Wednesday, February 28, 2018

You Light Up My Life, Balrog Funko Pop

I don't want to jinx it, gang, but this week's been kind of awesome so far. I went into last weekend full-throttle pre-menstrual, John and I buckling up for another ride on the Jen-Coaster-Of-Perpetual-Self-Examination-That-Never-Ends-Well, but instead I stumbled across that Geode cake thread and laughed my fool head off.

It was such a relief, you know? I mean, I'm not out of the woods yet, hormonally speaking, but when you're waiting to feel sad and instead get a jolt of unexpected glee, and then you get to share it and see OTHER people lifted up and making new friends, sharing their own jokes and silliness until the whole thing mushrooms (heyoooo) into this big happy THING... well heck, that's why I love writing this blog. You guys get a 5 or 10 minute read, but I get to obsess for hours and hours over all the silly, pretty, and just-plain-awesome things I post here. Best home-therapy a PMS-riddled agoraphobe could ask for.

Which is all a long-winded intro to one of our latest projects. It's not done yet, but I've been thinking I need to loosen my death grip on project posts, learn to show you guys the half-way points and mistakes and do-overs, not just the finished pieces. John and are constantly experimenting with new craft stuff, and most only see the inside of our trash can. Maybe that should change. (Remind me to show you our tests with silicone and resin next time - the silicone in particular has some fun possibilities.)

Plus, I don't know about you, but I freaking LOVE progress photos from the cosplayers & builders I follow. I get so much inspiration from those midway points, thinking what *I* would do next to finish things off. Here's hoping you guys are the same.

So let's get on to this $16 Balrog Pop we found at the mall:

...which you can get on Amazon for $13. (Dangit. lol)

I should point out the Pop isn't nearly as cool as the box art:

 I mean, it's OK, but it's hard to make paint look like flames.
So obviously we need to make it light up, right? 


Getting the head off was hard: eventually it came down to John's brute strength:

Our back-up plan was to cut that neck peg with a dremel, since you can always glue the head back on with epoxy putty.

Popping the flames off the head took more finesse: I recommend patience and a small screwdriver for prying:

There's also a small panel under the head you'll need to pop off to get inside. (The head is hollow.) A craft blade helps to cut through the glue.

Next John cut out the eye sockets using a Dremel, while I cast new eyes out of resin and alcohol ink. Here's John holding one of the new eyes in place for a test run:

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Let's All Facebook Stalk My New Best Friend Who Doesn't Know I Exist

Fair warning: I'm about to cross the streams by showing you a funny cake. Or rather, something hilarious ABOUT a cake. Something that made my whole weekend, so you MUST SEE.

It all started with this Instagram post:

...which started a veritable firestorm of "OMG LOOK A VAGINA" comments.

Now, speaking as someone who's seen more than her fair share of unintentional pastry hoo-haws, I think this one's a stretch. (HEYOOOO.) However, I've also learned the internet thinks EVERY geode cake is vag-tastic, so I'm not too surprised.

What did surprise me was the way the baker, Nadia's Cakes, responded:


And just like that, I knew I was in for a good comment thread.  

(Quick shout-out to Marcella Gossen for sharing these screenshots!)

Only 50%? Dang, she should hang out with the Cake Wrecks crowd sometime. 

At this point I figured the baker was done. Maybe a little irked, but mostly resigned to her cake's fate and ready to move on to other posts.


Instead, she proceeded to have way too much fun with people:

Thursday, February 22, 2018

DIY Hogwarts House Nightlights! Free Templates

I'm a bit obsessed with paper and light, you guys. I love the way layered paper looks when lit up, and I'm forever drooling over the papercut shadowboxes by Badger Burrow Dreamboxes, and this one by my friend Renee, which is clearly superior since it has a hidden Epbot in it:

I wanted to take this idea and turn it into a wall-plug nightlight - something small and simple that anyone could put together and customize. Simplifying is hard for me, though, so it took a little exasperated intervention from John to push me into these designs - and now of course I love them.

I'll have my usual step-by-step tutorial below, but FIRST, let's watch the videoooooo!

This is my favorite one yet.

Now let's go over that again, for the non-video crowd:

First a look at the finished products, lit:

... and unlit!

These are quick, relatively easy, and super cheap to make - so let's get to it!

You Will Need:

Monday, February 19, 2018

Jen's Gems: Sassy Hufflepuffs, Disney Smiles, & Cosplay Goals

Some of my favorite finds from around the web this week:

First up, more greatness from The Replica Prop Forum on Facebook. RPF member Jer Lee made not one, but two Black Panther costumes for his daughter: as one of the Dora Milaje *and* as Shuri!

I actually haven't seen Black Panther yet, but I'm loving all the rave reviews of the bad-ass lady fighters in the film, and these cosplays are simply epic.

