Tuesday, August 29, 2017

How To Make A Wedding Anniversary POP

John and I are bad at keeping gifts secret, so my anniversary "surprise" ended up being something we both worked on... but this is us, so of course it was more fun that way. 

 Anyway, I thought you guys might like to see, since it's something many of you FOE have been suggesting - nay, demanding! - be brought into existence.

We were rushed and had to take these photos outside in the rain, but I think you'll get the idea:
 Jumpin' gigawatts, I'VE BEEN FUNKO POP'D!

Which I just realized sounds super dirty.


It turns out John genuinely loves making these custom boxes - and the box really is the best part:



 Isn't it perfect? I love that teal texture.

 The actual figure is a combination of Rosita's head and Charlie's body:

You guys have been pointing out that Rosita is my Pop clone for ages now, but her outfit wasn't exactly me, ha.

So once John confessed what he was up to a few weeks ago - and that he'd already ordered a Charlie for the body swap - I helped him modify her outfit to something I actually own and wear:

Saturday, August 26, 2017


One of the cardinal sins of blogging is the classic "sorry for not posting" post, so just to be clear, THIS IS NOT THAT.

I'm just checking in to say I'm kind of behind, my last craft failed MOST spectacularly, I have no back-ups, and Dragon Con is this week, so things probably won't be getting better on that front any time soon.

I am... a little frazzled.

Where's a time turner when you need one??

ANYHOO, all that said, I should probably announce art winners and assure you guys I'm still over here, scrambling around.

So without further ado...

The winner of the Groot print is Angie (who has a blog called My Boat).

And my TWO wild card winners (since we apparently gave away the Rapunzel print last year, OOPS, haha, isn't my lack of organization adorable??) are "da_finker" & Alinore.

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

And finally, just to further prove this is NOT a "sorry for not posting" post, here's the funnest thing to cross my feeds lately -  and yes, today, "funnest" is a word. FRAZZLED. What.


Seriously just the coolest. 
(If you haven't seen his other puppets, go check 'em out! They're awesome.)

I'll try to get back on track soonish, gang, but if nothing else, brace for Dragon Con goodies later next week!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

August Art Roundup: Alan Rickman, Rainbow Foxes, & Figment In A Teacup! AAAA!

I've been having my monthly down time this week, mostly just feeling blah and crabby, so I can't tell you how nice it's been to sit down with a bag of mini muffins (thanks, sweetie!) and look at great geek art all day. These roundups take me a long while to put together, but today it's been the best medicine I could have asked for.

All that to say, if you're feeling less-than-stellar right now, keep scrolling. Things are about to get better.

Nicky Barkla's painting of Alan Rickman was featured on DeviantArt last week, and my gosh, you guys. THE COLORS:


I immediately zipped over to Barkla's site to see if she sold prints, and OH HAPPY DAY, she does!

More of my favorites from her shop:

And because this is too magically delicious:
 Green-haired Daniel Radcliffe in front of Honeydukes? YES PLEASE.

Prints start at $28, and you MUST see the rest. Click over to Barkla's site to see!


 I found Karla Rodriguez on Instagram this month and instantly fell in love with her soft, sweet style:

This one's my favorite, but I don't see it in her shop right now. Maybe later?

She does have these, though:

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Dragon Con 2017 Survival Tips!

It's that time again, gang! Dragon Con is less than 2 weeks away, and if you listen closely, you can actually hear the shrieks of panicked cosplayers everywhere. :D

Sadly I can't help you finish a costume faster, but I CAN help prepare you for everything else! So let's go over my yearly run-down on what Dragon Con newbies and veterans alike should know for 2017. (Plus, as always, some of my favorite cosplay shots from last year!)

First, the basics:

What is it?

Dragon Con is an internationally known pop culture, sci-fi, fantasy, and gaming convention held in Atlanta, Georgia. It spans 4 days over Labor Day weekend, and averages upwards of 70,000 attendees. For 2017 some even expect attendance to top out over 80,000. Yowch.

Unlike most large conventions Dragon Con is NOT held in a convention center; it's held in 5 large "host hotels" and one shopping center, all of which span several blocks in the downtown Atlanta area. Here's a helpful map from Reddit:

Because the con is spread out over such a large area, it's easily the most confusing and potentially stressful event you'll ever attend. First years are guaranteed to be lost a lot of the time, as it can take 2 or 3 cons to really get the lay of the land.

HOWEVER, nothing can describe the exhilaration of being surrounded by "70,000 of your closest friends" as we attendees like to joke, and there's plenty you can do to prepare.

 The Marriott lobby, where all the best costumes come out to play.

 Quick Tip: DC doesn't sell tickets, they sell "memberships." On their website, there's no "buy" - it's "join." That can be confusing for first-timers, but rest assured it's the same thing. Right now tickets for all 4 days are $160 - but keep in mind for next year that if you pre-purchase you get steep discounts.

NEW FOR 2017:

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Our Figment Rocker's New Home

John shared this on the Fans of Epbot page the other week, and folks there seemed to like it so much I figured maybe you'd all want to see:

But wait, there's more! Would you believe a reader and her family were at the GKTW Village just a few days later? And they decided to go on a Figment hunt? So here's Elisabeth's two daughters in one of the Village playrooms:

Our Figgy's in a room with bright orange walls. This makes me happy.

I hope this starts a trend: I'd love to see a whole gallery of kids riding Figment!

And while we're talking rockin' dragons: after your response on the reveal post John and I've decided to try another one, so we can finalize and perfect the template to offer you guys. We plan to make the next dragon about 20% larger, so it fits older kids better, and we'll also do a different paint job, so it's not Figment-specific.

So here's my question, gang: what color should I paint the next dragon? Classic green? Smaug red and gold? Bubblegum pink? AAA I CAN'T DECIDE. Help me choose!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Reader Spotlight: Sweet Harry Potter Ideas To Steal!

John and I've been brainstorming this week for our next Potter party (because of course we are), so I went looking through my stash of favorite reader crafts - things you guys have shared on either the Epbot FB page or FOE. While I was in there I found some goodies I can't believe I haven't shared yet, so let's fix that.

 First up, crafty genius Shanon L. found the best way ever to display - and use! - your Ollivander's wand boxes:

HOW PERFECT IS THIS? I'm seriously about to go nail some boxes to the wall in John's man cave, I love this so much.

But wait, there's more! Shanon has a whole nook of Potter pretties, and I'm seeing all kinds of inspiring ideas here:

Also, I'm getting the impression Shanon might be a Slytherin. :D

Alicia K. put together the most gorgeous Ravenclaw tree last year, and now I want to make one for every House:

The leather books underneath are the perfect tree stand - if you look closely, you can see one is The History of Magic! And I love the glasses on the owl, ha. Let's see, I also spy a diadem, an "Accio" ornament, a wand with a magical spray coming out of it, mini potion bottles, and Alicia even used my parchment-with-floating-quills technique! Yay!

Jamie K. threw a Potter party for her daughter, and made the CUTEST centerpieces - though I admit I'm a little biased:

She used my tutorial, but made it so much better. I love the cheery yellow flowers, and how she planted the Mandrake babies in actual dirt!

Leah L. has a double-hitter for us, and it's about to make you start collecting cloches if you don't already. Because LOOK. HOW. PRETTY:

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Epbot Magnets Are Coming!

Remember last Christmas when our pin packs sold out so fast, and I said we'd offer more after the holidays?
Er. Well, it IS after the holidays. [sheepish grin]

But I have good news! 

This time - by popular demand - John and I aren't making pins, we're making magnets. (OoooOOOOoo.) 
 They'll look exactly the same as the pins - same packaging, too - just with magnet backings. We'll be attaching them to the backer cards with glue dots, so they won't shift around.

This will be another limited run of 185 packs, since that's how many John and I've figured we can assemble and ship all at once in a timely fashion. Don't worry, though; to keep it fair for you internationals I'll be listing the packs in two batches again, 12 hours apart. 

So mark your calendars now: the magnets go on sale here in our Etsy shop this Tuesday, 8/15, at 3pm EST and 3am EST.

I recommend typing out your 5 design choices ahead of time, then copying & pasting during checkout. Just in case.

Here are the 17 designs you can choose from:

You can order any combination, too, no need to have all 5 be different.

I'm hoping to convince John to make this more of a monthly thing as opposed to a bi-annual one, so please sound off if you want more magnet and/or pin sales! (We'll offer pins again in the future, too, I'm sure.)

And while I've got you here, John is ITCHING to make some new designs, so which character or fandom do you want to see our lil Epbot cosplay next? Tell me your suggestions in the comments!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Taking My Cosplay Photos To The Dark Side

I've been photographing conventions for about seven years now, and while I still love everything about it, I've been itching to bump up my game. Every con I get home, download my pics, and grouse about how terrible they are. Blurry faces, bad lighting, photobombing Deadpools - there's always SOMETHING, and it takes a lot of work in Lightroom to salvage most of my shots.

I've known for some time that using flash was the answer, but figuring out HOW was another story. John and I've chatted with lots of pros over the years, but most have heavy equipment or tripods and umbrellas to lug around. We were especially awed by one guy who set up two big flash strips in the shape of an L, because his photos had a completely blacked-out background, without the use of a backdrop. He wasn't mobile, though; he had to set up the lights and then get cosplayers to come to him, which is definitely not my style. (I like the hunt, chasing 'em down.)

I follow a few convention photographers online (you can't beat David Ngo for sheer quantity, btw, if you're looking), and one of the greats, Tristan Dudine, also has blacked-out backgrounds, like this:

Gorgeous, right?

I first thought he did these in a studio, so when a mutual friend told me nope, Tristan shoots AT the convention, it kind of blew my mind. Newly inspired, John and I began searching online for answers. We discovered there's a whole subset of photographers who do this, called "strobists." Again, though, most seem to use fairly cumbersome equipment, while we were determined to be completely mobile: no tripods, no umbrellas, no bulky or heavy gear.

Two days and dozens of photography boards, reviews, and tutorials later, John ordered these flashes from Amazon along with these diffusers. Next he moved to the garage to build some custom handles, and within three days we were taking practice shots of our Jawa. (Not the most cooperative model, but hey, she works for free.)

As luck would have it, MetroCon was happening that weekend in Tampa, so we packed up the crew, got a grip, came quick, grabbed the proton packs on our backs, and we split. (Bobby Brown is my jam. WHAT.)

John and I spent a deliriously wonderful day at MetroCon. We were running on about 3 hours sleep, but DANG was Metro a great con! I had no idea! There were Disney and Hamilton sing-alongs in the lobby, every other vendor had adorable plushies and chibi cuteness, and man oh man, sooo many great costumes! I could go on for pages about how MetroCon has single-handedly turned me on to anime conventions, but you're here for photography stuff, I know, so let's get back to that.

First, let me show you some of the successful shots we took that day, all on the vendor floor in the middle of the crowd:

[Rage Cosplay]

(I'm trying to play it cool, but this is like magic to me, you guys. I'M A LITTLE EXCITED.)

I like that we were able to light most - if not all - of the body sometimes. Most strobist photos are from the waist up, and with good reason, which I'll get to in a sec.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Quick Craft: Turn A Tsum Tsum Into A Bookmark!

Plush Tsum Tsums are the world's snuggliest menace, you guys. They sneak their way into our homes, onto our desks and shelves and dashboards, and then they SIT THERE and they do NOTHING

You know, except be soft and look cute.

So in an effort to make one of my extra Tigger Tsums earn his keep, I turned him into a bookmark.
That's right, bub, you're pulling double duty now!

 Plus he looks even cuter this way, right? He can sit on my desk like this when not in use, then opens out like this:

 And tucks into a book like this:
 Now THAT is a good stretch.

