Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Wanna Listen To Me Ramble About Geek Stuff?

Then you're in luck!

As most of you know, I turn down the vast majority of the speaking invites I get. In fact, I turn 'em all down. (Although it's always nice to be asked!) I'm fine with e-mail interviews or informal chats on the phone, but I reeeeally don't like being recorded, on camera or even just audio. The few big radio bits I agreed to for the CW book tour all had to be pre-recorded because of my nerves, and even then I've yet to listen to any of them. No sir, I do not like it. (Although the NPR lady was super nice.)

This past week, however, I broke out of my shell in a big way and did TWO recorded podcast interviews, and this one with Josh of JustUs Geeks was the longest. I don't expect this to become a regular thing, but I will say it's a lot more fun to talk about geek stuff than trying to explain the Naked Mohawk-Baby Carrot Jockeys. (Seriously, try to do that without a visual aid - and without sounding like a total perv. YOU CAN'T.)

I have not - and will not - listen to the interview myself, but John tells me I didn't completely embarrass myself. I do laugh a lot, though. He also tells me we need a microphone, because it's really echoey in my office. Sorry. (It was a Skype recording.)

Anyway, it's about 30 minutes of me talking about my geeky influences, my thoughts on everything from social media to my readers (and yes, that IS the sound of me getting all choked up), and lots of other things I don't remember. I hope you like it. And that I sound exactly like you imagine: calm, cool, collected, and drop-dead sexy. MROW.

Go here to give it a listen, and then we shall never speak of this again. Deal?

Monday, August 6, 2012

Lady Vadore Update & Sneak Peek!

An amazing thing happened this past weekend, guys: John and I finished my costume.

Can I get a "Wahoo?!"

I'm sure I'll find ways to add even more detail in the next few weeks, of course, but it's a huge relief to be ready this far in advance of Star Wars Celebration. We tried it all on Saturday night (and I say "we" because I need a LOT of assistance to get in the thing), and then I just hung out, you know, chillin', in my rather restrictive costume for an hour or so to see if I would suffocate or keel over or both.

Happily I did fine, although sitting is an adventure and I had some fascinating marks all over my face and torso afterward. Heh.

One of the reasons this costume has taken so long is that John and I have focused on lots of tiny details you can't really appreciate when you first see the whole thing. So while the following images are, indeed, a complete tease, they're also to show you some of the finer points you might not notice during the grand reveal.

I hope you like them. 

There aren't many fabric trims available in copper, so I applied a copper wash on all the gold button highlights and hand-painted metallic copper strips on all the gold braided trim.

A vintage piece with custom painted filigrees and pale green Swarovski crystal accents. This is probably my favorite part of the whole costume, after the mask, and I can't wait to show you guys what it does.

The feathers flash iridescent green in the light, with a few horizontal veins of purple.

Tiny calling cards (only an inch and a half tall) that John and I designed and printed on a textured linen cardstock. ( I should mention I'm not going to be foisting these off on unsuspecting con-goers; they're actually a part of the costume. You'll see.)

Thanks for all of your help on the name, too, guys; the consensus seemed to be "Vadore" would get the proper pronunciation across.

I have a tutorial coming up for my lightsaber, so look for that soon. In the meantime, I'm already brainstorming what my next project should be! (Don't tell John; he just now got his dining room table back after two months. Ha!) I'm a little steampunked out, so I'm thinking....I dunno....resin jewelry? I've wanted to try mold-making for ages. Or painted sneakers? Or a comic book purse? What do you think, guys - anything you want me to test-try for you?

[In case you missed it, you can see my completed Vader mask (and lots of progress pics!) here.]

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Show & Tell, The Steampunk Edition!

Time for more reader creations made with Epbot tutorials - this time, the steampunk edition!

Melissa T. needed a little "steampunk magic" for the vest her fiance will be wearing during their engagement shoot in a few weeks, so she took inspiration from my steampunk medal tutorial and made her own!

Melissa gets extra props for making her medal entirely from scratch. Just look at those beautiful layered ribbons - and the teal accents? PERFECTION.

Melissa also made a gorgeous hanging charm for her guy to wear on a chain like a pocket watch:

Here's the completed vest:
I love it! And be sure to send me pics of that engagement shoot, too, Melissa! (Pretty please?)

I am both delighted and amazed by how many of you out there are making goggles using the tutorial John and I put together. What's more, you guys are putting ours to shame! (THE GALL.) I honestly thought this was one of our more difficult tutorials - but then, that's probably because it involves a little sewing, which I'm terrible at, so maybe it's just difficult for me. Heh.

I think the first person to send me her goggle pics was Susan R., who, together with her hubby, whipped up two complete steampunk outfits for a New Year's party last year. Here's their goggles:

The bottom one is from our tut, of course, but I also love that design on top! It looks great with all those chunky rivets! (I'll show you their finished costumes at the end of this post, too. Keep scrolling!)

Next up, Rebecca and her husband made not one, not two, but THREE pairs of goggles, and I have to say I approve of their display choices:

Ha! They're like little portholes for tiny toys! I like it. Head over to Bec's blog for more pics, and to see the fun steampunk wall decorations they used for a party!

Next, Jeff C. made a matching pair of goggles for himself and his girlfriend:

(Nice filigree on the nose pieces!)

 Plus Jeff has a few great tips for making the process easier:

1) If you don't have a scroll saw for cutting out the lenses, use a soldering iron (yes, really!). Jeff says it's slower, of course, but accurate.

2) If you're sewing by hand, use a thumbtack to punch holes in your leather/vinyl to make it easier to get the needle through. (This is a fabulous idea.)

3) When sewing the eye cup peak (which is the hardest part), cut a diamond pattern into the peak "so it looks like an M." Jeff tells me that makes the sewing easier, and you won't see the missing piece when it's done. He also found it easier to sew the strap on before sewing the two ends of the eye cup together.

Great tips, all of 'em. Thanks, Jeff!

And last but certainly not least, here are Noelle D.'s awesome goggles:

 I love the leathers she used!

PLUS, Noelle also made a steampunk rifle inspired by my raygun:

And, oh yes, it lights ups!

Woohoo! Rock on, Noelle! That is amazing!

Now let's leave the goggles and weaponry behind for some nice, peaceful hot air balloon ornaments. 

Like these:

Jeanna H. (who also made that copper-wrapped vial pendant from last Saturday's post) used my hot air balloon tutorial to make her own awesome ornaments. Check it out:

That quilted texture is perfect for these, and I like how Jeanna used both chain and gold cord - not to mention the hand painting and fun copper springy bits on the metallic one!

This wasn't a steampunk tutorial, but Natalie used my papercraft shadowbox instructions to make the most amazing 'punk-a-fied Ironman display!

AAA! How cool is this?! It's really a piece of mixed media art, with those gears and rivets and that awesome burlap texture. I like the lining inside, too. Head over to Nat's blog post to see how she did it all, and for more pics.

And finally, since I'm developing a backlog of all your great costumes, here are some great costumes:

Liz J. over in Sydney is one of those sewing wizards, so she made most of her steamy outfit from scratch in only about three days!

The only thing Liz didn't make were the boots and shirt, and she also modded that Nerf gun and goggles. Go check out Liz's blog for the fabulous detail pics, not to mention some rockin' daily outfit posts. (I love her style!)

And here's Susan and her hubby, striking fabulously heroic poses in their steamy New Year's finery:

 The best part is that Susan made all of this on the fly while they were out of town visiting relatives. So she started with nothing, and put it all together in just a few days with thrift store finds! She used three separate skirts to make that one full one, and used the leftovers to trim her jacket - plus she dyed some scraps to make that flower on her lapel. I tell ya. Sewing people. WIZARDS, ALL OF YOU.

