Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Geek Glee 6/14/11

Ok, not so much "geek," but this video has a double dose of glee:

Koala: [flap flap flap]
Me: [collapsing from cute]

(Thanks to Becky C. for the link!)

Hold on to your sonic screwdrivers, Doctor Who fans, 'cuz Baby Davros will EXTERMINATE your resistance to snuggling:

Or how about this stone-cold cutie?

Just remember: cute is only skin-deep.Heh. Aheh. Heh.

(Seriously. Even her brain has a bow! YOU GUYS. Her brain...has a bow. Love it!)

These are the works of artist Jacqui Ronan, who has even more Doctor Who cuteness here, so be sure to check 'em out.

Next, Natalie T. sent me a link to these brilliant "sculpted ribbon clips":

By baby bug wear (links to a FB page)
Aren't they amazing? I think I like Tiana and Ariel the best. You can see more ribbon clip creations here, including Queen Amidala and Oscar the Grouch. I'm also loving the Strawberry Shortcake in her Etsy store:

And only $8! Not bad!

And finally, a little more randomness:

I found this during an image search for something completely unrelated, and it made me laugh:

My grandmother has that exact same Santa statue. Ha!

It also reminded me of this:

Sauron: The High School Years.
via SuperPunch & Reddit

I laughed for like 10 seconds straight.

So tell me, guys: what's bringing you glee today?

Saturday, June 11, 2011

DIY Steampunk Gauges

If you're building steampunk props for cosplay, gauges are a must-have. Unfortunately, vintage gauges (which look the most authentic) can be both hard to find and pretty darn expensive once you do track them down.

So, John and I decided to make our own.

Here's the secret:

These cup slider handles for closet doors are perfect for DIY gauges. Plus, a pack of two handles only costs two or three dollars - sweet!

Once we found those, I went hunting online for photos of vintage pressure gauges. I found one I liked, downloaded it, and then cleaned it up and cropped it (badly) in Photoshop:

Next I needed a temperature gauge, which was much harder to track down. Eventually I found a style I loved...

...but the photo had too much glare and shadow to use. So, using that photo as a reference, John and I made one from scratch in PS - with a few fun variations, of course.

For the most realistic look, you could use clock hands or spinner arrows like these for the gauge needles. We were impatient, though, and just printed ours on.

To give the faces some age and character, John rubbed brown glaze on the paper after printing them out. (Tip: make the edges darker for a nice vignette effect.)

Next it was a simple matter of cutting them out:

John: Don't show my thumb! My nail looks awful!

Me: [rolling eyes]

And popping them inside the frames.

For the glass, we considered cutting plastic or thin plexiglass - both options that I think would work, but they would have to be cut exactly right to fit in place, and then sealed with a tiny bead of clear caulk or glue.

So instead, we opted for the easy way out and just filled them with clear epoxy:

If you go this route too, be sure to use metal duct tape to cover the two small holes in the back of the handles before filling them. Epoxy will melt through regular tape - a lesson we learned the hard way with our first set - so be sure it's the hardy metallic stuff.

The epoxy we used was crystal clear, so you can only see it from an angle when the light hits it. It's so clear, in fact, that I may go back and add a circle of thin plastic on top of the epoxy, just to make it more visible.

And finally, here are our two finished gauges, setting in place on a scale drawing of the prop we're building:

And, ok - since you insist - here's a sneak peek of the prop a little further along:

Our gauges managed to fool a friend from only two feet away, so overall I call that a success!

The only change I might make for future gauges is to bring the faces forward a bit, so they're not recessed quite so far in the handles. I've noticed with modern gauges that the needle and face are almost right against the glass, so that might help ours look even more realistic.

Well, I hope you enjoyed this "snapshot of what John & Jen have been up to." Heh. Feel free to use the graphics in this post for your own gauges, fellow steampunkers, and please send me photos if you do!


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

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Good On Paper

I mentioned Olly Moss' amazing art show "Paper Cuts" a few weeks ago on FB, and if you haven't seen it yet, you're going to love scrolling through (there's got to be over a hundred) and seeing how many iconic 80s characters, cartoons, and various super heroes' silhouettes you recognize.

For example:

He reminds me of the babe.

This = instant nostalgia.

And how sweet is this one?


(Ok, so they're not all from the 80s.)

Like traditional silhouettes, those are all cut paper, (ergo the show name) which is what makes the tiny details so amazing.

Also amazing is Meghan Stratman's art project "Nerd Love: 52 weeks of paper fandom," which is nothing short of spectacular when you realize her pieces are also made with paper.

Here are a few of my favorites (so far):


Harley Quinn!

And everyone's favorite Big Sister!

Seriously - just look at that detail. Amazing.

Meghan is only up to week 20, so be sure keep track of her progress over on her blog. As a bonus, the original pieces are available for sale, so if you're quick you might score one of your very own! (Although if she does a Ghostbusters one: DIBS.)

And finally, Brittney Lee takes paper cutting art to the next level - by making it 3D:

The snowflakes in her Edward Scissorhands tribute pop off the page like fireworks - gorgeous!

Scroll through Lee's blog, and you'll find that every piece is more breathtaking than the last:

And this is just the close-up. Wait'll you see the whole thing!
Lee's combination of painting and paper cuttings is simply magical - but her 2D art isn't half bad, either:
I love the shades of Mary Blair here - so wonderfully retro! And unlike the 3D pieces, you can buy this one at Lee's Etsy store.

Oh, and I know it's not geeky, but this one never fails to makes me smile:


And how great would it be in 3D? Eh? (Brittney? Eh? Hint hint?)

So, guys, which is your favorite? Any other great and geeky paper artists I should know about?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Ask Jen: Convention Etiquette

Between CW and Epbot I get a lot of e-mails, and I've been asked for advice on everything from careers to costumes. Though I can't answer them all, and I'm certainly no advice columnist, I thought Leilani's recent question (and my answer) might be of interest to some of you:

[edited for brevity]

You and your equally-amazing husband seem to be pros at the convention scene, so I would like any advice you can offer. I'm stupidly shy. I have a hard time approaching people, even people that are there for the sole purpose of being approached.

...I'm probably going to go to Comicpalooza and I don't have any idea what's appropriate behavior regarding the actors who sell their autographs and photos. Are we allowed to even approach them at their tables to talk to them if we don't intend to purchase an autograph? Don't get me wrong, I have no problem buying a picture or anything...but my bank account does have its limits.

And my reply:

For what it's worth, I'm an introvert whose MO is hugging the walls and staying in the background, so I'm right there with you on the shy thing! For each con we go to, the first few minutes are tough; I have to break the ice, grit my teeth, and [insert one more cliché here] to approach that first cosplayer for a photograph. It gets easier with every person, though, because con-goers are so nice. That said, I still haven't mastered the art of interrupting a conversation to ask for a photo - I just can't do it!

All that said, the celebrity guests are a whole 'nother ball of wax, and how you can approach them depends on the con itself. For really big and crowded cons, you'll probably never get near them without a paid ticket for an autograph, although you usually *can* tag along with a paying friend. Smaller cons are much more lax and easy to maneuver, so odds are it'll just be the guest and one handler (or sometimes no handler!) at his or her table, and if you see a break in the crowd you're free to go up and say hi. The reception you get will also vary from person to person: some guests are tired and really just there for the $$ (sad, but true) while others are genuinely interested in meeting their fans, paying or otherwise.

So, my advice? Go to the autograph room and just scope it out. You'll be able to tell from a distance if the guest is open to drive-by hellos, and whether they have time for one. And don't be afraid to say, "I can't afford a photo today, but I'm a big fan and just wanted to say hi." From what I've seen, most guests respond really well to this.

Have fun! And be sure to send me any good pictures!

