Gothic Graffiti Travel Mug

I’ve come to the conclusion that you can’t have too much coffee or too many coffee cups and mugs. Not when the work week is 40 hours long and the amount of time you spend at home not sleeping is split between cooking, tidying up and following up on outside projects (or your other jobs). Long story short, I had one mug break on me, the other stays in my office and I have less and less time to wash dishes in the evening. So it was time to buy and design a new travel mug for my espressos con panna.

11 oz. Design Your Own Travel Mug
Recollections Black and Grey Damask scrapbook paper
Recollections Glow in the Dark Halloween sticker sheet
DecoArt red glass paint marker
Metallic Silver Sharpie pen
Pentone fine white paint pen
Recollections Opaque Medium “Beet” marker
Scissors
Scotch tape

I’ve been having a lot of fun with this black and grey damask scrapbook paper for smaller projects. Held a certain way, with the damask print running up and down in vertical helices, it resembles wallpaper, which gave me the idea to use it as the background and for the details of the design to resemble graffiti.

Gothic literature combines elements of both horror and romance. Many early gothic novels focused on an external evil, a supernatural force that threatened the protagonists. As the centuries progressed, the genre evolved to include narratives where the evil came from within as well as without. By the time we get to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles, the supernatural evil of the hound that roams the moors is merely a (phosphorescent) shadow to the real evil of a man consumed by greed. The female gothic authors were ahead of their male counterparts in this element, as demonstrated by Eliza Parsons The Castle of Wolfenbach (where the ghost of Wolfenbach ends up being the Countess of Wolfenbach, imprisoned in the attic by her husband) and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

Frankenstein is considered one of the first science fiction novels (if not THE first) and the horror elements — the creation of the Creature, the attacks on him, his attacks on others including his creator’s wife — qualify it as a gothic piece. I loved the book when I was younger and other takes on the narrative have followed me around throughout my life (a friend introduced me to Anne Edwards’ Haunted Summer when I was in college) The caption “solitary moon” comes from Nick Dear’s play adaptation of the book performed at the National Theatre in 2011.

The moon and star stickers were from a sticker sheet I had leftover from last year’s Halloween projects and I thought they looked good against the black and grey background.

In Hannibal, the NBC adaptation of Thomas Harris’ Lecter novels, lead investigator Will Graham dreams of a wendigo in the form of a large stag with raven feathers (or “ravenstag” as the fandom has come to call it). In his dreams, the mythical evil and malice of the creature acts as a stand-in for the real evil in his life that he can sense but not quite perceive (his therapist). I thought that was a fascinating way to illustrate the character’s thought processes and to use the motif of a mythical creature (as in Baskerville) as a signal for one man’s evil deeds is a wonderful callback to an important genre that so informed the horror novels we read today.

Inspired, I decided to do my own minimalist interpretation of the stag, starting with some random sketches at work and progressing to the actual drawing on the sleeve.

Once I got it in my head to include Mary Shelley in the design, the decision to include Lord Byron in the proceedings was easy. Lord Byron’s challenge for each of his coterie to compose a horror story to while away the summer nights on Lake Geneva was what led Mary to write Frankenstein. His persona as a scandalous, charismatic user of men and women was included in his former lover Lady Caroline Lamb’s Glenarvon and revived in John Polidori’s The Vampyre (another story borne out of Byron’s challenge). Byron and Mary had an intriguing friendship that is illustrated in their work. While Percy Shelley reveled in classic romantic themes of free love and the interconnection of humanity and nature, both Mary and Byron were drawn to human isolation and sorrow.

Written the same year as Frankenstein, Byron’s poem “Darkness” depicts an apocalyptic event that leads to the destruction of humanity through war over the control of resources. Ten years later, Mary Shelley’s novel, The Last Man, a science fiction roman a clef of her life with Byron and Shelley, depicts a 21st century Earth ravaged by a plague until a single man remains. When I was looking for a good Byron quote that would encapsulate the theme I was going for, the opening line of “Darkness” seemed to fit best:


“I had a dream that was not all a dream.”

I opted to use white paint pen for the caption because — despite it saying “opaque” on the side — the ink was almost translucent on the dark paper and needed to be retraced several times, giving it a soft, shapeless effect similar to spray paint.

This final shot is of the espresso con panna I made to christen the new mug. Delicious! Here endeth the bizarre lit rant from the future English teacher. What do you guys think?

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~ by blackmoodcraft on July 29, 2013.

2 Responses to “Gothic Graffiti Travel Mug”

  1. Awesome! I love it! ❤

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