The Art of Darkness

Sideshow World

February 14th, 2013 by Cobwebs

Sideshow WorldOh wow you guys: Intrepid reader Cookie has found the motherlode of information related to carnival sideshows. Sideshow World is “dedicated to preserving the past while promoting the future of sideshow for fans and performers alike.”

Their historical section covers all the old standbys: Feejee mermaids and flea circuses and medicine shows and fortune-tellers and loads more, copiously peppered with vintage photos and artwork. They also have a useful “Ask the Staff” page where you can get help identifying photos or request information about sideshow acts of the past.

There’re discussions of carnival games and photos of taxidermied “freaks of nature.” Recipes for midway-style corn dogs and descriptions of various types of conjoined twins. Sword swallowers and tattooed ladies and dime museums and snake oil.

They’ve also got a large section devoted to modern sideshows, with performer bios, event listings, and heaps of links to related resources.

If you’ve ever considered a carnival-themed party, needed reference photos for sculpting a shrunken head, or wanted to frame some vintage midway posters, this is the place to look. Great stuff.

(Thanks, Cookie!)

Posted in Resources | 1 Comment »

Steampunk Heels

February 13th, 2013 by Cobwebs

Steampunk Heels

Now here’s an interesting DIY project: Steampunk-esque heels, complete with LEDs.

These are the work of the now-defunct Etsy shop HotAirBalloonRide; Fashionably Geek has several photos taken from different angles.

These really wouldn’t be too hard to replicate. The gears are just clock parts, which are pretty easy to find: There are pre-packaged collections available from Amazon, and you can also find loose gears (often advertised as “steampunk”) on eBay. A much cheaper eBay option, however, is to look for clock movements and then take them apart yourself (watch out for the mainspring!). That way you get a lot of interesting bits besides just gears, like lever arms and tiny screws and whatnot. If there’s a clock-repair shop in your area, you can also check there for leftover or non-functional parts.

The little glass tubes on the back are just vacuum tubes. You can find plenty of those in many different sizes at specialty vendors like Tube Depot, or at Amazon. They’re still used in professional audio equipment, so you can also check at electronics repair shops to see if they have any burnt-out ones (since they’re just for decoration they don’t need to be functional). The tubes appear to be seated in a bit of copper pipe of the sort used for plumbing: That’s available at any hardware store.

It’s hard to tell from the photos, but I think the LEDs are a single strip (sometimes called rope- or ribbon lights), which can be purchased in custom lengths. If you want a little more flexibility in light placement, it’s easy to wire up single LEDs to a small, flat battery. Evil Mad Scientist Labs has a large selection of LEDs and their blog is a great source of information about wiring and using them. (There’s also a nice beginner’s guide here.)

There’s a lot of fairly heavy stuff on these shoes (although you could cheat a little and use plastic gears spray-painted metallic), so you’d need to choose a style that’s fairly sturdy; the ones in the photos appear to have thick wedge-type heels. You’d also need a heavy-duty adhesive; something like Gorilla Glue might work, but epoxy or Sugru are other options. Be careful to attach the batteries to the shoes in a way that allow them to be replaced when they run out (not to mention be unhooked or switched off when not being worn).

Fill in leftover space with metal studs, chains (both available at craft stores), and anything interesting-looking from the hardware store. For extra credit, decorate a matching purse. They’ll certainly get you noticed.

Posted in Paint It Black | 3 Comments »

Even More Stuff I Found While Looking Around

February 12th, 2013 by Cobwebs

As in previous editions, here’s a bunch of images I’ve run across which don’t quite warrant a post of their own (click to view larger). Several of them have no attribution, so if you happen to know the source for any of these please leave a note in the comments.