Want to make your own? Then good news: it's super easy. Especially once I stopped trying to kid myself about being able to sew it and just broke out the tacky glue. (Awww yeaaah.)

So let's make one!


Saturday, August 5, 2017

Jen's Gems: Forces of Destiny, Pocket Princesses, & New Figment Goodies!

Time for more of my favorite internet finds!

For those of you who still use Twitter (anyone? Bueller? Bueller?) The Last Blockbuster is SO FUNNY. It's actually been going for over a year, but somehow I just found it this week. (If you're not on Twitter, just click over and read everything on their page.)

To give you an idea, it's like this:

It's similar in tone to Epcot Centre, which I also love. (Dizgeeks, if you haven't seen that one, GO.)


Speaking of vintage Epcot, there's some deliciously retro merch coming out for its 35th anniversary soon, and it is PURDY.

I love this orange and purple color scheme. (Surprise, surprise.) 

And look! Figment!

That little wristlet bag is Ca-YUTE.

Go see the rest (there's lots!) at Inside the Magic.


On the crafty front, these DIY plush notebooks by 2 Cats & 1 Doll are surprisingly fabulous:

There are so many clever little tips in here, from using a kitchen sponge and socks to how they made the unicorn eyes and minion "hair." My favorite is Pusheen, though, because that tail bookmark is everything that is right in this world.


Oh, hey! You know those AMAZING Star Wars: Forces of Destiny dolls hitting stores this month?

 The same set that also has Leia in her Endor outfits?

Thursday, August 3, 2017

The Best Cosplay Of Tampa Bay Comic Con 2017, Part 2!

Let's dive back in to the best of Tampa Bay Comic Con with a tail for the ages:


You might remember this cosplayer from past posts, but this year he got a super cool upgrade. See how he's standing? Well check this out:

Srsly. SO COOL.

And I could be wrong, but it looks like he controls the chair mechanism by turning his hand!

Three Supergirls and a Batgirl:

My favorite part with the mother-daughter duo was how the little one snapped into that perfect superhero pose. She had it DOWN.

For the record, I would totally watch a Deadpool Ghostbusters movie. And it should star this kid, with his dad teaching him the ropes of the paranormal biz:

"Now remember, Bubs, don't cross the streams. But you CAN cross the katanas."

I love the DC Bombshells line - it's retro glam goodness - and this Wonder Woman & Hawkgirl nailed it:

Aren't they great?

I later found them with the whole Bombshells lineup, though my group shot came out a little blurry:

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The Best Cosplay Of Tampa Bay Comic Con 2017

I hope you're ready for some stellar cosplay, gang, because I've got a heaping helping from last weekend's Tampa Bay Comic Con, and I can't even finish this intro because LOOKIE:


This pup won Friday. (Super)Naturally.

TBCC is always a pretty great con: not too crowded, decent panels, and a new-ish convention center with plenty of nearby parking. This year there was another con going the same weekend - and yet another happening next weekend - so the crowds (and cosplay) were definitely less. There also weren't many big celebrity guests to draw folks in, though we did have some excitement Saturday when an "overzealous" Kate Beckinsale fan prompted a police report and drastically increased security measures. By end of day there were police with big guns (automatic rifles, I think?) posted at the floor entrances, and the show hours were extended an hour to compensate for the kerfuffle.

You'd think that might freak people out, but honestly, I think most folks assumed the cops were cosplayers, ha. Of all the places where tactical gear and big guns blend in...

Incredible, fully-lit Fallout armor. There was even a functioning fan in back!

Tampa Bay attracts a huge amount of families, and it was nice to see lots and lots (and LOTS) of kids out on the show floor.

Most kids wore store-bought Halloween costumes, but there were plenty of homemade wonders, too:

Not to mention SO MUCH CUTENESS.

Not every little girl wants a poofy skirt, of course. Some want a life-sized dragon dipped in the blood of her enemies: