Thursday, September 30, 2010

World of GeekCraft

Time to feature more of you readers and your awesome projects!

First, Jenn of Rook No. 17 made one sweet Star Wars party favor: chocolate Han Solo, anyone?

The best part is that Jenn also shows you how to make one yourself! You just need the Han Solo in carbonite "action figure" (that cracks me up) and some silicon plastique for the mold. Check out Jenn's post for more pictures and details.

I love papercraft, and Rachel M.'s robot creations are some of the best I've ever seen:

Not only is this little guy adorable, he's fully articulated! Check out this video to see all the different ways just his arms move. Amazing!

Rachel makes her 'bots out of index cards and Elmer's glue. Here's another cutie:

And look at the level of detail:

Those are just the gears for his neck - and again, all paper! Wowza.

Go to Rachel's gallery for lots more pics and progress shots.

Claudia's friend wanted a plush version of Master Shake from Aqua Teen Hunger Force, who (for those of you looking confused right now) looks like this:

Claudia says,

After struggling with how to make something plush that would still retain the shake cup shape, I came up with a method that uses 2 different types of paint bucket lids, interfacing, and some heavy wire.

And here he is!

Faaabulous. Way to shake it up, Claudia!

And finally, here's a fantastic example of making jewelry out of unusual objects:

I'll let Sherry G. explain:

I wired Swarovski crystals onto the metal piece, then tied the Celtic knotwork design to make the finished necklace. And that strange industrial-gothic metal piece? It's the stainless steel plate that held my broken elbow together for a year and half! I had the doc save it for me when it was removed. He kindly auto-claved it before returning it to me! I wore it to a follow-up appt and he took me around showing all of his staff, and took pictures to share with his colleagues and the rep he buys the plates from.

I love it: beautiful *and* a great conversation starter! Not to mention a great souvenir from something that was once, quite literally, close to your heart. ;)

So, do you have a great or geeky project to share with your fellow Epboteers*? Then e-mail it to me! We want to see what you're up to!

*I'm trying out a new word. Yes? No? Alternate suggestions?

Allow Myself to Introduce...Myself

It's a red-letter day, guys; I recently did my first Epbot interview! Woohoo!

(Ok, this may be more "walaOOOOaagguu!!" than "woohoo!" Sorry.)

I'm going to share a little of it here because I want to add a comment/update on the 2nd question, but after that you should go read the whole thing; Jumble Mash asked some great questions, and I had a blast answering them.

JM: You are crafty. What is your favorite thing to create and how did you become so creative?

Jen: To be honest, my favorite thing is, simply, creating. Anything and everything. If I haven't produced something with my own two hands in more than a few days, I start to go insane. Even if it's just rearranging the bookshelves, or framing a new piece of art: I have to be physically *doing* something to be happy. This has always been the case, but now even more so with Cake Wrecks: working online is producing things in a way, but it's not tangible. I need to hold something and be able to say, "I did this."

Whatever creativity I do have stems from boredom, plain and simple. I bore extremely easily. I don't *think* I'm ADD, but I do plan 10 new projects for every one I finish. I could rattle off a dozen things I want to do for my next Epbot tutorial right now, so it's a little hard to stay on track. My office renovation, for example: I keep getting sidetracked with new art projects or pieces to go in the room, so the official finish date keeps getting pushed back! I also usually have 3 or 4 projects going at once, although I'm happy to say that I *do* finish them all. Eventually. Hehehe.

JM: You have called EPBot your “get-away-from-Cake-Wrecks-stress” blog. Why is Cake Wrecks so stressful?

Jen: Ooooh, how much time do you have? :D

In a nutshell, CW is stressful because it's online and it's popular. That means trying to please everyone all the time, which we all know is impossible. It seems like I'm always walking the razor thin line between humor and offense, as no matter what we do, someone, somewhere, will find a way to be offended by it. (And I'm not talking about the bakers!) Constantly worrying about who we may have inadvertently offended today is very, very wearing.

There are also a lot of demands on my time: besides writing posts there's mostly e-mail, but also everything from handling advertisers to site design, and then also writing the next CW book, organizing/designing calendars, that sort of thing.

[That update I mentioned: Seen today's post on CW? Or the balloon one from yesterday? Those both offended people, to the point that we apparently lost a few readers over it. I like to think we gained far more, of course, since the majority of the feedback was overwhelmingly positive, but it's still a stress any time we upset someone. Or when someone e-mails to inform me I'm no longer funny. (Um...thanks?)

Some of the remarks made in the comment section about the
Polish flag post also stirred up controversy, to the point that we (and by 'we' I mean 'John') had to step in and sort things out. It really is never ending!]

JM: You speak of your hubby, John, often. How does he handle your internet fame?

Jen: John is truly the most supportive husband, ever. Even before Cake Wrecks, he unfailingly supported my every crazy idea, and was always telling me that I could succeed at anything I wanted to do. For a time I didn't do anything, and he was fine - happy, even - with that, too. When CW took off, John was more excited than I was. Then, when it became too much for me to handle alone, he stepped in and began shouldering the burden with me. I keep waiting for him to get tired of it all, but he never does. He tells me I was always famous to him - that now other people are just figuring it out, too. So, yeah, I have the best guy ever; I couldn't do any of this without him.

Head on over to Jumble Mash for the rest, which includes the secret to my Twitter following, some advice for new bloggers, and lots more.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Money Money Money

Ready to see my mystery office desktop? The one John and I have been working so hard on for the past few weeks? And learn how we did it?

I mean, I know *I'm* excited.

Here, I'll ease you in slowly. It all started....[dramatic pause]...WITH THESE:


And it became...[more dramatic pausing]...THIS:


Ok, that's not the best shot. Here, try this one:

Oooh. Aaaah.

Now, on to the photo-intensive tutorial/progress shots! If you want to try this yourself, or just see how insane *we* are, keep scrolling.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Art Attack

Look out: it's an awesome art ambush!

Remember that Urban Decay post I did a while back, about my fascination with abandoned buildings? Well, reader John G. tipped me off to an *amazing* website of breath-taking photographs like this:

[whimper] Oh, the things I could do with those abandoned drawers...

The site is by Yves Marchand Romaine Meffre Photography. (Quite a mouthful, huh?) Here's some more:

I gasped, guys. I literally gasped. It's like a decaying ice palace: so, so beautiful.

And, hold onto your hats, because their site has a whole section on movie theaters, with gems like this:

To quote Liz Lemon, I want to go to there.

Check their site for lots more.

I also found (via One Cool Thing a Day) a whole series of those adorable cardboard people I featured in my B.A.D. day post:

They're actually plastic toys, not cardboard, but they have so much personality you can't help but love them.

The photographer is Anton Tang, and you can see lots more of this series both at his website and here.

And finally, Super Punch is hosting a Calvin & Hobbes art contest right now. Here's my favorite entry so far:

It's by Jerrod Maruyama, who specializes in the most mind-blowing Kawaii-style cuteness you will ever see. Seriously. Just look at this:

Piiiigs In Spaaaaaace!!!

And one of my favorite Disney characters:

Cutie Donald!!

Ok, now you must go look through Maruyama's site, or his Flickr account. You'll be a squealing pile of girly goo in no time. Promise.

And if you're artistic at all, go enter Super Punch's contest! He needs more entries, and *I* need to see more amazing Calvin & Hobbes homages.

You can probably tell I have pretty diverse taste in art. ;) How about you guys? Do you assign different styles to different rooms, or do you mash all your favorites together? (And if so, how's that working out for you? [grin])

PS - John and I are playing with blow torches *right now.* Stand by for major craft updates!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Officially Progress

Here's an update on my office make-over. We're almost done! Woot woot!
(To see where we started, click here.)

It's a good think one of my favorite crafty past-times is framing new art. :)

And I know I've said it before, but it bears repeating: a shadowbox frame + pretty scrapbook paper + a scrap of foam board = the best DIY framing EVAH. Just look how cute:

The frame was $5 at JoAnn's, and I already had the fun stripey paper. (The art is by Katie Cook.) Add a square of foam board to lift the art card up about half an inch, and voila! No custom mat needed!

[Update: thanks to Kim, the "print geek" for this reminder: always use acid-free materials if you want your art to last!]

For the prints that do need mats, I sometimes cheat and use black poster board instead:

It's impossible to tell the difference from a distance, really, and soo much easier than going out and ordering a custom mat. Plus, instant gratification: I likes it.

And just to complete the Star Wars theme going on here, check out this bit of hilarious kitschy awesomeness:

This is a record sleeve from 1977. See how "Star Wars" is in huge type? Now see the tiny white squiggle above it? That squiggle says, "Music inspired by." BWAHAHAA!!

When reader Isabelle-George e-mailed me this picture, I was compelled to seek one out for my very own. A quick ebay auction later, I was the proud owner of a mint condition Star Wars disco album.

Hey, your art should make you smile, right?

Oh, and speaking of which, check out this oh-so-adorable pairing:

The Gonzo card was my favorite of the ACEOs I purchased from Katie Cook at the Star Wars Celebration, so I was crestfallen when I realized she'd forgotten to sign it! Fortunately, though, these two look so much like a set that I think it works with just the signature on Sam's card. (If you can't read it, Gonzo's card reads, "Weird love," and Sam's says, "You are all weirdos!" Perfect, right?)

Ok, more progress shots:

Freshly routered (is that a word?) & painted cabinet doors, with big new porcelain knobs.

I'm still working on the wall of cubbies and worktop directly behind my desk. This is the current arrangement, but I have a feeling things will get moved around a lot.

Remember my Labyrinth door knockers? Well, they're finally up!

I loooove them. The doorknobs are antiques that John re-finished and mounted as door pulls. (That was hard.) I'll have better detail shots in my final "After" post.

And finally, here's the (extremely colorful) right side of my desk:

Recognize the little guy between the two Stay-Pufts?!? Yep, I had to order him from Australia (man, I'm such a geek) but thanks to you readers I found the WeenIcon Ghostbuster! And yes, the shipping cost more than he did. Really, you guys are bad for my budget. But I love you for it.

Ok, the next post on my office should be the last, and of the finished product. I still managed to keep a few surprises tucked away, so I'm excited to get to the final reveal! Not to mention show you the AMAZING desktop that John and I have been slaving away on. Fingers crossed we'll be done in another week or two, so wish us luck!

Ok, I'm almost afraid to ask, but...what kind of wall art makes you smile? Have any favorites? Share and link in the comments!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Procrastination Station

Do that other stuff later. This stuff is fun!

This gallery of nearly 60 vintage ads will have you smirking and cringing by turns with gems like this:

The description starts off with "ultimate fashion climax" and gets worse/better from there. Read at your own gagging risk. Heh.


And I thought the lawn-watering Nazis were bad.

And this:

Actually, the mind-blowing chauvinism in some of these ads has a kind of car-wreck quality to it: I couldn't look away, wondering how much worse it could get. (The answer? Much, much worse.) So if you're easily riled by that kind of thing, you may want to skip this gallery. Me, I take it as a look-how-far-we've-come, hear-us-roar kind of thing.

Darths and Droids is a "RPG screencap comic." Imagine the Star Wars characters as RPG players who've never heard of Jedi or the Force, and the narrator/game master trying to explain it all to them. Or, just look at this:

The link will bring you to the very beginning (ie the above comic) so you can read on and lose all your time and productivity from there. Yeah. You're welcome.

And finally, thanks to Super Punch I got sucked into this fantastic puzzle game:

The object is to collect the red keys and then exit through the red door to the next level. You move the tiles around to form your paths, using your arrow keys and space bar. The beginning levels are quite simple - this is just the one I'm currently stuck on. :) Play it for free here.

So, what's your favorite online time-suck this week? Share your links in the comments!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Dragon*Con: The Experience

Now that I've shown you lots (and LOTS) of photos from D*C, I figured I'd share a few fun (and not-so-fun) things from our weekend there.

As anyone who was there knows, the first not-so-fun thing was, of course, simply getting our badges. If you had purchased your tickets ahead of time online, the line to pick up your badge on Thursday night was about 4.5 hours long. FOUR AND A HALF HOURS.

The line wrapped an entire city block, and that was just to get into the hotel. From there? Another two hour wait.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Geek Glee

Check out this brilliant hoodie design over at Threadless:

Brilliant, I say!

Live long and prosper, Threadless. Live long...and prosper.

Of course, segueing from a hoodie to a plushie is only logical, right?

That's it. I'm learning to sew, dangit. (Waaaant!)

Made by Ana Diaz, who also made these "screaming-to-snuggle" Where the Wild Things Are plushies:

Go here to see more of her work, including the entire cast of the Big Bang Theory. (!!)

Flickr user mattcborgelt constructed a huge NES console coffee table. And it. is. EPIC.

Oh, yeeeah. Come to mama.

Plus it gets even better: inside the lid is a *fully functional* large-scale controller!


Or perhaps you'd like a coffee table of just the controller itself. Nooo problem. Kyle Downes has you covered:

Yes, and it works. The lid also lifts for storage.

When he's not playing it, Kyle has a glass top on it:


For lots more pics and information on how he made it, be sure to check out Kyle's blog.

And finally, something you've probably already seen, but that's simply too good *not* to include:

Wookiee the Chew.

[faints from cute overload]

See lots more of little Han & Wookiee - or order prints for only $10! - at James Hance's site.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Turning a Bad Day Into a B.A.D. Day

If you happen to follow me on Twitter, you may know that this has been a rough week for me and John. In a nutshell: we were supposed to be on a cruise this week with my family. Due to an expired passport, we're not - although my family is.

So, Sunday was a day of two long drives (one to the port, one back) and lots of tears.

However, that's not what I want to focus on here. Epbot is my joy, my 'get-away-from-Cake-Wrecks-stress' happy place, and I intend to keep it that way. So here's the not-so-awful part:

While John and I were sitting at the port, waiting for our luggage to be brought back off the ship so we could drive back home, I flipped open my laptop. I needed a distraction to stop me from crying, since the port security seemed to find a loitering weepy girl carrying a big metal box (it's my make-up case, I swear) a wee bit suspicious. So, the laptop came out. Fortunately, the port had free wifi.

I immediately went to Super Punch, my favorite blog. I scrolled and sniffled for a few minutes. Then I got to this post, and followed the link to read the entire "Disguised Weapons" e-mail exchange. (NSFW due to language.)
And here's the crazy thing: I laughed. Out loud.

John was sitting stoically next to me, squinting at the far wall. I turned the laptop around to show him the post, and within a few seconds HE was laughing out loud. We laughed together for several seconds, and suddenly, the crushing awfulness wasn't so crushing anymore. I didn't remember my mom's tears from a few moments before quite so vividly. I didn't think about the months of wasted planning, or the long drive home ahead. I just laughed.

Five hours later, we staggered into our house, dropped our luggage, and greeted the cats morosely. It was late, and we were exhausted, but I knew I had to e-mail John at Super Punch, just to say thanks.

With Cake Wrecks, I'm fortunate enough to be on the receiving end of these kinds of e-mails fairly often. People tell me the most amazing stories - stories that put my own to shame. From bedside vigils to financial hardships to lifelong, debilitating pain, my readers have and do face trials I've never even imagined. The fact that they then want to thank *me* is both humbling and hugely encouraging. Now that I've had my own little taste of a blogger rescuing me from the doldrums - however briefly - I can appreciate even more how these folks felt while writing to me. This is different than just telling someone their blog is great. It's more personal. It's sharing the fact that you were hurting, and they somehow helped the hurt. It takes a little bit of vulnerability, a little bit of guts.

Ok, so, to wrap all this up, I have a little homework assignment for you. Actually, for all of us, myself included. Here 'tis:

The next time we have a bad day, let's turn it into the redundantly named B.A.D. day - or, "Blogger Appreciation Day (day)." In other words, write a note of thanks to a blogger who made you happy when you were sad. Bonus points if you don't personally know the blogger, and/or have never written to him/her before. Don't expect a reply, or feel like you have to write a novel; a simple "You made me laugh when I needed it" is really all it takes.

Funnily enough, I think you'll find that sending an e-mail like that is just as gratifying as getting one. I can say that now with some experience, in fact.

So, who's ready to have a B.A.D. day?

Who rescues you from your bad days, guys? Share your links in the comments!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Steampunk Fashion Show

The Dragon*Con steampunk fashion show was scheduled to last for 2.5 hours. I'm guessing this was a typo, though, because it actually lasted about 15 minutes.

Then again, since it started an hour and a half late, maybe they figured it would all even out in the end. :)

Besides, I can't be too upset; it was a really fabulous 15 minutes.

The dapper master of ceremonies starts us off.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Steampunk Exhibition

Like many things at Dragon*Con, the steampunk fashion show and exhibition were both pretty poorly planned. They were booked both at the same time and the same room, which resulted in one gigantic line snaking down two floors of the hotel, and made up of folks planning to attend one or the other (or in my case, both). After an hour or so, they separated us into two lines: one for each event. Initially we stayed in the fashion show line, figuring we'd be seated fairly quickly. When I realized they wouldn't be letting us in the room until the Exhibition wrapped, though, we went to check that out - about 10 minutes before they shut the whole room down. :(

So, here are the few shots I managed to get of the Exhibition before we had to leave. My biggest regret of the whole weekend was that I didn't get more time in there, because the things we did get to see were simply amaaaazing.

A great shot of steampunk Glinda's costume. In this light I realized that the top of her bodice almost looks like it's been soaked through with blood, and the shreds and tatters look like drips. A bit morbid, sure, but beautifully done.

Here's the Tin Man:

I amended my last post to include this, but again, I believe this is the actual costume used in Heartless, The Story of the Tin Man. Be sure to check it out; it's a great short film.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Dragon*Con Costume Gallery #3

My last batch of D*C costume photos. Enjoy!

He made the gun himself!

Me: [checking picture on camera] "Awesome."
Him: "I know I am, thanks."