The Art of Darkness

Not Another Week of Link Dumps: Day 2

September 30th, 2014 by Cobwebs

Bat-o-Lanterns – Cute and easy decorating idea for mini pumpkins. (And just as easy to use fake ones as the real thing.)

Krisztianna – Sculptor who’s created a series of “Muertitas,” which are sort of mounted-trophy calaveras. She sells art prints of the sculptures at Society6.

Vera Bradley Pumpkins – These elegant-looking decoupaged pumpkins are made with patterned napkins.

Look, Just Make Up Your Mind – I sort of love the idea of this kind of supernatural portal.

Skeleton Hands Necklace – Lovely “heart hands” pendant with a skeletal twist.

Octopus Products – Roundup of tentacle-heavy decor, accessories, and other items.

Lumos/Nox Switchplate – Cute light switch cover; it’d be easy enough to DIY. I also like this plate by the same manufacturer featuring a vintage funeral parlor ad.

When the Old Gods Return – Wonderful set of illustrations depicting the moment juuuust before the apocalypse kicks in.

Cicada Hairstyle – Shoko Nakagawa enhances her hairdo with shed cicada exoskeletons. Now I sort of wish I’d picked up a lot more of ’em during the recent cicada hatch.

Final Fantasy Bookmark – This is such a simple idea, but it’s funny anyway.

Posted in Link Dump | 2 Comments »

Not Another Week of Link Dumps

September 29th, 2014 by Cobwebs

As a pig is to truffles, so am I to random crap on the internet. This week will be a buffet of the finest hand-picked links.

Steampumkin – Cherie Priest’s Jack-o’-lantern. There’s a tutorial for steaming up plastic pumpkins here.

Stellaluna Costume – This is a rental costume used for promoting the children’s book. It’d be a heck of a cosplay outfit. Or just wear it to lounge around the house.

Anatomical Coat – Submitted by xJane with the comment, “Could be DIY’d…if you have a steady hand, artistic talent, patience, 62 hours of free time, and a thrifted light trench.” I could probably manage the “light trench” part.

A Map of the Introvert’s Heart – Yup.

Punk-kin – Instructions for making a leather-studded S&M pumpkin.

12 Stunningly Spooky Halloween Heels – Some of these would be reasonably DIY-able with decoupage. (Hat tip to Cat)

Dragon Backpack – By the ever-awesome Bob Basset workshop.

Frankenstein Exhibition – Upcoming exhibition at the British Library which sounds pretty neat, as does the BBC’s associated “Gothic Season” programming. I don’t know if the exhibit will tour or not, but hopefully some of the programming will be available to a non-UK audience.

Horror Star Chart – Interesting “star chart” which maps horror movies as constellations.

Human Remains Displayed in Strange Places – I’d sort of like to know who thought it’d be a good idea to store mummies in a public restroom. (Hat tip to pdq)

Posted in Link Dump | 5 Comments »

Switchblade Link Dump

September 26th, 2014 by Cobwebs

Super-Scary Crochet – Pattern book of cute li’l amigurumi monsters.

Ceramic Doll Head Night Light – This isn’t creepy at all.

Scooby Slasher – Iconic horror characters re-imagined as Scooby Doo villains. (via Burning Prairie)

10 of the Spookiest Scary Stories You’ll Ever Read – I don’t think Jezebel knows my audience very well. Still, these are some spooky anecdotes. There’s another installment here.

Fudge Mountain – An unpublished chapter from an early draft of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Medicantica – The site was a “virtual museum” of antique medical instruments. Citing personal reasons, the owner is now selling the entire collection. (Hat tip to Cat)

Coffin Outlet Plate – Electrical outlet cover shaped like a toe-pincher coffin. There’s a matching switchplate.

Jackalope/Deer Antlers – Tutorial for making surprisingly realistic-looking fake antlers. To, y’know, wear around the house.

DIY Potion Bottles – Jill at has a whole bunch of Harry Potter-inspired potion bottles that look really good.

Skull Coffee Grinder – I guess this is some sort of artwork, but if it were an actual appliance I would buy the hell out of it. (Hat tip to pdq)

Posted in Link Dump | 1 Comment »

Easy “Bloody” Party Favor

September 25th, 2014 by Cobwebs

Blood JamA couple of Halloweens ago One Charming Party threw a splendid Blood Bar party, serving Gin & Tourniquets out of “blood vessels” and decorating with surgical gauze. One particularly great touch was the choice of party favors: Homemade strawberry jam labeled as Clotted Blood.

This is such a great all-purpose Halloween party favor that I’m retroactively annoyed at all of the past parties where I could have used this idea.

Strawberry jam is easy to make–hit Google for more recipes than you can shake a stick at–but if you’re pressed for time or want to make up a large number of jars, buy good-quality jam in bulk and re-package it in smaller containers. There are plenty of interesting canning jars: Bail-top, tulip, round, square, and many others.

One Charming Party has the labels for free download (and also includes them if you buy a print package of all the party signage), but I have to admit that they’re a bit on the plain side. Fancier labels could be created in your favorite graphics program, using clipart and spooky fonts of your choice. You could also age the labels to make them a little spookier and vampire-ish; The Happy Heathen has an easy tutorial for that (if your printer’s ink won’t run when it gets wet, it’s way easier to faux-age the paper after printing).

The plain white paper covering on the lids could also be spooked up a bit: Use rough brown paper, cover the lids with scraps of Halloween fabric, or hot-glue a big novelty spider to the top.

You could also gift thinner “blood” in the form of strawberry syrup, or branch out with other monstrous jam flavors: Peach “Jack-o’-Lantern Guts” or mint “Radioactive Waste,” for example.

These would be a great, inexpensive favor for a Halloween wedding, too.

Posted in Paint It Black, Terror in the Aisle | 1 Comment »

A Plethora of Pumpkin Preparations

September 24th, 2014 by Cobwebs

PumpkinsAutumn is here (“here” being the northern hemisphere), which means an onslaught of Pumpkin Spice everything. Things that have no business being pumpkin-spice are tarted up; if there was a pumpkin spice dog food I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised. (Edit: See also this. Jesus wept.)

The noble pumpkin is better than sweet one-note dishes. It’s a nutritious vegetable and is wonderful in all kinds of savory dishes. Here’s a roundup. (Note: Some of the recipes labeled as “vegetarian” call for chicken stock; just substitute vegetable broth. But you knew that.)

Pumpkin is a great addition to chilis and stews; you can add it as a puree to thicken the liquid and add creaminess, or cut it into cubes for texture and flavor.

With meat:
Pork and Pumpkin Chili
Turkey Pumpkin Chili
Pumpkin & Beef Autumn Stew
Pork and Pumpkin Stew

Pumpkin Chili (The Kitchn)
Pumpkin Chili (Julia’s Album)
Moroccan Pumpkin Stew

Soups are a very popular non-sweet way to use pumpkin.

With meat:
Cheesy Pumpkin Soup with Bacon and Crispy Shallots
Pumpkin and Pancetta Soup
Pumpkin Soup with Sausage
Pumpkin and Lobster Bisque

Pumpkin Soup with Ginger Cream
Pumpkin and Yellow Split Pea Soup
Curry Pumpkin Soup
Roasted Pumpkin Soup
Kabocha Pumpkin Hot Pot
Pumpkin and Chestnut Soup

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Resources | 1 Comment »

We All Need This Sign

September 23rd, 2014 by Cobwebs

No Costume No CandyA couple of Halloweens ago I was helping a friend hand out candy on her front porch, and we started kicking around the idea of having a series of buckets marked with different letter grades. Trick-or-treaters would be allowed to choose from the bucket we thought their costume rated; the “F” bucket would be reserved for teenagers with no costumes and would contain toothbrushes.

