Saturday, August 27, 2011

Blah Blah Blah Stuff-Cakes

As referred to over on the personal blog, today is working on the side (kitchen) porch day. 

However, before Ron got home with X1 and X2 last night, Robin went trailer spelunking for me, we pulled out the merchandise boxes containing pouches, and I pulled out all the pouches listed on Etsy and ArtFire, all the little square black pouches, and all the frogs (all the little black pouches because they sell the fastest, and the frogs because they're small). 

Last night I got the new flourescent-friendly fixtures for the dining room, and Robin put bulbs in them and put them up this morning (I'm not quite tall enough).  One is defective, but haven't been back to Home Depot yet.  At worst I'll stop at the HD near my office and exchange it. 

I don't think I'm going to have to rearrange the furniture in the dining room.  I may still move the big sewing machine over a couple/few inches, but that may not even be necessary. 

I remember from using this workbench before that the shelf needed extra support if there was much weight on it - set screws in dimples in the legs just weren't up to much.  We had an un-treated 2x4 that wasn't used for concrete formwork, so Ron cut supports for me.

Oops, I had him cut them a hair long.  I had to put most of them in with the help of a mallet, and I'm pretty sure the proper bench legs are no longer weight-bearing.  OTOH there's no instability (I have 8 chunks of 2x4 for supports) and when (I'm thinking it will be a when, not an if) the set screws give up the ghost it won't be a big drop.

Currently have my laptop set up on said bench, pretending to supervise the porch construction, also watching the neighbors move some furniture in, dogs, neighbor kids, etc.

And I've actually dined in the dining room!

Why yes, this is a rare and special event. I don't think it's the first time, though.

Sounds like construction is about done for the day.

Hmm.  Maybe I'll see what I have in the way of ecru and aqua ribbon.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Partial Holding Pattern

Payment for the die hasn't hit the checking account yet.  I only placed the order a week ago yesterday afternoon, so I'm being impatient.  I never claimed that I was patient.

No pictures taken.  No progress on prototype pouch for MuseCon class.  But I did re-sew two buttons on Robin's kilt this morning; one that fell off yesterday, one that looked iffy.  Does that count for anything? 

I had a message waiting for me this morning from a potential Etsy customer.  To answer it means digging out one of the pouches for sale. I e-mailed the listing to Robin so he'd have a picture of the pouch he'd be looking for.  :)  I also told him to go ahead and dig all the merchandise boxes out.  Time to sort out all the merchandise for sale on Etsy and ArtFire.

Although I'm not quite sure when my next live sales event will be (possibly the SCA event Boar's Head), I don't plan on leaving things for sale on-line at home, which means I need a way to identify them when packing up at an event.  There are couple options that don't work: 
  • Putting them together on the table.  Except I rearrange things as the day goes on, or at least that's what happens when we have sales.  Customers also move things.
  • Bring a list to refer to when packing up.  This would work, but it would be a nuisance, and slow things down.
Not having a radio in the Kia means I actually think while driving.  This morning my brain took on the above quandry. 

Color-coded tags would work, as they'd be reasonably visible.  But tags tend to come in lots of Lots and Lots.  I'd also like them not to be in eye-catching colors that imply "On Sale", as red, yellow, and orange would do. Colors like green and blue would be better. I could color white tags (hah!).  And new tags would mean re-writing and re-tagging, and I'm lazy.  Finally, it would be nice to be able to differentiate ArtFire things from Etsy things, refer back to first consideration re: Lots and Lots.

Then "ribbons" floated to the surface of my brain.  Hmm. The rolls of 1/8" wide or 1/4" wide satin from big craft places are reasonably cheap, but shouldn't look too cheesy. Comes in lots of colors.  Can be tied wherever the tag is, without necessitating new tags, or implying special pricing, as a colored tag might.  Ecru for Etsy and Aqua for Artfire (and one can take a very broad definition of "aqua").

I think we have a winner! 

Tonight and tomorrow Ron, Robin, Marmaduke, and X1 will be working on framing for the kitchen porch.  I'll probably be sorting through merchandise (must check weather to see if I must bring everything in for the night).  Depending on my enthusiasm level I may also throw myself at the dining room, since we'll have several strong young backs to help move the big sewing machine  if  when I decide how far it needs to go.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Progress Lurches Along

Last weekend I found a bin of new(ish) merchandise in the living room, and inventoried it.  It included the new(ish) smaller purses.  I thought we took pictures of those purses already, but either:
(A) I'm hallucinating; or
(B) they were never pulled off a memory card and are now lost

The original plan for the weekend was to take pictures of the stuff in the bin (mostly pouches), and belts.  

Didn't happen.

Saturday was pretty much a write-off, for reasons including Robin's midday karate class, lack of sleep, and other not-particularly-germane things.

The "one of everything" belt bin did get in from the trailer, though; and I've just sent it upstairs to Ron's room.  

I did not go through all the bins in the trailer and pull out the stuff for sale on-line, because Marmaduke was over yesterday and he and Robin were busy gaming, and today I just wasn't up to it, and I don't think Robin was either.

