Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Epbot Exemplars, with a side of Nathan Fillion

Have you missed cheering on our latest batch of Exemplars as much as I have? Then let's get to it, peeps!

Exemplars are geeks who know what they love, and show it with pride. I keep it mostly girl-centric here at Epbot, but I always reserve the right to feature anyone who helps inspire me to be a better me.

First up, here's 6-year-old Ainsley in her FANTABULOUS Sorceress outfit from He-Man:

I want one in my size! (Thanks to her Mom Nicole for sharing!)

Seven-year-old Annika already has a great history of costume choices:

 (Not gonna lie; I am especially delighted by the Jedi, given her name.)

That's Annika's mom Bobbi-Lynn on the left as Professor McGonagall. She writes, "I remember when the boys would only let me play Star Wars as Princess Leia, who always needed to be rescued.  I never got a blaster or a light saber! ... Hopefully you, along with others, helping smash through the geek girl barrier will make 'us' not so picked on while growing up for loving what we love."

She also sent along a "sneak peek" of Annika's costume for this year:

Say it with me, now: "SPOCK!" (I always hear that in Shatner's voice. ALWAYS.)

Of course, every little Vulcan has to break into an adorable grin SOMETIMES, right?

Here's Jenni S. and her family as the 4th, 5th, 10th, and 11th Doctors:
Guess which one's my favorite. ;)

Sometimes there's an unfair push-back against all things princessy and pink, but I say: love what you love. (And I DO love me some ruffly petticoats and tiaras from time to time.) The good news is, little girls already get that. Check out Mica H.'s four-year-old here, who has a crush on C3PO, knows every good princess dress should come with a sword...

...and asked her mom to make her a Hulk Dress so she could smash things daintily:
I think Mica says it best: "My girl likes robots and monsters and dinosaurs.  She likes the color pink.  She loves bugs, dresses and dirt. She likes long hair, swords and playing rough.  …And I really really  hope she stays that way."

And finally, Vivienne here tells me Epbot helped inspire her steampunked Zoe-from-Firefly cosplay for Calgary Expo, but I think you'll agree that her daughter stole the show:

... dressed as Captain Tightpants.

Oh, but it gets better:


"The best comment of the day, however, came from my daughter. We finally caught sight of Mr Fillion after waiting in line for very many minutes, and I squealed "Captain Tightpants!" My daughter said, very indignantly, "No! I'm Captain Tightpants. That's Captain Hammer."

Vivienne also writes that her little Mal-ette (Mallet? HA!) prefers cars to princesses, Spider-Man to Dora, and sleeps with a baby zombie - though maybe I should have asked for details on that last one. o.0


This batch was mostly younger Exemplars, but I also love featuring older kids, adults, and everyone in between. If you'd like to be considered, just send me a photo of yourself or your child being geeky - ie in costume, with a collection or creation, or at an event - along with a quick description. And don't forget to include names! 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Disney Gets DAPPER!

John and I caught the last few hours of Dapper Day out at Disney's Hollywood Studios yesterday, and WOW. So many folks dressed up! I'm told this is the biggest year yet, so you've got to give major props to everyone willing to brave the 90 degree heat and humidity in heels and Victory Rolls - or a full suit and tie, for the fellas.

In case you're not familiar, Dapper Day is a fan-run event that's all about dressing up for the parks. Most folks interpret that with a vintage flair, so you'll see bow ties, dainty gloves, and hats, hats, glorious HATS galore!

Everyone who wants to see guys dress like this all the time again, raise your hand. 
[raises both hands]

I decided to play with my photos a bit - try to make them look retro, too. Of course, that means most of them look like I just put an Instagram filter on, so, you know, limited success there. Heh.

Here's my first shot of the day - I love the pastel shop buildings in the background:

Then we stumbled across these lovely ladies hula-hooping it up:

Bright poofy dresses and fabulous sunglasses. LOVE.

There was a Dapper meet-up at the Great Movie Ride at 5pm, which meant a great big crowd of well-dressed lovelies filling the plaza out front for over half an hour. I gleefully dove in with my camera:

I was delighted to see so much Disney Bounding combined with Dapper Day - here's one of several dapper Snow Whites, and I think the girl in pink might be Lottie from Princess and the Frog:
Oh, and given his apple necklace, I think the guy in black and purple is the Snow Queen. Fun!

(As you've probably gathered, Disney Bounding is a form of closet cosplay - ie dressing as a character using non-costume clothing - and it's getting super popular in the parks now!)

Check out this fabulous Tower of Terror bellhop dress - complete with pillbox hat!

Victory rolls and sassy poses:
And again - the sunglasses! I need to score me some fun ones, stat.

(If you're wondering, no, John and I didn't dress dapper. Did I mention it was 90 degrees and about 5000% humidity? And that I'm lazy?)

This gal was standing there so sweetly by herself - I love her hat, and I love her face.

And while I'm spreading the love around, THESE DRESSES:
Especially the green one. And the pink one. And the two pink ties. (Tempted to wear a bow tie and suspenders to the next Dapper Day - with some killer wingtips. Aw yeah. Now I just need to acquire all those things...)

It's hard to see, but this glamorous girl had a vintage tapestry pillbox hat on - and check out that stole!
So many of the ladies had bang-on PERFECT makeup, just like this. Winged eyeliner and classic red lips.

Here's my favorite shot of the day:
The girl in brown looks like she stepped out of a vintage magazine ad! And I think this shot looks the most authentically vintage - but John pointed out that's probably because both girls look the part so well.

Here's a dapper Peter Pan, wearing a Tinker Bell necklace:

And Woody and Bo Peep!

Carl and Ellie from Up:
(Melody here is one of the several readers we met up with, and she's wearing little balloon earrings! She also made their grape soda pop pins.)

Despite the fact that I didn't announce we were going until we were on our way, John and I still had three or four groups of readers find us, which made the day extra fun. Somehow I didn't take a picture of them, but Tricia and Eric were first, and when I complimented Tricia's big floppy hat, she gave it to me! Ha! (Thanks again, guys!)

We stayed out front chatting with Allison and Jason here the longest, and when we realized the crowd had cleared, naturally John and I talked them into posing on the classic car out front:

Allison spray-painted her shoes to match, ladies, and they looked awesome. FASHION TIP. And don't these two look like they could be Dapper Day's cover models? I mean, she's holding the official Dapper Day fan and everything!

Some of the most fashionable gentlemen were sporting red lipstick smackeroos on their cheeks:

I've been mostly scared off of Dapper Day because I don't "do" heels, so I was thrilled to see so many cute flat options in the crowd:

I also saw several pairs of saddle shoes. Fun!

Once everyone had filed into the Great Movie Ride, I hit upon the idea of staking out the exit to grab more pics as they left. Worked pretty well, too!
The gal in the middle is a dapper Incredible - see her little pin?

Oh! And here's one of the best Disney Bound Rapunzel & Flynn I've seen:

He even has her tiara hanging out of his bag! Ack! I LOVE DIZGEEKS SO MUCH, you guys.

I also saw several Dapper Mary Poppins, but this was my favorite:
Check out the little carpet bag.

One thing about taking pictures of people at Disney: it's not like conventions, where folks in costume are used to it, so it's fun to see all the surprised smiles when I ask. For example, these next two ladies were clearly having a ball, and dissolved into giggles when I complimented the one's sparkly Figment hat and asked for a photo:

My first shot of all the guys in suits was also fun, since they seemed so cool striding around in a pack, but broke into easy grins for the camera. I tell ya, sometimes I think carrying a camera is the easiest way to distribute compliments. I wish it was acceptable to ask for people's photos all the time. :)

And here's my final shot, snapped on our way out of the park:

Hope you enjoyed my Dapper Day! If you're local and want to get in on the bow-tied action, the next one is March 9th at the Magic Kingdom - and Disneyland has them twice a year, too, so check the Dapper Day website for those dates. (In fact, it started at Disneyland, so traditionally their events have been bigger and better - not to mention cooler. Not that I'm jealous. Ok, I'm jealous. WHY MUST IT BE SO HOT HERE?)

Thursday, September 19, 2013

DIY Giant Tower Wall Clock

And when I say giant, I mean..

 Well, about that big.


For my sabbatical John and I completely gutted and remodeled our bedroom, and one of the key elements I was after was a vintage Tower Clock. I wanted that style up there, but not nearly as distressed. I searched high and low online, but everything I found was too small - averaging about 30 inches - and even those were hundreds of dollars.

You know where this is going, of course. We decided to make our own!

Happily the material cost for this project is next to nothing; all you need is plywood or Masonite, paint, paper, adhesive, and time. The tools are a bit trickier, since you'll need a projector and both a jigsaw and a miter saw, but you should be able to rent the tools and maybe borrow the projector, if you don't already have them in the garage.

So let's get to it!
First, cut or acquire a round piece of wood or Masonite. You could use a table top, of course, but I'd advise something not-too-thick, since you will be hanging this on the wall. (If you're just leaning it, though, then have at it with the heavy table top!)

The maximum circumference you can get out of a 48inch sheet of plywood is, well, 48 inches, so that's what John and I went with. I almost regret not going even larger than that now, though, so be sure to err on the side of DRAMA, mmkay? (And if you use the same design as we did, you can easily hide a center seam.)

Paint your circle white and prop it against a wall, taking care to get it as close to 90 degrees to the floor as possible:

 Use painter's tape to secure it, since it'll want to tip.

I found a nice classic tower clock face online, and then bumped the contrast waaaaay up to make the lines easier to see. Here's the result, in case you'd like to use the same graphic:

Print that or your clock face style of choice, and stick it under your handy-dandy projector:
(This one costs about $65 online, but I spotted other models on Amazon for less than $30.)

 You don't have to print the graphic very large; less than half the size of a sheet of paper will do.

Getting the projection perfectly aligned and centered is tricky - ours ended up being just slightly off - so take your time and make sure it's as perfect as possible.
Now trace it all out with a pencil, and then get comfy in front of the TV and paint those numbers in!

I used cheap flat craft paint and a small artist's brush. (I tried a paint pen, but ran out of paint after two numbers - plus the paint pen was too streaky and shiny, anyway.)

You could almost stop there, but we wanted some 3D elements. My reveal photo up there doesn't show it much because it was taken straight on, but ours does have a slightly raised grid and "rivets":

So, to make your own grid work you'll want to start with a paper template. White butcher paper is ideal, since it comes in big rolls (check specialty paint or hardware shops), or you could lay out several long strips of baking parchment paper and tape those together:

The paper should be thin enough to allow you to see your numbers, so you can draw your lines and circles around them to fit. To get your circles perfect, stick a small nail or thumbtack in the exact center of your clock face, and then tie a long piece of dental floss or string around it. Tie the other end of your floss around a pencil - making sure the length is correct - and trace away!

Once your outside edge and inner circle are done, use a ruler to draw in all the straight lines between the numbers and criss-crossing through the center.

Time for more power tools! Head outside to cut all those little strips and your two circles:

We used Masonite, since it's fairly smooth on the cut edges, but you could cheat and use craft foam instead. (Your circles will have seams since the foam doesn't come in large enough sheets, but hey, it's an option!)

Once everything is cut and fitted properly, it's a good idea to number your pieces on the back and on the paper, so they don't get mixed up later.

Now a quick blast of black spray paint:

Anyone else seeing the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon here? Just me?

And now the fun part!

Prop your clock face up somewhere on a large drop cloth - preferably outside, since this is going to get dusty - and with the 12 facing up:

 (It was August, and I live in Florida. I was NOT going outside.) 

Now start sanding through your painted numbers vertically - and ONLY vertically. Keep going 'til it's as distressed as you like.

I was going for pretty subtle, but you could keep sanding 'til the numbers are barely visible, if you like.

Now, see how the black paint dust has streaked onto the clock face from my sanding? Well, here's a fun cheat to put that dust to work for you: Grab a wet paper towel, wring it out, and start wiping down the clock face - but again, ONLY IN VERTICAL STROKES. Don't rinse out your paper towel, either - just keep wiping, until...

(You can tell Lily approves.)

When your clock face dries again, grab a satin or matte clear spray paint and give it a nice even coating. Now your "dirt" is sealed in, no glaze or extra paint required!

So now that you have a nice base layer of "dirt," you can move on to assembling the grid:

This is where having those grid pieces numbered comes in handy. (You DID remember to do that, right?)

Assemble all your pieces first to test the fit, and then glue everything down with E-6000 or construction adhesive. You'll need two pairs of hands when placing those circles, btw; they're flimsy and could easily crack if you pick them up from one side.

Once everything's glued and dried, go prop your clock against the wall again, 'cuz it's time for MORE grimy fun!

You can see my sample board there on the floor; I experimented with a few different colors of watered down craft paint, finally settling on a base coat of a brownish gray (already applied here), followed by an orange rusty top coat that I allowed to drip from the top and center cross section. It's fairly subtle, but gives a nice feeling of age the closer you get to it.

For "rivets" we painted wood furniture plugs, which you can find at any hardware store, and then just glued them on:

These are optional, of course, but I think give it that extra nice 3D touch.

To age the black grid and make the rivets stand out, I dry-brushed on a tiny bit of silver paint to the peaks and edges.

All that's missing are the clock hands!

I can't seem to find my process shots, but for the hands I sketched one half of a nice teardrop/flame shape for the hand's tip on more butcher paper, folded it horizontally, and then cut it out so it was perfectly symmetrical. John used this paper template to cut out both hands from Masonite, making one arm longer than the other, and capping both with a circle on the inside edge:

We briefly considered making this a working clock, but I didn't want the hassle or the noise of a ticking clock in the bedroom. Instead we just screwed the hands in place, with a spacer in between so they'd stand out a bit from the face.

And there you have it!

The concept is simple, but this is a fun project with a big, BIG impact. Hope you liked it!

I have one or two more tutorials from our room to write up before I show you the Big Reveal, but I think you're realllly going to like the antiqued mirror panels we made. (There was a sneak peak in my "rivets" shot.) Stay tuned for those!


Come see ALL of my craft projects on one page, right here!