Maiden Mother Crone On

October 13, 2008 at 6:43 pm (80 Proof, administrative business, music, neat things)

You now listen to our band, Maiden Mother Crone, on (And, as always, on Myspace.) Give us a listen!

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Making A Hand-Sewn Journal

July 24, 2008 at 6:17 pm (80 Proof, art, neat things) ()

This is Our Descent’s second DIY guide, and I hope there will be many more to follow. Our first one, quite a few months back now: Making Bottle Cap Pins.

Today’s project: a hand-sewn book, for drawing or journaling. If you decide to the project, leave us a comment to let us know how it went (and, of course, to show off your new journal).


This is a very easy, no-skills-required method, which uses everyday household materials. You’ll need:

paper (standard 8 1/2 x 11 in.)
fabric (just a little)
cardstock or cardboard (i.e. a cereal box)
decorating materials (drawings, photos, etc.)

dental floss or sturdy thread
a needle
a thumbtack

That’s it.

Step One: Binding The Pages

You can use any kind of paper you like: blank, patterned, whatever. I decided to use 8 1/2 x 11 inch graph paper. The measurements herein are based on that size, but it would be very simple to convert everything to different dimensions.

Make a stack of paper, about 15 sheets — these sheets will be bound into a packet. Fifteen sheets of paper will give you 60 book pages, because the sheets will be folded in half and one can use both sides of a page. If you would like more than 60 pages in your journal, make more than one packet.


To bind the sheets, we’ll sew them together (using the floss). You’re going to need six holes: three at the top, about 1/2 an inch from each other, and three in the same way at the bottom. You can make them easily with the thumbtack. This is the spacing of the holes:


As I mentioned earlier, though, be sure to fold the stack in half before you make the holes, so that they’ll be centered properly. You don’t have to pre-punch the holes — you can make them as you go.

Thread the needle, with a knot at the end, and run it through the first hole; the knot will hold the thread in place. Put the needle through the next hole, and then back out the third one. Then, double back, going through each hole a second time, for reinforcement.


Tie the thread off and cut it. Repeat for the bottom set of holes. The finished stitches look like this:


Step Two: Attaching The Spine

You’ll use the fabric for your spine. Cut a strip of fabric with the length of your paper (8 1/2 inches). If you’re using one packet, make the strip 3 inches wide — wide enough to attach to the pages and to the front and back covers, plus some wiggle room. If you’re using more packets, add 1/4 inch per packet.


Find and mark the center of the strip, and align it to the stitches on the packet. Fasten the two together with paper-clips.


Then, sew the fabric onto the packet in the same way you sewed the pakcets together — go back through the same three holes if you’re able. If the fit is too tight, just poke new holes nearby

If you’re using more than one packet, you’ll simply sew them side by side.

Step Three: The Covers

This is where the cardboard comes in. Cut two pieces in the same size as your pages (8 1/2 x 5 1/2 inches). You’ll sew each piece of cardboard to the (approximately) 1 inch of loose fabric on either side of the pages. (If your cardboard is too thick to sew, you can glue it instead. Just make sure to use a glue than can bind fabric, like Gorilla glue). What’s important here is that you attach the two soundly, and that you leave about 1/4 inch of slack fabric between each cover’s edge and the edge of the paper. The slack with allow the book to open and close.


With both covers attached, the structure of your book is complete. Everything from here on out is purely aesthetic — that is, the fun stuff.

Take a piece of plain white paper and glue it (with a glue stick for best results) to one cover like so:


Then, fold the edges over and glue them down.


Repeat for the other cover. This will give your book nice, clean edges.

Cut out images for your front, back, and inside covers. If you like, you can make the two outside pictures slightly smaller than page-size (say, 8 1/2 x 5 1/4) to show off the fabric spine. Here are my front and back covers,* respectively:



I made this book as a present for my girlfriend, who liked it very much. I’m working on two others — one for me and one for Emily. I’ll post pictures of the other two when they’re done, sometime in the next few days.

Finally, I’d like to way the pros and cons of this project, from a sustainability perspective.

+ DIY/handmade
+ can be made with some reused materials (cardboard, fabric, cover images)

– usually uses some new materials (paper, floss; one could choose used paper, but it isn’t most people’s ideal for a journal)

Toss out any other pros and cons if you think of them. Once again, if you do this project, please feel free to link to your final product in comments, and to post any improvements or modifications to the method.

* Edited to add: By the way, the cover images are from old books I got at a thrift store. Old books and magazines are great sources of interesting images.

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Our Modest Blog Stats, 1 1/2 Years In

January 22, 2008 at 6:16 pm (80 Proof, administrative business, neat things)

We passed 100,000 total hits this week and I didn’t notice! I’d been meaning to post about that when it happens. I think it’s an important landmark. At this moment we’re just under 103,000.

Right now, Our Descent Into Madness has 1,367 posts, 2,123 comments, and 62 categories. Akismet has caught 22,770 spam comments over the course of its life. It has an authority of 53. It is the first result for a Google search of its name.

It gets more than 3000 views each week, up from about 1000 three months ago. It got 13,508 views last month, compared to just 429 in its first month of existence.

Our Descent Into Madness is 18 months old.

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Making Bottle Cap Pins

December 25, 2007 at 3:53 pm (80 Proof, art, neat things)

I’ve been distracted from blogging today by a fun project. To make it up to any other not-Christmas-celebrating people bored with the everything being closed today, I’m going to blog about my project. That way you all can do it too, probably better than I have.

So there are a bunch of way to make pins (and pendants, and earrings) out of old metal bottle caps. This is the chronicle of how I happened to make mine today, which you could read as a DIY guide, if you wanted.


For this project, you will need bottle caps, pin backings (or safety pins), clear casting resin (and catalyst), super glue, and some images you like. I recommend images of your favorite dead people, whoever they may be; black and white faces look ghostly and wonderful sunk into polymer, and I for one prefer specters to slogans. But to each her own.

First, cut your images to the size of the interior space of your caps. Push them inside. You don’t need to glue them or anything, as long as they’re wedged in there.

Next comes the fun part: toxic chemicals. Do this part outside, far away from animals and children. Wear plastic gloves.

The resin you buy will come with instructions. Basically though, you pour out the amount you’ll need — just a small spoonful per cap — into a jar you won’t be using for any other purpose again, mix in the correct amount of catalyst, and then put a dollop in each bottle top. Then you’ll want to leave them somewhere to harden, like your garage or basement. Mine took about twenty-four hours. Don’t be afraid to poke them gently with a stick to see if they’re done yet; if they’re still wet, your poke-mark will disappear. I wouldn’t recommend touching them, though.

Once they’ve hardened, it’s time to attach the pin backings or safety pins. I used pin backings; safety pins would definitely work, but might take a little more fiddling.

If they harden on an incline, you’ll get an interesting wave effect, which I rather like:


Anyway. You just superglue the pin element to the back of the caps and let it dry, and you’re all set. Before we get to the fun pictures of the finished pins, I want to talk briefly about the green factor of this project. Like everything, there are good parts and bad. Some pros and cons:

+ it’s handmade/DIY
+ uses recycled caps
+ uses family/CC/public domain images (mine did, anyway; I recommend doing the same), making a personalized, anti-commercial product

– uses toxic chemicals: resin and glue (anyone have an idea for getting around this?)
– uses some new products, i.e. resin and, in my case, pin backings

So a truly ideal project would figure a way to get around buying anything, like by using old safety pins instead of new backings, and attaching them in some imaginative way that doesn’t use glue. I can’t think of an eco-friendlier way to do the resin, besides maybe getting old or rejected resin from a business somehow, instead of buying it new.

Anyway. The following two pins are ones I made for myself, of my grandfather and great-grandparents respectively, in pre-War Poland.



And here’s one I made for Emily of Emma Goldman (shh, she doesn’t know about it yet):


I also made two more, one of Beethoven for our piano friend the Brendenator, and one of a hot air balloon. Lastly, a picture of the balloon pin in action.


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Making The Rounds

October 19, 2007 at 1:01 pm (80 Proof, art, music)

We’ve just put up The Predatory Mollusks’ album, Making The Rounds. You should go check it out. We are happy with how it turned out — lots of good stuff there.

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If by “education” you mean “indoctrination,” then yeah, probably.

October 3, 2007 at 4:21 pm (80 Proof, art) ()

I think we should appropriate this as the official illustration of this this.

(Pardon my frequent linking to the latter; that poster is just too gross not to make the connection. Why does the latter file exist if not to provide an antidote to evils such as this one? The folks in the poster might not all literally be included in the poem/tirade, but they certainly are in spirit.)

Edited to change the title… It suddenly seemed too hostile, singling someone out like that.

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Even More 80P YouTube: “The Mystery”

September 15, 2007 at 11:21 pm (80 Proof, art, movies/video/clips, music)

I’ve just finished another video for a song from the project I’m working on, Over Our Heads (this is the first video). The song is called “The Mystery.” It’s about falling in love (with a human or with something else), and/or reaching enlightenment, and/or making peace with the universe (those are all kind of the same thing, I think). The video is stop-motion, leaves and flowers and shells and pearls and a piece of string all dancing together. The pearls belonged to my mother’s late friend, for whom I am named.

That moment about halfway through when the leaves all touch the flower reminds me of my tattoo.

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Look At Your Hands (80P on YouTube)

September 11, 2007 at 4:13 pm (80 Proof, art, movies/video/clips, music)

Since all my friends are strewn across the country at the moment, I have a lot of time on my hands to do weird stuff. Today, for instance, I made this song, and then made this video for it.

Considering today’s date, is it timely or offensive?

look at your hands and see if they’re red George Bush isn’t Hitler yet eating is a choice starving is a choice dying is a choice look at your hands and see if they’re red George Bush isn’t Hitler yet

Edited to add: Hey, now Godwin’s Law applies to us, too!

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Reasons Not To Kill Yourself Or Anyone Else

September 8, 2007 at 3:56 pm (80 Proof, amazing things, movies/video/clips)

I just made our first youtube playlist, Reasons Not to Kill Yourself Or Anyone Else. It’s a bunch of videos of lovely things that I think might make you not feel as much like destroying something. Lots of bioluminescence and sea creatures, of course, but also time-lapse videos of plants, the aurora borealis, and more. Here’s the first one:

Check the rest out.

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Strange Sounds

September 6, 2007 at 3:23 pm (80 Proof, art)

I’ve just put up Strange Sounds, a gallery of some of the various weird sound files we’ve made over the years. Lots of interesting stuff to check out. Sound collages, poems, asking all the other kids what they do when they’re alone.

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