Monday, July 23, 2012

Jen's Gems 7/23/12

This is hilarious. Presenting "SPOCK-TOPUS!"

This fascinating-yet-illogical creation is the brain child of Karen over at Sew Much 2 Luv. Karen has an etsy shop here, but I don't see any Spocktopuses for sale at the moment. Maybe if we all asked nicely? (Thanks to Vivienne for the link!)

- Next, one of the most spectacular interactive wedding invitations I have ever seen:

Words and this tiny portion can't even begin to describe it, so click over to Jess & Russ' site and just keep scrolling down. The use of graphics by so many different artists is beyond amazing. [via]

- Some of you may recall that I harbor a crazy dream of remodeling an old RV and meandering around the U.S. in it with John. So naturally I flipped over this unbelievable trailer makeover by Reddit user imakethenews & his girlfriend.

They literally tore the thing down to the chassis and rebuilt it from the ground up! You've got to click over and scroll through all 100+ of his process pictures, but here are a few shots of the finished interior to start you off:

The retro colors and design are just delightful. So cheerful!

The countertops are my favorite; they were made by gluing plywood strips together, edges up, then sanding and staining. The result reminds me of bamboo, only better:

The couch in the back folds down into a bed:

The couple put over 350 hours of labor and $6,000 in materials (including the original trailer) into the project. WOW. Talk about inspiring! Hit the link up there to see the rest.

And finally, if you follow any other geek sites then I trust you've heard about last week's debut of Written by A Kid, the new show on Geek and Sundry. If not, then allow me to correct this grievous oversight by telling you the show is brilliant, it has both Dave Foley AND Joss Whedon in it, and you need to take four minutes to watch it. NOW:

See? It's kind of like Drunk History, only with kids and less puking.  
(Dude. I should totally be in PR for these guys.)

(Confession: it took me way to long to figure out why the SQUAT team was, well, squatting. Ha!)

And while I'm on the subject, allow me to rave a little about Geek and Sundry, the Youtube channel behind this and other shows like Felicia Day's Flog, The Guild, and Wil Wheaton's Tabletop. I've never been much of a Youtube person - other than a few makeup tutorials and the usual viral funnies - but this channel is changing that. I'm delighted every Monday when a new Flog comes out, and I'm so impressed by the quality of all their shows (though admittedly there are a bunch I haven't seen yet.) So...yeah. Go check 'em out!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Steamy Project Reveal!

Instead of my usual Saturday Steam round up I thought I'd show you guys something I've been working on since mid-May - though admittedly I've taken a lot of breaks.

This is one of those projects that I haven't mentioned before because I was afraid I'd fail miserably, and if there's one thing I hate, it's failing miserably with an audience. There have been a lot of bumps and set backs along the way, but I've finally reached a point where I'm reasonably confident the end result won't be a complete laughing stock. (Er, fingers crossed and all that.)

Normally I'd show you the end result right away, but this time I'm going to make you wait for it. Humor me; this little baby has been a labor of love - and I've risked more than my fair share of digits with the Dremel tool for it.

So imagine with me, if you will, what one can do...with this:
Hi, Lily!

That's a $30 Vader helmet & mask combo I purchased online.

Now I'm going to TRY and keep the chatter from here on out to a minimum, and just let the pictures do the talking now. We'll see how long that lasts. 

[Note: This was terrifying. And melted plastic is VERY HOT and tends to fly. Safety glasses are a must.]

(You'll see why in a minute. Patience.)

At this point I tried a primer that I wasn't happy with, so I ended up sanding it all off again. (Urg.) That's why the mask looks so grungy here:

I used puffy paint for the "rivets." Not sure I'd recommend it, though, since I'm not 100% happy with the end result. Still, from a distance I suppose it looks Ok.

This is another primer coat. As you can see, the spray spattered a bit and gave the mask a nice texture - as it turned out, a happy accident.

After the primer I base-coated the mask in matte black, and then applied a silver metallic glaze with a dry brush technique:

Comparison shot of the the silver dry-brush vs the matte black base coat. (The underside of the mask is done in both shots.)

Completed silver dry-brush.

Completed gold dry-brush. (Subtle, but it warmed it up a little.)

This was my first-ever experiment with dry-brushing, by the way, and I LOVE it. So many possibilities for props & costumes!

Metal copper trim.

(I wish I could tell you what these trim pieces are, but the truth is I found them in a bin at SkyCraft Surplus, our local tinkerer's paradise, and have no idea what they're for. If you know, please tell me in the comments!)

[UPDATE: per Darus in the comments, the trim is RF Shield Gasket. "It's used in cases for computers and other electronics that need tight electrical shielding. It goes along the edge where a cover meets the rest of the case. All those little points make electrical contact making sure the whole perimeter is electrically sealed." Hey, I learned something! Thanks, Darus!]

My mask literally has a button nose. :)

(John cut out the center portion with a Dremel [the one part he insisted on taking over for, since the piece was so small], and then I painted it copper.)

John fitting our first LED strip. (Which sadly didn't work.)

Our second LED strip had to be longer because the lights were wired in threes, requiring us to cut into the tusks and make a bit of a mess. Yuck.

To disguise the butchered tusks, I took one of these thin metal gears*...

 ...cut it in half, and then bent each half into a cone. Then I fit the cones over the tusks and blacked out LEDs:

(*these are the gears Sharyn made for me on her embossing/cutting machine. Thanks again, Sharon!)

They're both fragile and deadly, since those points are needle-sharp.

Here I put those tiny pin holes I drilled to good use; that's black vinyl I'm hand-stitching in place.

Top view.

Once I was finished stitching, I flipped the vinyl over and glued it down inside the mask, giving me this lovely padded, finished edge:

Next I made an elastic head strap:

It splits so the strap can go both over my head and behind my ears.

Aaaand....I think it might be done!

And now, the money shot:



It took a little experimenting to get the voltage right, since at full strength the lights tend to blind anyone I'm looking at. They're currently powered by three button cell batteries, which will be tucked inside the cheek.

And that's just the mask.

Sometime in the next month I'll show you the goggles, helmet, jacket, belt plate, accessories, and the rest of the costume. Or maybe I'll just do a grand reveal after Star Wars Celebration. At this point we're about three quarters of the way done with everything, but of course that last 25% is a doozie!

And, as I'm sure you've gathered by now, this mask is for me. John decided my female steampunk Vader character needed a name, so I'm calling her "Lady Vadore." Or "Lady V'dor." Or maybe just "Lady Vador," but I doubt anyone would know to pronounce it "vah-DORE" that way. (Which do you think, guys?)

Well, I hope you liked this little sneak peek at my first big cosplay project! And as always, if you see something steamy you'd like to share, hit me up on Facebook, Twitter, or e-mail. 

Happy Saturday, everyone!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Show & Tell, Part Two!

Last week I showed you some of your fellow readers' crafty creations made using my Epbot tutorials - and now it's time to show off some more!

First up, my Harry Potter wand display tutorial:

Cynthia O. had her heart set on her very own Ollivander's sign, so lucky for her she has friends like Chrissy & Aaron, who made her an almost exact copy of my own!

Woohoo! Check out that hand-painted detail:

Simply - dare I say it? - magical. Great job, guys.

And speaking of my Ollivander's tutorial, Michelle F. tells me it inspired her to use the same technique to make this Hogwarts crest for her son's room:


Awwwwesome. Michelle tells me she actually liked it better without the colors (which is why I included both pics) but her son likes it more colorful, so that's all that matters.

But wait, there's one more! Here's Kristi H.'s wand display:

I am LOVING that script, and the simpler, rustic design. Rock on, Kristi!

All of my penny jewelry posts continue to be pretty popular - and I've already featured some reader creations before - but these pieces by Laura P. knocked my socks CLEAN OFF:

So gorgeous!

And to be fair, I haven't even made a bracelet like this yet myself; I just talked about it in one of my posts. Laura bent each coin to fit her wrist, drilled all the holes herself, lacquered them twice (after a quick e-mail conference with me on which kind of lacquer to use), and then paired them with those lovely sparkly crystals. That's a Christmas design, of course, and it was her test run before making these pieces with some special souvenir coins from Israel:

Don't you just love those shades of blue, teal, and green with the copper? SO PRETTY.

Here's the matching necklace:

Dang it, now I want to break out my smashed penny stash and make more penny jewelry! (Fun fact: I usually get a few more pennies each month in the mail from you readers, so I'm amassing quite the collection for something EPIC someday. I just have to figure out what. Heh.)

While we're on the copper kick, remember my tacky ceramic seahorse make-over?

That is, the statue was tacky - hopefully my makeover wasn't. o.0

Well, Maple found a gold ceramic geisha at a thrift store that she decided to give the "Jen-Instant-Metal-and-Rust-Statue-of-Awesomeness" treatment. Ha!

Whoah. Isn't she beautiful? Maple calls her "The Lady of Tears and Song," since the patina makes it look like she's crying - and Maple tells me she's perfect for her Asian-inspired decor.

Cathy B. used some of my ACEO framing tips for this fabulous Shakespearean Hamster:

(I just love typing that: "Shakespearean Hamster.")

{UPDATE: Oops. Ok, so it's actually a guineau pig. And Amanda V. found the art here if you'd like your own!]

Cathy used clear photo corners to hold it in place over that lovely scripty scrapbook paper.

And Carisa W. mounted her ACEO using photo corners and a few gears:

I really love this shadowbox look - so many interesting pieces to look at! Plus, Carisa made those glittery designs on the frame herself using a stencil, glue, and glitter. And I am ALWAYS in favor of more glitter. And gears. And if possible, glittery gears.

I'll end with the giant ego boost I received from Erika T., courtesy of this picture:

This is Erika's living room wall, and those are three of the photos I took during the 24-hour Disney Day. Look at 'em up there, all professional-like!! Aiieee! [Head...swelling...]

Erika asked me to make them available as prints so she could do this, so if by some odd chance any of you want one, too, they're over on DeviantArt - which has a great ordering system I've used myself a few times, and the prices are pretty reasonable. (Full disclosure: I get a 15 or 20 percent kickback.)

My next Show & Tell post will be all steampunk stuff, since I've got several different versions of your goggles, ray guns, and even medals to show off. Can't wait! (And if you have something you've made that you haven't sent in yet, do eeet! Do eeet NOW!!)