The Art of Darkness


November 2nd, 2016 by Cobwebs

Slytherin Common RoomAmbient sounds are great as background noise when you’re working on some task, and if the ambience you’re interested in is the bridge of the Enterprise or a rainy evening on 221B Baker Street, Ambient-Mixer has you covered.

The site is a community-driven project which works to provide unique audio loops without the need to download apps or software. There are lots of general ambient noise categories like crackling fireplaces and ocean waves, but there’s also a whole section called “Movies and Series” with loops titled “Riding with the Winchesters,” “Slytherin Common Room,” “Late Dinner in Winterfell,” and “Shores of Valinor.”

Many of the other categories are worth exploring: The “At Home” section, for instance, has a loop called “D&D Pub/inn” which includes sounds like clinking glasses and cutlery, footsteps on wood, and a crackling fireplace. That’s a great background piece to set the mood for a new D&D campaign. There are also “Unreal Ambiences” with titles like “Open Space Port” and “Mermaid Song” which could be similarly useful.

The site also allows you to mix tracks to your liking, and upload your own sounds to share with others. The files are all shared under a Creative Commons license, so you can use them to your heart’s content.

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Free Osteoarchaeology Course

September 12th, 2016 by Cobwebs

If you like to look at bones (and who doesn’t?), the faculty of Archaeology at Universiteit Leiden is offering a free online course on the subject.

We are pleased to announce that on the 30th of September Dr. Andrea Waters-Rist from the Faculty of Archaeology of Leiden University (The Netherlands) will be launching a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) all about human osteoarchaeology! “Osteoarchaeology: The Truth in Our Bones” provides a basic introduction to human osteoarchaeology for people with no previous experience in this scientific field.

In this free online course, learners will explore the many things that can be learned about life in the past and present by studying the human skeleton. After starting with sex, age-at-death, and stature estimation from skeletal remains, other themes including disease and trauma, diet and infant feeding, activity patterns, and mobility and migration are discussed. Students will learn how to reconstruct the lives that past peoples were living from the clues that are contained in their bones and teeth.

More information is available here.

We would be very grateful if you passed on this information to any individuals that might be interested in being introduced to the study of archaeological human skeletal remains.

(via Girls With Bones)

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Digitized Demons

June 21st, 2016 by Cobwebs

DemonThe Morgan Library in New York is exhibiting the wonderful illuminated manuscript The Hours of Catherine of Cleves, and has also digitized all of the miniatures.

This digital facsimile provides reproductions of all 157 miniatures (and facing text pages) from the Hours of Catherine of Cleves. The original one-volume prayer book had been taken apart in the nineteenth century; the leaves were shuffled and then rebound into two confusing volumes. This presentation offers the miniatures in their original, fifteenth-century sequence.

The Hours of Catherine of Cleves is the greatest Dutch illuminated manuscript in the world. Its 157 miniatures are by the gifted Master of Catherine of Cleves (active ca. 1435-60), who is named after this book. The Master of Catherine of Cleves is considered the finest and most original illuminator of the medieval northern Netherlands, and this manuscript is his masterpiece.

The images are simply chock-full of little demons (illustrating that the devil really is in the details). The scans are fairly high-resolution, and they’d be wonderful source material for all kinds of projects.

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The Dragonry

June 15th, 2016 by Cobwebs

Dragon EggsI’ve mentioned DadCanDo in the past, but since they’ve done a bit of reorganizing I wanted to call your attention to The Dragonry.

It’s a whole section of dragon-related items, like these dragon eggs made from blown eggs and hot glue, the Dragon Hunter’s Goggles which could double as an inexpensive Steampunk accessory, and loads more. The projects are fairly easy and use readily-available materials, and they’re a marvelous source of inspiration.

A “real” dragon’s egg would make a wonderful and unique gift for a child (or a Game of Thrones-obsessed adult). It appears that their example uses a chicken egg, but since it’s embellished with hot glue and then painted there’s no reason you couldn’t use a larger plastic or wooden egg instead. Add some suitable documentation as to the egg’s provenance and perhaps a pretty wooden box to keep it in, and you’d have a lovely display piece.

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Art of Mourning

June 2nd, 2016 by Cobwebs

MiniatureHayden Peters is one of the world’s foremost collectors of “mourning jewelry,” and he showcases “memorial, mourning, sentimental jewellery (sic) and art” on the wonderful Art of Mourning site. There are photos and descriptions of art, jewelry, accessories, textiles, and ephemera from many different periods and cultures. The site also has a nice resource section, including a discussion of common symbolism, a list of books on “funeralia,” and contact information for several vendors who handle such items.

This is a fantastic resource for funeral artwork and mementos mori, and it makes me wish I had the kind of disposable income that would let me collect this stuff. It’s just gorgeous.

Bonus Link: Collectors Weekly did an interview with Peters, discussing the history of mourning jewelry and how he got started collecting it.

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Labyrinth “Junk Lady” Cosplay

May 25th, 2016 by Cobwebs

Junk LadyJen and John from EPBOT are DIY-ing fools, creating amazing props and costumes from “dirt cheap” materials. When they learned that this year’s DragonCon was going to feature a Labyrinth-themed ball, they immediately started work on an appropriate cosplay costume. Rather than choosing one of the main characters, they decided to focus on the rarely-portrayed Junk Lady.

The costume isn’t done yet, but they shared a “first look” and it is awesome.

They’re striving for total screen accuracy with her junk pile, and are going all-in:

Me: “John, that toy desk-organizer with a built-in abacus on the back of her pile is barely visible even with the TV brightness set to max. Do you REALLY need to build one from scratch?

John: “…. ” [already in the garage building one from scratch]

The post has loads of build notes and some great ideas for building the costume frame, just in case you’re looking for some Halloween inspiration. This is a brilliant project and I can’t wait to see the final result.

Update: – They just did another build post, detailing some of the junk. It is awesome.

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Wonderland Expedition Kit

May 19th, 2016 by Cobwebs

Mome RathThat Lucky Girl is a fan of Alice in Wonderland, so for her birthday her boyfriend made her a “Wonderland Expedition Kit.”

In 1867 a biology professor was sent to investigate a mysterious fire at the Liddell household. This kit is full of samples and documentation from the final known trip down the rabbit hole.

Included in the kit:
-Card Guard specimen, mounted
-fetal Mome Rath
-caterpillar, preserved
-rose painted red
-raven’s feather (like a writing desk?)
-pocket watch
-looking glass
-Cheshire Cat teeth
-Cheshire Cat fur samples
-framed photo of Lewis Carroll
-various photos of Wonderland inhabitants
-Eat Me and Drink Me bottles
-vial of water from Pool of Tears
-bottled mushroom bits, one from each side
-map of nonsense occurrences in England, leading to rabbit hole
-map of Wonderland
-typed copy of “You Are Old, Father William”
-typed letter from Professor Lake, detailing his journey to England
-half-burned print of the courtroom scene (removed from the scorched remains of the Liddell house)

That’s some true devotion right there.

The entire kit is simply wonderful; I love all the thoughtful little details.

(This post was first published in August 2008; I’ll be doing a few days of “blast from the past” archive posts in a probably-vain effort to catch up with real life.)

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World Dracula Day

May 5th, 2016 by Cobwebs

World Dracula DayMay 26 is the original publication date for Dracula, and there’s a Facebook page and Twitter feed set up to celebrate the upcoming anniversary. (The website linked on the FB page just goes to a generic placeholder.) The event doesn’t seem to have gained much traction online, but last year The Vampire Historian did a special mini-sode and there were scattered mentions on history and literature sites.

There’s still time to plan a party, or at least a get-together with a few friends. There are loads of thematic recipes and party ideas–one thing the internet is not short on is vampires–and a search for “vampire dinner party” turns up suggestions from Food Network, PopSugar, AllYou, Hostess with the Mostess, and Not Quite Nigella, and that’s just the first page of results.

For something a little less involved, just invite a few friends over for a vampire movie marathon and order a pizza with extra garlic.

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Spooky Time-Wasters

April 12th, 2016 by Cobwebs

I’m having one of those hair-on-fire sorts of weeks, which means blogging is going to be a bit on the non-substantive side. Here are some scary discussion threads to keep you busy.

Fark’s Annual Scary Story Thread – They do this every year around Halloween: 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004

Ask Reddit has a bunch of scary/creepy threads. BIRDGHOST has a Creepy AskReddit Thread Masterpost of several, and there’s another big list at Rebrn. If that isn’t enough, just google “askreddit scary” or “askreddit creepy” for plenty more.

Also check out MetaFilter’s horror and chill list.

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Monster Scouts

January 19th, 2016 by Cobwebs

Monster Scouts Poster“A Crow Scout is kind, odd, honorable, spooky, thrifty, and irreverent.”

Daniel and Dawna Davis run Steam Crow, which sells “good monster goods” like T-shirts and prints. A couple of years ago they wanted to foster a community of monster-loving folks, so they created the Steam Crow Scouts:

The Steam Crow Scouts were founded in 1903 by Baron Davis, who created a Monster Scouts organization to help Youth BELIEVE, LEARN and SEE the MONSTERS that surround us.

Today, the Crow Scouts continue DISCOVER and AID MONSTERS against the oppression of vile Monsterology.


You can become a Monster Scout–they appear to use “Steam Crow Scouts,” “Crow Scouts,” and “Monster Scouts” fairly interchangeably–and mingle with like-minded monster lovers. They even have uniforms.

Members can earn achievement badges for various activities, chat with other scouts in their forum, and even go camping at the annual Shindig in Arizona.

If you’ve been looking for some way to make life a little more monstrous, this looks like an excellent way to do it. Just remember to abide by their code of conduct:

I shall hurt neither Monster or Man.
I will behave with Uncommon Sense.
I pledge to have fun with my Crow Scout friends, imaginary or not.
I shall laugh first at myself.
I will celebrate my flaws, oddities and broken nature.
I will strive to make the 2 worlds less ungood.

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