The Art of Darkness

Boot Vase

March 18th, 2013 by Cobwebs

Boot VaseI have had the following line in my Drafts folder for, literally, five years:

Use Victorian button-up boots as vases for dried flower arrangements; put a glass jar inside to hold water and keep the flowers steady.

…and every time I’d go to post about it I’d think, “That is a pretty thin thing to hang a post on,” and stuff it back in my Drafts folder.*

But then I ran into the photo above and realized that it’s actually an awesome thing to hang a post on.

I finally traced the photo back to Sandy’s Creations: She doesn’t offer any notes on materials, but there are a couple of additional pictures. It looks like maybe the paper stuff was decoupaged on and the rest of the doodads were attached with something like hot glue. Since the flowers she used are artificial you don’t really need a jar inside, but you may wish to stick a chunk of floral foam in the bottom to hold them in place if they’re wiggly. (And, of course, you could use it for real flowers by including the aforementioned jar.)

Just about any kind of small, lightweight spooky decoration would look great on this: Ribbons, charms, scraps of lace, novelty buttons, printouts of vintage Halloween cards, fake spider webs, or whatever else catches your fancy. Make sure the material on the boot is clean and dry before decoupaging/gluing anything in place to make sure it’ll stick; if the boot is made of vinyl or something else very slick, you may want to rough up the surface a little with sandpaper to ensure good adhesion.

Since scuffs and other signs of wear would simply add to the charm, this would be a fine project for a thrifted boot and would also be a way to salvage a pair of one’s own worn-out shoes. If you don’t like the Victorian “witchy” look, you could go steampunk-with-gears or death-metal-with-spikes too.

I quite like the idea of hanging it on the door as a wreath substitute, but it would also look great in a window or simply perched on a table or desk.

This is one of those projects where it’s fun to collect little decorative oddments over time, as you find the perfect bits to fill in the spaces. It’s simple, should be fairly inexpensive, and should give you a striking result.

*I have a lot of stuff like that in my Drafts folder. Someday I will sweep out the corners and dump the dustpan in your laps.

Posted in Paint It Black | 1 Comment »

Four Weddings and a Link Dump

March 15th, 2013 by Cobwebs

Corseted Leather Top Hat Tutorial – This is gorgeous.

New Haunted Mansion Merchandise – Some nice HM-themed items. I particularly like the candelabra.

How to Fix a Bad Tattoo – :::giggle:::

Steampunk Icarus Wings – Expensive, but certainly lovely. An interesting DIY project if you’re good with woodworking.

8 Marvelous Miniatures – A roundup of offbeat miniatures. I love the li’l whorehouse. (Hat tip to Terri)

Insect Poop Tea – Man, I thought kopi luwak coffee was a bad idea.

Ammonite Fossil Skull – On the one hand, it’s a pity they carved up such a pretty fossil. On the other hand, it’s certainly a striking sculpture.

A Calendar of Tales – New, free short stories from Neil Gaiman.

British Museum Blog – I didn’t know the British Museum had a blog. There’s all kinds of neat stuff.

Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails – Interesting compendium of old-time mixed drinks and their history. This would be a fabulous resource for a period-themed cocktail party. (Hat tip to Kitten Herder)

Posted in Link Dump | 3 Comments »

Medieval Poisons

March 14th, 2013 by Cobwebs

Whilst digging around in the depths of my computer the other day, I ran across the file below. It dates from my AOL-hosting days and I think it had something to do with a Halloween special feature they were doing; beyond that I have no idea where it came from or why I still have it. It’s pretty neat, though; a discussion of Medieval poisons that was apparently posted to an SCA newsgroup (remember newsgroups?) in 1994. Here it is, unedited except for minor formatting (and giving me all sorts of nostalgic feels; I haven’t thought about FidoNet in years).

From: (Gunnora Hallakarva)
Date: 29 Aug 94 02:56:00 -0500
Subject: 01 medieval poisons
Organization: Fidonet: Cygnus IIN/San Antonio

Good gentles… over the course of past weeks, I have noticed the many letters on poisons in period. For your information _only_ I present my research into the subject…

The Viking Answer Lady, aka Gunnora Hallakarva

Poisons and Antidotes in the Middle Ages

There are many substances readily available that will kill. Usually “poison” is used to refer to a substance which destroys the health or life of a living being by reason of its chemical constitution, and usually a poison will kill in very small quantities. Poison was usually classed with medicaments in the Middle Ages, and was numbered “in the fourth degree of medicament, wherein the destruction or death of tissue is produced.”[1]

The Greeks attributed the discovery of poisonous plants to Hecate, the goddess of sorcery. The Assyrians knew of both vegetable and mineral poisons as long as 3000 years ago. The ninth century Arabs brought poisoning to an art form (not a remarkable feat, when one considers the highly spiced foods that are consumed in the Near and Middle East, all the better to hide noxious substances in!). Galen, Dioscorides and Nicander provided the Classical world with descriptions of poisons, their actions and treatment. These writings were then preserved and enlarged upon by Muslim physicians such as Ibn Wahshiya in his _Book on Poisons_ or the Rabbi Moses Maimonides’s _Treatise on Poisons and their Antidotes_.

