Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Where All The Lights Are Bright

[singing] Doooowwwn Toooowwn!

Disney, that is.

I haven't had as much time as I'd like to write Epbot posts lately, but I thought I'd at least share the pics I took a few weeks ago at the Downtown Disney Vinylmation store. This statue here? Look closely; it's made up of all VM toys. (And if you're not familiar, Vinylmation is Disney's take on vinyl toys: they're all shaped like Mickey, but come in hundreds of different collectible designs.)

I was much more interested in the store itself than the merchandise, though. Check out this antique register, which tops a display cabinet:



And this edgy industrial chandelier:

If it were about a quarter of the size, it'd go great in my dining room. :)

This white lion statue on a high shelf caught my eye:

See the green sparkles on his chest? They were shimmering and moving ever so slightly, and I was sure they must be embedded fiber optics. (For the record: I am easily distracted by "sparklies." I would walk zombie-like through oncoming traffic just to stare at a bowl of glitter. Fiber optics, therefore, rank reeeally high on the "lure Jen into traffic" scale.)

Eventually we figured out the lights were actually coming from a small spotlight under the statue:

I wish I knew how it achieved that cool twinkling constellation effect, though. Then I'd cover my entire office with them. (BWHAHAHAA!)

Oh, and here's the promised "hidden Cake Wreck" I mentioned a few posts back: once you're in the VM store, look in the left-hand display window. There you'll see this *awesome* Rocketeer VM:

Be sure to admire it from all angles:

Once you're done with that, look down:

See the pink VM doll, facing outside?

If you'd like, you can even exit the store and look in at it:

For some reason it has a Band-Aid on its face.

Now, look closely at the toy's left shoulder:

See the little cake tattoo drawn there, with the intertwined initials JMY in it? I did that! (I tried to be subtle, since I figured it would be obnoxious to advertise Cake Wrecks on it - although I guess the "Disney Every Day" people didn't have such qualms.)

John and I participated in the online VM scavenger hunt earlier this year, and all the "winners" got to sign the toy. The hunt was ├╝ber cool: online clues led us all over Disney property, filling in answers which, when decoded, spelled out a time, location, and password. When we showed up at the finish line with 50 or so other people, we each got a free VM blind-box toy, some stickers, and the chance to sign Pinky there.

Ok, time for more eye candy!

This is the ceiling of TrenD, another new-ish shop in Downtown Disney, stocked with urban style women's clothing and accessories. It's actually pretty cool stuff, but once again I think the store design is even better than the merchandise.

Here's another shot, with the colors toned down:

I think I like this version better. The pastels are so sweet, like a candy shop.

Another cool shelf dressing:

Yep, they already had Christmas decor up.

Love the gals in retro business attire, though:

While there, I also spotted this fantastic art book which is now on my Christmas list:

(click the pic to go to the Amazon page)

These aren't your typical Disney princesses, though: they're various artists' re-imaginings of them. Which are GORGEOUS.

I found a book review over on Parka Blogs that included this great flip-through:

I think I'd like to frame prints of about 90% of this book. Awesome.

And one final beauty shot of the House of Blues:


So, what's your favorite eye candy shot this week, guys? Share your links in the comments!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Very Cool Things

First and foremost, you must drop everything and go read (and watch) the update on Katie of the Star Wars water bottle fame. It. Is. Awesome. If you can't watch the news clip now, definitely bookmark it for later; you'll love the interview with Katie and Carrie. Also mark your calendars: December 10th is "Wear Star Wars - Share Star Wars" day! So wear something SW, and plan to give a SW toy to a shelter or hospital, all in Katie's honor!

Now a few more things to make you smile:

How would you like to have THIS in your room?

Steve Moseley made this for his son, and he even has instructions over at Instructables if you want to try making one of your own. So fun! (Thanks to allybobble on Twitter for the link.)

In the same "who cares if it's practical, this looks AWESOME" category, have you seen the Fluid Dress making the rounds lately?

Yay for eye candy!

Now some geek news that caught my eye: According to Longb'ox, DC is planning to release a special new comic "for girls only," called - get this - Capes and Cakes. The super heroine will be a baker by day, crime fighter by night!

(Image found on Zazzle)

Check out this quote from the article:

“Girls aren’t as interested as guys in fights,” Dan DiDio is quoted as saying. “They’re more interested in relationships, romances, emotional drama. We’re taking the focus off crime-fighting and putting it on the more everyday questions women face, like - how can you put on enough muscle to do your job but still fit into a size 10?”

Um. Yeeeeah. So it's more "baker by day, dieting drama queen by night?" Huh. I'll be very interested to see how my fellow geek girls weigh in on this one. No pun intended. (Well, maybe a little. And thanks to kmp_zxcv on Twitter for the link.)

And finally, I'll leave you with a five-foot-tall cardboard Epbot 'bot, made by Kelsey of Geekishly Apropos:

Just 'cuz.

(I'm diggin' the 3D flower and antenna.)

What's your cool thing today, guys? Share your links in the comments!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Dime Buttons

Here's a quick project that wasn't nearly as quick as I initially hoped: dime buttons!

If you haven't already, you'll need to reference my penny buttons post to follow this tutorial; it's essentially the same process, with the key difference of aging the dimes so the detail show through.

My test dimes.

See how nicely the detail "pops" on the far right? I did a lot of experimenting to find a finish that was easy to apply and would withstand machine washing. More on that in a second, though.

First, make your dime buttons using your trusty doming block, epoxy paste, and O rings:

(Again, for more detailed instructions see my penny button tutorial.)

You could stop here, of course, but from a distance they'd just look like plain silver buttons. Where's the fun in that?

So instead, get out your trusty Sharpie.

(Yes, really.)

After much messing about with paints and glazes, I finally determined that a simple coating with a Sharpie marker was the best base coat to age the dimes. So:

1) Color your dime solid black with a Sharpie. Make sure the ink gets in all the nooks and crannies. (For a softer look, try a dark brown Sharpie.)

2) Let it dry for a few seconds, until just barely tacky. (If you start to rub before the ink dries, your finish will have more contrast, and more areas of solid silver showing through.)

3) Using a paper towel or cloth, rub off the peaks of the dime until you like the way it looks. I wrapped the paper towel around my index finger and used a twist & rub technique, but play around with it and find whatever works for you. This will also take a few minutes of rubbing, so don't panic if it seems to be taking a while to get through the ink.

4) To seal the finish, spray your finished buttons with a high quality lacquer clear coat. (Check the spray-paint aisle.) I used a high gloss, but a flat sheen would look great, too.

The finished products:

Aren't they gorgeous? And I only had to wipe off the finishes with lacquer thinner and start all over again three times! :D

A few more beauty shots, since these were kind of a pain to photograph well:

Initially I planned to attach these to a black and gray military-style shrug, but the buttons are a bit too dark; they don't show up all that well. So instead I'm hunting through my closet for something brighter. This finish looks *amazing* against blue, yellow, or dark orange. Actually, it'd probably look good on anything other than black, gray, or brown, so I have a lot of options.

Oh, and these are bigger than your average shirt buttons, so keep that in mind if you decide to replace the buttons on something you own. The lacquer finish will withstand soap, water, and scrubbing, but I haven't tested the epoxy putty in the dryer yet, so no promises there. You may want to air dry, just to be safe.

Hope you enjoyed! And as always, please send pictures if you try this yourself!


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

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Geek Girls, ACTIVATE!!

My fellow geeks, I need your help.

I just read this article about little Katie being bullied by her classmates for carrying a Star Wars water bottle to school. She's only in the first grade.

This, my friends, cannot stand.

Katie's mom has asked for fellow females who love Star Wars to leave a comment showing Katie she's not alone, that lots of girls love Star Wars, and, dang it, that it's not just "Ok" to be different - sometimes it's BETTER.

Ok, maybe I'm paraphrasing a little there, but you get the idea.

Please go leave a comment for Katie, and spread the word. There are only 18 comments as of this writing. Let's put a few zeroes behind that number.

[UPDATE: Just realized you can't leave a comment on the article without creating an account. Grr. Ok, new plan: leave your comment here, and I will make sure Katie's mom gets the link so she can read them all. Thanks, guys.]

And Katie, my little Star Wars sister? I think I speak for every Epbot reader here when I say: Don't let the scruffy nerf herders get you down. You rock that water bottle with pride, and know that there are thousands of other fans out there (myself included) who would be proud to share a lunch table with you.

Oh, and may the Force be with you.

(Also, a big thanks to Michele for pointing me to this article.)

11/19 UPDATE: WOW. Since I published this post last night it has taken the web by storm; I've watched it go viral on Twitter and Facebook, and seen post after post on other great blogs pop up - including the official Star Wars blog! I'm thrilled both for Katie and for geek girls everywhere to see such an outpouring of support, and I can't tell you how proud I am that you Epbot readers were the first wave of fans to get her story out there. Thank you.

Happily Trisha over at Geeking Out About... managed to get a hold of Katie's mom, Carrie Goldman, last night for an update. In addition to Cat Taber's lovely comment and offer of gifts on this post, Katie has received an invitation to a Clone Wars premier by Tom Kane, the voice of Yoda, and a special art card by Scott Zirkel of herself holding a light saber. Apparently they've also been inundated with offers of Star Wars toys and merchandise, which Goldman has asked that we instead donate to shelters and hospitals in Katie's honor
for the holidays. (Read more at Trisha's article here.)

According to Carrie's update on the original article, Katie is overjoyed with all the comments, and her folks plan to print them all out in a big book for Katie "to read whenever she feels the need." Which is just the awesomest thing ever.

You know that's not the end of the story, though, right? Katie and her water bottle have unleashed a powerful force [smirk] for good. Let's use it. Let's keep it going.
Let's make "Katie's water bottle" our battle cry against bullying. Find the "Katie" in your life, so that you can lavish all the support and love (and yes, geeky toys!) on him or her that s/he needs. And be proud of who you are, so you can lead by example!

And most importantly:

Have a great Friday, my friends. :)

Addendum: If you're looking to contact Carrie or Katie directly, please know that I'm just a blogger who thought their story deserved more attention; other than a few e-mails, I don't have any direct line or relationship with their family. I'd suggest leaving your requests either on Carrie's follow-up post or contacting her through ChicagoNow.com. Thanks!

Monday, November 15, 2010

More Festival Festivities

More fun from our day at Downtown Disney!

While walking from West Side towards Disney Village, we came across this live artist demonstration.

Yep, he's painting a couch. And winking at me. Or, you know, "squinting into the sun." Which I think we ALL know means "winking at me."

He and his partner also did several canvases:

So fun!

Donald was our favorite:

Somehow I've completely forgotten the artists' names, though. Anyone know?

A little further on was this great LEGO mural:

It's not quite finished here; I thinks some of the light blue patches still need to be filled in.

On the Village side was all the sidewalk art:

Most were your run-of-the-mill classic paintings or odd abstracts, but a few really stood out:

Chalk art by Anna McCambridge


Again I say: WOW.

Sure, it's obligatory promotion art for Tangled, but hey, it looks good!

This one made us grin:

It's Zach Galifianakis, with Fruit Loops stuck in his beard. Heh.

Loved the colors in this one:

It was hard to make out the names, but I think it said by Gary Seymour & NC Wyeth.

Plus it really reminds me of the art I've seen for BioShock 3:

(If you haven't seen the trailer yet, go check it out. It's cool.)

And finally, this artist used one of my favorite pictures on DeviantArt for her drawing:

By Jennifer Chaparro

Pretty, huh?

After we wandered down to the Art of Disney store, we stumbled across the Epic Mickey preview area:

I'd completely forgotten it was going to be there, so we were lucky to arrive 30 minutes before they closed up for the weekend.

They had four stations set up to play the game, with large concept art panels behind them:

They also had three animators on hand, drawing sketches for free. I jumped in line for a sketch, and John mosied over to try his hand at the game:

I later joined him and took the game for a 10-minute spin. Considering that I've never played anything on the Wii (unless you count a few rounds of Wii bowling), I did a little better than I expected. Again, this is not saying much.

You use both controllers - one in each hand - but the game starts off simply enough that I think I'd get the hang of it eventually. You use the joystick to move, so fortunately the Wii gyrations seem to be kept to a minimum: just the occasional shake for a spin attack, and you point the right hand controller to aim. (That part was definitely the hardest.) There's one trigger per hand: one for paint, one for thinner. I got those mixed up a lot. I also tried four times to jump a simple gap, and failed spectacularly every time. (Ker-splat!) So, like I said: I did better than I expected. :D

It's hard to give a recommendation after such a short time, but I'd definitely like to play and see more of the game.

And finally, here's artist Jason Peltz's hand, drawing me a sketch of Oswald:

And the finished sketch:


I asked Jason to include his website so I could check out his other work, btw, since he's a long-time Disney animator. Hit the link above to check it out.

That wraps up the Festival, but stay tuned for a few photos of my personal "hidden Cake Wreck" on display in Downtown Disney. That Disney doesn't know about. [smiling mysteriously]

Festival of the Masters

Friday afternoon John and I spent a fabulous few hours at the Festival of the Masters art fair at Downtown Disney. Then, since I'd forgotten my camera, we went back Sunday afternoon and did it all over again. :)

The good news is it was even better the second time through, if a lot more crowded.

Our view walking in from the parking lot. (We haven't tried the new balloon ride yet.)

Our first stop was artist Deona's stand, where, of course, the painting I'd been eying on Friday was already sold. (Drat.)

See the penny farthing there on the bottom? (That's the big wheel bike.) The one I liked was like that only with a juggling girl on it, and the frame was distressed red and white stripes, like an old-timey circus. I guess I should've bought it when I had the chance. Grr.

Next we spent a looong time gawking at Jim Mullan's booth:

He paints and embellishes hand-carved wooden birds with old watch parts, gears, handles, and various antique metal findings.

If you're thinking "steampunk," you're not alone. I asked Jim if he'd heard of the style, and he said a lot of people had mentioned it to him. "But I've been doing this a long time," he told me. "I was 'steampunk' before there was steampunk." He described his house as overflowing with vintage tin toys, antique furniture, and an entire clock shop's worth of flotsam. (Wouldn't you love to see pics of that?)

His owl here placed first in his category. John and I seriously considered buying it, but went with this more colorful guy instead:

Since he has a vintage "Schnapps" tag on his chest, I've dubbed him Schnappsie. His head turns (and even comes off!) on two vintage watch dials. Isn't he great?

And the final artist I'm going to rave about is J.G. Puyana, who sadly has no website.

He constructs these amazing architectural pieces from metal and glass and charms. It's hard to describe, so I'll just show you some more pictures:

(See that piece in the background, up high, with the wings? If you turn a crank the wings flap.)

This piece has an observatory-style chair on a platform in front of several lenses. Here's a shot from further back:

The booth was half in glaring sunlight and packed with people, so getting these photos was a real challenge. It shows, too. Sorry.

One of Gabriel's pieces also placed first in his category - I believe the largest one in back that I couldn't get a picture of. Fortunately I found this photo of it on another blog, though:

The huge glass house has small paintings of people inside.

Oh, and that dangling pendulum and wires just left of center is the bottom half of the flapping wings piece.

John chatted with Gabriel for several minutes, and learned that his pieces are in the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Disneyland Paris. At multiple thousands each, they are also in no way affordable to the likes of us. Heh.

This piece is an homage to Monet (Or was it Van Gogh?):

The copper hands are holding a lens that lines up with two more sheets of glass, the final being the "canvas" on a brass easel. When you look through you see this wavy, iridescent pattern.

My favorite piece was the one hanging from the ceiling, though:

Isn't it gorgeous? I'd love to have something like this for our dining room chandelier. Now I just need to learn to weld. And find all those materials. And...uh...yeah.

If you're interested in contacting Puyana, his number is 407-671-4433. And yes, that really is the only way to contact him.

Now, since this post is getting a bit too long, stay tuned for more pics of the amazing sidewalk art, Disney paintings-in-progress, and my preview of Epic Mickey, which I got to play there at the Festival! (Woot woot!)

Oh, and here's one parting shot of the balloon: