Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Make These Warrior Belle Leather Bracers... From Fun Foam!

Everyone knows how great foam armor can look, but most of us find EVA foam a bit intimidating. It's kinda pricey, extremely labor-intensive, and all around a big commitment for someone just looking to dabble in foam for cosplay.

Ahhh, but what if I told you you can make these carved leather arm bracers:

From a single 12X18 sheet of kids' Fun Foam from the craft store? And that the only special tools you need are a craft blade and a clothing iron? MUCH less intimidating, amirite?

I made this rose design with a Warrior Belle in mind, but it would also look amazing for Poison Ivy (just add more green) or an original steampunk cosplay. Not to mention you can carve *anything* in this stuff, so sky's the limit!

And check out how realistic this "leather" is:

I'mma teach you how to do that now. 

In fact, I'mma give you templates so you can make a pair just like this.


First, some basics:

The first thing you need to know is that Fun Foam comes in 1mm (the most common), 3mm, and even 6mm sheets at the craft store - and the 3mm thickness is perfect for arm bracers.

The second thing you need to know is that Fun Foam - as well as EVA foam - does something quite magical when you carve and heat it. Here's my test with a scrap of thick 6mm white foam:

I sketched the rose out with a pencil, then used a craft blade to cut into the foam slightly.

Now watch what happens when I hit that with a heat gun for 30 seconds:


The cuts all open up and raise slightly, making the foam look almost exactly like carved leather:

There's still one more trick to making your foam look like leather, but before I get to that, let's make some bracers.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

These New Disney Windows Are Pure Magic

First, let's address the elephant in the room...

Yes, my last post is gone. The reason you're guessing why is probably the reason. Aaand that's all I should say. :(


I still have pretty windows to show you guys. So come. LET US GAWK, TOGEZZAH.

The windows in question are on the World of Disney shop (though "shop" is too small a word to describe this behemoth of a store) in Disney Springs here in Orlando. I was so impressed with the pretties that John and I made a special trip back last week *just* so I could take better pictures. Well, and also to do a reader meet-up. But the windows were a priority, promise.

Enough waiting, let's dive in with the one that first caught my eye and made me squeal:

You might remember this shot from my Instagram some weeks back. 

This lively library features a 3D pirate ship emerging from the shelves (and printed with text from Treasure Island!), flying books, and two larger-than-life copies of Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty

Check out all the gems and gold detailing on this cover!

(Not to mention those amaaaazing [fake] books in the background. I want to cover every wall in my house with those.)

Cinderella's cover is more like an embossed leather.

Close-up of that amazing pirate ship.

And one more shot from a distance:

::dreamy sigh::

Though it's hard to see with the glare, each window has a fantastic Walt quote on the glass off to one side. This one reads, "There is more treasure in a book than there is loot on Treasure Island."

Next is the "Down The Rabbit Hole" window, which features a crazy fun assortment of Disney doors. That's right, DOORS:

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

We Should Make Adult Playdates A Thing (But Not In A Kinky Way)

I think I missed the Adulting class where they explained "networking," you guys.

Not the computer one - I remember missing THAT class - but the quasi-social one you're supposed to do with other quasi-professional types "in your field." The one that's becoming more and more frequent at cons these days. I just... don't get it?

Like, I came home from MegaCon with dozens and dozens of business cards, and now I'm staring at them on my desktop trying to remember when John and I met a professional llama wrangler or a podcaster who specializes in cow sounds. (OK, I made those up. I'd totally remember those peeps. It's the more legit stuff that's worrying.)

My point is, I have no idea what I'm supposed to do from here.

My inner 6-year-old wants to believe "networking" is basically how adults make playdates for themselves. Because that would be awesome. Just think, all our business cards could list stuff like "collects spores, molds, & Ghostbuster references," "likes Disney fireworks," and "reacts adversely to tequila." All information one can actually USE. You know, socially. For the adult playdate thing. But not in a kinky way. THIS IS NOT A KINKY THING OK.

But truth is, I've been burned too many times with Cake Wrecks to believe the ritual giving-of-the-card has anything to do with a person liking me. I've gone to lunches and park outings thinking I was meeting a a new friend, only to be grilled about my SEO strategy (I have none), how my blog went viral (uhhhh luck?), and how they, too, can make millions by sitting at home in their jammies (they can't, & I don't.)

Even now, when we do 3-4  meetups per month, if the very first question is something businessy about CW I kind of... deflate... inside. Nothing major. I mean, I don't mind talking about my day job. It's just an "Oh. right. THIS is why I'm interesting," kind of moment. (Which, for the record, rarely happens anymore. Most of you guys would rather talk geek. Which is why I like you.)

Then there's this weird, Hollywood-esque vocabulary people fall into when they're trying to network and/or impress you, in which they all have "projects" in the works they can only talk about in veiled, confusing terms, but they have "top-level" "connections" and maybe want your "creative input" and some outright say they want to "network," and I have no idea what any of that means but I still smile and nod and generally try to act like I don't write poo puns for a living. Can we get a Babel Fish over here? 'Cuz it's a minefield, I tell you. A MINEFIELD.

You know what it is? It's me, on my very first book tour, being handed out of a fancy car into an even fancier hotel - doormen in spotless white gloves, chandeliers the size of my living room, nary an unplucked eyebrow in sight - and I'm in a Teeange Mutant Ninja Turtles t-shirt. Or it's me as a pre-teen accidentally wandering into Fredericks of Hollywood: confusing, eye-opening, and a bit embarrassing for everyone involved.

See, I feel like I should ask you guys for advice here, but all I really want to know is what would be on your Adult Playdate business cards. Which, again - I can not stress this enough - is not a kinky thing. (You have the whole rest of the internet, kinky playdate peeps. DON'T JUDGE.) So yeah, while you're at it, maybe give me a better name for that, too?

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Quick Craft: Make A POP Figure Display Shelf From Foam Board!

One of your most requested tutorials last week was for more POP figure display options, and I feel your pain, guys. I don't even consider myself a POP collector, and they still multiply like rabbits over here.

So the other night John and I slapped together one of our easiest projects yet - perfect for not-so-crafty types - and I think you're gonna liiiiike it!


One POP display, total material cost around $5, total build time less than 2 hours. You can do this.


I've sized this display to hold 12 average-sized POPs, and to fit a 13 inch square space, so it should work in most standard bookcases and shelves. You can also build multiple units and set them side by side for a much longer display.

And funnest of all: IT LIGHTS UP!! Don't the figures look like they're on stage? Plus the mirrored backing helps combat shadows in deep shelves.


For each display shelf, you will need:

- 1 sheet of foam core board (I used black)
- 1 sheet of mirrored/chrome scrapbook paper (available at Michaels)
- hot glue (or white craft glue)
- spray adhesive (or white craft glue)
- [optional] one strand of small lights:

We used these because they were mega cheap (less than $3), but I'd recommend LEDs with a wall plug, so you can set it up on a timer instead of bothering with a switch. Short strands of LED Christmas lights would be perfect - and imagine all the color possibilities!

If you choose to install lights, you'll also need a Dremel or drill with a small bit, OR a small hole punch. (My Crop-A-Dile's smaller hole was perfect, but it does scuff up the foam board a bit, so test yours first.)

Step 1: Print out the following pages at 100% - because AW YEAH JOHN MADE Y'ALL A TEMPLATE -  tape them together to form one piece, & then trace it onto your foam board.

Here are the lines on my foam board:

Of course, since I didn't HAVE the template yet, I had to do this one the hard way. Blurg.

Trace and cut two of those side pieces using a craft blade/knife.

Step 2: Next print this template for the shelves and risers:

Friday, June 17, 2016

One Of My Cosplay Pics Is A Book Cover!

Here's something fun I forgot to mention: one of my cosplay photos is now the cover of a Gail Carriger story!

[supersonic squeeing]

If you're not familiar, Gail Carriger is the NYT bestselling author of the Parasol Protectorate, among many others, and is HUGE in the steampunk community. So I was pretty chuffed when she asked to use my photo of Madeline Masquerade's steampunk Tinkerbell. (Costume by the amazing Firefly Path.)

Here's my original photo:

As for the story itself, Fairy Debt is "a short comedic fairy tale, coming in at just under 5000 words (or about 10 pages). In it Gail gets up to her usual silly tricks, tea saturated prose, and food driven biting wit."

I haven't read it yet myself, but it's for all ages and sounds utterly delightful. You can grab the Kindle edition for 99 cents over at Amazon.


Now let's announce this month's art winners!

The winner of the TARDIS prints is: Hannah 
(the one who mentioned it's both her fav animal & spaceship)
The winner of the mermaid is: Crafty Bahee
And my wildcard winner is: Victoria Wollf

Congrats, you three, and please e-mail me your mailing addresses! 

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

June Art Roundup: Villain Vixens, Duck Tales, and SWEET STAYPUFT Jewelry!

How do you carry on after a tragedy like last weekend? For me, you gather up as much light and beauty and hope as you can manage, you bury your face in it, close your eyes, and you revel in the warmth.

So let's look at some fun stuff and some prettiness, y'all. Let's revel.

These prints by Carla Wyzgala start at $15, and she has LOTS more at her Etsy shop here. (Note: some potentially NSFW pin-ups there, too.)

Justin Orr of Jusscope has a style that'll hit ya right in the childhood feelz:

Though he has plenty of modern fandoms represented, too:

Prints start at $20, check out his online shop for more.

 I'm crushing hard on the sweet storybook style of Penelope R. Gaylord:

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Hamilton Fans, You MUST See What This Hubby Made For His Wife's Birthday!

For Margaret G.'s 40th birthday her husband surprised her with the most AMAZING Hamilton-themed gift - and happily for us, she shared the whole thing on the Epbot Facebook page today!

Get ready to sing along, Hamilton peeps, because this is GLORIOUS.

Let's go.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Nightmare Before Christmas Chair, Hogwarts Book, & Bob The Steampunk Robot

I'm in a little crafting slump that always comes after finishing a big project, but you guys give me the best get-off-your-butt-and-do-something inspiration over on Facebook.

First, Elizabeth C. shared the most beautiful thrift store chair makeover any Tim Burton fan could ask for:

She hand-painted the whole thing(!!), and the bat tie is made from stiff felt. LOVE. 

My favorite part is the soft aging on the seat pattern. That gives it so much dimension, I had to ask Elizabeth if it was actually paint, not fabric! 

Elizabeth started with an unfinished chair from Goodwill, and has guaranteed I will never walk past  one-off thrift chairs again without seeing potential nerdy accent pieces.

Next is something I fangirled over on the Epbot Facebook page a while back:

... which its creator Chelsea just mailed to me! 

This is another thrift store makeover: Chelsea found an old book (which is actually a story written by a teacher about her 3rd grade class, so how perfect is that?) and added the raised gold title and castle silhouette - and I believe that's all hand-painted, too, which boggles the mind. SO PERFECT. (Chelsea, how??)

Chelsea also did the spine, and hid a fun surprise on the first page:


 Plus she made me a bookmark!

(D'awww. And it's not just in your head, Chelsea; we are TOTES BFFs now.)

And finally, just yesterday Epbot reader Dorean sent me a video snippet of her steampunk robot creation, Bob - but it turns out there's so much more to this dapper fellow than his gears and wee bottle of "Magical Elixir":

Dorean also sent me an e-mail, explaining how she was directed to Epbot by her daughter to learn what steampunk was, and how she quickly fell in love with all things gears-and-cogs. But more than that, along the way Dorean found commonality and inspiration and even a bit of courage. I don't want to post anything too personal, but suffice to say Dorean went to her very first Comic-Con last weekend... and she brought Bob! So this little guy is a symbol of great things, of happy things. And that makes ME so, so happy. 

(You can keep up with Bob's adventures at that link, or check out Dorean's blog here.)

Please keep sharing your projects on the Epbot FB page, guys! Even though I can't share everything, I DO see them all, and appreciate your links and photos and snippets more than you know.

Oh, hey, and while I've got you here, quick poll: what kinds of things do YOU want to make that you'd like more tutorials/help on? A few options I'm kicking around, though of course you're not limited to these:

- Cosplay accessories (props, hip bags, tiaras, etc.)
- Geeky fun furniture  (themed tables, shelving, storage)
- Jewelry from unusual finds (ie hardware store bits or sentimental things you have no other use for)
- Display shelves or frames for your toy collections (like POP figures)
- Display props (too many to list, but what movie/game/TV thing do you most want on your bookshelf?)
- Thrifted furniture makeovers (probably with a steampunk flair, because this is me, after all)
- Faux leather from EVA foam (great for steampunk bags & accents)

Feel free to be as specific as you want, because I DO take requests! Just no sewing, please. We all know how bad I am with sewing.  >.< 

(Then again, I can just make John do it, so... BRING ON THE SEWING.)

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Beating Up Tables & Giving Our All

To assemble Agnes' junk pile last month John and I visited just about every thrift shop in the greater Orlando area, which meant I picked up a LOT of unrelated goodies. Including a new dining room set. (WHAT.)(It was only $200!)

So once MegaCon was over, we turned our attention to getting rid of our old table and chairs - a set we bought used over 15 years ago as newlyweds, and that's been drilled, epoxied, painted-on, hammered, and otherwise beaten up since. (We've also refinished and re-upholstered it many times, so it doesn't look QUITE as bad as you're imagining.)

We tried to donate it to the same thrift shop we bought our "new" set from, but they couldn't pick it up for another 10 days... and we're not that patient. So John listed it on Craig's List for $50.

