In my family, I’m an acknowledged nerd. Everyone dear to me accepts my interests with responses ranging from enthusiasm to mild concern. Thus, no one would be particularly surprised to see me show up to our family Christmas dinner dressed as San from Princess Mononoke. Not surprised, perhaps, but not happy, either.
So I had to start getting a little tricky to bring some nerdy goodness into the holidays. If you’re like me, your nerd-dom cannot be contained. So here are some ideas for how to bring your hobbies to your holidays without having to explain to your grandmother what LARPing is.
Dress to Impress
One way that I’ve found to work my love of cosplay into my holiday season is to dress in an appropriate costume. You can be creative and delight the family by nerdifying any Santa suit- sure, someone might take exception to Sephiroth Santa, but no one can be mad at Steampunk Santa! Other options include any elf (like Legolas, Deedlit, or Link), Jack or Sally from Nightmare Before Christmas, and Jack Frost from Rise of the Guardians, who is great fun to lead merriment as. Of course, these all work best when there are children to entertain, but I wouldn’t be deterred by a room full of adults. Maybe it’s just me.
For anyone who wants to emphasize the “subtlety” that was promised by this article’s title, there are gads of restrained nerdy accessories that you can wear to get-togethers. From 8-bit hair bows to Rebel Alliance cufflinks to Game of Thrones pins, there are definitely ways to work your obsessions in without even the slightest bit of notice. Also at your disposal are Harry Potter leggings, Death Star dresses, and Doctor Who scarves and jackets. You can stylishly represent without any hassle.
Especially if you’d like to corrupt your younger cousins and niblings into becoming as nerdy as you are (yes, yes, let the nerd flow through you), you can try bringing some fun pastimes with you. While most folks will be watching the football game on Christmas Eve, you and the other super cool members of your family can slip away to play Minecraft. Bring along your Munchkin game and use mini candy canes as level indicators.
You might also ponder having some games that are friendlier to all generations. Playing Droidel (the R2 unit version of a Dreidel) is a fun way to unite generations over an ingeniously nerdy activity. Maybe go outside and make a nerdy snowman (Bowser’s a good challenge) with your parents. My favorite is to bring along materials for gingerbread houses, but bring blue frosting for a T.A.R.D.I.S. As a standby that my family enjoyed, bring along one of your cardboard cutouts (I chose Batman), pop a hat or garland on them, and have your family take posed pictures with it. The pictures are pretty priceless.
Host the Celebration
If you’re at the point where you’ve established a home away from your childhood home, maybe you could offer to host the Christmas Eve dinner. Not only will your family be impressed by your put-together presentation, but they’ll also be wowed by your geektastic decorations. A Lego menorah? A Star Wars or Star Trek Christmas tree? A Cthulu wreath? There are plenty of ways to be festively geeky without shoving it into people’s faces.
There are also nerdy foods you can serve at your assembly. I find it amusing to turn the hummus bowl into a mini Sarlacc pit with a Lego piece in the middle. Rolls wrapped in leaf-shaped paper easily become Tolkien’s lembas bread. You can emulate Dr. Seuss’s roast beast by adding a couple of extra turkey or chicken legs to your roast. Of course, butterbeer is always a good choice for beverages, as well. Get creative and you’ll be showing your loved ones the best side of nerd culture.
I stalwartly believe that you should be able to be yourself and have fun when you’re with your loved ones. But sometimes, it takes a little discernment and nuance to make our favorite fandoms suit the occasion. Be mindful of and considerate to the tone that your loved ones want to strike for holiday gatherings, but putting a little extra fun into the festivities never hurt anyone. Long live the nerdy holiday!
Marie is a cosplayer and costume consultant who has found, through trial and error, that there are very few places that are not appropriate for nerdiness.
Last Halloween, my friend Stephanie revealed an incredible costume she had been working on all year: a dalek. At first, I thought ‘How is that even possible? How will you wear it?” I underestimated the creativity, crafty skills and motivation Stephanie had behind this undertaking. It was unfortunate that New York was slammed by a huge snow storm Halloween weekend which cancelled all local parties, including the big one Stephanie had planned to show the dalek off at, and hopefully win a costume contest at. I couldn’t let this incredible costume go back into the basement without sharing it with all my fellow Doctor Who fans, so I set upon compiling all the information I could from Stephanie on how she pulled this off. Hopefully some of you will feel inspired by this to create your own awesome Halloween costumes this year!
Stephanie: I started in February of 2011. I am not sure what exactly got me into the idea, but when I found out Dalek’s stand about 5 feet tall (and that is my height), I figured it would be an excellent idea. Then when I found the very detailed plans online, I was sold.
S: I don’t think I had an idea, but I definitely did not think it would take the amount of time (and money) that it did. I knew it was good to start early, and I’m glad I did, because I ended up finishing very close to Halloween.
S: It definitely was. I was trying to find components that would work but be cheap and light and would make the final product mobile/portable.
S: I didn’t make many changes, except ones to make it able for me to go inside. Accidentally, it ended up taller than expected, but that turns out to be good because now people who are not petite like me can go inside it as well.
L: What was the biggest challenge in the project and how did you work past it?
S: The biggest challenge was making the dome for the head. I could not find any bowls that were the right size (huge), so I decided I would use paper mache over a large beach ball. However, I also could not find a beach ball that was the right size, despite ordering some online that turned out to be incorrectly described. I finally had to use wire mesh and shape my own dome and then cover it with paper mache.
L: I know thanks to a big snow storm you were unable to show the dalek at Halloween parties. Did you get to actually take it out for display to the public? Have you made any plans to display it since halloween?
S: I have not yet had a chance to bring it out to the public yet. I do plan on attending one or two cons this year, though, to show it off. And hopefully this coming Halloween. Unfortunately I need a large venue to effectively display it, and that can be hard to find. (It does not fit through a conventional doorway, except in pieces, so that also creates a challenge. I have to put it together in one room and stay there the whole time.)
Now for the technical details:
The plans Stephanie used were found here. That site offers plans for several different styles of daleks. Stephanie chose to build the ‘New Series Dalek’, which premiered in 2005. I’m assuming she picked that model because, being fans of David Tennant’s 10th Doctor, her boyfriend Dave would be happy to wear the appropriate Doctor costume.
For technical notes from Stephanie and her bio, read past the break.
A while ago I had posted up a little bit about how I wanted to start making latex costumes. Well, I have gotten in all the materials and have been trying to practice and master my craft. Today I wanted to talk a little bit about how to actually glue seams on a latex accessory or costume to get the best results.
There are two different kinds of glues used when making latex outfits. A water based or solvent based adhesive. For a more stretchy or for gluing on details that won’t get too much stress I would go for the water based, also known as Liquid Latex. For a stronger, watertight bond I would go with the solvent based, which you can tell when you read a rubber cement that has a material called Hepatane in it. Both are good to use but it just depends on what you are using them for.
I use a solvent based adhesive called Best Test, which you can order online if you can’t find in your local art store, or if you are not in the states you can find a rubber cement called Bostik, which is very strong and durable.
The trick to gluing a seam is prep. Clean both sides of the seam with a solvent, like Heptane or Bestine, and let it dry. Then spread the glue on the seam so that it is evenly spread (sometimes using a credit card can be effective is making sure there are no spots that are not covered by the glue). Wait about 5 min for the glue to dry and get sticky and then slowly attach the two sides together. Once they are attached pinch along the seam to make sure it is evenly distributed or you can even use a wooden roller to get a cleaner look. Make sure you clean the seam with the solvent to get any extra glue and just wait for it to dry. It is best if you wait 24 hours to really let the glue adhere to itself.
Now you have a really strong seam that should last.
