Saturday, September 29, 2012

Saturday Steam 9/29/12

Would you believe this: a NINTENDO?

Absolutely gorgeous mod by Andrew - you can see some in-process shot in his Imgur album. (Thx for the link, Jacob M.!)

And while we're mixing steampunk with retro gaming systems:

How about this steampunk "Monster Arcade" by Doug Haffner? The green portholes on the sides have holographic images of Frankenstien and his bride in them, and I'm digging that rich blue lighting underneath. Hit the link for build photos. (Thx, Erik!)

You know how a lot of people have bucket lists? Well, I have a *craft* bucket list, and making my own nixie tube clock is on it. Here are a few I've been drooling over:

Amy J. sent this one over from Steve's Nixie Clocks. I like how the glass case lets you see all the circuitry inside - plus the reflection looks super cool:

And here's a neat idea: John Clark Mills put his nixie tube clock in an old mantle clock case:

 Such a great way to rescue and re-use old clock cases!

And finally, Instructables member Hellboy added blue LEDs, acrylic tubing, and found objects to make one of the most stunning and unique nixie tube clocks I've ever seen:

Hit the link up there for his step-by-step tutorial.

There are kits online for building and wiring your own nixie tube clock, so if you're curious just google around a bit. (Sadly I have no specific venders to recommend. If you do, though, please let me know in the comments!)

And finally, Audrey F. over in France sent me a few snapshots of an amazing carousel located in the city of Nantes, the birthplace of Jules Verne. It's called "Le Carrousel Les Machines" and is themed around Verne and his work, so there's plenty of sealife and steampunky contraptions:

I was so intrigued I went looking for more, and found a video of the carousel in action:

As you can see, Audrey's pics barely scratch the surface of the jaw-dropping awesomeness. It's a carousel of automatons! I AM IN AWE.

And as if that weren't enough, I also found a video of some creatures they were planning to add to the carousel in the future. Since the video is a year old, I wonder if they're already there now?

AH - wait for it - MAZING. That sea dragon! Swoon.

So next time you're in Paris, swing by and take a ride on the seahorse for me, k?

That's all for this week! Hope you're having a sensational weekend, and as always, if you see something steamy you'd like to share, hit me up in the comments or over on Facebook!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Best Quotable Movies - As Picked By You!

Thanks to you people I've gotten nothing done in the past 30 hours. NOTHING. All I've done is read your favorite movie quotes, laugh a lot, and compile a list of movies I have to see again - or for the first time - as soon as possible.

When I mentioned this on FB several of you asked for my list, so here it is:

Movies I Need To See Again Soon:

- Galaxy Quest
- Willow
- The Fifth Element
- Lilo and Stitch
- Mega Mind
- Goonies
- Space Balls
- Avengers 

(I admit it: Avengers I have to see for the first time. It just hit DVD, though, so SOON. Very soon.)

Hands down, your most quoted movie was The Princess Bride, followed by Labyrinth and Ghostbusters. (I already know those by heart, so they're not on my list.) You guys are either destined to be my best friends or extremely skilled at sucking up. ;)

John and I probably quote Princess Bride the most, too, but we use "It's possible, PIG" and "GENTLY!!" far more than is advisable in polite company. We also like "I hate waiting," said in Inigo's accent, and "*I* am not left-handed!" (I don't know how that one gets used so often, but somehow, it does.)

Sometimes you've got to modify the quote to fit your situation. I like whipping out, "You're right, no HUMAN BEING would [insert activity here] like this."

Also on your Most Quoted List (and which everyone should know by heart):

- Monty Python and the Quest for the Holy Grail ("RUN AWAY!")

- Star Wars ("Laugh it up, Fuzzball!")

- Firefly and Serenity ("I aim to misbehave.")

- The Emperor's New Groove  - ("WRONG LEV-AAAAAAHH!")

(I've long felt New Groove is the most underrated of the Disney films, so it thrills me to see so many of you quoting it. Yzma & Kronk are probably the best Villain & Henchman combo Disney has ever created; I could watch them all day. John and I like to break out in "squirrel" from time to time: "Uh, squeakety squeakers squeak 'em.")

I'm sure I missed a lot of other good ones, but you'll just have to go wading through the 900+ comments to make your own list now. ;)

Oh, right, and I guess I should mention who won the give-away, huh? Ha! Ok, the winner is...


Amanda, please e-mail me your mailing address. And to everyone else, thanks for distracting me so very thoroughly.

One cuff bracelet, wrapped & ready to go!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Doktor A Sneak Peek!

I've mentioned before that Doktor A is one of my all-time favorite artists - steampunk or otherwise - so when I got an e-mail from him this week I *might* have fangirled out a bit. He was inviting me to his New York show opening on October 12th, but sadly I can't be there. SO... I'm posting this as an open plea to any of you geeks planning to be at New York City Comic Con that weekend: GO TO THE SHOW. And then say hi to the good Doktor for me. Maybe take a picture or two for me to drool/cry over. You know, the works.

And just to sweeten the deal, Doktor A sent along a sneak peek that he told me I could blog as an exclusive. MY FIRST EXCLUSIVE, YOU GUYS. (!!) I think it shows that he picked it out special just for this blog, too:

 A steampunk robot and cake. Yep. It's like he knows me.

And here's a peek at one of his most recent figures:

Doktor A's show is on Friday, the 12th of October, from 7 - 10pm at "My Plastic Heart" (210 Forsyth Street, New York, 10002). Remember to tell him Jen from Epbot sent you! 

Oh, and if you can't make it to the show, the Dok will also be at NYCC; look for him at the "My Plastic Heart" booth.

Quick Craft: Easy Leather Cuffs, Plus a Give-Away!

This craft is so easy some of you will probably be rolling your eyes at me, but I want to show all those "non-crafty" types out there how simple it is to make awesome bangle cuffs with nothing more than a hammer, some snaps, and an old belt.

First, you need an old belt. Preferably one with a pretty design on it, like this:

I grabbed this at a GoodWill last week for a dollar. The orange and blue flowers caught my eye - of course.

The belt had two embroidered patches on it that just happened to be the exact length needed for a cuff bracelet, so I used one of my other cuffs for a template and cut out each section:

If you don't have a template, just round the edges however you like. (You could leave them square, but I find the edges tend to scratch a bit if you do.)

Now all you need is the $8 "Anorak Snap Setting Tool" from the craft store (like this), some snaps, and a hammer.

First you use the tiny little tube to punch a hole:

And then follow the instructions on the package to set the snap ends:

It worked out for these that the snap ended up right in the middle of the green flower on the end. Nifty, right?

You're not quite done yet, though: next you need to seal the cut edges - especially if the belt you use isn't real leather, like this one. The synthetic stuff is made up of layers which will quickly start to peel apart.

I used a simple white craft glue, but I think you could also a vinyl glue or clear fabric glue:

Once the glue dries you can either paint it with a matching color, or color it in with a matching Sharpie marker. I tried both ways on these, and found the paint was a little too light and too matte (ideally you'll want to use a satin or semigloss paint), while the Sharpie one is glossier and a bit darker than the leather. Here's the painted one:

It's not bad, but John says the Sharpie one looks better, so that's the one I'm going to give away.

But first, a couple more beauty shots:

These two cuff bracelets are virtually identical, so whoever wins my extra one will automatically become my bestie. FAIR WARNING.

[NOTE: The contest has ended, and the winner is....Amanda Mead! Amanda, please e-mail me your mailing address!]

To enter, just leave your name and favorite movie quote in the comments on this post. There is no point to the movie quotes except keeping me entertained. (WHAT.) I'll ship anywhere, so anyone can enter. I'll pick someone tomorrow night, and announce the winner both here, on this post, and on the Epbot Facebook page. (You are following me on FB, right?) Please watch for that update, so I don't have to go hunting you down to get your shipping address, k?

I hope this inspires some of you to go belt-hunting! Now, go comment, and happy quoting! 

NOTE: I'm moderating all your comments, guys, so please only enter them once, even if you don't see it go through. It might take me a little bit to get it published, but I promise, I'll get to it!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Home Decor Crafts for the Discriminating Geek

While my office is plastered with painted Ninja Turtles and Disney paintings and Stay Pufts and other brightly colored geekery, John and I keep the rest of the house a more sedate, warm-toned, kinda Pottery-Barn-ish vibe. Granted, a lot of steampunk touches are creeping their way in, but it turns out steampunk is now the height of home decor fashion; interior designers just know it as "industrial chic." (Have you seen the past few Restoration Hardware catalogs? It's steampunk heaven!)

I love this look because you can recycle and upcycle cheap old junk and make it look like a million bucks. Or at least a few hundred. ;) It's also unbelievably DIY-friendly; just beat the heck out of something, cover it in glaze, wipe it off, and voilĂ ! It's "custom-finished!"

Another example:

Hilary P., the same artist behind that epic "Team Epbot" art, snagged a fabulous white seahorse statue from Michael's for only $10 - which would make me jealous enough -  but then she used my Copper Patine Tutorial to turn it into THIS:


Hilary also made the twig jar & message-in-a-bottle (love the copper curley-Q)! I'm loving the whole look here - and I bet her whole house is this fabulous. Hey, Hilary! SEND MORE PICTURES.

And if you can't find a great seahorse statue, just head over to your local dollar store:

Hyla W. transformed these little plastic toys into fun wall accents! Click over to her blog to see them hung with a pretty mermaid print.

I'll never get tired of old apothecary jars and vintage labels, and happily it looks like Andrea H. agrees:

She writes, "I just wanted to share the candle label I made following your tutorial and links! 
 This is the first thing I have ever made, but it won't be the last. You guys are like crack cocaine...if crack cocaine was highly addictive but also highly motivating and inspirational. Does that feel like a compliment?  Because, that was supposed to be a compliment."

Granted, I didn't have to include her whole e-mail, but then again, I kind of had to, you know? ;)

I think Kithplana is the first reader to use my leather curtain tutorial - and, check it out! She modified it for a valance!

Look at those box pleats! Genius. And the penny buttons look amazing with it. Gorgeous work, Kithplana!

Of course, no post of mine would be complete without something geeky, so here's how you "class up" your favorite wand display:

Cassandra W. writes,"I wanted to share a photo of a wand display that I made for my niece's 11th birthday last fall.  She was so excited about it, and it is now hanging in my sister's hallway.  I followed your instructions exactly, except that I decided to stain it rather than paint it."

And what a gorgeous stain it is, too! (I'm thinking Cassandra used a slightly better quality of wood than my cheap plywood version.) Of course, the real beauty of this is that it's both subtle and elegant enough for even your most "non-geeky" rooms.

And finally, since Canada stopped minting pennies last May (it did??), Jennifer W. of Knit Wit on the Prairies decided to immortalize the humble coin with her very own penny side table:
I just love the copper glow from the lamp light!  Hit the link to Jennifer's blog up there for links to the paint, glue, and bar-top epoxy she used.

And while we're talking Home Decor goodness, allow me to plug Better After, an addictive little blog featuring nothing but home decor and furniture makeovers. I like it so well that I roped the writer, Lindsey, into writing Sunday Sweets for me over on CW about twice a month. :) And of course the archives of The Steampunk Home remain one of my happy places, even though the blog is no longer updated.

If you have any favorite home decor blogs or projects, please, share in the comments!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Cowabunga, Dudes! I Painted My Action Figure!

I'm not much of an action figure girl, but the moment I saw the designs for the new Ninja Turtle figures, I was head-over-heels:

In fact, they were my very first pin on my Toy Wish List over on Pinterest. I used to watch the show every day after school, and I remember going to see the first movie with my mother. (We both still have a penchant for cheesy kids' movies.)

Then I stumbled across these mind-blowing re-paints of the figures by John Harmon of Mint Condition Custom, and I fell in love so hard it hurt:

LOOK AT THAT DETAILING. Now go look at the original figure. It's like going from a stereoscope to hi-def!

So on Friday when I spotted an end cap of TMNT toys at Target, I decided it was finally time to unleash my inner hero in a half shell. I grabbed Donatello first for The Great Painting Experiment:

As Harmon points out, these figures have tons of fabulous detail that you just can't see very well with the factory paint job. The idea is to add enough shading so all that detail really pops.

I've never tried painting an action figure before, so I was both surprised & pleased by how well regular acrylic paint sticks - no primer needed. In fact, it sticks SO well I had a hard time getting it off the areas where I got a bit sloppy. Then John, the wise and all-knowing former painter, told me to use alcohol. A-HA! That worked like a charm.

Here's my first tentative try at aging Donatello's foot wrappings:

Mine's on the left. See the difference? As I gained more confidence, I went back and darkened this up a lot more.

Here he is roughly half-finished:

His shell and legs are aged - arms and head are still as-is from the package.

And finally, here are my finished beauty shots, along with pics of the figure straight from the package for comparison:

I've learned some things that I'll do differently for the next three, but even so...what do you think? Did I get anywhere near Hamon's greatness?

Personally, I'm really happy with this for my first try, and I'm pretty much hooked on painting toys now. I've since done a slightly larger project which I just finished last night (look for those pics in another day or two) and I can't wait to go buy the next three Turtles!

If you want to try painting some action figures yourself, here's the general technique:

- Paint on a darker version of whatever color you're covering on the figure
- Wipe it off.

You'd think a two-step process like that wouldn't take me a solid three or four hours, but it did - and I'm not even done with his weapons yet. There are a lot of small areas, and you really need to work in tiny sections since the paint dries so quickly. Have tons of q-tips and paper towels on hand, and use a tiny brush dipped in alcohol for touch-ups.

For the belt I applied several layers of a black-brown, rubbing it off with a Q-tip in-between, and then I used a light tan on the tiny X stitches and a brighter liquid gold leaf on the front ring.

The part I messed up is that I used brown to cover D's skin instead of a darker green. It still works, but for the rest of the Turtles I plan to use shades of green, so they won't look quite so grungy.

The weapons that come with the figure are made from a different plastic that paint won't stick to at all, so I'm having to prime those first. You can expect another photo shoot once I've finished them all, and the difference should be really dramatic, since they're just a solid reddish-brown right now.

Well, even if you never plan to paint your action figures, I hope you enjoyed seeing how I spent my Friday night! :) Stay tuned for something I think more of you will find squee-worthy.