Beat up as it is, it's still a lovely set, and John found a buyer within the hour.

So the other night when I was out in the living room playing Tsum Tsum working, and I heard John scrubbing down the old table, I didn't think much of it. Then I heard the vacuum going. And more scrubbing. Some scraping. Then the power drill.

When I finally wandered over to investigate, I found John had mixed up a custom color-match enamel, and was painstakingly covering the myriad dings, chips, and scratches on the old table top. (We're former faux finishers, and John always was the master at furniture touch-ups.)

"So..." I said, bemused. "Fifty bucks, huh?"

John handed me a tiny artist brush and the bucket of enamel.

"The lady coming for the table is a teacher," he said. Then, almost apologetically, "And I'm probably not going to take her money, either."

We spent the next hour touching up all 8 chairs and the rest of the table together, laughing over the various battle scars. ("When did we use red paint?" "Are you sure it's paint?") By the time we were done, that old set looked better than the newer one we just bought.

And later, when I got to tell a delightfully sweet high school teacher that we didn't want her money? Well, heck, that was worth more than $50, right there.

Seventeen years of marriage, and John is still teaching me about giving your all for the people you love - even in the little things, even for loved ones who don't know you, who don't expect it. Maybe especially for them.

Thank you, John, sweetie. Here's to a lifetime of beating up many more tables, and giving our all.

Farewell, old table & chairs, it was fun! Now to work on steampunking up the new set...

Monday, June 6, 2016

You Need These Happy Feelz: Princess Hot Dog & The Best Doll Ever

Two stories went viral over the weekend that we all NEED to see to be better, happier humans.

First, a local dance class held a "Princess Day," and one little trailblazer came dressed as a hot dog:

Here's my favorite quote from her dance teacher, Sarah Nativi:

She's a princess on the inside, you guys. Also I'M NOT CRYING YOU'RE CRYING.

Happily Ainsley and her parents are delighted by the attention this story is getting, and she was even invited to open their recital on Saturday in her hot dog costume!

Here's a better pic of Ainsley (on the far left) with her teacher after the recital:

Be sure to head over to BuzzFeed News for the whole account, and lots more awesome pics.

But before you go, here's one more story you're going to want to watch alone, and with a Kleenex handy. It's the story of Emma, just as she receives an American Girl doll with a prosthetic leg that matches her own:

(You can see the mom's original FB post here)

I legit ugly-sobbed for like 5 minutes, you guys.  I can't remember the last time I was this inspired to put more goodness like this into the world.

What's more, Emma's doll was modified - FOR FREE - by an actual prosthetics company, A Step Ahead.

 From the A Step Ahead website:  

Anyone with a child who has had or is facing an amputation is welcome to send us an American Girl doll which we will happily modify with a prosthetic limb (or limbs) to match the child. The prosthetics themselves are entirely designed and fabricated in our prosthetics shop alongside the “real” prosthetics, and are painted by hand in a variety of colors.

And since not everyone can afford an American Girl doll, the company has even set up a foundation to accept donations exclusively for purchasing dolls for children with limb loss.

I don't know about you, but I'm about ready to hug the whole planet now. Even that FB friend who won't stop posting political memes. Even the chair-kicker at the movie theater. Even my whole state of Florida. That's right, bring it in, world. Let's hug this out.

In all seriousness, though, let's carry the spirit of Ainsley and Emma with us this week, you guys. Let's work harder and love more. Let's bring more goodness to the world. In a world full of princesses, let's be the hot dog. 

[obligatory Hot Dog Princess reference]

Saturday, June 4, 2016

MegaCon 2016, The Best Cosplay, Pt 2

Oooh, you guys are gonna love this final batch! (Click here if you missed Part 1!)

Starting with these stunning ladies:

Jessica Rabbit and Maleficent know how to make it look good to be bad.

 I will never stop loving Effie Trinket's butterfly dress. NEVER.


 I *think* this is the same Effie I photographed at Dragon Con a few years back:
This was always one of my favorite shots, so hey, any excuse to post it again. :D

Now some lovelies with a heaping helping of badassery:

Merida is a reader and friend of mine, Traci. And I *want* to be friends with Robin, because that armor! Ah! [bows down]

John stepped out as Dreamfinder on Sunday, and not only did we find a fellow Figment...


I don't know why I'm crushing on those three toes in flip-flops so much, but I really am. Plus she was wearing yellow contacts!

Beautiful makeups:

A couple of Big Guys:

I like to think Baymax steps in to fix everything/one the Juggernaut breaks. :D

A perfect Nightmare Before Christmas group: