#86 Eye of Newt & Toe of Frog

Witch's cauldren brewing an ampersand
 #86 Eye of Newt & Toe of Frog
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So, what’s for dinner?

Eye of newt, & toe of frog,
Wool of bat, & tongue of dog,
Adder’s fork, & blind-​worm’s sting,
Lizard’s leg, & owlet’s wing,—
For a charm of pow­er­ful trou­ble,
Like a hell-​broth boil & bub­ble.
Dou­ble, dou­ble toil & trou­ble;
Fire burn, & cal­dron bubble.

This line, uttered by the three ugly witch­es in Shake­speare’s Mac­beth as they stir their boil­ing caul­dron*, is one of the most famil­iar phras­es asso­ci­at­ed with tra­di­tion­al witchcraft.


witch and shutterbomb smoking pumpkin

Brew up eerie smoke & fog for your Halloween photos

Spook up your Hal­loween pho­tos with awe­some smoke effects. I don’t mean pho­to­shop­ping it in, but using real smoke. It’s excit­ing & fun & far more real­is­tic, plus any mod­els in the shoot have a blast. 

Grab your caul­dron & brew this witch’s recipe into an eerie fog. Or if you don’t hap­pen to have any eyes of newt or frog toes in your pantry, there’s a much sim­pler way to achieve a bewitch­ing Hal­loween smoke effect & it looks even spookier.

Shutter Bombs — no cauldron required

Recent­ly I came across Shut­ter Bombs, a com­pa­ny that spe­cial­izes in mak­ing sen­sa­tion­al smoke bombs specif­i­cal­ly for pho­tog­ra­phers. Their range of smoke effects & col­ors is amaz­ing & so is their cus­tomer ser­vice. Cre­ate ghast­ly Hal­loween effects with Shut­ter Bombs, like this:

Vis­it shut​ter​bombs​.com

Witch’s Brew Recipe & Shopping list

Here’s the modern-​day gro­cery list of what’s real­ly in Shake­speare’s caul­dron. You might have to seek out a spe­cial­ty shop for some of these items, but they do exist. I’ve added a spe­cial ingre­di­ent too, but that one’s real­ly hard to find:

  • Eye of newt — mus­tard seed
  • Toe of frog — buttercup
  • Wool of bat — hol­ly leaves
  • Tongue of dog — houndstongue
  • Adders fork — adders tongue
  • Blind-​worm — an actu­al tiny snake thought to be venomous
  • Tail of amper­sand — a curly lit­tle friend of ours (You don’t mind, do you, Bill?)

Throw every­thing into your caul­dron, fill with liq­uid, & boil. Dis­tilled spir­its works best, of course.

Casting the spell

When prac­tic­ing black mag­ic, mus­tard seeds (par­tic­u­lar­ly the black seeds) cast a spell of strife, con­fu­sion, dis­cord & dis­rup­tion. Inter­est­ing­ly enough, though, oth­er types of mus­tard seeds are thought to pro­vide pro­tec­tion against witch­es. Leg­end goes that witch­es are pre­dis­posed to count­ing & pick­ing up things, so if you scat­ter mus­tard seeds around your front door, bed & prop­er­ty, the witch will nev­er have time to get to you as she will be busy count­ing mus­tard seeds.


About that newt — is there such a thing? Were there poor lit­tle crit­ters hop­ping about with­out eyes?

Actu­al­ly, all of the ingre­di­ents in the witch­es brew are ancient terms for herbs, flow­ers & plants. Some say witch­es gave these items gross & dis­turb­ing names to deter oth­er peo­ple from prac­tic­ing witchcraft.

It turns out “eye of newt” is sim­ply the seeds for a pop­u­lar hot dog mus­tard. How­ev­er, the clas­sic scene from Mac­beth just would­n’t be the same if his char­ac­ters spoke of boil­ing mus­tard seeds, but­ter­cups & hol­ly leaves.  Adapt­ed from http://​peo​ple​.how​stuff​works​.com/​i​s​-​e​y​e​-​o​f​-​n​e​w​t​-​r​e​a​l​-​t​h​i​n​g​.​htm


Speak­ing of spell, note the spelling of “cal­dron” in the work of Shake­speare, in con­trast to the Amer­i­can Eng­lish “caul­dron.” Sans-“u” is also com­mon among British. Ear­li­er, how­ev­er, there was no “l” either: in Mid­dle Eng­lish lit­er­a­ture c. 1250 – 1300 you’ll read “caud­eron.” Basi­cal­ly, it means “warm” from the Late Latin “caldāria.”

