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10 Great Crafts to Make Your DIY Halloween Extra Spooky

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Decorating for Halloween can be a lot of fun, but it can also get down right expensive, especially if you want a lot of variety. Fortunately, if you have a bit of crafting expertise and a little extra time on your hands, you can always try making your own Halloween decorations from some of these fun online tutorials.

Cute Plush Ornaments

If you’ve ever wanted to decorate a tree around Halloween time the way you do around Christmas time, then you'll enjoy these felt plushies. Paper and String has the patterns, so all you need is a bit of felt, some stuffing, and thread, and you too can have adorable ornaments in no time.

Spooky Window Silhouettes

Looking for something to spice up your bland windows this Halloween? With only a little black butcher paper and these patterns from CraftZine, you can make your own awesomely terrifying window silhouette displays.

Papercraft Skull

This life-sized paper skull is certain to add an air of authenticity to your evil lab or tomb. All you have to do is visit RavensBlight and print out your own, then cut and fold your way to a gruesome Halloween decoration.

Origami Skeleton

While this origami skeleton looks like a fun and inexpensive decoration, it’s not recommended for anyone who isn't already an expert in the ancient Japanese art. Creator Marc Kirschenbaum documented how to make it with step-by-step instructions that are so complicated they took ten pages to write down. To those willing to give it a shot, good luck!

Crocheted Gouged Out Eyeball

Crochetninja knows how to make crochet creations spooky enough for Halloween. For those crocheters interested in creating their own plush crochet eyeball, her Instructables tutorial has all the instructions you need.

Audrey II Paper Mache

She may not sing, but at least this paper mache version of Audrey II from Little Shop of Horrors won’t insist that you kill people to feed her. If you’re willing to take on the responsibility that comes with having such a demanding house plant, then Instructables user craftydabbler can show you how to create your own.

Knitted Candy Corn

Sure, kids probably wouldn’t appreciate receiving these in their candy bags, but their parents would certainly be happy to see something that won’t rot their children’s teeth out. To make your own for decorations or giveaways, stop by Mochimochi Land to get Anna Hrachovec’s useful pattern.

Spooky Houseplant Costumes

Houseplants can be a drag when it comes to Halloween decorations. Sure you can spread some fake spider webs on them, but most of the time, that just looks cheesy. This year, why not follow Bitter Betty Industries’ example and create costumes for your plants. With a little crepe paper, Styrofoam, paint, and vampire fangs, you can add eyes or mouths to your plants to make them an active part of your house of horrors.

The Monkey Mummy, Monenottukhamun

If you’ve ever dreamed of having your own monkey mummy, be sure to visit Lisa Bunting Thoms’ site, q.D.PaToOtieS, and download the pattern to make your own monkenottukhamun, pronounced “monkey-not-too-common.” He might just be the cuddliest undead monster ever.

Edible Jar Specimens


Sure, anyone can put some nasty things inside a jar, slap on a label, and use them for creepy Halloween decorations. But the best thing about these great Jar Specimens by Evil Mad Scientist Labs is that all of the items in the jars are edible. In fact, some of the creations, like the canned lychee fruit in Torani caramel syrup, look downright delicious once you know what you’re eating.

Bonus: Knitted Skeleton

There are no instructions to make your own knit skeleton, but when compiling a list of great Halloween crafts, it’s just plain wrong to leave out this amazing piece by artist Ben Cuevas. The amazing details that went into this impressive craft project are simply stunning, from the contours of the spine to the teeth that were knitted with smaller yarn than the rest of the body. You can enjoy more detailed photos of Ben’s work here.


Have any of you Flossers made your own Halloween décor in the past? If so, do you have any suggestions for the rest of our readers?

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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
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Man Buys Two Metric Tons of LEGO Bricks; Sorts Them Via Machine Learning
May 21, 2017
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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva

Jacques Mattheij made a small, but awesome, mistake. He went on eBay one evening and bid on a bunch of bulk LEGO brick auctions, then went to sleep. Upon waking, he discovered that he was the high bidder on many, and was now the proud owner of two tons of LEGO bricks. (This is about 4400 pounds.) He wrote, "[L]esson 1: if you win almost all bids you are bidding too high."

Mattheij had noticed that bulk, unsorted bricks sell for something like €10/kilogram, whereas sets are roughly €40/kg and rare parts go for up to €100/kg. Much of the value of the bricks is in their sorting. If he could reduce the entropy of these bins of unsorted bricks, he could make a tidy profit. While many people do this work by hand, the problem is enormous—just the kind of challenge for a computer. Mattheij writes:

There are 38000+ shapes and there are 100+ possible shades of color (you can roughly tell how old someone is by asking them what lego colors they remember from their youth).

In the following months, Mattheij built a proof-of-concept sorting system using, of course, LEGO. He broke the problem down into a series of sub-problems (including "feeding LEGO reliably from a hopper is surprisingly hard," one of those facts of nature that will stymie even the best system design). After tinkering with the prototype at length, he expanded the system to a surprisingly complex system of conveyer belts (powered by a home treadmill), various pieces of cabinetry, and "copious quantities of crazy glue."

Here's a video showing the current system running at low speed:

The key part of the system was running the bricks past a camera paired with a computer running a neural net-based image classifier. That allows the computer (when sufficiently trained on brick images) to recognize bricks and thus categorize them by color, shape, or other parameters. Remember that as bricks pass by, they can be in any orientation, can be dirty, can even be stuck to other pieces. So having a flexible software system is key to recognizing—in a fraction of a second—what a given brick is, in order to sort it out. When a match is found, a jet of compressed air pops the piece off the conveyer belt and into a waiting bin.

After much experimentation, Mattheij rewrote the software (several times in fact) to accomplish a variety of basic tasks. At its core, the system takes images from a webcam and feeds them to a neural network to do the classification. Of course, the neural net needs to be "trained" by showing it lots of images, and telling it what those images represent. Mattheij's breakthrough was allowing the machine to effectively train itself, with guidance: Running pieces through allows the system to take its own photos, make a guess, and build on that guess. As long as Mattheij corrects the incorrect guesses, he ends up with a decent (and self-reinforcing) corpus of training data. As the machine continues running, it can rack up more training, allowing it to recognize a broad variety of pieces on the fly.

Here's another video, focusing on how the pieces move on conveyer belts (running at slow speed so puny humans can follow). You can also see the air jets in action:

In an email interview, Mattheij told Mental Floss that the system currently sorts LEGO bricks into more than 50 categories. It can also be run in a color-sorting mode to bin the parts across 12 color groups. (Thus at present you'd likely do a two-pass sort on the bricks: once for shape, then a separate pass for color.) He continues to refine the system, with a focus on making its recognition abilities faster. At some point down the line, he plans to make the software portion open source. You're on your own as far as building conveyer belts, bins, and so forth.

Check out Mattheij's writeup in two parts for more information. It starts with an overview of the story, followed up with a deep dive on the software. He's also tweeting about the project (among other things). And if you look around a bit, you'll find bulk LEGO brick auctions online—it's definitely a thing!

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Nick Briggs/Comic Relief
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What Happened to Jamie and Aurelia From Love Actually?
May 26, 2017
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Nick Briggs/Comic Relief

Fans of the romantic-comedy Love Actually recently got a bonus reunion in the form of Red Nose Day Actually, a short charity special that gave audiences a peek at where their favorite characters ended up almost 15 years later.

One of the most improbable pairings from the original film was between Jamie (Colin Firth) and Aurelia (Lúcia Moniz), who fell in love despite almost no shared vocabulary. Jamie is English, and Aurelia is Portuguese, and they know just enough of each other’s native tongues for Jamie to propose and Aurelia to accept.

A decade and a half on, they have both improved their knowledge of each other’s languages—if not perfectly, in Jamie’s case. But apparently, their love is much stronger than his grasp on Portuguese grammar, because they’ve got three bilingual kids and another on the way. (And still enjoy having important romantic moments in the car.)

In 2015, Love Actually script editor Emma Freud revealed via Twitter what happened between Karen and Harry (Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman, who passed away last year). Most of the other couples get happy endings in the short—even if Hugh Grant's character hasn't gotten any better at dancing.

[h/t TV Guide]

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