Monday, February 21, 2011

Coin Purse Tutorial & Give-Away!

Since you guys seem to like these crafty tutorials, I've got a great one for you today from Epbot reader Marilou G. of Clothdragon.

Marilou has spoiled me with not one but two fabulous Epbot-inspired goodies. First, this cutey-patootie clay 'bot:

Click here for her blog post on it.

And then most recently with this fabulous little leather change purse:

Isn't it great? It's been hanging on my gray messenger bag purse since the moment I got it. And, fortunately for any of you who'd like to give it a whirl, Marilou made a tutorial here!

But wait, there's more!

Marilou *also* sent me the first pouch she made, which she [cough cough] sort of happened to forget to add the 'bot's ears on:
Still, totes adorbz, am I right?

And, since I'd be insanely greedy to keep both pouches, I'm going to give this one away to one of you, with Marilou's blessing.

So, for your chance to win this one-of-a-kind, handmade, earless Epbot 'bot leather coin pouch, just leave a comment below. I'll choose a winner at random at 10pm EST tonight, and I'll announce the winner both here, on this post, and also on Facebook, so be sure to check back!

The contest has ended, and the winner is vicTORIa, who commented at 3:46pm! Congrats, and please e-mail me your mailing address, vicTORIa.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Saturday Steam 2/19/11

Check out this amazing "flapping push toy" by Bob Basset:

Molded leather, wood, brass, and little gears in the portholes?

Now THAT is my kind of "toy!"

Many more shots here
I assume those leather wings flap as you push it along the floor, but I'd be hard pressed not to lock it up in a glass display case for fear of damaging it. It's just so gorgeous!

And speaking of great steampunk'd toys, how about a Rubik's Cube?

Matthew A. found this over on Instructables. It's called a Blind Man's Cube, because you can solve it by touch rather than sight. However, all that metal detail goes great with a steampunk aesthetic. (Plus, wouldn't you love to see some gears on this?) Even better, this isn't a difficult mod, so head over to the tutorial to learn more.

A lot of you have been sending me the new Panic! At the Disco's music video, The Ballad of Mona Lisa this week. It is definitely steampunk; the band even recruited the famous League of Steam to be in the video, as well as to help with the costumes and props. (I recognized Mr. Crackitus Potts first thing.)

I had to watch it two or three times before I fully "got" the storyline, but then again I was also distracted by all the steamy eye candy. Heh. Check it out:

And finally, for hours of fun browsing, be sure to bookmark LiveJournal's "Steampunk Style" forum. You'll find oodles of great clothing, jewelry, sculptures, and more. You can thank/curse me later. :D

Seen anything particularly steamy this week? Then tell me about it in the comments!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Candle Sticks

The other day I was swapping out my Christmas-scented candles (evergreen, cranberry, etc.) for my regular, every-day scented candles (anything that smells like it came from a bakery), when I noticed a problem: my candles are ugly.

I mean, they're just your typical glass jar candles, but the labels...well, just look at this thing:

Yeah. Classy.
(Smells heavenly, though.)

Anyway, I turned to the Internet, and about an hour later I had this:

Better, right?

I'd hoped to find some really detailed apothecary labels to give the candles a more vintage vibe, but it turns out antique French cologne labels are much easier to find, and in some cases work just as well.

Next I turned my attention to my bundles of Bath and Body Works candles. Thanks to sales and coupons we ended up taking home maybe half a dozen of these things over the holidays. If you're not familiar, they look like this:

Which is fine, I guess, but a little modern for my taste. I wanted something with a bit more character to display.

Like this:

Or this:

(I also have a weak spot for Art Nouveau.)

I could have stopped there, but those chrome lids are too modern and show every fingerprint, which is super annoying. So, a quick blast of primer and bronze spray paint later...

Much better.

Then I discovered two fantastic labels by Inka of Altered Artifacts, so I printed one of each:

The one on the right is a vintage apothecary label (woot!) and the one on the left is, again, for French cologne. (I later sprayed that lid bronze, too.)

Now, because it's Valentine's Day and I love you (awww), I've assembled a bunch of great graphics and links for your own candle-labeling endeavors:

- The Graphics Fairy has massive archives of free, downloadable goodies like these:

Actually a label for chocolate, but wouldn't it be great on a chocolate-scented candle?

