The Art of Darkness

History of the Evil Eye

February 15th, 2008 by Cobwebs

Nazar AmuletThe Curious Expeditions blog has a cultural history of the Evil Eye, including interesting tidbits like this one:

Ronnie James Dio’s grandmother often deployed the horned hands and when Dio became the front man for Black Sabbath, he replaced Ozzy Osborne’s peace symbol with the corna or as most of us know it, the metal hand. From an Interview with Dio at

“It was symbol that I thought was reflective of what that band was supposed to be all about. It’s not the devil’s sign like we’re here with the devil. It’s an Italian thing I got from my Grandmother called the Malocchio. It’s to ward off the Evil Eye.”

So the best place to find protection from the evil eye would be a heavy metal concert. Who knew?

We have a pretty blue Nazar amulet that Shadow Jack brought back from Turkey hanging in our kitchen, and I can attest to the fact that we’ve never caught the plague nor have all our cattle died. So it’s darned effective, let me tell you.

Link (via BoingBoing)

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The Most-Kissed Face of All Time

February 14th, 2008 by Cobwebs

InconnueIf you’ve ever taken a CPR class you may have planted a kiss, by proxy, on a woman who committed suicide over 100 years ago.

In 1900, the body of an unidentified young woman, an apparent suicide, was pulled from the river Seine in Paris. Enchanted by the mysterious corpse’s beauty, a morgue worker made a plaster cast of the woman’s face. Copies of this “drowned Mona Lisa,” as Camus would later describe her, soon proliferated across Paris, appearing first in the city’s salons and finally in its literature. Nabokov wrote a poem titled “L’Inconnue de la Seinne.” Rilke mentioned her in his only novel. Man Ray photographed her. A character in Louis Aragon’s novel Aurélien tries to resurrect her.

The Inconnue (unknown woman) became an ideal of female beauty, and fashionable girls modeled their looks on her. Fifty-eight years later Peter Safar and Asmund Laerdal used the face as a model for a first-aid mannequin they were developing. The mannequin was eventually marketed as Resusci Anne, and its ubiquity in CPR courses have caused some to call it “the most kissed face” of all time.

(I like to get a little romantic on Valentine’s Day.)

Link (via Neatorama)

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Anti-Valentine Stencils

February 13th, 2008 by Cobwebs

Broken HeartThreadBanger’s Extras page has some cute (if “cute” is the right word) stencils and patterns for anti-Valentine crafts.

As a bonus, they also feature a tutorial (and video) for making boxer shorts out of a pillowcase and embellishing them with this stencil. The boxers look easy enough that there’s probably time to make them by tomorrow if you want to send your sweetie mixed messages.

Posted in Doom It Yourself | No Comments »

Cocoa Skull

February 12th, 2008 by Cobwebs

Cocoa SkullThis cocoa skull over at Skull-a-Day reminded me of how easy it is to decorate cakes with stencils. It’s a fun way to add a touch of professionalism to your baked goods.

You can buy premade stencils, or simply find a design you like and cut it out of cardboard or heavy paper. Make sure that the stencil will fit on top of the cake with at least a small margin on all sides, and remember that fiddly little details will probably all run together into a blob.

Ice your cake, wait ten minutes or so until the frosting has set, then spray the top surface of the stencil with cooking spray so your sprinkly stuff will stick to it and not fall back onto the cake when it’s lifted.

Lightly lay the stencil on top of the cake (make sure you center it), then sprinkle something with a contrasting color (e.g., cocoa powder or tinted sugar for white icing, powdered sugar for chocolate icing) evenly over the top. Be careful not to pile it up too much or you’ll get a mini-avalanche when you lift the stencil.

Slowly lift the stencil straight up, taking care to keep it level. See? Easy!

If you want to try a more intricate design, use a pinhole stencil:

  • Place the design you want to use on a piece of styrofoam or heavy cardboard.

  • Lay a piece of waxed paper over top, and use a corsage pin to punch holes about 1/4″ apart in the shape of the design.

  • Make a “puff” by cutting off the foot of a clean pair of nylon stockings, putting in some cocoa powder or powdered sugar (tinted sugar crystals are too big), and knotting the end.

  • Place the stencil on the cake and lightly whap it all over with your powder puff.

  • Carefully lift off the stencil and admire your handiwork.

Valentine’s Day is coming up, so now’s the perfect time to give your sweetie a decadent chocolate cake with a skull on top. Hey…love hurts.

Posted in Doom It Yourself, Paint It Black | No Comments »

SleeveFace Flickr Pool

February 11th, 2008 by Cobwebs

SleeveFaceThe SleeveFace group on Flickr is devoted to photos of people holding album covers over various body parts, thus creating a composite. Some of them are funny; some, like this one by user Talbot_Ridgway, are creepy as hell.


There’s a second, similar group, called LP Portraits, too.

Posted in Funny Peculiar | No Comments »

Rodent Pincushion Tutorial

February 8th, 2008 by Cobwebs

PincushionLucy at My Byrd House is celebrating the Chinese Year of the “Mouse” with a tutorial on these cute mouse pincusions.

It’s actually the Year of the Rat, but we won’t quibble. In addition to their intended use, these would be cute as a child’s toys or cubicle accessories. Make a bunch of them and reenact the climactic scene from Willard.

Link (via CRAFT)

Posted in Doom It Yourself, Paint It Black | No Comments »

Amusing Household Items

February 7th, 2008 by Cobwebs

Knife BlockThis knife block made its debut a year or so ago, but it wasn’t available outside of Italy until more recently. I’m amused to see that now there’s a similar toothpick holder, which ought to unnerve dinner guests.

In a similar vein (har!) check out this pen holder. I think I need one of these on my desk at work. The rubber iguana and the stress ball shaped like a human heart are beginning to lose their impact.

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Edible Googly Eyes

February 6th, 2008 by Cobwebs

Edible Googly EyesEvil Mad Scientist Labs is a wealth of fun and fiendish project ideas. They have a truly inspired tutorial for making edible googly eyes out of gelatin capsules. The project includes instructions for making candy Flying Spaghetti Monsters using the finished eyes.

I can see a lot of cookies getting eyeballs in the very near future.


Posted in Doom It Yourself | No Comments »

Lovely Day of the Dead Artwork

February 5th, 2008 by Cobwebs

La CatrinaI was buzzing around on we*heart*prints the other day, and came across this gorgeous print by Sylvia Ji.

This is her take on La Calavera de la Catrina, a common Mexican folk-art symbol which represents the idea that the rich and fashionable die just like everybody else. I love the soft lines of this art, and the details like the spiders hanging from her hat. The inspiration is Mexican, but she kind of puts me in mind of some of the voodoo loas.

Anyway, I’m thinking this might also be a most excellent costume for Halloween this year. I’ve been in the mood to make a big ornate hat, and the face makeup looks like a lot of fun. I might go a little more Victorian for the dress, though; I have a thing for bustles.

Here’s the link to the print on we*heart*prints; they’ve got all kinds of other moody, evocative artwork to browse through.

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February 4th, 2008 by Cobwebs


This eerie photo of four cats by Ivan Capraro really makes you wonder what they’ve got in mind. Opinion is split on whether this was Photoshopped or just a lucky shot, but either way it’s spooky as hell.

(via Museum of Hoaxes)

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