Etsy.com is my favorite (online) place to shop, a virtual marketplace full of handmade crafts of all kinds. First time visitors to the site might be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of items to sort through, but it’s a treat to browse the goods of makers who really know their stuff. And buying from an individual rather from a huge chain store? Huge difference.
Here are some of the best Etsy shops that sell elegantly macabre faire:
1. Blood Milk. With a tagline like “supernatural jewels for surrealist darlings”, this shop had to be at the top of this list. J.L. Schnabel of Blood Milk has gained well-deserved recognition for her intricately dark jewelry. She is inspired by Alchemy, Spiritualism, Victorian Mourning, and other wonderfully Gothic subjects. This store is for the tasteful Goths that have been making major bank, since her baubles cost from $90 to $450. You can follow her delicately dark tumblr here.
2. The Parlor Apothecary. It must be hard to sell something like perfume over the internet, where it is impossible to convey the very selling point of the product– its scent. But Anna, owner of The Parlor Apothecary, makes up for this with incredibly appealing packaging and presentation. Her beautifully photographed eye-pleasing products sell themselves– Who wouldn’t want a Victorian diffuser on their perfume bottle, or an antique locket filled with solid perfume? How about a message in a tiny bottle that you can wear around your neck? If the words “Parlor” or “Apothecary” make you light up, this is a shop you should definitely check out.
Also check out Etsy shop ForStrangeWomen for more solid perfumes in antique lockets and other goods.
3. SOVRIN sells clothing screenprinted with a range of intricate witchy designs—moon phases, animal skulls, runes, and so on. Each piece would instantly add an occult element to your outfit, while still keeping it tasteful and sophisticated.
4. MistyAlbion. This shop is filled with beautifully photographed, exquisitely haunting European antiques—in the words of owner Justine, “Historic, Sacred, and Romantic Finds.” Especially intriguing are the stained glass remnants from Gothic cathedrals. A certain understated melancholy permeates her shop, so it’s worth browsing even if you don’t have a place for funerary plaques or stained glass fragments.
Also check out Etsy shop Moons’ Curious Items for similarly haunting treasures.
5. Vague Photography. There are countless photography shops on Etsy, many of them full of dark and brooding pictures, but this shop stands out– it stands way out. The photographs of Mr. Vague were not shot with a digital camera. Nor are they printed on photography paper. They are photographic plates, either glass or aluminum, made using “a process originating in the mid 1800’s, using antique equipment”. On the meta level, this shop is inherently Gothic in that it embodies an eruption of the past into the present and a rejection of rationality. In the owner’s words, “this process is a painstaking labor of love in defiance to the modern era of digital photography. in an era where the majority of our photos reside solely on our phones and hard drives, a lot of thought and effort goes into each and every one of these pieces. they are intended to be held and looked at closely and built to last 200 years. no joke.”
6. Somnia Romantica is a shop dedicated to creating high-quality dark romantic clothing inspired by history. Owner/Designer Marjolein says the “mission behind the designs is to bring the rich, romantic history of European/Western world fashion back into modern society” — another lovely example of the past being brought forth into the present. These pieces would make perfect formal attire for Victorian enthusiasts and Steampunks.
7. Dellamorte & Co. Though this shop is more down the H.P. Lovecraft vein of the Gothic, anyone can appreciate the craftsmanship of these housewares. From tentacle candlesticks and bat wine stoppers to Cthulu statues and Krampus Nutcrackers, this shop is full of imaginative and unconventional products. Though some are undeniably dark, it’s hard not to pick up on the fun energy behind this shop.
8. Caryn Drexel is one of the more prolific producers of dark, surreal, haunting modern photography on Etsy. Her photos, which feature almost exclusively young women, are certainly atmospheric– it’s hard not to start coming up with a backstory to each photo. Many feature subtle elements of spiritualism or Victorian mourning.
9. Burke & Hare Co. A shop named after infamous “anatomy murderers” from the 1800’s is bound to have a Gothic bent. Burke & Hare sells mostly candles– elegant pillar candles and scented candles in jars with lurid labels– but the shop also has a “dark dinnerware” section where you can find Ouija board plates and others with skulls and Alice in Wonderland imagery.
10. VictorianLowBrow “Madame Talbot’s Victorian Low Brow” is a cheekily self-aware purveyor of Victorian style illustrations. Her posters all feature pen-and-ink illustration of macabre subjects with vibes ranging from fairly somber Memento-Mori to wacky curios.
So there you have it– 10 great Etsy shops to get you started! In upcoming posts, I will feature collections of individual items from Etsy, so stay tuned.