Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Frame Your ACEOs By Cutting Corners

I've talked about framing ACEOs (small art cards that measure 2.5 x 3.5) before, but I've always hated the fact that I had to put adhesive directly on the card itself to mount it in a shadowbox, effectively ruining any signature or writing there.

(Of course you can also frame an ACEO using a mat, but since the cards are so tiny to begin with I like to keep the edges completely visible.)

It wasn't until a reader recently asked me if there was any way to mount an ACEO without adhesive that I started brainstorming alternatives.

I'll spare you the whole list, and just get straight to the blindingly-obvious-in-hindsight solution:

Photo corners!

Why didn't I think of these before??

They come in standard colors like black, white, and a beautiful metallic gold. Since they're paper, you could also paint them to match your art exactly.

[EDIT: Oooh, and according to the comments you can find them in clear plastic, too! AWESOME SAUCE.]

The easiest way to use the corners is to stick all four on your art card *before* removing the sticker backs:

Then you can line up your card on your backer board or pretty scrapbook paper and remove all the sticker backs at once.

If you plan to mount your card in a shadowbox, like these, then use the photo corners to attach your card to a stiff piece of mat board justly barely smaller than the card itself. Then glue your foam riser pieces to the board instead of your art. Voilá! Your art remains undamaged!

You can also trim the photo corners to make them a tiny bit smaller. Just be careful only to cut the front of the corner, and not the back support:

Hold your corners like this, bending the back piece back, and then use scissors to trim off a quarter inch or so. (Not much, I know, but every millimeter counts with ACEOs!)

Here's the piece I just finished framing tonight:

These are original watercolors I bought from my friend Christie (the same one who painted me the steampunk seahorse.) I've never been much of a unicorn person, but I just love these - and the fact that they're in my favorite colors doesn't hurt. ;)

I already had the frame and blue scrapbook paper, so the only expense was the photo corners and the white mat, which cost a whopping $4 at Hobby Lobby.

Speaking of which, I'm never going to the grumpy lady at JoAnn's for mats again! A sweet gal at HL literally took less than three minutes to cut this custom size for me, and then redid it even faster - for free! - when I asked for a slight change. ALL FOR FOUR DOLLARS. I think I'm in love.

Anyhoo, hope this tip helps some of you art-lovers out there! Happy framing!

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Force is Strong With This Nursery

Shannon just sent me a link to the most amazing Star Wars themed nursery over on Apartment Therapy. Check this out:

Color-changing lightsaber sconces! YES. (And how perfect is that quote?)

I love the modern bold lines, and that mom Abby didn't go overboard with the details. Plus, no need to break out the paintbrush, the quote and wall art are all wall-decals!

I'm also digging that silhouette mobile. It was purchased here on Etsy, but I bet you could DIY something similar with heavy cardstock.

Here's a close-up:

And how about a version that uses ships from all different shows? I'm thinking Serenity, the Enterprise, the TARDIS, a few TIE-fighters...aw yeeeeah.

But perhaps the best part of this Force-full nursery? The Wampa-skin rug, of course!

It's gettin' Hoth in here!

There's also plenty of squee-worthy toys and an adorable Boba Fett lamp and more wall art and such, so go see the full picture slide show on the original post here. They also include a handy list of shopping links for all the goodies, which is both helpful and very dangerous. (Where can I hang some lightsaber sconces, guys? I mean, is the guest bathroom appropriate?)

Friday, January 20, 2012

Raid the Attic!

I love seeing obsolete or outdated technology turned into something fun and useful again. I mean, just look at this funky purse made from an old old rotary phone!

Check out the full tutorial by Chica and Jo, found via Dollar Store Crafts

Sadly I only use cross-body satchels these days, but I can promise you that if I ever see you carrying a purse like this I will love you forever.

(And by "love you forever," I mean "stalk you through the store until I work up the courage to tell you how cool you are, and maybe ask you out in a totally platonic and John-approved manner.")

Over on Etsy you can find notepads made from old floppy disks or hard disks for as little as $5, but of course this was the one to catch my eye:

$9.15 at emilydesign

Or how about these tiny vintage cameras that Jason Hull turns into nightlights?

Seriously genius. This ones shines through both the lens on the front and the viewfinder on top.

Here's another:

I never knew how much I needed a camera nightlight until this very second. MUST HAVE CUTENESS NOW.

(You can see lots more at Jason's Flickr stream.)

And finally, perhaps the most beautiful typewriter mod I've ever seen:

This hacked typewriter types colors instead of letters. It's a piece of art that actually makes art*! WOW. Made by Tyree Callahan (hit the link for more pics), found via BoingBoing.

