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Weeping Angel doll

Jen found a tutorial on how to make a Weeping Angel tree topper, and with Impossible Astronaut Day tomorrow, it seemed appropriate to put up Jen’s step-by-step.  The original tutorial can be found here.

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This crafting adventure started with a Barbie doll from eBay.
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Her hair was promptly chopped off.
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I took the remaining bits of hair out with a pair of tweezers. Now Barbie is bald.
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The next step was to cut off her legs. This particular doll had articulated joints, so it was easy to cut the elastic that was holding the legs on.
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The next step was to make the hair. I used an air-dry clay, easily located at any craft supply store. This enabled me to really work the clay the way I wanted to. And I kept a bowl of water nearby to keep the clay moist while working with it.
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I used a seam ripper for the line detail on the hair.
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The next step was to attach the body of the doll to a Dasani water bottle. Cut off the neck and bottom, and use packing tape to secure it in place.
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I then cut Barbie’s arms and remolded them, using the air-dry clay, into bent elbows. Next, I put a combination of paper towels and plastic bags inside the bottle, to provide stability.
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Now it’s time to make the skirt. I used sections of the air-dry clay, building up the layers until the entire bottle was covered. To get the flowing skirt effect, I took extra clay and put it on top of the base skirt, then blended the edges down.
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While waiting for the air-dry clay to dry (this takes about 24 hours with all the clay you’ll be using for the skirt), I went ahead and started work on the wings. For the wings, I used oven-bake clay, as the tutorial suggested. I used a toothpick and followed the pattern I drew, which you can download here.
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Left wing, cut out and trimmed up. I put an extra piece of clay along the top of the wing, like I did for the folds in the skirt, to give it a little more depth.
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Here are both wings, after being in the oven.
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Here’s the bun, which I made seperately. It’s all dried.
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As the skirt dried, I noticed cracks. This is because I didn’t use enough clay in those places.
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More air-dry clay to the rescue!
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Once the skirt was dry and crack-free, I started on the shirt. Using a similar technique as the skirt, I put extra clay for the folds and blousing of the top. This picture illustrates the before of the blousing.
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And this is after everything was blended together.All dry, and a closeup of the shirt. I used a toothpick to add the line for the shirt and the “bunching” at the neckline. For the fabric folds, I used the same technique I used on the skirt. I also added a thin layer of air-dry clay to Barbie’s face to help obscure her features.
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Now we’re ready for hot glue! I was a little skeptical, but the hot glue has worked beautifully. The bun and wings are hot glued on.
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All painted! I mixed black and white acrylic, with a color called “bleached sand”, which has just a hint of yellow. Once I got the base grey I wanted, I dry brushed a slightly lighter grey to give an older and weathered look. So that’s it. The plan is to put this on display somewhere, and not on top of a Christmas tree, so if someone does that, let me know how it turns out! And remember, don’t blink.
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Superheroine Purse

The original girl power - image courtesy of http://comicboxcommentary.blogspot.com/2012/08/more-jose-luis-garcia-lopez.html
The original girl power -art by Jose Luis Garcia Lopez

Jen needed a new, bigger purse and couldn’t find anything that she liked.  So she decided to make one, and took pictures so you could make one too!  Here’s her step-by-step process:

  1. Patterns and fabrics
  2. Construction
  3. Finished product

1. Patterns and fabrics.  

I looked for a while for just the right pattern.  I wanted a bag that would look like a purse, and not a diaper bag.  Eventually I found this Simplicity pattern. I followed the pattern for Bag C, which is the big bag in the lower right-hand corner.  The back of the envelope states what supplies you’ll need – fabric, interfacing, padding, 7″ zipper and a magnetic snap.  I mistakenly picked up the non-iron on interfacing, but you end up using a basting stitch for most of it anyways, so this didn’t cause me too many issues.  I also went with a thinner padding, since I didn’t want a diaper bag look.77146_973133830296_294647012_n
I found a fantastic superheroine-patterned fabric at Hancock Fabrics in a cotton blend. I had the other broadcloth colors at home.  The pattern calls for 7/8 yards of everything except the interfacing which calls for 1 1/2 yards.  I always round up to leave room for error, so I made sure I had at least a yard of every color I wanted.168508_973133765426_958420590_n
After cutting approximate sizes around the pattern piece, I layered the fabric before stitching, so I could see what the final result might resemble.5966_973133715526_638544360_n

