Tuesday, August 30, 2011

My Steampunk Flux Capacitor Pin

I don't want to post any big spoilers for our Dragon*Con costumes quite yet, but here's a fun little jewelry project I put together that I'll be wearing:

I started with this LED flux capacitor pin I received from Team Fox at MegaCon:

I also grabbed an old watch a reader sent me for parts, and...well, took it apart:

I scratched off the tacky "quartz" and brand name from the center of the watch face with a fine blade, and then painstakingly cut and placed tiny watch gears to fit inside the outline. I also used copper foil to accent the edges.

In that photo you can see the small square filigree piece I cut into four sections. I used these to accent the edges of the capacitor pin, which I'd also edged with copper foil:

I enlisted John's help to drill two holes into the metal watch face, and then used some fine gold chain and O-rings to hang the face from the pin itself:

And yes, the watch still works! Pretty handy.

The final accent piece on top is actually a flattened brad with an O-ring on top. John said it reminded him of a propeller. I just think it looks vaguely art deco.

The best part is that exposed gear on the back, though. I added it to the twist-on cap behind the pin which turns the lights on. This allows me to easily turn the pin on and off while wearing it.

To demonstrate, here's a little video I shot with my brand new iPhone (woot!):

That's my first new phone in eight years. Needless to say, it's a pretty dramatic upgrade from my old beat-up Cingular brick phone. (Plus, I sense more videos in my future!)

Oh, and sorry for those yucky night pictures. That's what I get for crafting at 3AM! For that last shot I tried the milk jug technique someone once mentioned for shooting jewelry, though, and I think it turned out pretty well, don't you?

(To try it yourself, just cut out the bottom of an old water or milk gallon. Trim the top back for your camera lens to stick through, set it on a white sheet of paper, and violá! Instant miniature photo studio!)

Stay tuned for more great photos and tutorials! [Hint: My raygun is finished! And she's beeeeaaauuutiful.]

Sunday, August 28, 2011

How to Find Me at Dragon*Con

This week John and I will be packing up and heading to Atlanta for four fun-filled days with Our People, the Geeks. And, since it's an increasingly FAQ, here are some tips on finding us if you'll be there, too:

1) Sorry, we won't have a booth. And while the lovely folks at D*C have indicated they'd be delighted to have us do a presentation or whatnot, I'm selfishly choosing to do what I most want to do instead: see the con!

2) That said, I'm happy to sign anything you bring, pose for embarrassing photos, or just say hi, assuming...

3) you find me.

And, as an added incentive:

3) There will be prizes.

Yep, it's the return of the ever popular/frustrating "Find Jen and Win a Prize!" So

4) watch my Twitter stream for updates on my location and apparel throughout the weekend. I'll be there all four days, and I'll even be in costume one day for your blackmailing pleasure.

And just to make things a little easier, here are a few helpful hints in advance:

5) I'm not a morning person. So don't bother looking for me before 10 or 11 AM. (I will be at the parade, though.)

6) The tracks I'll be haunting most are 'Trek, 'Gate, and Alt History. I also hang out in Artist Alley quite a lot.

And to make it really, really easy:

7) There will be a small CW pow-wow in the ConSuite (aka "the place with the free snacks" in suite 223/226 of the Hyatt Regency) on Sunday afternoon, time TBA. This is because loyal henchperson Priscilla, one of the organizers there, took it upon herself to plan one. I hear there will be cake. (Rock on, Priscilla!) So, if you haven't found me by then, consider that your Plan C (for "cake").

And no, you won't win a prize for finding me there.

Now, since the ConSuite is open to everyone, I'm guessing most of the people there on Sunday will not be one of us Wreckies. Therefore, I propose some kind of code word exchange to ID each other. Preferably something having to do with sprinkles, carrots, Epcot, or all of the above.

Any suggestions?

Also, stay tuned for the exact time; I'll update this post once we get it nailed down.

UPDATE: Mark your calenders: party in the ConSuite will be at 5:35pm on Sunday! John and I look forward to hearing all your many and varied code phrases. ;)

Friday, August 26, 2011

Friday Fun Links

It's the weekend, guys! Time to stop slaving away at the computer, get outside, and do fun things!!

But first look at this awesome stuff.

- Absolutely adorable upcycled necktie ruffle collar:

Plus, McKell makes it look so easy, even *I* might be able to do it.
Tutorial here, found via craft:

(Note: here's a good question raised in the comments: what if the tie isn't machine-washable? I wonder if you could make it removable...)

- If you love the film Labyrinth as much as I do, you'll get a kick out of this:

From this post which includes a letter from Jim Henson to David Bowie regarding the Fireys scene, plus a few sketches and pictures.

- Which reminds me, you can watch the complete making-of special on the Dark Crystal here. After watching the first 30 minutes, I realized I *still* think that film is creepy as heck. Cool stuff, though. [UPDATE: video has been pulled. Sorry, guys!]

- Christopher Lloyd plays Doc Brown again (in the DeLorean, woot!) in this new commercial. (I couldn't stop grinning for like five minutes.)

- And now, the world's most adorable Tauntaun carousel "horse":

Needle-felted sculpture by PushPLAY (hit the link for more pics), found via @jmaruyama

- And finally, would you believe this is a dollhouse?

The Bloggess posted a whole photo set of her painstakingly detailed (not to mention creepy) "Haunted Dollhouse," and this was my favorite shot. Check out the little Tinkerbell on the dresser! Er, right next to the skull. (Hey, I *said* it was creepy.)

Hit the link to see the rest.

Happy weekend, everyone!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

My Book Tour Has Officially Been Out-Geeked

Dang it.

Ernest Cline, the creator of Fanboys, is on tour this week promoting his new book Ready Player One. Nothing unusual there.

Well, except that he's traveling in a thoroughly souped up DeLorean with "features from Doc Brown's Time Machine, KITT from Knight Rider, Buckaroo Banzai's Jet Car, and the Ecto-1 from Ghostbusters."

Check it out:

Yes, I am insanely jealous.

No, I don't want to talk about it.


Cline will be driving about 2,000 miles in the DeLorean - John and I will be driving about 5,000 miles this October. So, our lousy generic rental car will at least be comfier, right?



Read more at The Geekiest Book Tour Ever, and don't miss the rest of Cline's series on his process of building the geekiest car ever - it's pretty amazing. (Especially the latest one about his proton pack. Omigosh so cool!) You can also find the posts and his tour schedule over on his blog.

(Before you ask: I haven't read his book yet, but I plan to. It has great reviews and looks like a lot of fun.)

Also, many thanks to Elizabeth A. for sending me the link and making me question my geekhood. -.- No, really. Thanks a LOT, Elizabeth.

As for my own tour, I believe we just nailed down the last tricky date in Houston, so final details are coming soon. (Hooray!) Stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Every Geek Home Needs...

A Star Trek-themed cat tree:

Set phasers to "love me."
(More images and another design over on Bit Rebel, found via @amy_geek)

Which will look great next to your....


Yes, it lights up, and it actually looks fabulous in the room.

It was made by Nick Woodrow, who says he's taking orders - for an undisclosed price.
(If you have to ask...)

More info and video on Gizmodo. (found via @GirlsAreGeeks)

And finally, for a little wall art, how about some Portal 2 Cave Johnson cross stitch?

Finally! A reason to return to my cross-stitching roots!

You can snag the .pdf pattern for less than $4 here. (found via @kiala)

Oh, and speaking of Portal, there's another excellent fan film making the rounds - but I actually like the first one I featured with the cake better. Is that bad?

And they say Twitter is a waste of time. Ha!

So, what geeky greatness is wasting YOUR time today, guys?

One Size Fits All?! (A Short Girl's Rant)

So for my final costume piece for Dragon*Con, all I needed was a pair of striped tights. Striking out at the mall, I turned to ebay, and snagged a nice black and brown pair for about $10.

They arrived in the mail today, and I excitedly ripped opened the package and unrolled the contents.

And unrolled,

and unrolled,



Guys, these suckers are as tall as my shoulders, UNSTRETCHED.

I know I'm short, but I've yet to meet a woman whose pelvis is eye-level with me. So I ask you: WHAT. THE. HECK??

Also, what's with this crappy "one size fits all" thing in the world of hosiery, anyway? Every cool pair of tights out there (Sock Dreams, I'm looking at you) is one size. ONE SIZE. Since I'm five foot tall, that means knee socks are thigh highs, thigh highs are nipple-highs, and tights can keep my neck warm - while I'm wearing them.

THESE tights, however, take the proverbial cake for sheer insanity. (Heh. "Sheer.")


Ok, rant's over.

'Scuse me while I go find the scissors...

Monday, August 22, 2011

$10 Geek Tees? Yes, Please!

I should start by saying this is *not* a sponsored post. I just figure if I'm going to be throwing all my money into geeky tees, you guys might as well join me.

Through tomorrow, all the tees on Threadless are only $10. However, you may have noticed - as I have - that Threadless seems to specialize in more artsy hipster stuff than in geek girl goodies. And there's a LOT of it to comb through when seeking geektastic gems.

Well, never fear, fellow fans! I have heroically picked through all the watercolor guns and ironic silhouette art to bring you only the best geeky options!


Been There

Back to the Future meets Indiana Jones. Great Scott!

I also like that the girl wearing it has a cute hot air balloon tattoo:

Of course, none of the designs can come out and say they're a Star Wars or Harry Potter design for copyright reasons, which is another reason searching through shirt sites like Threadless can be a pain.

House Brawl

This one's neat because its also available in the girl's "boatneck" style for the same price:

I absolutely LOVE this Doctor Who (ish) design:

I don't usually wear t-shirts this busy, though, so I'm on the fence about buying it. I'd almost rather have it as an art print. (Something I say quite a lot about Threadless designs, actually.)

There's even a little steampunk to be had:

I already own these next two, if that tells you how well I like them:

And John wore this next one so much he literally wore it out. I think I'll have to buy him a new one:

This started many, many conversations. Most of them confused.

I think I'll also have to nab this one:

And also this one, even though it's less geeky and more oh-so-cute-hot-air-balloon-y:

Again, all of these shirts are $10 until tomorrow. To find more geeky options, your best bet is to select Gaming or Pop Culture under categories and browse that way. I also omitted a few awesome designs (like the Muppets rainbow one) because they're sold out. (Boo!)

Also, today's TeeFury is a Firefly inspired "I Aim to Misbehave", and their shirts are always $10 (plus shipping.) Oh, and while we're at it, if you've never checked out Woot or Ript Apparal, those are also great $10 deal-a-day t-shirt sites. (Today's Ript Cylon toaster made me laugh.)

Um, I guess I should stop now, before I bankrupt us all. Heh. Still, let me know what I missed in the comments! And happy shopping!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

This Is Why I Love Conventions

Ok, well, one of the reasons why.

Ladies, gentlemen, and fellow geeks, I give you...


(spotted via Wimp)

Yes, he's weird on Twitter, but Spiner is gold - GOLD, I say - in person. We got to see him live with Levar Burton at MegaCon last year, and he was both bitingly hilarious and surprisingly humble by turns. I like him. And this video (shot at this year's Emerald City Comic Con) makes me like him more.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to X out another day on my countdown to Dragon*Con. :D

Saturday Steam 8/20/11

After MUCH peer pressure (thank you, peers!) I've started a Pinterest account. If you haven't heard of it, Pinterest is a super-addictive photo-sharing platform that rips open the space-time-continuum and sucks away your entire afternoon. Trust me. It's dangerous.

Anyhoo, of course I'm pinning mostly steampunk inspirational stuff, like this:

Submitted by Julie N. via locksmith-r-us; By Franz von Stuck and found at Bremen City Hall, Germany.

Now THAT is a door handle.

And check out these funky cool "light installations" by Liquid Light:

That's a chandelier.

And here's a floor lamp:

I'm sure they can't be as fragile as they look, but I'd still be terrified of even breathing on those crystal drops. Wow.

John and I have been working hard on our Dragon*Con costumes this week, and I'll give you one guess what they are since I'm mentioning them in this post. Heh. Anyway, we've been consulting the mighty Google image search quite a bit for reference and inspirations like these:

Found by Corinna H.; Victorian Picnic at the Clara Zetkin Park in Germany; photo by Regina Katzer.

Hit that link to see over a hundred fun costume shots. Eye candy galore!

And speaking of eye candy, I'd give a non-vital organ to look like this:

(I did a triple-take before I realized that's a real girl and not a painting. Sooo pretty.)

