Tuesday, February 21, 2012

MegaCon 2012 Best Shots

I've kept you all in suspense long enough, so here they are: my favorite costumes from last weekend's MegaCon. Enjoy!

Sonic/Mario mash-up!

Pretty steampunk ladies: Catwoman, Harley, and Poison Ivy

The resemblance is uncanny.

At one point we happened upon a whole busload of Disney princesses coming in through a side entrance, and the light was just perfect:

You can't see the shell in her hair, but this is Ariel.

Possibly my favorite shot of the whole con:

Like I said: the light was just perfect. It was also a mini miracle that the crowd cleared right at that moment.

[Update: Alyssa in the comments pointed out that both Snow White & Ariel are based on the Disney Princess Designer Dolls - and their costumes are a perfect match! So cool!]

It's not a con without Furries!

Not a costume, but I forgot to include the Ecto-1 and Blues-Mobile in yesterday's post:

My girl-crush of the weekend:

Clearly I'm not the only one - check out the guy's face in the background. Hee.

Ok, remember our friends Chris & Christie? Christie's the one who won the Dragon*Con Comic Book Babes contest last year. Well, on Friday she and her sister Robyn cosplayed two Anime characters named (I am so not making this up) Panty and Stocking:

To go along with the outfit (and I would assume this is a story-line thing) Christie also had removable hot pink underwear:

She had on shorts underneath, but the guys didn't know that, so each time she'd pose this way guys would race around behind her to try and get an upskirt pic. Which is both disgusting and kind of funny.

On Saturday Christie and Chris went as Harley and Joker:

Chris prides himself on having a completely screen-accurate costume, and it's fascinating to hear all the time and effort that went into it. Things like the orange lining on his jacket, which most people will never see, and that the second button on his vest is never buttoned, because that's how Heath Ledger wore it.

In fact, here's my second-favorite shot of the whole con:

Pics like these are why I love conventions: the entire process from taking it to tweaking it to posting it online is pure joy for me.

Chris & Christie were actually part of a large group of friends cosplaying Batman villains that day:

That's Christie's sister Robin as Catwoman, and Robyn's boyfriend Dan as Bane (in the face mask.) The Penguin is Chris's Nerdgasm co-host Andre. They're all incredibly laid-back and sweet people, and it was hard not to brag to everyone in sight that, yeah, I'm totally friends with them. ;)

Speaking of which, I actually met Christie through my Epbot post on last year's MegaCon; I posted a picture of her and Robyn in costume and she sent me an e-mail introducing herself. I've met several fellow geeks that way, and I love it.

Ok, back to the costumes!

Something about this photo - especially the lower half - makes it look like a comic book drawing. Nifty.

The cutest gal MegaMan *ever*:

And now, zombie Leia & Stormtrooper:

She had freaky yellow eye contacts in. Freeeeaky.

I heard later that these guys won the Judges' Choice in the costume contest:

The guy playing Shaggy is especially perfect.

Here's an amazingly adorable Princess Zelda:

And an elegant GLADOS:

Not sure who this guy is, but I thought the pic turned out great:

Boring technical note:
This was our first time trying out a wide-angle lens at a con, and WOW did that help. You could literally stand three feet away and get the entire body shot, from shoes to pointy hats, in frame. It's perfect for big crowds when you don't have room to back up. We experimented with the lens on different cameras, and sadly John's Canon 10D (which is supposed to be a better camera) didn't have a quick enough sensor for the low light in the hall, meaning most of Saturday's shots are quite blurry. My trusty old Canon Rebel XT, though, worked like a champ. Yeah. Take THAT, more expensive cameras!

Another Batman group.

John's latest game obsession is Borderlands, so he was thrilled to spot these characters from the game:

Only at a con:

And finally, as we were leaving on Sunday we spotted this whole family of Jedis, and I'm not gonna lie: I totally teared up.

That little girl in purple is about to mess. you. up.