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2. Construction

After trimming up the “patches” to the right size, they got stitched together and trimmed down to size.555589_973244348816_1518299719_n
I then added the top band.24422_973244448616_1209236233_n
Even though the interfacing I bought wasn’t iron-on, I decided to run an iron over the fabric side, to make sure the pieces stayed together. This is a shot from the interface side. You can barely see the patterns and colors.534117_973244608296_658008774_n
I then cut the padding to the same shape.523466_973244688136_1401956483_n
All three pieces got stitched together to make one side. The same thing is done for the back side of the purse. I used the same technique, alternating the superheroine fabric and solid colors, making sure that a solid color on the end matched up with a pattern piece on the other side.537866_973244897716_2086737883_n
Next was the strap and strap lining. I went with black as the strap lining, since I plan to use black for the inside lining. You know, for comics.604037_973318041136_973370025_n
 The next step was to put some decorative stitching on the sides.  The stitching also helps to keep the padding and interfacing in the same place.  I used a stitch on my sewing machine that I’ve never used before, and I honestly don’t know what it’s true purpose is.  The pattern called for some kind of embroidery, or hand embroidery if you like, but I”m not much of an embroiderer. The pattern also calls for some straight stitching along the top, again for decoration and sneaky structure, to keep the padding and interfacing together. I highly recommend doing these stitches. It really gives the bag a polished look.544767_973318175866_230556511_n
Following the directions, I made a corner. It gives the bag some nice space at the bottom, and the pictures in the directions are very easy to understand. The white stripe on the left side is the front of the bag, and the patterned piece next to it is the back side of the bag.77123_973318285646_1923802655_n
Next was attaching the lining to the top of the strap. Padding and the fabric are basted together before you attach the two pieces right sides together, so you can turn it inside out (to reveal the correct sides) with a clean, finished edge. I highly recommend following the pattern’s suggestion of trimming up the excess padding, as that made turning the strap a lot easier.555122_973426074636_523738100_n
Next was the lining8955_973641388146_1817597378_n
Interfacing gets attached to the lining as well. This gives the purse some support on the side so it stands up on it’s own without being super-stiff (although if you wanted stiffer interfacing, it could totally be done!)558057_973641542836_1275011331_n
Then the strap was attached.5313_973641622676_1350579526_n
Going back to the lining, it was time to attach the pocket material. The pattern was unclear as to how the finished pocket would look, and since I was putting a patterned piece inside, I wanted to make sure everything was going the same way. I cut out the seam-matching part of the lining pattern piece, so I could line it up with the pocket. This let me trace onto the fabric directly, since I knew no one would be able to see my marks. Then I sewed along the line, like the instructions stated.63462_973641777366_245624279_n
After everything was attached, I cut a line through the center of the box, with diagonals going to the corners. The pattern’s illustration is really clear with this step, which was helpful as I’ve never made a pocket before.17905_973641922076_1265441458_n
The next step was to install the zipper, which is always a little challenging for me. One broken sewing machine needle later, I got it! I already had the white zipper at home, and it went with the theme. If I were buying new supplies, I might have gone with a black zipper.540726_973642001916_1515837532_n
Here’s the completed pocket. As you can see, the patterned fabric is upside-down. It wasn’t a big enough deal for me to take it apart and redo it, but if I were going to do it again, I’d know to turn the pattern upside down, so that the people would be right-side up when I was done.485381_973642221476_2114559197_n
The next step was to install the magnetic snap, which was much easier after having installed the zipper. The directions were on the back of the packaging.563720_973642316286_1456799505_n
The next step was to attach the lining to the purse. This got a little tricky. The picture is the wrong way to do it. I had some trouble understanding the pattern’s directions here. What you want to do is put the outside of the purse inside the lining, with the interfacing showing. Leave a long side open. Stitch all the way around the top and pull the purse through the opening you left in the lining. This will make the black lining part able to be stuffed inside the outside part.17426_973642725466_235905464_n
And it looks like this!547914_973642790336_39129267_n

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3. Finished Product

And here’s the result!63428_973642920076_1429692974_n

Jen had so much fun with this, that she’s going to make the makeup bag as well. It’s the perfect size to hold a camera and SD cards!
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April Fool’s!

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Now that it’s April 2, we thought we’d recap our favorite geek-centric April Fool’s pranks for 2013.

ThinkGeek

ThinkGeek has a long-standing tradition of providing awesome-looking merchandise that you can’t buy on April 1.  Later in the year, some of the products might be available if the fans yell loud enough.  Here are this year’s hot new items:

Seattle’s Museum of Flight

The Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington will be displaying Wonder Woman’s Invisible Plane until April 3rd.  The website lets you take a 360 degree tour of the cockpit.

Hasbro acquires Paizo

In news that turned the gaming world upside down, Hasbro announced it was buying Paizo.

Which April Fool’s pranks were your favorite this year?

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The future is here!

200px-ProjectGlassJen was selected as one of the participants in the Google Glass Explorer project.  That means early testing of a new technology she’s very excited about!  There’s no official release date, although the rumors are end of 2013 or beginning of 2014.  It could make an awesome Christmas present. We don’t know when she’ll get her fancy glasses yet, but we’ll keep you informed!  One thing’s for sure – there will defintely be new craft instruction videos coming your way soon!  What other geekiness would you want to see from Jen’s eyes?  Leave a comment below and let us know!  We’ll see what we can do!

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Dan Carroll, A Voice of Community

557755_245900662204381_212098992_nDuring MomoCon, we were able to sit down with Dan Carroll, the media relations director, and get a glimpse into who he is and how he’s helped to make the convention scene a happier, more comfortable place.

Give us the history on the con.

Well, the convention was founded nine years ago on Georgia Tech by the Georgia Tech Anime Society.  It grew from 750 people for a short weekend event to an estimated 8000-9000 people last year, and over 10,000 anticipated for 2013.

That’s pretty good growth.

The growth has been about 20% a year.  For many years it was a free convention.  The size of the convention did not allow for future growth without adding a membership fee.  The membership fee allowed us to be able to provide a higher caliber of guests, to be able to provide a much more robust environment in the hotel setting, and we came off the Georgia Tech campus two years ago, and since then we’ve been using downtown Atlanta hotels and we’re very happy with the response we’ve gotten from the Atlanta Hilton this year.

Well, Hilton has a little bit of a history – Atlanta Fantasy Fair, DragonCon, obviously they’re con-friendly.  Have you found them easy to work with?

Absolutely.  Again, we’re very happy with the Hilton – with the location, with their support for the fan community, and their understanding of the fan community and what it takes to put a convention on.

That’s very high praise.  Yesterday we were doing a little walking around; we were talking to some of the retailers down in the basement, and obviously Friday was not the strong sales day, but you got some really positive response from some of the more experienced retailers and dealers down there.  Did you guys do anything different; was there any sort of lessons learned in the way you deal with the dealers in the dealer’s room?  Because typically you don’t get as positive response as we heard yesterday.

A couple of things that we do – we understand that the dealers are an important part of the anime, gaming and animation experience, and we make them a priority.  The second thing that we consider very important is that our fans want to come for a variety of different purchases, and we’ve been able to expand on our vendor list exponentially since moving to the hotel environments.

Plans for growth? Obviously you’ve come a long way in a short period of time – if you’re going from 8000 to 9000 to over 10,000 this year, what mechanisms are you looking at to grow further?

A couple things that are very important to MomoCon is that we take our social media very seriously. We know it’s the best way to reach out to our fan base, and to stay in touch with our fan base, and most importantly to listen. We’ve made investments in maturing the Media Relations department.  Last year, Media Relations was a side-job of our co-chairman, Jess Merman.  This year, they brought me in.  My experience has primarily been with the DragonCon Media Relations department, where I met Jess, who runs the animation track and DragonCon. Parlaying that experience with the robust understanding of social media that the founders have, since they are technologists, have made it easier for us, from a media relations point of view, we’ve gone from less than 10 reporters last year to nearly 90 this year.  In terms of how we handle the fan base, the one thing I hear over and over again is that our crowd control processes are superior to other conventions, because we separate crowd control from security and give them different roles. This provides a better ease of traffic for the fan coming to the MomoCon, and it pays off in dividends of comfort.

You anticipated one of our questions.  We were going to note that you have a security team and crowd control, and we thought that was a smart division of responsibilities and duties.

It was.  And let’s go back to that Georgia Tech base. One of the great things, from my point of view as a first time media relations director working with other staff, is that I’m an IT project manager by day.  One of the reasons I’m able to get the results I get as a media relations director is because I use process engineering.  I use analysis, I use tracking, I use the things that I use on my day job as a project manager.  When I walked into this environment, they completely understood that.  And being that they’re all technologists, many of them have been involved with the start-up community out of Georgia Tech, they also understand risk analysis, they understand planning, they understand when you make decisions, how you make decisions, and how to stagger and plan for large events.  There’s nothing happenstance at MomoCon. It is a regulated, well-planned event, and that equates directly to fan satisfaction and guest satisfaction.

It’s funny you should mention that, because when we were walking around the convention, we talked to several other media representatives – Brian is in IT service management – and there were a number of project managers.  All of us had humanities backgrounds, which you typically throw out the window and go into IT these days; the fact that all of this generally is very process-driven, and if you lack that process background, you fail. We can absolutely see the process management behind it.

And I want to point out, my degree is in 20th century history with an emphasis on US foreign policy, and I was a linguist prior to getting into IT. Unfortunately, the Cold War put me out of work.

I also got a gig going, Seriously Dan!, where I give lifestyle advice to geeks and tell stories about my life.  I actually have Steve Blum willing to do stories about when things go bad and how you recover from it, that’s the type of stuff I’m trying to do.  And encourage folks who are shy and maybe can’t get a relationship going, how to step back, make a plan, kind of actually teaching PMI methodologies for real-life situations.

We saw one of the panels that impressed us was how to introduce anime to your significant other, and we liked the idea.  You’ve got this percentage of extroverts and a larger percentage of introverts, and how they interact, and it’s real interesting to us.

My best-case scenario, looking at myself and doing self-evaluation, I very seriously see myself as kind of somebody who’s responsible for being a voice of a community that’s often maligned.  And we are.  People don’t get us, and sometimes as a community and as individuals, we don’t often recognize social clues, and that stops us from being able to respond and interact properly.  I myself see it with people that I really enjoy talking to for fifteen minutes, and then after a half hour…  For those people who have worked booths or tables at conventions, we’ve all seen the person who shows up constantly over the weekend.  I worked information desk at DragonCon for 3 years. When folks show up at the conventions and they ask for information, that’s great.  When you become the only person that they know to have a conversation with at the convention, and you see it at the tables.  I’m a friendly, outgoing guy, but I’m also a hugger, after I hug, I step back, and there’s people who don’t do that.  And that’s the little things. Because you treat people with respect and they treat you with respect.

I just proposed for a different convention, doing more table stuff and getting my PT Barnum on.

Working with another organization, I said very clearly, you know what’s great, what I’d really like to get involved with, is your promotions in a much more ballyhoo sort of way.  And they said are you sure you want to do this? And I said, let me explain to you – King Kong is the movie about a promoter who’s got a crazy monkey as a client.  Karl Denim is the greatest character in black and white film, ever.  In real life, he’s a gentleman.

Well Dan, this interview has turned into Dan, instead of MomoCon. But this interview is much more about what we’ve learned from you, which is: if there were more people like you running these things, we’d have some cons that would have more of what you bring to it. We always ask one question when closing. So we started running our blog to share our nerd side.  What do you geek out about the most? And feel free to expand.

Okay.  I am very lucky to be able to be that voice of the geek community that I talked about.  One of the greatest experiences I ever had was, after spending time with Nicholas Brendon and Clare Kramer on a morning shoot for a local television show here in Atlanta, I had photographs taken of me and Nicholas and Clare. Later in the convention, this was DragonCon, I got the picture and I got Clare’s autograph, but I couldn’t find Nick.  Later in the day I found Nick, and Nick looked across the room and said “Hey Dan!  Where’s your suit?” I felt a) That Nicholas Brendon had called me by name, where he could not have read my badge, I was too far away from him, and b) was aware actually of my trademark of being the only guy at the convention who wears a suit on a consistent basis. I felt that was a point where I was contributing something and getting something back. Now, I’m a huge Buffy fan, a huge Battlestar Galactica fan, a huge Stargate fan – Stargate was a fandom that probably brought me back into regular fandom. But man, the one time I lost it and got nervous talking to a celebrity guest was meeting Bill Corbett of Mystery Science Theater 3000.  I was so excited to see him I could not remember his name.  And I was such a huge Mystery Science Theater fan, it was part of my family, part of my life, and I finally calmed down, relaxed and got his name right.  Within five minutes, he was texting me pictures from his phone to my phone.  That goes back to the whole thing I said before – it’s a lot of fun stuff, but when it comes down to it, it’s just what we did when we were twelve years old.  We talked about comic books; we talked about old movies; we talked about Willis O’Brien; we talked about famous monsters of film land.  If I can be, in a very small way, some sort of shadow of Forrest J Ackerman, I’ve achieved a life goal that I set out to at seven or eight years old, when I first found famous monsters of film land.  That’s what I geek out about.

Thank you, Dan.

Thank you.

After the interview, we discovered that the attendance at MomoCon 2013 was 12,200, a 42% growth from the previous year.  Congratulations to Dan and all the MomoCon staff, and keep up the hard work!  You can follow along with Dan’s advice and adventures on his blog, Seriously Dan! and on Facebook.