For more information on gluing or making latex costumes be sure to check out my blog, which is solely dedicated to me sharing my info I find. www.nerdylatex.com
Thanks for reading and happy diy-ing
In the mainstream media today we are seeing more and more alternative clothing popping up and I think that is awesome because for designers and cosplay enthusiasts we are getting more credibility to our interest in costumes. It was shown recently that spandex, PVC, latex, and other materials are showing up more and more. For me especially I was excited because I have always been interested in latex clothing. It wasn’t until I got to actually wear my first outfit for a costume party that I realized that I may be able to make some more simple stuff myself. This was when the idea struck me! Since I will be attending SDCC this year and I am not swimming in money, then maybe I could attempt to try and make my own costume out of latex.
This whole endeavor took about 2 weeks to get together. Plenty of research about what to get and where to get it. It was very exhausting. Then came the waiting for my packages of latex sheeting, rubber cement glue, thinner and clothing patterns to arrive in the mail. It literally took me about an hour to make my first piece as a trial to see how this whole process will be in the future.
For the crafty people out there I would like to break it down for you. This is not as easy as it looks and I did loads of planning to get me on the right track but it is not impossible to get these materials and make some cool stuff yourself.
This is what it took for me..
- Latex sheeting was ordered from a place called MJTrends
- Best Time Rubber Cement/Bestine Thinner from Pearl Paint – used to glue the seams and thin the glue for thinner latex and for cleaning
- Mineral Spirits from Home Depot – used for cleaning seams
- Rotary Knife/Cutting board/Scissors/Rulers from Walmart – used to make clean cuts
- Patterns from Jo-Ann’s Fabric Store
You simply pick out a pattern. Trace it onto your sheet of latex and then cut it out. Figure out where the seams will be glued and clean them with either the thinner or mineral spirit. Take a paint brush or q-tip and spread a thin layer on your seam on both sides that will be coming together. Wait 5 min and then attach them together. Make sure to apply pressure to the seam or even use a small seam roller to make sure the glue bonds to itself. It works best if you let the seam sit overnight and then Presto!
In my case the glove was then shined with some lube, which also allows for it to stretch without breaking, and I fit it over my hand to give you the picture you see below.
So for my first attempt was making a fingerless glove, called a gaunlet.
I did get a chance with some of the extra pieces to make a little bow on the bottom to give it a little bit of flare.
I feel really confident to give this a serious try. My goal is to have a costume made for Comic-Con and hopefully with great success.
For my next trick I am going to try and make a slightly more complicated piece and I will be sure, now that I know more of what I am doing, to put up pictures step by step of what I did and why.
Until next time.. This is Jess D.
Our first DIY project is something easy and fun to do. You can make Salt Dough magnets and key ring for friends or as an activity with children as young as ten, as long as an adult handles the oven duties.
Decorative magnets and key rings are handy and multipurpose. In the past for dinner parties for friends, I have made salt dough key rings to double as napkin holders which turned into great party favors. The key is to sculpt something you know your friend enjoys. You have fun making it and hopefully they get a kick out of taking something home that was made just for them.
½ cup / 400ml water
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 ¼ cup / 300g all purpose flour
1 ¼ cup / 300g salt
Large mixing bowl
Flat surface to sculpt on
Glass of water
Small circle magnets
First Set the oven to 350 degrees F/ Gas Mark 4.
Mix the water, oil, flour, and salt into a soft dough in the bowl with your mixing spoon. If you prefer to mix it with your hands go ahead it won’t ruin it.
Sprinkle some flour on the flat surface. Turn the dough out onto the table. Knead it until it’s smooth and pliable. Then roll out your dough with your rolling pin until it is at least ½ inch thick.
You can use a knife to cut and shape out any figure you like or use a cookie cutter . As an example, with the knife I shaped a dinosaur , a foot and a Tar- (copyright laws being what they are, we will just call it police call box) and with the cookie cutter I cut out a star. For the pieces you wish to turn into key rings remember to make a small hole.
After you have sculpted your pieces place them on the baking sheet and bake them for 20 minutes at 350 degrees / Gas Mark 4.
Once baked, let your sculptures cool on the cooling rack for about another 20 minutes.
Once they have cooled, paint them with your poster paints. For easy cleanup layer some newspaper on your work surface. Use good single strokes to apply the paint Once the paint dries, brush on a single coat of varnish.