Ghosts & Gob­lins (2011)
Bats Rats & Black Cats (2012)
Deep Dark & Mys­te­ri­ous (2013)
Creak & Quake (2014)
Creepy & Crawly (2015)

Production notes for #86 Eye of Newt & Toe of Frog:
Original size: 20x30 inches
Program: Adobe Photoshop
Fonts: Wilhelm Klingspor Gotisch, Park Avenue, Arnold Böcklin
Ampersand: Arnold Böcklin
Images: dream​stime​.com (manipulated)
You may repost the image. Please credit Amper​Art​.com.
To download a full-​size high-​resolution 11x17-​inch poster, click on the image.

Desimone Design

Chaz sez...
Want more?
Rants & raves mostly about design, sometimes about the universe.
An occasional bit of useful advice.
Read the blog:

#97 Creepy & Crawly

97 Creepy & Crawly

#97 Creepy & Crawly
Click to view full-​size or download hi-​rez image for gallery-​quality printing and framing.
This is a high-​resolution pdf & may take a few minutes to download.
Find printing tips & framing ideas here.

A sprin­kling of bugs for your Hal­loween treat. The trick is get­ting your ghoul­ish friends to sub­scribe to Amper​Art​.com.

chaz sez ...

P1060520Yes­ter­day my black cat, Jeep­ers Creep­ers, start­ed his Hal­loween haunt­ing ear­ly. He was star­ing intent­ly at some­thing in the yard. I went out to see…a 3‑foot-​long snake. Hap­py Hal­loween to you too, Jeepers.

Production notes for #97 Creepy & Crawly:
Original size: 20x30 inches
Program: Adobe Illustrator
Fonts: Cantoria
Ampersand: based on Akzidenz Grotesk but slightly modified when I turned the bugs loose
Credits for #97 Creepy & Crawly:
Bug illustrations: © Adrianhillman | Dreamstime.
 — Bugs Seamless Tile Photo

For pro­fes­sion­al graph­ic design, please vis­it Des­i­mone Design.

Desimone? Damn good!

#74 Creak & Quake

AmperArt 74 Creak & Quake

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Greet­ings, mortals.

This mor­bid install­ment of my Amper­Art series could have been enti­tled “Crypt Doors & Tomb­stones” but I chose the just-​as-​eerie verbs over the nouns “Creak & Quake.” These words are all from the first stan­za of Grim Grin­ning Ghosts, the theme song per­me­at­ing Walt Dis­ney’s Haunt­ed Mansion. 

Truth be told, I’m still only 99% sure that the song starts with 

When the crypt doors creak & the tomb­stones quake…” or
“When the crypt goes creak & the tomb­stones quake…”

Why? Because after vis­it­ing sev­er­al web­sites to make sure I got the lyrics right (even though I’ve heard the song hun­dreds of times, it’s not embed­ded into the skull like “It’s a Small World”) there were dis­crep­an­cies. The first site which sound­ed like an offi­cial lyrics site is what threw me off: It read “…goes creak” which was sur­pris­ing, as I’ve always heard, so I thought, “When the crypt doors creak…” The orig­i­nal song­writ­ers — Bud­dy Bak­er, melody, and lyrics by Xavier “X” Aten­cio, the Dis­ney leg­end — were list­ed, along with dates and oth­er infor­ma­tion.  So I fig­ured that was what they wrote, and every­one just adapt­ed what they thought they heard. 

Until I vis­it­ed a few more sites. Every­where else the song goes “…doors creak…” which sounds so much bet­ter; is part of the Dis­ney fans’ venac­u­lar; and what I chose to use in my piece of art­work. (It’s prob­a­bly the cor­rect choice.)

