The Art of Darkness

I Walked with a Link Dump

May 1st, 2015 by Cobwebs

A Natural History of Dragons – The first in a series of “Memoirs by Lady Trent,” a sort of Victorian travelogue mockumentary, except with dragons. The sequels are The Tropic of Serpents and Voyage of the Basilisk.

Sailor Moon Tarot – This set of the Major Arcana is really well done.

Crab Centipede – This shellfish arrangement would be the BEST centerpiece for a Halloween party. (Hat tip to Pixel Pixie)

Night Terrors – Indiegogo campaign for an augmented reality horror game that uses your phone to make the action seem to be happening in your own house.

Gardens with a Magickal Theme – Suggestions for witchy plantings.

Spiders vs. the Sun – From Randall Munroe’s “What If?” series. Favorite footnote: “Spiders are quantized.”

9 Terrifying Old Movies That Put Modern Horror To Shame – A roundup (on Cracked, so be prepared to get lost in a thicket of links and waste several hours). The Man Who Laughs really is creepy as hell.

Finelineworkshop – Etsy shop full of gorgeous leatherwork creations, including some of the most adorably “monstrous” storage boxes you’ll ever see. Bored Panda has a roundup of those.

Feelers – Animated typeface meant to resemble wiggly tentacles. I like the still version, but think that the animation would have to be slowed way down to be readable.

Frock Flicks – A costume movie review podcast. “Because stretch velvet isn’t historically accurate.”

Posted in Link Dump | 5 Comments »

Las Muertas

April 30th, 2015 by Cobwebs

SpringWow. Wowwowwow.

Last October, photographer Tim Tadder was inspired by artist Krisztianna’s Dia de los Muertos sculptures and decided to do a photo series of the four seasons represented by calaveras. Krisztianna painted the models’ faces and created their headdresses, and stylist Julia Reeser did their costumes. The setting for the shoot was “a stormy day over the recently wild fire scorched earth. The combination of color, destruction and foreboding storm makes a truly surreal tribute to the traditions of the Dia De Los Muertos holiday.”

The result was Las Muertas, and they are just stunningly beautiful. They’re also a phenomenal cosplay resource; although they look really intricate, similar could be assembled from carefully-chosen thrift store finds and silk flowers. I think it’s the combination of colors that make these so striking; the clothing and face paint beautifully match the seasons they represent.

It’d be fun to do a group cosplay with all of the seasons, or choose a favorite season–I vote for autumn–and make a matching couples costume.

(via Laughing Squid)

Posted in Paint It Black | No Comments »

#quickmyths

April 29th, 2015 by Cobwebs

Cory O’Brien, who writes the marvelous Myths RETOLD, took to Twitter with a series of “quick myths.” Behold:

CINDERELLA: Some girl crashes a bunch of parties and then gets married. #quickmyths

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST: Girl falls in love with prince and they get married. This would not be a story except dude is ugly. #quickmyths

THE FROG PRINCE: Princess murders sassy talking frog, is rewarded with marriage. #quickmyths

EVERY FAIRYTALE: Something something something marriage. #quickmyths

PERSEPHONE IN HADES: Girl is kidnapped. Mother gets to share custody with kidnapper because of fruit. #quickmyths

APOLLO AND DAPHNE: Man sees woman. Man gets wood. Woman becomes wood. #quickmyths

THE THREE LITTLE PIGS: Three homeowners are audited for unsafe building practices. Two are eaten. #quickmyths

SNOW WHITE: Dumb girl chokes on apple, marries first guy who knows the Heimlich maneuver. #quickmyths (thanks @shannamann)

HERCULES: Dude punches every animal in the world, then dies of a wardrobe malfunction. #quickmyths

THE ODYSSEY: Dude bangs half the Mediterranean, kills the other half, then goes home to his wife. Best. Road trip. Ever. #quickmyths

THESEUS AND THE MINOTAUR: Dude uses a sword and a ball of twine to kill the last surviving member of an endangered species. #quickmyths

KING MIDAS: Dude gains the ability to transmute matter into gold. Conspicuously fails to become a supervillain. #quickmyths

These definitely cut right to the heart of the myth.

There are plenty more that he didn’t cover:

MEDUSA: Priestess forsakes her vows, is punished with a really bad hairdo.

JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS: A bunch of men never stop to ask for directions.

CRONUS: Dude can’t tell the difference between a baby and a rock, winds up in a very deep hole.

Got any others? Share ’em in the comments!

Posted in Funny Peculiar | 7 Comments »

A Monster to Love

April 28th, 2015 by Cobwebs

Plush MonsterA Monster to Love is an online shop with a really great deal: For every one of their cute, huggable monsters you buy, they’ll donate one to a kid in need.

Whenever you buy a monster from A Monster to Love, we give a monster to a child who could really use a monster to love. Sometimes they are children that cannot afford a monster or a child who is in the hospital and could use a friend to hang out and snuggle with.

Their “Monster Drops” partner with children’s hospitals, shelters, and the World Relief Refugee program to bring a little monstery friendship to children who need it. Best of all, they’ve made a free pattern for their monsters available on Craftsy. You can make your own monsters to give to local kids in need, or send them to their Monster HQ in Colorado to be donated.

Geek Crafts has some great suggestions for organizing a Monster Making Party to turn out a whole heap of cuddly monsters. You can hang out with friends and make the world a slightly less-scary place at the same time.

So, buy a monster from their store–I’m partial to the crazy-eyed joie de vivre of Henry and Theo–and they’ll make a matching donation. Or make monsters of your own to give away to local kids (I’m sure they wouldn’t mind if you kept one for yourself). Either way, it’s a worthy cause. The monsters all approve.

Posted in Bittens | 1 Comment »

Spook

April 27th, 2015 by Cobwebs

In this cute animated short by the Vancouver Film School, a little ghost girl finds a teddy bear.

(Hat tip to Devries)

Posted in Funny Peculiar | 2 Comments »

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Link Dump

April 24th, 2015 by Cobwebs

40 Mysterious Victorian Tattoos – I’m not sure how these qualify as “mysterious;” to me, a mysterious tattoo is one you wake up with and don’t remember getting. Whatever; a couple of the photorealistic ones are quite lovely.

Pets – Photographer Bettina G├╝ber takes photos of toy animals in situations that make them seem alive and mischievous. Who wouldn’t want a teensy elephant stomping around the house? There’s also a second series, More Pets.

To Fall Out of Love, Do This – Questions to decrease intimacy.

tcustom – Very cool keychains, pendants, and other items featuring intricately-carved anatomy, paleontology, wildlife, and even viruses.

Modern Curses – Gemma Correll has some excellent updates for the modern era.

Criminal Crafts – Amusing DIY book with projects like carving a gun out of a bar of soap.

Lithium (Smooth Jazz Version) – An a capella cover of the Nirvana song.

Chocolate Megalodon Teeth – Cast from a real fossil tooth, available in milk, dark and white chocolate.

Hedgehog Rolls – Instead of hedgehogs, these could be any little spiky monster of your choosing; you could also use commercial frozen dinner rolls if you don’t feel like making your own.

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal – This made me giggle.

Posted in Link Dump | 2 Comments »

X-Ray Lampshades

April 23rd, 2015 by Cobwebs

X-Ray LampshadeOooh, what a neat idea.

Spike Vain, a veterinary tech in LA, uses X-rays of some of her patients to make awesomely creepy lampshades. You can see more photos of her work here. (She also has an Etsy shop where she has a few X-ray bookmarks for sale, but doesn’t appear to sell the lamps there.)

I figured that you’d have to ask your local vet (or hospital) about purchasing discarded X-rays, but it turns out you can buy them online. A couple of sites, like Buy X-Rays and Buy X-Rays Online specialize in them, but you can even find a few at Amazon: Human | Animal.

After that, all you need is a suitable lampshade. DIY lampshade kits are available at craft suppliers, but you could also just pick up a cheap lamp from a thrift store and re-use its shade. Be sure to choose a shade with a sturdy frame that’s attractive enough to display, since the X-rays are suspended from ties instead of being glued on top.

From the photos, it appears that Spike cuts the X-rays to shape, covers the edges with some sort of binding (possibly fabric tape?), then inserts grommets into each corner. Ribbon (or in some cases, possibly wire; it’s hard to tell from the photos) is threaded through the holes and used to tie each panel in place on the frame.

The result is really striking. The lamps would be a perfect decorative accessory for Halloween, but they’re certainly attractive enough to use year-’round. They’d also make an interesting gift for a physician, dentist, or anyone else who works with bones.

(via WitchArachne)

Posted in Bad Things | 4 Comments »

Dark Fruitcake

April 22nd, 2015 by Cobwebs

I had to write down this recipe for a friend recently and decided that fruitcake is sufficiently Victorian that it could be shared here as well. I could lie and say that I’m posting it in April as a treat for my Antipodean friends heading into fall, but to be honest I just don’t want it knocking around in my Drafts folder until October.

Frankly, if you make the alcoholic version it’ll keep until next Christmas anyway.

Unlike the sad technicolor bricks that get called “fruitcake” by people pretending it isn’t a last-minute gift that they bought on the way to your house, this cake is rich, dense, moist, and bursting with flavor. It’s also a perfect way to use up dried fruit left over from other baking projects. I toss the dried cherries left over from these cookies, the dried figs that were part of a chocolate fondue, the dates from sticky toffee pudding, and all of the half-packages of raisins that seem to accumulate out of nowhere into the freezer until holiday baking time rolls around. Grocery stores also sell chopped candied citrus peel and/or “fruitcake mix” with radioactive cherries around Christmas; I frequently wait until after the holidays and buy it on clearance, then freeze it too; it’ll last practically forever. Then I gather up all of my dried fruit and divide it between these cookies and the fruitcake below. (As a bonus, knowing that you’ve got an eventual use for leftover dried fruit means that you’re more likely to try interesting-sounding recipes that use it.)

This makes one large fruitcake, serving 8-16 (it’s pretty rich, so closer to 16)

1/2 C butter, softened
1 C dark brown sugar, firmly packed
2 large eggs
1/2 C molasses
2 C + 2 T all-purpose flour, divided
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp mace
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 C milk
4 C mixed dried fruit (I like to go heavy on the raisins and currants and include at least a little candied citrus peel)
1 C chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts are nice)

Preheat oven to 325F. Butter and flour a 10″ springform pan and line the bottom with a round of parchment paper.

In a small bowl combine 2 C flour, baking soda, salt, and spices. Set aside.

Cream the butter in a mixer on medium speed until light, then add the brown sugar and cream again until fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time, then stir in molasses. Add flour mixture and stir until almost combined, then add the milk and stir until combined.

Toss the fruit and nuts with the remaining 2 T of flour until coated, and fold into the batter until well mixed. Pour batter into springform pan and bake 60 – 75 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool on a rack, then run a knife around the edges of the pan and pop the sides. When completely cool, peel the parchment paper off the bottom and store airtight for up to a week.

Optionally, you can “feed” the fruitcake with liquor: Once cool, wrap it in a couple of layers of cheesecloth. Sprinkle about 2 T of rum or brandy over the top of the fruitcake, then wrap tightly in foil and store in a cool place. Every few days, unwrap the foil, sprinkle another couple of T of alcohol on the other side of the cake (so if you sprinkled the top last time, turn it over and sprinkle the bottom) and then re-wrap. Repeat for at least a week, or until the cake is sitting in a corner, hiccupping and talking emotionally to the toaster. When doing the liquored-up version, I like to make the cake at least a month in advance; once well-soaked it’ll last practically forever.

Also optionally, although it makes for a tasty and festive presentation: Get a 7-oz tube of marzipan and a 24-oz package of fondant (both in the baking aisle of grocery stores or available at Amazon). Roll out the marzipan into a circle large enough to fit the top of the cake and place on top, then roll out the fondant into a circle large enough to cover the cake; tuck any ragged edges underneath.

For bonus points, you can make your own marzipan and/or fondant (either the “real” way or the marshmallow version).

A little slice of this eaten with coffee is a revelation.

Posted in Resources | 2 Comments »

Fun with Neckties

April 21st, 2015 by Cobwebs

Necktie ScarfWay back in the Cretaceous Era 80s, when I was a young lass with much more time than money, I saw a clothing store window display featuring vests with neckties appliqued to the front; the ties were cut in half and stitched at an angle, with the wide front* on one side and the skinnier end on the other, so they gave the illusion of wrapping around the whole vest. I thought, “Heck, I could do that,” so I went to the thrift store and got a secondhand vest and a bunch of interesting neckties and did. For way, way less money than the originals cost. I’ve made several of them since; they’re an attractive gift that can be made in an afternoon, and it’s fun to match the necktie patterns to the recipients’ tastes. To make one, simply cut the ties in half at an angle, remove the weird core fabric that’s used for stiffening, and slipstitch the tie halves to the front of the vest; turn the raw ends under at the seam where the vest fronts meet the vest back (or if you’re feeling really ambitious, pull out the stitching there, tuck the raw ends inside, and re-stitch).

I was reminded of the vests recently when I saw this tutorial for a corset belt made of old neckties. Ties are a great crafting resource: They’re usually made of nice, silky material (sometimes actually silk), they come in every color and pattern imaginable, and they’re available dirt cheap at thrift stores. It’s easy to find secondhand ties in gothy colors, but if you want something special just google “Halloween neckties” to find retailers: Tie Guys, Ties.com, Absolute Ties, and Zazzle have lots to choose from.

There are a zillion different projects which use repurposed neckties. In addition to the lace-edged scarf in the photo above (which Pinterest credited to Etsy shop Creative Restorations, although they don’t carry it now), you can make handbags, roses, quilts, skirts, and even a decoupaged mirror. You can make necktie snakes and pretty pumpkins. Decorate with necktie throw pillows, lampshades, and wreaths. If none of those appeal, google “necktie crafts” to find a plethora of other ideas.

These projects are also a wonderful way to create mementos from ties with special meaning: The necktie your husband wore on your first date, or the favorite tie of a deceased relative.

Bonus: By dint of their source material necktie crafts involve relatively small pieces of fabric, so the same design ideas can also be used for other scrap fabric you might have on hand. Projects like the corset belt and stripey pumpkins would be a great way to use scrap Halloween fabric.


*Not that any tie was particularly wide in the 80s. We had skinny neckties and pastel men’s shirts and we liked it that way. Now get off my lawn.

Posted in Paint It Black | 3 Comments »

Alone Time

April 20th, 2015 by Cobwebs

This short thriller by Rod Blackhurst has done nothing to encourage me to go camping any time soon.

ALONE TIME from Rod Blackhurst on Vimeo.

Posted in Whatever | 1 Comment »

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