- Jen

PS - And sometimes, if you're lucky (or dressed as characters from their show), you might even score a free photo with a celeb:

Felicia Day with The Guild cosplayers, via Felicia's Flickr account

So tell me, con-goers, does this line up with your own experiences? Anything you would add? Or any fun celebrity run-ins you'd care to share? Dish 'em up in the comments!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Robot Kitchen

I know it's hard to tell, but I kind of have a thing for robots. [smirk] And CUTE robots are, without a doubt, the bee's knees.

So here are a few ways to make your kitchen more robot-awesome:

From perpetual kid, $19.99

Passing the salt just got a million times cooler: wind these guys up, and they deliver themselves!

$10.95 each at Neatoshop
Or how about these wind-up timers? Love the vintage tin toy look.

You can make some pretty cool mini-'bots and winding keys with this "chillbots" ice tray:

From Moxie, $8.95
(Thanks to Rachel H. for the link!)
Fun fact: did you know you can also use silicone ice trays like these as chocolate/candy molds?

(Oooh, the possibilities...)

Hey, does anyone actually use egg cups? I certainly never have. But that wouldn't stop me from buying this adorable robot egg cup (and spoon!):

$8.50 (but out of stock! Nooo!!) at Fun Housewares, found via SuperPunch.


And my other favorite:
Six Euros at General Robots, found by Caroline R.

It's a robot tea infuser!

And, as you can see, he fits beautifully in a Dalek mug:

Now that is definitely my cup of tea.

So, seen any geeky cute robots lately? Share your links in the comments!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Candy Colored Steampunk??

The old joke is that Steampunk happened when Goths discovered brown.


Ok, so there's some truth to that.

HOWEVER, there is more to the genre than brown leather and brass - you just have to look for it. (And if you can't find it, add it yourself! That's where the PUNK part comes in.)

For example, check out Adam Wallacavage's octopus chandeliers, which have been making the rounds again online lately:

It's Captain Nemo meets Barbie's Dream House - and I love it.

There are also darker/creepier designs, but it's the cheerful color combos that make me smile:

How great would this be with steampunk home decor?

Although if it came down to selecting one for my own steampunk dining room, I think I'd have to go with this one:


Or, for you cosplayers, how about a little NerfPunk?

Here's the concept: steampunkers are known for painting/customizing Nerf guns into steampunk guns. So this group figured, hey, why not match our costumes to the guns, instead of vice versa? Aaaand NerfPunk was born. Frankly, I think it's brilliant. I'd love to see more bright colors like this worked into the Victorian/punk aesthetic.

Or, if you can't work that much color into your costume, how about in your hair and makeup?

By Colorful-Ayako

Someday, guys, I am going to have candy colored hair. Someday.

Over the past few years a lot of 'punkish elements have worked their way into my closet. Leather boots and ruffled skirts, fitted military jackets, big belts, and flouncy blouses all add up to a subtle steampunk look that doesn't look costumey. Still, most of those tend to be muted khakis, browns, and army greens - not very colorful. And, in case you hadn't noticed, I LOVE color.

Which is why I LOVE these Victorian patterned knee-socks:

Pinstriped Victoria Over the Knee, $20.00 (Thanks to Claire H. for the link!)

Ack! Prettiest. socks. EVER.

(Unfortunately, I'm so short that "over-the-knee" = "crotch level." Not good. Heh.)

You also see a lot of jewel tones in the more traditional Victorian dresses used so often in steampunk costuming - lots of rich reds, teals, and purples. (Some examples here.) It's fun when you see colorful satins paired with rugged leather: such a great contrast.

Ok, just a few more colorful steampunk bits and I'm done:

By Will Rockwell

I spy a hidden Mickey!

And one last gem (literally) from Bionic Unicorn:

Gorgeous, don't you think? The chains and watch guts bring the punk, while the feathers and gems make it a formal statement piece. Perfect for steampunk. (And for only $140, it can be yours!)

Well, I could keep going all day, but I think that's enough for now. If you have any examples of colorful steampunk, please link to them in the comments!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Too Pretty To Do Math?!

Last week reader Sara P. posted a link to this t-shirt on the Epbot Facebook page, along with
the remark, "I weep for females everywhere."

"I'm too pretty to do math"??

I'm weeping with you, Sara.

I mean, hey, I think I've got a decent sense of humor, and a lot of the stuff that draws fire from feminists doesn't really bother me, but this? This bothers me. (I should note it's only available in womens' junior sizes - along with "Sugar Daddy Wanted.")

Maybe I'm just getting cranky in my old age.

Maybe I wouldn't mind so much if the shirt was even remotely amusing.

Or maybe - just maybe - we women should stop shooting ourselves in the proverbial foot by wearing idiotic t-shirts that reinforce degrading stereotypes OF OURSELVES.

But maybe that's just me.

This is from David & Goliath, by the way, a huge, mostly-juniors t-shirt company with lots of adorable designs along with stuff like "ask me about my meth lab" - but I'm not advocating any kind of backlash against them. The fact is, if no one buys shirts like these, companies will stop making them. So, for the sake of intelligent people everywhere, just don't buy it.

In fact, if you want to make a joke about your lack of math skills, why not do it with something like this?

via NoiseBot (available in women's sizes)

Or these?

By the way, the "too pretty" shirt is on clearance, so we can hope most of David & Goliath's clientele have a little too much self-respect to keep it in production. Fingers crossed, anyway.

So tell me, guys, what do you think? Is the shirt harmless fun, or putting women back a few decades? And while you're at it: what's your favorite smart/funny tee? Share your links in the comments, so we can make the world a better place... through shopping. :D

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Portal Fan Video Fun

In the past two days I've seen two amazing Portal vids. That's enough to warrant a post, right? :D

First, a sketch performed at the Fanime 2011 Masquerade:

(found via the always geektacular ThinkGeek)

I would have loved to see this live. So fun!

Now, hold on to your socks, 'cuz this next video is going to knock. them. off.

(Found via @Kiala)

Talk about the intersection of my two blogs: video games and cake? Yes, please!

I've already watched this four times, and it honestly gets better with every viewing. (Although I do wish the final cake was less perfect and more realistic - but that's just me nit-picking.) The actress, Nicole Leigh, is so, so good. I laugh at her oven reaction shots every time.

At some point now I really do need to find time to play Portal 2...but since my office and dining room are both currently covered in pieces of in-process construction projects (updates coming!), that's probably not going to be anytime soon. Heh.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have power tools calling my name.

(And they're saying, "Jeeeen! Tell John to put his saaaafety glasses back ooooonn!"

Hear that, Sweetie?

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Princess Bride Anniversary Photos!

Ahhh, nothing eases the transition back into the work week after a holiday quite like amazing Princess Bride-themed anniversary photos. Know what I mean?

Fortunately, Epbot reader Jess (aka Jessica W.) was happy to oblige us with hers:

Woot! Hold on to your holocaust cloaks, folks, cuz this is gonna be gooood.

I'm already swooning. How 'bout you?

Mahwidge: That dweam...within a dweam.

I couldn't decide which of these next two shots I liked better, so I'll just include both.

First there's the dramatic, facing-down-Prince-Humperdink version:

Surrender? DEATH first!!

And then there's the cheerful, hey-we-just-successfully-stormed-the-castle version:

You can see Jess's dress a bit better here, which - did I mention? - she actually made herself!

Yep, I'd say it's pretty clear this is one geeky cool couple who will be "tweasuring" their "wuv." Congratulations, guys!

All photos by Meghan Christine Photography, and you can see the rest of the shoot here.

UPDATE: Whoops! Apparently my brain has yet to shift out of long-weekend mode; these are anniversary photos, not engagement ones as I said initially. Jess and her hubby have been married for six years. Sorry about that, guys!