Saturday, May 11, 2013

Steampunk Disney Princesses

Leah F. used that Mega Steampunk Dress-Up Game I featured a few weeks back to 'punkify all the Disney princesses and heroines, and let me tell you: her results are sooo coooool.

Here, see if you can name them all:

(If you get stuck, note that two of the princesses are repeated.)

These are perfect for anyone looking for cosplay inspiration! In fact, now I'm tempted to go back and try creating some Disney Villain-inspired looks. Dang it, Leah, how am I supposed to get anything done today now?

PS - Just realized there's no Merida in there - and considering the kerfuffle going on over her official Disney makeover, I'm thinking someone should remedy that. (Show 'em how it's done, girls!) Plus I'm sure there are plenty more characters out there that would be fun to try. Be sure to share your versions over on the Epbot FB page if you do, though, so I can see!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Birthday Goodies!

My birthday is this Sunday (yep, on Mother's day!), but I've already gotten so many awesome geeky goodies that I just HAVE to share - especially since so much is from you readers!

First, remember when I featured Sean Boyd's steampunk rayguns and such last month? Well, Sean was so chuffed by my post that he took my playful birthday hint seriously, and immediately asked if he could send me a gift. (Like I was going to say no to that!)

I expected just a little pin or something, so I imagine my delight when I found he'd made me an entire assemblage Epbot 'bot:

How cool is this?? It's about 8 inches tall, and Sean even hand-engraved all the little rivets and details.

I would have posted this last week, but our postal system showed its characteristic gentleness and snapped the antenna neck en route. Happily John was able to perform some robot surgery with a bit of JB Weld, though, and now my 'bot's head can reach sky-high again:


Next up,  Mike and Michelle M. have been kind enough to offer a few leather-working tips for me and John via e-mail the past few weeks, and then surprised me with THE most EPIC Harry Potter gift... EVER.

Was that enough build-up, do you think? Probably not, because LOOK!

It's a Mini Monster Book of Monsters, complete with its own mini hanging cage!

Michelle tells me this is the first one they've ever made, and I can't believe they gave it to ME. The detail is just incredible. See that snippet of newspaper the book is resting on? It's a copy of the Daily Prophet!

The paper even unfolds, with articles about the Azkaban breakout and even a super tiny crossword puzzle. AMAZING.

Plus you can unsnap the book's binding, and it will spring open like this:

(John saw me uploading this photo just now and asked, "Did you stroke its spine to get it to close again?" Ha! It's official, my friends: he really IS a geek.)

Oh, and Mike & Michelle also gave me this hand-tooled keychain:
I can only hope that John's and my own attempts at leather work will someday come close to this. Thanks, guys! (And stay tuned for another glimpse of our ongoing efforts, by the way. We're still trying!) [Oh, and be sure to check out Mike & Michelle's etsy shop for other leather goodies; I hear they may even post some of the mini Monster Books soon!]

I sort of picked my own gifts from John this year, since I stumbled across two things I just HAD to have. First, this painting:

I've been following PinkyToast's work for years, but have somehow never managed to buy anything from her. The second I saw this hit her store, though, I marched my laptop into John's man cave, plopped it in his lap, and said, "THIS. I WANT THIS." (The benefits of nearly 15 years of marriage: you get to be more direct. Ha!)

The second thing I may have even ordered before telling John he was getting it for me, but in my defense, it's a super limited edition art book, and I had to snag one before the pre-orders sold out!

The Clockwork Couture pre-order version comes with brass book corners and will be signed by the artist. It ships this month, so I can't wait to see it!

Btw, if you haven't seen Brian Kesinger's Otto & Victoria series, you are seriously missing out:


Brian has prints of a bunch of these over at Clockwork Couture, or I see that you can still pre-order the regular version of his book (the signed version has sold out) for only $17.02 over at Amazon, which is a steal. (Looks like it won't ship 'til July, though.)

And finally, Eve e-mailed me the most achingly beautiful scratch-art I've ever seen, and I am positively over the moon for it:

Best of all, she's mailing me the original!
(Hit the link up there to see more of her work!)

At this rate, I'm going to have a whole WALL of Epbot art in my office. Can't wait. ;)

I am so spoiled by you guys, seriously. Not just with gifts and art, but with so many amazing e-mails and notes that continually lift me up when I'm struggling. I can't answer them all anymore, but I do read them, and I'm humbled, and I just want you all to know how much your words matter. 

So, on that excessively sappy note, thanks for making my 35th (GULP) birthday extra EXTRA awesome.

PS - That reminds me: did you see? Allie of Hyperbole and a Half is back! Celebrate ALL the good things!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The World's Most Ironic Mother's Day Card

Over the years I've noticed that my mother-in-law, Donna, never really reads the front of any store-bought cards we give her. She'll smile and give the card a millisecond's inspection before eagerly turning to the inside to see what WE wrote - which is super cute, but also makes shopping for a Mother's Day card feel kind of pointless.

So when I read this article over on Mental Floss about Anna Jarvis, the woman who first created Mother's Day and then spent the last half of her life decrying its rampant over-commercialization, I discovered the perfect solution:

How badly do I want to print a bunch of these up and sneak them into the Mother's Day section at Hallmark? Really, really badly.

So... will my mother-in-law notice? Place your bets in the comments now!
(And no, she doesn't read Epbot! Ha!)


Oh, and in case any of you have moms twisted enough to find this funny, here's the front graphic so you can print your own:

I made this using my own photo, and I intentionally made it kind of busy and scripty, so you have to put a little effort in to read it. (I'm also obviously not a graphic designer, but hey, the cheesier-looking the better, right?)

TIP: Since double-sided printing is a pain and a half, I printed the graphic on glossy photo paper, cut it out, and then used spray adhesive to attach it to a card stock base. That was WAY easier than trying to line everything up properly in Illustrator.

Enjoy, and if you DO print your own, I want to hear all the details after Sunday!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Hooray Time Wasters! Design Your Own Custom 3D Robot

If you liked that Pony generator I linked to a while back, and then the fun Steampunk Dress-Up Game, then you're going to LOVE what Keren Y. found: My Robot Nation lets you design, decorate, and color your own custom robot in a 3D generator, and then - THEN! -  you can have your robot 3D printed!

Here are some examples I grabbed off their site. The virtual designs are on the right, and the final printed 'bots are on the left:

Cool, right? To be honest, before this I didn't know it was even possible to do 3D printing in multiple colors, much less intricate patterns!

Get ready to lose at least an hour or two on this, because the options for robot-building are almost endless. It's actually kind of dizzying. The virtual designer is free to play with, so there's no obligation to buy anything; you could just grab a screen shot as a souvenir. If you DO want to order your finished robot, though, prices start at around $18 for the two-inch size, which isn't too bad for such a highly customized figure. (It gets pretty expensive after the 3-inch size, though.) In fact, I could see this being a fantastic gift for kids.

[My Robot Nation stresses that these are NOT toys, though, so if you do order one treat it like a collectible - and try not to drop it. Heh.]

Of course, there's no way I could recommend such a service without testing it myself, right? Right. So, as a supreme act of sacrifice, [smirk] I decided to design and order a 'bot of my own.

I should probably mention here that I am in no way affiliated with My Robot Nation, and they most certainly aren't paying me. More's the pity.

So, a couple of hours later (PRODUCTIVITY!!),  I'd constructed Firey here:

His horned helmet reminds me of the goblin armor from Labyrinth, and I went with orange because, well, c'mon. As you can see, I went a little nuts with the rust and bullet holes, painstakingly covering his entire body with them. (I couldn't find many examples of that texture on the website, so I was curious to see how it would translate in real life.)

[Also notice how I put his horns on crooked. OOPS. How did I miss that?]

I ordered the 2-inch size just over three weeks ago, which was long enough for me to be completely surprised when I opened up the box that arrived today:

The amount of padding was a little ridiculous; I unrolled a soccer-ball's worth of paper to get to him. Ha!

I immediately took him outside to take some detail shots for you guys:

As you can see, Firey is pretty much bang-on to my design. Considering how tiny he is, I'm amazed at the level of detail. You can even see the flames on his shoulders!

He's a tiny bit heavier than I expected, so he has a decent heft for plastic. His surface texture feels a bit gritty, like sandstone. He's a fixed statue, of course, and not pose-able, but in the design phase you can choose any pose you like, with every point of articulation you can think of.

Those fingerprint-like whorls are a result of the 3D printing, and are just barely visible to the naked eye.

Having fun with some higher contrast shots:

Again, this is just the two inch version, so I imagine that the larger sizes are even more impressive. (The largest size is a six-inch figure.)

Considering how much fun I had just designing Firey, coupled with the quality of the figure itself, I think the little guy was worth the $23.98 (with shipping). Especially when you consider that one's desk can never have too many robots:

I have more than this on my desk, of course, but these three make for a fun color combo. :)

Have fun building your own, guys, and be sure to share screen-grabs of 'em over on the Epbot Facebook page, so I can see!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Orlando Steampunks Step Out

Being the shy hermit blogger that I am, I never seem to get out to the smaller geek gatherings here in Orlando; just the big conventions like MegaCon, where it's harder to mingle. So when a few of you told me our local art museum was hosting a steampunk event last night, I figured it was just the thing for meeting some local geeks!
Yesterday dumped rain on us in nearly biblical proportions, but luckily John and I arrived just before the doors opened. Parking was a bit of a mess, and many attendees arrived late because they had to park blocks away and slog through the rain and muddy fields just to get there. I heard a few folks even gave up all together on finding parking and just went home! :(

But enough of the bad news, since that's really all there is: we had a fantastic time, and we met SO MANY cool people!
My first shot of the night. These two were picture perfect!

I figured people would arrive in costume, but I wasn't completely sure, so I dressed "Steampunk Lite." Meaning I blended in, but I left the ray guns and corsets at home. It was just as well, since I was more interested in taking pictures anyway.

Since we were some of the first ones through the door, we got to check out the art before the crowds arrived. Everything for the steampunk event was mostly held in the lobby and this one large gallery, although the rest of the museum was also open for us to walk through.

There was a small gathering of steampunk art displayed, from sculptures to photographs to paintings:

These pieces by Heather Younger were my favorite. Here's another:

The main attraction was our fellow attendees, though, so even though there were plenty of awkward moments when I remembered why I dislike large parties ("Ok, we'll hug this wall for another five minutes, and then move over to THAT wall,") we eventually got to chatting with folks.

It always helps to have a camera, of course, since asking to take a photo is the ultimate ice-breaker. I'm really disappointed with the way my pics turned out - that's what I get for never using a flash -  but trust me when I say everyone looked way better in person.

This chap's shoulder squirrel was one of the night's biggest hits. The squirrel's head turned and bobbed quite realistically by way of an air bladder the gent held in his hand. Super cool!

For entertainment we had music by The Cog is Dead, and I was pleasantly surprised by how great it was:


There was also an artist working on a small scale sculpture nearby, and a troupe of tribal belly dancers - but we missed their show since theirs was the ONLY thing not held in this one gallery. Drat. (Can you tell I'm still bummed? Ha!)

Btw, tribal dancers always have the best hair:

Sometimes I watch tribal hair tutorials on Youtube just for fun. I have determined that someday I WILL wear enormous flowers in my hair.

I like that tribal belly dancing is so inclusive, too; all ages, all shapes and sizes. It's refreshing, and you can tell the women are all having a blast.

Ok, back to the other guests:

This girl had delicate hand-painted gears and scrolls on both sides of her face, and her updo was gorgeous. Plus, check out the boots! I've been drooling over that style ever since I saw a gal ringmaster rockin' the red-and-gold version at D*C a few years back.

Here's the couple we talked with the most last night, Olivia and Michael:

John first stopped Michael to tell him how much he liked his costume - those high-waisted pants are perfect, and it's fun to see more of an everyman worker type versus the usual multi-layered steampunk gentleman -  and after that these two basically couldn't get rid of us. :D Check out this kick-ass leather cuff Olivia made for Michael:

John and I are still learning and experimenting with some leather crafts, but now I want to try tooling some cuffs like this! It's going on the list. (The never-ending list...)

Now that we've been going to the bigger area conventions for a few years, I've started to recognize a few people, like Laura here:

She always has THE most exquisite Victorian gowns - I wish I'd gotten a shot of the back bustle for you guys, and of her hair. GORGEOUS.

I actually took a picture with Jus here as Lady Vadore at the last MegaCon, though of course he doesn't know that. :D (Well, unless he finds this post, in which case, HI JUS!)

Check it out: that's his camera, which he wrapped in leather and then attached to his arm bracer with a hinge, so it flips up to take photos. BRILLIANT. (He has an Etsy shop and also does commissions, if you're in the market.)

At the end of the night they corralled all of the costumed folk into one area for a group photo. This accounted for maybe one third or a quarter of the total crowd, so you can see it was a pretty decent turn-out!

I couldn't quite fit everyone in; I should have brought the wide-angle lens! Here's another attempt:

And here's one with the guy who I believe organized the whole event (I didn't catch his name):

Before we left John and I also met up with a small group of readers, which was a fun surprise! John tells me I need to stop latching on to one person at a time when I talk to people, though, since he had to almost physically remove me from one conversation. Heh. Sorry, guys; I'M NEEDY. And an introvert. BUT MOSTLY NEEDY.

(Oh, and John wants me to say hi to Janelle Janet, Katrina, Christie, Spencer, and Anna - I suspect mostly to show off his new post-Diet-Mountain-Dew name retention. ;)) [Well, he was CLOSE, Janet, right? ;)]

I hope the rest of you enjoyed our local field trip! Now, go have a fantastic weekend. GO! (Saturday is Free Comic Book Day *and* May the Fourth [Be With You], so that shouldn't be too hard!)