Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Another Day, Another Post!


The craft fair at Xap’s office yesterday went pretty well. Lower total sales than the Fremd HS craft fair, but the whole thing was only 2 hours long and the cost was much lower, so I think that makes it the more profitable of the two. And Xap and I had homemade tamales (that another pair of her co-workers were selling) for lunch, homemade cookies for dessert, and I had the last two tamales for lunch today. 

We had one 6’ table yesterday, and I had a bright idea and put the belt bins on their sides along the back edge as a riser (with a tablecloth). That didn’t technically add horizontal display space, but it meant that things on the riser weren’t hidden by things in front of them. And I tucked the cash box and my iWhatsit in one of said bins, for extra clever. The nice thing is that we can do the riser trick with the belt bins even with belts in them. 

Since I only used short gridwall, we got everything in and out in one handtruck load. Which was good, as it was hecking cold outside. 

After a stop at the grocery store on the way home, I started poking at making booklets with fabric covers. I got the parts for two made, doing the covers two slightly different ways. The first one I tried fusing the fabric using Wonder-Under. I’m not sure if the stuff is finicky, or I was just at the very bottom of the learning curve. The fabric I used is light-colored, and so the turn-in under the green cardstock flyleaf shows slightly, and still required some gluing (or would have required placement of additional Wonder-Under). 

The second one I folded the fabric around a piece of cardstock, gluing down the turn-ins, and then glued down the flyleaf sheet (also cardstock). The turn-ins don’t show through, and the double layer of cardstock is stiffer than the first one. It didn’t require much more fussing about than the first one, and no use of iron, trim, fold, iron some more, so I think I’ll probably proceed with some variation of that process. I’m thinking of adding some spray starch, and going with text-weight paper instead of cover-weight for the interior sheet, both of which should help me get better corners.

The two covers dried under weights last night, and looked decent this morning. I’d also made the interiors last night. The two covers only used one fat quarter of fabric. I’ve also got an idea for adding a center fold reinforcement/bookmark. 

Today I ordered a ream of cream-colored 11” x 17” cardstock so I can make covers for grid paper interiors I bought, and other things where I want/need bigger than 8-1/2” x 11” heavy paper. I also ordered lined interiors in two sizes. I suspect that I might have sold some more books at the craft shows if the pages were lined rather than blank. So I’ll do that. And the cost to buy them printed, folded, and trimmed is quite reasonable.  


This evening I made the covers and interiors (folding and collating) for two more booklets. These have paper covers. The paper I used has a light-colored background, and I used dark brown cardstock for the cover lining/reinforcement, so I tucked a piece of plain printer paper into the covers, so the foldovers are between the printer paper and cardstock. 

Monday, December 11, 2017

Still Here

Err, oops, I fell off the internet, blogging-wise, again. 

At the end of October Robin left the nest to go to work for Werner, and hasn’t been seen since. Ron resigned from Roehl, so everything that was in his truck came home, and much of it landed in the dining room. And then cleaning up the living room and kitchen for Thanksgiving resulted in more stuff in the dining room. Ron’s gone to work for Schneider, which got some stuff out of the dining room, but it’s still a mess, and pretty much unusable. Sigh. 

We did the Palatine High School craft fair at the beginning of December, and it was a complete fail, sales-wise. The weather also sucked. This Saturday was the Fremd High School craft fair. It was much much bigger than PHS’s, and much better attendance. I think the proportion of nice stuff was higher, too. Unfortunately, we didn’t do very well-sales wise. One of the sales was a set of two kosode to an absolutely adorable little boy. I wanted to hug and squeeze him and love him and call him George, but settled for making him happy as all the profit I wanted. :)  And he had really good taste and picked out the red kosode with the pandas.

I suspect I could have sold my “Happy Narwhalidays” book, except that the interior is dark green and red pages, so it needs a silver, gold, or other light-colored pen to write in it. I should pick one up and sell them together. 

We have some ideas for things that will probably sell better, though, if I keep trying craft fairs. Ron pointed out that things that sell well at craft fairs are probably going to sell well on Etsy, too, so I should proceed with them. I was going to try to make a couple things yesterday afternoon, for the craft fair thing at Xap’s office tomorrow, but I got sidetracked.

While rooting though bins in the storage locker for cotton duck, I also  shopped the stash for lightweight cotton for doll clothes, and upholstery fabric (originally bought for satchels) for slipcovers for the bolsters on the couch. When we got home we used the duck to make a woodcarving apron for Ron. Then I made the slipcovers for the bolsters since I wasn’t getting to doing Otter-ish things. More natter about those on the personal blog.

While we were at the storage locker I also found the very short gridwall hooks that I was pretty sure we had. They were already in an ammo can and pretty much filled it, so when I got home I emptied another ammo can, and transferred slightly longer hooks and cable ties (after making some quick & dirty fabric bags for the cable ties) to it, as the plastic bin they were in had broken on Saturday. Ammo cans may be heavier and opaque, but they have handles, latch securely, and are almost indestructible. I also have magnetic labels for them . . . somewhere Otter’s stuff.

On the doll clothes front I’ve made a prototype Korean-style outfit, and determined that it needed only minor tweaks. I’ve got several more cut out and started assembly work on them. Part of the Korean outfit is an underdress, that is, essentially, a simple sundress. So I’ve got several of those cut out and underway in almost-solids, too. 

Sticking with “ethnic” doll clothing, I made a prototype Afghan nomad dress, aka a doll-sized version of my Very Loud Dress. The prototype fits my doll, but needs modification to reduce the neckline opening, and to extend the center back opening to make it easier to get on and off. The modification leads to an interesting assembly challenge that I’ve pondered and think I’ve decided how to address, but I haven’t cut another one out yet. 


On the more general-public-friendly merchandise front, I need to make some more simple little blank notebooks. I’m also thinking of making some with fabric covers. If that works out, I may suck it up and . . . sigh . . . make some with sports-team fabrics. At the two craft shows I saw vendors with photo album/scrapbooks with team fabric padded covers, which is partly where I got the idea. But making them with blank or notebook interiors will make them more “mine” - I don’t want to do exactly what other people are doing.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Mostly Sewing Natter

My idea for storing skirt hikes is successful. They were already on (essentially) very short belts in a bin in the front entry, so I scrounged up some not-for-climbing-carabiners (formerly for sale along with leather key fobs), and I’ve hung the belts up from the edge of the metal shelving in the front entry. Now it’s easy to grab the right one, and frees up space in the bin. 

I was home sick Thursday and Friday (and also Tuesday) last week, and cut out a bunch of Halloween doll clothes, from the recently purchased fabric and the stash of stuff I’d previously bought. I tinkered with my patterns (which exist only as numbers in a spreadsheet) so hopefully this batch will fit American Girl dolls better. A couple kosode have seams up the center back, to use some pieces of fabric that were sufficiently long, but not wide enough, except for veeeeerrrry thin dolls. 

I’d bought some black broadcloth for a project that probably won’t happen, and used that for a few things. I got the machine-sewing done, and started the hand-sewing, which involves folding and creasing and pinning. WTF was I thinking when I bought it??? (JoAnn’s Symphony Broadcloth, 65% polyester, 35% cotton)  Horrible horrible stuff. Really thin, my hair-clippy things won’t hold it at all, even three layers plus a layer of quilter’s cotton. Enthusiastically frays (although not as bad as brocades). Won’t hold a crease. BLEAH!  

Yes, I am a fiber snob. I despise most man-made fibers. So sue me.


I finished one kosode where I used the broadcloth for the collar, and am finishing another one where I machine-sewed on some more for trim, and have the collar of it.  But I’m going to toss the two under-kosode I cut out of the broadcloth, and send the rest, about 4 yards, away to a relative who might be able to use it. Last night I poked in the dining room and found some black-on-black floral cotton I knew I had, and at lunchtime I did some on-line shopping and ordered some solid black 100% “quilter’s cotton” and a print of grey swirlies on black, also 100% cotton. I picked them up on the way home, and can cut out new under-kosode from fabric that won’t make me crazy. Much better!

Monday, October 16, 2017

Progress Progressing Progressively

When I last posted, I had made pretty good progress on the dining/work room. It’s still pretty much at that point - there’s a floor, the floor is mostly clear, and I can roll things around.

I also could, and did, set up the 4’ diameter round table last weekend for cooling racks for the baking binge.

Quite a while back I used some Ikea Hejne utility shelving to make a plant rack for the succulents at the day-job. In order to allow expansion, I had some spare shelves at the office, and uprights at home. I haven’t needed to enlarge the succulent garden, so I brought the shelves home for possible use in the dining room or spare bedroom. 

Although, if I’d get a round tuit and drill drainage holes in the bowls I got to use as succulent pots, I probably could use additional space in the succulent garden. I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it, and the shelving bits are inexpensive if I end up needing more.

I did get hardware sorted, and all the belt hardware put away in Max, along with some wide belt tips that were already in Max.

Then I had to sort the stuff that was in the drawer in Max where I put the belt hardware. It’s packed in small tool drawer dividers in a couple bigger bins, in the dining room.

I took pictures and posted some of the belt hardware on Etsy.

I just realized that I forgot the belt tips (headdesk, headdesk).

I took pictures of a bunch of belt pouches. 

Then I dug out some more-or-less Halloween-y doll clothes, ironed them, and got pictures of them laid flat and on a doll, and listed on Etsy.

I also listed a couple Halloween-y books.

In other Ikea-for-the-win points, I’ve been using a tablecloth I grabbed on a whim for use as fabric as a photo backdrop, and on another trip I found an artist’s maquette to display doll clothes. 

Need to work on doll-size clothes hangars, since the first craft fair is only a couple months away. Instead of working on doll clothes, which I’ve been doing lately.

I stopped at JoAnn on Saturday for little safety pins and small spools of black, white, and navy thread to keep in my small (hand-sewing) box, instead of the biiiig spools I buy of those colors, and had a fail in the Halloween fabrics. I was saved by coupons that stacked on top of sale prices. Also the fact that doll clothes don’t take a lot of fabric.


The havana brown skirt hikes have been selling, so I made some more on Saturday. I also made some red ones. And I think I have come up with a slightly better way to store them.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

State of the Shambles

I didn’t get much more sorting done in the dining room during the weekdays last week. But on Saturday I slogged through stuff on the floor, and found the floor! Things were moved around (cleaning: lots of moving things around). Things were thrown out. Many rolls of leather were put on shelves (were previously living by the sewing machine, but that spot wasn’t easily accessible), and the top of the drafting table was gone through. I think I have the majority of the hardware in need of sorting located. The top of the drafting table is not exactly clean, but it’s more orderly now. I’ve decided the Workmate-clone can go back to the basement (after several years of use as a small workbench), and hopefully Robin will remember to do so. 

On Sunday I packed up the molds for hard pouches we don’t make any more, and the pieces for a miniature western saddle, clearing space on a set of shelves and in the scrap bins. After that, I sorted through scrap, and packed up the shearling we don’t use very often any more (was in a bin). And then I remembered another big bag of scrap that I had just moved on Saturday, and sorted through *that*. I sorted scrap into three types - straps, garment, and everything else, and by size - large enough to be potentially useful vs. too small/mangy to bother with. I also set a small pile aside for possible use as small soft pouch fronts, along with pieces from a pretty bison side that I want to keep together (and am having ideas for). 

And then I swept the floor for the Nth time with the new broom. 

The box of shearling went under the drafting table, and can be pushed back into the corner, as it’s light. The box of molds and saddle parts will probably also go back there, but not as far back. There’s still room in the box, which I expect to be able to fill - there’s another couple old molds that may turn up (or may have already been banished to the basement, we’ll see as I clean), and if they don’t, I’ll probably find other things that can rationally go in the box. 

Looking at the multiple shelves that go up to the ceiling, I briefly wondered what in the world I was thinking. Oh, yeah, I had no idea when we ran them up that high that I wouldn’t have Ron around regularly to retrieve things off the highest ones. Fortunately, we have a good stepladder. I think I’ll probably re-arrange what’s on which shelves, with additional consideration of what can go in the depths behind/below the drafting table, so I have the things I’m more likely to want within reach without the stepladder, and lighter things up higher (so it’ll hurt less when (not if) I test gravity.). 

Meanwhile, Robin has started working on the spare bedroom. It’s got a ways to go, but there’s improvement there, too. I’m thinking my bookbinding equipment may go up there to live. This would be rational, as it’s where the letterpress equipment lives. I’m not sure there’s room, we’ll have to see how it goes. 

Once I find my squares, of which I have two somewhere in the dining room, I need to go through the scrap bin(s) again and make reinforcements for soft pouch bottoms, belt loops, and straps for the dees that go on pouches with the belt loops. I’ve got a lot of light-colored belt loops already, but some people don’t like light-colored loops on black pouches. Ok, whatever.  

I’ve been meaning to sort hardware and put the belt-related things away in Max for days now. May or may not happen tonight, but I expect it will happen by the end of the weekend. 


Summary: The dining room is less shambolic. 

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Change of Plans!

Remember how on Sunday I said that the first step on the project to re-arrange the dining room was to go through all the stuff on shelves and see what could be gotten rid of? And that I needed to sort all the hardware from The Grinch that had ended up dumped in the dining room - with the definite implication that hardware-from-Grinch-sorting would come before shelf-content-sorting? 

Yeah . . . not so much.

Yesterday morning I was thinking of the dining room planning, and had an idea. I quickly pulled out my paper models and shuffled things, and left a note for Ron and Robin asking if it might be possible to swap the drafting table and the shelves the splitter is mounted to by the end of the day (since Ron went back on duty this morning)

Ron said yes, and while he was eating lunch with me, stated that he would be pulling up the dining room carpet while things were moving around - we’d talked about it Sunday evening.

When I got home from work the kitchen was pretty much impassible. I found the dog bowls and food bin and fed the dogs dinner outside. Puppy porch picnic party!  Fortunately, by that time Ron and Robin were down to cleanup stage, so I retired to the living room while they got everything back into the dining room, then I was able to finish making dinner (started in the morning in the crock-pot, fortunately).

The dining room is now a complete disaster. Everything that was on the floor is still on the floor, and even more higgledy-piggledy. They ran the shop-vac, but Robin and I both remarked, independently, that it looked like it was going to take about a half-dozen more times. And we’re still finding mouse poop from the (expletive) fugitive that we had for a while. Tonight I decided to sweep, as I thought it would kick up less dust than the shop-vac. Good idea, but we don’t seem to have a broom. Must procure one tomorrow.

Looks like I can get reasonably sturdy laminate flooring for as little as 99 cents per square foot from Lumber Liquidators, if I’m not fussy about color. I’m not fussy about color.

This morning I had another idea, although one less likely to as much upheaval. I’m thinking of moving the leather splitter from the shelving unit that its currently bolted to over to The Grinch, if it will fit next to the small tool drawers I was going to stack on The Grinch. Max has enough dead space between the top drawer and the top surface, AFAIK The Grinch has the same general design and also would have space.

All that will have to wait, though, for the all-the-crap-on-the-floor sorting, stuff-on-shelves sorting, and brush-pile-destruction. Brush is scheduled to be dealt with this weekend. Sorting to begin Real Soon Now and continue . . . until I slog through it all. Started sorting the crap on the floor and hardware tonight. I considered putting belt hardware (which is most of the hardware I found and sorted) away in Max, but I decided to wait and see how much more I turns up as I keep cleaning. But that hardware is sorted into little tool drawer tray thingies and packed in a Rubbermaid bin, so short of a gravity test it should stay sorted. 


I also kinda committed to helping Robin make room in the spare bedroom for a painting station - which shouldn’t be a huge project, as it will mean straightening up the room and shifting contents so he can open up at least one leaf of the drop-leaf table that’s already in there and get to it. Which needs to be done Real Soon Now, as Robin should be ready to test for his CDL by the end of the month, and moving his painting to the spare bedroom is part of dog-proofing his room and making it easier for me to get in for skink-care.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Still Working

Oops, got a little behind blog-wise.

Labor Day weekend I finished changing out rings on belts, listed them on Etsy, and got them put away. In order to do so I got four small bins, a lot like milk crates, but a bit smaller, and lids for two of them - nice bins, feel sturdy, and stack either with or without the lids. My plan was to put belts to go to craft fairs in three of the bins and use the fourth for other things, but I’ve got enough belts that some that won’t go to craft fairs got packed in the fourth. 

The new bins and the bins from the Things that pouches are packed in are a bit wider the top of Max, which has a lip, so I got a board to put on the top of Max. Unfortunately, Home Depot’s panel saw (the board is 18” wide) was broken, so Ron and Robin cut it for me while they were trimming lumber for Gimli-proofing the fence yesterday. 

After dinner yesterday I measured the dining room and all the furniture, leather carts, etc. Today I drew the room to scale, and drew and cut out all the furniture, etc., and started sliding things around. I’m thinking of taking down the shelving made with two-by lumber and half cinder blocks, and bringing in Max instead, and would like to rearrange the room so the space is more usable. I’m also starting to consider pulling up the carpet, which would make it easier to move the leather carts and other things with wheels. That would, in turn, give me more options when rearranging. 

Whatever I end up doing with the dining room, the first step is going through what’s on the various selves and determining what can stay and what can go (not necessarily disposed of, but moved out of the room). Probably won’t start that for a bit, next weekend Robin and I need to rent a chipper/shredder and deal with the back yard full of brush piles. 

This afternoon Ron and Robin helped me spelunk in the trailer. They pulled out The Grinch and the two Things, and I rooted around in the Things. I pulled out jingle bells, satchels, and purses to take to craft fairs; and more pouches to list on Etsy. The first craft fair we’re scheduled for isn’t until November, but I didn’t want to wait to pull stuff and have the weather and yard conditions turn bad. I also moved all the remaining pouches and other merchandise into one of the Things, and we put two of the three big bins of glassware into the other. I also emptied out The Grinch. The Grinch went into the trailer first, then the Thing with the glass bins, then the Thing with the pouches, etc. Bringing The Grinch into the house isn’t a given, far enough away in time that it made sense to put in the back of the trailer. 


Next up on my to-do list for Otter is to sort the hardware out of The Grinch, and move some of the belt hardware to the shallow drawer in Max. Also putting away the merchandise to go to craft fairs. Then photographing and listing more pouches, and figuring out where to put these. 

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Progress Impeded, but Not Halted

A good chunk of Saturday morning was diverted from doing things Robin and I had been planning on by a sudden need of brush-clearing to find a doggy escape route from the yard. And then Saturday afternoon napping happened, as a result of said brush-clearing. I did, however, make new collars for both beagles, after Gimli broke his old one (I had noted it was getting worn and stretched and would need replacing soon). 

After the brush-clearing and around Saturday napping, and another nap and dog escape on Sunday, I did manage to finish listing the pouches I have in the house. While rooting around the dining room for tools to make dog collars, Robin found the screw posts and Ron had removed some copper rivets from braided belts last week, so we got some rings changed out on belts, and got those added to the Etsy  listings. And I got all the pouches, belts, and skirt hikes in or near Max, and Robin suggested I also put shipping boxes on top of Max, which makes sense, and has been done.

Monday morning bright and early I got the first Etsy order since starting the listing binge, yay! The buyer was hoping to be able to get the things before Friday to deal with an unexpected wardrobe issue, so I packed the order up and got it in the mailbox before leaving for work (instead of waiting until evening). My initial estimate of Wednesday delivery was confirmed by the USPS tracking this morning.

Yesterday afternoon I ordered more belt rings, as I’m completely out of large ones and the supply of small ones is also grim. 

Next up, deciding if I want to start working on the process of prepping and listing doll clothes, or getting Robin to go spelunking in the trailer for more pouches. Pouches (and belts) are a solid market, especially if we can locate a bin of black, so I’m leaning that way at the moment. Most of the pouches in the two bins Robin had previously pulled were not-black, as it happens. Or since I’m home today, I could help with the spelunking. 


Thursday, August 24, 2017

More Progress!

Last week over the course of a couple evenings I finished the giant pile of skirt hikes, and updated the Etsy listings with the new quantities. Which resulted in running out of plain rings for 1-3/4” belts, and the supply of rings for 1” belts is low. So I won’t be replacing corroded large plain rings on belts until I can get some more. Ron had an idea where the screw fasteners may be hiding, but they weren’t there. Drat.

Saturday I finished photographing and listing belts on Etsy, using the variations options for colors, but not widths  - I have one skirt hike listing that has and size, and thus price, variations, and in creating it determined that I don’t like doing listings with multiple price-point variations. That’s for the green skirt hikes, which I only made two pairs of, so not worth the effort of splitting. I also condensed a bunch of belt listings variations for color or buckle style. 

After finishing up with belts, I photographed the pouches in the house, hit three hard pouches with heat to remove scuffs, then re-photographed them. In the evening I edited the photos. Sunday I created a set of draft listings to use as templates and started listing the pouches. 


With Ron’s help I’ve worked on re-arranging some bins in the front entry and dining room, so that all the merchandise for sale ends up in the same area, and sorted the skirt hikes and put them on really short belts to keep them sorted. We also pulled the last of the belts with rings that have been, or could be, corroding out of The Grinch. Today Ron changed out the ones with small rings (and I updated the number available on Etsy appropriately), and pulled the copper rivets out of the braided belts that are getting their rings changed. 

Monday, August 14, 2017

Busy Busy Busy!

Oh my goodness! *Another* Post?!?  Yes, yes indeedy. It was a busy weekend (and the last two posts were written toward the beginning of last week). 

As mentioned, Saturday morning I cleaned up the drafting table and took down the light tent/PVC light frame to bring Max in. With Robin’s help, we made room in the front entry, extracted the glass bins, I got in the way by trying to get them out to the porch, and Robin brought Max in and got it into position. And while he was moving the glass bins to the trailer, he also dug into one of the Things and brought me in two smallish bins of pouches! 

After that I sorted belts that were in the house, and then gritted my teeth and pulled all the belts out of Max to work on. Then I started the process of listing them on Etsy. I started with the easy ones, where I already had listed that type, and just had to check the listing and adjust quantities. Then I moved on to new ones, which went something like this:
  • Take some pictures (less than a dozen, for the most part)
  • Edit pictures 
  • List the belts from that batch of pictures on Etsy, mostly by cloning and editing existing listings
  • Put that group of belts away in Max


Max had the “One of Everything” set, so that meant a *lot* of belt styles to list, but often only one of any type. Which is tedious, but it gets the listings created. Each different color of leather (1 black, 3 browns) gets its own listing for each style of belt. Which apparently I could handle with “Variations”. Headdesk, headdesk. So I’ll be going back and doing some consolidation, and probably re-taking some pictures. Anyway, I I did not make it through all the belts - I had some buckled ones and all the braided ones left to go. On continued reflection, I'll finish listing the belts I have in the house (using variations!), then go back and revise and consolidate the listings I've already done. 

Saturday I wasn’t using the light tent, because I wasn’t up to putting it back up and schlepping stuff to the dining room. 

Sunday I put the table, frame, and light table back up, re-clearing the drafting table (which things moved to in order to bring Max in), and cleaned up a few other things. And then I sorted the remaining belts onto the drafting table, which did empty the recycle bin that normally gets used as a laundry basket, but got appropriated for Otter stuff about a week before MuseCon. I did not, however, get as far as working on more pictures and listings of belts. I did get housekeeping done and worked on doll clothes. And found three more finished sets of kosode, and put some fabric I bought before MuseCon not-quite-away, but approaching it. 

Friday night as I was going to bed I was thinking about craft fairs, and how to set up, and realized that hanging doll clothes up on gridwall would make them more visible and interesting than laying on a table. So I’d need hangers. I had an idea how to make some, if buying pre-made wasn’t going to work out - but I resisted googling for doll clothes hangers and staying up even later. Saturday I did look for doll clothes hangers, and didn’t particularly like what I found - either plastic and cheap-looking, or more than I wanted to pay (since I have over three dozen pieces/sets for sale). Plus, kosode are square-shouldered, so slope-shouldered hangers are sub-optimal. Plan B! Cup hooks and dowels. 

I debated long dowels to cut to length myself vs. pre-cut, and square vs. round. The problem with round dowels is holding them for drilling pilot holes for screws - Ron commented that you just make a V-groove jig to hold them, to which I replied that making the jig was more than I was up to messing with. So I ended up ordering 12” long 1/2” square stock. I’ll cut them down to 6-8” long. Talking to Ron on Sunday (when we had the jig discussion), I said I needed a little-bitty router table to round off the edges. Ron suggested a rounding plane. He also asked me how much they were going to cost to make, so that I’d know how much to charge if customers want to buy them, and suggested clear wipe-on varnish. Dammit dammit dammit. 

We have, IIRC, wipe-on polyurethane, and I ordered a rounding plane. Only 1/16” radius, but I think the style will work better than the ones that will do 1/8”. And if I want more taken off, I’ll stop at Rockler on the way home one day and get one of the 1/8” radius ones - taking two passes to get there is probably better anyway, and the rounding planes aren’t expensive. So I’ll be making a bunch of doll hangers that are a little nicer/more finished than I was originally planning. Now I just have to figure out the best way to hang them up to dry after finishing without touching each other. 

I have around a dozen and a half belts that need to have their old rings removed and replaced. Most of them are because of corrosion, and I can just cut the old rings off as close to the old rivets as possible, as shortening the belts by a couple-few inches is minor. But there are several braided belts, which I want to upgrade to fancier rings. Those need to have the old rivets removed, as there’s not enough un-braided leather to allow amputation of the old rings and rivets. I was going to work on the plain belts yesterday, but I couldn’t find the screw fasteners we’ve switched to from rivets. I may, as Robin terms it, invoke “Summon Missing Object” by stopping at the Leather Factory and buying some more. 

Aaand, while typing the above about the hangers I realized that the hooks I ordered have a white vinyl coating and a stop/shoulder, with a screw length that’s longer than 1/2”. Which is fine for me, I just wouldn’t put them all the way in. Not so much if selling them. So I (hopefully) cancelled those hooks and ordered different ones, with screws just under 1/2” and an antique brass finish (nicer). At worst I have to return the first hooks, which shouldn’t be a big deal, as they were ordered through Amazon (Prime and Smile finally sucked me in). The second hooks are a whole cent and a half more expensive (per hook), ooh ooh.


Tonight I raided the scrap bin for black leather strips to make more skirt hikes. I got enough cut for 20 or 22 pairs, and then remembered a green belt cut-off, so I attacked that, and got two more pairs worth out of it. So far I’ve only made skirt hikes from black leather, although I am willing to make brown ones if requested, I just don’t want to keep track of multiple browns. But for the green I’ll make an exception. While I was in the dining room cutting strips to width Gimli kept coming in and pestering me. He doesn’t really grok this leatherworking-in-the-dining-room thing (yet). When I moved out to the living room to cut strips to length he was happier. Probably because he can snuggle. :)

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Changes, I Announce Them

Yes, two posts in one morning! They started out as one, but are both long even split up (so if you didn’t see the MuseCon report I posted a little bit ago, now you know it exists). 

There have been changes since the beginning of 2017 which haven’t been mentioned here.

Ron and Toshiba amicably separated back on February 1. Instead of another job in software/hardware QA, Ron made a significant career change and got his CDL (big truck driver’s license), and is now working for Roehl Transportation, driving flatbed 14-ish days on the road, 3-ish home. Robin is working on getting his CDL, and is probably going to follow Ron to Roehl. This past weekend was MuseCon, and Ron got home 7-ish Friday night, and went back on duty Tuesday morning. And we determined that a weekend convention is not a good way to spend his time off, even though we bailed fairly early Sunday. 

So, anything Otter’s going to do going forward is going to have to be something I can handle by myself, or me and Xap. Plus, I have more responsibilities around the house.  

So on the way home on Sunday I started thinking and plotting, and while waiting for Ron to catch up for breakfast, at information on the local high school craft shows. What I assume are the prime spaces at Fremd’s are sold out, but not all spaces. Still spaces at Palatine HS (PHS, where Robin went). I haven’t been to Fremd’s, but it seems pretty big, and they charge more than PHS, which probably means they get enough traffic to allow that. Both are one-day shows, which means setup and teardown in one day, but doesn’t completely wipe out a whole weekend and/or take (as many) vacation days for preparation/recovery.

I’ve registered for a booth at the Fremd show, and am planning to get one at PHS shortly. The plan is to take doll clothes, books, purses, satchels, leather book covers, and buckled belts. Also potion bottles if I think there’s room. As for display, either one 6’ or two 4’ tables, and one or two triangles of gridwall. All stuff that will fit into Mongo (I can drive a vehicle pulling a trailer, but I don’t like to, and am not up to moving the Things, Max, and the Grinch in and out of the trailer, even if there wasn’t all that gridwall to also work around). Also that I can handle without help, although both HS craft shows make student muscles available. 

I also plan to really, truly, for sure this time get more stuff up on Etsy. To that end, Robin is going to bring Max (the smaller rolling tool case) in to hold merchandise listed on Etsy. It’s going to live in the front entry, where the bins of potion bottles are currently stacked. The bins of potion bottles can go out to Max’s space in the trailer. They previously travelled inside a vehicle instead of the trailer, and have lived in the house, in order to protect the glass contents. Being stored in the non-moving trailer is not a problem. 

We looked at the space this morning, and decided that, because of the shelves behind the front door, it would be easier to put Max into position from the dining room side of the doorway between the front entry and the dining room (Max is going to sit in said doorway, which has been non-human-passable for mumble years and not easily usable by dogs anyway). This morning, while Robin’s out running errands I’ve cleared off the drafting table, covered it with a shipping blanket, and temporarily moved a couple things onto it, and taken down the table that was on the dining room side of the doorway that said things were sitting on. Which mean when I’ve also returned the drafting table to a usable state, yay! 

When Robin gets back we’ll shift the glass bins and finish making space for and access to Max, and I’ll supervise him bringing Max in. I’ve also started shoving a higgeldy-piggeldy box of belts from the dining room out to the living room for sorting and posting on Etsy this weekend. I also have the beginnings of a plan for working on doll clothes, but one thing at a time. Because I seem to be developing the cold that Ron brought home last weekend. 

When we’re in the trailer today I may pull some belt pouches out of one of the Things to post on Etsy. We’ll see how that goes. And Robin is going to put a half-dozen pieces of 6’ gridwall (which fits in Mongo’s bed) in the storage locker, which will be easier for me to access on my own than in the main mass of gridwall in the trailer. 

So, I have a plan for Otter Necessities moving forward.


Otter Necessities' MuseCon Report

I was in charge of the vendor’s room at MuseCon this year for the at-con, part of watching the room, Xap did pre-con stuff, and I took along leatherworking tools and kits, hardware, book covers, hand-bound blank journals/books, doll clothes, and the remaining stash of knitting patterns, yarn, kits, and needles. Sales were reasonable, considering the small size of MuseCon this year (200-ish, I believe). Mostly knitting patterns and yarn. Xap mentioned that she misses doing events, and so do I (looking at the PoS software, our last one was November 2015 - eep!).

Our friend Wendy suggested making lab coats for dolls, as well as wizard’s robes, both of which are pretty close to kosode. Also a way to use some fabric I got recently from Spoonflower that has a bigger pattern than I realized (because I wasn’t paying attention). Somebody else suggested actually displaying them on doll(s). Although I have finally upgraded to a pincushion shaped like a dress form, mostly because I couldn’t find the base to the PVC stand.

I also looked at and remembered why I’ve never pulled the trigger on an American Girl (AG) doll. Ouchie. Sticker shock. But I did find and procure a much less expensive ($20 vs $129) doll that can wear AG doll clothes and vice-versa. I think most of the doll kosode will fit her, and thus AG dolls, which is not a market to be despised.  I also found Maplelea dolls, which is a Canadian company, who has an awfully cute Inuit girl, Saila, who according to Google for exchange rate, is under $100 with shipping. No, no no. Do not need.

In graphic design news I did the MuseCon book differently this year. Instead of the pages being mirrored with three columns, one of which (A, below) being an icon and item number, I went to each page being identical, and only two columns.

Previous page layout, pipe symbol is page gutter:
A B C | C B A
This year’s layout:
B C | B C

I didn’t like losing the icons, but in past years I have pondered which is most appropriate for some items. More importantly, we were in a situation where we were making late late additions to programming, and the layout change simplified that - The previous layout requires a lot more shuffling of text/image boxes because of the mirroring, and numbering is problematic when adding items. So I lost the mirroring, page numbers, and icons. The up-side was that the changes, as well as others, reduced page count, which meant we were able to go with a saddle-stitch (fold & staple) binding, which is cheaper. 

The MuseCon theme this year was “Our Muses Make a Deal”, with the implication that the deal is with the Fae. The silly animal room signs that I’ve done the last couple years weren’t a good fit, and I couldn’t find enough affordable images of non-flittery, vanilla Fae to use. So I rolled back to my stash of images from Art Nouveau, WWI and WWII, WPA, and vintage travel posters, with the wrinkle that I didn’t have Ron to help me with graphics. The silly animals were on white backgrounds with information below, and this year’s signs used the poster images as the sign background with the information superimposed. That meant more work adjusting opacity and text colors for readability, but I enjoy it.

I didn’t make the MuseCon feedback session, but the signage got a bunch of compliments. As for the book, a couple people missed the icons, but it doesn’t sound like there were any real complaints overall. And that’s a win. I also did a first attempt at a brochure for next year, and the Chair really likes it. So that was a success, too.  

Prep for MuseCon, both from signage and Otter Necessities points of view, was complicated by having unplanned surgery to evict my gall bladder at the end of July, which pretty much killed two weeks (between feeling sick before and recovery after). Got a couple little not-quite-completely healed incision sites from that (laproscopic surgery for the win!), but otherwise recovered

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Progress, Finally!

Yesterday I did teh business taxes for last year, and started our personal return. Today I finished them, and then turned the Etsy store back on, and listed everything that's in the house. That was an easy process - find things in either "expired", "inactive", or "sold out" sections, check inventory count, and hit a couple buttons.

Ron's getting a new DSLR, so the older Canon DSLR will be parked on an older, heavy tripod in the dining room. The old DSLR's vibration damper has failed, but since it'll be on a tripod that's no problem. We just have to figure out where the tripod in question has been stashed.

I think that's about it for now, haven't been doing much else Otter-ish since I finished the program book for the floodplain manager's conference.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Well, That Explains That

Well, That Explains That

A couple-few weeks ago I was home from work due to lack of sleep (mostly urpy dog tummy reasons), and got a call from a gentleman who wanted to order a belt. In the course of the conversation I brought up our Etsy store, and realized it was still on vacation setting from when we went out of town for my Brother's wedding. In May.  Oooooops. Well, that explains the dearth of Etsy sales.

Fortunately, the belt the gentleman wanted involved fairly minimal spelunking in the trailer, which Robin accomplished with minimal swearing. And I discovered that PayPal lets you generate USPS labels from within your account, which is convenient.

I've spent most of the last couple-few weekend working on the program book for the annual floodplain managers conference, so haven't gotten Etsy back up and running - besides being on vacation setting, all listings have expired, and I need to go through and see what I have in the house to re-list, as well as listing new things, some of which need to be retrieved from the trailer.
Book goes to the printer Real Soon Now (like next couple days).

Ron built the PVC frame to hold LED strip lights around the light tent. Not as bright as we were hoping, we'll see how it works for photography. Have made space in the dining room for a table for it and moved it off the drafting table, as it also turned out less amenable to taking down for storage than we were thinking.

Still working on doll clothes. The two outfits I sent out as gifts, as mentioned in my last post, went to my Mom, and she really likes them.




Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Assorted Natter

I like my baby sewing machine. Its kind of noisy, and only has one speed (not particularly fast), and probably wouldn't appreciate heavier fabric/more layers, but it works fine for the seams on doll clothes made out of calico/quilter's cotton. It seems machine manufacturers have pretty much settled on one style needle and two of plastic bobbins, so although I bought a package of needles to keep with this machine, it wasn't a necessity (have both style bobbins on hand). Being only about 5 pounds in weight I can indeed pull it out and put it away with minimal effort. I may see if I can find a small battery-operated LED light to put on it, if I get around to it. Otherwise I just use my phone's flashlight function while threading the needle.

Been working on doll clothes, but as mentioned previously, also trying to take it easy on my wrist. Have two outfits finished that I need to iron and send to their new homes (gifts, not purchased).

Still haven't built the frame to hold LED lighting around the light tent, but that's scheduled soonish. Nor have I gotten a chair for the drafting table. I have, however, procured a self-healing cutting mat for it.

I decided that a large mat would be a useful thing for cutting out doll clothing (which I have a couple small mats for already) and paper for bookbinding. I was originally looking at Olfa mats at JoAnn, but fortunately thought to check the Dick Blick website. I got a 36" x 48" non-Olfa but well-rated mat for less than a 24" x 36" Olfa mat from JoAnn (largest size they carry). Came flat, and fits perfectly on the table, given space taken up by the clamps for the drawing arm and the area the arm occupies when parked to one side. It arrived yesterday, and garbage day was today, so the several acres of cardboard packaging went out this morning, thus a win all around.

Sunday I worked on cleaning up the dining room some more, attacking the shelves by the doorway to the kitchen with the help of Robin's muscles and long arms. Several boxes of old paperwork, specialty cookware, and other odds and ends that don't need to be immediately accessible went to storage. Several other items went out to the curb. In the space cleared off we re-arranged a bit, added a bunch of rolls of leather, and most of my bookbinding equipment, plus some doll clothing stuff. The result was both more open floor space and clearing off the drafting table. Which Robin promptly used to put up the light tent to take pictures of some miniatures.

My hope is to get the two bins of potion bottles and other glassware out to the trailer, but haven't gotten sufficient Round Tuits yet. We'd been keeping them in the house because I prefer they travel not in the trailer for fragility reasons, but there's no reason they can't sit in the trailer while parked.

Have a convention program book I need to start work on, for the annual floodplain manager's convention in March. Last year the old iFruit desktop conked out (well, no longer had the intestinal fortitude to run current Adobe software) and I had to finish the book on a laptop, with the new desktop machine arriving a day or two after the book went to the printer. Headdesk, headdesk.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Little-Bitty Bits of Progress

No chair for the drafting table yet.

On my book of poetry project, I dropped the file and paper off at the printer I've worked with for Windycon and MuseCon in the last week of December, and Friday I got the news that the printing was done (I said it was not a rush job). I decided to just have them UPS them to me, and they were delivered today.

Now that I know how many copies I have (they ran a few extra for setup on their end and mine), I can order board for the covers. And Saturday I stopped at PaperSource and failed to resist various designs of decorative paper for the covers.

Last week I ordered some PVC connectors, 3-way elbows, which are essentially box corners, to make a light frame for around the light tent and snake jungle gyms. Saturday morning we picked up some LED strip lighting for the light frame project.

A week or two before Christmas I messed up my right wrist, and it has slowly been getting better, Saturday and Sunday I dug out doll clothing parts, and then found more parts when re-checking small storage bins I'd previously checked the day before, and finished a couple kosode. I've been careful not to do too much and throw the healing back, and seem to be succeeding.

I, um, also bought another sewing machine. Yes, the big industrial beast, serger, and two standard/home-scale machines were not enough. I started looking at small portable machines, thinking that something small and light and not a big deal to haul out and set up would be nice for doing the short straight seams I do by machine on doll clothes.

I ended up ordering a Janome Sew Mini, which is 1/2 or so of the size of a regular machine, and weights in at only 5 pounds (a couple/few standard machines I saw weights on while browsing were in the 25-lb range). It does several stitches, but I expect I'll only use it to straight-stitch, with maybe the occasional zig-zag to finish edges. Only one speed, but for what I want it for, I think that'll be ok. The bits I machine-sew are typically only 2 layers of lightweight cotton, occasionally 4, so I don't need lots of power. It got good reviews, and takes standard Janome bobbins and needles. Thanks to Amazon Prime, it'll be here tomorrow. I am awaiting it eagerly.

(No, I am not a big fan of Amazon for Reasons, and will probably continue to try very very hard not to buy books from Amazon. But Amazon hit the sweet spot on the price/seller-trustworthiness curve, using Amazon Smile benefits MuseCon, so there we are).