I did cut out a prototype for a small stitched pouch to possibly make in a class at next year's MuseCon.  It's currently stalled on needing to be taken out to the dining room and having a stud put on it.  Then I can do the last seam and it will be done.  More natter about that later, probably.

We also added another piece of furniture to the dining room.  Ron remembered that we have had a stainless-steel workbench in pieces in the basement. Yesterday morning it was brought up and re-assembled, to be used for lampworking and whatever else one could use a table/workbench for. It sits right in front of the window in the room that opens, so we could even rig an exhaust port for wintertime lampworking.

Unfortunately, I think the addition of said piece of furniture is going to lead to rearranging more or less of the rest of the furniture, so that we can use the big sewing machine.  If we're lucky it'll just be moving the sewing machine over a bit.  Or maybe swapping it with the shelving unit (with wheels!) that holds the splitter and other things.  I considered attacking it yesterday when Marmaduke was over to help Robin move heavy things, but decided that was too much like work.   

I've decided that I'm going to get new fixtures for the track lighting in the dining room.  The halogens we've currently got out there are just too [expletive] hot.  And unlike the track lights in the living room we can't just switch to flourescent bulbs - I'm going to have to get new flourescent-compatible  fixtures (the current ones hold onto the rim of the halogen bulbs, so it's a form-factor thing).  

So that's where we are - a little progress that I can see, but not that's particularly visible to anyone else.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

To Die For

I got the third quote on the die today.  

I sent the requests to: 
  • Tippmann Industrial, who also makes clicker presses, sewing machines, and other stuff, much of which is for leatherworking.  I don't own anything from them, but their reputation is good.
  • Weaver Leather, which is where I buy most of my leather, and where I bought the set of three dies for satchel parts and the armor scale die; and 
  • Ontario Die, a Canadian company with an office in Port Huron, MI.  I don't remember how I found them originally.  IIRC somebody there was helpful in a general-knowledge kind of way, so I've remembered them.
 Tippmann's quote was X.  Weaver's quote was X+20 for a die with bracing in the middle, or X+40 for fully-braced plus ejection foam.  Ontario Die's quote was for just shy of 2X.  

I got Tippmann's quote first, then Weaver's.  I called and asked about bracing, and the guy at Tippmann said that once a die gets over a certain size they brace it, they don't want to get it back for straightening.  Ejection foam is nice, but not a big deal.  If I feel I really must have it, I'll get some closed-cell foam and DIY.  

I ordered the die from Tippmann.  The e-mail quote I got said that they have about a week lead time before starting production.  I didn't think to ask how long it would take to make the die, but I don't think it's a terribly long process.  So I'm guesstimating that I'll have it in a couple weeks.  

Now I must be patient . . .

. . . and think of what other creative uses there are for the piece it will cut.  Jumbo key fob, anyone?


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Belts and Dies

Let's go back to my comment yesterday about getting a die to cut a part for kilt/Sam Browne belts. (although modern Sam Browne belts for military and police don't have the shoulder straps, I've gotten into the habit of calling the ones without shoulder straps kilt belts. And it's my blog, so there you go.)

These belts are 2-1/4" wide, and use a double-tongue buckle *and* a hook. You can see the buckle and hook, as well as other hardware needed to build a Sam Browne belt here.  

The hook goes at the end of the belt where you'd normally expect to see the buckle.  The billet end of the belt (the end with the holes) is buckled through the buckle, which stays there.  You fasten and unfasten the belt by hooking onto the buckle from behind.  

Now, if you get a belt from a certain utility kilt company out on the left coast, they use a Sam Browne belt buckle, but use it without the hook, treating it like a normal belt buckle. And that's what I did with the "kilt belts" that I made for sale. But because of the small size of the outer rectangle of the belt buckle, this doesn't work very well, there's really not enough room for two layers of leather to go through the buckle neatly.

With the Sam Browne belts I've made, and Robin's kilt belt (which is eventually going to get the rest of the hardware for shoulder straps), I made them properly, using hooks.  And I've been meaning to go back and retro-fit the hookless kilt belts I have for sale. The problem is that it's not a pleasant shape to cut - two ellipses with a center narrower part, and the whole thing is curves. It doesn't show when you wear the belt, but I wanted it to look like all the other parts, which are also curvy and ellipse-based. (And also a pain to cut - but I don't think I can justify dies for them).
Therefore, I finally got around to sending out requests for quotes for a die to make cutting it out easy.  I sent them to three firms last night.  I've gotten one back, and the profits from three belts would pay for it. Looks like I'm going to be buying a new die, once I get the other two quotes and decide who I'm buying from.  

One of the outstanding quotes is the company I buy most of my leather and hardware from, and where I got my other dies (satchel parts and armor scale).  If they're competitive in price I'll probably stick with them, but I thought it would be sensible to find out where they fall in terms of pricing.

For Ron and Robin's belts I sewed the hook piece on by hand.  But I've got this big sewing machine that does this kind of job much faster and with less stress on my hands and wrists.  So I think kilt belts for sale will be done by machine.  

Monday, August 15, 2011

Brain Back from MuseCon!