Bonus: when I checked Jer's FB to get his name right I discovered he's been in the habit of being an amazing geek Dad for a while now:


This... this makes my heart full, you guys. Full and happy. Way to go, Jer.


Have I mentioned Cheryl Walsh's photography here before? I can't remember. Either way, you should see this prettiness:

That's a photo! Can you believe it?

Walsh specializes in underwater photography featuring lots of mermaids and fantasy flowy dresses and loveliness. This is the header on her Facebook page:

Go follow her for more magic.


For some laughs, let's kick it over to the comedic genius that is Sailor J on Youtube. This woman defies description, mostly because it's hard to describe someone while you're giggle-snorting. And while her Hufflepuff video arguably isn't her best one, it is GOLD and every Potter head should watch:

To be fair she has videos for all the Houses, I just think she captures the sweet sass of the 'Puffs especially well.

Now here's her best/most popular one - but BE YE WARNED, there is lots of NSFW language, so watch your volume and/or kids nearby:

Friday, February 16, 2018

February Art Roundup: Trek Ladies, Potter Cards, & Squee-Worthy Owl Dolls!

Ahh, it's been too long! Sorry for skipping last month's art roundup, gang, I'll try to make up for it with the sheer awesomeness of this month's finds.

First up, Crystal Ord of Smalls Ord Art has the sweetest watercolor style:

And I really dig her fandom choices, too:
Prints are $10 or less in her Etsy shop, where she also offers commissions! Also be sure to follow Ord on Instagram for more eye candy.

Joe Corroney has some STUNNING Star Wars art on his site, like this Carrie Fisher tribute:

His Star Trek propaganda pieces are actually my favorite, though:

I'm digging the all-lady design on the "where no man has gone before" poster. I like how it's putting a spotlight on background characters, and the colors are drool-worthy.

Go check out Corroney's online store to see tons more.


This ORIGINAL Merida painting by Genevieve Kay is still available for $40, which completely boggles my mind. My clicky "purchase" finger is itching, you guys. Save me from myself:

Kay has a whole series of Art Nouveau princesses, and you can get the prints for just $8:

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Wait. What Day Is It, Again?

I've been sick in bed all week with some kind of sinus yuckiness, so my head is splitting queasy and I don't know what day it is and I'm behind on everything: posts, housework, shaving my legs, etc.


This morning afternoon I staggered out of my pillow nest and haze of humidifier mist to find a quiet house, because John had thoughtfully locked the beasts in my office to keep them from yowling at my door while I slept.

I checked Facebook, and found a feed full to brimming with all my friends' silly Valentine puns to each other, cute puppy photos, funny geek memes, art, declarations of love for their SOs or their fellow singles, hearts and sappiness, defiance and silliness.

As I sat there swaying in front of the computer, wondering which massively overdue task I should tackle first, I heard the car door slam in the driveway, then John whistling some tuneless snippet as he walked up. He always whistles. And sings. And generally makes noise, I think to let me know he's here, he's coming, this silence and stillness aren't forever.

"Hello?" he calls, coming in with the force of a happy hurricane. "I bought new cat food, since Tonks threw up the new stuff three times this morning. SUPER gross."

He breezes into the office, making no mention of my two-day-old t-shirt or hair sticking out a foot in every direction. "How are you feeling?" A quick hug and kiss on my mat of giant hair. "Happy Valentines day, love, sorry I only brought you cat food." Breezes out again.

I putter around on the computer a few more minutes. More swaying. More eye-rubbing.

"Oh!" it's John again, big smile. "Look at this!"

It's a homemade card from an Epbot reader named Meg. It has donut stickers all over it with tiny googly eyes, and it says, "Donut be anything but you." And there are more: a whole stack of cards from the P.O. Box, plus a sweet plush Figment for John that someone's had since their childhood.

My stabby head stabs again - is it normal to have your cheekbones hurt? - and the room keeps pitching around, but I don't have to look far to find a smile. Flowers and chocolates and sinus infections are temporary. Friendships and thoughtfulness and the kind of love that overlooks grossness and brings home cat food is the stuff that matters, the stuff worth celebrating.

So yeah, as Valentines Days go?

I'd say this one's pretty great.

Hope yours is, too.

Oh! And just to clinch the deal, there's also these:

A post shared by Caley Hicks (@thechicks914) on

Sweet Stay Puft! Best Valentines art EVER.

(via Proton Charging, which has a ton more)

And finally, this last one I CANNOT UNSEE, and therefore must inflict on all of you:

There's a "shake & bake" joke in here somewhere, I just know it.

Sorry/Not sorry.

Happy Wednesday, y'all.

Monday, February 12, 2018

My New Dirty Video :D

Remember last week when I said we were going to keep all our new craft videos super short and sweet?

Yeah... about that....

This next one is half an hour. Oops.

HOWEVER, in those 30 minutes you get to watch me age a small-scale Fallout helmet from start to finish, and along the way I share all the tips, tricks, and techniques I've learned when it comes to aging. A little paint makes a HUGE difference, so I do this a lot on store-bought toys and figures, like baby Groot here:

In the past I've only been able to describe what I do, though. Now I get to show you!

So, here's the plastic helmet I start with today:

And here it is after:

Aren't before and afters the best?? Let's do another one:


... and after!

There's not much to the instructions on aging - it really is just "paint on, wipe off" - so this is all about technique. That's why I'm excited to show you this helmet start to finish, even if it's not my best work. (It's ok, but my rust spots could be better.)

Some details:

Friday, February 9, 2018

Under The Sea & Over The Moon

I already shouted this from the virtual rooftops over on FB and Instagram a few weeks ago, but since those posts get lost and I want to remember this always, this is for posterity. And for those of you who don't have FB or Instagram. Or who do have it and just missed my posts.

Plus I put some fun new stuff at the end, so keep scrolling even if you saw these before.

Right. Ahem. HERE WE GO.

Yes, friendly FOE, I finally - FINALLY - after five years of trying, took my first ever ride on Voyages Of The Little Mermaid. I promise I won't keep updating you every time I manage to go on a new ride -  it's just I've mentioned this one so often here I thought you might want to celebrate with me. Especially because... well, you'll see. Keep scrolling.

I can see why Ursula is everyone's favorite part - SO COOL. And fun(ny) fact: two days after this her head fell off.(!!) That was in California, though, so IT WASN'T ME. Honest.

At some point you just start laughing to keep the terror at bay.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

How John Gets His Exercise

Yesterday on Cake Wrecks I reran one of my favorite posts, which reminded me of a draft that's been languishing in my "YOU CAN'T POST THIS" folder here on Epbot for, no joke, three years. Well, I think it's safe now, fellow geeks, and this post's time has come. Plus I still think it's funny. So here goes.


John is my PR manager online, and he's very, very good at it. He has turned apologizing to angry Cake Wrecks commenters into an art form, and can defuse just about any situation with a gracious word and a "let's hug it out, b*tches" attitude.

John is also (understandably) a lot more paranoid than I am when it comes to anticipating online firestorms, and has been known to censor some of my more hilarious snippets over on CW (just take my word for it), and even proofs posts over here, looking for that errant quip that will, say, incur the wrath of Canada. Again.

The irony, of course, is that in real life John's sense of humor is WAY more likely to attract pitchfork-bearing internet masses, and I'm forever shushing him in public through a haze of suppressed giggle-tears.

Anyhoo, all that brings me to the other night, when I was late for dinner.

Me: "Sorry, just had to finish something."

John: "That's ok. What was it?"
Me: [flapping hand dismissively] "Oh, there was someone commenting about how Harry Potter was 'of the devil'".

John: [going very still] "And you said...?"

Me: [bright smile] "I told her I thought Jesus was a Gryffindor! Heyyyy, this is good chicken." 

John: [drops fork] [sprinting for his laptop] "NOOOOOOOOO"

In my defense: I was very nice and respectful, and I think I made a solid case. Plus it was in the comments of a friend's blog, not mine. So no one will ever know.

Unless they recognize my name, of course. Or my Lady Vadore avatar. Or read this post. 

[head tilt] Hmmm.

Ok, I got it!

Let's go back in time, and NOBODY TELL JOHN.

Remember, Tonks is watching. Alllways watching.


P.S. I know I'm the one who brought it up, but please no bashing anyone's beliefs in the comments. Remember, there are really awesome people out there who don't agree with you. That's what keeps life interesting. And sometimes funny.

Now, let's hug it out, b*tches.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Video Killed The Radio Star, So Hey, Let's Give That A Shot

I've been hinting around long enough, so here it is: our first-ever attempt at a craft video! This is all John's videography magic at work; he handles the gear, shooting, and editing, while I handle the... well, hands. (John says I should probably get a manicure for these. UG. Assuming I don't wanna, any tips, ladies? You know, BESIDES "stop picking at your hangnails, Jen"?)

Getting back to the video, I know you guys have seen this DIY before, but it was an easy test run and perfect for Valentines week:

I'd like to point out that's John's handwriting at the end. YEAH.

I do think we nailed the most important part, which is keeping it short. :D I know there's nothing more excruciating than watching someone fumble around looking for the scissors, so we spent a lot of  time (ironically) making this short and sweet. It was surprisingly fun to put together, and I like the challenge of trying something new.

Going forward I hope to do videos for both new crafts and revisit some old favorites, so feel free to suggest stuff from the Craft Page you'd like to see me redo!

If you subscribe to Epbot over Youtube you'll see new videos before they hit the blog here, plus that helps us qualify for their Associate status, I think it is? Which I guess is good? (I'm new at this.) In time I hope to have a whole library of DIY and geeky goodness up there, so watch that space for more crafts and cosplay features!