Record Store Day Is Coming!

Record Store Day 2018 is on April 21st this time around and there’s plenty of material which should be of interest to our readers. Blue Öyster Cult’s Rarities Vol. 2 features a live version of “Godzilla” (along with other tracks involving spooky subject matter). Hillbillies in Hell: Volume 666 showcases the creepy side of country with a song selection spanning from 1952 to 1974 while City of Death and The Tomb of the Cybermen are both narrated Doctor Who soundtracks. Speaking of soundtracks, the ones for Ganja & Hess and the revived Twin Peaks are also available! However, Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Twin Peaks (Music from the Limited Event Series) are not the complete soundtracks.

You can learn more about the event at its official website, which has everything from the full list of Record Store Day releases to a list of all of the participating locations. Gravedigger’s Local 16 will be celebrating with our own annual unofficial (in addition to being unsanctioned and unauthorized) selection of vinyl and freebies you can pick up once you get back from your local store. So make sure to come back here once you get back from your local record store!

6’+ Episode 224 is Up!

2013 Logo IconTo quote the description given at the new listing:

“It’s the weirdest tribute to Nokie Edwards — ever! Strange Jason and John Jughead fool around with the spirit world, only to find themselves up to their knees in danger, death and surf music. Speaking of which, this episode, full of surf punk, features AUDIOS AMIGOS, THE DEAD BEAT, THE TERRORSURFS, and more. Monstermatt Patterson hangs ten in another toxic MONSTERMATT MINUTE.”

Remember to email 6′+ (contact at 6ftplus.com) or leave a comment below about the show, whether you liked it or not. Tell your friends, leave a review on iTunes, but above all – enjoy.

You can find all episodes of 6′+ over at the official site as well as on iTunes and Stitcher. They’re also on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The Cliff Monster

The “Monster Boom” of the 1950’s led to an explosion of monster movie magazines. Although there were a few gems, the bulk of these magazines were just quickly thrown together cash grabs. Special effects artist Paul Blaisdell and editor/actor Bob Burns took notice of this and decided to start a truly special magazine. This decision was especially appropriate given how Blaisdell’s work in magazines is what led to his film career in the first place! The original plan was for the magazine to be called The Devil’s Workshop and to focus exclusively on homemade special effects tutorials. Imagine Don Dohler’s Cinemagic done a decade or so earlier and you’ll have a pretty good idea of Blaisdell’s vision. This was eventually changed to plans for a more traditional monster mag called Fantastic Films which would feature “The Devil’s Workshop” as a regular column. The name was changed to Fantastic Monsters of the Films when their printer claimed such a magazine without the word “monster” in the title wouldn’t sell. Sadly, issues with the printer also resulted in the end of the magazine’s brief run.

But what a run it was! In addition to “The Devil’s Workshop,” there were interviews, gag photos, reviews, short stories and plenty of other articles to delight readers. Starting with the 1962 first issue, readers were tantalized by ads for short movies called The Cliff Monster Filmland Monsters from the mysterious Golden Eagle Films. The equally mysterious Cliff Monster also appeared on the magazine’s membership card and was even the subject of the magazine’s “Name The Nameless Monster” contest. Did you guess Paul Blaisdell was behind the films due to the magazine running a contest based around the monster? You’re absolutely right! But you’d be wrong if you thought the monster really didn’t have a name. Just as he had given nicknames to the costumes he created for various horror movies, he gave one to the prop used in the movie: “Cliff.”

“Cliff” was a mechanical model that stood well over a foot tall. This clockwork creature could be wound up and “programmed” to make sequences of certain movements. It’s only natural to want to make a movie when you create something like that! Blaisdell also created another mechanical model like “Cliff,” but the resulting dinosaur only appeared in a photograph used for the magazine and apparently never appeared in any films. The Cliff Monster was shot using using a 16mm camera owned by Bob Burns and the finished product was available for purchase in both 8mm and 16mm editions. According to the article “My Friend, The Fiend” from the fifth issue of Fantastic Monsters of the Films, the version sold to the public was actually a “condensed” version of a presumably longer project. Filmland Monsters was a different story. Blaisdell got permission from American International Pictures to take footage from the trailers for The Day the World Ended, It Conquered the World, The She-Creature and Invasion of the Saucer Men and combine it with newly shot scenes of the films’ monsters in action. Like The Cliff Monster, it was also available in 8mm and 16mm versions. But their availability died off when Fantastic Monsters of the Films met its untimely demise.

