The Art of Darkness

Quick Gift Idea: Scented Hot Pads

September 16th, 2015 by Cobwebs

Hot PadHere’s a fast, easy gift idea that has the added advantage of letting you use up leftover scraps of fabric: Hot pads and mug mats which give off a spicy autumnal scent when something hot is placed on top.

The fabric you use should be closely woven so bits of spice don’t fall out, and made of some material that won’t melt or discolor when exposed to heat (100% cotton is best).

For the spice mixture:

  • 1 C small cinnamon chips (if you can’t obtain these, put cinnamon sticks in a bag and whack them with a rolling pin or other heavy object to break them up)
  • 1 C anise seed
  • 1 C whole cloves
  • 1 C nutmeg pieces (these can be broken up the same way as the cinnamon, but nutmegs are pretty hard so you may need to use a hammer)
  • 1 C allspice berries
  • 1 C rosemary needles

For each mug mat you will need two squares of 5″x5″ fabric. Place right sides together and stitch sides with a 1/4″ seam, leaving an open space in the middle of one side for turning. Turn right-side out and press. Fill with spice mixture to about 1/2″ thick. Turn in the raw edges and top-stitch the opening. Package four mats together, tied with pretty ribbon, and tuck a cinnamon stick under the ribbon.

(For a fancier version of the mug mats, try The Road to Crazy’s reverse applique tutorial, which produced the cute little Frankenstein cupcake in the photo above.)

For a hot pad, you will need two squares of 8″x8″ fabric. Place right sides together and stitch three sides with a 1/2″ seam, then stitch the corners of the fourth side but leave the rest of the edge open. Turn right-side out and press. Turn in the raw edges on the fourth side 1/2″ and press. Stitch three parallel lines down the square, creating four tunnels of equal width. Fill the tunnels with the spice mixture to at least 1″ thick. Top-stitch the opening.

You can vary the spice mixture as desired, omitting some and adding others. Bits of dried citrus peel are nice, as are lavender flowers or strong-scented herbs. It’s easy to make up a large batch of the mixture and sew lots of hot pads as stocking stuffers or last-minute hostess gifts. If you plan to make the pads well in advance, store them in a plastic bag to keep their scent strong.

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Even More Stuff I Found While Looking Around

September 15th, 2015 by Cobwebs

It’s time for another bunch of random stuff I want to share but can’t hang a whole post on. Some of them have no attribution, so if you happen to know the source for any of these please leave a note in the comments. (Click to view larger.)

Skull Planter

Succulent Skull

This skull kinda looks like it might be designed to be a flowerpot, rather than just being a repurposed prop, but if you’ve got a prop skull lying around it should work fine. I really like the selection of succulents. I’m not entirely sure about the source since most of the image lookup results are from Pinterest (you guys, I hate Pinterest so, so much. I am sure that “obfuscate original sources” is a core part of their business plan), but a couple of those seem to point back to Frolicing [sic] in the Forest so let’s pretend it’s from there.

Hocus Pocus Nails

Hocus Pocus Nails

I really like the use of glow-in-the-dark paint in this manicure. This design is by PiggieLuv, and there are a number of other neat Halloween ideas on the site; this spider and web design would be a little unwieldy, but it’s really striking.

Tentacle Silverware

Tentacle Flatware

This sea life dining set by Perry Gargano is a mere $240 per place setting. And, sure, if you want to get technical about it, the curve on the handles would probably make these things a pain to actually use, but you can’t beat ’em for style.

Starch Figures

Laundry Starch Ghosts

This is one of HGTV’s Halloween tips (the slideshow format is annoying, but there are some other cute ideas if you feel like clicking through ’em). I have doubts about whether it’d be possible to get these detached from their forms cleanly–maybe if you used balloons and then popped them–but they’re pretty cute.

Jewelry Rack

Jewelry Rack

Posted on imgur by IndustrialStapler. This would be easy to DIY; you could also use it to hold keys.

Octopus Chair

Octopus Chair

This design is apparently by Wendy Olsen. Makes me wish I were better with fabric paint.

Poe Pumpkins

Poe Pumpkins

This is an idea from Country Living; it’d be fairly simple to pull off with stencils, and it’s a nicely elegant look.


Bond Ring

This just made me giggle. (via Tanya)

Monster Shoe

Monster Shoe

There are a couple of additional photos on Craftster. I’m not sure how easy it’d be to cover a pump with fake fur, but these are pretty cute.


Spiderweb Photo Album

This is an embroidered cover for a photo album. It’s a fairly easy design, and if you can’t find a fabric-covered photo album you could use paint or sequins instead.


Photo Tombstones

These are from the exit queue in Disneyland Paris’ Phantom Manor. If you decorate your yard for Halloween, a set of “family portrait” tombstones like these would be a great addition to your graveyard. It’d also be fun to get a set of miniature foam tabletop tombstones (like these; you can usually find them at party stores around Halloween) and use wallet-size photos to make a little “‘Til Death Do Us Part” photo frame.

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Bela Lugosi’s Still Dead

September 14th, 2015 by Cobwebs

…and more’s the pity.

Shadow Jack, who sent me this gem, said:

I had seen the Bauhaus video for this song a while back, but I think I like this Nouvelle Vague version better. Breathy female vocals and all original footage, including what might be the only appearance of armadillos in a music video.

It’s pretty awesome, although, given the popularity of country music, I doubt it’s the only appearance of armadillos in a music video.

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Run! It’s Another Week of Link Dumps! Day 5

September 11th, 2015 by Cobwebs

Thank you for your kind indulgence. Regular posting and once-a-week link dumps will return on Monday.

Halloween Craft Roundup – Several cute projects; I particularly like the crocheted spiderweb corbels.

The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows – Suggestions for words which describe hard-to-explain feelings like vellichor (“the strange wistfulness of used bookstores”) and rubatosis (“the unsettling awareness of your own heartbeat”).

Plush Narwhal Tutorial – Narwhals, narwhals, swimming in the ocean, causing a commotion, because they are so awesome. Now that I have that song stuck in your head, go look at the pod of plush narwhals because they are really cute.

Free Antique Illustrations – The British Library has released over a million images from its collection online for free. (Bonus link: BoingBoing mentions the project and includes a glorious assemblage of covers from vintage “adventure” magazines. I think my favorite bit is that the “weasel attack” victim looks startlingly like David Bowie.)

Sticky Page Markers – Sets of stickers for marking book pages that let you create scenes of Godzilla attacking Tokyo, aliens in a Martian landscape, and Nessie undulating in and out of the water.

Skeleton Cupcakes – I’m leery of complex edible cupcake toppers, but these skeletons made from yogurt-covered pretzels and marshmallows look reasonably straightforward. The related bag of bones snacks are even easier.

Victorian Trading Company – Their Halloween section has lots of good-looking Halloween home decor items. (Hat tip to Kathy)

Magical Unicorn Champagne Horn – Plastic drinking “horn” and base.

8 Horrifying Moments From Classic Kids Cartoons – The people who complain about inappropriate content in today’s cartoons never lived through the 30s.

JIMBOBART – Etsy shop with the tagline, “Drawer of things on things” which specializes in weirdly whimsical dishware featuring wolves who guard your snacks and mice who perform for cakes.

Posted in Link Dump | 2 Comments »

Run! It’s Another Week of Link Dumps! Day 4

September 10th, 2015 by Cobwebs

Bad Motherf*ckers – Amazingly detailed action figures from The Shining, A Clockwork Orange, The Exorcist, and more.

Ghostz – Weird little browser-based game which imagines a virtual pet experience about caring for the ghost of a virtual pet that you let die.

5 Creepy Things You Learn Cleaning Up the Scene Of a Murder – This clickbaity headline is actually an interesting glimpse into the business of biohazard cleanup.

A Jolly Nightmare – Mashup illustration of Jack and Sally dressed as Bert and Mary Poppins. (via Tanya)

Marbled Red Vinasse Eggs – This riff on Chinese tea eggs make them look nicely bloody. If you can’t the red wine lees called for in the recipe, some red food coloring could probably be substituted.

A Dirty Job – Novel about a regular guy who discovers that he’s been recruited to gather the souls of the dying. The plot has certainly been done, um, to death, but the author is Christopher Moore and he writes funny stuff.

Infantium Victoria – Lovely goth baby clothes, which are often hard to find. (Hat tip to Beth)

Wee Witch’s Cottage – Cute miniature “witch house” with lots of neat details.

Compendium of Demonology and Magic – NSFW. BoingBoing looks at some of their “favorite monsters” from this 1775 guide to demonology.

Medusa Satchel – Felted Gladstone bag featuring a big ol’ gorgon.

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Run! It’s Another Week of Link Dumps! Day 3

September 9th, 2015 by Cobwebs

She Walks in Shadows – New anthology featuring women fighting Lovecraftian nightmares.

Transposed Horror – Iconic horror themes re-recorded in a major key are kind of adorable.

5 Hours of Edgar Allan Poe Stories Read by Vincent Price & Basil Rathbone – Vincent Price and Basil Rathbone could read the phone book and I’d listen to it. (via Shellhawk)

Crypt Hotel Room – A hotel in Maine is offering an uncomfortable-sounding crypt for rent.

On the Next Episode of Ghost Hunters – This ‘toon by The Fantastician is charming. (Hat tip to Pixel Pixie)

Tentacle Tie – Crocheted necktie full of suckery goodness. The same seller also has tentacle scarves.

We Light Your Scrotum on Fire – Apart from being the name of my next band, this Cracked article explores “realities of the morgue.”

Sandman Chess Set – Collectible chess set based on Gaiman’s graphic novels.

All-black Chickens – BoingBoing mentions the “perfect for goth urban homesteaders” (har, har) Indonesian Ayam Cemani chicken, which is completely black and sells for $199 per chick. Somebody in the comments mentions that the same breeder sells Swedish black chickens, which look identical to the untrained eye, for half that. That’s a teensy bit pricey unless you’re an awfully rich goth urban homesteader, but they’re still pretty neat.

Gooey Monster Eye Cookies – This isn’t of interest so much for the recipe as for the presentation. You could make any number of cookie recipes and use the same candy eyeballs for decoration.

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Run! It’s Another Week of Link Dumps! Day 2

September 8th, 2015 by Cobwebs

Defining the Gothic – MetaFilter thread (and link to the article which spawned the discussion) about what “gothic” means. (Hat tip to Bruno)

Deadly Grounds Coffee – Their tagline is “coffee to die for,” insert weary rimshot here.

The Resurrectionist – Unusual novel which begins by providing the biography for the fictional Dr. Spenser Black and continues into Black’s magnum opus, a fantastically-detailed anatomy “textbook” of mythical beasts.

Floccinaucinihilipilification – This artist’s series of Harry Potter cartoons are sublime. Dumbledore gets all the best lines.

Scientists Discover OctoKittens – This is my new name for salticid spiders. (There’s a petition to change their name, unofficially, here.)

C is for Cthulhu – Successful kickstarter for a Lovecraftian alphabet board book, plus a wee plush Cthulhu. (Hat tip to Jes)

Okily Dokily – There’s a Ned Flanders-themed metal band. Because of course there is.

Dancing with Costică – Artist Jane Long digitally manipulates vintage photos into wonderfully surreal dreamscapes.

GalaFilc – Etsy shop full of interesting needle-felted creations, including this awesome octopus coin purse.

Halloweeño Poppers – I’ve seen plenty of “mummies” made from hot dogs, but this is the first jalapeño recipe I’ve encountered. Looks tasty.

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Run! It’s Another Week of Link Dumps!

September 7th, 2015 by Cobwebs

Will the link dumps never end?!? No. No they won’t.

A 3-Hour Long Mixtape of Goth History – A deep dive into the various facets of goth music.

A Cephalopod’s Anatomy Class – Weirdly adorable diorama of needle-felted squid learning anatomy.

Cat Cosplay – A Tumblr devoted to becostumed cats. It could as easily be titled, “Scratched and Bitten Cat Owners” because what the hell, cat owners? (Hat tip to Bruno)

Man-Eating Plant – Tutorial for making a chompy-looking giant carnivorous plant using a foam craft pumpkin as the head.

The Men of Twin Peaks – Illustrations of the male characters from the show, drawn in pinup poses.

Chocolaticas – Adorable Mary Jane-style pump with spiderweb detailing. The same company has some other cute designs featuring toe bones and skulls. (via Pixel Pixie)

Maleficent Wreath – Lovely decorative wreath featuring a hand-painted Maleficent mask.

Pull-Apart Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Bread – It’s time for pumpkin recipes up the wazooty! This one sounds pretty tasty.

Making Copper Crowns – The Tinkering Studio has a neat post on making copper crowns/tiaras with LEDs as a project to practice soldering.

19 Crimes – Wine brand with interesting labels featuring photos of criminals punished by “transportation” to Australia. The website is irritating as hell.

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A Hard Day’s Link Dump

September 4th, 2015 by Cobwebs

Alice in WonderSand – Astonishing sand-art animation of Alice in Wonderland.

Truffle Mummies – Recipe for pumpkin cheesecake truffles decorated to look like teensy mummy heads. These would be great as part of a Halloween party dessert spread.

Anty Gin – Gin infused with red wood ants. Yum!

Tale – Artist Kate Clark sculpts human faces on taxidermy animals. Her artist’s statement says, “They are obviously reconstructed yet they are not monstrous, they are approachable, natural, calm, innocent, dignified.” Uh, no; they are creepy as fuck.

Whiskey Skulls – Stainless steel skull-shaped drink chillers.

Doll Head Night Light – Tutorial for making a night light out of a doll head in case you want to scare the everliving crap out of overnight guests.

Count Chocula Beer – Colorado brewery Black Bottle has a limited-edition beer made with Count Chocula cereal. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. (via Shellhawk)

I Solemnly Swear – Free embroidery pattern and tutorial for a simple Marauder’s Map design.

Old Masters Buzzfeed – “23 Secrets a Man with a Quilted Sleeve Won’t Tell You” and other brilliant clickbaity headlines applied to classical paintings. (Possibly NSFW depending upon your boss’ tolerance for classical boobs.)

Black Cat Earring – Polymer clay earring which looks like a cat is in the process of tunneling through your earlobe. The seller has a wide variety of cat colors and themes.

Posted in Link Dump | 3 Comments »

Dollar-Store Grandfather Clock

September 3rd, 2015 by Cobwebs

Clock FrontHoly wow, you guys. Would you ever guess that this grandfather clock is made from cardboard and glued-on props from the Dollar Store?

theundeadofnight shared this project on Halloween Forum, along with a few photos of the build. There are more detailed instructions on his website, but it’s all done in Flash so I can’t link directly. It’s an almost startlingly easy build: The clock case is made from cardboard boxes, the skulls and bat are cut from a styrofoam tombstone, and the clock face is just a cheap plastic wall clock (attached with velcro so the batteries can be changed).

This would be a great prop for a Halloween party, either simply for decoration or to block the entrance to an off-limits part of the house. If you used a cheap single-door cabinet for the tall part of the case (which probably has an official name but I don’t know it; let’s go with Pendulum Containment Unit), you could use the interior space: Stick a bucket with dry ice inside so ominous fog emerges from the cracks, or put in a motion sensor that screams at anyone nosy enough to open the door. You could even keep it up year-’round and use it for storage.

It’s a great-looking prop that doesn’t require a lot of specialized skills to build, so it’s perfect for the amateur home haunter.

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