The Art of Darkness

Rose Beads

April 16th, 2008 by Cobwebs

Rose Beads (Photo from Mother Earth News)Spring is finally here, which means roses will soon be in bloom. I have a selection of antique roses–dog rose, apothecary’s rose, and a couple of others–which are vastly superior to modern hybrid roses in terms of fragrance. They do have one quirk, however, in that all the roses on the entire plant bloom more or less simultaneously and then drop their petals with a single mighty Fwoomp. If you find yourself similarly possessed of a windfall of rose petals–or if you don’t mind harvesting and dismantling a lot of hybrid roses–rose beads are an intriguing and unusual way to use them.

The general idea is to turn the petals into a sort of dough via a combination of chopping and gentle heat, then roll them into beads and dry them. The amount of petals you need depends upon the number and size of beads you want to make, but bear in mind that the finished beads shrink by more than half, so get more petals than you think you’ll need.

The more fragrant the roses, the longer the beads’ scent will last. Dark red petals will result in wine-colored beads; other petals will give you brown or black beads, so plan accordingly. (Note: Be careful not to use roses that have been sprayed with chemicals or which have had a systemic pesticide applied. “Toxic” may be a goth watchword, but not when smeared on one’s skin.)

You will need:

  • At least 4 cups clean rose petals
  • Food processor, blender, or spice mill
  • Cast-iron pot
  • Fine sieve or several thicknesses of cheesecloth
  • Rosewater or rose essential oil (optional)
  • Powdered cinnamon, cloves, and/or nutmeg (optional)
  • Darning needle or coat hanger

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Posted in Doom It Yourself, Paint It Black | 5 Comments »

Hobbit Socks

April 15th, 2008 by Cobwebs

Hobbit Socks

Flickr user SueJG knitted these fantastic Hobbit socks, combining a design called “Smaug’s Treasure” with self-charted runes from the cover of the classic hardback version of The Hobbit.

I really like the way the colors play off each other. Seems a shame to put something like this inside your shoes.

Link (via BoingBoing)

Posted in Doom It Yourself, Paint It Black | 1 Comment »

Skull Truffles

April 14th, 2008 by Cobwebs

Skull TruffleValerie Confections offers something they call the Mori ex Cacao Collection: Bittersweet chocolate skulls with a truffle center. For $25 apiece. Whuf. Unless these things weigh 11 pounds each, I’m thinking they’re a tad overpriced.*

Fortunately, truffles are ridiculously simple to make and snuggling them into a skull-shaped candy shell isn’t much harder. With a bit of time and patience you can turn out this unique edible for a fraction of the cost.

You’ll need to start with a 3D skull candy mold, such as this one. A mold used for Mexican sugar skulls might also work, although they tend to be a bit larger than what you might want for a chocolate item.

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Posted in Doom It Yourself, Paint It Black, Terror in the Aisle | 1 Comment »

Go Ask Alice

April 11th, 2008 by Cobwebs

Shadow Jack really is the right guy for me. He came home from work the other day and asked me how my day was. I told him I’d noticed another death reference in Alice in Wonderland. In retrospect, this is probably not the sort of information with which most wives greet their husbands, but he took it with complete equanimity. Indeed, he didn’t even seem surprised.

Alice is full of such references, although I can’t say whether your spouse will be as supportive of you finding them. Lewis Carroll had a rather morbid sense of humor, and quite a lot of his narrative can be read with a double meaning. When Alice is falling down the rabbit hole, for instance, she thinks to herself that when she gets back home she’ll be unafraid of falling, and says, “I wouldn’t say anything, even if I fell off the top of the house,” to which the narrator adds, “which was very likely true.” (In other words, you can’t say anything when you’re dead.)

The one I found the other day was in Through the Looking Glass, and involves this exchange with Humpty-Dumpty:

“Seven years and six months!” Humpty Dumpty repeated thoughtfully. “An uncomfortable sort of age. Now if you’d asked MY advice, I’d have said “Leave off at seven”–but it’s too late now.”

“I never ask advice about growing,” Alice said indignantly.

“Too proud?” the other inquired.

Alice felt even more indignant at this suggestion. “I mean,” she said, “that one can’t help growing older.”

“ONE can’t, perhaps,” said Humpty Dumpty, “but TWO can. With proper assistance, you might have left off at seven.”

Isn’t that sweet?

Next time you re-read the Alice books (and who amongst us doesn’t?) keep an eye out for the murderous subtext. Throws a whole new light on things.

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Unique Place Cards

April 10th, 2008 by Cobwebs

Playmobil FiguresThis is inspired by an idea from Zakka Life, with a slightly darker twist.

These little figurines are Playmobil toys, which I simply love. All of the Playmobil line is wonderfully imaginative and detailed, and surprisingly inexpensive. They’re also the perfect size to make unique place cards which double as favors. Get one for each guest, print names on stiff paper or cardstock, and give one to each creature to hold. They’re great for dinner or Halloween parties, and would also make cute wedding favors.

The two little guys seen here are a skeleton filched from Shadowboy’s Treasure Island set, and a Scary Ghost that sits on my desk and makes co-workers nervous. There are tons of other options available, including a Castle Ghost, Ghost Pirate, Mummy Case with Skeleton, not to mention Vikings and Pirates and Fairies and if their next playset involves zombies it would not surprise me in the least. Playmobil also makes a few figures that are only available around Halloween, including vampires and witches, so you might want to stock up.

Fun, cheap, and easy. Three things I look for in a project.

Posted in Paint It Black, Terror in the Aisle | No Comments »

Daydream/Nightmare Cross Stitch

April 9th, 2008 by Cobwebs

Day and Night

Crafter ajmaley recently discovered the existence of glow-in-the-dark embroidery thread, and used this newfound knowledge to create a throw pillow that looks decidedly different in the dark than it does when the lights are on.

I am blown away by the brilliance of this idea.

Link (via CRAFT)

Posted in Doom It Yourself, Paint It Black | 7 Comments »

Easy Skull Decor

April 8th, 2008 by Cobwebs

Skull BoxIf you’re looking for a quick way to add a few skulls to your decorating scheme, you need look no further than Indonesia. Skulls are an important decorative motif in the Balinese culture, and items with carved or painted skulls are readily available in import stores.

Most Indonesian skull representations have a sort of funky folk-art vibe, so they’d fit well with casual furnishings. For a more formal decorating scheme, choose one or two interesting pieces and display them as objets d’art.

Here are some online sources to get you started:

Bali Handcrafts – Wooden wall decor and small items such as wastebaskets. Surprisingly inexpensive.

Balibo – This place appears to be wholesale-only, so you may need to either find a retailer that carries their stuff or club together with a couple of friends. They have some neat pieces, so it might be worth the extra trouble.

Maskarade – Several skull mirrors about halfway down the page.

Tribal Asia – Carved skulls, plus some other interesting decorative items like demon masks.

Asian Tribal Artifacts – These guys sell real human skulls. No prices are given online, so I expect you’d have to be a very rich goth indeed to have one of these in your collection.

Posted in Bad Things | 1 Comment »

Spider Cakes

April 7th, 2008 by Cobwebs

Spider CakeNot Martha creates all manner of wonderful things, and then posts instructions showing you how to do the same. Her individual spider cakes are particularly inspired, with a lot of mix-and-match options that you can adjust to your skill level. There are instructions for making articulated legs out of Pocky (which look fabulous) and for filling the cakes with whipped-cream-and-raspberry guts. If you’re pressed for time, there are simpler versions involving store-bought cupcakes and piped icing.

I’m particularly taken with the one covered with googly eyes.

Link (via CRAFT)

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Ghost Lamp

April 4th, 2008 by Cobwebs

Saddest Ghost LampI keep running across references to this lamp based on Marcel Dzama’s Saddest Ghost painting (I’d have to say “loosely based”). Everyone coos how perfect it would be for a child’s room and how inexpensive it is. Perfect it may be, but they are apparently using a very different scale for “inexpensive” than the one used here at Shadow Manor because the cheapest I’ve found it is $150. I don’t plan to give Shadowboy décor worth $150 until two years after his shoe size stops changing.

For something a little cheaper, try the Mathmos Ghost, a softly-glowing lamp that “morphs” through several colors ($50), or the adorable Spöka from Ikea ($14.99).

You can also get crafty and paint or decoupage a regular lampshade with ghostly images, either for your baby bat’s room or as a decorative table lamp anywhere.

Posted in Bad Things, Bittens | 2 Comments »

I See an Anatomically-Incorrect Man in Your Future…

April 3rd, 2008 by Cobwebs

JusticeMichelle of The Little Review has…well, something. “Too much time on her hands” and “An unhealthy interest in Barbie dolls” are two things that spring, ineluctably, to mind. But “relentlessness” must also be added to the list, because she’s managed to dig up enough Barbie images to populate an entire tarot deck.

The Barbie Tarot replaces the suit of Swords with Hats and Pentacles with Purses, and the minor arcana use Princes and Princesses instead of Knights and Pages. Also it’s bubblegum pink. Each card identifies the doll used and describes why it was selected.

11   Justice   Wonder Woman from Barbie Loves Pop Culture
The traditional image for Justice is a blindfolded woman holding the scales, balancing fairness and virtue against a lack of consideration and rigidity. The Amazon superheroine must balance her disguise as an ordinary woman with her use of the Lasso of Truth and indestructible bracelets to bring criminals to justice and help the downtrodden.


Link (via The Presurfer)

Posted in Funny Peculiar | No Comments »

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