Thankfully Donald Deveau has uploaded both of these rarities onto YouTube with the permission of Bob Burns:

The short combined running time makes it obvious why this never made the jump onto VHS and other home video formats. That said, I can easily imagine The Cliff Monster doing well theatrically if it was shown on the spook show circuit. While not the first titles to be released directly to the home viewing market, they are the earliest such original horror productions in that field. Although direct-to-video movies like Sledgehammer and the various trailer compilations of the 80’s might be better known to horror fans, Bob Burns and Paul Blaisdell are the ones who deserve the credit for starting it all!

Bibliography:

Paul Blaisdell – IMDb
Bob Burns – IMDb
Bob Burns III – Wikipedia
Paul Blaisdell – Wikipedia
Roger Corman’s Monster Maker, Paul Blaisdell – The Unsung Hero of 1950s Monster B-Movies | Stan Winston School of Character Arts
Don Dohler – Wikipedia
Beast Meets West | Phoenix New Times
Paul Blaisdell, Monster Maker: A Biography of the B Movie Makeup and Special Effects Artist by Randy Palmer

6’+ Episode 223 is Up!

2013 Logo IconTo quote the description given at the new listing:

“This podcast is blurry, and that’s extra scary to you! Thanks to the Super True Stories podcast, we celebrate Bigfoot and ape-like cryptids with tracks from THE MONSTER KLUB, WOOD CHICKENS, X RAY CAT TRIO, THE EXSTATICS, and more. Monstermatt Patterson gets mistaken for a Yeti and captured in THE MONSTERMATT MINUTE, while Kraig Khaos goes surfin’ with Sasquatch with another KILLER KUT.”

Remember to email 6′+ (contact at 6ftplus.com) or leave a comment below about the show, whether you liked it or not. Tell your friends, leave a review on iTunes, but above all – enjoy.

You can find all episodes of 6′+ over at the official site as well as on iTunes and Stitcher. They’re also on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The Art of Horror Movies: An Illustrated History

The Art of Horror MoviesZombos says: Very Good

A natural follow up to his book, The Art of Horror, Stephen Jones once again provides eye-candy galore in The Art of Horror Movies. As an illustrated history, it is geared to the neophyte, although older horror fans will love the poster art as it claws at their nostalgia-clogged heart strings, and the highlight articles, such as The Man of a Thousand Faces (who else but Lon Chaney), that remind us of how this grotesque and arabesque cinema evolved through its stars and subject matter.

This time around, Jones slices up his art according to the decades, using descriptive words like thrilling thirties, frightening forties, and fearsome fifties. Each decade is handled by a different contributor: for instance, Lisa Morton handles the Evil Eighties, Tom Weaver takes on the Thrilling Thirties, and Ramsey Campbell goes crazy over the 2000s Maniacs to name a few.

More importantly, especially to those new to all this colorfully naughty movie-making, each decade identifies key stakeholders that drove home the decade's most notable movies. For instance, in the stylish sixties, names like AIP, Hammer, Amicus, and Tigon stand out as much as their garish movie poster art examples from Spain, France, Britain, and other countries. If Lon Chaney helped define the sinister silents of the 1920s, it was actors like Barbara Steele and Vincent Price (both highlighted) who helped define the memorable horrors of the 1960s and 70s.

Laying out this predator and perpetrator landscape across the decades provides a unique view of how it (and its promotional artwork) had changed over time. One can sense the earnest exuberance of the early horrors (1920s to 1930s) and how that gave way to the more homogenized terrors of the 1940s (with some exceptions, of course). The 1950s followed with their more rational and scientific monsters, but then a complete u-turn takes place in the 1960s as George Romero and Alfred Hitchcock bring the horror closer and make it more real.

Of course there was that sweet spot, from the late 50s and running through much of the 60s, when monster kids were born and gleefully frolicked among the flippant tombstones, but it didn't last long enough, sadly. It did see a rekindling when those monster kids sprouted into eager monster young adults in the 1970s, ready to devour anything related to horror, science fiction, fantastic cinema, and comic books. Those Satanic Seventies came in and screamed bloody terror with a vengeance, all the way into the 1980s, when that decade exploded into a manic expression of old and new bogies and maniacs. The 90s and 2000s just upped the ante on the angst, the gore, and the philosophy. 

Ironically, it is during the last two decades or so that we can see the decline of the opulent and more imaginative promotional art of the earlier movies, to give way to the sterile photographically-inclined look in favor today.  The Art of Horror Movies illustrates that idiom, "they don't make them like they used to," all too well.

Art of horror

This article originally appeared at From Zombos’ Closet.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 License.

Tracking the Origins of the “Doomed Black Character”

We all know the old “the black character always dies in a horror movie” cliché and “the black character always dies first” trope. Although there are exceptions to both, the fact is it happens enough to be noteworthy. But when did it start and what reason(s) are there for it? Today I’m going to share my attempt to find out. But please keep in mind that my doing so requires posting spoilers for numerous movies.

Continue reading

6’+ Episode 222 is Up!

2013 Logo IconTo quote the description given at the new listing:

“Love…it’s deadly. Wonderful, but deadly. It’s an episode about the dangers of falling in love, featuring tracks from THE CREEPING IVIES, THE DEADLY LO-FI, THE EPOXIES, THE HUNGRY ONIONS and more. Monstermatt Minute is your secret admirer in THE MONSTERMATT MINUTE. Strange Jason drinks six gallons of coffee and there’s a visit to the most dreadful, frightful place of all…A COUPLE’S BATHROOM!”

Remember to email 6′+ (contact at 6ftplus.com) or leave a comment below about the show, whether you liked it or not. Tell your friends, leave a review on iTunes, but above all – enjoy.

You can find all episodes of 6′+ over at the official site as well as on iTunes and Stitcher. They’re also on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Luella Miller (& Other Women’s Weird Fiction)

Last year I had shared a piece of weird fiction called “The Hall Bedroom” by Mary E. Wilkins (who is also known as Mary Eleanor Wilkins Freeman). I later learned she had written several highly regarded horror stories and it just felt wrong for me to have only shared one of her “weird” stories rather than a chilling one. Seeing as how it’s Women in Horror Month, I have selected her short story “Luella Miller.” Who is Mrs. Miller and why does her old house have a sinister reputation for years after her demise? You’ll have to read it to find out!

Both Virginia Woolf’s “A Haunted House” and Edith Wharton’s “The Lady Maid’s Bell” are ghost stories that might now seem like ghost stories the first time they are read. But subsequent readings will make things much clearer.

Edith Wharton isn’t the only Edith with a story featured here. Although Edith Nesbit is best known for her children’s stories, she has penned her share of horror fiction as well. One such example is “John Charrington’s Wedding.” Like many a children’s story, it has a moral lesson. In this case it seems to be: “Don’t talk about coming back from the dead while inside a graveyard.” “The Open Door” by Margaret Oliphant does have children in it, but it is definitely not a children’s story!

Did you know that Mary Shelley wrote another horror story years after Frankenstein was published? It’s called “Transformation” and features an encounter with a doppelgänger of sorts.

The magazine turned website Horror Garage has a great collection of scary stories. These include “Deprived” by Marcy Italiano, “Revenge” by Ellen Denton and a nasty little number called “Dead and Damned” by Janett L. Grady.

