Thursday, March 22, 2018

Down The Rabbit Hole of Rainbow-licious Resin

We're in the midst of a convention drought here in Florida, gang; nothing since December, and the next big one isn't 'til May! DON'T THESE PEOPLE KNOW WE HAVE NEEDS?! I mean, do you know how long it's been since I took pictures of people in body paint carrying comically large space weaponry? TOO LONG, that's how long.

Anyway, since cons are also where I find most of the new art I feature here, this month I'm going to switch it up and show you a different kind of art I've recently become obsessed with: RESIN.

It all started when Josie Lewis, a rainbow-loving watercolor artist I follow on Instagram, started making "Rainbow Petris":

....and BAM. Instantly obsessed.

Josie has perfected the art of capturing these color explosions inside each clear resin disk, and she even has a Youtube channel now where she shows you how to make your own.

The secret is alcohol inks, dropped into the liquid resin before it cures.

Be sure to follow Josie's Petrified Rainbow IG account for lots more like these - and I also recommend her original art account for the best assortment of soothing rainbow timelapses anywhere.


If you follow me on Instagram then you know I tried a few ink-in-resin pieces myself:

I hit a bunch of snags: everything from using the wrong molds to having too-thick ink, but I still had a few startling successes. I started thinking, "hey, these would be cool necklaces! I wonder if anyone else has tried that?"


Enter Caitlyn of Galaxy Cat Craft, who was not only doing everything I thought would be cool to try one day, she was doing it WAY BETTER:


Look at those inner shadows! AH-mazing.

Caitlyn also makes them in several different shapes, including bees!

Monday, March 19, 2018

These "Unexpected Musicals" Made My Whole Week

How did it take me this long to discover Patty Cake Productions?? I mean, it's Disney, it's catchy pop songs, and it's based right here in Orlando. My shame is great.

BUT! I *did* finally find them, and my gain is your gain, fellow Dizgeeks.

Let's start with their most popular video, the story of Cinderella told through Taylor Swift songs:


How adorable is the Fairy Godmother singing 22?? I can't even.

I'm also loving the story of Sleeping Beauty set to Michael Jackson songs, because Maleficent singing "I'm Bad" is sooooo gooooood:

There are lots more on Patty Cake Production's Youtube channel, and you should absolutely watch them all - even when some of the song selections are a little hit-or-miss, ha. (I'm not sure I can forgive them for making Snow White sing "Hold It Against Me" by Britney Spears. NOOOOOO.)

For example, I didn't know most of the Ariana Grande songs they used for Little Mermaid, but Vanessa singing Dangerous Woman makes the whole video, so don't skip it. Besides, even if you don't like a song choice, the visuals and costumes are still pretty incredible.

I'll end with the first Unexpected Musical I watched, The Disney Showman. You guys, it's the story of Walt Disney told with Greatest Showman songs. SQUEEEEE. And again, so, SO well done:

I'm surprised this hasn't gone viral yet. Go give the Patty Cake team some love, won't you? I don't know them or anything - I just want them to make more! :)

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Final Balrog Reveal!

The problem with posting crafts-in-progress is then you guys know how long it takes me to finish and write up each project. Which is a very long time. What can I say, I'm slow. And easily distracted. Heck, I will wander off this second if someone starts pulling a whoopie pie on a string past me. (MINE.)(::pounce::)


I *do* finally have finished Balrog photos for you! Remember that one? Ages back? When John and I started jamming LEDs into poor Boggy's head?

 I've decided to name him Boggy, by the way. I find it helps distract from the fact that - at least at night -  Boggy looks like a Hell Beast Come To Claim Your Soul:


Then again, that's kind of how the Balrog looks in Lord of the Rings, sooo... nailed it?

Since my first update we've finished the base, aged the existing paint job, added a few more lights to Boggy's head, and added some cotton "smoke" wisps from his eyes and mouth.

I did a lot of experimenting with different kinds of cotton for the smoke, as well as with coloring the cotton - dyes, powders, paints. In the end it turned out simple was best, since coloring the cotton blocked too much light and looked more fake, as you can see on the right here:

Of course it's also essential to "joosh" the cotton just right. That... is NOT right. 

This one's better:

I tried to get the cotton smoke to look good both lit and unlit, so there are only tiny shreds of it.

I ended up keeping the existing paint job, but I blacked out any too-bright red and orange areas. Then I aged down the red on his face, whip, and head flames:

For the base we used - get this - cheap kitty litter for stone gravel, followed up by some crushed walnut shells for the smaller crumbly bits. (The walnut shells are used to soak up spilled paint, so we already had some in the garage.) I attached it all with hot glue, then painted everything black.

I built up little piles of the gravel to hide the 3 LEDs embedded in the base - can you tell where they are? 

You can also see my aging better on the whip in that one. I like the black bits near the handle, reminds me of crusted-over magma.

Still loving those teeth; they're just so gross, ha. Again, all I did there was wipe off most of the factory brown paint with acetone, revealing the translucent yellow plastic underneath.

So that's Boggy during the day, with none of his lights on.

And here he is at night in John's room, all wired up:

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Want To Watch John Put Together An Antique Record Player?

Here's something new and quirky: John decided to film himself re-assembling an antique record player we've had in the garage the last few years. It's part of our "try different video things and see what works" plan for 2018, ha.

I had nothing to do with this, so it was fun to physically see how record players worked before electricity. John did a good job of editing out the boring bits and explaining as he goes, plus hearing those records in the end is just... well... you'll see. :D (Fun Fact: John sang "Baby Face" for about a week afterward. It's surprisingly catchy.)

Assuming you guys like this kind of thing, John and I are kicking around the idea of an "Epbot Garage" series for more construction-related DIYs. We were professional faux finishers and handymen (handypeople?) in our previous life, so we have a lot of experience to pull from that I don't get to mention much here. Plus, personally, I'd love to get even more comfortable with power tools, and maybe inspire others to do the same.

Based on your requests we could do everything from basic home repair tutorials to fixing more antiques, overviews on equipment, painting Q&As, etc. Thoughts? Requests? Hit me up in the comments! (And if there's a deafening silence, then I'll just get back to my usual programming, no worries. ;))

Monday, March 12, 2018

Let's Have Lunch In Pandora!

Don't mind me, just sliding in here to share a few photos I took in Disney's Pandora last week.

 Fun Fact: Did you know you can use your phone's panorama feature vertically? 
Try it sometime, it's fun!


 Pandora is one of the trickiest areas in Disney to photograph, so keep in mind every decent photo you see of it - including mine - has been edited juuuuust about to death. You don't need a tripod and fancy DSLR, though; I shot and edited everything here on my iPhone.

I can't tell you how much of a difference editing makes... so let me show you!

Here's a photo directly off my phone:

 Looks like a lost cause, right?

But here's the same photo after (extensive) editing:

 Awwww yeeeeeah.

Most of the time my pics aren't QUITE that different, but I hope this shows you how editing can be an art form. It flexes all your creative muscles and lets you make something totally new, right on your phone! Plus it's easy and free, if you use an app like SnapSeed.

Ahh, I love Before & Afters. Let's do another one.


... and After!

Friday, March 9, 2018

Jen's Gems: Dragon Bench, Tentacle Skirt, And Fireworks On The Ceiling!

I'm gathering ideas this week to redo three new kids' rooms for some friends, and let me tell you, Lyle Coram is setting the bar REALLY HIGH with his daughter's Princess room:


Ahh, but that's just a small snippet of Coram's original video, which of course I hunted down for you guys. The ceiling can also show lightning storms, snow flurries, and floating lanterns! And best of all, Coram shows us how he did it:

(It gets much louder around 1:45, watch your volume.)

John and I were faux finishers in a previous life, and we worked with fiber optics even back then. I've wanted a fiber optic ceiling of our own since, but you need a clear attic access and a lot of patience to install them. So... SOMEDAY.


Oooh, did you hear Labyrinth is coming back to theaters April 29th through May 2nd?

According to Entertainment Weekly:

"The screenings will also feature bonus content, including introductions by Connelly and Brian Henson (son of Jim), as well as an excerpt from the Jim Henson fantasy series The Storyteller. Brian Henson will discuss the “Soldier and Death” episode of the show, as well as more broadly the special effects techniques crucial to both Labyrinth and The Storyteller."

And the best part?

"Fans are encouraged to attend in costume."


You can buy tickets online here. Who's going? Who's dressing up? And most importantly, do you think Agnes will fit in the theater?



Speaking of costumes that are hard to sit down in, this skirt made me scream a little:

 It's so creepy, AND I LOVE IT.  

Plus you're all thinking what I'm thinking, right? URSULA!

(They were shooting a promo for a science festival, but I don't have any more info on the skirt yet. I'll update here when I do!)


Check out this drool-worthy dragon bench by Igor Loskutow! I think he carves everything with a chainsaw:

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Thank You, Charles

The last few days I've been wrestling with that most difficult-to-explain kind of grief that I know you all understand. I tried to think of something to make - some little craft or tribute - to tangibly purge it out of my system, but dang it all, I've got nothing. So instead, I think I'll just write this one out.

David Ogden Stiers passed away on Saturday, and silly as this sounds, it hurts. I never met him, never knew him, never so much as stood in the same building as him, but I loved a character he brought to life more than most, and now I will always wish I could have told him that, face-to-face.

My fellow Dizgeeks mostly know Stiers as the voice of Cogsworth from Beauty and the Beast, though he did plenty of other acting and voice work. I, however, will always know him as Major Charles Emerson Winchester the third, of M*A*S*H .

I'll admit MASH isn't my geekiest fandom, nor is it my most defensible. I'll be the first to tell you newbies that some of the writing - particularly of Margaret at times - is problematic. Still, there are real gems hidden throughout those 11 seasons, and of them all, to me, that irascible snob Charles shines the brightest.

I love Charles' wit, his stubbornness, his refusal to bow to the horror of his surroundings. He was the perfect straight man to Hawkeyes' antics, always annoyed, always quick to criticize and complain. Still, below that crusty exterior hid a fierce kindness and loyalty. His stories often made me cry - even back before I started crying at everything - and some of his scenes and expressions will remain with me always.

The moment that sealed the deal on my Winchester fandom is the last scene in Death Takes A Holiday. Charles spends the whole episode sneaking around so he can anonymously donate some candy to a local orphanage. Meanwhile the rest of the camp thinks he's being selfish, and hurl all kinds of abuse his way.

Eventually Klinger learns the truth, and takes a tray of food to the shunned Major's tent. That moment, when Klinger gives him a knowing look, and Charles realizes he's been found out, is my favorite in the whole series. Two long-time adversaries, finally seeing each other in a new light, with a new respect. Then Charles says, "Thank you, Max," which I believe is the first (and maybe only?) time he uses Klinger's first name. SO SWEET.

I wish I could embed that episode here, but the one or two places I've found it online may not be completely on the up and up, ha. So I'll leave that bit of googling to you guys.

Instead, here's a short story arc from Run For The Money. It's better if you see it within the whole episode, but if you've only got 5 minutes, this is another good example of Charles stepping up when no one else is watching. Plus he admits to reading comic books, which is fun:

Aaaand cue the sudden indoor dust storm.

Mr. Stiers, as Charles Winchester you made me laugh, cry, think, and grow to love the most arrogant surgeon to come out of Boston General. You brought to life a character who was flawed and human in the best possible ways, fun to hate one moment, selfless and strong the next. I don't know why Charles has struck such a chord with me over the years, but I'll always think of him fondly, and when I re-watch MASH from start to finish yet again, I'll look forward to his episodes the most. 

It hurts that I'll never get to see your face when I tell you that, but I know many, many others have said it for me, and that helps. You knew. And that helps. 

So thank you, David Ogden Stiers. 

Thank you, Charles. 

That will be all.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Epcot Flower & Garden 2018: New Merch, Pretties, & FOOD

John and I just checked out the Flower and Garden Festival at Epcot, so I thought you fellow Dizgeeks might like to see! I took way too many photos, so I'll show you a little of everything: the new merchandise, pretty topiaries, and of course, THE FOOD. (Which, let's be honest, is the real priority of any Festival goer.)

Right off the bat I'm loving the new guide map covers. Disney literally put an orange on a teal background, you guys. IT'S LIKE THEY KNOW ME.

Everyone's favorite Figment topiary is back a ways behind Spaceship Earth now:
I wish they'd added something more flower-y ON him - maybe had him holding a bouquet? Or flowers around his neck? - but really I'm just glad he's out again!

As always, the real WOW moment of Flower & Garden is when you get to this lake view on the way to World Showcase:

I had to edit my photos to death to compensate for the harsh sunlight, but the flowers really ARE this bright IRL. Hard to tell here, but there are patterns of giant butterflies and flowers in the beds.

Here's the other side, facing towards Test Track.

There's a new scavenger hunt - they seem to have one every Festival now - and the prizes are these cute little iron-on patches:

It costs about $5 for the scavenger hunt map (sorry I didn't take a pic of that!), and then you get your choice of one of these 4 packs as a prize.

And here's what you're scavenging for: Spike the bee!
There's one hidden in every country around the showcase - and they're not too hard to find.

I ended up using my phone's panorama feature a lot; all the flower beds are so BIG:

Friday, March 2, 2018

I Think I'm Finally Ready To Talk About Black Panther

I know I usually do spoiler-free reviews, gang, but there are THINGS about Black Panther that NEED DISCUSSING. So I'll start with some general thoughts, but after that, it's getting spoilery all up in here. I'll also be encouraging more discussion in the comments, so... you have been warned. 

  First things first:

- Yes, you should see it.

- The costuming is easily some of the best of any superhero movie. STUNNING.

- The women in Black Panther make the movie. Hands down. In my mind Black Panther himself was really just the glue holding together all these fierce, brilliant women warriors around him - and I AM SO OK WITH THAT.

- The 2 hours and 15 minutes does drag a bit. A few scenes are repetitive (same fights, different fighters) so to me it actually felt longer.

- Black Panther is unlike any superhero movie I've seen, and required the most post-processing. (I saw it two weeks ago, if that gives you any idea.) This is not a popcorn flick where you check your brain at the door; there are deeper issues addressed, as the Wakandans wrestle with the politics of things like immigration, isolationism, and coming to the aid of other countries. (Any of those issues sound familiar, fellow Americans? Yeeeeah.) So if you go in expecting just another superhero story like everything before, with 'SPLOSIONS and wisecracks and all the other familiar tropes, then you might be disappointed. More on that in a sec.


I went in knowing nothing about Black Panther, so from the trailer I expected a variation on Wonder Woman's origin story: a hero emerges from a powerful, hidden society, enters the "real" world, and proceeds to bang some heads in the name of justice. Instead, Black Panther never leaves his hidden society - or at least not for long. And instead of fighting for the entire world against alien foes, T'Challa fights to keep his own throne, in his own country, against his own people. It's a very insular story, and compared to movies like Guardians of the Galaxy, has seemingly small stakes.

Like I said, wasn't expecting that.

However, the women in Black Panther... oooh, you guys, THE WOMEN. Let me put it this way: Black Panther is a love letter to fierce femininity. There are so many fantastic role models here, I hardly know where to start. There's Shuri, T'Challas' brilliant, sarcastic sister who invents all the new tech - including his suit:

There's Nakia, T'Challa's ex who left Wakanda to go free truckloads of human-trafficking victims - by herself. And then there's Okoye, general of the Dora Milaje, the king's personal guard, and my personal favorite.

There's a fight scene in a casino - sometime around the halfway mark, maybe? -  that was the highlight of the whole film for me. Watching Okoye rip the wig from her head so she can fight better, then later leap onto the roof of a moving car with her spear to go take down the baddies literally brought a tear to my eye. It was so dang beautiful, you guys:

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

You Light Up My Life, Balrog Funko Pop

I don't want to jinx it, gang, but this week's been kind of awesome so far. I went into last weekend full-throttle pre-menstrual, John and I buckling up for another ride on the Jen-Coaster-Of-Perpetual-Self-Examination-That-Never-Ends-Well, but instead I stumbled across that Geode cake thread and laughed my fool head off.

It was such a relief, you know? I mean, I'm not out of the woods yet, hormonally speaking, but when you're waiting to feel sad and instead get a jolt of unexpected glee, and then you get to share it and see OTHER people lifted up and making new friends, sharing their own jokes and silliness until the whole thing mushrooms (heyoooo) into this big happy THING... well heck, that's why I love writing this blog. You guys get a 5 or 10 minute read, but I get to obsess for hours and hours over all the silly, pretty, and just-plain-awesome things I post here. Best home-therapy a PMS-riddled agoraphobe could ask for.

Which is all a long-winded intro to one of our latest projects. It's not done yet, but I've been thinking I need to loosen my death grip on project posts, learn to show you guys the half-way points and mistakes and do-overs, not just the finished pieces. John and are constantly experimenting with new craft stuff, and most only see the inside of our trash can. Maybe that should change. (Remind me to show you our tests with silicone and resin next time - the silicone in particular has some fun possibilities.)

Plus, I don't know about you, but I freaking LOVE progress photos from the cosplayers & builders I follow. I get so much inspiration from those midway points, thinking what *I* would do next to finish things off. Here's hoping you guys are the same.

So let's get on to this $16 Balrog Pop we found at the mall:

...which you can get on Amazon for $13. (Dangit. lol)

I should point out the Pop isn't nearly as cool as the box art:

 I mean, it's OK, but it's hard to make paint look like flames.
So obviously we need to make it light up, right? 


Getting the head off was hard: eventually it came down to John's brute strength:

Our back-up plan was to cut that neck peg with a dremel, since you can always glue the head back on with epoxy putty.

Popping the flames off the head took more finesse: I recommend patience and a small screwdriver for prying:

There's also a small panel under the head you'll need to pop off to get inside. (The head is hollow.) A craft blade helps to cut through the glue.

Next John cut out the eye sockets using a Dremel, while I cast new eyes out of resin and alcohol ink. Here's John holding one of the new eyes in place for a test run:

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Let's All Facebook Stalk My New Best Friend Who Doesn't Know I Exist

Fair warning: I'm about to cross the streams by showing you a funny cake. Or rather, something hilarious ABOUT a cake. Something that made my whole weekend, so you MUST SEE.

It all started with this Instagram post:

...which started a veritable firestorm of "OMG LOOK A VAGINA" comments.

Now, speaking as someone who's seen more than her fair share of unintentional pastry hoo-haws, I think this one's a stretch. (HEYOOOO.) However, I've also learned the internet thinks EVERY geode cake is vag-tastic, so I'm not too surprised.

What did surprise me was the way the baker, Nadia's Cakes, responded:


And just like that, I knew I was in for a good comment thread.  

(Quick shout-out to Marcella Gossen for sharing these screenshots!)

Only 50%? Dang, she should hang out with the Cake Wrecks crowd sometime. 

At this point I figured the baker was done. Maybe a little irked, but mostly resigned to her cake's fate and ready to move on to other posts.


Instead, she proceeded to have way too much fun with people:

Thursday, February 22, 2018

DIY Hogwarts House Nightlights! Free Templates

I'm a bit obsessed with paper and light, you guys. I love the way layered paper looks when lit up, and I'm forever drooling over the papercut shadowboxes by Badger Burrow Dreamboxes, and this one by my friend Renee, which is clearly superior since it has a hidden Epbot in it:

I wanted to take this idea and turn it into a wall-plug nightlight - something small and simple that anyone could put together and customize. Simplifying is hard for me, though, so it took a little exasperated intervention from John to push me into these designs - and now of course I love them.

I'll have my usual step-by-step tutorial below, but FIRST, let's watch the videoooooo!

This is my favorite one yet. And please please please turn your sound on; the music really makes it, and we've signed away half of the monetization rights just to use it, ha. (Fortunately half of nothing is still nothing. :D)

Now let's go over that again, for the non-video crowd:

First a look at the finished products, lit:

... and unlit!

These are quick, relatively easy, and super cheap to make - so let's get to it!

You Will Need:

Monday, February 19, 2018

Jen's Gems: Sassy Hufflepuffs, Disney Smiles, & Cosplay Goals

Some of my favorite finds from around the web this week:

First up, more greatness from The Replica Prop Forum on Facebook. RPF member Jer Lee made not one, but two Black Panther costumes for his daughter: as one of the Dora Milaje *and* as Shuri!

I actually haven't seen Black Panther yet, but I'm loving all the rave reviews of the bad-ass lady fighters in the film, and these cosplays are simply epic.

Bonus: when I checked Jer's FB to get his name right I discovered he's been in the habit of being an amazing geek Dad for a while now:


This... this makes my heart full, you guys. Full and happy. Way to go, Jer.


Have I mentioned Cheryl Walsh's photography here before? I can't remember. Either way, you should see this prettiness:

That's a photo! Can you believe it?

Walsh specializes in underwater photography featuring lots of mermaids and fantasy flowy dresses and loveliness. This is the header on her Facebook page:

Go follow her for more magic.


For some laughs, let's kick it over to the comedic genius that is Sailor J on Youtube. This woman defies description, mostly because it's hard to describe someone while you're giggle-snorting. And while her Hufflepuff video arguably isn't her best one, it is GOLD and every Potter head should watch:

To be fair she has videos for all the Houses, I just think she captures the sweet sass of the 'Puffs especially well.

Now here's her best/most popular one - but BE YE WARNED, there is lots of NSFW language, so watch your volume and/or kids nearby:

Friday, February 16, 2018

February Art Roundup: Trek Ladies, Potter Cards, & Squee-Worthy Owl Dolls!

Ahh, it's been too long! Sorry for skipping last month's art roundup, gang, I'll try to make up for it with the sheer awesomeness of this month's finds.

First up, Crystal Ord of Smalls Ord Art has the sweetest watercolor style:

And I really dig her fandom choices, too:
Prints are $10 or less in her Etsy shop, where she also offers commissions! Also be sure to follow Ord on Instagram for more eye candy.

Joe Corroney has some STUNNING Star Wars art on his site, like this Carrie Fisher tribute:

His Star Trek propaganda pieces are actually my favorite, though:

I'm digging the all-lady design on the "where no man has gone before" poster. I like how it's putting a spotlight on background characters, and the colors are drool-worthy.

Go check out Corroney's online store to see tons more.


This ORIGINAL Merida painting by Genevieve Kay is still available for $40, which completely boggles my mind. My clicky "purchase" finger is itching, you guys. Save me from myself:

Kay has a whole series of Art Nouveau princesses, and you can get the prints for just $8: