Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Hobbit & Pottermore: First Looks

This is a red letter day to be a geek, guys!

First, check out the first sneak peek of Martin Freeman as Bilbo from The Hobbit, just released by Peter Jackson through Entertainment Weekly!

Hit the link for a few more pics, or pick up this week's copy (on stands tomorrow) for the whole story.

WOOHOOO!! And I know we've all said it from the beginning, but Martin really is perfect as Bilbo. (Is it 2012 yet??)

And next, fellow Harry Potter fans, have you heard about Pottermore? Here's J.K. Rowling's big announcement, which just released today:

And since that's a bit vague, here are a few details courtesy of the Leaky Cauldron:

- Pottermore is an interactive new Web site and reading experience with more than 18,000 new words from J.K. Rowling.

- One million fans will get access to a beta on July 31, Harry's birthday. It will be open for all in October 2011.

- You will follow the story, get sorted into a house and get a wand (one of 33,000 possible combinations) - all crafted by JKR.

And from the official press release:

For this groundbreaking collaborative project, J.K. Rowling has written extensive new material about the characters, places and objects in the much-loved stories, which will inform, inspire and entertain readers as they journey through the storylines of the books.

Here's a screen shot:

More screen shots here, and lots more information here.

I've never been much of on online gamer, but darned if THIS wouldn't get me hooked. Granted, this will probably be more like an interactive story book than an actual game, but allow me a moment to imagine WoW-esque gaming in the Harry Potter world, won't you?

[imagining] Mmmm. Yeah. That's the stuff.

So, anyone else excited by today's news?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

"Quick" Craft - Small Clock Makeover

Since I'm waiting on parts (and a little inspiration) to finish up our radio cabinet makeover, I spent a few hours fixing up the little alarm clock I got the other week:

The case's finish was mostly rubbed off, so it was dull and grungy, and the plastic face plate was scuffed.

The face itself was gorgeous, with the glaring exception of those pale green glow-in-the-dark dots around the numbers and on the hands:

The maker name, Linder or Linden, is actually hand written on the face in ink. Pretty. (I don't know how old it is - although it's stamped West Germany, so that's at least pre-1990. Heh.)

I scraped out the green dots & popped out the green sections on the hands with the point of a craft knife:

Already lookin' better!

You can also see in that photo the little holes above the numbers. John drilled these by hand with a tiny bit, to make way for...

...some bling!

The crystals were scavenged from a ring that had already lost a few over the years. However, when I pried the stones out they lost their reflective backing, which is what gives them their sparkle. So - and here's where you'll start questioning my sanity - I applied silver leaf in each of the tiny holes before gluing in the crystals. Considering that the crystals are smaller than a bread crumb, this was a real pain in the rear. (Toothpicks. Gotta love 'em.)

However, in the end I think it was worth it:

The gems really sparkle in the light - far more than their plastic rhinestone counterparts.

For the body of the clock, I polished the inner housing and refinished the feet, handle and lattice side wrap with this:

We were faux finishers for years, so trust me when I tell you Montana's Goldchrome spray paint is one of the closest you'll ever get to "brass in a can." Of course, it's most convincing on small pieces, so don't expect to fool anyone on large bed frames or anything.

Here you can compare the original brass finish (the inner metal seen through the lattice) with the painted feet, handle, and lattice. Not a bad match, right?

I left off the scuffed plastic cover, so now you can see the face clearly:

Oh, and lest you think I sacrificed a perfectly good ring, that's it there. As you can (kind of) see, I removed the crystals in a flower pattern, so I think it actually looks better now than it did when I first bought it. A win-win!

The clock is sitting, ticking, beside my keyboard as I type this. I find the ticking kind of soothing, but it drives John bonkers. (A win-win-win?) :D

Important Safety Update: Thanks to dmontag in the comments, I was reminded that old clocks often made use of radium paint on their dials, which is harmful. We didn't *think* this one was old enough, but just to be sure we opened it up and found it was made in the early 70s. (From what I can tell, radium dials tapered out in the '50s.) If you have an old clock or watch with glow-in-the dark detailing on it, go here to learn more about the dangers of radium paint - and PLEASE don't go scratching it off like I did on this one. o.0

Shopping Blasts from the Past

I actually used to hate antique stores, and antiques by association. There was just something about all that musty, uncomfortable furniture, the shelves and shelves of don't-touch crystal, the creepy toys... and why the heck was everything covered in doilies?

Actually, come to think of it, I still hate most of that stuff.


Still, over the years I've learned to love antique stores. Maybe it's because I'm getting so old that there are toys *I* grew up with in them (well hello, Mr. Glo Worm!), or because I realized they're like museums where you can touch stuff (except that crystal, of course) or - dingdingding! - because I'm now a bit of a steampunk devotee. Oh, and can't forget all the gaudy vintage jewelry! Man, I love that stuff. The more sparkle, the better.

Our favorite stall at the world-famous Renningers: everything from antique keyhole latches to chandeliers. Hardware heaven!

Of course, my favorite kinds of antique shops are the cheap and junky ones. Don't show me beautifully preserved tchotchkes, each displayed in its own spotlight - show me the tables of ancient mishmash I can dig through! I want stuff I can fix up, re-use, and get creative with.

Which isn't to say I don't drool over finds like this, though:

I spotted this cash register crammed in a small stall at Renningers last Saturday. Isn't it gorgeous?

Here's the back:

Hmm. Anyone have a spare $900? :)

Anyway, so last week John and I took some friends to our favorite antique mall, and this is what I came home with:

Check it out: that's a vintage cake decorating icing kit, in the original box, for $5. Suh-weet! And oh yes, I have plans for it. [rubbing hands together] Muah-ha-ha!

The little alarm clock was a splurge - $20! - but it was more than half off because the owner marked it "broken." (It's not.) I just finished working on it tonight, since we're waiting on a few pieces for the radio cabinet in the mail. Before & after pics to follow!

And my third purchase? Why, a $1.50 McDonald's Happy Meal toy from 1986, of course:

Anyone else remember these? I used to play with Kermit and his skateboard on my desk at school. Something reminded me of it a few weeks ago, so when I spotted Fozzie here (unopened!) in a pile of toys at one of the stalls there was much rejoicing. And squeeing.

Of course, now you know I have to find the rest of the Muppet Babies set, right? (And eventually I'll break down and take Fozzie out of the bag, but I'm going to feel really guilty when I do. Heh.)

So, have I convinced anyone to go antiquing? And am I invited when you go?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Radio Romance, Part 1

Remember that old radio cabinet John and I purchased way back when? Well, we finally dragged it out of the garage about two weeks ago, and have been working on both restoring and steampunking it out ever since.

Here's what it looked like, fresh from the antique mall:

Tonks and Lily approve. Or disapprove. Or don't give a flying rip.
Really, it's hard to tell.

The cabinet was in amazing shape, considering it's 81 years old:

Pretty carving on the face and columns.

As you can see, the only real damage was to the speaker grill, where a few pieces of the lattice design were broken off.

The radio itself was long gone, with the guts and knobs removed:

Ick. Verrrry dirty.

After wiping down the inside (again: ick) we removed the center panel:

This would actually make a beautiful shelving unit by itself, but there was no way I wasn't using that gorgeous center panel. So, we set about repairing it.

First, John carefully pried up the center speaker grill, which was nailed in place with tiny pin nails:

The blue tape is to protect the wood from scratches.

Don't worry; the filthy mustard-colored speaker cloth will be getting an upgrade.

Next, the fun part: I got out my epoxy putty.


You slice off a small section of this putty and knead it together to activate it. It is *extremely* sticky, and you have less than five minutes of open time before it hardens to a cement, so it takes a little practice to get used to. (It's better to work in small sections.) However, I eventually managed to get the two missing sections roughed in, plus one small center patch:

The two skinny patches are where the lattice was missing completely.

Next I spent two nights painstakingly carving the detail into those patches using a pumpkin-carving bit on my Dremel:

The Dremel takes off tiny, tiny bits at a time, so it's very dusty and very slow going - but that also gives you a lot of control, which is good.

Here are my patches after carving:

I won't lie to you: I am extremely proud of these patches. I'd only used the epoxy putty this way once before (on a project I'll feature here later), and I've never carved anything before, so this was both a learning experience and a ton of fun.

Next I used acrylic craft paints to apply a dark faux wood grain over the patches:

Though the grill looks (and feels!) like a heavy wrought iron, it's actually made of wood.

Ready to see the finished product?


Of course, the irony here is that I spent two or three days working on something that no one will ever notice - and that's the whole point. Heh.

Next I'll be showing off the fun, electrical, steampunky features we're adding to our radio cabinet, so stay tuned for those!

Oh, and in case you have something that needs patching, here's the epoxy putty I use. It's about $6 from Amazon, or you can find it at your local hardware store. And believe me, once you start using this stuff, you'll be in love. Just be sure to wear gloves, or you'll be picking concrete bits off your skin for a week. (Heed my voice of experience!)

So tell me, guys, what's your favorite crafty secret weapon? Any tools or products I should know about?

{UPDATE: At long last, here's part 2!}

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Dad's Day Laughs

Ok, so this is actually from last year (how did I miss it?) and isn't particularly geeky or girly, but it's perfect for today and made me laugh:


(Also, 2:03. That is all.)

Oh, and if you haven't seen Sunday Sweets yet today, you might like my tribute to all dads - but mostly mine - over there. In addition to the jaw-dropping cakes, I share a few of the reasons I became the geek girl I am today, thanks to my Dad.

Plus you'll learn my childhood nickname and the names of our pet miniature goats.

Not to mention the fact that we had pet miniature goats. Heh.

Happy Father's Day, everyone!

So tell me, kids: what's your favorite memory of your dad? (Or of whoever filled the role of "dad" in your life?)