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! :)

Parts:

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)

Tools:

Craft knife

Clamp

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

 

Instructions

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.

screwu-template.jpg

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!

Additional Resources for Ghostbusters Cosplay

3D Printer Holtzmann "Screw U" design by Sarah Boyle (@speakboylese)

Pinterest idea list by Angela Webber

(More to be added as I find them. Find any fun links? Let me know in the comments!)

 

UPDATE:

For those wanting to buy a pre-made "Screw U" necklace, a different version is now available at Optimystical Studios

Month of Monsters: Syphilitic Sylvester - Drawing Process

I thought I would mix things up today. Instead of just heading straight to the finished monster, I felt like sharing my drawing process in the hopes that it's either helpful and/or mildly interesting. The first step is figuring out the creature design. If I were doing a larger piece, I'd probably take some time to play around with a few ideas on a scrap piece of paper or in Photoshop. Often, the sketch is redone several times until a desired design is found.

Yeah, that looks better. Let's try this design.

Now it's time to clean up the drawing. Yay! The monster is taking shape.

Now it's time to throw down some ink. Nice, but it needs some details and line variation.

Oh yeah, now we're talking. He's definitely got a skeezy vibe going on now.

And the finished monster in all its syphilitic glory.

 

Original art for sale. SOLD

 

 

 

 

Tips and Tricks: Jack-O'-Lantern Photography

It's that time again when pumpkins are sacrificed in the name of spooky glowing decorations. While there are plenty of interesting subjects to photograph this time of year (costumes, fall colors, holiday festivities), photographing jack-o'-lanterns can be a little tricky especially if you want to capture them in the dark. Low light photography is a bit more complicated, but don't let that deter you from experimenting. The results are well worth the extra effort. And, in truth, so long as you keep a few key things in mind, it's not very difficult to achive that great glowing photo.

Hold Still

No, not the pumpkin, they are pretty stationary by default. Well, unless they're sentient wandering jack-o'-lanterns, but that's an entirely different topic.

With any night time or low light photography, the more steady your camera the better. Even if you think you are pretty good at holding still, really, nothing beats not holding your camera at all. This means go pull out that old tripod, or if you don't have one of those, finding a nice spot on the ground or table, or even pressing your camera body up against a stationary object. This will afford you the opportunity to get a greater depth of field, minimize any camera jitter that would cause fuzziness, and not have to use the flash.

Experiment

Now that your camera is nice and still, play around with the composition. Get close, use the rule of thirds, fill the frame, and try different angles and perspectives. If your camera will allow tweaking of the aperture settings, try using a small depth of field (low number for aperture - like 3 or 4). You'll never know if there is a cool shot hiding in your subject if you don't try different things. In the world of digital photography the only thing this will cost you is a few extra minutes.

Flash

I for one am the first one to say "Argh! Yuck flash! Blerg. Evil evil awful flash!" That's not to say that it has its time and place. If you are able to adjust the strength and/or position of your flash, this can actually add an interesting lighting element to a low light photo. Sometimes a little flash actually does work, just remember to keep it gentle. Bright harsh flash will drown out the wonderful orange glow of jack-o'-lanterns and destroy the creepy otherworldly atmosphere of the photo. Again, experiment.

Have fun this Halloween, and happy spooky photo shooting.

MaAH Illustration: Doppin

maah_image4_sketch

Initial digital sketch.

maah_image4_ink1

Beginning to ink the piece digitally.

Doppin

Final image.

Yesterday, P.G. Holyfield released some exciting news about his novel, Murder at Avedon Hill. It's going to be published though Dragon Moon Press.  As a fan of the story (and friend of the author) I couldn't be happier for Patrick. As I've said upon numerous occasions, it's a wonderful story and it deserves any and all recognition it receives. So, big congrats! I can hardly wait for its new release. You can see the official press release here. He also released a special announcement episode, here.

---

I was going to wait to post this image when the corresponding episode of MaAH was released, but with the recent good news, I figured now was as good a time as any.

Patrick asked me a while ago if I would be interested in doing another image for one of the last chapters. I, of course, jumped at the suggestion. The image itself was left open to whatever scene I wanted to do. After refreshing myself on the events of the applicable chapters, I sent a few ideas off to Patrick. From that correspondence we decided on this image (as to prevent any major spoilers of the plot).

For this illustration I decided to do the whole thing digitally. This method worked well for the last MaAH illustration I did, and I thought it would be a good opportunity to expand my digital art skills.

The first image is a rough concept sketch for what I had in mind. That was approved. I then moved on to the inking.  The great thing about working digitally, I found, was that if I made a mistake at any point, I could easily redo or adjust the image. In this case, I found that I had placed the arm in an awkward position.  I also noticed that the eye position was a bit off. So, I just moved everything around a bit until I was satisfied.

For coloring I shaded with sharp lines of different color shades rather than doing a blended shading. The only reason for this was that I hadn't really used that technique much and wanted more experience. Plus, I like the look. I also changed the color of the ink for the spirits from the original black to a light blue. This was done using a clipping mask layer (in Photoshop) under the ink layer. During the coloring of the spirits, I also found they needed more detail, so I added some swirls and additional line details. To get the spirits to look transparent, I filled them with color on a separate layer, then reduced the opacity of the layer.

The hardest part of the coloring, oddly enough, was the background. I was having trouble getting a texture and color that I really liked. After adding several textured layers and tweaking the color settings, I finally found a combination that I liked, while also matching the described scene in the story.

Pie Time!

All kinds of good things are now in season. You know what that means, right? That's right kids, it's pie time! Per Andy's request, I picked up some nectarines from the store for pie. I wasn't sure what type of pie it would end up being as I was certain I didn't have a recipe that called for nectarines, but I was confident I could find something or improvise.

This recipe was originally called "Alsatian Plum Tart" and as the name suggests, called for plums. After a few tweaks, I ended up with the following recipe.

 "Nectarine Custard Tart" a.k.a. "The Supreme Nectar Pie of Goodness"
1 lb. ripe nectarines, cut into wedges
1 Tbsp. Southern Comfort
1 Tbsp. Cognac brandy
2/3 lb. shortcrust pastry (or your pie crust of choice)
2 Tbsp. strawberry jam
 
Custard Filling
2 eggs
1/4 cup superfine sugar
3/4 cup heavy cream
grated lemon zest of a small lemon
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

nectarines

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Combine the nectarines with the liquor and set aside. They will be absorbing the goodness of the SoCo and cognac during this time.

Roll out the pie crust pastry and line a 9in. pie pan with it. Chill for 5 or 10 minutes in the freezer if the pastry has gotten too soft and room temperature. Prick the base with a fork. Line it with foil or parchment paper, fill with baking beads, and bake for 15mins or until slightly dry and set. Brush the base of the pastry shell with a thin layer of jam. You may need to warm the jam a bit if it is too thick to work (10 sec. in the microwave should help). Bake the shell for 5 more minutes. Reduce the oven temp. to 350 degrees.

custard

Now it is time to make the custard filling. Beat the eggs and sugar until combined. Then add the cream, lemon zest, vanilla, and any juices that have been released from the nectarines. Arrange the nectarine slices in the pastry shell, making sure to get an even layer over the entire pie. Pour the custard mixture over the nectarines. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the custard has setup and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

pie

This particular experiment was quite successful. As this is a tart, it is not as sweet as a traditional American pie. If you prefer something sweeter, you can add sugar to the nectarines and/or more sugar in the custard. Of course, plums or peaches or any other similar textured fruit will work just as well or perhaps even better. Cooking is all about experimenting. :)

Enjoy!