Thursday, June 25, 2020

FINALLY: Our Foam Face Mask Template & Tutorial!

Orlando is one of the worst hot spots for Covid right now, which means John and I are still self-quarantining as much as possible - and unbelievably grateful that we're able to work from home. It's definitely not fun anymore, but also a small price to pay to keep our neighbors safe.

And if we have to venture out in public, then we wear face masks.

Of course, being us, we set out to make a better, more comfortable DIY mask option for ourselves.

I'm sure you've noticed most masks aren't super comfortable. The ears straps can hurt, and all that fabric touching your face can feel sweaty and smothering, especially in this summer heat.

So we started working from an N-95 template, which holds the fabric away from your face. After several weeks of adjusting the template to fit and look better, here's what we came up with:

Of course I made it bright pink. WHAT.

It's a little beak-ish from the side - or muzzle-ish? Maybe I should paint a dog nose on one, ha.

In case the pink is throwing you, here's John's current favorite: 

Nanananananananananana... BATMAN

The foam frame holds the cotton filters away from your face, so only the very edges of this mask touch your face. It seals below the jawline (at least on me), so it doesn't move around as much or need re-adjustment every time you talk or scrunch your nose. The hidden nose wire helps seal the mask under your eyes and reduces glasses fog.

The metal grommets allow the single elastic strap to slide and tighten easily, while the double-strap design is both comfy and easy to put on and take off. To temporarily remove the mask you can pull the top strap over your head and slide the mask down to rest on your chest, which keeps it clean and close-at-hand. (That's John favorite feature; no more handling a contaminated mask while he's driving.)

Before I share the template with you guys, here comes the giant fine print: Wear these masks at your own risk. I am not a medical professional, and these are certainly not medical grade. And while you can wash these with soap and water or wipe/spritz them with alcohol, I still recommend waiting at least 3 days between wearings. So if you want to wear one of these every day, make at least 4 and cycle through.

There are some optional extra steps that can make these masks even more effective, like doubling up the cotton filters and sealing the foam with Mod Podge as well as heat. So please feel free to tinker and improve upon our design!


You will need:

Monday, June 22, 2020

This 1980s Themed "My Little Pony" Party Is Going To Make You Smile SO HARD

Epbot reader Meghan turns 40 this week, and her sister-in-law Paula - another one of us - threw her the surprise party to end all surprise parties. Buckle up, you're gonna love this.

Just to introduce you, here's Paula and Meghan at 2018's Dapper Day:

John and I actually got to meet them last year! Though now I wish we'd hung out more, ha. (Ladies? Future date?)
They both very sweetly gave me permission to share the following photos & some of Meghan's captions, so get ready to grin.

  Meghan writes, "I turn 40 this week. I didn’t expect anything for my birthday except my family watching Hamilton with me in a couple weeks. No big. Nice, quiet occasion. But inside, I’m 5. I’m remodeling one of the rooms in my house to display all my vintage 80’s toys. Everyone is different, this is me. 

"My mother and SIL conspired to throw me a surprise birthday party for my 40th. It was all ponies, all 80’s, all glorious retro-ness."

Ready to see?

Paula made all the big pony cut-outs. Each one is a pony she knew Meghan had as a kid. D'awwwww.


 Meghan says this Pony Surprise will live in her office now. Love it.

They even found vintage party decorations from the 80s!
(They found a lot of this on Etsy, surprisingly enough.)

 This was Meghan's view when she walked in: 

Thursday, June 18, 2020

FINAL REVEAL: The Sherlock Room Over Two Years In The Making!

Just before Covid hit John was finishing up a bunch of custom furniture for our friends' Sherlock-themed living room. I don't think I ever did a final reveal on his fireplace, either, so here it is:

SO COOL, right? 

You can see how John built the faux fireplace here, and how he woodgrained it here. Our version has 2 secret doors and tons of hidden storage, but we'll get to that later.

Vanova's 3D rendering was invaluable to John during his build, since all the Sherlock set photos are pretty dark:

Anyway, then lockdown happened, and John's lovely fireplace and bookshelves sat in our dusty garage for three months.

But at long last...

John had to build the faux walls on-site to get the fit exactly right. You can never trust someone's walls or ceilings to be perfectly level!

Seriously. It just never gets old. ::munching popcorn::

By the end of the afternoon, we had this:

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Baby Yoda Legs, Kermit Screams, & Itty Bitty Noses

Howdy. How're you holding up? Are you doing all the things? Workin' hard, playing hard? I hope so, but if not that's OK, too. Come on in, I have a big virtual couch with squashy pillows with your name on it. Take a rest, take a breather. You're allowed to fall apart a little here. You're allowed to be a warrior, a potato, or anything in-between.

Know why?

Because you are enough.

You are enough.

So if you need to turn off the news or take a break from social media or quit the internet entirely for your own sanity and self-care, then Sweet Stay Puft, do it. Don't let anyone, no matter how well-intentioned, shame you into self-harm. Put the oxygen mask on yourself first, THEN you can help others.

And while you're here resting up, let's look at some of the happy, ridiculous, and geeky things that made me smile this week:


 The FB group Weird Second-Hand Finds continues to never disappoint. Just look at Crystal's thrift-store find:



DC Comics released 12 free coloring pages you can download by 3 different artists, and I love these art styles! I'm especially chuffed because I've been a fan of both Zullo & Uminga for years:

Here's the download link for the full-size images. If you color any please tag me or share on FB so I can see!


If you're lucky enough to have the Baby Yoda doll by Mattel, then here's a handy leggy tutorial:

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Just For Fun: My New And Improved Faux Respirator Masks

My faux respirator mask tutorial from 2016 has been getting some attention lately:

That's the one I made to wear around Dragon Con, and while it's by no means medical grade, it makes a decent sneeze guard. It's also surprisingly comfortable, since it's made of lightweight craft foam. (And for once I didn't catch con crud!)

When I mentioned the tutorial's recent popularity to Karen, my friend and lockdown buddy, she lit up. "Omigosh," she said, "WE SHOULD MAKE FUN MASKS."

So we did!

Let me stress again that these are NOT medical grade, and the thicker 3mm foam leaves a substantial nose gap under the eyes. These are just for fun. That said, you can wipe them down with soapy water if you seal them with Mod Podge, and I suppose you could make a bunch of cloth filters to swap out after each use? Go forth and improve on my ideas, is what I'm saying.

I should also mention that John and I've been testing out a new and better foam mask design for everyday wear, which I'm hoping to share in another week or two. It's thinner, lighter, less costumey, and what we personally plan to wear out in public. So stay tuned for that.

For now, though, here's my fun new faux-respirator mask:
 Isn't it Wonder-full?

 Also pictured: my DIY invisible jet.


I literally had to follow my own tutorial, since I forgot how to do some of this. It's been a while!

The only upgrade I made - but this is a BIG improvement - is with the head strap. Check this out: 

Friday, June 5, 2020

15 Black Creators To Follow On Instagram

This has been an intense, history-making week in the Black Lives Matter movement, and through it all one shining light has been the worldwide promotion of so many incredible black content creators. Like many of you I've been spending hours each day browsing hashtags, reading, listening, learning, following, and sharing. And I've found so many gems, you guys. SO MANY. So for those who don't follow my Story on FB or IG, here come some of my favorites.

(Note: This isn't everything from my Story; I also share information or news or links as I see fit. For this post I'm focusing on actual content creators you can follow, though.)


I chose this post from Courtney because it includes a handy 5-day action plan in her caption. Go read it if you're looking for a helpful "to-do" list.


You've probably seen Danielle's art a lot over the past several months and just didn't realize it; her work gets shared all over, because it's awesome.


I've heard from 3-4 readers who've been following Gerald ever since I featured him back in 2018, and every single one RAVED about him. So it's not just me, y'all. ;)


Another long-time follow for me. Her art is the most vivid eye candy.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

A Giant Huggable Moth, Cardboard Armor, & The Harry Potter Rental House That Will Make Your Jaw DROP

This week John and I are having all of our A/C duct work ripped out and replaced, along with a new A/C that's being moved from the deck to the garage. All good things, and I'll be thrilled to have the house finally get below 78 degrees in the afternoon, but it's a lot of upheaval in an already fractured and stressful week. 

NOTE: I'm going to say a little bit about the state of the world now, so anxiety sufferers, feel free to skip the following text.

I have things I want to say - scream, really - but right now everyone is just SO angry online that I'm choosing not to add to the echo chamber on social media. Too many folks - who are all on the same side! - are turning on each other, and the amount of in-fighting and bullying with this mob mentality that attacks even the ones trying to show support is scary, and frankly has my anxiety ratcheting into overload. Nothing I say will be right, and I don't think I can handle being ripped apart by the very people I agree with right now.

With that said, I'm grateful that most of you know my heart, and already know where I stand without my phrasing it just right or using all the right hashtags. I'm also grateful that this is a community that corrects me and educates me with love, not anger. I wish the rest of the world would do that. But hey, just so we're clear: of COURSE I'm horrified, and of COURSE I'm angry. I'm here to bring people together and shine light and love. The injustice and hatred filling the news is wrong, and we must - MUST - be better.

Epbot is a place of unity and celebration, though, and in this place I will continue to focus on the good and geeky things of the world. When that's what you need, John and I will be here. You know, should you need us.  ::hugs::

K, enough speechifying. John and I have been working on a new DIY I'm really excited about, but that's not ready to share yet. So instead, here come a bunch of fun finds I think you'll like.


First up, Jennifer of Little Day Miniatures took a custom order for a project I think some of you may recognize:

Anyone already squealing with me? And hearing the theme song in your head?


 Monica's apartment door! Look at the tiny light switches, and the itty bitty speaker grill, omigosh.

 This little diorama is meant for holding keys or jewelry, and even your glasses:

This also shows you just how tiny it is! You can buy one of your very own on Jennifer's online shop.
 Be sure to follow her on Facebook for more, too.

I found a truly excellent list-icle from deMilked:

About half of these are supremely satisfying before-and-afters, like this: