Saturday, November 10, 2012

DIY Steampunk Resin & Leather Cuff

Here's another resin experiment I've been meaning to show you guys, since it's the one I actually wear the most so far of all my experiments. I whipped it up last month, I think, and it immediately become one of my top three favorite cuff bracelets. (I am a huge fan of leather cuffs; they're perfect with jeans, and they don't snag or pinch the way most of my chain bracelets do!)

The centerpiece of the cuff is a vintage ray gun charm from a box of Cracker Jacks. You might remember I initially considered using it for my steampunk medal:

After this was taken I removed the loop, painted the gun silver (it was initially gold) and aged it with a little brown paint.

Next I dropped it into my resin mold along with several tiny watch gears:

Once the resin was cured, I tried two or three different metallic papers for backers:

 I loved the silver foil, but was afraid it'd look a little too Buck Rogers. Plus the gold foil has some nifty ridges in it that get magnified and warped by the resin's shape, which I think looks cool.

From here I grabbed an old leather belt, cut off a section, and began laying out my cuff design:

 Happily I didn't have to buy anything for this project; I already had all the pieces I needed in my jewelry craft stash.

I rounded the edges of my leather strip, added a snap, and then marked where I wanted the chain to attach with a piece of wet chalk:

As with my previous cuff, I sealed the cut edges of the leather with clear glue before painting them with black acrylic paint.

Next I drilled tiny holes in the leather with my Dremel, and attached my chain with large O rings:

 (I later swapped this chain for a more delicate gold one.)

After a few failed attempts I realized no adhesive would hold my resin cabochon onto the curved leather - the strain was too great, so the edges just kept pulling away.

My solution was to sew the cabochon on like a button. Kind of.

With the resin piece in place on the leather, I drilled two tiny holes on each side, making sure the drill bit went all the way through the leather as well. Then I used thin brass wire to "sew" each side of the resin piece down:

My drill holes were large enough that I could loop the wire through four times one each side, which makes the piece incredibly strong and secure. No more lifting edges!

Next I bent two filigree pieces to fit the side curves of the cuff:
 (I also snipped off the rings on the ends.)

...and used brass brads to attach them, plus a touch of E-600 to make sure they wouldn't twist:

 I like that nothing on this cuff is attached with glue alone. Ever since I lost a piece off my favorite cuff (which mercifully John found again a few day later) I've been paranoid about bits knocking off my bracelets!

Here's the finished cuff with the smaller brass chain:

And one more shot in the daylight, after I added a second loop on the front chain:

The first time I wore this out John and I visited an Indie craft fair, and I had several of the artists compliment it and ask me where I got it. (!!) Talk about a head-sweller!

And speaking of head-swelling, my oh-so mild sickness decided to blossom into a full blown head cold yesterday, and today I gave it to John, so we've got this awesome sniffling-in-stereo thing going on. :) We've also decided that "snot" is a verb, as in, "Did you just snot on my neck?"  -  which is a thing John actually said to me a few minutes ago. (And for the record, no, I did not.)

The hardest part for me is that I can't take any kind of decongestants on account of my anxiety. (Even the mildest stimulant - like the stuff in Sudafed - can trigger episodes.) I don't miss the medicine head feeling, but toughing through a cold with just pain meds and comfort food gets to be a real drag. Plus - and yes, I KNOW I'm whining but I'm sick and it's my blog and I'm GONNA, dang it - tea and OJ and spicy stuff all give me the most raging awful acid reflux. Seriously. I had two cups of herbal tea last week for my sore throat and had to sleep sitting up two nights in a row. And I took Prevacid and antacids and everything! URG.

So I guess you could say my body is just being a poopy-headed jerky jerk at the moment.

This concludes my whining, because I just remembered we bought Epic Micky 2 today, and wheee video games!

Hope you have a great weekend, guys!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Epbot Exemplars

Here's something I've wanted to start for ages, and this week I finally decided to buckle down and just DO IT already.

Nearly every day I get these amazing stories in my inbox about young geek girls being PROUD young geek girls, and it makes me so gosh-darned happy I could pop. I've shared a few with you guys before - Katie being the most notable - and each time I do I hear how vastly encouraging it is for other girls to see their peers loving the same stuff they love, unashamedly.

So in that spirit, I'm starting new series of posts called the Epbot Exemplars. (I know it's a mouthful, but it just sounds so GRAND, don't you think?) 

I'll be featuring mostly young geek girls - although I won't rule out featuring boys or adults now and then - with a little snippet about what geeky things they love and how they express it. It could be just a picture and quote, or it could be a whole story. I might feature a few at a time, or just one every few weeks, or abandon the idea entirely if you guys hate it. (Can you tell I'll be making this up as I go along? Ha!)

So without further ado, let's meet our first official Exemplars:

This is five-year-old Hayden:

As you can see, Hayden LOVES Star Wars. Her mom, Brandi, wrote to tell me what happened when Hayden picked out that Star Wars lunch box and thermos for her first day of Kindergarten:

"Being the concerned parent," Brandi said, "I told her that some people may tease her for having a 'boy's' lunchbox and if that happens, what will she do? 

"Without hesitation, she looked me dead in the eye and said, 'I'll tell them I love Star Wars, it's awesome, and I can use a light saber!'"

(If you heard something just then, that was just me cry-cheering over here. Don't mind me.)

This is eleven-year-old Zahava:

Zahava wrote to me herself, saying, "I really liked all the steampunk costumes on epbot, so I thought I would try to make my own steampunk fairy costume for Halloween."

(Yep, you read that right; she put this costume together herself!)

"The goggles were a pair of plastic giant glasses. I used a headband for the strap, and used a paper towel roll covered in brown fabric and cut to make the back of the goggles, with the padding from headphones on the end."

"The wings I painted with some bronze on the edges and straps, added a buckle, and used painted  boxes with buttons hot glued to them for the box on the back and the one attached with curled wire. the rest of the costume was either thrift store finds or borrowed. Thanks for reading my letter!"

What's this? A budding crafter/cosplayer?? BE STILL MY HEART. 

And finally, this is ten-year-old Hannah:

Hannah's mom Nicole describes her as a "voracious reader, enthusiastic geek, and avid Whovian." Hannah made herself a TARDIS backpack, and excitedly chose glasses in "TARDIS blue." For Halloween she dressed as "Doctor Jenny" (hat tip!), and "pored over each episode looking for all the silly tools used, and put together a hip-pouch of fun stuff: psychic paper, tardis key, metal-quote necklace of 'time is a...big ball of wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey stuff', 3-D glasses, water pistol, slingshot, and more."

None of Hannah's friends know Doctor Who, and no one recognized her on Halloween. But don't go feeling sorry for her, because Hannah was having a timey-wimey blast. Nicole writes,  

"One of the beauties of the internet is the ability to connect those who wouldn't ever cross paths in real life. Sure, Hannah doesn't have friends who share her geekish interests...but, they find other connections. She can enjoy the episodes knowing that others, around the world, also enjoy it. "
Young geeks reveling in the things they love, taking comfort in knowing they have a world-wide community just a computer away? Now that's Exemplary. 

Plus, Hannah already has her costume planned out for next year:  Han(nah) Solo.  (HIGH FIVE!!)


I hope you guys enjoyed the new feature, guys, and I hope you'll read these with your own little geeklings, should you have any!

Oh, and for more geeky greatness, be sure to check out Superheroes are for girls, too!  - a Tumblr blog Chrissy G. sent it. But trust me, YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE CUTE.

PS - If you'd like to nominate an Exemplar, please at least try to keep your e-mails brief [smirk], remember to include a photo or two, and also tell me your children's names and ages. Odds are you won't get a reply - I'm swimming in e-mail already! -  but please know that I *am* reading and enjoying everything you send in!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Mail Bag Beauties!

I've been mildly sick for almost a week now, but it's the kind of sick you can't really complain about, because you're mostly fine, but there's just enough queasiness and head drippiness to make you tired and whiny and watch too many 30 Rock repeats. (Liz Lemon just GETS me, you know?)

Anyway, it's weeks like these that I really really appreciate all the fun surprises you guys send me in the mail. I tend to get a few things a month, varying from smashed pennies (yessss, my precioussss) to sticker-covered letters to baggies of broken jewelry bits for my craft endeavors. Every single package makes me feel like it's my birthday, and I have a special soft spot for handwritten letters from young geeklings with mad Perler Bead skills:

I actually got this from Elsie K. several months ago (and shared it on FB, I believe) but it's too awesome not to share here on the blog, too. Look at her little drawing of Sir Squibner! (I later made the bead 'bot into a magnet, so I can see it every day.)

Speaking of drawings, last week Victoria G. sent me a gorgeous glossy print of her amazing Lady Vadore art:

My first Lady Vadore fan art! Woot! I can't wait to frame it.

Also last week, Kelli sent me her custom-made Epbot Vinylmation:

She even gave him a fun steampunk twist! I'm diggin' the "flower" gears & little chain on his pocket watch.

And here's another cutie 'bot that came in a few months back, by artist/sculptor Dyani:

Complete with mini-me & mini-John!

As you can see, I now have a whole collection of mini-Epbots:
 Three counts as a collection, right? :)

This glass arrived a few weeks ago without a card, so I'm not sure which of you lovelies made it for me, but it totally made my day:


And did I ever show you guys the shopping tote Pernilla in Sweden made me?
Sewn from scratch and embroidered!

(Can I just say how surreal it is to get things from around the globe? I got a postcard from Belgium this week. BELGIUM. And two days ago someone e-mailed me from Hungary using Google Translator. I'm not trying to brag; I'm just saying the Internet really has made it a small world, after all - and I freaking LOVE THAT.)

(And yes, I DO know I just stuck Small World in your head. MWUAH. HA. HAA.)

And finally, when John brought in Theresa B.'s crafty creation yesterday I thought she'd purchased it from some high-end boutique. Then I looked closer, and realized it's all handcrafted! Theresa started with a blank mini lunchbox purse, and turned it into this:


She covered it in those steamy papers, and then added gems, decals, gears, and even a raygun smashed penny! Inside it's fully lined with a thick felt.

Here's the back:

I think I need to add a long chain so I can use this a purse the next time I step out as a Steampunk!

Thanks for letting me geek out about my new goodies, guys, and extra squealy thanks and hugs to all of you who keep reminding me - with your comments, e-mails, and surprises - that I have the best "job" in the world. Even when I'm feeling whiny and queasy and snotty-in-a-literal-sense.

Btw, I always feel awkward mentioning gifts here on the blog, both because I never want to be an obnoxious braggart, and because I never want to look like I'm trolling for free stuff. (I also don't want sellers to think that just because they send me something I'm going to blog about it.) So, with all that said, and only because it's a FAQ: if you'd like my mailing address, just e-mail me and I'll send it to you.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Procrastination Station 11/5/12

Here's how I'm wasting my time online this week:

Leigh W. recommended The Abominable Charles Christopher, and now I'm hooked on this adorable web comic:
 Hit the link up there to start at the beginning. I'm still not too far along, but I'm loving the sweet-natured characters and the layers of mystery and (possible?) meaning behind it all.

I can't tell you how many times I've listened to Jonathan Coulton's new recording of his song Code Monkey, because I've lost count. Usually the song's a bit more rockin', but I like this slightly softer take on it. If you've never heard any of Coulton's music before, definitely give it a listen:

If you like it you can do what I did and go buy it for a dollar at Coulton's site. (I like to set it on repeat on iTunes and drive John crazy. Hee!)

Next, prepare for some fantasy/design eye candy of the highest order, because BoingBoing just turned me on to the Hidden Bookcase Doors Tumblr:

Secret passages and hidden doors, oh my!! And when you're done drooling over that blog, go check out for more jaw-dropping trickery like this:

Perfecting for fantasizing about your own secret lab/hidden library/epic game room. (I've been eying all the exterior walls in our house, trying to figure out where we can add on a room just so I can make the doorway a secret bookshelf door. Then I'd make the latch a book that you have to pull on. Awww YEEEEAAAAH.)

And finally, I know I've mentioned this blog before, but I recently re-discovered Fashion It So thanks to SuperPunch, and spent a LOL-filled few nights catching up on the archives:

Technically it's about the fashion choices of Star Trek: The Next Generation, but really it's a blow-by-blow account of each episode with hysterical screen caps and commentary. It's NSFW due to language, but definitely go check it out if you're a fellow Trekker. Or just like laughing.

K, I think that's enough to keep you well and truly occupied for now, so....go forth and procrastinate, my friends!