The Art of Darkness

Wicked Milk Chalice

September 30th, 2013 by Cobwebs

This A Bit of Fry and Laurie sketch is awesome for a number of reasons, not least because you’ll spend the entire time mentally urging Hugh Laurie to blink.

(Hat tip to pdq)

Posted in Funny Peculiar | 2 Comments »

Link Dump in a Strange Land

September 27th, 2013 by Cobwebs

The Creepiest Photo Album – Collection of creepy photos, sadly without explanation or individual attribution. There are also Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.

Benito’s Halloween Mixtape – A month-long celebration of Halloweeny music.

Skull Collages – Interesting artwork made from old photos. These would make amazing quilts.

The Dead Celebrity Cookbook – A collection of recipes passed on from now-deceased celebrities. I’m assuming they were alive when they passed them on.

Bang Boom Pow Design – Etsy shop which does unique custom invitations in themes like Jane Austen, Silent Film and 8 Bit.

Skirt 1717 – This black-and-white corset dress is gorgeous.

Vaudevillean Anti-Drinking PSA – Interesting set of snapshots from a 1906 performance of “Death and the Lady.”

Chief Brody and Jaws – This is a hilarious kid’s costume.

Der Golem – Several stills from the 1920 silent movie, suitable for wallpaper or website banners. The golem looks oddly familiar, although I can’t place why.

Dead Sea Salt Chocolate – Appropriately-themed artisanal chocolate. There’s also Bloody Orange flavor. (Hat tip to xJane)

Posted in Link Dump | 4 Comments »

It’s Secret Pumpkin Time Again!

September 26th, 2013 by Cobwebs

Secret Pumpkin Logo

The Secret Pumpkin gift exchange is a long-running tradition amongst the Halloween-L listserv members. It’s similar to a Secret Santa exchange, only it takes place in April (six months in either direction from Halloween) and the gifts are supposed to be spooky in nature.

I’ve been managing it for the group since 2004, and a couple of years ago I finally realized it might be a good idea to mention it here. You can read that post, with more details about the way it works, here.

And now it’s time to open up registration for next April’s exchange! If you’d like to participate, go to the Secret Pumpkin site and:

1) If you did not participate in the last exchange, click the “Join” link and fill out the form.

2) If you DID participate in the last exchange, log in, click the “Update Profile” link and change the “Activate My Membership” option to Yes.

I’d previously suggested that participants should join one of the two mailing lists, but they’ve withered away to the point that it’s now optional; I’ll send occasional reminders directly to the participants instead. All that I ask is please, PLEASE don’t sign up for the exchange unless you’re serious about following through. We occasionally have participants flake out, and their Pumpkins are always sorely disappointed.

The deadline for signups is October 15, and non-US residents are welcome as well. C’mon and join! It’s lots of fun, and getting something unexpectedly Halloweeny in April is a treat.

Posted in Whatever | 3 Comments »

Beaded Halloween Decorations

September 25th, 2013 by Cobwebs

Crystal DecorationsI ran into these magnetic beaded decorations recently, and although they’re cute I take great exception to the vendor’s assertion that $39 for three is a “Budget-friendly way to decorate.”* These are just glass beads with a magnetic hanger, and for $39 you could make a hojillion of them.

Any decent-sized craft store should have most of what you need, but you can also find materials online: Beading thread, rondelle beads of your choice, a magnetic end bit (for which you could use magnetic jewelery clasps or magnetic beads; or skip the magnet and just tie a loop in the thread), and a Halloween figure of some sort.

Glass beads with a Halloween theme are plentiful and cheap; searching for “lampwork” or “glass bead” with your chosen shape will turn up ghosts, cats, bats, eyeballs, and whatever else your heart desires (you can also find hearts). The ghost and bat/cat shapes are also simple enough that they could be easily made of polymer clay.

These are so simple and cheap, you could make a bunch to hang or give as gifts. They’d be a great party activity for older kids, too; supply them with the materials and let them bead their own decorative favor.

*I also take exception to the “bat,” which looks a hell of a lot more like a cat with wings, but that’s another issue entirely.

Posted in Bad Things, Bittens | 2 Comments »

Reward Haunters with Cemetery Treats

September 24th, 2013 by Cobwebs

Cemetery TreatsOver at the Seeing Things blog, M.J. shares a simply lovely idea for spreading a little Halloween love.

Every year, a few nights before Halloween, my husband and I hop in the car and drive around the city looking for the best yard haunt we can find. When we finally spot the most horrifying, spine tingling, hair raising yard haunt that meets our pretty stiff criteria we stealthy approach the front door, in full costume, ring the bell and present the creator/owner of the yard haunt with a special little sumthin, sumthin for bringing delight to our Halloween. We have met the best people doing this, made some terrific friends and snagged some awesome haunt ideas!

She’s got instructions for creating a spooky-looking box full of creepy, edible treats: Icing roses, “coffin nails,” four kinds of “graveyard dirt” labeled with their cemeteries of origin, and much else. The execution is really clever; the coffin nails, for instance, are made of Pocky, cut in half and sharpened with a (clean) pencil sharpener. (I also love the idea of specialty cemetery dirt.) The post includes a detailed supplies list and downloadable labels to print.

I just adore this idea. Not only is it a great excuse to spend an evening driving around and admiring decorations, it allows you to reward people who have made a special effort to be spooky. As a bonus, you get the chance to meet like-minded people and perhaps even make new friends.

If an elaborately decorated box is a bit beyond your ambition (or if you think you might like to reward multiple houses), there are plenty of simpler alternatives. I’m a big fan of (clean) paint cans as a packaging option: They’re available very inexpensively at hardware stores and some craft supply stores (I’ve also seen clear plastic ones at craft stores), have a nice tight-fitting lid, and are easy to label and/or decorate.* You might also choose large Chinese takeout-style containers (also available at craft stores, often in the bridal section), cardboard craft boxes, or bundles tied up in Halloween-themed bandanas. Fill with a selection of candy and some cheap novelty Halloween items from a dollar store or a site such as Oriental Trading.

Then take to the streets and reward fellow spooksters. You’ll have fun, and they’ll appreciate their efforts being noticed.

*Paint cans are also a great choice if you want to “Boo” your neighborhood. If you aren’t familiar with that tradition, the nutshell version: Make up one or two baskets of Halloween goodies and leave them anonymously on neighbors’ doorsteps along with instructions to “boo it forward” by doing the same thing with other neighbors. Include a sign for them to hang in their front window so they don’t get re-booed by somebody else. There are sample signs and poems here.

Posted in Doom It Yourself | 2 Comments »


September 23rd, 2013 by Cobwebs

In this splendid short film by Paul Constantakis, a child’s evil action figures get their comeuppance.

(via Laughing Squid)

Posted in Funny Peculiar | 2 Comments »

The Link Dump in the Stone

September 20th, 2013 by Cobwebs

Witch Fingers Grapes – New “artisan hybrid” grape variety with an unusual shape and awesome name.

Poe Shoes – Splendid shoes decorated with stamped Poe images. No instructions, but they look to be pretty easily DIY-able.

Snuggle Buddy – Adorable rescue bat and pal. (Hat tip to WitchArachne)

Itsy Bitsy – Short story by the author of Let the Right One In. The Kindle edition is free.

DanOFlorez – Etsy shop full of amazing handpainted shoes with themes like the Haunted Mansion and Hannibal Lecter.

The Scarecrow – Stunning ad for an app-based game sponsored by Chipotle, featuring a cover of “Pure Imagination” by Fiona Apple. That cow’s eyes are gonna haunt me.

Blood Bath – Charlotte of Gothacabre recently remodeled her guest bathroom.

Drink to the Dead – An artist is requesting our empty miniature liquor bottles as part of a war memorial. It’d be a shame to disappoint her.

Migratory Soul – (Top photo) Oddly serene painting of a hermit crab with an unusual shell.

Pink Skull Rain Boots – Cute lace-up boots by Betsey Johson. There are tattoo and rose varieties as well.

Posted in Link Dump | 5 Comments »

Chocolate Frogs Trading Cards

September 19th, 2013 by Cobwebs

Trading CardOne nice thing about maintaining a sprawling web presence for many years is that you’re always discovering stuff that you completely forgot about tucked away in odd corners. I just ran across some files from The Great Chocolate Frog Project of ‘Ought One and figured that somebody else might be able to get some use out of ’em.

One year when Shadaughter was young and very much a fan of Harry Potter, she requested a Hogwarts-themed Halloween party. Many of the party details are lost to the mists of time, but one thing we made was Chocolate Frog party favors.

We used a candy mold to make the frogs, and packaged them in clear plastic envelopes. (In the film the frogs come in intricate little hexagonal boxes; our party was held a month before the first movie was released, so we didn’t have any of the movie details for reference. If you’d like to make boxes instead, this papercraft pattern should work nicely.)

Included in each envelope was a trading card which featured a famous wizard, complete with biographical details. Some bios were reasonably historically accurate; a few I made for my own amusement. For instance:


Merlin tutored the young King Arthur and helped chart the course of British history. His use of the Soopergloo charm enabled only Arthur to pull a sword from a stone, thus winning him the throne. After Arthur was defeated by Mordred, Merlin went into show business. He is best known for his smash-hit musicals “No, No, Nimue” and “A Hard Day’s Knight.”

(I thought seriously about making the second musical title “Singin’ in Igraine,” but figured that some parent out there might have a degree in Medieval English literature and get offended.)

There’s a PDF of a few of the cards here, and I also have a .zip file which includes a Word document with all of the cards plus the freeware fonts used in their creation. Download, edit, and print as desired.

Bonus: Here are a couple of other random items I found in the same folder.

Halloween Countdown Clock – Javascript which counts down to Halloween and then automatically resets itself for next year. View the page source to grab the code and install it on your own page.

Random Haunt Name Generator – This is a Perl script I wrote ages ago to help members of my Halloween listserv come up with names for their haunts. “Grimgibber’s Parlor of Dread” and “Pageant of Maniacs” and “Doctor Cadaver’s Pit of Malice” and other silliness.

Posted in Resources | 2 Comments »

“Rocking” Chair

September 18th, 2013 by Cobwebs

Rocking ChairWhat a great idea for recycling old band T-shirts. ElderGoth Tina commissioned Anno Domini to upholster a chair using her collection of vintage band T-shirts. I’ve heard of turning beloved T-shirts into quilts or throw pillows, but the upholstery idea is new.

I don’t know how much the professional job cost–my guess is “lots”–but it’d be possible to DIY without enormous difficulty. Chairs with stained or torn fabric are cheap at thrift stores, so this project involves more time than money.

There are a number of tutorials for reupholstering chairs; a couple are here and here, and you can google up plenty of others. If re-covering a whole chair seems a little too daunting, you could do just the padded seats of dining chairs.

You’ll want to make careful measurements to decide how best to place the shirt elements in order to show them off to advantage. When cutting the T-shirts make sure to leave enough space around each design for a hem. Since the jersey-type fabric of most shirts is both stretchy and thin, it might be a good idea to anchor the pieces to a heavier-duty fabric intended for upholstery; your local fabric store can suggest good candidates.

This is a great way to both show off T-shirts that would otherwise languish in a drawer and add an interesting accent to a room.

Posted in Bad Things | 1 Comment »

Sugar Skull and Bones

September 17th, 2013 by Cobwebs

Sugar Skull and BonesThis image has been widely shared across the intertubes, and a couple of months ago BoingBoing tracked the original concept back to an artist by the name of Ash Violette; the maker of the prototype is named as “DR.HC.”

The post about the initial concept art is here, and two followup posts with lots of photos are here and here. Unfortunately, that’s all they are: Photos. There are no details on how they were made (or, indeed, if they’re even edible or just “for show”). DR.HC.’s deviantART account has been deactivated, so there’s no information to be found there.

This is a crying shame, because these are just wonderful. (A couple of the best suggestions I’ve seen for using these is as part of an absinthe bar, and as a feature at a twisted Alice in Wonderland-themed tea party. How perfect is that?)

The skulls wouldn’t be too hard to replicate; Mexican Sugar Skulls sells a mini skull mold, and Wilton has a skull candy mold which has a more 3-D appearance. Mexican Sugar Skulls also has a recipe and instructions for making the skulls, although their site is so eye-searing that I’m paraphrasing it below:

Mix together 1 C granulated sugar and 1 tsp meringue powder*. Sprinkle mixture with 1 tsp water and blend thoroughly until all sugar is moistened. Pack tightly into molds, invert onto a flat surface (like a cookie sheet) and let dry. For colored skulls, mix a bit of paste food coloring into the water before adding it to the sugar.

(Incidentally, if making your own seems like too much work, there’s also an Etsy shop which sells the little skulls.)

I’m a little less sure about the long bones; they seem so skinny that I don’t think they’re made of packed sugar. In the photos they look a little smoother than the skulls, so I’m thinking they might be piped meringue. Meringue “bones” are a fairly common Halloween treat, so there are lots of recipes available; typical ones are here and here. (If you’re making your own skulls you’ll have meringue powder anyway, so you might also try using that instead of fresh egg whites.) Update: In the comments, xJane suggests SugarVeil for the bones. I’d never heard of this stuff, but it looks promising. Thanks, xJane!

Package in bags or little boxes, with pretty labels.

Bonus links: The artist’s site has a lot of other neat stuff too; like bone dominoes (which could be made with polymer clay) and Decadence playing cards featuring notable figures like Aubrey Beardsley and Charles Baudelaire.

*The brand of meringue powder used apparently makes a difference, since the stuff used for cake icing isn’t strong enough; they recommend the stuff produced by CK Products.

Posted in Needful Things | 1 Comment »

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