I also love the idea of using the same apothecary label on all your candles, and then hand-writing in the different scents in ink. (Or use an old-timey handwriting font for that "authentic" spidery scrawl.)

- Another great spot is Vintage Feedsacks (aka Free Vintage Clip Art):

This is the label I used on my first candle.

My favorite so far for short, round jars:

via Flickr

And here's Inka's cologne label. Visit her site to download the apothecary design.

I somehow lost track of where I found this Art Nouveau label, but here 'tis:

Once you download your graphic, open it up in an image-editing program and re-size it to the dimensions of your candle. Then print it out, cut it out, and use rubber cement or a glue stick (I used a glue stick, which worked beautifully) to attach your new labels to the jars. It's about as close to instant gratification as you'll find for a craft project. Promise.

You can also age your labels with a quick dunking/splattering of coffee or tea. Most of the ones I've found so far don't need it, but for apothecary labels especially you'll want that really well-worn look.

Happy labeling!

I'm still on the lookout for more great labels, guys, so if you find more please link to them in the comments! 


Come see ALL of my craft projects on one page, right here!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

My Treadmill Desk

A long time ago I spotted a treadmill desk on Instructables, and was instantly intrigued. As someone who routinely spends 12+ hours a day on the computer, this seemed like a great way to get off my butt without sacrificing work time.

That first design I saw was essentially just a shelf mounted to a wall for the monitor, with another shelf erected around the treadmill arms to serve as a work surface for the keyboard:

Overall the setup seemed a bit clunky, though, and you had to face the treadmill into a wall, which wouldn't work with the small space we had to work with in our back room.

I talked to John about it, and we agreed that really all we needed was a single shelf to hold a laptop and mouse, since we planned to use this as a supplement to our office desktop, not a replacement. We started researching treadmills, and within two weeks found a nice fold-up model - a bit shorter than most, so it would fit our space - for $250 on Craig's List.

Here it is in our back room:

An eyesore, yes, but worth it.

Here's the worktop:

John's shelf is so seamless that some of our friends thought it actually came with the treadmill. I love how streamlined it is. He designed the shape of the wooden board to fit around the arms, rounded the edges with a router, and then painted the whole thing satin black. The entire process only took him a few hours, and cost $15.

The trick to such a simple design is finding a treadmill with arms that can support a shelf this way. As you can see, John used large U bolts to fit over the arms and support the shelf with wing nuts screwed in from below. It's extremely strong and stable. The wing nuts also make the shelf easy to remove, in case John wants the extra space for running. (Although so far he's been able to run even with it in place.)

John measured me ahead of time to make sure the keyboard would be at the best height for typing, so it's extremely comfortable to use. Typing and mousing are easy, because I walk at a casual stroll. The first day I walked and worked for four hours straight without a second's thought. Then I stepped off and nearly collapsed from jelly knees. Ha! After that I kept it to one-hour increments as I built up my stamina.

Here's another reason the eyesore is worth it:

In addition to working, I can also use the treadmill at night while watching TV with John. Multipurpose ftw!

We've had the treadmill desk now for nearly a year. I don't use it every day, but usually I'm on it no less than 3 or 4 times a week. The days I use it I'll walk for up to two hours, then switch to the sit-down desk for a while, and then go walk again. It's saved me from growing into my desk chair, and is also a great way to wake up from after-lunch drowsies.

So, there you have it! Now, who's off to find a used treadmill?


Come see ALL of my craft projects on one page, right here!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Firefly Art Even Non-Fans Will Love

Check out this sweet copper and brass "wall hanging thingie" made recently by user Hell's Kitten on

Now that's cool.

I love that even people who've never heard of Firefly (aka "sad people") can appreciate something like this. The lyrics are beautiful on their own, and the plaque has a rugged Asian/steampunk vibe that could go with all kinds of different decor.

The artist doesn't give any further explanation on how it's made, but the pics alone are great inspiration for us DIY types:

In fact, I could see this working beautifully with thin Masonite sheets, metal rivets, and metallic paints and glazes. Just smooth on some joint compound/spackling to give the wood a rugged texture before painting, and then use letter stamps to inset the text into the texture. Hmm.... [plotting]

Ok, now I want to make one. Yep, this is going on the list!

The long, long list. Heh.

A big thanks to reader Kelli for sending me the link!

What's on your crafty to-do list today, guys?

UPDATE: I've since talked to the artist, Sara, and she's made lots more amazing stuff! (Another fabulous Firefly plaque here.) Check out her Flickr account to see more, and watch her brand new Etsy store for future goodies. Also feel free to contact her about commissions!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

GORGEOUS Steampunk Music Video: Eye of the Storm

[running in] YOU GUYS!!

This masterpiece just hit the 'net today, and you must see it.

Feast your eyes on the jaw-dropping beauty that is Lovett's "Eye of the Storm":

Wow. I think I just fell in love with steampunk all over again. The dragon! The goggles! The airship! The glowing green elixir! [swoon]

Yep, I'm gonna have to watch this another time or twelve.

Fingers crossed you non-US viewers can see it! (And if not, please don't lynch me. Heh.)

Oh, and a big thanks to Jen D. (aka Number 1) for sending me the link!

UPDATE: For more info on the artist Ben Lovett and also a behind-the-scenes making-of video, check out Nerdist's post here. (And thanks to Renee for *that* link!)

Geek Glee 2/2/11

Some fun pictures making me smile this week:

Submitted by Holly S., via Rockstar Photography

Love, love, LOVE this look. The colors!! YES!
(Click the link above for more eye candy.)

Little Edward Scissorhands:

A - wait for it - maaazing. I wish I could find the original source, but I got lost on a rabbit-trail of Tumblr blogs. Anyone know?

[UPDATE: Found! Photo is by Cara S., and there are more great shots at her Flickr account.]

Fabulous kids' store design:

Check out DesignSponge for more.

Cheerful, artsy, and gorgeously refinished garage sale finds - what more could you want? I'm also seriously crushing on that chandelier; I've talked to John before about finding/making a similar one for our dining room. With Edison bulbs and rusty iron, though, of course. ;)

Lady LEGO Locks:

via Outsapop

Geek fashion ftw! And super easy if you happen to have LEGO lying around the house. (Sadly, I don't.) Or, for a slightly smaller (and therefore more wearable) version, I just spotted this 8 bit beauty over at ThinkGeek today:

Only $9.99, but they're out of stock! Grr.

And finally, my new baby AT-AT:

John brought this home for me Sunday night while I was finishing taking down all the Christmas decorations. (Yes, I really waited that long. Really.) I immediately had an impromptu play session on my desk. It makes fun "pew pew!" noises that freak out the cats. :D

Oh, and I have Mickey in the driver's seat. Heh. I love having toys on my desk; they make me smile and provide great little distractions when I'm fighting writer's block.

Speaking of which, the book writing is grinding on, so thank you all for your patience - particularly any of you who've e-mailed me in the past few weeks. Writing a book in two months while also keeping two blogs running is proving...interesting. However, we're on track, and I'm looking forward to reclaiming my life come 2/15!

So tell me, guys, what's got you smiling today? Share your links in the comments!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Book Review: Packing for Mars

Last night I finished reading a book on the space program, not realizing that today was the 25th anniversary of the Challenger tragedy. Packing for Mars is not about Challenger specifically, but rather NASA's continuing efforts to put (and keep) humans in space. In many ways it's a celebration of everything the Challenger astronauts lived and died for, so I figured today was a good day to tell you about it.

First and foremost, this isn't some dry and somber science book. The author, Mary Roach, is HILARIOUS. I could just stop there, but you know I won't.

If you get the Reader's Digest you may be familiar with Roach's humor columns from the past few years. Those two page articles hardly allowed her real skill to shine, though. In Packing for Mars, it is her copious footnotes, asides, and wryly irreverent observations that will have you busting a gut - all while learning things like how exactly an astronaut poops in space. (In fact, it was the chapter on waste elimination that had me startling John awake with my laughter.)

Mary takes her research seriously, though, and I was fascinated by her detailed history of the trials and triumphs mankind has faced in its pursuit of the stars. She traveled around the world to interview cosmonauts and astronauts alike, flew parabolas in a jet to experience zero G, had a "go" with the official NASA potty 'cam, and drank her own treated urine, all to give earth-bound laypersons like you and me a glimpse at what real life star trekkers go through each day.

I'm embarrassed to admit it, but I used to have this vague impression of astronauts floating around in one big zero G party up there, eating freeze-dried ice cream, playing chess with HAL, taking Star Trek style sonic showers - the works. Roach took away that glamorous image, and replaced it with a nitty-gritty every-day heroism that, frankly, inspires far more respect (and often sympathy).

Growing up here in Central Florida, I've often taken Cape Canaveral and the space program for granted. I was in my second-grade classroom when Challenger broke apart in midair, but if I'd been allowed those few steps outside I could have seen it with my naked eyes. I remember the TV coverage, and the shock, and the special memorial song a teacher wrote and sang a few weeks later at a school assembly. One line in the chorus - the only line I remember, in fact - asked, "Can we face the challenge?" Twenty five years later, and I can still hear her singing that question. With so much else clamoring for our attention in the world today, it's kind of gratifying to know that some brave men and women the world over are still doing just that - and even more gratifying that someone as smart as Mary Roach is out there to explain it all to us.

So guys, what are you reading? Tell me in the comments!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Doctor Who and the Japanese "Smile" Girls

Ok, so actually what I have here is a new "fashion accessory" in Japan:

Blinking mouth lights.

Yes, really.

And yes, only in Japan.
[Edit: Or raves. Assuming they even have those anymore. Heh.]

However, as I watched the girls marching silently and rather creepily toward the camera in the video below (especially around 0:45), all I could see was a new breed of villain for the good Doctor.

Take a look and see if you agree:

via LikeCool
Now we just need one of you video geniuses to splice these shots in with a Doctor Who chase scene. I'll even let you choose which Doctor. :D Then I will post it and giggle uproariously. Mostly because I like the word "uproariously."

Oh, and also: synchronized mouth lights as fashion? Really? And here I thought the LED eyelashes were out there. At least the lashes draw attention to the eyes, and could be a fun costume accessory:

See the video here.

I am kind of curious how well she can see over them, though.

Anyway, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't want my teeth getting that much attention. Ladies? Gentlemen? Geeks? What say you all?


Thanks to Rebecca R. for rocking out with her mad video-editing skillz. ;)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Geek Chic Jewelry

Weekends were made for online shopping, right? So here, allow me to help:

These comic book cuff links Kendra B. found are sure to add a little "POW!" to your wardrobe. They're available at RedEnvelope for $89.95, but you could easily DIY for less. You just need some old comic books, epoxy resin, and jewelry shells (or bottle caps, if you want to go *really* cheap). Hellooo, awesome necklaces!

I will never tire of drooling over polymer clay jewelry. NEVER.

Sub'd by Linz H. and made by Jessica Montanelli, who has an Etsy shop here.
(No sign of this bracelet at the moment, though!)

Confession: I've never tried a macaron. So to me, this bracelet looks like Rainbow Brite made a batch of Whoopie Pies. And believe me, I am perfectly fine with that. :D

Are door knockers geeky? Ok, maybe not. Still, this ring looks pretty darn cool:

Found via Craft:, $75 at Pat Kim Designs

And if you have any friends in Japan, tell them to be on the lookout for this ├╝ber geeky pi necklace:

Found by Tess B. and made by RGB Laboratory

Math nerds, rejoice! Except I don't think it's available online anywhere, so maybe don't rejoice too much. It's probably just as well, though; this looks both expensive and kind of scratchy. (Just keep telling yourself that, Jen...)

And finally, for my fellow gamer girls:

Sub'd by Rachel N., $35 at UseYourDigits on Etsy

It's all in the wrist, baby - or in this case, *on* the wrist. This bracelet is like a trip down memory lane with all the different game controllers, plus it comes in four different colors! I'd wear it with my Nintendo controller belt buckle, even though I'd get mocked mercilessly for it by all my friends. (Except you guys, of course. You wouldn't mock me, right? Guys? Hello?)

So, seen any great and geeky jewelry lately? Share your links in the comments!

BORING PERSONAL UPDATE: By the by, all, just thought I'd mention that I'm in the midst of writing CW book 2 - which is due in 3 weeks, eek! - so posting here will continue to be a bit sporadic for the foreseeable future. I have lots of fun tutorials and posts planned out, but I also have to survive the next month. Heh. So, thanks for being patient while I handle my "real" "job," and I'll do my best to continue posting here at least twice a week.