Rock on, little padawan. ROCK ON.

Want more great costume pics? Of COURSE YOU DO. So head on over to my Flickr set to see over a hundred more; there were just too many good ones to include here!

Monday, February 20, 2012

MegaCon 2012 Highlights

Well, THAT was an awesome weekend.

I'm used to conventions being a somewhat solitary affair; John and I wander the floor together and only interact with the occasional person in line or chatty artist over at Artist's Alley. This time, however, we had several friends both attending and exhibiting, and it was a delightful change to run into people we knew on a regular basis. Everything's just more fun with friends. (That probably makes me sound like Winnie-the-Pooh. And I'm ok with that.)

On Thursday we met up with Amy Ratcliffe and Thom Zaler at Epcot, and spent a delightful several hours roaming the world showcase together and eating far too often. I've followed Amy on Twitter for ages, so it was fun to finally meet her and find out she's even more likeable in person.

Amy in her Trek uniform at MegaCon (though she'll be quick to point out she's really more of a Star Wars fan).

Friday night as we were leaving the con we had the surreal experience of getting a phone call from Paul of Paul and Storm, the musical duo best known for their Wootstock performances. He threatened and cajoled us into coming to their show which was starting in just 30 minutes downtown, and somehow we managed to get there with barely a minute to spare.

The concert was awesome and hilarious, Paul name checked both us and our friends Missy and Scott of Basic Instructions from the stage, a CW fan bought me a beer (which I swapped with John for coffee, since my throat hurt), and after the show the six of us hung out in the green room for a couple of hours just chatting and laughing. (My first green room, you guys! And it was actually green! With lots of penises drawn on the walls! And everything was really, really filthy!)

We sat in a small balcony together with Scott and Missy. Here Paul's pointing at us and saying something about us being too "good" for the ground floor. ;)

Saturday was the crazy crowded day of MegaCon, with a ticket line that took over an hour to get through and parking spread out so far you had to take a shuttle, which added another 30 minutes to your travel time. This was also the big costume day, though, and the people-watching was grrrr-reat!

We kicked Saturday off with a Warehouse 13 panel:

It was held in a massive room that only had mics for the celebs, so we couldn't hear most of the questions being asked. Other than that, though, it was a good panel. Not spectacular, but good.

(Later that afternoon we got Saul Rubinek's autograph. He was perfectly polite, but very clearly not interested in small talk - even though no one else was waiting in line. I don't think any less of him for it, but the experience did leave us feeling a bit deflated; that's $30 I wouldn't spend again.)

Oh, and I figured out the perfect way to ensure your personal space at a con:

Wear a costume with pointy bits sticking out at face level! This Queen of Hearts had an extra chair's buffer between her and the rest of the row. Brilliant.

As much as we hang out in Artist's Alley it should be no surprise that we've made a few friends there. Here's Jennifer Teeter and Jason Thomas of Red Rocket Farm:

Every time we stopped by they kept trying to give us things (they're big CW fans), so we were thoroughly spoiled by the time the con was over. We did buy John a t-shirt and these two pieces, though:
Aren't they great? They're hand-painted 3D wood plaques; the robots are raised above the back pieces. One was $20, and the other was $30, I believe.

We also stopped to chat with Jasmine Becket-Griffith (whose art I've followed for years) and her husband Matt, who are just fabulous people. They live here in Orlando, too, so we see them at all the local art shows.

And while I'm at it, here's the rest of my art haul:

Ray gun prints (only $5 each!) by Amy Williams

Ninja Turtles print ($10) and original monster painting ($15) by Bianca Roman-Stumpff
The original Beaker & Dr. Honeydew ($20) is by Micheal Duron, who was kind enough to paint in lots more color while we waited:

Ooh, and I tried something new on Sunday, guys: I commissioned some art! I asked for Chell from Portal with cake and two portals, and a few hours later, I got this!

Seriously. How fabulous is that? (And only $15!) I'm going to have to start commissioning more sketches: not knowing exactly what you'll get is actually quite fun! (The only sad part is I don't remember the artist's name, and I can't decipher her signature. Anyone know?)

We met a few of you readers on Saturday, too, including Patti and Dave here:

Don't they look great? They credited Epbot with getting them into steampunk, and even for getting them hooked on conventions! Folks like this make me so happy I could pop. Thanks again, guys.

Saturday afternoon our good friends Ray and Julianne come out for their very first visit to their very first convention. (Am I a good influence, or what??) We wandered around and pushed Julianne - a lifelong Trekker - into meeting Brent Spiner by buying her his autograph. Brent was both snarky and sweet as always, telling her that life was going to be all downhill after meeting him and generally making her giggle like mad. She claims she'll be hanging his picture over her bed, but I'm guessing Ray (her husband) might veto that idea. Regardless, *that* was $30 well spent.

Which brings me to possibly the funniest thing that happened all weekend.

There was a large Star Wars section on the con floor with props and photo areas like this:

So we asked Ray & Julianne if they wanted to bring their 2-year-old over for a family photo near some Scout Troopers. What I don't think they realized was that *one* Scout Trooper was not a dummy.

Isaiah the two-year-old, however, knew IMMEDIATELY what was going on, and the following hilarity ensued: (Keep in mind this all occurred in less than 10 seconds, and that I was laughing so hard I had a hard time holding the camera steady.)

Isaiah eying the Scout Trooper with deep mistrust.

The "dummy" Scout Trooper and Isaiah play peek-a-boo over the oblivious heads of his parents.

Ray tries to direct Isaiah's attention to the camera, but there's no WAY the boy is taking his eyes off that Scout Trooper.

Mistakenly thinking he must be looking at his mother, the parents decide to swap. Meanwhile, the Scout Trooper gives mom bunny ears and the photographer (that would be me) starts howling with laughter.

Even while being swung onto his mom's hip, Isaiah never takes his eyes off the Trooper. Ray finally glances back as they walk away, only to see a harmless Scout Trooper dummy, standing stock still.

After that we got a few shots near the Jawas, but the damage was done:

I'm afraid little Isaiah will never trust another mannequin again. :D

Saturday night after the con we went to dinner with Scott and Missy, and Sunday night we went out with our friends Chris and Christie and their family, who all went to the con. They're all super amazing cosplayers, so I'm looking forward to showing you their various costumes in my next post.

Speaking of which, I'm going to wrap this post up now and show you my favorite costume shots in the next one. So stay tuned!

Friday, February 17, 2012


This won't apply to the vast majority of you out there, but for you few fellow Orlandians or visitors attending MegaCon this weekend and wanting to say hello, here's how to find me:

Just tweet at me, and I'll tell you where I am at that time. And I *love* meeting you guys, so please don't be shy. I'm shy enough for all of us, mmkay? Oh, and I'll have a pocketful of Epbot pins, too, so be sure to ask me for one.

John and I will be at the con all three days (starting today) in the afternoon, and we plan to be at the Warehouse 13 panel on Saturday. We will not be in costume. (Sorry.) I'll also be in Artist Alley a lot, as usual. :)

Hope to see some of you there!

And for the rest of you: stand by for COSTUME PICTURES!! Woot woot!!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Another Candle Stick

I noticed my candle labels post has been surprisingly popular over on Pinterest, so I thought I'd show you guys another one I did ages ago and then promptly forgot to post:

(Yes, it smells amaaazing. I don't even have to light it - I just keep the lid off on my bedside table.)

The label is from The Graphics Fairy, and started out blue. With a little Photoshop magic, though, it became a pretty emerald green:

This is a great trick anytime you want to color-coordinate your labels. Just go to Image - Adjustments - Replace Color, and play with the sliders.