Or this:

Both photos from SteampunkCouture, which you should go click around for lots more gorgeousness. (And if you're that skinny - well, I hate you - but also you can buy that last outfit for only $175!)

And just LOOK how adorable this girl is:

Found via Steampunk Girls, another good time waster, but I don't have the photographer's credit. Anyone know?

[Edit: I'm a dolt. This one's *also* from Steampunk Couture. I should've known!]

Also, that skirt makes me ridiculously happy.

Ok, enough gawking at pretty steampunk girls.

Now let's gawk at pretty steampunk jewelry!

Love the art deco touch - and only $22 at Sandrandan.

$51 at the always fabulous Bionic Unicorn.

Ok, so this next one's more pirate than steampunk, but I love the enameled ship:

Found by Carthey S.; by Karen Keith Designs

I believe this was a one-of-a-kind that's been sold (curses), but click the link to see lots more.

Who says steampunk has to be all gold and brass?

$36 from Friston

I discovered Friston's etsy store last week, and quickly discovered that I have needs I never realized before, guys. Jewelry needs. I...I think I'm in love. With a purple leather cuff bracelet:

$47 from Friston

Not to mention at least eight of his other pieces. I'm telling you: NEEDS. I have them.

Oh, and finally - yes, I've seen the crazy steampunk apartment. I like the technicolor dirigible. So you can all stop e-mailing me the link. Please.

Seen something fun and steamy? Share your links in the comments!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

I'll Buy THAT for $4

When John picked this up at the antique store last Saturday, my first words were, "Dude. They have LIGHTSABERS??"

Ok, so I admit I'm not an expert on lightsabers *or* vintage flashlights, which is what this is. However, I'm betting with a few more buttons and doo-dads I could totally rock this at the next Star Wars Celebration. Not bad for $4 - and there are tons like it on ebay, if you're in the market. (Like these - so cool!)

Next I caused a minor scene when I spotted this - also $4 - hanging off a shelf of old pencil sharpeners:

Circus World! Anyone remember that place? It was a theme park near Orlando in the 80's, and later became Boardwalk and Baseball before dying altogether. Frankly, I don't remember it at all, but according to this picture I've had forever I've been there at least once:

Huh. You know, looking at that creepy-ass clown in the picture with me and Ben, I'm suddenly realizing why Circus World wasn't around very long. And I LIKE clowns. (Since, you know, I was one for a coupla years.) (And btw, isn't my clown girl cute? I have her brother on the other side of that shelf in my office:

They're both from a cold porcelain artist on etsy.

Getting back to that pennant, though, I love the colors and it was only $4 and it made John roll his eyes a LOT so I call that a good purchase.

Now, does anyone know a way to clean little mold spots off felt? And would you say that pennant is creepy-in-a-bad-way, creepy-in-a-good-way, or still needs a motion-activated soundboard with the Joker laugh on it?

And why was John rolling his eyes, anyway? It's not like it was a giant metal chicken. (*gigglesnort*)

Also, I'm reminded that I've never posted the final "after" pictures of my office. I should do something about that someday. Maybe. (Procrastinators ftw! You know, some time tomorrow!)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

You Can't Take the Carrots From Me

This bit of shininess comes from Epbot reader Alden L., who writes:

"I thought you needed to see this. I made them. The pig on the left is my male, Snickers, and the one on the right wishing I would die in a fire is Ouiser Boudreaux, my female. She is of course neutered because the world does not need more accidental guinea pigs. They are both rescue pigs. Also, they were not fond of the hats, no matter how cunning they are."

You are damaging my calm.

I'll admit I was expecting pigs of the curly-tailed variety at first (which, c'mon, would be pretty awesome) but that little death stare is perfection itself. Quick! Someone say the safe word!

So thanks, Alden. I think I speak for us all when I say: we actually DID need to see that.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

World of Geek Craft 8/16/11

This "woven gift topper" by Kate of Minieco is made of pure happy:

Or maybe strips of paper. Whatever. The point is: I dare you to not smile while looking at it. I'd love to see a whole set framed individually on clean white walls: instant geek art! Hit the link above for more Invader dudes plus instructions. (Found via Craft:)

Some adorableness from the upcoming Stitch Wars gallery show:

Soooo cute. This one's my favorite, but there's lots more to squee over on SuperPunch.

Now, you could buy this necklace by Oak for $372:


...you could use this tutorial by Honestly...WTF to make your own with stuff you might already have in the garage:

Oh, the possibilities! I'm thinking braided ribbon for a more feminine look. What do you think?

(And thanks to Amanda H. for the link!)

Oh, and while we're at it, I Still Love You's tutorial for making "Magic Braided Leather" makes my head hurt a little:

...but I have to try this.

And finally, Josh H. sent me a pic of this awesome nerdy birthday banner his wife Sabrina made for him:

I especially like the Picard uniforms. :)

Josh didn't say, but I think these are all made from felt. Family project, anyone? (And great job, Josh's awesome wife!)

Seen any great geeky crafts lately? Be sure to share in the comments!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

On Behalf of a Grateful Granddaughter

Note: Not my usual geeky/goofy fare today; just something I've been working on for a while and wanted to share. I hope you enjoy.

We drove an hour north to climb into a big, beautiful limo.

I hadn't been in one since my wedding. Some of the others had never been in one.

It had a mirrored ceiling and colorful cocktail napkins tucked into champagne glasses, all lined up, waiting for next prom season.


There were even crystal bourbon decanters, but they were empty. (I checked.)

During the next hour's drive, we all laughed quite a lot.



And we talked even more.


I wish I could say everything seemed so much more alive, more meaningful, when we drove through the gates. But really, I just thought it was a pretty drive.

We wound through shaded roads and moss-dripping trees, and then everyone told me to turn around and take a picture of these men on the side of the road:


I began snapping pictures through the glass.


Then the car stopped, and I realized they were there for us.


Deeply embarrassed, I put the camera down and was handed out of the car.

We sat on tiny stone benches under a small gazebo across the road. There a man who'd never met you told us things about your life I never knew. He also read a prayer, and called you "brother."

I didn't take any pictures of that.

The men-at-attention stood that way while we sat. If I turned my head I could just see them, there in the sun. It was about 90 degrees, and so thick we drank the air.

The man warned us it would be loud, but I didn't cover my ears. I covered my eyes, and took as many pictures as I could.

One even caught the puff of smoke from their rifles:


I wished the cars weren't there.

I wish I knew enough about PhotoShop to take them out.

Then the man on the right began to play, and the first notes were so pure, so piercing, that the thick air turned to crystal.

Or maybe I just forgot to breathe.


I stood at the edge of the gazebo, one foot in the grass, and watched through my sunglasses. (I was glad for those sunglasses.) The silence that followed was like the awkward pause at a dinner party.

The few of us who'd stood shuffled back to our seats.

I'd been asked to take pictures for the family, but the click-click-clicking seemed so tacky, so loud. I was embarrassed. Still, I couldn't miss the flag:


And when the shaking old veteran began, "On behalf of a grateful nation..." I risked a shot of that, too. Because I had to.

I had to.

I hope they understood.


I don't remember it being this clear.

I think...maybe that's why I need these pictures.

Then it was over, the strings of formality cut, and I could click away with impunity.


June, watching with gentle sympathy, Mom, smiling through tears, Uncle Russ stoic, and Grandma somehow more radiant than I've ever seen her.

A few more silent pictures, and Grandma and I walked across the road.

I tried to thank the man with the trumpet, but my voice failed me, and I couldn't see if he'd heard. They all stood staring straight ahead, waiting.

I wondered how many tearful granddaughters they'd seen that day.

Grandma planted herself at a distance, like a proud commander, and thanked them all. Then she handed me her cane, and the man called an order, and I took this picture:


We were never close, you and I. You were gruff, and I was sensitive. I never tried to know you better.

I never knew you were a baker.

But I'm glad I got to say goodbye.

These men - these soldiers - never knew you at all. Still, they honored you, and they honored us. They are still sacrificing for their country, in the 90 degree heat and the drinkable air.

And this granddaughter, at least, is so very grateful.

Grandpa Service 2

Charles R. Christensen, 1/27/28 - 6/14/11


Update: I've since had several people send me revised versions of my photo with the cars removed. I'm overwhelmed and humbled by your generosity, and I want to thank you all for helping me make a beautiful keepsake for my family. I can't wait to show it to my grandmother in the photobook I'm designing - so thank you all. Truly.