[*EDIT: as a few of you have pointed out in the comments, a closer reading of that article shows the color typewriter isn't actually functional. Oops. Still pretty, though!]
I know there's tons of jewelry that makes use of old circuit boards and memory sticks and whatnot, but have you guys seen anything else cool made from old technology? Share your links in the comments!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

DIY Hat Display Stand

Here's a quick & easy mod for anyone who has a pretty bit of head wear to display. It's perfect for steampunk top hats and aviator hoods, but would work equally well for any kind of hat - like, say, collectible Mickey ears. [grin]

All you need is a pretty candlestick, half of a hard foam ball, a bit of padding, fabric, and long push pins (not shown - ignore those nail tacks there):

The foam ball will sit on the top of your candlestick. It can hang over the edge, or you can get a size that fits the top almost exactly, as I did.

Cut your foam ball in half (I used a long utility blade) and cover it with quilters batting. Glue the first layer down with plain white craft glue, and the other layers of batting will stick to each other.

Now, I didn't actually have any batting, so - prepare to laugh - I used unrolled cotton balls:

Hey, it works!

If you plan to tuft your cushion (did I mention we're making a cushion here?) with pins, you'll need a fair amount of padding. I used four or five layers of unrolled cotton balls, with a bit extra on the very peak.

Now the tricky bit: wrap your padded half ball with a generous square of fabric and gather it all together underneath the flat bottom, holding it all in one hand. Smooth the top of the ball with your free hand as best you can, and arrange the pleats/scrunchy bits on the edges 'til you're happy with the results.

Next tie the gathered fabric you're holding together with a long twist tie or bit of string, like so:

Then pin the bejeepers out of it all around the edges. (Kinda looks like a jellyfish's nethers, doesn't it?)

When your pins are all in, remove the twist tie and trim off the excess fabric.

Now flip your mini cushion over and use more push pins to create a tufted look, if you like:

I quickly realized the tacks I purchased were way too large, so I decided to stick with the tiny push pins. I later used liquid gold leaf to paint the tips, so now they blend with the fabric better:

I used a small square of industrial Velcro to attach the cushion to my candlestick top. If your candlestick has a metal spike sticking out, though, you could just stick the foam ball right on top of that.

And that's it!

Although I did have to add one last finishing touch:

Since this is for the steampunk Mickey ears Christina & Dylan made for me, I decided to add my aviator Mickey pin to the stand's base. First I jazzed it up with a few gears on the back:

[singing] "I glued some gears on it, and called it steeeeampuuunk..."

...and then I drilled a tiny hole into the base to insert the pin back:

This way I can still remove the pin when I want to wear it. Also, note how the gears match the back of my Mickey ears:

(Ah, those infamous Tim Holtz gears...)

Ok, time for pretty finished product shots!

Now, you might be wondering why I bothered making a pretty cushion when odds are no one will ever see it. Good question. All I can say it, I'll know it's there.

And here are my steampunk ears, finally displayed in all their glory!

And now with a few snazzy accoutrements:

Hope you enjoyed, guys! Be sure to send pics if you try this yourself!

Oh, and if you're on the hunt for good candlesticks to mod, I found the best selection was over at HomeGoods. This one cost about $12, and is a nice heavy resin. Of course, ideally you already have a few wooden 'sticks lying around the house you can use!


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

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Baby Epbot 'Bot!

Jordan of jayMARIAH just posted this on the Epbot Facebook page, and AAAUUGHH GREAT GEEKY SQUEEEGASM!

Oh. My. Cute.

On the one hand, I am delighted beyond the capacity for rational thought.



Ah, but it gets better. When I asked Jordan to scan the drawing in to send me a copy, she reported that she didn't have a scanner, so instead, how about this?

Orange balloon! Orange balloon! ORANGE BALLOON!!!

I love how Jordan instinctively knew the original 'bot was designed so his head could retract into his body, too. I like to think he really did start out as an egg, and then ate too many data chips as he got older. :D

Go show Jordan some love on her post, won't you? I'll just be here staring pie-eyed at the cuteness and cooing softly to myself. So, you know, don't mind me.

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Great Non-Event


So, I have about four new craft projects in the works, but nothing ready to share yet. So instead, here's a little update on the life of two hermit blogger persons:

- Remember that orange safety knife that matched our car and John bought at a dead mall after the nice British sales lady sliced her finger open with it and sprayed blood all over the place and I freaked out like a squeamish McSqueamerson?

[reminiscing] Ah, memories.

Anyway, someone stole it! Right out of our car! They left the old iPod and CDs and somewhat pricey mobile Internet card, but took our $12 window smasher/knife thingy. They rifled through all our stuff and even used the knife to cut open a package I hadn't mailed yet in the backseat - but left everything in the package. Odd, right? So now I figure this is all a plot by a clever killer who's planning on making our little pocket knife his new murder spree weapon of choice because it has John's fingerprints all over it. The fact that I've been watching the new Sherlock over and over again has nothing to do with that theory, either.

- Speaking of awesome TV shows: DOWNTON ABBEY OMG!! I can't remember the last time I was this excited over new episodes. You're all watching it, right? RIGHT?! Please, I need someone to understand my pain and madness and wishing Thomas would just fall in love with a nice boy and maybe arm-length evening gloves would come back in fashion and do Mary's eyebrows fascinate any one else out there or is that just me?


- As I type this, John is cleaning the house and singing pretty songs at the top of his lungs. I joked on Twitter that I was waiting for the helpful woodland creatures to show up. Because I can totally make Disney princess jokes about my husband. TOTALLY.

- On a serious note, tomorrow is a terribly important non-event for us, because tomorrow is the day John and I decided many months back that we would shut down Cake Wrecks. For good.

Told you it was serious.

We'd told our closest friends and family and I wrote the final post and we faced the incredulous lecture of our financial adviser and friend who could not believe we wouldn't even consider selling the site. (And just to go on record: we never will. I won't see CW turned into a soulless Cheezburger network clone - ever.)

It wasn't because we've lost readership- we've held steady with our numbers for forever, and I still have nearly 10 times the audience there that I have here - and it wasn't because I don't enjoy writing it anymore. It wasn't even that I felt unappreciated - if only you could see the touching, makes-me-cry-at-least-once-a-week fan mail. I was just tired. Physically, mentally, spiritually - I felt drained and uninspired, and the daily deadline to BE FUNNY NOW was chipping away at my motivation to even get out of bed every afternoon. (Blogger's hours, doncha know.)

I have mild bouts of that kind of depression pretty regularly, but after the last book and 5-week tour it reached a critical level. Stopping CW seemed the only way out.

Then the tour ended, and we got home and purposely planned a low-key holiday season with minimal travel and family interaction. I got back to my crafting, and spent a lot of time alone with my cats and my hubby and learning to breathe again.

And I felt better.

So, for those of you who might be concerned, Cake Wrecks is NOT ending tomorrow. There won't be another CW book, though. I've learned where my breaking point is, and writing and promoting a new book while maintaining two blogs and my sanity is IT.

That said, I still haven't really caught up. I usually write posts about a week out - once even two weeks out - but for the past month I've been writing each day's post at 8pm the night before. John says I write better this way, since I can't over think it. I say it's still pretty dang nerve-wracking. I'm hoping to muster the motivation to get back in the black sometime soon.

And 'til then: I have a few crafts to finish. ;)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

An UP Engagement & A Steamy Wedding!

I've seen two amazing wedding shoots since yesterday, so prepare for much squeeing & dreamy sighing, fellow geeks.

First, Lynnette and James worked with Wildflowers Photography to get the most spectacular UP themed engagement photos I've ever seen:

Not only did they dress to fit the part - and have a rockin' miniature balloon house - they also included most of Carl & Ellie's favorite activities from the movie! Stuff like cloud gazing:

...and sharing grape sodas:

(Note his bottle cap pin. D'awww.)

And perhaps my favorite: here's a montage of vintage ties on James, no doubt meant as an homage to the bit in the movie where Ellie straightens Carl's tie every morning.

I'm tearing up, guys. Seriously.

(In case you don't remember that part, you can see the tie montage below starting at 2:19)

There are so many more great shots you've just got to see, though, so go check out the full post on Lynnette and James here.

Next, the most creative and casually elegant steampunk wedding I've seen in ages:

Kate and Jacob described their wedding style this way: "“It’s like a steampunk Zeppelin crash-landed in a fairy forest.” Ha! I love it!

And believe it or not, guys, they totally nailed it:



During the ceremony they used music from Star Wars and The Princess Bride, among others. And the bride wore leather boots instead of heels. I FREAKING LOVE THESE PEOPLE.

Head over to Ruffled for the complete blog post, with tons more pictures. (The ceremony was held outside, so don't miss the pics of that!)

And thanks to Rebekah S., who I think was the first to send me the steamy link, and to Ellen O. for sharing the UP shoot on the Epbot FB page. Keep the awesome stuff comin', guys!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Vintage Space Art Playing With Portals

I saved the best of the pages from the few vintage kids' books I made into purses, and have long intended to hang these space-themed ones from an old school book in my office:

Trouble was, the pages were double-sided - and I kind of liked both sides.

Plus the pages are a bit yellowed, which makes them seem a bit dingy. So I did the obvious thing and scanned them so I could print copies of all four.

Once I'd scanned them in and spiffed them up in PS, though, I started thinking about replacing the text with something a bit more...inspirational.

Which led me, naturally, to the words of Cave Johnson from Portal 2:

I initially made this one with the full quote, but as you see it's a bit wordy and doesn't quite fit the schoolbook tone:

Funny, though.

For the remaining two prints I decided to balance out the set with quotes from GLaDOS, and oddly enough, they fit with the illustrations rather beautifully:

Let's just pretend there's a portal on the planet's surface, shall we?

I love how the astronaut actually looks kind of sheepish. If he'd been grinning it would have spoiled the whole effect.

These would be hilarious hanging in a space-themed nursery, don't you think? If only to see how many visitors actually read the art. (Has anyone done a Portal-themed nursery yet? And if not, WHY NOT?!) (And before you ask, yes, I have seen the Portal kids' room. And it's awesome.)

Anyway, I'm still learning my way around Photoshop, so I spent an embarrassing amount of time cleaning these up and arranging the text just the way I liked it. I bolded certain words the way textbooks do, found the closest matching font to the original I could, and for the third page I even added a few more stars to fill in the gap left by the reduced amount of text. I like how crisp and clean they look now, and most importantly, they make me laugh.

I haven't printed them yet, but I'll be sure to show you guys pictures once I have them framed!

UPDATE: A lot of you designer types are decrying my font choice. I get that. All I can say is I thought it was the closest match to the original text and fit the schoolbook vibe well - but I'll gladly change it if you have something better to suggest! Maybe I'll even try a fun art deco font to mix things up...

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Walk Off The Earth Awesomeness

I'm not much of an online video watcher - I think it's my inherent impatience - but John is, and almost every day he shows me one or two of his new favorites. I like letting him sift through the deluge and just show me the highlights, whether it's the newest cute cat video or some amazing science lecture.

Anyhoo, yesterday he showed me this, and WOWEE you guys gotta see!

Not only is the whole five-people-playing-one-guitar thing amazing to watch, the song is super catchy. I only listened to it twice yesterday, and I've had it stuck in my head all day! (Not necessarily a bad thing.)

And if you like that one, watch this one next. The technique alone will make your jaw drop:


I love how artists are taking advantage of viral videos to market their music now - like OK Go and Pomplamoose. Half the time I start watching just for the visuals, and end up loving the music.

Speaking of which, here's a song I never would have listened to if it weren't for the video, and it's been one of my favorites for months now. It's by a Finnish singer named Lauri Ylönen, but if you like 80s pop you'll probably love it:

The vid's also a bit dark. And confusing. But hey, cute puppet!

I originally saw this on SuperPunch last year, and then spent a while hunting for a place to buy it, since it doesn't appear to be available in the U.S. It's a shame there are more places to download it for free than there are places you can actually purchase it (ie, I haven't found one yet), since I'd gladly pay a few bucks for it. Take my money, iTunes, please.

Hit the Ok Go & Pomplamoose links above to see my favorites of their videos, and then tell me who I'm missing in the comments! Maybe you guys will turn me into a Youtube junkie after all. ;)

Friday, January 6, 2012

Convention Photos From 1980!

Britt sent me a link to a great collection of photos from the 1980 Westercon, and it is fascinating. There's some excellent cosplay in there - stuff I could have believed came from last year's Dragon*Con, if it weren't for the quality of the photos. In fact, it's actually kind of awesome seeing how little conventions have changed. Why, there are plenty of ladies in skimpy outfits...

This Lady of the Lake/mermaid was by far the most photographed, I'm guessing on account of her free-flapping boobages. And the giant live snake she later had wrapped around her.

...guys sporting excessive weaponry:

Anyone else suspect that's Adam Savage in the middle?

And plenty of stunning fan-made creations:

I want her hat.

Check out this fabulous Leia and Yoda:

I thought Yoda was a statue until I found another picture of him walking around. So, yep, there's a person in there!

And probably my favorite:

Not because I'm a big Alien fan, but because this proves fangirls have always rocked the house. I salute you, fellow geek girl!

There are lots and lots more pictures, so click on over to The LA Science Fantasy Society to see them all. (Keep in mind the costume photos are mixed in with the non-costume stuff, so just keep scrolling to see everything.) And thanks again to Britt for the link!

Oh, and speaking of conventions: if you're thinking of visiting Orlando next month, be sure it's on the weekend of the 17th for MegaCon. John and I will probably be there all three days, and I'd love to meet any of you who'll be there!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Desperado Decorating

Since this might get me in trouble, here are a few things you should know:

1. John and I took a photography course together in college.

2. Our maturity level has remained relatively static since then.

3. I never inhaled.

So yesterday I found an old photo from that course that used to hang in our living room - much to the consternation or delight of our friends, depending on their taste - and decided it needed to be reintroduced to our decor.

As luck would have it, I also found one of those sappy printed word frames from Ross tucked away in my stash. I have no idea why I bought it, but I quickly realized this was a match made in heaven.

Assuming heaven is really snarky.

Hey, at least it makes me laugh. ;)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Gettin' My Geeky Groove Back

Hellooooo, beautiful geeklings, geekettes, and fellow geek-meisters!

So my family may have sent me home with a large box of dark chocolate-covered cherries, and I MAY have consumed a few too many. BUT NO MATTER. Because I, my friends, am back. And I've missed you. Well, most of you. You know who you are. [winkwink]

So. How was your break?

Since I can't actually hear you, I'll just go ahead and fill you in on mine.

First, even though my family decided a few years ago to stop doing the gift thing (too much stress, and we're all hard-to-buy-for adults anyway) most of us broke the rules.

From John:

Aww yeeah. Does my man know me, or what? (He also got me some mold-making resin. Woot!!) I'm afraid the stainless steel wallet & Star Trek DVDs I got him pale in comparison.

John and I spent Christmas day at home finishing up a gift for my mom: a framed canvas print of a portrait we took of her during Dragon*Con. I snagged the canvas off Zazzle when they were running a 60% off sale. Since this was a very last minute idea, we didn't have time to order a custom frame - but no matter! We'll just, uh, frame it ourselves? Yeah! Why not?

After searching all over town for a shop that actually stocks frame wood and was open on Christmas Eve, we found a small place an hour away that sold us some discontinued scraps of the ugliest frame wood ever to blight the face of the earth. Seriously, it was hideous. We couldn't paint over it fast enough, so I only have this one comparison shot for you:

That's what we started with on the right, and our completed frame on the left.

And here are some progress shots:

This was after John had built the frame and primed it (he's quick!) and sprayed on a chrome base coat.

Next, I added a metallic gold glaze:

I dabbed it on sparingly and smoothed it out by stippling to give the frame a nice platinum look.

After two coats of the gold glaze, it was time for aging:

Here John's applying a heavy coat of black glaze to the rope detailing, which we then quickly wiped off again:

When that was done, I added gold Rub N' Buff to the peaks of the rope and scrollwork detail, and, voila!

Depending on the light, the frame can look silver or pale gold. Kinda nifty.

Here's the back, in case you're curious how John put it all together:

Which we then tidied up by covering with matte gold craft paper:

The day after Christmas we drove to Williamsburg, where we spent several days with my parents and grandmother. I think Mom loved her portrait - Dad immediately hung it prominently in their stairwell - and Dad spent the week gleefully playing with the new camera and lenses we brought him. We also set them up with my old Mac desktop, which was especially fun since they've been life-long PC users. (We've already had a video chat with them since we've returned home, and the vaguely confused and awed expressions on their faces was ADORABLE.) (Love you, Mom & Dad!)

We drove home New Year's Day, arriving in the wee hours. Yesterday I de-Christmas-fied the house. :( I left the steampunk tree for last, and sighed many dramatic and heartbroken sighs as I packed away all the ornaments.

I wasn't kidding about not taking all those lights off, though, and fortunately John found a solution for me:

He shrink-wrapped our tree, guys.

We'll be storing it this way in the garage, which I'll now be calling Shelob's Lair, for obvious reasons:

This sight is so ridiculous I can't help but laugh every time I see it. But hey, next year we can just cut off the wrap, fluff the branches a bit, and plug it in!

Well, that's a wrap - pun intended - obviously - so I'll leave you with a fun video to watch during your next lunch break. If you're familiar with the music of Jonathan Coulton, you'll love it. If you're not, you'll still love it - but afterward you should definitely go look him up. He makes great fun geeky music, and this mini-musical based on his song Code Monkey is great geeky fun:

Happy new year, everyone! Here's to lots more geeky fun in 2012!