And here's my tweaked graphic, in case you'd like to use it yourself:

(click for the full-size, then right-click to download)

As with the others, just print it on regular paper and use a little glue stick to adhere it to the glass. The glue stick works like a charm: all of my labels from last year have held fast, even after burning each for multiple hours at a time!

Looking for more candle labels? Check out this post for eight more of my favorites.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Welcome to the (Ray) Gun Show

The ray gun John helped me built for my Dragon*Con costume has been sitting forlornly on a back shelf, waiting for a proper display stand so visitors might behold its majesty and goggle at its glory and just generally laud our crafty prowess.

Well, last week, it finally got one:

Behold! Goggle! Laud!

The gun handle is actually inserted into the base about an inch, which helps support it and keep it from tipping over sideways.

Here's how we made it:

First, we clamped two pieces of 3/4 inch poplar together to form one thick board. After the glue dried overnight, John used a router to give it a pretty edge.

We needed the base to be thick so that the gun handle could fit partially inside it, but you might not need this for your own display. Plus, you can buy ready-made wooden plaques from most craft stores for just a few dollars.

We measured the exact size of the gun handle (you'll see how in a sec) and traced the paper template onto the wood:

To get this template, we simply jammed the gun handle into a block of floral foam, which you can see here:

Then we rolled on some black paint around the hole, stuck a piece of paper to the foam to transfer the paint, and cut out that shape to form our template. (You can see the piece of paper up there in my second photo.)

I used my trusty Dremel to carefully carve out the hole to match the angle and depth of the gun handle. My floral foam came in handy here, as I reference it frequently to get the interior shape right. I also had the gun nearby so I could keep checking the fit.

Next, the barrel support is made from copper plumbing pipe:

John bent the top edge like this to form a curve, which we then filled with epoxy putty:

This gave us enough surface area to epoxy on the rounded support piece that the barrel would rest in.

That support piece was made from the same copper pipe, which John cut and hammered into a C shape:

To pad it I cut a small piece off an old leather belt:

The leather was thick and stiff enough that no glue was needed: I just jammed it into the curve of the metal.

The copper tarnishes fast, so we polished it and hit it with a quick coat of lacquer to keep the shine.

Next John drilled the hole for the pipe:

And we gave it a quick test run:

It works!

Believe it or not, the hardest part was still to come, though: figuring out the wood stain.

Take it from two former professional painters: staining is hard. Different woods grab stains differently, the color is never quite what you expect, wood putty stains too dark, and if you don't know exactly what you're doing, odds are it's going to look pretty awful.

John spent over a week playing with samples in the garage, some with pre-stain, some without, mixing colors, and then experimenting with two or three different kinds of clear coat to get the right sheen.

In the end all that trial and effort paid off, though, because this is the best stain piece he's ever done:

John used a wipe-on polyurethane for the top coat, and it gave the wood a beautiful subtle glow. Sooo much nicer than all the brush-on and spray products we've used in the past!

Oh, and can't forget the finishing touch:

This solid brass plaque only cost $8 from our local trophy shop. Isn't it gorgeous? They have several different edges and corner details to choose from, plus at least 20 different fonts you can mix and match, and 3 or 4 different brass finishes. I usually buy everything online when I can, but this was totally worth the drive. (Unfortunately the shop doesn't have a website.)

And if that name looks familiar: yes, it IS an homage to Marvin the Martian's ray gun. It was John's idea. And he might have begged. A lot.

Marvin's gun was named the Illudium PU-36 (Or Q-36, depending on who you ask) Explosive Space Modulator. I changed the PU to SP for "steam powered" and tacked on the Aether because I thought it sounded cool.

The copper pipe and brass plaque pick up the copper and brass in the gun, and the wood stain is different enough from the handle to provide a nice contrast without clashing. All in all, a success!

I hope seeing our process helps any of you out there who have your own prop gun to display. As always, be sure to send me pics if you give it a go!