Kerri-Leigh Grady’s “Her Mother’s Daughter” is disturbing tale of a post-apocalyptic future and Rachel F. Williams’ “Mr. Gabriel” is an intense psychological horror tale. Ms. Williams is also a talented composer and you can make your reading experience even more intense by streaming “Mr. Gabriel’s Theme” and an extra creepy reversed version of said theme!

I was looking through a sample of Dark Horse Comics’ Creepy revival and was quite taken with their adaptation of “The Hymn of Ordeal, No.23” by Rhiannon Rasmussen-Silverstein. The description of what changes the human body must undergo in order to pilot spacecrafts designed to fight off an alien invasion still haunts me.

Don’t Read This At Night is a horror anthology written by the High Tech High Chula Vista 9th Grade Co-Op and how can you not be at least intrigued by that? Most of the stories shown in the preview are by young men, but Regina Gonzalez’s “They Deserve It” also made the cut. “Making the cut” is a very appropriate phrase given the subject matter of her tale…

Speaking of anthologies, When the Lights Go Out brings us a story about a séance gone wrong from Tricia Drammeh called “Midnight Summons” and Adan Ramie’s “An Arm and a Leg” tells of a clique high school clique with a dark secret. City of Weird: 30 Otherworldly Portland Tales features weird fiction set in Oregon’s weirdest city. “Octopocalypse: A Love Story” Brigitte Winter and “The Sturgeon Queen” by Rene Denfeld are two very different tales from it which involve aquatic life forms.

Speaking of “weird,” Nancy Springer’s “Bad Lands” is a weird west tale which appeared in the revived version of Weird Tales magazine!

Hillary Lyon’s “Green Sweater, Pink Roses” and Veronica Magenta Nero’s “Tiny Cages” both take us to the grave. You can find more works by Ms. Nero, along with stories by A.F. Stewart and Nina D’Arcangela, over at Pen of the Damned.

Roberta Lannes’ “Essence of the Beast” is special not only because it tells a story from a werewolf’s point of view, but also because said werewolf is female!

Although Pat Cadigan is best known for her cyberpunk tales, she’s also at home in the realm of the supernatural. “Eenie, Meenie, Ipsateenie” shows how events from your childhood can literally come back to haunt you.

Please feel free to leave suggestions for future installments of this series in the comments. I look forward to learning about more wonderful authors and their works!

The Order of the Fly

Hailing from San Bernadino Cakifornia, The Order of the Fly makes a brand of horror music that is so unique, that it defies classification. Blending,punk,industrial,goth,electronic,metal and as well as a few other surprises makes them incomparable to any other band out there.
With a DIY ethic and drive Lead by vocalist/bassist, Ralphie Repulsive, who also does most of the bands albums covers and promo artwork, the current line up also consists of
Tom Thyestean:Guitar
J’Syn Thetic:Keyboards/Vocals
Abby Noxious:Keyboards
Danny Disaster:Drums
Since 2000 they have brought their special brand of horror and misery music to the ears of the eagerly desolate. And while such songs as “Eaters of the Dead” and “Vampire Killers” may hint at slight horror campiness, it’s the more serious topics of depression,inner horror, self hatred, apocalyptic nightmares that drive much of the bands music.

Most physical copies of the band’s music is hard to come by. ($99 for a copy of the band’s second album, “World Gone Mad” on Discogs.com will tell you something) My theory is that people connect to this music so much, they don’t dare let it go.
That’s not to say their music is impossible to find should you choose to take this writer’s suggestion and give them a listen. (Keep in mind, Kraig Khaos has yet to steer you wrong…..when it comes to music that is.)
You can find their self produced video for the song “Rot” on YouTube, as well as video clips of their insane live performances.
You can download,for “Name Your Price” cost, their last 2 E.P.s, “The Persistence of Vermin” and the EXCELLENT “Lambs in the Abattoir” on their bandcamp site at TOOTF BANDCAMP
Also, keep checking back on their bandcamp as how some of the older stuff will soon make it’s way on there.
The Order of the Fly can also be found on Spotify, Soundike and a few other download stores.

And for you vinyl lovers (such as myself), you can pick up their awesome “A Pox on All The Pretties” 7″ colored vinyl at Interpunk here: INTERPUNK POX

And DEFINITELY go say hi at their FACEBOOK

While dormant and lying in wait for a few years, look out for BIG things in 2018 from THE ORDER OF THE FLY!!

It’s Time For The Rondo Awards!

Voting for the Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards has begun and we’re proud to say that Six Foot Plus got nominated as “Best Multi-Media Horror Site!” Since Monstermatt Patterson has also made contributions to the show, we hope you write in Monstermatt Patterson in the “Linda Miller Fan Artist Of The Year” category as well. So please make sure your ballot includes the following:

18. BEST MULTI-MEDIA HORROR SITE – Six Foot Plus
26. BEST FAN ARTIST OF 2017 (The Linda Miller Award) – Monstermatt Patterson

Don’t forget that you can vote for as many or as little categories as you want. As much as we want you to vote for us, we want you to vote in other categories whenever possible. Voting ends Sunday at midnight (April 8), so don’t delay! Just be sure that your ballot email includes your name. Otherwise it won’t get counted! Hopefully Gravedigger’s Local 16 will get a nomination for “Best Website or Blog” next year…

You can find the ballot (and voting instructions) at the official Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards website.

Hopping Ghosts

Do you want a jiangshi figure rather than a papercraft model of one? Well, you’re in luck! John Cafiero (of Osaka Popstar fame) designed an 8 inch vinyl figure of one, available in both the standard blue and special green coloration. It’s more than just a cool conversation starter. Each one comes with both a removable scroll and a free download card for its very own theme song called “Hopping Ghosts” (also by John Cafiero)! You can check it out, along with the “animated instrumental” version thanks tom Osaka Popstar – Topic:

Why does the second track say “animated” in its name? It’s because it’s from an animated promotional video from OsakaPopstar:

If you love the songs and can’t get your hands on a figure, they’re available separately as paid downloads. I mentioned the possibility of not being able to get the figure for a reason. As this is a limited edition figure that was released back in 2014, supplies are limited (and sometimes expensive). Amazon only has one left as of this writing, along with a single “Hopping Ghosts” sticker and a small handful of patches. The first patch listing offers a single patch and the other has a few more. Thankfully the glow-in-the-dark “Hopping Ghosts” shirt and pinback buttons are still in stock on Amazon. Other online retailers might have more of the other items in stock or even items Amazon doesn’t offer, such as the glow-in-the-dark “Hopping Ghosts” hoodie sold by the band’s label. Don’t forget to stop by the figure’s own official website while you’re roaming the net for more merchandise!

Sun Nien Fai Lok!
Xin Nian Kuai Le!
Gung Hay Fat Choy!
Kung Hei Fat Choi!
Happy Chinese New Year!

How to Make a Bloody Valentine’s Day Card

Did you wait until the last minute to get a card for Valentine’s Day? Or perhaps you’re waiting to celebrate until sometime later in February to take advantage of all the clearance sales and easier reservations. Whatever the case is, the special horror fan in your life is certain to appreciate a homemade bloody Valentine. Ghouls, Guts, and Gore! shows just how quick and easy it is to make one:

Not only does the end result look amazing, but its style helps disguise its less than punctual nature!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

6’+ Episode 221 is Up!

2013 Logo IconTo quote the description given at the new listing:

“In celebration of Women In Horror Month 2018, it’s an episode full of female-powered tracks to brighten your day while darkening the skies with horror, doom and destruction. Get the party started with such soul-stealin’ rock n’ roll from DEAD BY DAWN, VILLAINZ, THE TRASWOMEN, MAD MONSTERZ, and more. Monstermatt Patterson will pop up for a MONSTERMATT MINUTE, and Kraig Khaos delivers another KILLER KUT!”

Remember to email 6′+ (contact at 6ftplus.com) or leave a comment below about the show, whether you liked it or not. Tell your friends, leave a review on iTunes, but above all – enjoy.

You can find all episodes of 6′+ over at the official site as well as on iTunes and Stitcher. They’re also on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

I’m Surprised

Last year I put together a little article called “What Gives?” where I shared various musings and openly wondered about missed opportunities. Looking back, the title made me seem more upset than confused and some of the answers to my questions would have been answered if I had put a little more thought into the matter. Remember how I expressed shock over how none of the scary story 1-900 numbers had been reissued as digital compilations? I think “They just haven’t thought of doing that” and “the master tapes are either of poor quality or long gone” explains why that hasn’t been done. But the new title and the following thoughts should better reflect my new direction:

How come I can’t find anyone else who saw The Dungeonmaster and interpreted the presence of Albert Einstein in a cave full of frozen villains as meaning Einstein had been challenged by Mestema in 1955 and died in said cave? All other reviews either question his presence or guess its a reference to his involvement with the Manhattan Project. I prefer my take on it, especially since it means Einstein fought and defeated Blackie Lawless! This is assuming he had to go through the exact same challenges (and in the exact same order) as the protagonist from the film.

Full Moon has been playing around with new ways to put out old material in recent years. I can’t even begin to count the number of times I’ve seen them reissuing a movie multiple times under new names (and sometimes new cover artwork) or the times they’ve edited down a few films into a “new” anthology. So why not try reworking footage from Kraa! The Sea Monster in order to cash in on the popularity of found footage movies and the Cloverfield franchise? They could even pull the Kraa costume out of storage to film just enough new material to entice those who’ve already seen the original version. They wouldn’t even have to spend money on miniatures, since these could just be quick shots of Kraa filmed with a black background. Alternately, cardboard buildings with holes cut in them look surprisingly decent when lit from the inside and filmed in darkness. The rest of the film would just be people running around and screaming, so it’s not like a big budget would be necessary.

Come to think of it, you’d think Full Moon would have tried to cash in on the popularity of The Disaster Artist by reissuing Retro Puppet Master with the tagline “The film that helped inspire The Room” But I suppose this is to be expected since they failed to play up how Totem beat Cabin In The Woods to the punch on certain plot aspects.

Okay, okay…one last Full Moon thought before I move on to another subject. How on Earth did Charles Band not use the tagline “Deth Becomes Her” for Trancers 6, a movie in which Jack Deth winds up inside the body of his own daughter? Talk about missed opportunities!

Am I the only one who’s surprised there hasn’t been more of an effort by fans to get Marc Cerasini’s Godzilla and the Lost Continent released in some form? I’d even accept a version with all the Toho kaiju replaced with original creations at this point. Alternately, it’d be great if Graphic Audio got the license from Toho (and Random House) to produced audio adaptations of all the Cerasini Godzilla novels.

Why have the works of William Hope Hodgson been so neglected as fodder for film and television adaptations? Although some of his Carnacki stories have been adapted for television and “The Voice in the Night” inspiring both a TV movie and Attack of the Mushroom People, so many of his other works have yet to be touched. The closest we’ve gotten to a movie version of The Boats of the “Glen Carrig” was Hammer’s The Lost Continent and that was actually based on a Dennis Wheatley novel! But maybe I should count it since said novel was influenced by Hodgson. In any case, the cost of digital effects has gotten to a point where even the most epic of his stories shouldn’t be much of an obstacle for low budget productions.

It’s amazing how I have yet to see any haunt owners discuss tactical\hunting strobe flashlights. One would think battery powered strobe lights would be high demand, especially for haunted trails and hayrides. But despite my knowing for a fact that several haunters enjoy hunting, nobody seems to have made the connection to haunting!

