Monthly Archives: March 2013

Easter gift to you…BBC Sherlock Easter Egg

Standard

Happy Easter. Here’s a Quick idea for all you BBC Sherlock fans!

Decoupage Sherlock’s wallpaper pattern (you can find this pattern though various fan sites) on a real hollowed out, or plastic egg, use a toothpick  and craft paint to draw on his “graffiti” and a small drill bit to gently drill the bullet holes. Drilling holes is easier with a real egg. Simple, fun and very elementary.

Hope you like this pattern, you’ll be seeing it again come Mother’s Day!. Hmmmm.

sherlock egg

Learn to make this and other geeky eggs here.

Make a Jurassic Park “amber” Easter Egg with Resin and a Plastic Egg

Standard

jurassic park eggHold on to your butts.”

In honor of the 3D big screen re-release of “Jurassic Park,” here’s an Easter egg tribute to the coolest prop in the movie, John Hammond’s amber-encased bug cane head.

I realize the book was exponentially better than the movie story-wise, but the effects were still amazing (especially for the time), the action wasn’t lacking and a pre-Mace Windu/Nick Fury/Snakes on a Plane Samuel L. Jackson was there, although not always in one piece.

This egg craft is a little trickier than my usual fare, so it’s recommended for tweens (with adult supervision) and older. It can get messy if you’re new with resin.

DSC_0091 What you need:
Craft store “easy pour” resin mix (several brands available)
“Amber” coloring (yellow or orange food coloring or resin coloring)
Plastic egg (preferably one that opens “long-ways”)
Fake or real bugs (What? You don’t have dead flies and moths on your porch?)

 Step 1: Mix resin according to their brands’ specific directions. I can’t stress this enough…follow the brand’s direction EXACTLY, as different resins use ratios (1:1, 2:1). Trust me, I’ve tried to “guesstimate” before, and let’s just say I’m lucky I still have skin on my hands. Add a couple of drops of coloring as you mix, slowly if you don’t want bubbles. Also, do this on a work surface that isn’t your cabinet or kitchen table, and avoid getting it on your hands.DSC_0094

Step 2:  Pour resin slowly into each egg half then place the bug gently into one of them. Any bug type will do (or even small toy dinosaurs or reptiles), but if you want to make a pre-historic ‘skeeter, cut one of those plastic spider rings in half (with the ring part cut off, of course) and pinch the legs in until they resemble a mosquito. It works pretty well, and these rings are usually light-weight and easy to find. We somehow accumulate a good six-gross of these each Halloween and they just keep multiplying.  FYI: an elephant mosquito was used in the actual movie prop, if you’re a purist. Also, some resins recommend coating some surfaces with petroleum jelly or mineral water to avoid adhesion to the sides of plastic molds. Again, check the brand.

DSC_0099Step 3:  Now let that puppy dry. This may take 18 to 48 hours…or longer… depending on mix, weather, temperature and a laundry list of other factors, but keep patient. If you mixed the resin properly, it will harden. Again with the “follow brand directions” here.

Once dry, remove the egg, from the mold. You might need to crack or bend and the egg off of the finished mold, or use a small screwdriver to pry it out, so don’t use a cherished one-of-a-kind plastic Easter egg from your childhood. Once out of the mold, glue the two sides together with some clear epoxy or super-glue. Let dry, of course. Polish or sand off any seam of flaw you don’t want, but don’t worry if it isn’t perfectly egg-shaped or smooth. You want it to look like a glob of amber.

DSC_0100When Easter is over, you can even glue it on the end of medium sized bamboo stick or similar wooden dowel and make your own mini Hammond cane.

Don’t’ be discouraged if the first attempt at this doesn’t pan out, you know what they say about breaking a few eggs to make an omelet.

There it is. Now you have the materials to clone your own imaginary dinosaur…but be careful what you wish for.

DSC_0101

Interview with arist/illustrator and Geekie Award designer Jorge Baeza

Standard
Some of artist Jorge Baeza's design concepts for the inaugural Geekie Award. The final design is still in the works.

Some of artist Jorge Baeza’s design concepts for the inaugural Geekie Award. The final design is still in the works.

The inaugural Geekie Awards are making quite the buzz around the nerdstream universe as a fresh and new way to recognize the skills and talents of geek culture writers, bloggers, cosplayers, designers and especially artists of all disciplines.

Even before the official nominations and awards have been announced, the Geekies are already keeping their promise of recognizing individual talent by choosing El Paso, Texas illustrator and character designer Jorge Baeza for the design of the award itself.

Baeza’s stylized cartoon-like work has been featured in Geek Monthly and HD Review magazines, and he has been a poster artist for El Paso’s premiere comic-con EPCon. He has also lent his talent to product packaging, logo design and private commissions.

batmanBaeza himself is exceptionally excited to be the man behind what many hope will become the geek version of The Oscar.

He thinks Geekie Award co-creators Bill Ostroff and Kristen Nedopak noticed his work for the first time when they saw his Customized Storm Trooper caricature she shared on the 501st Legion’s Facebook page.

“I was approached by Bill through my Facebook page first and Kristen emailed me a few days later,” he said. “I was thrilled to be invited to be a part of this event from the get-go!”

As an independent artist, Baeza said the opportunity to work on the Geekie goes well with the award’s mission to help recognize the talents of those who aren’t normally in the spotlight.

“I think for every mainstream geek artist, cosplayer, et cetera, there are —unfortunately — thousands of independent creators that due to the lack of connections, knowledge and a variety of other reasons, do not get their work in the spotlight,” Baeza said. “That’s when the Geekie Awards come into play.”

Baeza said his inspiration for his work comes from several individual artists as well as media.

“As an artist, I grew up bombarded with all kinds of visual imagery from cartoons, TV shows, books and comics that many of their creators, to a certain level, became if only slightly, a part of my style,” he explained. “With that aside, I could say that the artists that have influenced me the most are Stan Goldberg (Archie/Marvel), Bruce Timm (Batman: The Animated Series), Genndy Tartakovsky (Dexter’s Laboratory/Samurai Jack), Darwyn Cooke (DC Comics) and even Mort Drucker (MAD Magazine) to a certain degree.”

As for the look of the award, Geekies recently released a concept of the award itself, with a classic retro superhero-meets-robot-meets space ranger touch. Although this may or may not be the final award design, Baeza feels the selected design will really convey the essence of what the awards are all about.

“We are currently discussing the final details on the 2D design but at this point it’s a bit hard to tell how soon the product will be complete,” he said. “A lot of work, time and love is being invested on the award and my hopes are that the public will find it not only ‘cool,’ but iconic and representative of the originality of the Geek attitude and spirit. That’s what we’re shooting for.”

Since Baeza’s involvement in the award was first announced, he said he has already received several congratulations from “fellow geeks,” artists and friends.

“That’s what I like the most about being a part of this community — people tend to be more supportive of each other in this arena than in others,” he said.

Nedopak said when they were looking for an award artist they posted this need on Facebook. When they saw his work they knew quickly it was what they were looking for in the award.Harley

“We knew we wanted a custom piece of art by an indie illustrator (which we will eventually turn into a sculpted action hero),” she said. “When I saw Jorge’s work, it just clicked. He’s incredibly talented, and his style fits perfectly with our brand language. He’s already drawing sketches that have us excited!”

He feels being picked as the award’s designer may help him get the word out of his art to a greater audience, but is happy for the opportunity either way.

“I think that it can help put my name out there just like it will do for the contestants and winners,” Baeza said. “Even if it didn’t, the fun of being part of something this awesome would be enough for me.”

To learn more about the Geekie Awards, visit geekieawards.com.
More of Baeza’s work can be seen on his deviantART page at pixelcreatures.deviantart.com or drmutato.com.

Author’s note: Since I hail from the Sun City here on the border, I’m extra-pumped to see a member our city’s talented arts community receive this type of exposure. Salud!

Watching the Detective: “The Encounters of Sherlock Holmes”

Standard

sherlock book coverI have to confess. I love all the 21st-century re-inventions of Sherlock Holmes. I didn’t want to, as I consider myself a true book lover who has often stood on my “don’t mess with the classics” soapbox of guarding the works of authors like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle from the likes of today’s literary graffiti artists. Unfortunately, the characterizations have been just so much fun — Guy Ritchie’s dark and high-speed gothic movies, BBC’s perfectly-cast and eloquently written modern day retellings and even Johnny Lee Miller’s edgy and slightly touched Holmes-meet- New York portrayal.

Now add to this list of  “The Encounters of Sherlock Holmes,” which I wholeheartedly recommend.

Edited by George Mann (Titan Books), this collection features well-selected stories about the master sleuth, his closest companion (were Holmes to admit it) Dr. John Watson, Mrs. Hudson, Inspector Lustrate and many new characters (including some cameos from classic literature).

This volume includes work by Mark Hodder, Mags L. Halliday, Cavan Scott, Nick Kyme, Paul Magrs, Stuart Douglas, Eric Brown, Richard Dinnick, Kelly Hale, Steve Lockley, Mark Wright, David Barnett and James Lovegrove, as well as by Mann himself. All contributors are appropriately from, or based in the United Kingdom, with the exception of Hale who’s works like “Erasing Sherlock Holmes” and the Doctor Who novel “Grimm Reality” give her true British “cred.”

I don’t want to venture too far into the details, because the journey through the mystery for Holmes and his cohorts is as vital as the mystery’s conclusion, but true standouts in this collection include Nick Kyme’s “Post-Modern Prometheus,” “Mann’s own “The Case of the Night Crawler” and  “The Tragic Affair of the Martian Ambassador.”

In “Post-Modern Prometheus,” Kyme ventures beyond Holmes’s capacity for reason, and ventures into a familiar supernatural horror story, creating an unexpected mash-up of characters that stays surprising until the end.

George Mann

George Mann

Eric Brown’s “Tragic Case of the Martian Ambassador” is similar to Mann’s story in that steampunk aficionados will eat it up, but it follows more of the classic turn-of-the-century science fiction ala (coincidentally enough) H.G. Wells and Jules Verne. The story addresses some tricky cultural relations as Holmes is called to investigate the suspicious death of a Martian ambassador 10 years after the alien species came to live among humans on Earth. This “Alien Nation” situation with a “War of the Worlds” air took me by surprise in the sense of Holmes’ “solution” to how he handled the mystery’s conclusion. But, I’ll say no more about that.

Calling any collection of writings by various authors “inconsistent” isn’t necessarily a bad thing, because holding every author to the same style would miss the point of variety altogether. I did have my favorite stories, however, and a couple in which I found myself less interested due to the lack of that distinctly Holmes “aha” moment.

There were some surprises, though. I found Paul Magrs’ entry, “Mrs. Hudson at the Christmas Hotel,” for example, to be a light story of Holmes’ savvy landlady on a romp with her malformed sister, it’s tone grew increasingly darker, eventually ending with a threat — or promise — of a further related tale.

The only real flaws I found with the book draw from my own personal wannabe sleuthing (or rather my O.C.D.) were the common compilation woes of one or two hidden typos that tend to get under my skin the way a slightly mislaid tie on an otherwise perfectly tailored suit would. I’m sure I’ve made a few of those myself.

This shouldn’t stop Holmes fans, both old and new, from finding this a page-turning and riveting read, which it certainly is.

What all the contributors of this volume have done brilliantly, however, is continue Doyle’s legacy of seeing Holmes through the eyes of others, mostly Watson, keeping the sleuth himself always a bit of a mystery.

Mann’s collection, and its contributing authors take the reader as close to the workings of Holmes’ mind as you can without actually being him.

Although the long-suffering Watson himself has referred to him as in this collection as “cold” or “inhuman,” he called him, upon his “death” in Doyle’s original series, “the wisest man I’ve ever known.”

To me the mind of Sherlock Holmes is like the mouth of a volcano. You are both fascinated by and afraid of what’s in there, and you want to get as near to the edge as possible to watch it work. But do you really want to dive in there?

After reading this compilation, I’m almost tempted to try.

Homework time:

I stated in my review I am unashamed to admit I love the recent reinventions of Sherlock Holmes an the newfound interest in the character, but with any re-discovered classic, I have to urge every fan of Robert, Benedict and Johnny Lee  (and often in my case Jude, Martin and Lucy…but mostly Martin) to give the original source a look, as Doyle’s “Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” is as exciting and intriguing as any modern classic.

Also, here are a couple of suggestions for further reading:

• “The Crimes of Dr. Watson: An Interactive Sherlock Holmes Mystery” Edited with an introduction by Duane Swierczynski. (Quirk Books).  This interactive is a chance for a hands-on Sherlock Holmes experience that invites to reader to “help” Watson in solving a century-old mystery complete with ticket stubs, personal correspondence and the removable pieces of evidence. Yes, the solution is tucked away at the end, but try to solve this on your own first. That’s 90 percent of the fun. No peeking.

• “Holmes on The Range” by Steve Hockensmith. (St. Martin’s Minotaur). This is mystery writer Hockensmith’s first book in his mystery series placing a pair of ranch hands in the Holmes and Watson roles, narrated, of course, by Big Red.  Set in the 1890s, Holmes fanatic, Old Red, stumbles upon a real-life murder mystery and takes it upon himself, and his brother, Big Red, to crack the case.  This mystery/western mash-up may not seem like a likely pairing, but Hockensmith’s keen talent for non-conventional mysteries (including zombie mystery “Cadaver In Chief”) has created a fan-favorite series with these Old West sleuths.