The Art of Darkness

The Birth of a Link Dump

January 31st, 2014 by Cobwebs

Mystic Seer – Replica of the prop that menaced William Shatner in The Twilight Zone. The same company also makes a replica Talky Tina and a Kanamit Cookbook. I approve.

Costume of the Lower Orders – Illustrations of the common dress of London’s 19th-Century poor. Some great reference material for costuming.

Affadavit for the Tooth Fairy – One of the upsides to having lawyers as parents.

Awkward Affections – Etsy shop specializing in “awkward, geeky & diverting art.” Some of their wedding invitations are brilliant.

Call of Catthulhu – RPG with the premise that cats are the only ones saving the Universe from the evil of Things From Beyond Space.

New “Giger Bar” May Open – I had no idea that these even existed: H.R. Giger designed the “biomechanical” interiors for two bars in Switzerland and one in Japan. A new one may soon be opening in the U.S.

Goth Kodak Ad – This video amused me.

The Victorian Period – Fun Web-based game which tests the suitability of your Victorian manners. See whether you’d know how to behave in various situations; choose wrong, and there are consequences. Involving ninjas. (Hat tip to Sisifo)

Rats with Teddy Bears – If this series of photos doesn’t make you fall down dead from the cute, I don’t want to be your friend. (Hat tip to WitchArachne)

Creepypasta is How the Internet Learns Our Fears – Interesting meditation on the proliferation of “creepypasta” and the nature of modern fear.

Posted in Link Dump | 3 Comments »

Incredible Image Resource

January 30th, 2014 by Cobwebs

Image from British LibraryThe British Library has released over a million images onto Flickr Commons, free for any use. They’re hoping to crowdsource the image descriptions, making them easier to search, and are asking for help.

In a post titled A Million First Steps, project director Ben O’Steen announced:

We have released over a million images onto Flickr Commons for anyone to use, remix and repurpose. These images were taken from the pages of 17th, 18th and 19th century books digitised by Microsoft who then generously gifted the scanned images to us, allowing us to release them back into the Public Domain. The images themselves cover a startling mix of subjects: There are maps, geological diagrams, beautiful illustrations, comical satire, illuminated and decorative letters, colourful illustrations, landscapes, wall-paintings and so much more that even we are not aware of.

Which brings me to the point of this release. We are looking for new, inventive ways to navigate, find and display these ‘unseen illustrations’. The images were plucked from the pages as part of the ‘Mechanical Curator’, a creation of the British Library Labs project. Each image is individually addressible, online, and Flickr provides an API to access it and the image’s associated description.

The full photosteam is here. This is an amazing resource for all sorts of art projects. There are vintage zoological woodcuts and illustrations from fairy tales and religious memento mori and loads and loads (indeed, more than a million) other interesting images. You can volunteer to help tag and describe them, or just raid the repository for your own use. Great stuff.

Posted in Resources | 1 Comment »

Bustle Bar

January 29th, 2014 by Cobwebs

Bustle BarThis is completely marvelous.

Mieljolie of All Things Crafty likes to do steampunk cosplay, and she got to thinking that it would be nice to not have to tote beverage containers that detracted from her costume. Thus was born the Bustle Bar, a “rum-dispensing bum” which puts her beverages where her bustle should be.

Her initial design concealed everything but the pump, but in the spirit of steampunk she rejiggered all of the working parts to be exposed on a custom leather belt. The rig holds three 1.75-liter tanks which are dispensed via a trigger on her hip. It’s a gorgeous unit, and although she doesn’t include exact build directions, there are good photos to use as a jumping-off point.

She also discusses the costume she wears with the bustle, and describes how it all goes together. It’s really a great idea.

Be sure to check out the rest of her blog as well; there’s not only a wealth of other steampunk tutorials, she does awesome Witch BOO’ts and other cool stuff.

Posted in Doom It Yourself | 2 Comments »

Costumer’s Fantasy Vacation

January 28th, 2014 by Cobwebs

Trystan (of Gothic Martha Stewart fame) is a costumer of some note, and has a brilliant idea for an offbeat vacation: Get together with a group of friends, rent a historical home, and dress in period costume for a couple of weeks. So far she’s done Blo Norton in the U.K., Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia, and Chateau de Pys in France.

She stresses that these trips do not require enormous amounts of money and time to accomplish, so they’re within the realm of possibility for us normal folks. She’s written a how-to guide for planning a similar vacation (it was done for the online costuming magazine “Your Wardrobe Unlock’d” and requires a subscription to read, but access is only $5.97 for the first month and the back issues should make that cost worthwhile).

There’s also a documentary about the Blo Norton trip, available on DVD. Here’s a trailer:

If you’re a history or costuming buff, this would be a fascinating way to engage in a little faux time travel with like-minded friends. You could content yourself with dressing the part or go even further and try to live the period: Cooking from historical recipes, using only candles or oil lamps for light, and so forth. (I’d recommend drawing the line at the use of chamber pots.)

Bonus link: Check out Trystan’s 18th Century Queen of Hearts.

Posted in Resources | 1 Comment »

Danger: Humans

January 27th, 2014 by Cobwebs

The Insidious Bogleech recently asked why so much science fiction treats humans as the boring, weak, dumb ones.

I want to see a sci fi universe where we’re actually considered one of the more hideous and terrifying species.

How do we know our saliva and skin oils wouldn’t be ultra-corrosive to most other sapient races? What if we actually have the strongest vocal chords and can paralyze or kill the inhabitants of other worlds just by screaming at them? What if most sentient life in the universe turns out to be vegetable-like and lives in fear of us rare “animal” races who can move so quickly and chew shit up with our teeth?