It’s odd how not even the lowest budgeted “prehistoric” film has ever tried passing off a woodlouse as a trilobite. Come to think of it, triops had the potential for use as cheap prehistoric (or alien) effects as well. Whip spiders are just begging to be used in an Alien rip-off and we can only imagine what would have happened if Bert I. Gordon had gotten his hands on a few giant wetas for Beginning of the End.

It’s truly amazing how mole people don’t turn up that much in horror. Not the ones from the old Universal movie, mind you, but the homeless people who are said to live in sewer tunnels deep below major cities. C.H.U.D and the novel Reliquary are the only examples I can name. The idea of people living in an area that can’t easily be escaped and that isn’t easily accessed by law enforcement officials or paramedics is perfect for horror. Mutated animals and vampires are only two of the countless possibilities for monsters which can menace the mole people.

6’+ Episode 220 is Up!

2013 Logo IconTo quote the description given at the new listing:

“Surf’s up, even when the temperature is 13-below. It’s an all surf episode, featuring tracks from THE PHANTOM OPERATORS, BANZAI HAWAII, THE TERRORSURFS, THE TIKICREEPS and more! Monstermatt Patterson plays Beach Blanket Bingo and goes bust in the MONSTERMATT MINUTE!”

Remember to email 6′+ (contact at 6ftplus.com) or leave a comment below about the show, whether you liked it or not. Tell your friends, leave a review on iTunes, but above all – enjoy.

You can find all episodes of 6′+ over at the official site as well as on iTunes and Stitcher. They’re also on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Making A Magic Potion

I wish I could think of a better title for this than “Making a Magic Potion”, since there’s blessedly little potion swilling in “Call of Cthulhu”. Putting that aside, this is a quick and easy technique for creating a swirling, iridescent liquid that looks great as a potion, bound spirit, or fuel inside the reaction chamber of some infernal mechanism. Just shaking the bottle produces a wonderful pearlescent turbulence, and the effect is considerably enhanced if you can illuminate the liquid.

You’ll need a bottle or container of some kind, regular kitchen food coloring, water, and the magic ingredient- mica powder. Have you ever seen an iridescent paint job on a car? Where the color shifts as it drives past you? That’s the same effect produced by mica powder.

For this project I’m using “Pearl Ex Powdered Pigment”, a very fine grained mica powder available at your local craft store. A single small jar runs $3-$4, but you can pick up a twelve pack for around $1 a jar if you take advantage of the ubiquitous 40% off coupons offered by craft retailers. If you don’t happen to have a craft store nearby you can order the powders through Amazon. You’ll only need a small amount, so a single jar should be good for a number of bottles.

Here’s what the gold powder looks like inside the jar:

Fill your bottle with water and add a few drops of food coloring. You won’t need much, since the mica powder will add more color to the liquid.

Then use a coffee stirrer or straw to scoop up a small amount of the powder and dump it into the bottle. Put on the cap, either a screw top or cork depending on what kind of container you’re using, and give it a shake. Tada! You’re done.

Turbulence in the water causes the mica fragments to swirl around. As they spin light is reflected from the short and long faces of the particles, producing two bands of color as the phase of the wavelength is alternately reinforced and damped.

Here’s a bottle without any food coloring, just mica. The red and gold coloring is produced solely by light reflected from the powdered pigment.

Here’s a short video clip demonstrating the swirling effect in motion:

Sadly, the iridescence will slowly disappear as the mica particles settle to the bottom of the container under the pull of gravity. You can delay that by using a more viscous fluid like glycerin or mineral oil instead of water, or by providing an outside source of energy.

Ideally, you could mimic the technique used in some novelty lights with a glass container filled with mica impregnated fluid suspended over an incandescent lamp. The direct illumination will produce a more intense swirling effect because more light is being reflected, and the heat from the lamp will set up eddy currents that keep the particles suspended. My sensitivity to legal liability compels me to remind you that such a project could easily set your home on fire and cause a massive explosion if you’re not careful, so use your head and assume I’m a bloodthirsty maniac hell-bent on leading you into misfortune.

This article originally appeared at Propnomicon.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 License.

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