Monday, December 10, 2012

My New & Nutty Copper Patina!

I've been spending every spare moment Christmas crafting over here for the past week or two, so brace yourselves for a minor deluge of craft posts doused in glitter, fake greenery and PURE JOY. (Or possibly frustration, if you're like me and not so good with wiring things onto fake greenery. [Why is everything so slippery, and why do I keep poking myself?! ARG!] But that's for another post.)

First up, lots of you suggested that I patina my last nutcracker - the one that looked so terrible after I tried painting it white - so I decided to give that a go. I haven't tried this finish since my seahorse tutorial, so this time I went with a slightly more colorful approach:

I also steampunked him out a bit by adding goggles, a gear emblem, and faux rivets.

The goggles are made from two thin slices of a pencil (I used my Dremel to cut them off) and a thin strip of leather:

I glued these to his hat, and then used a paint product called "Beads In A Bottle" to make the rivets. I think it worked pretty well, and the four-pack with gold, silver, copper, and black was only about $9 at JoAnn's. (Link goes to Amazon, where it's cheaper.) I'm sure I'll be using this stuff a lot more in the future!

This actually isn't a bad look with the white and silver, but my paint job was still beyond salvaging, so on to the copper spray paint!

I didn't take process photos of the patina, but I did everything essentially the same as my seahorse statue, with one major change: after the copper base coat, instead of spraying the statue black and then rubbing it down with mineral spirits, I just used a wine red acrylic paint, painting it on and wiping it off again with a rag - no spirits needed. This gave the statue a more iron-rusted look under the teal patina streaks, and also makes it more colorful and less grungy-looking:

I used less of the teal wash, too, since I wanted more of the red-washed copper to show. I know it's not terrible realistic, but I still think it's a pretty convincing metal illusion. What do you guys think?

Aaand one last beauty shot:

I'm off to take pictures of more of my finished crafts, so stay tuned!

Oh! And while I'm talking nutcrackers, can I just say how fun it is to see all YOUR versions? Here are just a few that you guys have sent in:

Nadia used glitter, star gems, and rhinestones to accent her gold and silver nutcrackers:

And Amanda A. found some extra tiny nutcracker ornaments from Walmart, which she decked out with glitter, keys, and *wings*!

Those wings are brilliant. I wish I had some big ones to stick on my guys!

And finally, my friend Darla of Bakingdom painted her nutcrackers in dreamy pastels, and then turned them into art pieces to hang on her wall!

Go here to see her full tutorial, and also to see the rest of Darla's decorations, which you must - MUST - see. Everything's so bright and sweet and glittery that it makes me despair of ever having decorating chops even half as good. I love/hate you, Darla, seriously. Come decorate my house next year? [Bambi eyes]

Hope you all had a great weekend! And please keep sharing your holiday crafts and decorations over on the Epbot FB page - it really brightens my day, seeing what my geek peeps are up to!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Saturday Steam 12/8/12

My friend Renee found a fantastic bracelet this week that's totally going on my wish list:

Isn't it awesome? I love seeing truly unique steampunk jewelry, since so much of it out there all looks the same.
(Also, I'm not the only one seeing an owl face here, right?)

Next up, Brandie M. made this gorgeous steampunk ornament:

I spy a certain Jolee's sticker set I've been hanging on to, just waiting for the right project! (I was hoping to find some more flat ornaments [like these] to stick the stickers on and use on my tree, but so far I haven't been able to find them again. Any ideas, guys?)

I'm actually knee-deep in several steampunk Christmas crafts, so it's nice to see I'm not the only one dreaming of a steamy Christmas. Here's another goodie Erin M. shared on the Epbot FB page:

Tiny top hats!! Whether you're a fan of Mad Hatter, steampunk, Victorian fashion, or just whimsical frippery, these are a must-make. (You KNOW I have to make some for my steampunk Christmas tree.) Head over to Seeing Things for the printable template & tutorial!

And speaking of top hats, Lisa Y. made a truly epic top hat topper for her tree:

She started with a blank cardboard hat, adding the swirl design using puff paint, and then she gave the whole thing a pretty aged copper finish. I love all the feathers and wire swirls, and check out the detail on her snowflake/gear and hatband:


Lisa also included a few close-ups of her ornaments, which I'm now in love with:

Compass rose ornament! I NEED A COMPASS ROSE ORNAMENT.

And finally, veering back into non-holiday 'punkery, Jason W. sent in a really cool music video by Korean singer IU. It's a beautiful fantasy story of a girl living in a clock shop who builds a kind of steampunk TARDIS. Here it is with English subtitles:

If you didn't follow all that, the top comment on Youtube  explains the storyline really well:

"IU is a girl living in a clock tower. The boy she likes is in a deep sleep. One day on the fantasy express, she sees a glimpse of the future. She sees that by the time she is 20, she is together with the boy. She wants to find a way to make time go by faster. She invents a time machine and goes to the future. But, right when the time machine starts, the boy wakes up, but it is too late. Years later, they meet again."

K, that's all for now, guys! Time for me to get back to wiring up my steampunk wreath. (WHEE!!) I hope to have pics for you by next week, so, fingers crossed! 'Til then, as always, please share your steamy links and projects in the comments or over on the Epbot FB page!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Procrastination Station 12/6/12

- I've been losing more productive hours than I'd care to admit on my new favorite craft blog: True Blue Me and You: Doable Unique DIYs. The name says it all, but I'll add that this is the most ethical Tumblr blog I've ever seen, with a blogger who cares passionately about properly crediting sources and linking back to every site she mentions. She also has an archive that goes on forever (I *still* haven't found the end), helpful tips and summaries, imminently browsable categories tagged clearly in the sidebar, and craft roundups like these sprinkled throughout:
So when you get tired of seeing the same ol' craft and DIY pins over and over on Pinterest, head over to True Blue. Just be prepared to lose the rest of the day when you do!

- GeekMom posted a fabulous fashion & jewelry Etsy gift guide; it helped me add at least three or four things to my wish list:

And for a truly massive gift guide of random delights, also check out BoingBoing's 2012 list. They've got gadgets and gizmos a plenty - and you want thinga-mabobs? THEY GOT TWENTY.


- Hey, do you remember the story of "The Paris Time Capsule Apartment?" It first came out last May, but Lindsay G. reminded me of it this week. Basically a Parisian apartment was left untouched for 70 years, locked up with all its rich furnishings and treasures, and was finally opened for the first time this year.

There's something magical about these pictures, and the story of the apartment's former occupant is so mysterious (the rent was faithfully paid all those years) that I'd love to see Ransom Riggs weave a story around it, with pictures of the apartment sprinkled throughout ala Miss Peregrine's. Anyway, definitely check out that article if you missed it before!

- Prepare for some Extreme Cute with this article M.C. spotted on CNN: World's 20 Cutest Animals - And Where To Find Them.

More than just pictures, this has a short snippet of info on each animal and where you can still see them in the wild. Fun AND educational!

- And finally, hold on to your ear hats, Disney fans, because an honest-to-goodness, flying, fire-breathing DRAGON flew through the skies of new Fantasyland Tuesday night, and you're not going to believe the video:

 (found via Casey Jones)

In fact, I *didn't* believe the video, since there were a few obviously CGI'd teaser promos leaked prior to the big debut, and the video is so dark it doesn't really feel like you're in the park, looking up.  So I went digging around online for more specifics. Turns out, yep, it IS real (!!), and if you'd like to "ruin" the magic by seeing how it's done, there's a photo and article here that explains. (Inside the Magic also has a more realistic looking video & a nice write-up.)

The really baffling thing, though, is that Disney has stated this was a one-time event only, and it was held on an exclusive media preview night, at that, so no regular guests got to see it. Seems like the height of cruelty to me, to show us video and never let us see it ourselves, but many speculate the dragon will still make special appearances from time to time, despite what Disney has told the media. Fingers crossed, 'cuz I'd love to see the dragon in person!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Epbot Exemplars: Obadoba

Sometimes I get caught up in my little online bubble here with all of you, and I forget that not everyone thinks it's cool to be a geek. I take for granted how freely I can share things like Portal and Star Trek and my obsession with Ghostbusters, knowing that you guys just GET it - or you at least get *me.*

Still, the sad fact remains that many - if not most - of our next generation geeks face mockery or even bullying because of the things they love.

But here's the good news:

By being ourselves, both online and off, and by proudly showing off our cosplay pics and nerdy art projects, and applauding each other's efforts, and by just unabashedly reveling in our passions instead of secreting them away, we're already helping. We're setting the example. We're helping create communities where it's possible to forget not everyone thinks geeks are cool.

Which is my long-winded way of introducing today's Exemplar: 15-year-old Paige, aka Obadoba. She's given me permission to share her story, so here it is, in her own words [edited slightly for brevity]:

"I've been considering writing to you for a looong time, but your post abut anxiety really hit it home and I knew I just had to sit down and write this all out.

"Last year, I suffered from anxiety and depression. I'd been a bit socially awkward all my life, and I don't think I'd had any close friends since I was in kindergarten. 

"The public school in my town was one of the worst places I've had the misfortune of being in. If any of [my classmates] found out I cosplayed, they would've descended like vultures. If you didn't fit in perfectly, you'd be cast out in an instant. They block the halls, insult my religion, throw things at me, and a few other things I'd rather not say (which ended with them getting called down to the office for sexual harassment).

"I don't know how many times me and my few friends had to go to the office to report bullying. Nothing was ever done. That was the main factor that led me to depression and anxiety. I was distant from the few friends I had, any off comment could send me into a panic, I started to get a bit of a stutter, and I couldn't disagree with anyone else's opinion no matter what.
"One thing that helped me, my little sliver of light in the dark, was going to conventions. The first few cons I went to were cool, but I really didn't do much. And then I started to make friends. I've met amazing people through the last few months. I've talked to some amazing cosplayers, and made some pretty cool costumes myself. I learned a lot, from panels and from people.

"...Fortunately for me, we found a charter school half an hour away with a few spaces open. Switching to that school is probably one of the best decisions I will ever make. There are SO many more geeks here, and best of all, I've made wonderful friends!

"I've gone from being the freaky little introvert to the president of the anime club. I'm probably the most ostentatious person in my grade. I'm part of several cosplay groups, and I'm even planning a cosplay meetup next spring with the help of some friends."

(I don't know about you guys, but I was cheering on the inside those last few paragraphs.)

Paige ends by saying a lot of wonderful things about Epbot, and how she plans to keep on attending conventions. In fact, here she is cosplaying as Aranea from Homestuck, so you guys can say hi if you ever see her!

And in case you're like me and have no idea what Homestuck is - it's a webcomic. (Thanks, Google!) And this is Aranea:

She's wearing orange and has blue wings. Naturally, I love her.

Thank you for sharing your story, Paige, and for reminding us that while bullying is still sadly alive and well, that's not where the story ends. It might take some people a little longer to figure out, but trust me, you're the one that's cool.

Aaand relevant video of awesomeness:

[Note: contains mild language] 

True story: when I went back to watch this just now, I got a virtual sucker-punch right to the feels, as Wil Wheaton would say. It suddenly went from a goofy, fun anthem to something so much more personal and real. Or maybe I just need a Midol. (NOT A WORD, JOHN. Not...a word.)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Holiday Wreath Roundup

Time for more glittery Christmas goodness! I've already posted my favorite trees, so now here are my favorite wreaths from our local Festival of Trees last month:

 Take away the glitter, and this one could stay up all year! Isn't that soft teal pretty with the leaves?
 It had a whole room vignette and tree to match, too:

Again, you can barely see the tree under all that stuff, but I like the color scheme and fabric textures.
This one looks so...foresty. In a good way. I love the lavender bunches and moss.

It was fun seeing wreaths in just about every style imaginable. From traditional: old world elegant: funky: beachy!
 (The wreath is made of small bits of drift wood.)

I think this one was even trying to be steampunk:
With, er, limited success. 

(New goal: Make a steampunk wreath!)

Here's another classic:

And some more sparkles:

 And finally, these large floor vase thingies were in the museum lobby, and I fell HARD for them:
Look at that snowy, glittery prettiness!!

I want my entire world to look like this. I'm having to restrain myself from painting everything I own white and dousing it in glitter. :D

Which reminds me: this was the table scape next to it:

 Yep. Time to stock up on white spray paint and silver ornaments, pronto. I wonder if I can find that many branches in my back yard...

*If you want to see the rest of my photos from the Festival, head over to my Flickr album.

Oh, and hey, I used that gold deco mesh (look at me, using the right name for it!) on our back tree - both for garland and for the topper - and it was SO EASY. I think it looks pretty nice, too! I'll post pics soon so y'all can see.

So how's your decorating coming, guys? If you have pics online, please share links in the comments so I can see! Or you can share your pics directly over on the Epbot Facebook page.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Pixar's Lamp Robot is the Cutest Thing You'll See Today

[running in]


I just found what I want for Christmas:

[UPDATE: video fixed. Sorry, guys!]

Yep, thanks to three students in New Zealand, Pixar's adorable lamp mascot has come to life. Be sure to watch the video all the way through, because by the end I was "AWWWW"ing in a way usually reserved for baby sloths.

Now if they'll just make a baby version, too, and paint them both white, AND include the rubber Pixar ball for the baby lamp to balance on...

...Santa? Are you listening?

(found via Misty Harris on

Sunday, December 2, 2012

This Is Why I Love Twitter (And The Bloggess)

The Bloggess said she loves me, you guys - and possibly called me God. YOUR ARGUMENT IS INVALID. Or something.

Ah, but then - THEN - a random genius named Jordan chimed in:

Which led to this:

Gratuitous quotation marks *and* a bonus Monty Python sacking? Bless you, Jordan Kvochick.

You know, between this and Allie Brosh's picture for me, I really CAN die happy now. (But I think I'll take a nap happy, instead.)

(See, John? I don't have a "Twitter problem," I have a THE BLOGGESS SAID SHE LOVES ME "problem." So there.)


Saturday, December 1, 2012

Saturday Steam 12/1/12

I see a lot of amazing steampunk costumes from you readers, but Hilary P.'s is particularly drool-worthy.

First, here's the concept drawing she started with:

See more of Hilary's art here

And here's the finished product!

Excuse me while I wolf-whistle and my eyeballs pop out cartoon-style. WOWZA.

She writes:

"I made the red coat and over skirt, goggles, & necklace all from scratch. The coat is a hybrid between two Simplicity patterns. The three layered underskirts were from Goodwill and are sewn together. The goggles are from YOUR tutorial, and I added the filigrees (which started out as rings I bent flat) and all the little jewels and gears. 

"The belts were all garage sale finds from earlier this summer. The belt accessories are the Message in a bottle I made [previously featured here], an hourglass necklace I got at The Icing By Claire's, as well as the pocket watch necklace. The old keys were from an antique furniture salvage place owned by a lady I know. My shoes (which you can't really see) look like little victorian style booties I got at Goodwill for cheep!"

Absolutely breath-taking, Hilary! The over coat, the layered skirts, the lace gloves - it's all making me green with envy. I'm also pretty sure I have that exact same belt with the round buckle. Heh.

Next up, you might remember Melissa as the reader who made that fantastic steampunk medal for her fiancé to wear in their engagement photos. (And doesn't he look dapper in it?)

Well, Melissa's fiancé is now her husband (congrats, guys!) and this is the gorgeous steamy boutineer she made him for the wedding:

Her guy is a big VW fan, so she incorporated the logo in with the gears and hand-stitched felt leaves. I love the color choices, and the composition is perfection!

And even though it's not really steampunk, I have to show you guys Melissa all blushing and beautiful with her felt-and-vintage-button bouquet:

Although if you were distracted from the bouquet by Melissa's amazeballs tattoo, you're not the only one. LOVE.

Here's something you don't see every day: a steampunk motorcycle:

Shannon M. spotted this out in the wilds of Daytona, and she snapped several photos with her phone for me. I can't say I'm a fan of the leopard print seat, but that's a minor quibble with amazingness of this caliber:

Those wheel spokes are grommeted leather, and I love all the shiny copper and brass gear accents. The headlight is pretty sweet, too:

I don't have any details on who made this, so if you know, please tell me in the comments!

[UPDATE: Shannon tracked it down! The bike is by Copper Mike - and it's even for sale! Hit the link for more details & pics.)

And finally, Abney Park is the most famous steampunk band out there, and their new(ish) video Steampunk Revolution doesn't disappoint:

The actual song is only about three minutes long (the rest is all credits), and there's great footage used of a variety of steampunk art and fashion. Definitely worth a look! (And thanks for the link, Kayla F.!)

Oh, and while we're talking steampunk music: my personal favorite is Steam Powered Giraffe. I've mentioned them before, but just had to plug 'em again, since they're not nearly as famous as they should be. Here's their sweet old-timey ballad, Honey Bee:


Their first album gets regular play on our modernized vintage radio - although I just noticed they replaced one of my favorite songs, "I Am Not Alone," on the album over on iTunes - no doubt because the girl who sings it is no longer with the group. Pity. Anyway, hit that link to listen to snippets of all their songs, or go to their website for physical CDs.

Seen something steamy this week? Then please, share the goods in the comments or over on the Epbot FB page!