Like that old story “they’re made of meat,” only we’re scarier.

Tom Scott took that idea and ran with it, producing this educational safety video for alien interstellar travelers:

(via Neatorama)

Posted in Funny Peculiar | 2 Comments »

Pssst! You Wanna Buy a Vampire Hunting Kit?

January 25th, 2014 by Cobwebs

Vampire Hunting KitEvery so often, amongst the one-off projects I do for my own amusement, I actually bestir myself to put together more elaborate pieces and sell ’em. I’ve got just such a thing up on eBay right now, a nice fresh Vampire Hunting Kit with all the trimmings.

If you buy it, mention this blog in your buyer comments and I’ll send ya something special.

Posted in Whatever | 1 Comment »

Link Dump for the Prosecution

January 24th, 2014 by Cobwebs

Fatally Yours Gourmet Chocolates – Gorgeous box of chocolates in spooky shapes. Vegan-friendly.

Diesel Tactics – Steampunk-themed online strategy game.

Bedtime Story – Dad makes an excellent point.

10 Tragedies Caught on Film – Vintage footage of events like the Hindenberg disaster.

Gone Home – Computer game with an unusual “exploration and revelation” premise.

Murderpedia – Online encyclopedia of murderers.

Colossal Whale – I quite like this artwork, and imagine there isn’t a pair of dry britches anywhere on those ships.

Lorem Gibson – Lorem Ipsum generator which uses text based on the works of William Gibson. “pistol rebar sunglasses industrial grade beef noodles lights rain decay”

Murder Ballads – Interesting article, along with many examples, of songs about murder (many commemorating real crimes).

Dia de los Muertos Cakes – Roundup of gorgeous themed cakes.

Posted in Link Dump | 4 Comments »

DIY Hand of Glory Prop

January 23rd, 2014 by Cobwebs

Hand of GloryI’ve been fascinated by Hands of Glory ever since I first read about them in The House with a Clock in its Walls, and when Dave Lowe posted a prop he’d made, that was the motivation to try my hand (har!) at something similar.

A Hand of Glory is the mummified (sometimes pickled) hand of a hanged criminal; it’s often specified as being the left (“sinister”) hand, or if he were hanged for murder, the hand that “did the deed.” It’s topped with a candle made from his fat mixed with virgin beeswax; in some traditions his hair is used as a wick. It is variously described as making its holder invisible, rendering anyone who sees it motionless, or causing the residents of a house to remain asleep as long as it’s present inside; sometimes it’s also credited with the power to unlock doors. Such a device would, obviously, be of great use to burglars or others who wish to remain undetected.

I wanted to make my hand a little less cartoony-looking than Lowe’s version, but I quite liked his notion of crudely lashing the forearm to a candlestick; it looks just like the sort of jury-rigging born of convenience.

I used the same pantyhose-and-glue method as for my mummified fairy, and I’m quite pleased with the result. If you’d like to try it yourself, I’ve posted a full tutorial here.

Posted in Doom It Yourself | 1 Comment »

Seen Online

January 22nd, 2014 by Cobwebs

As terrifying as being attacked by a mugger would be, it’s not often that you get an excuse to try to blind someone

Next time your kid won’t eat carrots, scream: “Snowmen had to DIE for this meal!”

“It’s A Wonderful Life” would be WAY darker if when George sees life without him, there’s 30 kids alive in town who had died mysteriously.

3-year-old: Let’s play zombies
Me: OK
3: You’re the dad zombie, I’m the mom zombie & this is the baby
She tricked me into playing house

Heads will roll. Torsos will kind of roll. Limbs will roll a short distance. Jawbones just kind of hit the ground & flip once.

The worst thing about losing your glasses is having to drive to work with your head out of the window, beeping like a bat.

The worst thing about the 1978 Lord of the Rings cartoon is how they plan to destroy the ring by melting it in fondue.

My daughter’s fortune cookie was empty and now we’re all sitting around waiting for her to die.

For me, “You can’t please everyone” isn’t a lament or an excuse. It’s a mission statement.

‘Better than Laurie Strode’ probably isn’t the best way to market my skills as a babysitter.

Posted in Funny Peculiar | 2 Comments »

Willard Suitcases

January 21st, 2014 by Cobwebs

Willard Suitcase

The Willard Asylum for the Insane in New York was built in 1869 and closed in 1995 (to reopen as a drug rehabilitation facility). At its peak it housed 4000 patients, and more than half of the 50,000 people who called it their home died there: Although attempts were made to integrate later patients back into society, in its early days “people didn’t leave unless it was in a box.”

Asylum inmates were allowed to bring one case of possessions with them, and between 1910 and 1960 many of these suitcases were stored upon their deaths. When the facility was closed, the New York State Museum was given the opportunity to remove some historic items and one of the workers found the cases. After a small selection was displayed at the museum, photographer Jon Krispin launched a successful Kickstarter campaign to document the suitcases and their contents. The results are fascinating and heartbreaking.

Earlier today I uploaded Agnes J’s case to the site….She is important for many reasons, not the least of which is that her satchel contained a wealth of correspondence that revealed so much about her life. Hers was the first case that I shot with so much personal information.

There is a line in the letter below that explains so much about her being sent to Willard.

“But don’t come back to the Y.W. and threaten to kill that girl again–that’s what put you where you are now.” Chilling and so sad.

You can see the photos at Krispin’s blog and at the Willard Asylum Suitcases site. It’s a unique glimpse into the lives of these people, and the things they found important enough to bring with them on their (often one-way) trip to the asylum.

Posted in Whatever | 4 Comments »

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