Yeesh, this post is approaching biblical-proportions-length, so I'm going to post one more costume and save the rest for later, k?

So finally, here's a gorgeous outfit by friends and textile students Katrina F. & Brooke M., who made it for their university's Spring Showcase:

The dress was made from old prom dresses (brilliant!), and the bustle is removable. I think my favorite bit is the velvet scrunched collar, but really, the whole thing is breathtaking:

Katrina didn't mention which of them is modeling the dress here, but whoever it is, she's just lovely. Kind a devious Snow White vibe, right? :)  Anyway, excellent job, ladies! The future of fashion is clearly in good hands.

Have something steamy to share? Then I wanna see it! Share your pics and links here in the comments, on the Epbot FB page, or via e-mail!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Jen's Gems 8/3/12

Jessica H. e-mailed to thank me for my geek cred post last week, and mentioned in passing that she recently did a "Super Space Geek Bedroom" for her 4-year-old son. Naturally, I had to check this out.


And, you guys! LOOK AT THE CLOSET!

A glowing Death Star beside a TARDIS closet. Be still, my heart. 

Head over to Jessica's blog for lots more great detail shots (I love that nightstand!) and even a tutorial for the TARDIS closet.

Elizabeth J. found the sweetest Star Wars art card for her living room, and I'm especially loving the fact that it only costs two bucks. Check it out:

The back reads, "The mission was to bring down the rebel’s shield generator, not fall in love." Hee! You can get yours at the UglyBaby Etsy store.

You know you've made it in the world when someone uses you as an answer in Draw Something, right?

WOOOHOOO! Thanks, Sarah A.! And great job! 

You fellow Dizgeeks are gonna flip for these behind-the-scenes photos of the latest Annie Liebovitz portraits for Disney:

 I love stuff like this! (Found via SuperPunch)

And here's the finished version with Jack Black, Will Ferrell, and Jason Segel:

(Is it weird that I like the poses from the candid picture better? Especially for Will and Jason.) 

And now, some random hilarity that John made me watch yesterday: a professional actor reading a Yelp review. It's a little strange, but you have to watch the whole 90 seconds - it gets absolutely hysterical by the one minute mark:


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Gorgeously Geeky Harry Potter Wedding!

Alison wrote to me today to share some pics of her wedding last month, and WOW. I think you guys are going to liiiike them!

The Marauder's Map wedding programs:

 "Mischief Managed" was inscribed on the backs. (!!)

The wedding party, dressed in each of the four House colors:

Even the bouquets were color-coordinated!

The table settings, strewn with pages from the books (I know, it hurts just a little) and mini potion bottles:
I like the bottle place holders and table numbers.

The reception tent, complete with floating candles. (AAAH!)

Ok, seriously, how'd you guys do that, Ali?!

Matt and Ali's AMAZING custom wedding cake topper:
They're both Ravenclaw; see the little sigil on the tower door? And Matt is holding a D20 die behind his back! Too cute!

And perhaps the sweetest detail of this Potter-ific wedding? 

Instead of "I do," Matt and Ali each said, "Always."

Hang on, I think I have something in my eye over here. [sniffle] 'Scuse me.

A HUGE thank you to Alison for sharing her simply magical wedding with us. Oh, and, guys? If and when the time comes, I think "Remus" would make an EXCELLENT boy's name. Just sayin'.

 (See the rest of Alison's photos here on her Imgur album.)

PS - Oh, and here's the other geeky wedding making the rounds online this week. The lineup of groomsmen in Jayne hats is worth the click alone. ;)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Wait 'Til You Get Home To Watch This

...Because you're going to want to crank those speakers all the way up to 11.

I found this South Korean music video thanks to a tweet by Zachery Levi (aka Chuck) around 3 this morning, and was laughing out loud by the :40 mark. It's by turns hilarious, bizarre, and - dare I say it? - kinda catchy! 

Although you should probably keep in mind those opinions were formed at 3 o'clock this morning. Hee.

Now I'm off to do the horsey dance all over the house, just to freak John out.


PS - According to a source quoted on Gawker, Gangnam is the upper-class region of Seoul, so the song is a kind of parody of rich celebs. But really, who needs trifling things like words or meaning with moves that smooth?

PPS - I feel like now we should all go watch Pon Pon Pon again. [evil grin]


8/15 UPDATE: You guys, there's also a *female* version of this song! And it doesn't sound like "open condom style" at all when Hyuna sings it. (Is that a plus, or a minus? Ha!) Her's sounds more like, "open dudna stein."

Fortunately this version still has lots of the original singer Psy in it, though, and he makes it just as mesmerizing as the original, if not as funny. (No horsey dancing 'til the 2 minute mark?! Aww...) Here, see for yourself:

Most of the comments I've seen tend to harp on Hyuna's "baby-voice" singing style, which I can understand - but it gets better as the song goes on, I think, and the dancing alone makes it well worth a watch. In the end, I like both versions, but only because of Psy. He's just plain awesome. What do you guys think?

Thanks to Chandler for finding this! (via Buzzfeed)

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Mailbag: "What Show Should I Watch Next?"

Since I'm answering e-mails anyway, I figure I'll let you guys listen in on a few of the ones that might be relevant to your interests. And, hey, here comes one now...

 Hi Jen!

My geek girl cred is limited to being a die-hard Browncoat, watching BSG three times, and being almost caught up on Fringe.  I like Terry Pratchett and Robert Heinlein and Roald Dahl.  I'm a mechanical engineer... according to my diploma..., am a mother to a 2 year-old "Dar Wards" fan, and own a cafe in a small town by day.

So where do I go from here?  Stargate?  Doctor Who (where does one begin?)?  Something completely different?

Guide me, oh wise one!


Hi Ruth!

Oh, goodness, there's lots of shows you could try! I never connected as much with the original Stargate series (although I loved the movie) but Stargate: Atlantis is sooooo good. I *highly* recommend it.

I grew up on the older Doctor Whos, but they put John to sleep, so I'm not sure I'd recommend you starting before the most recent reboot with Christopher Ecclesten. This newer incarnation is a lot more dramatic and heart-wrenching, so I've been terrible about keeping up; I like my sci-fi a bit lighter. Still, it's probably the most popular sci-fi series still on the air today, and that many geeks can't be wrong!

Warehouse 13 is great, goofy fun, and if you can make it through Eureka's first few seasons, it gets AMAZING by around season 3 or 4.

You mentioned Road Dahl - have you seen the show Pushing Daisies? Not *exactly* geek fodder, but so, so good, and it had a whimsical storybook vibe that reminds me of Dahl. It was such a shame the series didn't last longer.

And of course if you've never tried any Trek (tho I imagine you must have seen some of it), there's lots of good stuff there. We recently started watching Voyager again from the beginning, and I'd forgotten how great some of those episodes are. TNG is classic, too - but start a few seasons in. (Trust me. Ha!)

Oh! And you HAVE to take 45 minutes and see Doctor Horrible's Sing-Along-Blog, if you haven't already. I think you can still watch it for free online; just google it. [Update: Here 'tis!] It's fabulous. Iconic, even.

So, I'd give those shows a try, and see if anything grabs ya! Then report back, and I'll recommend some more. ;)

- Jen

PS - These are just a few of the sci-fi shows that I like personally, but tell me what I missed in the comments, guy! John and I just finished all the episodes Netflix has of Eureka, so now we need a new show, too! (Bonus points if we can watch it online, since we don't have cable.)

You Guys, We're In A Book!!

I've been lucky enough to be a part of some amazing things over the past four years, but one of the things I'm most proud of is helping break the story of Katie, the little girl being teased at school for her Star Wars water bottle. You Epbot readers took Katie's story - which had 18 comments on it when I first mentioned it - and made it go viral within hours, leading to a massive, 'net-wide movement to encourage this one girl (and everyone like her) to never be ashamed of the things she loves. It was beautiful, and awe-inspiring, and something I'll never forget for as long as I live.

Out of that experience Katie's mom, Carrie, has now written a book - and get this: you guys are in it!

Carrie talks about the massive influx of Epbot readers who rushed to her blog to encourage Katie, and she even includes a few of your comments! Then she thanks us all in the acknowledgements. So, so cool.

I think the title is pretty self-explanatory, so if you or someone you know works with kids, has kids, or is otherwise interested in learning more about bullying and how to prevent it, definitely check out this book.

You can also visit Team Bullied, the new site Carrie's put together for people to share stories and advice alike. It's a great place to join the conversation and learn more.

A huge thank you again to Carrie and Katie for continuing to be such inspirations, and for letting us all be a part of Katie's story. May the force continue to be with you, ladies - I'm sending virtual bear hugs & warm fuzzies your way!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Geek Chic Jewelry: Harry Potter & More!

Last week my new cuff bracelet from Friston arrived in the mail, and I may never take it off again:

Isn't it great? It's my reward for getting through that doctor visit the other week. A reward I got myself, of course. :D (Check out Friston's store for more amazing goodies; he's one of my all-time favorite steampunk jewelry designers.)

Silly as it might sound, there's definitely something to retail therapy. So if you need a few minutes of stress-relief, here are a few other new additions to my wish list:

"Long Live Hedwig," $24.95 by Enchanted Leaves 

This would go great with my golden snitch necklace!

 "Hogwarts Crest," $19.99 by Owl and Hourglass

I love the finish on this; the combination of matte and shiny makes it look like a blob of liquid mercury. Except in copper. :)

I promise I didn't set out to find all Harry Potter jewelry; I just kept stumbling across more great designs! Ok, last Potter one: check out this fabulous little potion bottle:

Felix Felicis Droplet Pendant, (with or without label) $14 at GeekOUTlet

John and I had some homemade Butterbeer last week at a friend's house, which got John to wondering what Felix Felicis would taste like. I don't think it says in the book, so we figured a base of honey mead would be a good place to start, for a golden, warm taste. Eh? (And the Butterbeer was awesome, btw. The recipe used a little butterscotch schnapps and a LOT of sweet whipped cream. There was so much sugar I literally vibrated for 30 minutes afterward. Ha!)

Anyhoo, getting back to the pendant - I've never seen a bottle like this before - or perhaps it's a solid glass droplet; I'm not sure. Hit the store link for lots more potions and designs, including this ├╝ber cool glow-in-the-dark "Lumos:"

"Lumos" $15


Ok, enough Potter mania. Now, how about a fun retro ray gun?

"Glass Lampwork Ray Gun," $25.00 by JeansBeads

Clearly Jean knows the way to my heart, what with all that teal and orange going on. Can you believe that's a handmade glass bead? (She can add a small metal hanger to make it a pendant.) My mind, it is boggled. The swirly flame inside is amazing!

Next, a little Hunger Games:

"Hunger Games Enchanted Fire Necklace," $29.99 by Old Junkyard Boutique

Ok, so the connection is a little tenuous (the girl on fire, I suppose?) but how cool is this?! The description says the light blinks slowly like a firefly, so I imagine it must have a self-contained LED in there. I'd dearly love to see one in person.

And finally, one of the ultimate symbols of geek love: a Portal companion cube.

"Pewter Companion Cube," $29.99 by DonaldJames77 (For $10 more, you can get one with Swarovski crystals)

You don't see handmade pewter jewelry too often (James casts them himself), and I'm blown away by how professional these look. It's a complete cube, and only about the size of a penny. Hit the link up there to see his miniature Portal guns and turrets, too - plus lots of nifty Star Wars designs. (!!)

Seen any great and geeky jewelry lately? (Or have a recipe for Felix Felicis?) Then link me up in the comments!