Monday, May 28, 2012

Mini Maker Faire! ...And a Cat Show

On Saturday I went to my very first Maker Faire - albeit just a Mini one - where I realized there is SO MUCH cool stuff out there I still want to learn. Then we went to a cat show next door, where I realized - again - that CATS ARE AWESOME. (And I want to pet a hairless cat. I do. I bet they feel like warm velvet. Mmmmm.)


If you've never heard of them, Maker Faires are a celebration of makers - DIYers, hackers, programmers, and other crafty types. At our little one here in Orlando we had a smattering of prop builders, artists, 3D printer programmers, model rocket builders, and other assorted scientists and geeky types. It was small - all housed in one giant warehouse at the fairgrounds - but John and I still managed to spend an enjoyable few hours browsing and chatting with the exhibitors.

The end where we entered had a robot arena, where kids were allowed to drive some of the 'bots around:

 Next to that, two larger robots were shooting baskets:


These toy robots were fun to watch: they can sit, stand, and walk on their own!

There were two or three excellent found-object artists at the Faire. Here's one of my favorite pieces:

A Klingon Bird of Prey! (I recognize the head as a tea ball. Your guess is as good as mine on the rest of it, though!)

 Then there was the adorable work of Robots Are Awesome:


This lovely lady was a fellow attendee, but she really stood out from the crowd:

I'm not sure if she's a steampunk fan or not, given her lack of gadgetry, but I do love that outfit!

Of course, it's not a Maker's Faire without a musical Tesla coil:

This was just a little one, but the purple arcs were mesmerizing, nonetheless. (And that purple balloon just happened to be floating on the opposite side of that banner - it's not actually touching the arcs.)

 For $3 you could buy a little pack of parts and solder your own blinking robot pin. SOLD!

The nice volunteer holding my pin for me was veeeery trusting. I also made a real mess of my solder: she had to fix it for me when my battery pack snapped off the second I finished. Heh.

Here's the finished pin:

 His eyes blinked red, but the battery died by the time we got home. Or maybe my solder just broke again. :D

Here's the most disturbing thing we saw at the Faire:

These animatronic fruit guys were singing, and the way their "faces" moved was both fascinating and reeeally creepy. Here, I grabbed a little video:

(Turn your sound down - it's kind of loud!)

At the back of the giant building behind a partition wall was "the dark side." In here almost all of the lights were off, and there were a few fun light displays around:

This is a large metal and plexiglass sculpture. The colored lights changed over time - quite pretty.

The droid builders were back here, too, along with some familiar droid faces:

I don't think I've seen this little guy before, though. AND I LOVE HIM.

 Chibi R2 unit? SQUEE!

Back in the lighted area, there were a few crazy-talented prop builders:


This is all by Jason of Fireblade Comics. He does a lot of custom work, and I love that he displayed several of his props alongside the items he'd made them from:

John and I talked weathering finishes with Jason for a long time, and now I have some new ideas to try!

And finally, here are two of my favorite art pieces :

I like how the heart is emerging from hot coals - and the "thinker" pose on the skeleton is pretty rad.

Both pieces are by Aleric Art, and are actually on sale at Etsy right now, if you're interested.

So that was the Orlando Mini Maker Faire! Hope you guys enjoyed visiting it vicariously through me. Sadly I don't have any pictures of the cat show - some of those cat show people are a leeetle bit scary, and I didn't want to chance it - so you'll just have to imagine me and John and our friends Scott & Missy tip-toeing down the aisles and peering longingly into all the cat houses while their owners glared at us suspiciously. Hee.

Oh, and Happy Memorial Day to my fellow Americans! Today I plan to practice some more painting finishes on my current craft project and then finish the 1,500 piece jigsaw puzzle I've been working on for months. How 'bout you guys?

UPDATE: I've had a few of you comment on the robots in my first two pictures, and Katie K. was kind enough to send in some more information about this great program for kids and teens:

"After reading your post today about the makers fair, I simply HAD to write to tell you about the robots at the beginning of the post. As I intently scrolled down the page, I immediately recognized the bots in your pictures. Well, not those  ones specifically, but the program they're with. FIRST Robotics is an international competition that brings young people together in the name of, well.... robots. And geekery. FIRST has several programs for different age groups, starting at 5 years old or so.
In the first picture, with the smaller robots, is the FIRST Tech Challenge, and the second with the big one is FIRST Robotics Competition. But both of these are completely comprised of high school students, so those fabulous bots were built by kids 13 to 18 years old! I know more about the basket-ball shooting one, because that's the one I'm in, so I'll talk about it. Beginning in January, teams are given six weeks to design, build, code, and test a robot to complete a given task (given at the start of the build season). This past year it was a more complicated version of basketball. Teams are given a basic kit of parts, but are expected to make or buy anything else they need to make their robot run. Teams then compete at regional and (inter)national levels. So, yes, those robots (and their teams) belong at a Maker Fair.
I'll make a shameless plug here and invite you to tell any kids you know who are inclined toward making stuff to look up a team in their area. And teams can always use the help of adult mentors and monetary contributions. *nudge, nudge*"

Thanks so much, Katie!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Saturday Steam 5/26/12

Behold! Steampunk snowglobes!

By Camryn Forest Designs - hit the link to see lots more.

Talk about a brilliant idea; the water inside helps magnify all the details! And I love how the bases are just as much a piece of art as the tiny sculptures inside. Thanks for the find, Susan R.!

Shaina Z. sent over a link to a great photo gallery from The Steampunk World's Fair last weekend. I think this guy's costume is my favorite:

Everything's better with wings. And gauges. And utility belts. :D

[UPDATE: This is David Lee of Hatton Cross Steampunk Hit the link to see more of his creations - it's all amazing stuff!]

Read the article on the Fair here and then go check out the rest of the photo set!

It wouldn't take much to make this Faucet Valve Nightlight a LOT more steampunk:

 Just imagine it with an old rusty spigot instead of the blue one! And really, isn't that green glow perfect for your secret lab? (You, um, DO have a secret lab, right?) 

The night light costs $50 over at Etsy - just message the seller if you want one - and the really cool part is that turning the spigot turns the light on and of. So. Cool.

Cora B. spotted this gorgeous PC case mod by Pablo Suarez:

 I love the smoke stacks on top, and that bubble porthole. (It says "SteamPlanet" on the side, in case you're wondering.) Lots more detail shots and information here

Audrey A. spotted a lovely steampunk wedding "inspiration" shoot (meaning it's not a real wedding, but it plays one on the Internet):

 My favorite bits are the bride's coiled copper bouquet and this amaaaaazing vintage umbrella:
I wonder if you could dip-dye a fabric parasol to get that look? Hmm...

Anyway, head over to Emmaline Bride for all the steamy eye candy - including a ruffly gear cake! (The cake is ruffly, I mean. Not the gears.)

Friday, May 25, 2012

Happy Geek Pride Day!

Let me get this straight: it's Towel Day, Geek Pride Day, the Glorious 25th of May, *AND* Star Wars' birthday? How can I NOT post something on this most auspicious of geeky occasions?

So here's what made me laugh out loud with delight today:
The caption on Reddit was, "I asked Bill for an autograph. I got this instead." 

So much win, my head just a'sploded.

- And here's a great roundup of Star Wars Etsy crafts from Mashable.

 Darth tutu. 'Nuff said.

- And in case you missed it on the Epbot FB page, here's an adorable little girl dressed as Iron Man for her fifth birthday party:

I stumbled across Alana's photo while looking for Iron Man Sweets for CW. Another party pic shows a different little girl dressed as a princess. Yay for little girls who know what they like - princesses, superheroes, or all or none of the above - and aren't afraid to celebrate it!

 Pics via Will Hollis Snider

I hope you guys let your geek flag fly today, too! And have a fantastic weekend!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

World of Geek Craft 5/24/12

Check out what some of your fellow Epbot readers are making!

Riha P. sent in her newly completed Portal cross stitch:
Ha! Companion Cube Love? :D

 (If that were me, I'd be all, "Dude, does this portal make my butt look big?")

Melanie W. etched her very own set of Star Trek: TNG glasses:

 How cool is this?? She's giving them to her hubby for their 6th wedding anniversary. All together now: Awwww. And hit the link up there to see more of Melanie's awesome geeky crafts.

Kella sent in her fabulous Doctor Horrible-inspired costume:

 She's Doctor Adorable!

You know, with a PhD in adorableness?

Kella turned a real lab coat into her dress, sewing in the panels to make it a full skirt, and then paired it with homemade goggles, cat ears, a petticoat and stockings, and even a marshmallow "fluffy ray." Hee! I like her correction on the lab coat embroidery, too:

Yep. That's cute.

Speaking of embroidery, check out what Pernilla over in Sweden just made with her new sewing machine:


 Here's a clearer picture:

Pernilla tells me she's going to make a tote bag out of this - and I've already begged her for more pictures when she's done. :) See more of her crafty prowess on her blog here (and make sure you have Google Translate handy if you don't speak Swedish. Heh.)

And finally, Carly Jane made this to-die-for Haunted Mansion necklace for a trip to Disneyland:
Would you believe it's made with Shrinkydinks? So gorgeous - and the black ribbon looks perfect with it.

So, fellow crafters - working on something geeky? Want to share with the rest of the class? Then send me your pictures! I love seeing what you guys are up to!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Star Wars Weekends 2012

The best part of opening day at Star Wars Weekends last week was definitely all the great Kodak moments - if you were quick enough to catch them. You never knew when a character would come waltzing around the corner, a lot like a con, and trying to get a clear shot through the crowds makes it a real photo safari. As an added bonus, though, at Disney the cosplayers are actors, too, so there's lots of fun to be had just watching them interact with the guests.

Take this guy, for example:

He developed an unusual interest in John:

After an extended staring contest (during which John couldn't stop giggling), he then made a big show of examining John's "Couldn't-Care-Less Bear" shirt:

It was hilarious, and it made John all cute and flustered. THAT'S A WIN.

Usually Disney doesn't allow guest costumes - or at least nothing they don't sell for the kids - so I was pleasantly surprised to see these girls:

Two Anakins & his droids.
 (Note that C3PO even has one silver shoe. Nice!)

Even more surprising, I spotted another girl in a Slave Leia bikini at one point - and she was definitely a guest. Maybe Disney relaxed their policy for the Weekends?

Here's an example of a photo quick draw:

She came striding around a corner, and her costume billowing out in the wind was just gorgeous.

It's hard to tell with the slight motion blur, but her nails are an amazing metallic pink foil.

And now, Darth Vader signing a pink Princess autograph book:

It just never gets old.

Those autograph books are *everywhere* at Disney, and often provide the only time you can snap a good close-up of the characters. (When they're not signing they're posing with guests, so it's hard to get them alone.)

This Tusken Raider would pause to bleat at people on occasion - a fun touch, considering most of the characters aren't allowed to speak or make any sounds.

Of course, the king (Sith lord?) of guest interactivity has to be Darth Maul:

We camped out in front of his photo spot for a while, watching him give guests a hard time about those autograph books:

"Homey don't PLAY that."

After glaring at the offending person for ages, he'd snatch the book and sign it with his back turned. He also did some hysterical poses for the camera:

Stuff's about to get real.

I later learned through some friends-of-friends that this Darth is a big cosplay enthusiast, and I *think* I've even seen him in an epic God of War costume at MegaCon or D*C before. It's awesome to know these guys are doing what they love, don't you think?

My favorite character at SW Weekends, though, is Zam Wessel:

It has nothing to do with her character in the movie (I've never actually seen Attack of the Clones. Terrible, right?) - I just love her costume and how she acts here in the park. Not only is she gorgeous, she has a really fluid way of moving, and interacts with guests in an aloof-but-still respectful manner. (She's also the best dancer at the Hoopla. Just sayin'.) 

When we were there with my friend Tim a few years ago, Zam went out of her way to drape herself around his wheelchair for a really fabulous photo. And, as you can see here, she went out of her way this year to give me some fantastic poses - even though I was the only one taking her photo at the time. (Still not sure how that happened, given all the crowds.)

I took nearly a dozen shots from two different angles, and for every one she was looking straight at my camera and seemed in no hurry to leave. Stuff like this makes me positively giddy. I mean, c'mon, LOOK AT THIS SHOT:


Right? RIGHT?

Ok, let's end with my second favorite SW Weekends character:

D'awwww, Donald!

Oh, and we weren't able to stay for the Hyperspace Hoopla on Friday, but you can watch the whole thing (or just browse the highlight clips) over at Inside the Magic. The Hoopla is arguably the best thing at Star Wars Weekends each year, so I'm looking forward to seeing it when we go back. (And you can expect more photos then, too!)