Tuesday, September 18, 2012

"Floating" Cross Stitch Jewelry

I've been waiting to share this tutorial for a while now, because I was hoping to have a perfect end product for the big reveal.

But I'm just too darn excited to wait any longer.

And, look! I even made a fancy-schmancy Pinterest-friendly graphic for it!


I've wanted to try this for ages, and I have to say, it's pretty exciting when a harebrained craft idea actually works. As you can (hopefully) see, the cross-stitched heart really does appear to be floating in mid-air inside the resin. There's no fabric at all here, and no visible means of support for the embroidery floss.

So how did I do it?

The secret is actually quite simple, albeit not the simplest thing to do:

I stitched my patterns on clear plastic sheets. (A page protector, to be exact.)

A few tips:

- Pick the simplest, smallest pattern you can find

- Use a sharp needle to pierce the plastic
- Because the back threads will be visible, use tiny knots to start and end your thread

- Keep the back tidy! No stretching across other stitches.

- Use two strands of floss when stitching. (I used three for the Space Invader, which made the stitches too tight & not as clearly defined.) 

You're probably wondering how I knew where the holes should go while stitching on the plastic sheet. That's the sticking point, I'm afraid; you just have to wing it. I think I did alright on the heart, but for the Space Invader I got a little off on the right side; you can see his arm is a lot lower.

My next hurdle was making sure the plastic sheet remained invisible inside the resin. I tried two different methods:

For the heart I cut the plastic in the shape of the mold I'd be using, and for the Invader I trimmed it as close to the threads as I dared. 

In the end both worked, really, but if you look reeeeally closely at the finished Invader necklace you can just see the edges of the plastic, so I'd say cutting it in the shape of your resin mold is the way to go.

Next I popped both pieces into molds filled with EasyCast resin:

(I'll show you that finished gun & gear pendant there on the bottom soon.)

After a day of curing the pendants popped out beautifully, but since they were clear I decided they needed some kind of backer to help reflect the light. I dug through my small cache of scrapbook paper and found these two options:

I liked the blue woven paper because it looks like fabric, but the combo with the orange looked a little sickly green. Plus the flowered paper was brighter.

Oh, and as you can see this was done before I realized you can't embed sparkly little crystals in resin, because SCIENCE. [Insert refraction explanation here] So my heart now has a shiny circle on it. We'll, uh, call it a sequin.

Speaking of shiny, I used a scrap of leftover mirror paper from my shadowbox display for the Space Invader, which looks pretty nifty:

See the edges of the plastic sheet? It's just barely visible - and the resin bubbles, too - but keep in mind this pic is really zoomed in. Those imperfections aren't visible from even a foot away.

I love how the bright orange floss reflects in the curved edges of the resin:

To attach the paper backings I used another tiny bit of resin, which was...well, a learning experience. I made a huge mess with the heart - resin spilling over the edges everywhere - and then with the Invader I used a much smaller amount and let the resin soak through the paper from behind, instead of creating a resin & paper sandwich. That worked much better. But honestly, I bet you could just Modpodge those paper backings on. (And remember to seal your paper first with clear glue, or else it will be saturated by the resin and turn a bit darker, like mine. Heh.)

Resin is super easy to drill, so a Dremel really isn't necessary (you could use a hand drill) - but using my press kept my angles straight:

I'd never done this before, so next I had to figure out how to hang the two pendants. They're really thick, so O-rings won't fit, and bails are a stretch. After a little research online, I grabbed some straight eye pins, and did this:

Not gonna lie: I'm a lot prouder than I care to admit that I got both loops to match. There may have even been a victory dance involved. Maybe.

Next I found a nice thick chain, and 'twas done!

Another tip: when drilling the holes for your pendant, make sure you drill on a flat surface of the resin, so your pin heads sit flush. You can see mine stick out a bit on the edge.

I did a little better on the Space Invader, if you don't count the fact that my holes don't line up perfectly:

Again, this would be better if I'd used two strands of floss instead of three, so it would be more obvious that the Invader is stitched. But overall, I think it's still kind of cute:

And that's my big resin experiment! I hope this inspires lots of other cross stitch-and-resin projects out there, since to my knowledge no one has ever tried stitching on clear plastic this way before. I plan to do a few more myself, too, since these have their flaws. (Wouldn't it be cool to have a rainbow Invader, with each line of stitching a different color? Or a pretty monogram? Let me know what other ideas you guys have, since I'm still brainstorming!) As always, if you DO try, please send me pictures!

UPDATE: See, this is why I love you readers: I've now learned of a wondrous thing called "waste canvas" that might solve my grid-placement issue! (I've been cross-stitching since I was 14 - how did I not know about this stuff??) Thanks, guys! I will definitely be giving it a try!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Procrastination Station 9/17/12

- If you love time-lapse art as much as I do, then you're going to want to watch a bunch of MaryDoodle's 2-minute videos. Take a look at this Avengers one - and don't miss the end result; if you're like me, it'll make you laugh out loud with delight!

After this I recommend her Steampunk Batman and Runaway Robots. So fun! Then check out her website for more goodies. (Thanks to Lauren W. for the link!)

A couple of craft blogs that have been hogging my "free" time lately:

Pinstrosity - More than just craft and recipe fails, this blog puts all those super popular Pins to the test, and even explains how to turn the failures into successes with extra "How to Fix This" bits at the end of each post. Like Pinterest itself it's pretty heavy on recipes, which I tend to skim past, but I love all the craft experiments. So if you've ever wondered if this "Fairy Jar" really works,

(No, really, I'm not Photoshoppped! Hooonest.)

...then Pinstrosity is the blog for you:

(read more on this one here.)

Resin Crafts - I'm still planning more resin jewelry experiments, so this blog has been a fun resource. Most of her jewelry isn't really my style, but there are so many ideas here! (Plus mold-making!) This gal puts any and everything in resin, and shows you the results with big, step-by-step photos. I especially like her recent goldfish pendants, based on the work of that amazing artist who paints photo-realistic fish on layered resin:

What's that? You haven't seen the amazing artist who paints photo-realistic fish on layered resin?? Oooh, then you're in for a treat:

It starts a little slow, but the bit starting at 1:04 is pure magic. I literally gasped.

For those of you who can't watch vids at work, here's an example of Fukahori's work:
And yes, that fish is PAINT. See more examples here.

- This is going to make you cry, but I promise you'll be smiling through the tears by the end: A Love Story in 22 Pictures. (For those keeping score, I was bawling by #7. Seriously. Close the door and grab a tissue before you hit this link.)

- And finally, for a little heavier reading, how about this older but-still-relevant article from Kotaku that Kassia sent over: Nerds and Male Privilege.

I know the subject of geek girl equality is currently being beaten to death around the web, but I think this one addresses and raises a few interesting additions to the standard "geek cred" nonsense. Not to mention the first comment rebuts some of the author's points masterfully, so between the two you get a pretty satisfying discussion. It kind of makes me wish I had a geeky book club IRL, just so I could round table a talk on subjects like this.

For example, I don't mind being treated differently because I'm a girl, so long as I'm not treated as an inferior. (If a guy chooses NOT to playfully punch me in the shoulder because I'm a girl, I'm perfectly Ok with that. Ditto for door-holding or other small signs of chivalry, though I certainly don't *expect* them in this day and age.) I know some women find chivalry insulting, though, because they'd rather be treated exactly as equals - no gender consideration at all.  I still find beauty in the differences and dynamics between the sexes, though, and I'd hate to see them completely obliterated, even if such a thing were possible. I realize this is a hefty topic to tack on to a Procrastination post, but since I've opened this can of worms...What do you guys think?

And as always, link me up to your favorite cool stuff here in the comments or over on Facebook!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Saturday Steam 9/15/12

You guys, I've decided I need to learn leather-working. And yes, Emily L.'s sending me a link to these amazing steampunk bags MIGHT have had something to do with it:

Awwwwesome. These are by Iza of Iza's Art Shop over on DeviantArt, but lucky for us some of them are available on her Etsy shop.

I don't see that style listed right now, but this next one is!
 $139 on her Etsy shop

Oh, and remember how I talked about making a hip bag that hangs from a belt by two straps? Well, check this action out:
 Those clips are genius: you can add a strap, or clip them to your belt loops! (Or make smaller straps to hang off your belt.) So cool!

Hit the links up there to shop, gawk or both.

Next up, Erick H. found the most astounding reproduction light bulbs:

These are from Ferrowatt Productions, which sells more styles of old-fashioned filament bulbs than I've ever seen. That one on the right is called the "Ball-O'-Fire," and I totally want one. Or maybe a dozen. (Hit the link to see a vid of it in action - flickery goodness!) Of course, you have to "request a quote" for all of Ferrowatt's bulbs, so I'm pretty sure that means I can't afford 'em. Poo.

For you Whovians out there, Norma E. spotted a fantastic steampunk sonic screwdriver:

Made by Danny Ashby of Outland Armour

And while we're at it, how about a steampunk K-9?

 Desiree spotted this delightful "K-1889" by James Richardson-Brown, and when I went to grab the link to his gallery, I found he'd made a gold and black version, too!

I stumbled across Nerfenstein Blaster Mods & Props by way of SuperPunch, and this gamer girl is my newest hero. In addition to making amazing homage blasters to games like BioShock and Portal, she also has a healthy steampunk obsession. Check out this Tesla she made, inspired by H.G. of Warehouse 13:


You can see more at her site (link above) or her DeviantArt page.

And finally, the original steampunk computer guy himself, Datamancer, has made a new laptop that goes beyond breathtaking:
Would you believe this is a laptop?? (Don't worry, I didn't either, at first!)


If you've never seen Datamancer's other work, do yourself a favor and go check out his site. (If you've ever drooled over a steampunk keyboard, odds are he made it.) I still have a less-than-half-done keyboard tucked away inspired by his work, but if I ever win the lotto I'm totally commissioning one from the master. :)

Seen something steamy this week? Then show me the goodness! Link me up in the comments or over on Facebook!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Epbot Fan Art Gallery

I decided to start compiling all of your awesome Epbot art in one place, so this post will be the new gallery. Please excuse the formatting; Blogger is not thumbnail-gallery-friendly. (Grr.) Click any pic to embiggin, and if you have Epbot art to share, please send it to me at Jen {at} Epbot {dot} com!

By Eve Joos

By Missy Meyer

By Craig Michael Scott (prints available!)

By Bianca Roman-Stumpff
By Ashleigh G.

By Caitlin T.
By Sean Boyd
By Miranda A.
By Paula H.
By Kayla B.
Jennifer's tattoo!

By Trish
By Carrie H.

By Ashley
By Mandi W.
By Genevieve L.
By Amanda R.
By Christine E.

Duct tape bookmark by Diana

By Dyani
By Shellie
By Ashley

By Isabella A.
By Jordan

By Hilary P.

By Rose T.
By Carrie H.

By Stephanie K.

By Elsie, age 10

By Renee
By Marilou
By Tristyn C.

By Ginni
By Jodee Rose
By Erin N.
By Marilou (tutorial here!)
By Victoria G.
By Kelli

By Dyani
By Keren
By Janet M.
By Beth R.