The Art of Darkness

Pluto and the Vessel

March 17th, 2014 by Cobwebs

Harrison Browning’s creepy stop-motion short Pluto and the Vessel is “both homage to early science fiction horror tropes and as a personal contemplation on the impossible differentiation between containers and their contents.”

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Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Link Dump

March 14th, 2014 by Cobwebs

MYX – Lampshades made of fibrous substrate upon which you grow mushrooms. Well, it’s…original. (Hat tip to Cookie)

Lestat Returns – Anne Rice has announced a new vampire novel, Prince Lestat.

Deep Dark Fears – A growing collection of cartoons providing a whole bunch of new things to worry about.

Star Wars Tarot – A fun, fan-made deck. I love these Star Trek Tarot prints, too.

Dragon Faucet – Attractive antique brass faucet fixture.

Old School Creepy – SubReddit of creepy vintage photos.

NMBC Mayor Lamp – Great repaint of a thrift-store lamp.

Something Wicked This Way Comes to be Remade – Nooooooo……

Victorian/Gothic Mansion with Spaceship Attic – Something something best of both worlds something.

Nicki Hitz Edson – Artist who makes amazing crocheted masks. Her Medusa and dragon are my favorites.

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Miniature Dead Things

March 13th, 2014 by Cobwebs

Dead Leprechaun

Just in time for St. Patrick’s Day, look at this cute li’l guy.

This mummified leprechaun, complete with remnants of ginger hair and clutching a gold coin, is one of several miniature gaffs made by Lynne of Footsteps in the Wind. She’s also got miniature skeletal mermaids and demons.

These guys are kindred spirits to my mummified fairy, and I’m kicking myself for not thinking of this idea. You could put together a whole collection of mummified supernatural fauna.

The mermaid rather puts me in mind of a fossil, and an interesting display idea might be to present it as such: Glue it to a flat piece of shale (available in the outdoor department of many hardware stores), blend the edges into the stone with polymer clay or papier-mache, and spray-paint to make it look like it’s been carefully chipped out of the matrix.

You could use tattered miniature clothing and accessories to create mummified gnomes, imps, tooth fairies, pixies, and many others. Display individual specimens in shadowboxes or bell jars, or fill a curio cabinet with a whole collection. If you’re feeling particularly macabre, you could display them as though they were live specimens who had died of neglect–a mermaid in an empty goldfish bowl, or a gnome in a jar with the scrawled note, “Air holes….”

Posted in Needful Things | 3 Comments »

Penne Dreadful

March 12th, 2014 by Cobwebs

Pasta IngredientsI was being a smartass on Facebook a couple of weeks ago, and commented, “There needs to be a goth pasta dish called Penne Dreadful.” I chortled quietly to myself and thought that would be the end of it, but I forgot who my friends are: A dozen people immediately started suggesting ways to make this happen.

Tanya suggested squid-ink pasta (an excellent choice), and said that a cream sauce made with purple cauliflower would make a lovely contrast. xJane noted that with food dye, all things are possible. Then JaniceMars showed up and waxed rhapsodic about the dark puttanesca sauce one could make with purple tomatoes, red onions, and black olives.

And then she went one better and actually made the damn thing.

Her wonderful, appropriately violent recipe can be found on her site, Prodigal Sock. She uses green (spinach) penne, which is nicely creepy and readily available, but if you want to go all the way and use black penne, you can find it here (they have black spaghetti too).

A fun garnish would be these “eyeballs” made from cherry tomatoes and mini-mozzarella balls.

Thanks, JaniceMars! You’re awesome.

(Bonus link: Whilst I was looking for squid-ink pasta sources, I ran across these gorgeous zebra-striped bow ties. There’s apparently an even-Halloweenier black and orange version, but I can’t seem to find an online source for that.)

Posted in Doom It Yourself | 4 Comments »

Easy DIY Apothecary Decoration

March 11th, 2014 by Cobwebs

Skull UrnThe inestimable xJane sent this link to me recently under the heading “Things It Strikes Me You Could DIY.” She’s right–this is eminently DIY-able, and would take almost no time to put together.

The assembly could hardly be simpler: It’s polished stones, Spanish moss, and reindeer moss (which the blogger calls “moose moss”), layered in a jar with a prop skull and skeleton hands. All of that stuff is readily available at your local craft store or online (Save-On Crafts is one of my favorite online sources). I really like the footed glass-and-metal apothecaries in this example, but you could use pretty much anything with see-through sides: Large canning jars, goldfish bowls, vases, brandy snifters, and so on. You could also vary the ingredients for different effects: A nautical-themed “Davy Jones’ Locker” decoration layered with dried seaweed, seashells, driftwood, and beach glass and housed in a tarnished brass lantern would be quite striking.

The site mentions a Pottery Barn decoration as the inspiration for this project. I did some looking, and as nearly as I can tell they’re referring to this, which isn’t a purchasable item but instead just a “serving suggestion” for their skull vase fillers (also available in glitter). Other bloggers have been inspired by the same catalogue photo: The Gathering Place uses smaller skulls and Spanish moss for a simpler design; I like the “Arsenic” tag on top. Strawberry Chic layers the skulls with candy corn and dollar-store Halloween trinkets for a kitschier effect. Homespun with Love adds spiderwebs and some kind of coarser floral material that they refer to as “fiber filler;” looks a little like pine needles.

The only difficult bit, this time of year, would be digging up the skulls (so to speak). It’s annoying that so many items which we consider to be year-round decorating accessories are viewed by the wider world as seasonal props. They’re available online a few places like Skeleton Store, Amazon, and Oriental Trading, and they may still turn up in dollar-store clearance bins, but for the greatest selection your best bet would probably be to wait until closer to Halloween when all the skulls come out of hiding.

A couple of these would look lovely on a fireplace mantel or used as a table centerpiece, and they really are attractive enough to use as permanent decor.

(Thanks, xJane!)

Posted in Bad Things | 3 Comments »

Halloween Junky Orchestra

March 10th, 2014 by Cobwebs

Rock duo Vamps got together with a bunch of other well-known Japanese musicians to release a two-song Halloween project under the name “Halloween Junky Orchestra.”

The result is totally, utterly bananas.

The B side title was “Penalty Waltz,” which doesn’t appear to have a video. There’s also a “making of” documentary, but it’s all in Japanese, so it may or may not be of much interest.

(Hat tip to Pixel Pixie)

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So I Married a Link Dump

March 7th, 2014 by Cobwebs

Blueprint of the Addams Family House – Good-looking print of the house plans; apparently based on this drawing by Mark Bennett.

Frightfully Good Halloween Fonts – The Graphics Fairy has a nice roundup of spooky fonts, free for download. (Hat tip to xJane)

ShoeBakery – Specializes in custom shoes that look like desserts.

Plush Giant Isopod – Who doesn’t want to cuddle with an adorably realistic giant bug? Also available through Amazon because why not. (via Cat)

What Will You Leave Behind? – Art installation by Nino Sarabutra, featuring 100,000 small porcelain skulls on the floor. You’re supposed to walk on them barefoot as you go through the gallery. Supposed to be meditative; mainly looks ouchy.

Knitted Snail Tea Cozy – Ahem. Squee.

Ouija Coffee Table – Instructable for making a really nice ouija board coffee table. Includes a download of the stencil used.

Dr. Woo’s Tattoos – These are restrained, monochrome, and amazing.

Edgar Allan Poe’s Interior Design Proscriptions – Poe wrote an essay on interior design. I like his style.

“Face” Mask – (NSFW for gore.) I’ve mentioned Sandra Holmbom (“PsychoSandra”) previously. One of her new makeup effects makes it look like you’re wearing a domino mask made of your own skin.

Posted in Link Dump | 4 Comments »

Altoid Tin Dioramas

March 6th, 2014 by Cobwebs

Altoid 221BTerribly Messy Maker Nichola “Knickertwist” Battilana decided to express her love of Sherlock Holmes by re-creating 221B Baker Street inside an Altoid Tin (she’s since made several additional versions, shown here).

I think these are simply adorable; I love the notion of a whole little world that you can carry in your pocket. It’s like dollhouses taken to the next level of twee.

I’m apparently really late to the party in being surprised by Altoid-tin art, however: Nichola has done other awesome designs like this Halloween vignette, and googling “altoid tin diorama” turns up a ridiculous number of amazing designs.

Artfully Musing did a Mini Apothecary. Miss Lorna Rose did a neat Nosferatu version. The Uniconoclast does neat Halloween ones.

Sabrina of Split Coast Stampers made a creepy Halloween tin. Jabauer did a zombie-themed one.

Jim Doran combines the tins with carefully-cut paper to create a whole series of “miniature worlds.”

If you like Altoids anyway, you suddenly have a whole new reason to buy them. The dioramas would make really interesting party favors. You can create personalized scenes for all of your friends. And after you’ve gifted everybody you know with a teensy diorama, you can squeeze out a few more tins with an Altoid Advent calendar like the steampunk version done by Over the Crescent Moon.

Posted in Doom It Yourself | 3 Comments »

Dead and Breakfast Sign

March 5th, 2014 by Cobwebs

Dead and BreakfastThis is one of those projects that’s been languishing in my Drafts folder as other shiny objects catch my eye, and it’s languished so long that its original source has vanished. I’m fairly sure that I originally saw it in Better Homes and Gardens’ outdoor Halloween decorations, but after slogging through their insanely irritating slideshow it ain’t there, and all other roads lead to Pinterest. Oh well; I don’t recall the original source including instructions, so we’re on our own anyway.

(Click for larger.)

Although probably intended as a seasonal Halloween prop, this is attractive enough to leave up year-’round (although I’d probably just put the crows up seasonally, lest they mildew). The upright appears to be a reclaimed porch column, and the crossbar is a piece of recycled 2×4. There are numerous places to buy or salvage recycled wood (google around for a local source), or you can fake-distress lumber from the hardware store.

Putting this together would require some tiny amount of woodworking skill–you’d need to be able to drill holes to attach the chains, and nail pieces to other pieces–but it wouldn’t require great depth of knowledge. You don’t have to saw anything for the sign (although if you are a woodworker you can get fancy and make your own custom shape): There are plenty of reasonably easy tutorials for making simple signs from precut wood. I particularly like this one, which uses a small tabletop, but this and this are also good resources.

Stencil the sign with your name, and you’ve got a wonderful yard decoration. If you intend to leave it up permanently, you’ll probably want to dig a proper post hole and sink it there. For a seasonal decoration, nail the post to a wooden base large enough to stabilize it; you don’t want it knocked over by the wind or errant trick-or-treaters. The sign by itself would also be an attractive wall decoration in a rec room or kitchen.

Posted in Bad Things | 2 Comments »

Trivia Tuesday

March 4th, 2014 by Cobwebs

  1. No one except Gandalf could ride this horse, given to him by King Théoden
  2. In the noir science fiction movie Dark City, the controllers of the titular city are extraterrestrial parasites inhabiting human corpses. What are they called?
    A) The Others
    B) The Strangers
    C) The Decepticons
    D) The Visitors
    E) The Greys
  3. In the classic political cautionary tale 1984, the most feared room in the Ministry of Love is this one, where the victim is subjected to his worst fear.
  4. In Joe Hill’s novel NOS4A2, the villain abducts children using this type of car.
    A) Lamborghini Diablo
    B) Dodge Demon
    C) Pontiac Banshee
    D) Plymouth Fury
    E) Rolls-Royce Wraith
  5. In this über-creepy David Cronenberg film, a television entrepreneur looking for new content encounters a mysterious pirate station which broadcasts sadomasochistic porn and what appears to be real, on-camera torture and murder.
  6. The seminal conspiracy-theory novels The Illuminatus! Trilogy were written by Robert Anton Wilson and whom?
    A) Bob Shaw
    B) Norman Spinrad
    C) Robert Shea
    D) Bruce Sterling
    E) Michael Swanwick
  7. This Greek hero fought robbers such as Procrustes and captured the Marathonian Bull, but is perhaps best known for killing the Minotaur.
  8. Charles Stross’ “Laundry” series is a spy thriller/horror hybrid which follows the adventures of Bob Howard, a computer tech and demonologist, as he saves the world from Lovecraftian horrors. Which of these titles is not part of the Laundry series?
    A) The Atrocity Archives
    B) The Jennifer Morgue
    C) The Fuller Memorandum
    D) The Apocalypse Codex
    E) The Lambda Functionary
  9. Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle published a sequel to their 1975 novel, Inferno, titled Escape From Hell, in which the protagonist is accompanied by an author whom he has saved from eternal damnation as a sentient tree in the “Wood of the Suicides.” Who is this author?
  10. The movie Screamers, which involves soldiers in a future civil war being infiltrated and murdered by more and more human-seeming robots, was based on the influential short story “Second Variety” by this brain-bending author.
    A) Poppy Z. Brite
    B) Tim Powers
    C) Neil Gaiman
    D) Philip K. Dick
    E) Pat Cadigan

(Answers below the fold)

Read the rest of this entry »

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