However, I believe I like this idea even better. This gorgeous sign was designed by a haunter named Jeffrey Sherrard, and would be a splendid outdoor decoration.

I unfortunately don’t have any additional information about the materials or construction of this particular sign; Shellhawk’s Nest, where I found the image, points to The Garage of Evil, but that site requires a cumbersome registration process for access. Poop.

A reasonably similar, albeit simpler, version might be DIY’d using a hardware-store sign bracket, an oval (wood or foam, depending upon your skills), and the small wooden letters sometimes found at craft stores. Spray everything with metallic faux-finish paint and festoon with fake spider webs.

I quite like the Haunted Mansion-esque feel of this sign, but googling something like “diy halloween sign” will turn up plenty of other options: Birds and Soap, lil blue boo, Home Heart Craft, and print with my pic all have tutorials, and there are lots of others too.

Hang your sign, give full-size candy bars to kids who show up in homemade costumes (no matter how crappy, because they tried), and threaten to hex anyone who dares to darken your doorstep in street clothes.

Update: StoneMaven and Fiend4Halloween were both kind enough to share the details from the original post:

The texture on the oval insert & lettering is created by using sanded Dry-lok. I simply mix a small amount of clean, dry, construction sand into the Dry-lok and ‘pounce’ the paint on using an old brush to create a textured surface. I will do two or three light coats that way, allowing an hour or so of dry time in between. Then I lightly sand the top of the letters to return them to a slightly more flattened surface. That is followed by coats of flat black, brown, and bronze spray paints as base colors, a couple light coats of spray poly, and whatever decorative top coats are needed to finish the look. In this case it was just a light finger-dabbing of metallic bronze paint on the letters & scroll decorations. Also, there are 3 small neodymium magnets embedded into the back surface of the wood oval using a strong 2-part epoxy. This allows me to swap out the sign content very(!) quickly.

So, no real details about materials for the sign itself, but some good information about achieving the rusty-iron look. And the use of magnets to switch out signage is brilliant.

Thanks, guys!

Posted in Paint It Black | 4 Comments »

The Mill at Calder’s End

September 22nd, 2014 by Cobwebs

Creature effects artist and puppeteer Kevin McTurk has worked on lots of effects-heavy films, such as Jurassic Park, The Chronicles of Narnia, and Interview with the Vampire. He recently had a successful Kickstarter for “Victorian Ghost Story Puppet Film” The Mill at Calder’s End, and it looks pretty awesome. Here’s the new trailer:

Mike Mignola, creator of “Hellboy,” is one of the concept artists on this, and there’s quite a lot of other high-powered talent involved. There’s a neat “making of” video here, and more photos and information here and here.

Looks marvelously spooky.

Posted in Whatever | No Comments »

The Link Dump Zone

September 19th, 2014 by Cobwebs

creaturesfromel – Marvelously surreal sculptures of animals. I think this little winged rat might be my favorite. The artist sells some of her work on Etsy.

Squash Softies – Use scrap fabric to make cute little pumpkins. Or Halloween tribbles. (via Old Fashion Halloween)

31 Creepy Items Every Horror Fan Should Own – I have to admit that the snow globe is splendid. (Hat tip to WitchArachne)

Sag es mit deinem Projekt – Cute “goth” ad for German home improvement chain Hornbach.

Deathwish – I want an organization like this to exist in real life.

Skull Boiled Egg Mold – I’ve always thought that molding boiled eggs fell into the same category as fluting mushrooms and ironing bedsheets: Stuff that nobody reasonable has the time for. But these are kind of awesome.

21 Punny Skeleton Comics That Will Tickle Your Funny Bone – The effect is cumulative. (Hat tip to pdq)

Shirrstone Shelter – Spooky Moon has a feature on some lovely, surreal dolls.

