Friday, 25 March 2011

Ta- Daah!!!

Sorry for yesterday's mammoth post - I didn't realise it was so long! I promise today will be more about the photos and less about me gabbing.

So here we are, about to see the finished room. Hold onto your hats!

(Btw, I should have apologised a long time ago for the poor quality of my photographs. I've never taken the time to sit down and properly figure out my camera so a lot of my pictures are too bright)

This was taken on my phone camera, so the quality's not great but it's the only photo I have that properly shows off the glow in the dark paint on the bat signal!

Yes, that is an orange paint stain on the carpet :(

So there you have it. It may not look like much but believe me, it took a lot of work.

And now I'm off to sleep for a week :)

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Drawer knobs and toy boxes

We're edging ever closer to the big reveal people. I can feel the excitement!

Today we're on some more of the little touches that helped tip this room over from your-average-kid's-bedroom-with-mural into crazy geek parent territory. What to do with two plain APA boxes from Ikea? Painting them is the most obvious choice, and that's exactly wheat we decided to do. But how to lift a simple toy box into previously uncharted levels of dork-dom? I just love a challenge :)

I will have to take all credit for these little beauties! Using my (admittedly limited) knowledge of Thing and Thor, I set about personalising each box for my little superheroes. So, I started by painting the whole box magnolia (boring) and then wrote a catchphrase from each chaarcter on the front panel.

Thing was easy. There was never any question that it was going to be 'it's clobberin' time' in a suitably comic book font. But Thor ... well he was a little more difficult. Happily, the words engraved on his hammer, Mjolnir, are pretty synonymous with the character. So with just a little adaptation (changing the line 'holds this hammer' to something a little more apt for a toy box) and a truly awesome viking font, I was able to get to work.

I didn't want to commit to any more detailed or painstaking paint work, and in this case, I thought a simple approach would be better anyway. So the tops of these boxes were simply painted in character appropriate colours. Orange for Thing, and grey for Thor (like his hammer.)
And voilĂ !!

I'm actually quite proud of these. I think they're pretty neat :)

The boyfriend, meanwhile, was busy pimpin' a boring chest of drawers, superhero style! We decided to replace the cheap looking plastic handles on the drawers, but with a limited budget and our inspiration reserves running low, we took the easy option. So he customised some plain wooden drawer handles in a truly awesome way.


Batman, Superman, Flash, Green Lantern

Spiderman, The Avengers, The X-Men, Fanatstic Four

Each of these was lovingly hand painted and varnished to help it stand up to whatever two hyperactive toddlers could throw at it. Originally there was meant to be a matching pair on each drawer and only of the first four (the DC logos) but the boyfriend wasn't confident that he could replicate each crest perfectly again. Something about tempting fate. So he decided to mix it up with some Marvel logos too - and the boys finally got their Spiderman reference (which they were quick to point out when they finally saw the room.)

With the change from cots to bed, new bed linen was obviously needed. The boyfriend was keen on using his own childhood Superman and Transformers sheets. I however, thought 30 year old bed linen might not be the way to go. But, the Superman sheets were pretty nifty and I had an idea of how to use it. The boyfriend needed only a little gentle push to let go of his relics. (I was, after all, going to cut it up. Gasp!) This bedroom has a cupboard built in with no door. It was previously covered up with a long curtain cobbled together from the off cuts of other curtains. Cream and boring, it too would have done the job as was, but where's the fun in that?

It turned out that not much cutting up was needed - only the back of the duvet cover was cut off and that was plain blue, so no harm done. And after 45 minutes with my sewing machine (who I have christened Nancy, by the way) I was able to turn this ...

Into this ...

Pay no attention to the crap behind the curtain!!

I know it probably could've done with a few more tabs at the top but by this stage I was pretty much running on fumes and just wanted the whole thing to be over! But I do like the retro vibe this brings to the room - we went with modern animated interpretations of well known heroes on the walls and it's nice to be able to give a nod to the silver age.

The final little touch was another project that at first had a lot more complexity but was finally stripped back to the barest of bare bones. Another Ikea purchase, a LATT table and chairs set, and again, it's in boring plain wood and white chipboard. Originally it was to be painted dark blue but to be honest, I simply didn't have the energy. So, just to custom it up a little, we used name jigsaws that the boys had gotten from their Nana forever ago, and just glued them on the back of the chairs.

These were about the only things that survived un-heroed up. But the original plans for them are still kicking about in my brain, so who knows, maybe once I've recovered from all this madness, I'll be able to give it another go :)

There are still a few outstanding projects in this room - curtain tiebacks, a wardrobe, a chair, and these amazing little cross stitches for the walls. Someone has managed to combine crafts and comics in the most amazing fashion and I am thrilled!

Tomorrow I will reveal the finished product. So hang in there. The end is in sight.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Meet our Twins - Ben Grimm and Jake Olsen

Firstly, just let me say thanks to everyone who commented on my geeky posts so far and welcomed me into the fold. I feel the love. Now, back to regularly scheduled broadcasting.

When it comes to naming sons, the geekdad has a helluva lot of choice. There's the obvious - Clark, Bruce, Logan; and the not so obvious - Billy, Kyle, Harvey. And do you opt for heroes or villains? I would personally have gone the villainous route, being as I am a future evil genius. But the boyfriend had other ideas.

When we found out we were expecting, the first name that was suggested was Ben, after Benjamin J. Grimm - the ever-lovin' blue eyed Thing. And when we discovered it was twins (after recovering from the shock) we veered wildly between Jefferson and Harrison before settling on Jake, after Jake Olsen, one of Thor's earthly identities. Somehow, without my noticing, the boyfriend got his way with two Marvel names. But that's okay, because Olly came along and was named after Oliver Queen or Green Arrow :)

Anywho, the longest wall in the new bedroom was to be dedicated to the twins' favourite heroes, which include 'iderman' and 'ionman' (spiderman and ironman to you and me.) With, of course, Thing and Thor standing guard at the head of the beds. Unfortunately, the sheer amount of work involved in projecting and tracing the characters took it's toll and spidey and Mr. Stark found themselves dropped from the line up. And since I'm not a spiderman fan, that was all okay with me!

The Thing was the boyfriend's pet project. I was not to lend a hand at all. Considering his size and the amount of line work that needed to be done, I was sure he'd be a time consuming task. But alas, it was Thor, with his multitude of colours and five shades of grey (each colour was mixed by us using a basic selection of four or five paints) that was completed last.

It's not quite clobberin' time! :)

Thing had to be a little less dynamic than Thor because Benjy, in a startling contrast to the character, scares easy. So we spent a lot of time scouring the internet to find just the right image .

Besides the main job of painting the walls, there was all the little incidental details to take care of too. For example, curtains. I searched in vain for superhero fabric that wasn't specifically a certain hero. What I was looking for was a pattern that conveyed a sort of comic tone without being obviously Batman or Superman themed. I mean, how hard is that really?

Turns out it's pretty hard. Any suitable fabric I did find was discontinued. I was losing hope. So I took to eBay in a last ditch attempt to find something that would work. What's a girl to do when she can't find the perfect geeky fabric?

Buy an old duvet cover.

I picked this single duvet set up for a bargain price on eBay and set about turning it into curtains. I'm so resourceful and impressed myself a little with my stellar improvising ideas. With skills like this you'll all be looking to kick it with me come the zombie apocalypse :)

If you are a crafter, you can probably ignore this next bit, but if you're a comic geek and found your way here on the recommendation of the boyfriend, you should definitely check this out. For anyone familiar with the DC Super Dictionary and Lex Luthor's forty cakes theft, have a look at this very funny list of seven things from said dictionary that should be in DC continuity. My favourites are why Batman is a jerk and Green Lantern's duck obsession. And of course, El Dragon :)

Monday, 21 March 2011

Let the Madness Begin!!

Sometimes ideas that seem pretty simple on paper turn out to be hella complicated. This is one of those ideas.

With three kids under three, a new job and a university degree to be getting on with, the boyfriend and I decided that we simply didn't have enough on our plates. Our twins were almost ready to go into big kid beds and since their current bedroom has open shelving that I didn't fancy them scaling in the middle of the night, we decided to move them into the spare room. Plus, as cute as Olly is, it's high time he stopped rooming with us.

But what to do with the room. It was a pretty inoffensive shade of magnolia and probably would have done as was. But oh no! Geek parents shun the easy option! So instead we decided to 'super' it up a bit with some of DC and Marvel's best and brightest.

For a full week this became our personal hell.

So today, let me introduce you to the Bat Wall.
This wall already had a picture rail on it, and I, in my infinite wisdom, thought it would be a pretty awesome idea to paint the bottom half with blackboard paint and paint Batman and Robin on the top half. So far, so easy, right? Well, we couldn't just have Batman and Robin drawn randomly on the wall - it has to make sense, goddamn it! (Rather like the very notion of a billionaire masked vigilante treading the line between sanity and madness with a young boy for a sidekick.) So, a whole Gotham night skyline was drafted. This was to be my baby. And, to be fair, it started off pretty easy. A blue wash on the top half of the wall and a hastily designed city skyline sketched on, and away I went, full of enthusiasm, not knowing the soul crushing chore that this was to become.

Edging in and painting my skyline

The completed Gotham skyline - pretty nifty :)

What you do when the boyfriend leaves a black smudge on the wall while removing masking tape - turn it into a little bat! Neat, huh?

Projecting 'Bats' onto the wall. Projector borrowed from a 'friend' - you may be a jerk but you have cool gadgets :)

The Dynamic Duo all inked up and ready to go, complete with Bat Signal. It's so on!!

Some of you may have noticed (or none of you, which is more likely) that we went with Batman from the Brave and the Bold animated series and Robin from the Teen Titans animated series. Sacrilege, I hear you cry! Well to you purists I say, to hell with you! In this family we gleefully mix up comic genres and chronology like we're making a poorly executed X-Men movie.

More on the Bat Wall and the rest of the room tomorrow.

PS: In other news, today is my 26th birthday. I'm edging ever closer to 30:( And for all my friends and family out there, if the boyfriend ever comes to you asking for present ideas for me, the answer is, ask her to marry you, jackass!!.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Musings on Being a Geek Parent

This week, in a steady drip drip of blog posts, I am going to unleash a scary insight into the inner workings of mine and the boyfriend's parenting style. While I have known since the day I met him that the boyfriend is a bona fide, unapologetic geek, it has taken me a little longer to embrace my inner dork. I spent a long time pretending to be 'normal', mostly because a lot of people can be devastatingly disparaging about anything outside of the mainstream.

But it's time for me to come out - I am a geek!!

And what's more, I am also a mother. And so I find myself in charge of ushering the new generation of tiny geeks into the world. So how to do that? What makes a person a geek? Well for me it's a love of DC comics, RPG games, a dedication to the N64 (the god of all consoles!) and a voracious appetite for books. Add to that a love of scrabble, modern folk music, knitting and anime and manga, and I think it's safe to say that my three boys have got little hope of turning out 'normal'. And, in all honesty, who'd want that anyway?

The boyfriend is without a doubt a geekdad. For him it is Marvel comics, Star Wars, Transformers and the PS3 which dominate. He is by far the biggest geek in our household, but I've suprised him once or twice by knowing obscure comic facts, like Wolverine's exact height or just how Spiderman ended up with 6 arms. Yup, that's right folks, I can certainly give him a run for his money!

So, although our twins are only two, their education has begun. Yes, our house may be a little alternative in some regards; there are a lot of action figures on display, we are currently framing a bunch of comic art to hang on the walls and we are locked in an eternal struggle to find a way of storing hundreds of comics in their long boxes without finding ourselves tripping over them all the time. But if our kids ever want to read about the death of Superman or issue #1 of X-Men, you can bet we have it :) And who knows, those comics could fund their university education one day. Sod savings accounts, it's all there in ink and paper. And right now they're watching My Neighbour Totoro and loving it - which in my book beats Disney hands down any day!

While I see a lot of conventions in our future and I know my sewing machine will be busy running up little costumes, we've made a start by creating a super awesome bedroom for them to mark their transition into big boy beds. And that's what this week is going to be all about.

The thing is, now that I've opened the box, I don't feel like closing it again. So you may find that this blog becomes about crafts and comics in equal measure. I'm proud to be a geek. I don't want to be just like every other suburban mum at the school gates. We're different. And different is good.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Don't let the bed bugs bite!

Especially this little radioactive bugger!!

Yes, I finally finished the bed bug in the glow in the dark yarn! It only took half an hour to finish up his feet and I avoided any more nasty rashes from the yarn. Now the question is what to do with him, since he's probably not child friendly :(

My eldest sons will soon be moving into the spare bedroom and their little brother will be headed into their old nursery. So big big plans are afoot for decorating and I can't wait to get started. Hopefully this little guy will find a home on a shelf somewhere, so as he can share his awesome glow and not make anyone itchy.

In other news, I started and completed my apron. I meant to get some work in progress shots but alas, life gets in the way. So hopefully in the next few days I will be back with photos of my newest pride and joy!