The Art of Darkness

Fun Time-Waster

October 28th, 2014 by Cobwebs

NeedlepointI was recently trying to find the original source for this embroidered wall hanging (no luck, sadly), and stumbled upon the Historic Tale Construction Kit. It is kind of awesome.

It’s apparently been around for a while; the original kit was created as a Flash application by German students Bj√∂rn Karnebogen and Gerd Jungbluth. Programmer Johannes Jander ported it to HTML/Javascript, giving it new life on more platforms. It allows you to drag a selection of images from the Bayeaux Tapestry onto a “linen” background, arrange them as desired, and add text in an appropriate font.

Mental Floss has a roundup of some of the resulting images, and there are plenty more around the web. I was amused by this and this in particular.

If you’re feeling particularly ambitious, use your custom image as a template for an actual embroidery piece. Otherwise, simply share and enjoy.

Posted in Resources | 5 Comments »

The Green Ruby Pumpkin

October 27th, 2014 by Cobwebs

This short film is intended to capture the enchantment of Halloween and was made as a “passion project” by visual effects artists Miguel Ortega and Tran Ma.

There’s also a “making of” video. You can view more of Ortega’s work at his site.

(via ShellHawk)

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Link Dumps

October 24th, 2014 by Cobwebs

Rucus Studio – Neat folk art-y Halloween (and Christmas; whatever) sculptures by artist Scott Smith. Items featuring prints of some of his work are available at Society 6. (via Old Fashion Halloween)

Vintage Halloween Cartoons – ShellHawk has put together a great playlist of old-time Halloween cartoons.

Let’s Make Halloween Pompoms – Yes, let’s. Instructions for making cute li’l ghosts, skulls, and eyeballs. These would be a great accent for a hat or sweater. You could even make a brooch or earrings out of ‘em.

“Masque of the Red Death” Musical – Wendy Pini’s adaptation of Poe’s classic story is going to be a “science fiction horror musical.” Okay then.

OppoSuits – Men’s business suits made of…um…striking fabric. There are a couple of Halloween ones, like Pumpking and Bat Guy. (via Pixel Pixie)

Halloween Claws – Simple manicure idea which gives the illusion of sharp nails.

Feeling Halloween – Dooce has a roundup of some upscale Halloween-ish items. I love the bat cocktail napkins.

What It’s Like to Run Into a Puppy-Sized Spider in the Middle of the Night – Naturalist’s description of his encounter with a giant spider. I didn’t know spiders could hiss. Neat. (Bonus link: Giant Spiders)

Werewolf Cupcakes – These take more time and effort than I, personally, put into decorating cupcakes, but they’re quite cute and the method isn’t difficult.

Phantom of the Opera Pumpkin – This definitely qualifies as “serious effort.”

Posted in Link Dump | 4 Comments »

One-Off Costume Idea

October 23rd, 2014 by Cobwebs

Estimable commenter Cookie recently sent me a link to an article about mysterious clowns terrorizing a city in California (where almost every word in the headline should probably be in sarcastic quote marks), which I found interesting mainly because:

  1. The clown uses various social media platforms to raise public awareness of his creepy lurkings.
  2. There have apparently been so many copycat clowns that the original scary clown has had a Twitter account, @RealWascoClown, to make sure that everybody knows he’s the real scary clown.

Well that’s just pathetic. Two things that monsters shouldn’t be are social media-savvy and starved for attention. I don’t know about you guys, but the thought of that creepy kid from The Ring sitting on hold with tech support to reset her Tumblr password or Michael Myers bitching that he was a masked slasher long before that Jason guy sort of removes from the moment for me.

So this scary clown gets a D+. However, Cookie followed up with a rather cool idea:

How about a slight variation on your Tuesday column? One shot suggestions for Halloween. Here’s mine; Dress as a clown BUT instead of handing out balloon animals hand out balloon Ebola viruses. I’ve looked at pictures of it and it seems like an easy thing to twist a balloon into, far easier than a dog or a bunny and lots of fun as people puzzle over what the hell it might be then watching the slow dawning of realization spread over their face. Oh. Be sure to smear on lots of red on your clown lip make up. lots.

I kind of love the idea of a blood-smeared clown handing out balloon Ebola viruses.

I also like the idea of one-shot, topical, Halloween costumes. If you’ve got an idea for a costume that riffs on current events, let us know in the comments!

(Thanks, Cookie!)

Posted in Resources | 3 Comments »

Pumpkin Fairy Garden

October 22nd, 2014 by Cobwebs

Fairy GardenWhen I first saw this I thought, “Wow, that’s a lot of effort for something that’s going to rot in two weeks.” Then I realized that it’s probably a Funkin instead of a real gourd. Duh.

In that case, it’s a great way to have a little Halloween on display year-’round. Not only could you carve the fake pumpkin with an interestingly spooky design, the interior planting could be gothed up as desired. I love the miniature pumpkins nestled into the foliage of this one (Pumpception!), but little gravestones would be cute too. The plants could be swapped out for trailing miniature ivy, one of the darker varieties of Peperomia, and other shade-tolerant varieties.

Fake pumpkins can be on the expensive side, but they’re often on clearance after Halloween so be sure to keep an eye out for them.

The creator of this garden, incidentally, appears to be a business called Cottage Home and Garden; their Halloween at the Cottage Pinterest board has a couple of other “fairy garden” plantings like this black one, and they also sell miniatures for decorating the gardens. Most of them are a little on the cutesy side, but this trellis is nice.

Searching for “fairy garden” brings up plenty of other suppliers; My Fairy Gardens has some attractive landscaping and seasonal items, and The Fairy Garden Store has a large selection of stuff. You could also look for appropriately-scaled dollhouse or model railroad miniatures as well.

Bonus link: Check out this fairy garden housed in a book (fourth photo down). Something like a row of gravestones set into a copy of Dracula would be kind of awesome.

(via Halloween Crafts)

Posted in Paint It Black | 1 Comment »

Easy Apothecary Idea

October 21st, 2014 by Cobwebs

Apothecary JarEAB Designs has a super-easy idea for Halloween decorating: Fill the bottom of a pretty apothecary jar with popcorn and nestle a vintage photo inside. If desired, decorate with a fake raven, a bit of spiderweb, or maybe a big orange-and-black ribbon bow. (The other example on her site features a photo of Poe, being gazed at adoringly by a plastic raven.) I like the clean lines of the jar; it’s an elegant, restrained decoration and has the added benefit of allowing the contents to be changed as desired. A few of these massed together would like nice; vary the fillers (candy corn in one, M&Ms in another, etc.) for more visual interest. Personal family photos such as kids dressed up for trick-or-treating would look great featured this way. If you celebrate (gasp) those other holidays, you could keep the jars up year-’round and swap in appropriately-themed fillers and photos: Peppermint candies and an old-timey picture of Santa, for example.

When I was looking for the original source of the above image, I stumbled upon a couple of other sites with good suggestions for apothecary-jar decorations: Lori’s Favorite Things has a roundup of easy ideas–I especially like the candy corn-filled jars with the “BOO” letters–and Setting for Four has a lot of natural harvest-y fillers like acorns and Spanish moss.

Big glass jars, lidded or not, are widely available at all sorts of places. Check craft stores, the home-decor section of department stores, and even pet shops (for things like goldfish bowls). Also keep an eye out at thrift shops for unusual vases or hurricane lamps with large chimneys. It’d be easy to put several together in an afternoon, and it’s a good project for kids to help with. A jar would also make a nice last-minute hostess gift, particularly if you used “good” candy that could be nommed after Halloween is over.

Posted in Bad Things | 1 Comment »

From Darkness

October 20th, 2014 by Cobwebs

Artist Nora Twomey made this neat short film based on the Inuit tale of The Skeleton Woman.

(via Spooky Moon)

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Attack the Link Dump

October 17th, 2014 by Cobwebs

DIY Spider Pumpkin – The glittery spiders would look cute on a brooch, too.

X-Ray Plates – This set of salad plates features an X-ray snake skeleton twining across them.

50 Sugar Skull Makeup Ideas – Big roundup of different designs from Skullspiration. And also there’s a whole site called Skullspiration.

Spiderweb Lanterns – Tutorial for making “lanterns” which would be great for lining a pathway at night.

Consentacle – Upcoming Kickstarter for a card game that explores consensual tentacle porn. Kotaku has a writeup.

Share Your Photos of Halloween – The U.S. Library of Congress is inviting Americans participating in holidays at the end of October and early November to photograph “hayrides, haunted houses, parades, trick-or-treating and other celebratory and commemorative activities” to contribute to a new collection documenting contemporary folklife.

Spider Cupcakes – The spider toppers are easy to pull off, since they use round chocolate candies.

Dracula Untold Told – I haven’t seen the movie, but I doubt it could live up to The Toast’s recap.

Silvery Claw Gloves – These are cute, but you could DIY the same thing with fake nails and superglue. (Update: The item is “not available” at the original link; this is what they looked like.)

Young Frankenstein Halloween Party – Some great theme ideas using inexpensive Halloween novelties and paper cutouts.

Posted in Link Dump | 4 Comments »

Cthulhu ABCs

October 16th, 2014 by Cobwebs

Dapper Deep One

I hate it when a Kickstarter campaign doesn’t heave into my purview until it’s too late to donate; I missed this one by a mile.

The Cthulhu ABCs project was fully funded (and then some) clear back in May. Artist Kennon James is creating a Lovecraft-inspired ABC book, described as “fully colored and gloriously high-detailed.” I have to agree with the high-detailed part; the “D” illustration above (click to embiggen) has a zillion little awesome details, from the argyle socks on the Deep One to the wave pattern on the drapes. I think my favorite bit is the unconcerned dog snoozing on the back of the chair.

Some of the other pages will be:

A – Ambling Around Arkham, Abel Assesses Azathoth Actions
B – Byakee Boy Band Bellows Boohoo Ballads
F – Five Fanatical Fiddlers Flaunt Fabulous Felt Fezzes
R – Rats Rattle Relentlessly

James has set himself a goal of 18 months to have the book completed and shipped, so it’ll go out to backers around December of 2015. I do hope it will eventually be available to people who didn’t back the Kickstarter because I plan to make it my standard baby shower gift.

(Hat tip to pdq)

Posted in Needful Things | 1 Comment »

This Year’s Costumes

October 15th, 2014 by Cobwebs

Egyptian DuoIt’s time for the annual costume recap! Every year I spend entirely too much time making costumes for Shadowboy and a friend’s niece, then have professional photos taken. Sometimes I’m lucky and can talk them into matching costumes–like when they were a vampire and a bat–and this year after she decided she wanted to be Cleopatra I was happily able to talk him into being King Tut (showing him this may or may not have had anything to do with it).

I was thrilled because: 1) Yay, no street clothes! and 2) Lots of room for embellishment. Here are the results: Pharaoh 1, Pharaoh 2, Cleopatra, Cleopatra 2, Duo, Duo 2

For years now, one of Butterick’s staple costume patterns was a child’s “Egyptian princess,” and in keeping with my normal luck where the Gods of Crafting are concerned, the year that I finally needed it it was discontinued. Fortunately my habit of buying likely-looking patterns whenever the local fabric stores have 99-cent sales came to my rescue; after digging through my entire stash I found a copy of the pattern which I’d purchased years ago. It’s Butterick 3586, but if you can’t find one from a discontinued-pattern reseller the dress is just a simple sheath and could be adapted from any number of other commercial patterns. The only change I made was to shorten it and make the hem rounded instead of straight.

The decorative collars and the boy’s overskirt are from the same pattern, but they would also be pretty straightforward to make freehand. The gems on the collars are self-adhesive jewels from Oriental Trading. (The adhesive works surprisingly well, so be sure the gems are right where you want them before sticking them down. When I tried to pull a misaligned one back up, it took the gold top layer of the fabric with it.)

The girl’s belt was made freehand from a piece of brocade; it’s fastened with velcro underneath the front flap.

The boy’s tunic was Simplicity 4213, shortened and with a cutout in the front of the skirt. The boy’s headdress is another discontinued pattern, Butterick 4313. I first tried it freehand but couldn’t seem to get the proportions right, so I broke down and bought the pattern from an Etsy seller.

The girl’s headdress is hand-beaded because I am clinically insane. I followed the general guidelines found here, but I don’t have a styrofoam dummy head so I just laid everything out on a flat work surface and tied it that way (I also used monofilament beading thread instead of the waxed thread mentioned in the instructions.)

The girl’s staff is a wooden dowel spray-painted gold, topped with a cobra head finger puppet which was spray-painted and then embellished with beads: The plastic was soft enough to just push a needle through the base and tie off the thread on the inside.

The boy’s crook and flail were made from a wooden cane, cut in half and painted. The flail’s head is a couple of pieces of PVC plumbing pipe stuck together and spray-painted; I strung some beads on monofilament and fastened them inside of the pipe with duct tape.

The boy’s belt and sandals were lucky thrift-store finds, and the girl’s sandals were purchased at a costume shop.

My friend did her niece’s makeup–in her words, “Thank heaven for Pinterest”–and also put a little Egyptian-style eyeliner on Shadowboy. It didn’t all come off with makeup remover, so he looked like Robert Smith for the rest of the afternoon; I considered that sort of a bonus.

Shadowboy’s portrait will be framed appropriately and added to my Big Wall o’ Costumes, and now it’s time to start planning for next year.

Posted in Whatever | 5 Comments »

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