The Year According to Tumblr – It’s the year according to me, too. (Hat tip to xJane)

Blood Fondue Bar – If you’ve got access to a chocolate fountain, this is an interesting party idea.

Posted in Link Dump | 6 Comments »

It’s Secret Pumpkin Time Again!

September 18th, 2014 by Cobwebs

Secret Pumpkin Logo

The Secret Pumpkin gift exchange was conceived as a way to soothe those spooky souls pining for October by sending them a little Halloween in April. It’s similar to a Secret Santa exchange but the gifts are supposed to be spooky in nature; you can read my previous description and details 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:

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

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

(Just in case it isn’t clear–folks have been confused in the past–I’m the person who manages the site, so you aren’t blindly submitting your mailing address to some anonymous stranger.)

I’d previously suggested that participants should join one of the two Halloween listservs which originally spawned the exchange, but they’ve withered away so much that they may actually be defunct; instead I send occasional reminders directly to the participants.

Non-U.S. residents are welcome to participate, with the caveat that international shipping can be beastly. I try to match participants in the same country with each other so if you’re outside of the U.S. and want to play along, encourage your friends to sign up as well.

The deadline for signups is October 15. 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.

C’mon and join! It’s lots of fun, and getting something unexpectedly Halloweeny in April is a treat.

Posted in Whatever | 3 Comments »

About That Black Hamburger

September 17th, 2014 by Cobwebs

Black BurgerIf you follow any goth news feeds or Facebook pages or are friends with goths or have even thought the word “goth” recently you are probably aware of the buzz surrounding the recent Japan Burger King’s debut of a black cheeseburger – The “Kuro Burger” (“Black Burger”) has “buns made from bamboo charcoal, an onion and garlic sauce made with squid ink, beef patties made with black pepper, and black cheese, which is also apparently made with bamboo charcoal.”

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Japan, you so crazy.

This isn’t the first time Burger King Japan has done the black burger thing: The new version is pretty much identical to a limited-time burger they did in 2012, except this one adds black cheese. Charcoal is a hugely popular dietary supplement in Japan and several other Asian countries; it’s sold widely as a health food additive, and bread made with it isn’t particularly unusual. (Burger King isn’t the only chain which has used black buns as a hook; McDonald’s China offers black and white burgers using the same kind of charcoal-y bread).

Anyway, my point–and I do have one–is that the visual is quite striking and if you’re feeling a bit ambitious this is totally do-able at home.

The bread part is pretty straightforward: You can find charcoal powder at Asian groceries or online (just make sure it’s marked as a “dietary supplement” or some similar food-grade use). Googling “charcoal bread” brings up several interesting “this sounded neat so I tried it” accounts like this, this, and this (and also this discussion of other things you can do with charcoal powder, like goth macarons). Make your favorite burger-bun recipe–I’m partial to Smitten Kitchen’s light brioche buns–and add a tablespoon or so of charcoal powder. You may need to experiment a bit to get the color you want.

The black “ketchup,” which sounds more like “whatever savory sauce you like, only black,” is pretty much…whatever savory sauce you like, only black. The onion-and-garlic sauce on the original sounds tasty, but you can use plain ol’ ketchup if you want. If you’re feeling fancy, you can tint it with real squid ink; you could also just use a little black gel food coloring for the same effect.

The cheese is the trickiest, since you’d want the meltiness of processed cheese slices. Fortunately, the DIY Cookbook from America’s Test Kitchen includes a recipe for homemade “American” cheese. Brown Eyed Baker–amongst many others–has the recipe along with a review (it sounds easy and yummy). You should be able to add the charcoal powder along with the dry milk powder in the recipe.

If you don’t feel up to experimenting with charcoal powder, the buns and cheese could also be colored with black gel food coloring.

Obviously, you can experiment beyond the burger with black bread, cheese, and sauces. Any combination of them would be great at a Halloween party, or just to make lunchtime a little more interesting.

Posted in Paint It Black | 3 Comments »

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