes in two or three batches; they’ll cook a little faster so keep an eye on them The doughnut holes will cook faster and can be made in two or three batches after the doughnuts are done.

Once fried, dip the doughnuts in the glaze or sprinkle liberally with cinnamon sugar (or both, if you’re feeling particularly decadent). Serve immediately or cool completely and store airtight for 2-3 days.

Posted in Doom It Yourself | 2 Comments »

The Texas Link Dump Massacre

November 16th, 2012 by Cobwebs

Blood Drips Parasols – Little paper parasols for decorating fancy cocktails, only black with blood spatters.

Iza’s Art Shop – Gorgeous leather steampunky handbags. A few are for sale in her Etsy shop.

Indexed – This Venn diagram speaks truth.

Bat Chandelier – Tutorial for a cute hanging bat decoration.

The Scariest Animal That Will Never Hurt You – Yay, whipscorpions! I especially like the photo of the mother carrying around its young.

shhark – Etsy shop that specializes in 3-D printed filigree skulls.

Black Velvet Layer Cake – Delicious-looking cake that would be fantastic for a spooky party.

The Making of Limbo – Interesting article on the inception of the game.

DIY Skeleton Tights – Super-easy tutorial for making “leg bone” tights.

Octopus Surprise Mug – Just in case you want to see an octopus looming up at you from the depths of your coffee. There’s a shark attack version too. (And also a squirrel attack version, if you’d rather be menaced by seagoing squirrels.)

Posted in Link Dump | 3 Comments »

Vintage Haunted Mansion Album

November 15th, 2012 by Cobwebs

Wow, does this bring back memories. Long ago, back in the Vinyl Age, records with accompanying storybooks (with audio cues to turn the pages) were hugely popular. Disney released “The Story and Song from the Haunted Mansion” in 1969, and when I was a kid I played this record until the grooves wore down.

This video is just a static image of the album cover instead of displaying the individual pages, but the whole soundtrack is here (bonus: The voice of the male teenager is a young Ron Howard).

Disney has also re-released the album on CD. According to the description, “It is packaged in a Digipak with the original booklet of Collin Campbell’s illustrations and text. When you place the CD in your computer a flash program runs which houses a gallery of the booklet and cover paintings without any text and which are printable.”

This should appeal to Elder Goths who remember the original album as well as to anyone else who appreciates a touch of the retro in their spookiness.

(via BoingBoing)

Posted in Needful Things | 2 Comments »

Spooky Netsuke

November 14th, 2012 by Cobwebs

Rat NetsukeI am on record as stating that I refuse to collect things (on the grounds that I don’t want to dust them), but if I were to ever make an exception to that rule it would probably be over netsuke. They’re small, amazingly varied, and some are marvelously creepy.

Netsuke started out as utilitarian objects: Little toggles to attach 17th-century Japanese men’s purses* to their belts. Like a lot of mundane objects, they eventually became an outlet for artistic expression until they were essentially intricate, miniature sculptures. And since Japan has a rich mythology, much of which is, from a Western viewpoint, frankly insane, many of these teensy sculptures are very gothy indeed.

You’ve got your demons and funky-looking lion deities and big piles of rats. Grotesque faces and ghosts by tombstones and spider monsters.

There are foxes in dresses and skeletons and bats and snakes and some guy who is just entirely too happy to be carrying an octopus.

There are evocative antique ones like this ghost with “a pull-out spine” (what?) frightening two children and splendid modern examples like this skull and raven.

Depending upon your pocketbook, there are antique ivory carvings running into the thousands of dollars and modern wooden ones for under ten bucks. There are collectors’ organizations which can help you explore your options and plenty of dealers in both rare antiques and cheap reproductions. You can even find them on Amazon.

It’s easy to get started with inexpensive modern specimens and then work your way into more esoteric types if you find the hobby suits you (and if it doesn’t, turn the ones you have into jewelry or other accessories). Best of all, unlike with stamps or coins or many similar collectibles, there’s no critical mass you have to reach before it becomes a “collection.” One netsuke is interesting all by itself.

If you’ve never investigated the enormous variety of netsuke before, take a look. You might find a brand-new hobby.


*Okay, they were technically called inro and were used because traditional garments didn’t have pockets, but still. Purse.

Posted in Paint It Black | 5 Comments »

Mail a Mini Party

November 13th, 2012 by Cobwebs

Mini PartyJust because Halloween is over doesn’t mean we have to stop celebrating it. Lovely Indeed has a great idea for packaging up a miniature party and mailing it off to someone in need of a bit of gothic cheer.

She notes that her package contents were mainly gathered from whatever supplies she had laying around the house, and if you’ve got leftovers from other projects (or if, like me, you tend to buy likely-looking items even if you aren’t sure what to do with them) this is a fun way to use them up. Right now, however, there are still post-Halloween clearance sales at craft and party stores, and you should be able to stock up on interesting tidbits for a song.*

Just about any small, non-breakable item can be added to your “party,” so look around for DIY party favor ideas (HGTV has some attractive options) and interesting novelties. Throw in some candy, confetti, and a few plastic spiders and send some miniature spookiness to someone special.


*If you’re into gloomy crafting you should get in the habit of doing this anyway because skulls, bats, and other useful decorative items are pretty thin on the ground in February. Wait until after Halloween, buy everything at half-off, and you can craft happily all year for cheap.

Posted in Doom It Yourself | 1 Comment »

A Monster in Paris

November 12th, 2012 by Cobwebs

The fabulous Sisifo sent this my way, noting that it’s a fun, family-friendly movie. It’s a French movie which has been dubbed into English (and was posted by somebody in Vietnam, so nobody can say we’re not geographically diverse). The animation style is rather reminiscent of Pixar.

(Thanks, Sisifo!)

Posted in Bittens | 1 Comment »

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