Once the varnish is dry, run the ribbons through the hole in the sculptures and then tie the ribbon to your key ring. For magnet models, glue the magnets on the back and allow them to bond. Once dry you can use them or give them to a friend. Voila! In just a few hours you have made something unique and hopefully had a fun time doing it.
To quote the wonderful Dina Kay, “Think geeks, Pac Man, and fun. It’s practically like a scene from Scott Pilgrim, amirite?”
GeekGirlCon is picking up major steam and if you happen to be lucky enough to live in Seattle you should definitely join them for this event. I mean, who doesn’t love fun, nerdy holiday ornaments? And you can learn how to do it on your own so that next year you’re all set to do DIY ornaments for friends and coworkers.
In case you missed my previous posts about this event, you can click over to their awesomesauce website to find out more information.
“GeekGirlCon is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting awareness of and celebrating the contribution and involvement of women in all aspects of sci-fi, comics, gaming and related Geek culture through conventions and events that emphasize both historic and ongoing contribution and influence of women in this culture.” The best part about this organization, however, is that it is not exclusive to women participants. The idea is to celebrate an aspect of geekdom that does not get nearly enough attention, namely to show that women have an important role in this culture also. In other words, dudes are more than welcome to volunteer/help out also!
Summary: Sunday, December 5th at 2:30 p.m. at the Summit at Madison, 1730 22nd Ave E, Seattle, WA 98122 and to RSVP BY DECEMBER 3RD by emailing email@example.com.
If you don’t live in the Seattle area, there are other ways to support the convention. Check out the website and, if nothing else, donate a few dollars to the cause!
You guessed it.. the magical answer is: Alcohol. Winter is great, right? Family, friends, presents, holidays, freezing cold, being snowed in, lack of daylight.. Okay, you caught me.. I hate winter time. But in this post, we’ll go over ways to make it, and any nagging, visiting in-laws, more bearable.
The “Happy Get-Together with Family and Friends” drink: Hot Apple Cider
This one is awesome. It’s easy, so very very tasty, nice and warm for when it’s cold outside, makes your entire house smell amazing, and magically makes your Great Aunt Ruth’s stories about growing up on the farm approximately 83% more interesting.
Here’s how it goes down. Get all these things:
- 8 cups apple cider
- ½ cup real maple syrup
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 6 whole cloves
- 6 whole allspice berries
- 1 orange peel, cut into strips
- 1 lemon peel, cut into strips
- A big ol’ bottle of Black Strap Rum (brand of your choice)
Now.. obtain a crock pot. If you don’t have one, shame on you. They’re the easiest, laziest way to cook a hot meal ever. Pour in the apple cider and maple syrup, crank that bad boy up to high. Take everything else, put it in a cheese cloth, wrap it up into a pouch, and tie off the top with kitchen string/twine – and toss it in the cider. Let that steep for about 15 minutes, and serve. Grab some mugs, fill them a 1/3 of the way up with rum, the rest of the way with cider, and bust out the Christmas Carols. Feel free to top it off with a stick of cinnamon in the mug, or finely chopped apple right in there.
The “It’s Just Cold Enough to Make Me Mostly Anti-Social” drink: Spiked Hot Chocolate
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1/3 heavy cream
- ¼ cup sugar
- 5 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
- Plenty of Kapali/Kahlua
Pour the milk, cream, and sugar together in a saucepan over med-high heat, and let it get just barely to boiling. Add the chocolate, and whisk over heat until melted (but NOT boiling). Same with the cider, fill your mug about 1/3 of the way with liquor, and the rest with hot chocolate. And yes, you can totally top this off with those tiny little marshmallows. Especially if you find the ones that are shaped like little hearts and unicorns and other br00tal stuff. That makes it 3 times more badass.
The “That’s It. I’m Sick of You People” drink: Egg Nog and Maker’s
This particular drink (and photo) comes from our favorite Jacob, who definitely knows a thing or two about combining misanthropy and alcohol. This is for when you want to put on A Christmas Story, throw an elf hat on your cat, and pretend you’re being festive and social. Now.. honestly, if you’re at this point, it’s probably best not to over-exert yourself, and just use Jacob’s method: buy pre-made egg nog, a bottle of Maker’s, and go to town.
However, for you over-achievers.. here’s what you’ll need to make it yourself:
- 1 cup Maker’s Mark
- 2 tablespoon sugar syrup
- ½ tablespoon vanilla essence [yes. essence.]
- 2 cups of whole milk
- a pinch of salt
- 4 large eggs
- ½ cup whipped cream
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg or cinnamon powder
Now’s when you start regretting being an over-achiever: Beat eggs, sugar syrup and salt till the ingredients are mixed properly. Now, add milk slowly while whisking so that it forms a smooth mixture. Heat a pan and add the contents, stirring it continuously on a low flame, till the mixture become thick. Allow the mixture to cool for a while. Take a sieve and drain the mixture to remove unwanted pieces. Pour it into a large container and add vanilla essence, add PLENTY of Maker’s and cover it with a plastic or foil. Refrigerate for at least an hour. Before serving, mix the egg custard and cream, whip, til it becomes frothy. Sprinkle nutmeg powder, and serve chilled. I sure hope you had fun with that one. If not.. that just means you’re ready for drink number four.
The “I Have No Interest In Winter Or Anything It Has To Offer” drink: Sangria
This is when you start realizing all your friends are sending you texts like “man, SCREW this weather! An icicle totally tried to attack my face today!” every day. So what do you do? Invite them all over.. have everyone bring an ingredient for fajitas, throw on some Mariachi music, and make some delicious Sangria. Have each person bring something from this list:
- 1 Bottle of red wine (any red wine will do, really. I used Fish Eye Merlot, and it turned out awesome)
- 1 Lemon cut into wedges
- 1 Orange cut into wedges
- 1 Lime cut into wedges
- 2 Tbsp sugar
- Splash of orange juice or lemonade
- 2 Shots of triple sec (optional)
- 1 bag of frozen mixed berries (strawberries and raspberries mostly)
- 1 Small can of diced pineapples (with juice)
- 4 Cups ginger ale
Now, you can do this one of two ways. If you have the time and resources, combine everything Except the ginger ale and the berries into a large pitcher. For the citrus fruit, squeeze the wedges into the mixture, and toss in the full wedge. Let it marinade over night and really soak in those flavors. Right before you serve it, add the ginger ale, berries, and serve over ice. If everyone’s contributing, you’ll have to do this on the fly when they all get there. In which case, throw everything together, and serve over a LOT of ice. The first method tastes better. FYI. That should be common sense, but you never know.
Now.. turn up the heat, bust out the maracas, and let’s pretend that whole ‘snow’ thing was just a bad dream.
And lastly…. .
The “When All Else Fails” drink: Totally Self-Explanatory
We’ve seen many a princess puppy or pirate cat prance around on Halloween. These pale in comparison to the amount of awesome and geeky that went into this simple, yet brilliant costume.
Esther from Villain School Dropout has been known to occasionally dress her little buddy, Brian, in some fun doggy attire. This time, however, she’s taken a Happy Dwarf doll, cut off its cheeks:
And combined it with a piece of fabric cut from a brown dress to make Brian into a tiny little Ewok:
Our hats are off to you, Esther. Just brilliant.
Do you dress your pets for Halloween? Post your pics!
Hey guys, sorry for my absence. I promise to get back into the regular DiY posts here very soon. If you have any requests/suggestions, please let me know!
For now, let’s look at some very simple, but vibrant Halloween makeup:
This is the kind of easy process anyone can do, and anyone can customize. I went with a pink and black theme, specifically, to go with my hair there. If you’re lost on a Halloween costume.. this is always fun and simple.
In the spirit of Halloween I thought I would share this awesome tutorial… It is about the unzipped look from Mac a few years ago. Enjoy!
Jess D. (1/2 of Hooked On Veg)
Come on a Veg-tastic Voyage with us!