Bat Vase

Bat Vase

Gorgeous vintage vase. According to this site, it was made by Amphora Bohemia circa 1905.
Frankenstein Chest

Frankenstein Chest of Drawers

This is pretty clearly from Spitfire Interiors, a site which is definitely up our collective alley. They have a similar piece on the site with awesome spider drawer pulls.
Chocolate Gems

Chocolate Gems

Great idea from p.s. I made this for making faux gemstones from chocolate and edible glitter.
Spider Web Makeup

Spiderweb Makeup

Lovely effect done by Malicious Makeup on deviantART. The same artist has lots of other interesting designs too.
Ghost Tree

Spooky Christmas Tree

This thing is all over Pinterest and Tumblr but I can’t find an original source anywhere. It’d be pretty easy to DIY; it appears to mostly be cheesecloth, possibly with some tulle used for the arms and hood. The face is one of those plastic masks from Scream.* Drape it over a white Christmas tree and add plastic prop manacles.

Ghostly Lantern

I was hoping this was actually a Halloween decoration, but instead it’s a digital image. However, it might be possible to do something fairly similar by cutting the little hands out of black craft acetate. It’d be a wonderfully subtle decoration.
Ouija Table

Ouija Table

I not only found the source for this, it even includes a tutorial complete with pattern. The pattern could obviously be resized to fit something smaller like a side table.
Raven Ring

Raven Ring

This is part of a collection called “Mysteries of the Forest” by Bjorg Jewelry. Their shop doesn’t seem to list it right now, although there’s a three-ring version.
Wire Spiderwebs

Wire Spiderweb

This cute little corner web is offered on Etsy by The Dusty Raven (who also makes lots of other interesting wire sculptures). It’s made from twisted barbed wire, but something similar might by DIY’d using floral wire.
Skull Tea Set

Skull Tea Set

The only thing I could find about about this is that it’s made in Germany and was sold by, but that domain is currently parked and probably defunct. Phooey.

*Funny story, apropos of nothing: When I first married Shadow Jack I moved into his condo, and late one evening I was unpacking boxes. He was working late, so I was alone. I was listening to a documentary about forensic pathology, and they were recounting a rather gruesome murder. A couple of books fell behind a desk, I reached back blindly to retrieve them, felt something soft, and pulled out…the mask from Scream. His nephew had been the Scream guy a couple of Halloweens previously, and at some point the mask and some other random Halloween faff had fallen down behind the desk. Where I, alone in a dark house and listening to murder details, found it. Had it been broad daylight I assume I would have said something more coherent than, “Guk.” As it was I nearly pissed myself.

Posted in Whatever | 5 Comments »

Blind Date with a Book

February 11th, 2013 by Cobwebs

Blind Date with a BookThe What Happens In Storytime… site recently suggested an interesting idea which was meant for fellow librarians, but which would also be a fun group book-swap idea. (And the librarians who read this blog–of which there seem to be a surprising number–can obviously use it in its unaltered form as well.)

It’s a super-simple idea, and is essentially a book exchange with a Secret Santa element: The books are all wrapped in plain paper, so you don’t know what you’ve gotten until you take it home and unwrap it.

To do this with a group of friends, ask everyone to bring a book they’ve enjoyed reading wrapped in plain brown paper (or gift wrap if they’re feeling fancy). Ask them to put their name and contact information on a label inside the book if they want it returned after reading (although this would probably work most smoothly if the participants didn’t expect to get their books back). Have everyone choose a book from the pile, then you can have a mass-unwrapping and see what new thing you all have to read.

Limiting the books to a particular theme–such as horror–would reduce the chances of someone getting a book they have no interest in at all. The other option would be to ask everyone to write their book’s genre on the outside of the wrapper to help the selection process.

This would be a great (and easy and cheap) excuse for an informal get-together with a bunch of friends. And as a bonus, everybody gets a new book to read.

Posted in Resources | 1 Comment »

The Link Dump Who Loved Me

February 8th, 2013 by Cobwebs

Velociraptor vs. Shark Whisky – Aultmore Distillery is doing a series of limited-edition bottles with comic book-esque art. I believe we can all agree that this is the very quintessence of “badass.”

Black Dahlia Murder Case Breakthrough – Well, maybe. Depends on how reliable a cadaver dog would be at detecting 65-year-old remains.

Ombre Hair – It’d probably be hard to get the coloring this nice, but it’s a stunning look.

Bones, Ghosts, and Paul Koudounaris – Q&A with author and ossuary expert Paul Koudounaris. In related news, “Sex Ghosts” is the name of my next band.

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal – A trifle verbose, but I like the idea.

Beetle Wing Dress – Astounding Victorian gown worn by Ellen Terry to play Lady MacBeth.

Decasia Excerpt 1 – Short clip from a deteriorated silent film (there are a couple more pieces uploaded by the same user). This is oddly creepy.

I Can’t Apologize Enough – Odd little art project centered around imaginary apologies.

Victorian-Inspired Geektastic Wedding – All kinds of wonderful little details. (via Epbot)

The Homicidal Homemaker – “Where home economics meets horror.”

Posted in Link Dump | 7 Comments »

Cthulhu Pizza

February 7th, 2013 by Cobwebs


Oh sure, the instructions say that this is an octopus, but I think we all know it’s really Cthulhu.

Instructables user donedirtcheap posted a great tutorial for making a pizza-dough tentacled horror, complete with pepperoni suckers.

The instructions include a recipe for dough, but obviously you can use your own favorite recipe; I also like this one and this one from Smitten Kitchen (see also that site’s tips for painless pizza making, including the fact that if you really don’t feel like making your own, you can buy premade dough from your local pizza parlor). I also like the same site’s fresh tomato sauce and naked tomato sauce recipes.

The instructions suggest treating the tentacles like breadsticks, with the pepperoni stuck on with an egg wash; you could also stuff the tentacles with cheese (string cheese works great for this application) or give them a good brushing with garlic-infused olive oil instead of egg. You could also use olive slices instead of pepperoni for vegetarian tentacles.

Incidentally, the instructions don’t mention what kind of cheese to use, suggesting only “wonderful cheese.” Mozzarella is the standard melting cheese, and a bit of Parmesan adds depth. Slashfood has suggestions for selecting cheese for pizza.

You could also use the same Cthulhoid idea for a dessert pizza, either sprinkled with cinnamon sugar or baked plain and then decorated with fruit: Blend 8 oz. cream cheese, 1/2 C sugar, and 2 tsp vanilla extract until smooth. When the dough is cool, spread the cream cheese mixture on top. Decorate with sliced fruit of your choice; bananas or kiwis would make pretty good tentacles.

This would be a great addition to a party buffet table, or just a fun thing to serve to friends at a Lovecraft movie night.

(via Blurgh!)

Posted in Doom It Yourself | 4 Comments »

Super-Terrific Giveaway Thing

February 6th, 2013 by Cobwebs

TShirt PrintingEmily from T Shirt Printing is trying to drum up a little exposure for her business, and she’s doing it in a super-cool way: By offering one of my readers a free T-shirt custom-printed with a design of their choice.

[T]he winner’s design can be full color if they choose. We are using quite a new technique that is producing some really good results. Also he or she can choose whatever type of T-shirt they would like such as standard unisex fit, ladies fit, v neck etc. We can ship anywhere so that’s not a problem….All we ask is that you keep your design to A4 or smaller

The company is based in the UK but they ship worldwide, so any reader can play.

If you’re in the market for custom printed T-shirts or other items like hoodies or vests, these guys might be a good option; the company describes itself as “built from scratch by a group of people with more experience in T-shirt printing than we would like to admit.” You can get a quote online, so if you need shirts for some event or organization, check ’em out.

If you’re interested in having a custom shirt of your very own, leave a comment by Friday, February 15 and one person will be chosen at random.

Thanks, Emily!


RandomThe contest is over, and spat back the magic number 6, which means Pixel Pixie gets the T-shirt. I shall put her in touch with Emily forthwith.

Thanks to everyone who played along!

Posted in Needful Things | 10 Comments »

Trivia Tuesday

February 5th, 2013 by Cobwebs

(No prizes, but if you can answer them all without googling you get bragging rights.)

  1. Edgar Allen Poe’s short story “The Gold Bug” helped popularize detective fiction and inspired Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel Treasure Island. Where does the story take place?
    A) Solomon’s Island, Maryland
    B) Hangman Island, Massachusetts
    C) Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina
    D) Pine Island, Florida
    E) Reedy Island, Delaware
  2. This darkly witty vocalist pokes gentle fun at the goth scene with albums titled “The Devil’s Bris,” “Ooky Spooky,” and “Raised by Bats.”
  3. In The Hunger, the vampire Miriam (played by Catherine Deneuve) doesn’t bite her victims; she instead cuts a vein with a blade attached to what kind of amulet?
    A) Scarab
    B) Ankh
    C) Celtic Knot
    D) Eye of Horus
    E) Cross
  4. This mythological Persian monster has the body of a lion, a human head with three rows of sharp teeth, a voice like a trumpet, and a tail like a scorpion.
  5. After leaving Switchblade Symphony, Tina Root moved on to what solo trip-hop project?
    A) Massive Attack
    B) Portishead
    C) Archive
    D) Second Person
    E) Tre Lux
  6. This classic novella recounts a governess’ tale of the children in her care being haunted by two ghosts, “Miss Jessel” and “Peter Quint.”
  7. H.P. Lovecraft’s Miskatonic University is located in the fictitious town of Arkham in what U.S. state?
    A) Massachusetts
    B) Vermont
    C) New Hampshire
    D) Connecticut
    E) Rhode Island
  8. This Dan Simmons SF/horror novel, titled after one of John Keats’ epic poems, follows a group of “pilgrims” with dark secrets traveling toward a mysterious, ancient, and deadly shrine on an alien world.
  9. In The Bride of Chucky, what is the name of Chucky’s girlfriend (voiced by Jennifer Tilley)?
    A) Courtney
    B) Brandi
    C) Chelsea
    D) Tiffany
    E) Brittany
  10. This Italian band, whose hits include “Heaven’s a Lie,” “Swamped,” “Spellbound,” and “Fragments of Faith” has a name which translates as “Empty Spiral.”

(Answers below the fold)

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Trivia | 3 Comments »

Malaria: Animated Short

February 4th, 2013 by Cobwebs

This short film by Edson Oda tells the story of Fabiano, a young mercenary who’s hired to kill Death.

(via Pharyngula)

Posted in Whatever | 2 Comments »

Link Dumps Are Forever

February 1st, 2013 by Cobwebs

Embroidered X-rays – Interesting and mildly unsettling artwork by Matthew Cox.

Steampunk Disney – Disney heroines with steampunky accents. (Hat tip to Alejna)

The Helpers – Edible “horror installation” done for a movie promotion. Dismembered bodies made of cake. Yum!

Strange Tableware – Plates and bowls that incorporate uncomfortably lifelike fingers, mouths, and other human bits. It’d be fun to bring the “mouth” bowls to the table filled with soup and have your guests discover the surprise at the bottom. (Hat tip to Sisifo)

The Spider Who Couldn’t Hide – One of those cute sand spiders trying to bury itself, with an appropriate voiceover.

Sinister Vanity – Etsy shop with all kinds of pretty, dark jewelry. (Hat tip to Cat)

Moon Phase Tights – Fairly easy tutorial for DIY tights which display the phases of the moon.

Bargain Bin Blasphemy – Pop album covers “upgraded” to black metal. I think Satan and Garfunkel is my favorite.

The Zombie Tarot – Yes, zombies are overdone, but the artwork on these are fantastically vintage-y. You can see a bunch of the cards here. (Hat tip to pdq)

Katie Alves – Makeup artist who specializes in amazingly detailed eye effects. I love her Trick or Treat Eyes.

Posted in Link Dump | 5 Comments »

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