DIY Tutorial: Jillian Holtzmann's "Screw U" Necklace from Ghostbusters

Ghostbusters was so much fun. SO MUCH. I highly recommend if you haven't seen it yet.


This isn't designed as a 100% accurate replica of the movie prop, but rather a quick and cheap build for fun and enjoyment. So... have fun and enjoy! :)


1 - 1.5" split key ring

1 - 2" screw (I used pan head phillips #10 sheet metal screws)

1 - 18" necklace chain

1 - 0.25" jump ring

Small sheet of aluminum (0.019" thickness)


Craft knife


Soldering iron/solder OR super glue

Sandpaper (120 and 500 grit)

Rotary tool with cutting wheel attachment

Safety glasses

Dust mask

Work gloves

Masking tape

Optional: Helping hands tool



Fabricating the "U"

Note: Alternatively, you can probably find pre-made "U" shapes for jewelry or make a faux metal "U" out of polymer clay.


Draw or print "U" stencil. I made the included stencil from what I could remember from the movie and comparing to images I found online. Feel free to use or modify.


Cut out the "U" and tape the stencil to the aluminum sheet. Trace out the design with a black marker (don't worry about permanence, you'll sand that off). Remove the stencil paper.


Lay the marked aluminum sheet on a work table that you don't mind cutting into a bit, or place some scrap material underneath your sheet to protect the work surface. Clamp to table. While wearing safety glasses and dust mask, carefully cut out the design. The interior is a little tricky. Alternatively, you may need to gently perforate the interior bowl of the "U" with a nail and hammer if your cutting attachment is too large, although you risk denting the design if you aren't careful.

Careful removing the cut design from the sheet as the metal is VERY sharp. Work gloves are highly recommended at this point.


Remove the cut "U" from the sheet. Sand down the edges with a sanding attachment on your rotary tool or by hand with the 120 grit sandpaper. Once you've sanded the "U" to your liking, making sure to round out all pointy bits, sand the face of the "U" with the fine grit sandpaper to remove any stencil marks and to give it a uniform finish.

Pendant Assembly

Insert the screw in the split key ring as indicated. Try to position the top of the pendant where the ring opening is located. 

Apply a piece of masking tape to the finished side of the "U", leaving enough tape to attached to the ring sides. Position the "U" on top of the screw and tape into place.


Place the pendant, finished/taped side down, on a piece of paper or some other surface you don't mind getting glue or solder on, and something that can be easily removed if you accidentally glue the pendant to the surface. Apply glue or solder "U" to the screw at the two contact points, making sure to get into the groves. Apply glue or solder to the screw at the points it makes contact with the ring. Allow glue to dry completely before moving on. (Note: If soldering, you'll have to do some extra prep work on the aluminum to allow the solder to stick. I was too impatient to prep and tin the surface for this method.)

Once dry, place the jump ring on the pendant. Hang the pendant from the jump ring and position so everything is centered. A helping hands tool is very handy for this. Apply a small amount of glue (or solder) to the point where the jump ring touches the pendant--watch out for dripping. Allow to dry completely. 


If you used super glue, you may notice some haze on the metal, especially the aluminum. This can easily be removed with gentle sanding being careful not to break the glue bonds.


String the necklace chain through the attached jump ring and the necklace is now complete! YAY!

Some Thoughts on Pokémon Go

I removed the app after only a few days of use. 

Here's the thing, I do love Pokémon. In fact, I have many fond memories of playing the original red and blue back in college. It's one of the good old standbys of my current 3DS.  However--and this is a big however--the game is an insidious leech on my psyche. Granted, the instability of the Pokémon Go influenced my choice, but ultimately it came down to the following: one, I noticed while playing how absolutely oblivious I was to everything around me; two, I was obsessively checking it and logging back in every time it crashed; and three, it gave me that twitchy yucky feeling one gets with addictive games. In keeping with the LotR analogy, that ring needed to be tossed into its birth lava ASAP.


Since removing the game, some sketchy things have come to light. The fact that the app, by default, has full access to your Google account and the unsurprising EULA fine print that removes users rights unless they opt-out, is a bit unsettling, to say the least. Although, there are workarounds (as detailed in those articles) to protect your rights and account information if you must have your pokéfix.


So, yeah, I'm feeling pretty good about my decision. That being said, I'm not suggesting everyone should stop playing, just, you know, have fun and be careful. 

More International Prototype Kilogram Excitement!

Today NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) announced a grant opportunity for the production of a science documentary about the International Prototype Kilogram (a.k.a. Big K), its upcoming redefinition, and updates to the international measurement system. A more detailed description of Big K, what its future holds, and the grant, is detailed on NIST's grant page.


Why do I care, you may ask? Well, aside from the fascinating history of Big K and plans for its future, which I am very much interested in because science, NIST asked permission to use my illustration of Big K to use in this announcement. You may recall this illustration as the one used for The Doubleclicks music video about the same topic. In fact, NIST also links to that song at the bottom of the grant page.


So, pretty neat, right? 

Huge thanks to The Doubleclicks for commissioning the original piece and Jason at NIST for requesting this illustration!


I really hope this grant is awarded as I, for one, would love to see a documentary on the new kilogram standard. More science for all!

Announcement! Miniatures: The Very Short Fiction of John Scalzi and Illustrated by Yours Truely

Subterranean Press announced today a new book coming early 2017 called, Miniatures: The Very Short Fiction of John Scalzi. As you may have inferred from the title, it's a collection of very short works by science fiction author John Scalzi. You can find more details over on Scalzi's site and on the pre-order page for the book. It's a limited addition printing (1500 copies hardcover signed and numbered by the author) with an extra fancy option too (52 copies leather-bound). Pre-orders are sure to fill up fast, so get yours in soon!


Oh yeah, and did I mention that I'm the illustrator for this delightful packet of fun little fiction goodness? It's true, I am! And I couldn't be any more delighted. I met with John this past weekend at Westercon to work through some of the preliminary cover and interior design ideas. Spoiler: It's going to be so good. SO GOOD. 


It's no secret that I'm a fan of John's work as evidenced by infamous churro-corn above, and this, and this, and, and, well, you get the idea. Needless to say, I'm very excited to work on such a great project. Huge thanks to John Scalzi and Subterranean Press for making this happen!