Friday, April 28, 2017

Another Macabre Mix

You know the deal. This is where I share some odds and ends I've been looking at over the last few weeks. Hope you find something that casts a spell on you.

Gravestone Print Pillow from Morose and Macabre
Evil Eye Pillow from Homesite
Primitive Metal Bat from Gray Vervain
Vintage Brass Spider Web Dish from Haines Vintage Brass
The Midnight Society Pin from Grim Pin Co.
Skull Coffee Mug from Goblins Hoard
Skulls and Dried Flowers from Artificialia Room
Make sure you click on the links to explore the other items these shops are offering. You look like you need something new.


Thursday, April 27, 2017

A Strange Trilogy

Are you familiar with Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell- the two most promising magicians of England? If you're not, it's well past time you got onboard. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell (2006) by Susanna Clarke is a most fascinating book. I read it when it first came out and it's one of those books that stay with you for a long time. And, you're going to need a long time because the book is long and complicated. Please don't take that as a criticism. I loved the book.

The story takes place in the nineteenth century and follows the career of a magician, Jonathan Strange, under the tutelage of Mr. Norrell. Along the way, you learn about wars the British are fighting and the history of the Raven King, ruler of the fairy world in England. In the end, it's a love story between man and woman and magic.  What makes this book so complicated is that it is written as if it is a history book and not a novel. The footnotes can go on for several pages and go off in  a variety of tangents. Don't try to skip them though, they are amazing. I don't know how Clarke wrote this. She must be in an insane asylum by now.

Clarke immediately followed up Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell with a book of tales called The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories that continues the history of fairies in England. Again, written as a book of literary criticism, Clarke takes us back into the fairy world. The first of the ten short stories concerns Jonathan Strange and gives us a side tale of his adventures. This book can be read in a few sittings and might be a good introduction if you're timid about tackling the tome of Strange & Norrell.

For the very curious, but extremely reticent about starting a large novel right now, I highly recommend the BBC tv miniseries of Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. In just seven episodes, the production captures the essence of the novel beautifully. Yes, you lose some of the history, but I thought what remained was enchanting. I loved the casting, costumes, and set design.  Most significantly, it gave me the urge to reread Clarke's book.

The BBC production was made in 2015, but is finally available in the U.S. on Netflix. The BBC website for the show has several extra features such as a downloadable Tarot deck.  If you're curious or already a fan, don't miss this production.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Happy Mice in the Afterlife

Yes, I prefer to think that animals that have been given an afterlife through taxidermy might just be happy about that. I talk to my rat, Hazel, (who has horns and wings) all the time and she never shows a hint of unhappiness.

I'm confident that any mouse would be pleased to have an afterlife in the hands of Amber Maykut, who has an extensive resume of taxidermy education and experience. Maykut was associated with the Morbid Anatomy Museum while they existed (lower your head and mourn) offering taxidermy classes there and she created a custom mouse for cult film director John Waters. She now has a shop called Brooklyn Taxidermy.

Fortune Teller Gypsy Taxidermy Mouse Diorama
Beetlejuice and Lydia Taxidermy Mice
Taxidermy Grim Reaper Mouse
Tattoo Artist Taxidermy Mouse
Taxidermy Coffee Shop Mouse

Maykut has a great skill and a great sense of humor, and fortunately for us, she is cleaning out her apartment that is full of taxidermy. Visit her shop for that perfectly unique wedding or graduation gift. 

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

A Gothic Garden

I have a fairly large flower garden for a city house that I like to play in. It covers most of our back yard and it's always changing. The flowers seem to want to go someplace other than where I placed them so I'm constantly trying to corral them and make them behave. I have a notion in the back of my head that fairies come at night and move things the way they like them. So far no wars have broken out between us.

For some time I've been considering the idea of creating an area for poisonous plants. You see our garden is fairly cheery. There are brightly colored flowers and quirky garden art pieces, but I haven't been able to bring in my dark side yet. It somehow doesn't feel balanced to me. I'm going to be exploring this idea this Spring and I think the best place to start is with some Gothic touches. I'm looking at these trellises.
Panacea Gothic Garden Screen at Amazon
Tall Gothic Arbor at Amazon
H. Potter Bell Gothic Trellis at Wayfair
H. Potter Wrought Iron Arched Trellis at Wayfair
Twig Arch Trellis at Terrain
Spider in a Tattered Web Garden Trellis from The Dusty Raven

Of course, I love them all. First I need to find a secluded corner for my poison garden. Maybe I can make it look like a little cemetery.....

Monday, April 24, 2017

St. Mark's Eve: Ghost Sighting Alert!

Attention: Lovers of the supernatural- do you know what tonight is? 

Tonight, April 24th is St. Mark's Eve and you may be able to see the ghosts of those people who will die within a year. Yep. Awesome!  We're not going to concern ourselves with who St. Mark was because it really doesn't seem pertinent to what supposedly happens on St. Mark's Eve.

According to an old English tradition, if you sit on the steps of a church on St. Mark's Eve from 11pm to 1am and are very silent you should see a parade of ghosts passing by who represent those who are going to die within one year. Some traditions say that you have to sit for three nights. Other traditions say that once you begin this tradition you must observe it every year for the rest of you life. I've never tried this because I'm usually in bed by 9pm and don't like to plan a year in advance let alone the rest of my life.

You could see how this tradition could get very out of hand. The one person who is able to stay awake could say they saw the ghost of anyone passing by and thus scare the whits out of a person by letting them know they would die within the year. (I believe the Church frowned upon the practice.) There reportedly was one woman in an English village that stayed up every year and then charged people who wanted to know if she saw them in the parade. Nice. Keep in mind that this tradition dates back to the seventeenth century and faded away in the nineteenth century.

You can read more about St. Mark's Eve at Chambers Book of Days. As for me, I'll be decorating the house with some ghosts and maybe making a paper ghost to celebrate St. Mark's Eve- all before 9pm. I'm not sure I want to know who will die before the year is up. Surprise me.

Paper Ghosts from Parents Magazine

Friday, April 21, 2017

Embroidered Anatomy

"Darkly Stitched Delights for the Curious Minded" That's the motto for Remnant Black; a shop that offers embroidered pillows and jewelry for people like us.  An interest in anatomy and circus freak shows are the focus here and you won't be disappointed. The artist uses a combination of free machine embroidery, hand embroidery and drawing to create these beauties.

Crypt Brooch
Freak Show Tattooed Man
Blood Striped EyeLady Sacred Heart Plushie
Tattooed Severed Hand Pin Cushion
Morbid Heart Medal
Revolting Rosette Dissected Rat
Skull Pillow
The free machine embroidery detail is fantastic. I would love to see a video of the artist creating one of her pieces. I'm fascinated.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Bare Your Neck in Honor of Stoker

On April 20, 1912, Bram Stoker left this world. That's right. He died. Stoker is known around the world for his novel Dracula (I'm embarrassed to even mention that because I know that you already know that, but sometimes the obvious just needs to be said.)

I'm honoring Stoker today by setting up Edward Gorey's Dracula: A Toy Theatre. This was a gift from my sister that hasn't been opened yet. I felt I needed to wait for the right occasion. Ta Da!

This is only Act One: Dr.  Seward's Library, but you get the idea. I intend to set up all three acts and read the synopsis aloud to the cats as I go. It's convenient that I have a bad cold and am staying home from work today. I think that my sore, scratchy throat will only add character to my performance. 

Pyewackette is eagerly awaiting the start of the show.
By the way, in case you weren't aware, Dracula was turned into a Broadway play in 1977 by Hamilton Dean and John L. Balderston. Edward Gorey was responsible for the set and costume design. I wish I had seen that one. 

If you don't have a toy theater to play with today, then I encourage you to jump over to the Bram Stoker website and read one of his spooky short stories. I read the title story from the collection Dracula's Guest a few days and experienced authentic shivers of delight.

Before you start reading, pick up these ingredients: vanilla ice cream, triple sec, white creme de cacao, and grenadine. You're going to need them to mix up a Vampire Cocktail by the American Professional Bartending Schools of Illinois. It's ok, they're professionals.

Once your stage is set, pull back your hair to expose your lovely neck and sink in.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Beautiful Bugs

With Spring comes bugs- lot's of bugs. That's ok with me as long as they give me my personal space because they really are fascinating to watch. I'm also fascinated with the textile bugs at mysouldesign.  Natalia sculpts delicate insects from fabric and I don't know what all. I just want to stare at them. These are bugs you want to pick up and hold.

White-Cream Cicada Brooch
Spider Mushrooms
Gold-Black Beetle Brooch
Stoff-Skuptur Bats
White-Cream Butterfly
For me the scariest bug is the grasshopper. I'm always afraid they're going to jump on me. One of my terrifying tales is the time I threw a shoe at a grasshopper chirping in my bedroom one night. The shoe knocked over the lamp and I was left in total darkness with the still chirping grasshopper. I know- horrifying.

Natalia's bugs are ones that I would actually proudly place on my body. Visit her shop. These textile insects are stunningly beautiful.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

My Own Dark Corner

Whenever someone new enters our house I always feel the need to apologize for my dark side. I think it must seem odd to enter a house painted with bright, cheery colors and then start to notice the macabre art hanging everywhere. I usually make some excuse about loving Halloween and not being able to put it all away once the holiday has passed.

I'm sure it's not as weird and disconcerting as I'm afraid it is. It's just that as people walk around, their heads are whipping from side to side as they take it all in. That's when I start quickly shuffling them through.

The truth is I don't see the items as Halloween decorations at all. The house is an echo of my personality: sometimes playful, sometimes brooding. I need to stop apologizing for it. It's a whimspookal house.

This all came to me yesterday as I was putting some glasses away in the dining room china cabinet. The cabinet was made by my grandfather and I remember it at my grandparent's house as the place the good china was kept for holidays. In our house, it's used to hold glassware for cocktails and some of my macabre collection. I wonder what they would think?

Twinkling lights and stars hang from the ceiling in the dining room. The portrait above the china cabinet is of one of our cats wearing heart sunglasses done by artist & musician David Yao (The Jesus Lizard.) The metal chair reads "Vous Etes Ici" You are here. That's to keep my grounded. Those are the whimsical things.

Let's take a closer look at the spooky creeping in.


I won't go into detail about where everything came from (ask if you're curious about an item.) They're all things that I have picked up here and there or were given to me. Our house is filled with little dark corners. I'll try to post more of them from time to time. It's good for me to take a closer look. You can pass by items everyday and just stop seeing them. 

Monday, April 17, 2017

National Museum of Funeral History

I don't get to Texas very often, but the next time I'm anywhere near Houston I'm planning on going to the National Museum of Funeral History. Their motto is "Any Day Above Ground is a Good One." I already like them. (I have heard that funeral directors are some of the funniest people, by the way.)

The museum is celebrating it's 25th anniversary this year and there are some interesting special exhibits taking place. One is a tribute to George Barris whose custom cars became legend and include  the original Batmobile and the Munster Koach and Casket for the tv show The Munsters. A replica of the Batmobile will be on display.

Permanent exhibits at the museum include 19th Century Mourning, History of Embalming, Día de Los Muertos, Coffins and Caskets of the Past, Historical Hearses, and so much more! I can't believe I haven't been there already.

(I want one of these for a bed for my six cats)
After you see all those fascinating exhibits there is still the gift shop.  Fortunately we can access that courtesy of the internet. 
Baseball Cap with Motto
In Dog Years I'm Dead T-shirt
The Three Amigos T-shirt
Undertaker's Root Beer

I love museum gift shops. If you haven't been to the National Museum of Funeral History, put it on your bucket list.