All posts by admin

My Christmas 2019 Home Tour

Outdoor Christmas central theme at the front door

My Christmas 2019 Home Tour


Welcome and thanks for joining me as I show off my Christmas décor for this years Holiday season.  Christmas is my biggest passion and this blog started as a possible Christmas DIY destination.  Part of these pages may eventually share that goal, but for now I hope you enjoy taking a tour through my home and what I’ve done to it to bring in the Christmas season.

Outside Tour

I tried to create the outside as something pleasurable to view, not just at night with the lights, but also during the day which makes it fun to look at for the kids and neighbors.

Handmade garland with shatterproof bulbs, glittering ribbon and twinkling lights outline the house’s roofline and front trees.

I reused all my past years icicle lights to create a snow effect on the ground to bring the cute little lighted up snowman to life more.

My custom built log reindeer I put together from my neighbor’s chopped down tree.  I’ll be writing a tutorial sometime on how to make one of these later.

I even tied in the mailbox to the house’s theme and gave the mail carrier something to enjoy on their route.

My custom handmade nutcracker from pots, planters, and PVC pipe.  See the full tutorial here on how I made him.

Completed outside display lit up at night.

Inside Tour

My favorite part of this year is the new addition of a different family Christmas tree.  The old one is the one outside by the front door.  I call this new one “The Plaid Angel.”  The design I did was based off the angel topper I bought last year from an after Christmas sale, keeping with a plaid and burlap theme.  I also had to do the train I got as a gift last year under the tree.

Bringing in the bannister into the mix as I hung all the stockings from here because we have no fireplace.  

Foyer/entrance way. Cinnamon scents everywhere, from candles, pinecones and brooms scented with the familiar Christmas spice of cinnamon.  I fell in love with Christmas boxes that, when closed, appear as large antique books which I incorporated in the welcome area.

Internal doorways included with ribbon, garland and wreath…no surface of my house was safe from being slapped with glitter…lol

Dining Area

Custom framed handmade music sheet art deco of classic Christmas carols and instrument ornaments I made.

More custom framing keeping with the theme of Christmas music as above.  Also hand made by me.  Tutorials coming soon for both types of framed Christmas decor.

My kitchen window which was perfect for any type of Christmas style I’d choose since the window was designed with three shelves as it’s a greenhouse boxed window for plants.  I chose a cookie tin and Christmas candy theme.  One year I’d like to put a whole Christmas village in there as it would be a perfect fit.

Winter Wonderland Screened in Back Porch

I had to bring in the northern snowy feel to my house to bring me back to the childhood days of white Christmases since I live in Florida now.  I used all blues, silvers and whites to keep a cool feel to the décor.  The only red is the bird perched on the sled.

Sled courtesy of craigslist and skates found on eBay.  Buffalo puffy fake snow in a bag tied everything together as a snow ground tree skirt and layout.

The table at the end was just what I needed to add some more fun winter themed items to display.  The selling point to the whole look I believe are the many scattered pine cones I randomly threw down and highlighted with some spray can snow as it brought the scene to an exterior feel.

.

Thanks for taking the tour…I hope you enjoyed it!  Merry Christmas!

#2 Spooky Decorations

Final effect of a back lit zombie with green Christmas lights

#2 Spooky Decorations


WIP zombie platform ready for lights

This is the tradition that tells everyone in the neighborhood that yours is the house to visit Halloween night for trick-or-treating.

As a tradition, however, this is my first of many to come as my daughter no longer goes trick-or-treating, which means I’ll be home to greet all the kiddos myself for candy and hopefully a little scare for their Halloween delight.

Radioactive zombies are the theme of this years yard makeover and the impact will be enhanced with a green glow permeating from each zombie and toxic waste barrel for a chemical meltdown source of undead strength.

This is an exciting, cool concept that I’ll have the pleasure to continue to add more and more every year.  I also added a giant spider web and spider to the yard for more spooky fun as the spider is hovering over a body wrapped in a silk cocoon made out of simple upcycled empty milk and water jugs.

This post will show you how I made each element and includes finished pics and video taken Halloween night for maximum viewing pleasure.

Spider and webbed body together for scale

Spider Web Scene

I have three tall oak trees close together in my front yard that will provide a perfect home for a giant spider and her webbed trap which will include a cocooned body ready for her to snack on.

Spider

An exciting advantage to working at a sign shop is the privilege of having a CNC Router table to use to cut out any shape you want with no time and effort.  I just simply browsed a menacing spider image and asked to have it programmed in to the size I want and material.  Of course you don’t need a fancy machine to cut out the spider–all you need to do is draw the spider on a piece of plywood and cut it out and paint black.  See pic below of mine…

Finished cut spider on CNC router table from three-quarter inch black sintra PVC board

Body Wrapped in a Cocoon

This isn’t a new idea as I’ve scene many pins on Pinterest on how to make a super light weight human form using just empty recycled liquid containers.  This was a plan started in the summer time as I had to accumulate enough empty jugs to make up the correct shape.  Once I had the shape I used clear tape to hold the containers together and then I wrapped it in a cheap white party table cloth which will later be wrapped with white string and strung up in the web.  See pic below…

Empty recycled container body form for spider web effect

Putting it all Together

I put a gallery of photos to click on below to see the progress and finished web effect.  I just strung up white string, screwed the spider in place and finished off with specific Halloween web decorating material from Wal-Mart…

.

Zombie Scene

WIP Zombie platform for Halloween yard decorations

Once again I utilized my ability with having a CNC Router table at my disposal to have life sized zombie silhouettes cut out for the scene.  I also had 55 gallon drum shapes cut out with a vinyl prints of the yellow color and toxic symbols on them to give the scene it’s story on why the zombies are here and glowing green.

I screwed some of the zombies and drums to a platform and standoffs for support and then came the tedious work of hot gluing and taping over 400 green Christmas lights total to the back of the props for the radioactive glow effect.  It’s important to note that the finished props with lights has to be closely in front of the house or each other to get the full effect of the lights permeating behind them.

It’s also a benefit having Halloween close to Christmas as I was able to get the lights I needed because the stores start earlier and earlier every year for buying Christmas decorations.

Zombie Effect Gallery of Photos

.

Zombie themed Halloween decorations for our house welcoming trick-o-treaters

Final Touches

The last couple of things I did to tie it all together were the window features.  I brought the inside of the house to life by incorporating two of the biggest windows facing the front of the house with lighted and animated projected action.

Just above the radioactive zombies I put in a zombie window poster scene designed to be scene with a light on in the room so the poster gave a glowing effect and eerie look.

Zombie window effect day vs. night side by side

Last, but certainly not least, was the projected animated Halloween “spooky” scenes on a loop of five different scary themes playing out as a motion picture on the front large window.  I originally bought this projector a few Christmases ago for the Animated Santas and elves to go along with my obsession for Christmas light displays.  I was pleasantly surprised that the memory card that came with the product also has other holiday features including Halloween.  Some of the scenes witnessed Halloween night were dancing skeletons, zombies trying to escape the window, talking jack-o-lanterns and a ghost.  For the full effect of the projected scenes click on the video below of  my yard Halloween night.

Thanks for gendering on my adventures and stay posted as I’ll be expanding on this idea next year–maybe include more zombies and a fog machine.

“Selling Out” To 3D Printed Props

3D printed quarterstaff for Rey Cosplay by Kat Caraway of Her Majesty Kat; photo by BriLan Imagery

“Selling Out” To 3D Printed Props


“SOLD”  I’m buying into the mania that is 3D printed anything.  That is if  you can’t find, afford or make for yourself for any Cosplay or prop needs.  Only, however, if the file exists to print (which most likely it does or it can be digitized).  When the printers first came onto the scene, I was reluctant only because I believed that it removes me as an artist from the equation to make and figure out my own fabrication.

Now accuracy is important to me and I still have to assemble, finish and paint the prop so my artistry and fabrication skills are still required.  Also, the amount of time saved with 3D printed props are the main selling point for me as I no longer have the luxury of taking as long as I need to make a prop or costume accessory.

This post is NOT a tutorial, but a review and a guide with my 3D printed experience.  All my pieces were printed by my good friend Damaris who I’ve wrote about and referred to a lot on this website and was my first interview on my Featured Cosplayers page.  The three props that I had printed were from Star Wars: The Force Awakens and were used with my shared photoshoot with Kat Caraway of Her Majesty Kat‘s Rey Cosplay to my Han Solo Cosplay.  These props are Anakin Skywalker’s lightsaber, the NN-14 blaster Han gives to Rey, and Rey’s quarterstaff.

The CR-10 3D Printer

A quick definition according to Wikipedia is: The 3D printing process builds a three-dimensional object from a computer-aided design (CAD) model, usually by successively adding material layer by layer, which is why it is also called additive manufacturing, unlike conventional machining, casting and forging processes, where material is removed from a stock item (subtractive manufacturing) or poured into a mold and shaped by means of dies, presses and hammers.
The term “3D printing” covers a variety of processes in which material is joined or solidified under computer control to create a three-dimensional object, with material being added together (such as liquid molecules or powder grains being fused together), typically layer by layer.

The printer Damaris has is the CR-10 printer which has the capacity of 12″X12″X15″ and was solely used for all the parts printed for my projects.

She confessed to me that it took over four months to get the hang of it and tweak all the settings just right for the best results.  Much reading and several YouTube tutorials went into learning how to use and perfect the process.

All of my props that were printed required multiple small pieces each to be assembled and one of the great features of the 3D printer is being able to print more than one piece at a time.  If it all fits on the 12″X12″ platform, it can be added to the program and printed alongside each other.  See below…

.

It’s important to give credit to thingiverse.com for all the files used to print the specific star wars props.  I’ll give links to the free files in each section of each prop.

So let’s begin by breaking down (or building up) each of the props made using the 3D printing process:

NN-14 Blaster

Side by side Han giving Rey the NN-14 Blaster from The Force Awakens

The NN-14 blaster was made solely for me to recreate the perfect collaborated photo of Han giving Rey the gun in front of the Millennium Falcon in The Force Awakens.  A total of eleven pieces were printed to be able to make the prop weapon.  Once I got the pieces from Damaris there was minor clean up, but they were immediately ready for assembly.  Super glue was my choice of adhesion and the brand Gorilla glue using the gel formula for the super glue is what I used.  I did have to clamp some of the larger pieces that came together for maximum strength when the glue dried as the larger pieces separate wanted to pull away a little when put together.  I used one screw down the shaft of the barrel to the main body to make sure the barrel could never come apart.

Once all the pieces were assembled together, I was pleasantly surprised how incredibly lightweight the prop was.  I would then be adding real screws and screw heads as aesthetics to all the pre-marked holes printed out ahead of time for the blasters multiple screw appearance shown on the prop.  These screws are purely visual and weren’t necessary for the assembly’s integrity.  I managed to obtain several star shaped holes on the heads of some screws to give the gun a futuristic and accurate feel.

One undesirable characteristic of a finished 3D part, straight off the printer, is the appearance and feel of striations or lines representing each layer of built up cooled plastic filament as the printer injects the substrate for the makeup of the piece.  Kind of like rings inside a tree trunk, you can count how many rings or layers it took to print the part.  This is undesirable because as strong as the filament is (which is a good thing) sanding the piece smooth becomes a real challenge.  Now, because I planned on having a heavily weathered or aged finished prop, I wasn’t as worried trying to sand it perfectly smooth other than the barrel.

The file used for the NN-14 Blaster can be found here: thingiverse.com.  Don’t be a jerk and mass produce these from this file for money.  Make your own file first.

.

Anakin Skywalker’s Lightsaber

The lightsaber chose you; photo and edit by BriLan Imagery

Anakin’s lightsaber makes it’s way all the way to Episode 7 and beyond as it becomes Rey’s Jedi weapon, so naturally I had to include it in the photoshoot.

Whoever made this file did a great job with adding inserts and location attachment nubs to aid in the assembly process as there were many pieces to this prop.  It was important that I pre-fit the pieces before immediately starting to glue because minor clean up and sanding needed to be done to the attachment areas to bring about a better snug fit.

The file also would only include the instruction for one of each part and there needed to be a multiple of the same part for the bottom grip.  Therefore, I had to inform Damaris to print five more of that particular part.

I was again surprised just how light this prop felt when finished.   3D printed piece when it has girth to it is not solid, but has a “honeycomb” or scaffold inner guts that helps keep the shape yet maintain a hollow feel.

I mentioned earlier how sanding 3D printed parts is very difficult as the filament when hardened is incredibly tough.  This prop had to be as smooth as can be as to give a stainless steel appearance to the lightsaber as it is portrayed on screen.  Damaris knew of a product that is available specifically for 3D parts that can be brushed on in thin layers to help eliminate the striations from the printing process.  This product is called XTC-3D.

The file for Anakin’s lightsaber is here: thingiverse.com.

.

Rey’s Quarterstaff

This prop was the first and most obvious element I wanted to have for the photoshoot.  It was actually what started it all as Kat wanted me to make her one for her Rey she was working on even before our planned idea behind the shoot, so she commissioned me to make it for her.  This prop is hers now, but I kept the other two for my own collection.

Much of the same steps were taken producing this piece as it took making the blaster and lightsaber.  What’s impressive about this file is the one inch opening already incorporated  with each part so as to be able to slip the pieces on a pre-existing 1″ PVC pipe obtained to help make up the staff.  I also had a few repeat parts that had to be printed twice and sometimes even three times for some of the pieces.  I did little sanding as the striations actually added a machined look to the parts.

Much of this prop was NOT a result of 3D printing. For instance the pipe the pieces were slid onto, the strap for carrying,  and the cloth and faux leather wrappings as a grip.  The paint job gave this staff a weathered rusty look as scene in many pics.  I really enjoyed making this weapon the most and would like to make another one for my own collection.

The file for Rey’s staff can be found here: thingiverse.com.

.

.

I can’t say enough about how thankful I am for my friend Damaris and her willingness to make these parts for me.  She has become quite good at the printing process and has even started her own company called CATBOX: 3D PRINTING AND PROPS.  Check out her Etsy shop!