Friday, October 31, 2014

A Halloween Blood Letting

I had to get a bunch of blood drawn for a laundry list of tests my doc wants to run, so, with a cynical snicker, I scheduled it for this afternoon. Needles don't necessarily scare me, but medical stuff in general does, since I associate doctors' offices with panic and pain and general awfulness. So what better day to do something scary than Halloween, am I right?

Plus I had secret hope that the nurses would be dressed as vampires.

So I just got back, freshly bandaged on both arms, uhthankyouverramuch, and maybe this is just the Xanax talking, but life is pretty dang good right now.

I know you guys are probably sick of hearing how wonderful John is, but he really outdid himself today. Before we left I briefed him on what the phlebotomist would need to know (sometimes my anxiety makes it hard for me to talk), and as soon as we arrived he ratcheted his usual charm up to 11. Within minutes we were laughing and joking with the guy doing our paperwork, and when the worker revealed that *he* was the best phlebotomist there, John shamelessly used every compliment & trick in the book to get him to do my blood work - up to and including offers of bribes. 
("I will go next door right now and buy you a sub. You want lunch? Let me get you lunch.")

The worker, whose name was Abi, was eventually won over (though he laughingly refused the bribes.) And even though he was supposed to be working the front desk, he agreed to make an exception for us.

True to his word, Abi was the best blood sucker [snerk] ever, even without a vampire costume. (Poo.) He even agreed to use a butterfly needle, which - pro tip! - is so much less painful. I barely felt the pinch! Which was especially nice, since we needed so much blood that he had to do both arms.

While we waited for all the vials to fill, John played an episode of Frasier on his phone for us, and kept me talking and joking. He tells me he only got woozy once. (Did I mention John sometimes faints at the sight of blood? That's love, my friends. TWU WUV.)

I also practiced some slow abdominal breathing when the nerves got especially bad, and was surprised how much it helped. Within less than five minutes my freezing hands and feet were warm again! I always shrugged off breathing exercises for anxiety, but now I think I'm sold.

Anyway, I've been meaning to have this check-up for years, so it's a relief to have the scariest part over with. I'm hoping to get a clean bill of health so I can really start tackling by anxiety treatment - but that's for another post. For now, your Halloween Treat:

That's John the Death Eater, boogieing down with Bellatrix at the Yule Ball during Dragon Con. 

And one more, since I feel like this post needs at least ONE creepy Halloweenish photo

 (Also from DC - because someday I will post the rest of my cosplay photos. I will, I will!)

Maybe I can convince John to put on his mask & robe tonight while we hand out candy. :D

Oh! And one more treat:

My art winner this month IS.... Renee from PA whose profile says she's an attorney & has a little girl! Which I hope is specific enough. Heh.

Congrats, Renee, and please e-mail me your mailing address & choice of art prize from my Pinterest give-away board!

And to everyone else: have fun tonight! Eat lots of candy! Oh, and share pics of your costumes over on the Epbot FB page! That'll give me something fun to look at between answering the door.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

My Disney's Haunted Mansion Inspired Wreath!

Squeaking in juuust before Halloween to show off my last crafty creation of the month:

A Haunted Mansion inspired door wreath!

(Yep, my front door is HM purple. I painted it last year around Halloween, so it seemed only fitting to finally make a wreath to match!)

Appropriately enough, this thing was a nightmare to photograph, but I did my best. I think you can see everything Ok, but I do wish the two lighted elements showed better; they're really much brighter in person!

The first light is in the coffin:

The green shining through the cracks looks super cool at night.

It was inspired by this coffin in the Mansion's conservatory:


And the second lit element is little Leota's head - or more specifically, her eyes:

John and I discovered that if you cram a LED inside a porcelain doll's head, the eyes glow. Nifty, huh? (Now imagine all your dolls with red glowing eyes... that only turn on... AT NIGHT. MWUAH-HA-HAA!)

Here's how the wreath looks during the day:
A bit of a glare on the Welcome sign, but otherwise still pretty fun in the light!

I painted the coffin & clock green as an homage to the HM cast costumes:

 The wreath materials were quite cheap, but since almost everything had to be made from scratch, it was pretty labor-intensive. Keep reading if you'd like a quick break down & explanation for of all the parts!

Wreath: An old grape vine wreath, spray-painted black. The lower half is covered with "spooky cloth" - a shreddy fabric from the Dollar Tree that cost - you guessed it! - a dollar.

Crows: $1 each at the Dollar Tree, though I replaced the eyes with red crystals.

Leota: One porcelain doll head, painted all spooky-like, fit inside a clear plastic Christmas ornament. To do this, cut the back third off the ornament with a craft blade, so you can fit the head in through the back:

Testing the fit.

It was a tight squeeze - wish I could have found a larger ornament! - so I had to chop off a lot of hair. The doll I used had bangs, so I removed the wig and turned it around. And it doesn't really show, but after this I also sprayed the hair with watered down white & teal craft paint.

To attach the head to the wreath, wrap a thick wire around the neck stump (there should be a recess there already, where the body attached), and then poke the wire ends straight down into the wreath.

Coffin: Plain wooden coffin ($2.99 from JoAnn's), painted, with a plastic skeleton arm & hand glued inside to hold it open. The little wreath is a sprig from an Autumn flower arrangement, twisted into a circle.
Note the authentic cat's tail. :) Thanks, Lily.

The green LED is held inside the coffin lid with Velcro, and to attach the coffin to the wreath, we drilled two holes in the back side & threaded a wire through.

Demon Clock: Here's the inspiration clock in Disneyland's Haunted Mansion:

The clock is either gray or wood-toned, depending on which Mansion you visit, but I decided to make mine green to fit the wreath's color scheme.

John carved the clock face from pink insulation foam (you can buy big sheets of it at Home Depot or Lowe's for cheap). Just print out the face, glue it on the foam, and carve through the paper. The foam doesn't carve well for little things like this - really rough & snaggy -  but after I painted it, you'd never know!


I also added the tail, cut from thin craft foam. Then we used hot glue to attach a long wire to the back.

Signage: Whipped up in Photoshop (you can download the Haunted Mansion font for free here), printed on gloss paper, and glued to black craft foam for stability. The Welcome sign is attached with wire, and the "Foolish Mortals" chains are attached with hot glue.

Watching eyes: Cut from white craft foam, using this photo as a reference:

Then attached to the wreath cloth with Glue Dots.

Bats: A last-minute addition, since I just got my HM bat ice cube tray in the mail and was desperate to try it out with some casting resin! Here's the painting progression:

After spraying the resin gold (which looks gorgeous on its own), I brushed on a heavy coat of blackish green craft paint, and then quickly wiped it off again. The result is pretty close to the real ride stanchions!

Needless to say, I'll be playing with these resin castings more in the future; I cannot WAIT to make some jewelry with them!

So I think that covers everything on the wreath, but feel free to ask questions in the comments!

And since this is my last Halloween craft, I hope you guys have a spook-tacular Halloween this weekend!


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

Friday, October 24, 2014

October Art Roundup: Cute Bats, Funny Monsters, & Wicked Beauties!

I hope you guys are ready for a LOT of amazing new geek art this month, because I, uh, kind of got carried away.  o.0


Let's kick things off with some Never Ending Story goodness:

 "Neverending" 8X12 print, $12

Those colors! YES.

I had a terrible time picking my favorites over at CocoMilla's Etsy store; there are WAY too many awesome choices:

Her watercolor prints start at $15 for 6X8 prints, and she has larger sizes available, too. Go see the rest; from Disney to gaming, she's got a little of everything!

Michael Banks of Suger Fueled makes adorably creepy big-eyed art, and even better, his ACEO prints are only $4!

He also has a huge selection of 8X12 prints for $12 each:

And since it IS October, how about this cutie from Sydey Hanson?
"Little Bat" 8X10 print, $12

Not quite as Halloweeny, but I'm totally smitten with Sydney's bumble bee:

"Bumblebee" 8X10 print, $12

D'awww. I'm actually terrified of anything that stings, but this guy I want to snuggle.

From Love Ashley Designs, a perfectly Wicked piece:
"Are You A Good Witch Or A Bad Witch?" 10X10 print, $25

Tempted to get this one for John, since he's forever singing "Popular." Which is hilarious.

Artist Wisesnail, aka Namecchan, has some amaaazing Guardians of the Galaxy prints:

WOW. And the 8X10s are only $15! (She has larger sizes, too.)

I'm also REALLY digging her Jim Moriarty:

7X10 print, $15

Love how the background looks like smokey flames!

Epbot reader Candace happens to be married to a Pixar animator, Victor Navone, and he generously donated this sweet Wall-E print for the give-away board:

The white surround is much larger than this, but that's all that would fit in my scanner. :) 

And speaking of the give-away board, here are some more of my new additions:

"I Am Who," by my buddy Charlie Thurston.
(You can buy it at the link for $10)

"Iron Giant Superman #1" by Matthew Waite

That's a mash-up of Iron Giant with the first Superman Comic, btw, which is brilliant if you know the movie.  Since Waite only sells at conventions, I picked this one up for the board. Check out the rest of his work over on DeviantArt or Tumblr.

From another of my good friends, Bianca Roman-Stumpff:


 (Groot is the new darling of Artist Alleys everywhere, and I am definitely not complaining.)

Most of Bianca's work still isn't available online (HINT HINT BIANCA), so she donated that one for the board!

She's also been churning out new Puff Monsters, which you *can* buy online through her Facebook page or sometimes her Etsy shop.

 The pumpkin one! Ah! And I ended up buying the blue & white one clapping in the middle.

Bianca also has a few prints available over on Society6, so you can check over there for more.

Remember Tampa Fanboy Expo, the convention last month where I fangirled over James Hance? Well, right next to him was Andrew "Drone" Cosson, and I FLIPPED over his baby Groot:

I've had this hanging in my office for over a month now, and I JUST NOW realized it looks like he's flipping us the bird. Which somehow makes him even cuter.

Andrew told me he'd just sold the companion Rocket Raccoon painting, and even worse, HE DIDN'T TAKE A PHOTO! Nooo!
So to console myself, I also bought these two original ink drawings from him:

Who else wants Andrew to make a Doctor Who coloring book now?

Andrew doesn't have a website or even an online portfolio, which is downright criminal. He directed me to his personal Facebook page, but I don't think he has everything there. I also can't believe he doesn't scan his original paintings to make prints! Arg! So Andrew, if you see this, please, GET THEE TO ETSY. Or Society6. Or DeviantArt. Or something.


Also at Tampa Fanboy, there was the delightful duo of Jennipho, who sculpts 3D sweetness like this:

... and Victoria, who paints & draws sweetness like this:

Her prints start at just $7!

John had to drag me away from their booth, since I kept going back to chat. They're both super friendly and uber talented, so definitely check out both sites!

And finally, since this is too perfect to show off right before Halloween, check out what John just got for his game room:


John says he either wants a picture of me in it, looking appropriately terrified, or a drawing of a uvula. I'm lobbying for the uvula.

The artist, Myrcury's Toybox, was at a local street show event here in Orlando last week, and we couldn't stop giggling over her tiny monster frames. Check out her Etsy shop for more, plus fun skull & monster eye hair clips, original art, and painted coffin boxes like these:

K, guys, that does it for this month's roundup! Now, you know the drill: comment below for a chance to win your choice of art from my Pinterest Art Give-Away Board! I'll ship anywhere, so international comments are welcome! (Last month I sent art to Africa and Australia. SO COOL. And expensive. But mostly cool.)

I'll announce my randomly-selected winner sometime next week. Happy commenting, everyone, and happy weekend!

 The give-away has ended, and the winner is Renee from PA! Congrats, Renee, and please e-mail me your mailing address & choice of art!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

How I Do Antiquing: Old Disney Toys!

Some people go antiquing for the history or the treasure. I go for the toys.

Vintage Orange Bird & baby Donald!
Yes, they're filthy. But Donald is from 1984, was only a dollar, and c'mon, BABY DONALD. Orange Bird was $15, but he's kinda rare, and I love him. (I'm guessing he's also from the early 80s.)

Anyway, here's a quick tip: If you need to clean toys like Donald, which is soft & rubbery like a squeak toy, then grab one of these bad boys:

Yep, Magic Eraser works wonders at taking off old stains, crayon marks, and even pen ink from soft plastic. Check out the difference!

The blue pen line down the side of his face is completely gone!

Just be careful when scrubbing, since Magic Eraser *will* take the original paint off. It's basically a spongey form of sandpaper.

(And no, this isn't a sponsored post.)

Magic Eraser works well on harder surfaces, too, of course. Here's cleaned-up Orange Bird:

Did I mention he's a bank?

I'm debating touching up his paint, and possibly re-painting Donald all together. (Although those 80s pastels *are* kinda rockin'. Hee.)

I also picked up this tiny purse for $5, because the inside is ridiculously cool:

I'm a sucker for anything small with "hidden" compartments, and LOOK:

That circular screen pulls out to reveal a powder puff & powder compartment, and I guess the other sections were for lipstick and... money? Maybe? They're both suuuper tiny; the lipstick compartment is about 3/4 of the size of a Chapstick tube.

And THEN, there's another section under the mirror!


It doesn't look like the purse was ever used, but the exterior suede/velvet was crumbling off in my hands. I'm hoping to redo the whole thing, maybe make it usable for a steampunk outfit or something. [brain storming]

And finally, our big splurge: $30 for this amaaazing "Baseball Clock" that sold at the World's Fair during the 1930s:

Fun, right? I've never seen another clock like it! (It winds in the back.)

If you're ever looking for good/cheap antiquing here in central Florida, check out the Orange Tree Antique Mall (my favorite), or the Flea Market and outside areas at Renningers in Mt. Dora. (The inside vendors are too pricey for me, but it's still fun to look.)

Oh, and speaking of funky clocks, stay tuned....

'Cuz I'm working on one last Halloween thing. 

[evil grin]