The Art of Darkness

Another Dumb Week of Link Dumps

September 28th, 2015 by Cobwebs

I apologize, guys; I normally try to keep the week-long link dumps tamped down to no more than one a month, but I had a project that was making my brain cower in my skull like a startled guinea pig and didn’t have time to rustle up anything more substantial.

Those of you who complain that these marathon dumps contribute to your lost productivity will just have to resign yourselves to being less productive this week.

Haunted House – Alexander Henry fabric collection with several attractive spooky designs. I like the Favourite Haunts one, since it’s subtle unless you look at it closely.

Glow-in-the-Dark Eyeball Jelly Shots – Jell-o shots that look like eyeballs. There’s an easy nonalcoholic version here and a slightly more complicated one here.

American Horror Story Fashion Line – Hot Topic is releasing a five-piece collection, with each piece themed around a different season of AHS.

#PotterItForward – A rather sweet campaign encouraging long-time fans of the Harry Potter series to leave notes in the books for new readers.

Masques and Murder – “Renaissance revenge simulator” game in which you work to become a ruthless noblewoman. BoingBoing discusses it here.

Dandelion Earrings – Little glass globes containing dandelion seeds. The same seller has similar earrings containing moss and other natural elements.

Anti-Pills – Empty bottles with vintage-y looking labels for remedies like “Muriel Cheetbite’s ‘Anti-Nature Pills’.” I guess you could fill the bottles with mints or something.

Luna – Attractive lamp, in seven different sizes, made to resemble the moon.

Rowlf the Dog Reads “Grim Grinning Ghosts” – Disney is doing a Disneyland/Muppet crossover video series; here’s Rowlf doing a dramatic reading of the song from the Haunted Mansion.

Orcs of New York – An amusing parody of the Humans of New York project. (via Bruno)

Posted in Link Dump | 4 Comments »

Straight Outta Link Dumps

September 25th, 2015 by Cobwebs

Horror Pinups – Karl Von Frankenstein has a series of “sexy fantasy” pinups of Jason, Freddy, and Michael. I have no words.

Women of the Haunted Mansion Cosplay – A group presentation at SDCC. What a great cosplay idea.

Floodland Vinyl Set – The Sisters of Mercy’s beast of an album Floodland is being reissued on vinyl, along with additional related works.

DIY Origami Bats – Some of these are fairly complicated, but the results sure are cute. (Hat tip to Pixel Pixie)

The Lockhart – This Harry Potter-themed bar in Toronto looks like fun.

Time After Time Coming to TV – The awesome 70s time-travel movie Time After Time, which involved H.G. Wells chasing Jack the Ripper into the present day, is going to be turned into a procedural drama for television. Huh.

This Much Will Kill You – ASAP Science looks at the amounts of various substances (like coffee and cherry pits) required to kill a human.

Cotton Fingers – Fake packaging for “ladytime objects” meant for women suffering the Moonsickness. And that’s what I’ll be calling it from now on.

Manfeels Park – “The male dialogue in this webcomic is all taken word for word or adapted only slightly from web commentary by hurt and confused men with Very Important Things To Explain, usually to women.” (via Cat)

Flayed Human Flesh Tablecloth – Tye Rannosaurus was commissioned to create a fake “human leather” tablecloth for a horror film, and was kind enough to share her technique. This is awesomely hideous. (Also check out her Zombie/Serial Killer Corset.)

Posted in Link Dump | 4 Comments »

Unquiet Books

September 24th, 2015 by Cobwebs

Okay, this thing has been knocking around in my Drafts folder for nearly five years(!), it’s clearly never going to get out of the planning stages and I’m tired of looking at it, so I’m going to dump the half-formed mess on you guys and let you deal with it. (This is why you read this blog; for quality posts like this one.)

Way back in 2011 I mentioned the awesome quiet books made by Julie of Julie’s Blog (at the time she had Star Wars and Star Trek versions; she’s since added Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings). In that post I joked that somebody needed to do an “unquiet book” featuring spooky creatures, and the more I thought about it the more I liked the notion. I jotted down a bunch of possible ideas and then sat on them for five years and here we are today.

So if somebody with more unquiet-book ambition than I feels like taking any of these ideas and running with them, knock yourselves out. Send me pictures.

(The purpose of a quiet book, for anyone still puzzled, is right there in the name: It’s a book containing a series of simple activities meant to encourage small children to shut their piehole play quietly by themselves for a few minutes. The activities usually have the added benefit of helping younger kids learn to perform simple tasks like buttoning a button or tying a shoelace.)

Help the spider finish his web – Lace a ribbon through grommets to complete a spider’s web.

Put Dracula in his coffin – Unzip the coffin and place a felt-figure vampire inside.

Help the ghost find his grave – Follow a stitched line across a graveyard.

Rewrap the mummy’s face – Weaving with ribbons.

Put the pumpkins into their patch – Attach half of a snap closure to the backs of felt pumpkins and place the other halves in a patch of leaves so the pumpkins can be snapped into place.

Turn into a werewolf – Felted glove with claws and fake fur that the child can slip their hand into.

Reassemble the skeleton – Velcro-backed pieces of a skeleton (skull, ribcage, arms and legs) which can be placed in proper order along a fixed-in-place spine.

Dress the witch – Dress-up doll with a few different dresses, hats, and stockings.

Carve a Jack-o’-lantern – Arrange felt eyes, nose, and mouth on a plain pumpkin.

What’s hiding under the bed? – Lift the flap to find simple finger puppets.

Put eyes on the Voodoo doll – Buttons attached to the page, and a felt face with buttonholes that can be buttoned in place.

Help the witch finish her brew – Cauldron with felt shapes like snakes, toads, and bats to tuck into the top.

A couple more ideas that would probably be a little too dark in practice but amuse me in theory:

Help the Aztec priest tear out his victim’s heart – Zippered chest cavity with a removable felt heart inside.

Arrange the skulls of Kali’s victims – Pile up little felt skulls at her feet.

Help the Washer at the Ford do her laundry – Tuck little bloodstained shirts into a pool of water.

Have any other ideas? Share ’em in the comments!

Posted in Bittens, Doom It Yourself | 10 Comments »

Unicorn Tears Liqueur

September 23rd, 2015 by Cobwebs

Unicorn TearsThe intarwebs were abuzz recently with the announcement of Firebox’s new Unicorn Tears Liqueur. It’s a cute gimmick: A gin-based liqueur with silver flakes suspended in it, a tear-shaped label with a unicorn design, and a product page which assures you that “Many, many unicorns were harmed in the making of this beverage.”

Unfortunately it’s $62 a bottle, and I don’t know if it’s that cute of a gimmick.

This is doubly true because silver (and gold) flakes are widely available and homemade liqueur is a snap to make. The flakes are used to prettify food and can be found at gourmet shops, stores that sell cake-decorating supplies, or at Amazon. Make sure you get actual metal flakes instead of edible “metallic glitter,” because that type may dissolve in liquid.

Homemade liqueur involves little more than infusing an ingredient(s) of your choice in a neutral spirit like vodka, then adding sugar syrup. There’s a discussion of the general method here, and if you google “homemade liqueur recipes” you’ll find zillions of different ideas: This and this are good jumping-off points. You’ll probably want to choose a recipe that results in something fairly colorless to show off the metal flakes, so coffee-based mixtures are probably out; unicorns don’t strike me as the kind of creature to have caffeine jitters anyway.

You’ll also want to choose a clear bottle to show off the pretty metallic liquid; I like bottles with swing-type lids, but if you want to wax-dip the tops for extra fanciness you’ll probably want to choose something with cork stopper more similar to this type so the wax seal will be nice and smooth.

You can buy wax meant for sealing beer and wine bottles at brewery-supply stores or online; Kings Wax and Blended Waxes have nice selections. However, a lot of home brewers use a DIY mixture of melted crayons and hot glue for a cheap, good-looking result. Bertus Brewery and Brew on a Budget have instructions for that.

For the label, you can create something appropriately unicorn-y on the computer and print it out. You could also stencil (or freehand, if you’re ambitious) the bottle using glass paint, or get really fancy and etch the bottle.

For added decoration you could twist a bit of polymer clay into a miniature unicorn horn, poke a hole in the bottom end, and tie it to the neck of the bottle with ribbon.

You can also branch out into liqueurs “made” from other mythical creatures: Do a reddish cherry liqueur mixed with gold flakes and give the Twilight fan on your gift list a bottle of Vampire Squeezin’s. Caraway-flavored Troll Tears or rose-infused Elf Sweat might be amusing as well.

For about the same price as a single bottle of the retail stuff, you could make a whole lot of pint-sized homemade versions as gifts. And it’s way easier than finding a unicorn and making it cry.

Posted in Doom It Yourself | 2 Comments »

Consider the Smallrus

September 22nd, 2015 by Cobwebs

Spider Walrus

Prepare for a trip down the rabbit hole on this one, kids.

BoingBoing recently mentioned a mobile game called “Spider: Rite of the Shrouded Moon,” in which you play as a little spider. Since some people (for some ridiculous reason) think spiders are icky instead of adorable, there’s a cheat code that lets you play as a tiny striped walrus instead.

In the comments, someone noted that this would properly be called a “Smallrus” and linked to Ursula Vernon’s drawing of said creature.

This is the rabbit-hole part.

In addition to the drawing, Vernon describes their behavior, typical call (“Inhale a good lungful of helium and yell ‘GRONK!’ and you’ve about got it”), and many other silly factoids. And she’s got an entire site full of the same kind of thing. There’s the Bog Unicorn, far nobler than the disgusting common unicorn. Throggle the demon’s stuffed Beelzebear. St. Dodus the Intolerant, who isn’t the patron saint of anything but his medal worn around the neck will warn off hugs from well-meaning strangers. There’s the Demon Rat of Vercingetorix who avenges particularly ill-treated mice, and a depiction of Where Zombie Babies Come From.

And that doesn’t even begin to cover the happy little shoggoths, Battle Hamsters of the North, potato priests, and a couple of paintings illustrating the adventures of, quote, “Happy Little Capybara in the Mayan Underworld” which litter her site. I spent a whole afternoon going through her gallery, and if you click over there you probably will too.

Her whimsy and imaginative descriptions shouldn’t be surprising; Vernon is a Hugo Award-winning author, and also accidentally spawned an internet meme when her Biting Pear of Salamanca was transformed into the LOLWUT pear.

She’s got a deviantART gallery too, so when you’re done with her site you can click over there and blow another couple of hours. She sells prints of her work quite inexpensively–I think I may have to get the tea label set for the kitchen–and occasionally does commissions (although her FAQ suggests that right now she isn’t doing many non-commercial ones).

The art is great and many of her descriptions also include interesting information about the materials and techniques she used, so clear an afternoon and go have a look. And keep an eye out for Smallri in your garden.

Posted in Needful Things, Resources | 1 Comment »

The Lost Thing

September 21st, 2015 by Cobwebs

In this thoughtful short film, a boy encounters a strange creature and tries to find it a home.

(via The Presurfer)

Posted in Whatever | No Comments »

Do Androids Dream of Electric Link Dumps?

September 18th, 2015 by Cobwebs

The Venus of Innsmouth – Great, subtle “artifact” that would be an interesting detail in an RPG.

The Problem with Vintage Magic Posters – Interesting article about collecting vintage posters which advertised magicians’ acts.

5 Horror Villains Who Aren’t as Bad as They Seem – Cracked tries to make the argument that some horror movie villains have understandable motives. Which still doesn’t make their victims any less dead.

The New Devil’s Dictionary – Bierce updated for the modern age.

Little Creations – Etsy shop specializing in Amigurumi adorableness. I love this dragon.

Dracula’s Dentures – These cookies are edging into “more trouble than they’re worth” territory, but they’d be cute for a vampire-themed party. (Hat tip to xJane)

Marauder’s Map Coffee Mug – Color-changing mug that reveals the Marauder’s Map when hot liquid is added.

Secret of Qwerty – Game designed to resemble an old-time RPG where you fight mean trees and ghosts and stuff by typing at them. You start the game at Homerow Castle.

Top 10 Medieval Butt-Licking Cats – The list you didn’t even know you needed.

Aurora Jungle-Juice – This cocktail is one color in normal light and another under black light. I believe the photo is ‘shopped, but it’d be a fun party drink anyway.

Posted in Link Dump | 2 Comments »

It’s Secret Pumpkin Time Again!

September 17th, 2015 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.

You can sign up even if you aren’t in the U.S., and if you encourage friends from the same country to participate you don’t have to worry about exorbitant shipping. My script matches people in the same country preferentially, and at the end of the signup period I’ll let you know if you’re the only one in your country so you can decide whether or not to participate.

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.

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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.

Posted in Doom It Yourself | 2 Comments »

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.

Posted in Whatever | No Comments »

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