William Shake­speare & his poem, Venus & Ado­nis, influ­enced the title of the Haunt­ed Man­sion’s theme song:

Look, how the world’s poor peo­ple are amaz’d
At appari­tions, signs, and prodigies,
Where­on with fear­ful eyes they long have gaz’d,
Infus­ing them with dread­ful prophecies;
So she at these sad sighs draws up her breath,
And, sigh­ing it again, exclaims on Death.
Hard-​favour’d tyrant, ugly, mea­gre, lean,
Hate­ful divorce of love,’ — thus chides she Death,—
Grim-​grinning ghost, earth­’s worm, what dost thou mean
To sti­fle beau­ty and to steal his breath,
Who when he liv’d, his breath and beau­ty set
Gloss on the rose, smell to the violet?

The tomb­stone and grave­yard in this piece real­ly do exist: The Gra­nary Ceme­tery, Boston, Mass. Well, almost. The top and bor­ders of the tomb­stone are authen­tic (except for the icon­ic “D” under the skull); I elon­gat­ed the entire mon­u­ment and replaced the somber inscrip­tion with sil­ly lyrics. So much for rev­er­ence. I wish to give cred­it to an incred­i­ble pho­tog­ra­ph­er, whose image I came across on the Inter­net and used as ref­er­ence for this piece. Her name is Del­la Huff. Her pho­tog­ra­phy is spec­tac­u­lar. See it at http://​del​lahuff​pho​to​.zen​fo​lio​.com/ I had no idea such mor­bid tomb­stones actu­al­ly exist­ed. The grave­yard, though heav­i­ly dis­tort­ed by my twist­ed mind, is among many won­der­ful pho­tographs I found at https://​www​.flickr​.com/​p​h​o​t​o​s​/​m​b​d​e​z​i​n​e​s​/​s​e​t​s​/​7​2​1​5​7​6​0​7​8​5​7​0​0​8​0​82/

listen up!

As much as I detest innacu­ra­cy (why can’t oth­ers do a lit­tle research like I did, even though it took longer than the art­work?) it led me to sev­er­al inter­est­ing haunts:

I dis­cov­ered alter­nate, high­ly enter­tain­ing ver­sions of Grim Grin­ning Ghosts; a great video for the kids (and the grown-​up kids); and of course it was haunt­ing­ly won­der­ful to hear the orig­i­nal sound­track again (where I could swear they enun­ci­ate “doors”). Here are those sites:

Turn off the lights and turn up the sound:

Enter­tain­ing a capel­la from VoicePlay:

Here’s the orig­i­nal sound­track fol­lowed by a cool alter­nate ver­sion (which seems to have been pro­duced by James Pres­ley) and some of the begin­ning and end­ing narrative:
https://​www​.youtube​.com/​w​a​t​c​h​?​v​=​X​S​a​q​SVi – Ms

The kids will enjoy this sin­ga­long video: https://​www​.youtube​.com/​w​a​t​c​h​?​v​=​e​a​v​o​0​8​I​X​duQ (I like it very much myself.)

And some­thing real­ly enter­tain­ing — spooky at first with organ and choir, then wild­ly zany with unique voic­es, and all sorts of oth­er sounds…produced by James Presley:

Production notes:
Original size: 10x15 inches
Program: Photoshop, Illustrator (for the dingbats)
Fonts: Willow, Eccentric, Harrington
Ampersand: Harrington (line shadow added)
Tombstone & graveyard  reference: Granary Cemetery, Boston, Massachussetts, USA

Della Huff is the photographer whose tombstone photo was used for reference and sampling by the artist. See her spectacular fine art photography at http://​del​lahuff​pho​to​.zen​fo​lio​.com/  Della’s original photo that made this AmperArt piece possible:
Graveyard background: mbdezines Image modified so extensively it does not resemble the original photograph…but the background would  not be “authentic” without this photographer’s contribution.
Artist discovered that crypts do have doors at:
Music and lyrics sites visited for reference:
https://​www​.youtube​.com/​w​a​t​c​h​?​v​=​X​S​a​q​SVi – Ms

H u r r y  b a c k …