Saturday, June 30, 2018

DIY Star Wars Tsum Tsum Display - From Insulation Foam!

A few months ago my friend Chris gave me an interesting challenge: find a fun new way to display 10-20 Tsum Tsums in a Star Wars nursery.

This one really kicked my butt, and it took me AGES to think of anything remotely interesting, but at long last, here's what John and I came up with:

It's cute, right?

There's room for at least 10 more Tsums, which is essential since Chris plans to buy more.

 The best part is it's made from pink insulation foam sheets, which are cheap and feather-light. (Find them at any hardware store.) The foam also sands and paints beautifully, though I should warn you getting the edges super smooth is hard, and will take more work & sanding than I put in. Ideally you'll want to put a finish on your display that's meant to look aged or rough. (Or just paint it all flat black; that covers a lot of texture sins.) For a nursery, though, I wanted to keep it bright and clean - and Chris requested the hot pink, which I'm diggin'.

I really like the possibilities here: you could carve different shapes or letters into your square of foam. Spell out a name, or use a simple silhouette like we did. (Mickey head, anyone?)

I'm sure a lot of you can figure this DIY out just from the photo, but let me walk you through it and give you some tips.

[Quick heads up: you will need a scroll saw or handheld jigsaw for this. (Scroll saw is best, since the blade stays straight.) However, it's a great beginner project, since the foam cuts like butter. So if you've got a saw in the garage, give this a try!]

Right. First, print your design full-size. We used the tiling feature on our printer, then taped the pages together to make a template:


 No need to cut the template out; just place the paper on your foam and trace it with a pen or chopstick - anything sharp enough to dent the foam underneath. 

 Bonus judgey Pascal for scale.

 Oh, and make sure you place the design so there's at least an inch or more of foam around the outside edge. Ours is about 18 inches square in total. You can size up or down depending on how many Tsums you want to display. (This size should hold about 20.)

Remove the template, and retrace your lines with a pen so they're easy to see:

Next, we cut!

Tsums are about 2.75 inches long, and I wanted their little heads to stick out, so we made our display 2.5 inches deep. The pink insulation foam comes in several thicknesses up to 1 inch, so we stacked two one-inch pieces and one half-inch. (Our half-inch piece is blue, but it's basically the same stuff.)

 See the three layers?

NOTE: You must use a water-based glue on insulation foam; anything like E-6000 or even hot glue will melt it. Use white craft glue or wood glue instead.

Before you glue your 3 pieces together, though, check your scroll saw blade. If it's like ours and on the short side, then all 3 layers won't fit - you'll have to cut two together and the third separately. (Tedious, I know.) You lucky ducks with a giant 7 inch blade, though, should have no problem cutting the whole stack in one go.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Jen's Gems: The Cutest Predator, Giant Ice Trees, & The Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Room

We need more Happy Stuff online, so here are some gems I found this week:

Ari Flagle just made his daughter a Predator costume to go with his, and LOOK AT HER FACE:

D'awww. Raise your hand if you're a daughter who would've loved to dress up in bad-ass matching costumes with her dad. [raises both hands] Heck, I don't think that's something we ever grow out of. (Hey Dad, when are we steam-punking it up again?)

Here's Ari's post, shared here on the RPF page


This grandfather clock actually exists - it's not Photoshop! That alone makes me smile:

Aaaand the best comment:

The clock is by Alex Chinneck, a British sculptor who creates the most mind-bending illusions. His website is full of wonders - usually on a building-size scale - so go give it a wander for more.  I especially love his 40-foot Christmas tree encased in a giant block of ice:

Chinneck is adding a little more magic into the world with every piece. Love it.


You've probably already seen this owl getting a bath with a spray bottle, but even if you have, WATCH IT AGAIN. It'll do your heart good. 

I mean... ::melts::


In Disney news, The Enchanted Tiki Room just turned 55, and you guessed it, Funko has a Pop for that:

I'm not even mad, that packaging is TOO CUTE. It's another Parks exclusive, though, so good luck getting your hands on one. (I'm still holding out hope they bring Orange Bird back!)

[Updated to add: I've heard these are on the Disney Store's website!]

Which reminds me, if you love the Tiki Room and other classic Disney parks stuff, go follow Kevin Kidney & Jody Daily's Instagram account (KevinAndJody) immediately. It is a treasure trove of their Disney concept art and final products, from these little Tiki Babies:

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Extreme Home Makeover: Epbot Edition

Sooo.. we did a thing. Again. 
(Remeber the Crack House? If not, go see!)

If you can, just watch this; I'll explain.

And if you can't watch that, then the tl;dw edition is as follows:

We're renovating another house! Funnily enough it's a house with the exact same floor plan as our own, so this is like going back in time 15 years and redoing our own place again. We'll be moving walls, gutting bathrooms, the works.

Along the way John & I plan to show you our progress and even do some tutorials on useful homeowner-type stuff, like how to replace a toilet or change out a ceiling fan. Beyond that, let me know what you want to see! We're doing almost all of the work ourselves, so your options include everything from laying laminate flooring, tile work, installing doors and hardware, electrical wiring, faucets & tile patching, and even the more decorative aspects like how to pick cohesive paint colors and fixtures - plus money-saving tips so you can see how we do it all on a minuscule budget. (Right now our budget is about $5,000 for the entire house. MINUSCULE, I say!)

I'm hoping to take some of the fear out of home projects, show you how fun and rewarding it can be to tackle some things yourself.

Normally we'd blow out a project like this in a few weeks, but between running both blogs, new kitten care, and con season just revving up, I think it's going to take us a little longer than that.

That said, my next update will have a fun time lapse of us sledge-hammering a giant wall, so stay tuned for plenty of power tools and shenanigans.

Now, tell us what we should film next!

Quick Safety Post-Script: John and I are former professional handymen (handypeople?) and faux finishers with years of construction site experience. I promise we know what we're doing. We'll also only be filming tutorials for things a homeowner can and should do herself. Pinky swears. So, cool? Cool.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Stop Everything And Come Cry Happy Tears With Me

I haven't mentioned FOE here in a while, but it's a bright spot of joy in my Facebook feed - often the ONLY bright spot for many of us members - and even though I'm just a lurker there, it makes me feel part of this community in a way no comment section ever could.

Case in point: Anni Welborne and her family are dear friends that John and I've never met. We've exchanged actual snail mail (gasp!) and her daughter Pinkie is a regular here in the comment section. In fact, John designed our My Little Pony 'Bot pin specifically for Pinkie; she got the very first pins long before we offered them for sale.

So yesterday when Anni shared this about her other daughter, Stacy, my heart soared. It's exactly the kind of thing I want to shine a spotlight on here on Epbot: the kind of joy and triumph and inspiration that makes me think maybe everything's gonna be OK in the world, you know?

Plus it involves The Greatest Showman, and you know how I feel about that. :D

Anni's given me permission to share this publicly, so here, come cry and sing and renew your faith in humanity with me:

 Anni's not the only one a bit soggy after that update. Oh my heart!

This morning Anni posted a follow-up, this time with video. I won't embed the video (YouTube will just yank it for copyright) but here's her update:

A little more about Stacy: In 2016 she won the title of Indiana Miss Amazing Pre-teen 2016, and she's recently been named a Miss Amazing Ambassador. I hadn't heard of that organization before, but it looks like they live up to their name in every way. Wow.

 Stacy is currently trying to raise $600 so she can sponsor 5 more girls to enter the pageant. If you want to help - or just learn more about how cool Miss Amazing is - check out her fundraising page.

So is your heart singing yet? C'mon, let's all join Stacy for the next round:

Monday, June 18, 2018

More Kitten Floofiness, Because Omigosh, SHE'S SO FLUFFY

What do you call a cat who's fearless, derpy, and easily mistaken for a giant cotton ball drifting across the floor?

No, really. WHAT DO YOU CALL HER??
(Don't worry, we do finally have a name - keep scrolling.)

If you don't follow me on Instagram then you missed this adorable development:


It's amazing that they're only a month apart in age, but Eva already looks like a full-grown cat compared to this walking floof-tangle.

We keep narrowing down names and trying them out for a few days, but everything seems a little too majestic for a fuzzy marshmallow with spatial recognition issues:

She's still in her 'running-headlong-into-furniture' and 'easily distracted by ceiling fans' phase.  

At least, we hope it's a phase.

(That face. Omigosh.)

Friday, June 15, 2018

June Art Roundup: S.P.E.W., Park Sweets, & Grumpy Dragons

I'm feelin' the itch for some happy art feelz, gang, and thanks to MegaCon I have LOTS of new artists to share! So come, come. Browse with me.

This piece titled "Betrayal" by Kristen Pauline is cracking. me. up:

Only a dragon could be this disgusted by surprise chocolate. Ha!

I also love the spooky story built into this one:

It's called, "Told You So." ::shiver::

And look at this grumpy mermaid getting a birdy wake-up call! Bahahaha!

Follow Kristen on IG for more, then go check out her Etsy shop for goodies. (Sadly none of THESE are in her shop, which is a shame, but there are other cool ones!)

Next up, Isabelle Angell's version of Hermione is giving me LIFE:

 The frizzy hair! The devil-may-care attitude! The concerned House Elves! YASSSSS

 And look how sweet Harry and Dumbledore are:

Isabelle also has this fabulousness:

And this bee! Ermergersh!
I have to stop or I'll post Isabelle's entire store, so promise me you'll go see the rest. (Her prints are less than $6, so I'm resisting the urge to buy EVERYTHING.)

Karl of One Awesome Artist does the coolest thing with silhouettes:

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

MegaCon Orlando 2018: My Favorite Cosplay, Part 3!

It's time for my final batch of MegaCon Orlando photos! I don't know about you guys, but those 6 months with no conventions were way too long for me, and I'm so glad con season has started up again. (John and I have at least 4 more over the next 6 months, so goodbye, dry spell!)

Let's jump back in to the most fun a geek can have with 100,000 of her closest friends with these four totally tubular blasts from the past:

Sweet 1980s goodness! Who remembers watching all these?
(That's Greatest American Hero, Mork from Mork & Mindy, Alf, and Howard the Duck.)

And while we're revisiting 80s classics, check out this gorgeous Dana from Ghostbusters:

Wait, no; there is no Dana, ONLY ZUUL.

There's something about poofy princess dresses that always turns me into a starry-eyed 6-year-old. I mean, just look at the incredible detail on this Snow White's gown!

[Delightfully Dapper, dress by David For Disney]


(The red carpeting inside the vendor hall is murder on photos, and turned her lower skirt sort of orange. In reality it was a gorgeous creamy gold.)

One of the most talked-about costumes of the day was, without doubt, a clever girl:

Queen Ariel - this time with a lovely steampunk feel - and a character I don't recognize:

I love the jewelry detail between her horns, so pretty.

Oh! This Hermione cosplay was brilliant:
She's petrified Hermione! I'm still not sure how she attached the pillow to her head - but look, she has the mirror AND the crumpled up book page. Yessssss.

One of my fellow art shoppers had on the COOLEST hat - which she'd made herself! So of course I asked to get a picture:

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Jen's Gems: Dancing Capes, Holographic Skull Makeup, & The Elusive Octopus Hand Sanitizer

It's been ages since I threw some fun finds at you guys! So here, CATCH.

This "castle-themed" room by Riley's Replicas is the perfect Harry Potter bedroom: 

They carved the architectural elements out of foam, which of course is not so easy, but the rest - the decor and even the painted stone walls - is totally doable if you're the crafty type.

I especially like the faux windows! You could make something similar using pink insulation foam board from the hardware store - that stuff sands like a dream, and is easy to paint.


Speaking of Harry Potter, Universal Japan just unveiled a new parade, and I am LOSING MY DANG MIND:

The Potter section only lasts for about 4 minutes - but holy WOW. The light-up spellbooks! The animatronic owls! The full size Hogwarts Express!

I'm trying not to be salty about Japan getting all the best theme park stuff, guys, but unnnnnnng. First Disney Sea, now this? When do we get Star Trek style transporters so I can go see all this loveliness?


This video from MomoCon makes me want to see a buddy-cop movie starring Doctor Strange and his cape: (Turn down your sound, loud laughter ahead!)



John and I watched Netflix's comedy special with Steve Martin and Martin Short this week (the prophetically titled, "An Evening You Will Forget For The Rest Of Your Life,"), and were soundly underwhelmed. (The best funny bits are in the preview trailer  - just watch that.) However, this photo? ALL SMILES:

Now I need to see Three Amigos again.


Oh, and the other night I watched a fabulous video from 2014 of John Cleese being interviewed by Adam Savage. HIGHLY recommend. 


I don't know what exactly to call this - makeup? cosplay? art? All three? - but dang is it fun to watch:

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Well, The Cat's Out Of The Bag...

If you follow my Instagram Stories then you probably noticed there is another new kitten in the Yates household this past week. She's been running us ragged, and introducing her to Eva is taking longer than we'd hoped, but dang if she isn't the cutest thing ever:

She's another rescue mix, nothing pure bred, but as you can see, I DO have a type. She's even prettier than Lily was as a kitten, and we expect her to be an enormous floof ball when she's older, since the vet claims she's a little big for her age. For now she's pure wispy cotton strands, which are so thin she looks pink in certain light from her skin showing through.

The first time she fell asleep in my arms:

She's not as snuggly as Eva, so this was a big deal to me. :)

It's been astounding comparing their two personalities, as this new one is incredibly gentle and social compared to Eva's skittish wildness at her age. She's a chewer, a jumper, and completely fearless - except for being alone, which sends her into the most impressively loud yowling I've ever heard. (She's woken me from a sound sleep from across the house, through two closed doors, and over multiple room fans. Kitten's got LUNGS.) She came from a house that was full of animals; cats and dogs and birds, so she's used to lots of companions and lots of noise.

Her back legs are a little too long for her size, so she runs funny - literally. From behind it's like she's wearing high heels, and her butt bounces around in a most entertaining matter. (I'm trying to get this on video, I promise.) She's also a bit wall-eyed and easily distracted by ceiling fans, so overall she has a delightfully dopey air to her.

Having two small kittens in the house - who can't be left alone together, but who squall bloody murder if one of US isn't in the room with them - is keeping us on our toes. I've actually slept the last few nights with New Kitten on my pillow, an entirely new experience for me, because she screams so loud otherwise that NO ONE can sleep.

My favorite picture of her so far. Ha!

Meanwhile John, who's been down with a bad cold, has been sleeping on the couch with Eva. We're a divided family, you guys. I don't like it!

We are making some progress introducing them, though:

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

MegaCon Orlando 2018: My Favorite Cosplay, Part 2!

[Here's part 1, in case you missed it]

I'm going to cram the rest of my favorite MegaCon cosplays into just two more posts, so buckle up, fellow geeks!

 Kicking off with this gorgeous Beauty and the Beast group:

That's a gender-swapped Beast on the right, who was with the male Belle on the other end. ("Belle" told us he demanded to have his own rose, ha!)

The Lumiere had some gorgeous makeup:

 For you Once Upon A Time fans, here comes a fabulous Regina:

Feeling pretty proud that John and I captured her solid black outfit with the flash rig. We're learning!

Do any of you read the comic I Hate Fairyland? I don't, but it looks hilarious - and here's a girl cosplaying the main character:

I think her axe may need a little more blood. :D

Remember, Jessica Rabbit isn't bad; she's just drawn that way:


Also, as a reminder that cosplay is real blood, sweat, and tears: she had a bloody chin from a fall off her heels earlier in the day, eek. I did my best to 'shop it out, so you shouldn't be able to tell.  

A classic and oh-so-creepy Joker:


Oh! You guys, here comes a first: not only is Ariel seated on a mobile rock, she has Prince Eric THE STATUE with her: