The Art of Darkness

Happy Halloween!

October 31st, 2011 by Cobwebs

We all have a point around which the year ebbs and flows, and Halloween is mine. Between planning and sewing costumes, decorating, making crafts, arranging visits to the pumpkin patch, trick-or-treating, and celebrating my wedding anniversary, the tide of the year always seems to be either leading up to or leading away from October 31. When the Big Day finally arrives, it hardly seems real.

I hope that all of you ghostly sorts have an utterly splendid holiday. And tomorrow, we start planning for next year.

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A Link Dump by Any Other Name

October 28th, 2011 by Cobwebs

Rachael Rossman – Artist who does commission watercolor portraits, including some nice Day of the Dead-themed stuff.

Brain Cakes – These jarred cakes with squiggly-icing “brains” are wonderfully revolting. (I’d be tempted to put labels on them like, “Hans Delbruck” and “Abby Normal.”)

Abandoned Crypts – Urban exploration of abandoned cemetery crypts in Belgium.

Monsters in the Movies – Great history of movie monsters written by John Landis.

Cakeland – Artist Scott Hove creates “cakes” and other desserts featuring fangs and disembodied limbs. Yum!

Ossuary Dice – Set of neat 3-D printed dice shaped like piles of skulls. I have no idea how accurate they are as dice, but they look great.

Growing-up for Goths – Interesting article on why goths tend not to leave the culture as we get older. (Hat tip to WitchArachne)

Polly Tights – I like these cute “weeping” tights, but think they’d be pretty easy to re-create with a bit of fabric paint for quite a bit less than £38/$60.

Getting in the Halloween Spirit – I think this is a brilliant idea.

Sparkly Tattoo Tutorial – Easy instructions for making a temporary tattoo from any image you like.

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This Makes Me Happy

October 27th, 2011 by Cobwebs

That is all.

(via The Bloggess)

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Seen Online

October 26th, 2011 by Cobwebs

You’ve never had fun until you’ve jerked around and screamed, “It’s got me! It’s got me!” while checking your blood pressure at Wal-Mart.

If I had three wishes, I’d first wish that my dog pooped candy corn. The other two wishes would be kind of irrelevant after that.

If aliens invade earth, I hope they’re Bacon people. Because then I could totally save humankind.

Anything related to Halloween doesn’t scare me. What scares me is when I flush someone else’s toilet and the water keeps rising.

Disney’s greatest crime is convincing people that Dalmatians shouldn’t be turned into coats.

BORED? Smile, nod and rub hands together as you enter an elevator. Shout, “THIS IS IT!” Don’t turn around to face the door. Not illegal.

My son says he has trouble sleeping through the night for no good reason. So I bought him an evil clown doll.

In a perfect world a “Party Pooper” would be someone who could shoot confetti out of their butt.

Me: I’m excellent at my job. You’re lucky to have me. Boss: Why are you waving your hand? Me: These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.

Imagine a child, playing with chicken bones after the family meal, absorbed in his task. The pattern made by the neatly laid-out bones looks a bit familiar, but you can’t place it. So you ask, “What’s that you’re making there?”

The child looks at you and says, in a calm, quiet voice, “It’s me.”

Speaking for myself, at that point I go online and check to see if Amazon delivers exorcisms.
Underwire, on the Kraken thing

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Chicken Wire “Ghosts”

October 25th, 2011 by Cobwebs

Ghost Dresses

Once again, Pinterest and its “no attribution for you!” tendencies are thwarting me. I ran across these ghostly dresses and this splendid ghostly figure, and whilst I assume they’re the work of the same person I can’t guarantee it.

Fortunately, the latter photo not only had an attribution, it actually pointed to a tutorial that describes how to make a chicken-wire ghost of your very own.

I love how ethereal these look. They’d be splendid tucked into a dark corner of the yard on Halloween, or simply placed in a garden as a year-round decoration. Chicken wire is cheap, so it’d be easy to create a whole menagerie of ghostly figures to keep you company.

Posted in Unhallowed Ground | 7 Comments »

Hell Cross Buns

October 24th, 2011 by Cobwebs

Hell Cross BunHell Pizza in New Zealand has a reputation for being somewhat…irreverent…in their advertising. Last spring they had a promotion for “Hell Cross Buns,” with the image at left, as part of their Easter campaign.

It struck me at the time that the cute little pentacle buns would be fun to do at home, but since my first effort didn’t turn out properly (because I am stupid; see below), and I haven’t gotten around to a second attempt, and I’m really sick of looking at this thing in my drafts folder, I’m just going to toss it out here and let you guys run with it.

My problem was with the pentacle. From a quick glance at the ad photo, I assumed that the design was slashed into the top of the risen dough with a bread lame. However, hot cross bun dough doesn’t score cleanly, and the results could euphemistically be called “lopsided.”

Now that I’m looking at the picture again, though, I’m thinking that the design was just drawn on with flour paste, which is how the cross on traditional buns are made. Way to outsmart myself.

Anyway, hot cross buns are a good introduction to bread-baking because the dough is easy to handle and is pretty forgiving (if you don’t like the recipe linked above, The Google has plenty more). The pentacles can be drawn on with flour paste before baking or with icing after they cool.

If you like the idea of an incised design, try using a dough that slashes more cleanly (such as sourdough) and make one large loaf instead of messing around with a zillion little buns.

Either way, these would be a fun addition to a Halloween party spread, or just to slip in the breadbasket to mess with the in-laws.

Posted in Doom It Yourself | 3 Comments »

An Officer and a Link Dump

October 21st, 2011 by Cobwebs

The H.P. Lovefest – Defective Yeti is posting Lovecraftian tidbits throughout the month of October.

Eye Popping – Tutorial for making ridiculously cute eyeball cake pops, plus a version decorated with teensy spiders.

Felt Halloween Ornaments – Free patterns for three simple and squee-worthy felt ornaments. These would look cute on a “Halloween tree,” or made into a baby’s mobile. You could also enlarge the patterns and make trick-or-treat bags.

Hide – Low-res, simple game that somehow manages to be pretty creepy.

Magical Color Changing Drinks – Brilliantly simple idea for a kid’s party.

Femme Fatales – Sleek art deco-ish series of famous monsters depicted as flappers.

Welcome Home Inigo – Blogger Aunt Peaches commissioned a rather splendid Inigo-Montoya-on-black-velvet portrait from Bruce White of Velvet Geek. Because what isn’t improved by Inigo Montoya on black velvet? Nothing, that’s what.

The Screensaver – Hahahahahahaha.

The Immersion Book of Steampunk – Anthology of short steampunky stories.

Three from Hostess with the Mostess:
Deathly Hallows Dinner Party – Spectacular dinner party idea with lots of detailed photos.
All Hallows Eve Dinner – Creepily elegant dinner party theme. I especially love the candy-filled apothecary jars.
Spellbound Sweets – Lots of printable labels, plus some lovely decorating ideas: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

Posted in Link Dump | 3 Comments »

Homemade Halloween Marshmallows

October 20th, 2011 by Cobwebs

MarshmallowMarshmallows are one of those candies that seem like they’d be much harder to make than they really are. Chocolate-dipping anything increases its Fanciness Quotient exponentially. Therefore, chocolate-dipped homemade marshmallows belong to that splendid pantheon of projects that look like they took much more time and effort than they actually did. My favorite!

Even better, all you have to do is drop in a little food coloring and they’re suddenly all gussied up for Halloween.


2 T plus 2-1/2 tsp unflavored gelatin (about 3-1/2 envelopes)
1 C cold water, divided
2 C granulated sugar
1/2 C light corn syrup
1/4 tsp salt
2 large egg whites*
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract or about 2 tsp flavored extract such as mint, orange, etc. (choose something that pairs well with chocolate)
Paste (preferable) or gel food coloring. (Using liquid coloring for anything but the lightest tint will add too much liquid to the mixture and the marshmallows won’t be as poofy.) I used orange, but green, red, or black are other possibilities.

8 oz semisweet or bittersweet chocolate

Edible decorations: Candy corn, chopped nuts, crushed butterscotch candies, shredded coconut (shake with a little food coloring to tint), cake sprinkles, etc.

*The original recipe at Gourmet suggests using reconstituted powdered whites if you’re really concerned about food safety, but I think the whites are heated enough by the sugar syrup that this probably isn’t necessary.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Doom It Yourself | 2 Comments »

Living with Lovecraft

October 19th, 2011 by Cobwebs

For decades people have lived with the works of H.P. Lovecraft on their shelves, his fantastic and terrifying creations tucked safely between the covers of his books.

Today…they’re moving in.


(via Dave Lowe)

Posted in Funny Peculiar | 4 Comments »

This Year’s Costumes

October 18th, 2011 by Cobwebs

ShadowboyWhen I asked Shadowboy the annual question, “What do you want to be for Halloween this year?” and he answered confidently, “Cthulhu,” it may not have been my single proudest moment as a parent but it certainly made the list.

Fortunately I usually ask the annual question somewhere around February, so I had plenty of time to plan.

Isn’t he just the cutest little Elder God you ever saw?

I also made a costume for Empress Pam’s niece again this year; it was a bit of a rush job by my standards (since we didn’t know she was lacking a costume until rather late in the game), but fortunately she wanted to be a dog, and compared to Cthulhu a dalmatian is a snap.

Both costumes were made from a basic “animal” costume pattern, and the only change I made for the dog costume was to lengthen the ears.

The Cthulhu version got reptilian feet cribbed from a dragon pattern,* webbed fingers (created by stitching channels in the costume “mittens”), and claws cut from vinyl. The tentacles were just conical tubes sewn from two contrasting fabrics that were stuffed lightly with fiberfill and attached to a thin strip of fabric sewn across the middle of the hood (I used the orange contrast to add a little detail to the head and hands too). I toyed briefly with using thin wire inside the tentacles to twist them into various positions but decided that they were too short to position effectively; it might be a possibility for an adult version of the costume.

The wings were inexpensive vinyl “demon wings” that were spray-painted with plastic-fusion paint to match the costume colors. The harness for the wings just had straps around the shoulders and didn’t anchor them effectively, so I added another strap around the chest. I made slits in the back of the costume so that the wings could be rolled up and passed through from the inside, hiding the harness.

As is traditional, the annual Halloween portrait will be added to my Big Wall o’Costumes. This one will go in a thematically-appropriate frame made of resin with lots of twisty bits.

And now it’s time to start thinking about next year’s costumes….

*I have a habit of buying likely-looking patterns whenever the local fabric stores have 99-cent sales, even if I don’t have an immediate use for them. I’ve generally found that hacking together pieces of different commercial patterns is easier than calculating measurements and drawing pieces from scratch.

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