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Posted in Resources | 2 Comments »

Cemetery Prints

March 13th, 2013 by Cobwebs

Cemetery Prints

With a name like Sid Graves, what else could the photographer behind Cemetery Prints specialize in? Kittens?

He’s been “specializing in unique visions of the afterlife” for over 20 years, and he does have some lovely stuff. His photo subjects include graveyard statuary, tombstone details, cemetery gates, interesting epitaphs, spooky landscapes, and scenes with photoedited ghosts. (Some of the category links on the site are amusing; my favorite is “Feet of the Afterlife.”) He sells lovely hand-signed prints quite inexpensively, and also offers some framed limited-edition stuff.

The site itself is a tad hard to navigate (particularly frustrating is that there’s no way to directly order a print from the galleries: Instead you have to go to the “Prints for Sale” section and then browse around until you find it; there’s not even a search feature). However, if you don’t mind a little digging you can find some lovely, evocative stuff quite reasonably. They’d make a lovely gift or a striking addition to a room.

There’s also a blog, plus a Facebook page in which he seems to post at least a few images that aren’t on the site (or certainly aren’t immediately obvious). They’re definitely worth a look.

Posted in Needful Things | No Comments »

Chalkboard Skulls

March 12th, 2013 by Cobwebs

Chalkboard SkullEtsy store iamhome sells handmade skulls covered with chalkboard paint so you can write notes to yourself on somebody’s noggin. In addition to modern human skulls, they also have Ardipithecus, Australopithecus, and Homo erectus models.

Their skulls are all handmade, which means no obvious seams and a nice smooth exterior for writing. The price really isn’t bad; a DIY version might be a little cheaper but not immensely: A fourth-quality skull from Skeleton Store is $18 and the paint would run around $10, plus you might need primer which is another $8. If you were making a bunch as gifts the DIY route might be a better deal, but as a one-off buying a ready-made one sounds a whole lot easier.

But! The chalkboard paint can be used to make a lot of other interesting objects write-on-able (that probably isn’t a word but it totally should be). For instance:

Wine Glasses
Picture Frames
Cocktail Rings (bottom photo)
Wine Bottles

…plus anything else you’d like to give a creative makeover. Many of these, presented along with a box of colored chalk, would make a unique and inexpensive hostess gift as well.

Update: The fabulous Cookie pointed me to these instructions for making your own chalkboard paint, so the sky’s the limit in terms of available colors. Thanks, Cookie!

Posted in Doom It Yourself | 2 Comments »

You Weren’t Planning to Go to Sleep Any Time Soon, Were You?

March 11th, 2013 by Cobwebs

From animator Cyriak, “the endless universe of spiders.”

(via BoingBoing)

Posted in Whatever | No Comments »

House of the Rising Link Dump

March 8th, 2013 by Cobwebs

Book of Spells – Easy way to make a great-looking prop book with Mod Podge and brown paper.

Bunny Krueger – Adorable plush, um, thing.

The History League – Faux-sports team T-shirts featuring logos based on interesting historical events. I’m not sure if I like the plague-doctor “14th Century Humans” or the headless-but-feisty “Divorcees of Henry VIII” more.

Boba Fett Mixer – This isn’t goth, but it’s Just. So. Awesome.

Call Me a Hole – “Head Like a Hole” and “Call Me Maybe” mashup. These fit together horrifyingly well.

Snake Sweater – Well, it’d be easy to knit.

Wool Fairy – Interesting felted-wool clothing and accessories, including awesome fairy hats.

Zombie Paper Dolls – These are brilliant.

Free Complete Works of H.P. Lovecraft – Cthulhu Chick has put together a free e-book edition of Lovecraft’s entire oeuvre.

Gilly and Henri – The cutest little amigurumi guillotine and executioner that you will see all day.

Posted in Link Dump | 6 Comments »

The Webster Wagner House

March 7th, 2013 by Cobwebs

Wagner House

Ah; this is heartbreaking. Someone posted this awesome photo on the Elders of Goth page the other day, commenting that it was pretty much the ultimate haunted house. Another member identified it as the Webster Wagner House in Palatine Bridge, NY, and noted that it was in terrible disrepair.

I did a bit of digging to find out some more about the house. It was built in 1876 for railroad car magnate–and later senator–Webster Wagner (who, interestingly, died in a tragic fire in one of his own railroad cars). The house was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973, which apparently is why it hasn’t been condemned. Until recently it wasn’t technically abandoned; a reclusive hoarder lived there, refusing to sell and refusing to leave. Of course it’s rumored to be haunted, because what ghost wouldn’t want to live in this awesome pile?

I found this thread on a forum for old house enthusiasts, bemoaning the state of the house and wondering if anything could be done to preserve it. In August of last year, someone identifying himself as a descendant of Wagner posted that the current owner had abandoned it but was locked in a battle with the city. He asked for anyone interested in helping to save the house to contact him.

There ought to be some sort of Gothic Preservation Society whose mission was to buy incredible houses like this and restore them to their spooky best. Indeed, there’s a lovely one just a few miles from where I live: If you go here and switch to Street View you can see it in all its dilapidated glory; Shadowboy is always eager to look for the “haunted house” whenever we drive into town. Sadly, it’s also in danger of demolition and it’s questionable whether it’ll be saved. If I ever won the lottery, I’d do whatever was necessary to restore the house’s structural soundness whilst keeping it looking just like that.

If anybody wants to found a Spooky Old House Retention League, I’d definitely be on board.

Posted in Bad Things | 8 Comments »

DIY Electronic Wedding Invitations

March 6th, 2013 by Cobwebs

Electronic Wedding InvitationsSelf-described “electronics geek” Bill Porter proposed using a circuit board, wired up an electronic wishing well for their engagement party, and their wedding theme was “Circuits and Swirls.” It only makes sense that they’d send out handmade electronic wedding invitations.

This is pretty hardcore, with custom circuitry and hand-soldered wiring. The lights flash in a particular sequence, then sample the ambient room lighting and kick off another sequence in Morse code. You can see it in action here:

The stationery has a circuitry theme and the invitation also includes a QR code.

Now, although this particular implementation goes well beyond “interesting project idea” and right into, “Whoa, Nelly,” this could be simplified considerably and would be an amazing invitation for a steampunk-themed wedding.

Wiring simple circuits with just a battery and some blinky lights is pretty straightforward. Evil Mad Scientist Labs and Aaron Williamson both have easy tutorials for making light-up greeting cards. Even simpler, Bare Conductive makes electricity-conducting paint that allows you to draw circuits instead of wiring them. They also have instructions for making a light-up card.

Add a few gears and antique-looking lettering, and you’ve got a standout invitation.

(For bonus points you could wire in a countdown timer that kicked off a different light sequence on the actual date of the wedding, although now we’re skating close to “Whoa, Nelly” again.)

(via When Geeks Wed)

Posted in Terror in the Aisle | 2 Comments »

Trivia Tuesday

March 5th, 2013 by Cobwebs

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

  1. Anubis was the god associated with mummification and the afterlife in Egyptian mythology. He had the head of what kind of animal?
  2. What is the name of the Aztec goddess who presided over the underworld, whose rituals eventually were folded into the modern Day of the Dead?
    A) Coatlicue
    B) Huitzilopochtli
    C) Mictecacihuatl
    D) Quetzalcoatl
    E) Xipe Totec
  3. This ancient Roman name for restless or malignant ghosts was borrowed by Linnaeus to describe a type of nocturnal primate.
  4. The Mesopotamian goddess of the underworld Ereshkigal was eventually overthrown by this god of pestilence, who then made her his wife:
    A) Anu
    B) Enkimdu
    C) Ninurta
    D) Uttu
    E) Nergal
  5. In Greek mythology, what is the name of the three-headed dog who guards the gates of the Underworld?
  6. This Finnish god lived comfortably in the Land of the Dead, along with his wife and children.
    A) Väinämöinen
    B) Louhi
    C) Ukko
    D) Tuoni
    E) Lemminkäinen
  7. In Norse mythology, the warriors who died in battle went to Valhalla and anyone who died unheroically went here (which is also the name of the goddess who presides there).
  8. Baron Samedi, the Haitian Voodoo loa of the dead, is married to whom?
    A) Maman Brigitte
    B) Erzulie Freda
    C) Mademoiselle Charlotte
    D) Anaisa Pye
    E) Mami Wata
  9. The gang of professional assassins known as the Thuggee were devoted to what Hindu goddess?
  10. In Dante’s Inferno, inhabitants of the Sixth Circle are punished by being trapped in flaming tombs. What is their crime?
    A) Anger
    B) Heresy
    C) Lust
    D) Gluttony
    E) Treachery

(Answers below the fold)

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Posted in Trivia | 5 Comments »

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