Woo hoo!  My brain isn't being consumed by MuseCon any more!  And although I did the WindyCon Progress Report this weekend, WindyCon hasn't eaten my brain yet.  And probably won't as badly as MuseCon, since I only do Publications for WindyCon.  

My next Graphic Arts class starts a week from tomorrow.  I'm taking Variable Data Technologies, which teaches you how to get data from Excel into InDesign - like creating "personalized" junk mail. It sounds interesting.  So that's where I'll be Tuesday nights until, IIRC, December.  Different instructor than the first two classes I took, which I'm kind of looking forward to, also.

So, what, specifically, has been up with Otter Necessities lately?

Not a whole lot, as you might guess.  But I'm trying to get back into harness.

I de-listed everything on ArtFire and I'm re-listing one or two every day or so, to try to help with search results since the default is showing most recently listed first.  Etsy now default-sorts by relevancy, but I'm doing the same trickle-listing on Etsy.  I figured out how to the "how to measure a belt" diagram on ArtFire in the gallery, don't see a similar function on Etsy, so it looks like it'll be something I post as a secondary picture with each belt listing.

Still no ArtFire sales, only Etsy.  Maintaining both isn't a lot more work than doing one, though, so I'll give it some more time and attention.  
Books are caught up, except for one transaction I forgot - the book cover I made for one of the staff at the high school, so it didn't have an Etsy/PayPal/FedEx paper trail.  

Where was I on This, That, and The Other Thing? 
My plan to see what I had in production was simplified yesterday by removal of The Saw, which has been eating up dining room space for the last few months, to the back porch to build formwork for concrete related to side porch reconstruction.  Ron said I had an unholy gleam in my eyes when he told me it would be outside for part of the day. 

I'd already found a bin of finished but un-inventoried merchandise, to which I added several half-done items, some paperwork-ish bits, and made a list of what was cut out but otherwise not very far along in assembly.

I got all the finished and mostly-done things tagged and inventoried, and also finished lacing up a lace mania purse and sewed the back on a small Sam-Browne-Project-ish pouch.  That pouch and another one of the same style just need minor finishing work now.  All the finished items were sent up to Ron's room to have their pictures taken.  That includes five of the newest smaller purse.  Which I also figured out a price for.  And updated the price list.

And as Bob as my Witless we WILL get pictures taken of belts!

Marmaduke (friend of Robin's, who has adopted us) came over in the afternoon, so I didn't dragoon Robin into helping me sort merchandise from the trailer - I want to put all of the stuff that's listed (or inactive) on Etsy/ArtFire into one (or a few) bins, so that it's easy to find.  

Fox Hunt is next weekend, merchants will be outdoors.  Passing on that, especially since Ron's back has been crabby since MuseCon.

The Palatine HS fall craft fair is either the weekend before or the weekend after WindyCon, so that's Right Out.  

The SCA event Boar's Head is around December 10th.  We're used to do well there, before the economy tanked, and since we haven't been in a couple-few years it's probably worth the drive.  

The weekend after Boar's Head is the Fremd HS craft fair.  I get the impression it's bigger/better than PHS's.  Only second-floor spaces are left, and those cost about what we grossed at the PHS spring fair.  Ron says no, I'm waffling.  Maybe I'll go scope it out and if it looks like a better show than PHS's see about the spring show. The vendor list looks better, anyway.

Sorta-Kinda Meta Stuff 
Considering, again, getting a bunch of templates cut out.  I have a bunch of patterns I'd like to get made, but we don't have enough Round Tuits. This place, that a friend had found, will laser-cut almost as much as you want out of an X by Y size piece of acrylic for a set price, which includes shipping - I say "almost as much" because there is language that implies if you have zillions of tiny pieces the cost goes up, but for my templates I highly doubt that clause would kick in.  

I'm also considering getting quotes for a couple more cutting dies for one part of Sam Browne/kilt belts, and cutting the rounded end for those belts.  

MuseCon Class
Circling back to MuseCon, the leather sewing class (key fob) went well.  I've already told Xap I'd like to do it again, and will probably have more project options.  The basic key fob would remain free, the options would probably range in the $5-15 range.  I'm also looking at taking orders for a basic stitching kit - a book I like and basic tools.  

This year class registration went live in May.  The goal is to have it available even earlier for next year, so I should get my prototypes for possible class projects made soon-ish, and decide which ones I'm going to offer.  

The options for additional projects are:
  • A little flat envelope-like pouch
  • A small pouch with a gusset (need to come up with or tweak existing design)
  • Paperback book cover
  • Belt
And just to make the admins' lives fun, I can offer color options (brown or black) for each!  Hmm.  The flat envelope pouch is made out of fairly soft leather, which widens the color options even more.  But I probably won't do that to the admins. The gusseted pouch, book cover and belt would definitely require pre-reg, the envelope pouch less so.  

Still on the To-Do List (not in order)
  • Pictures 
  • List belts and smaller purses (and other items)
  • Sorting Etsy/ArtFire merchandise out of the main mass in the bins
  • Kilt belt for X2
  • Shoulder straps for Ron and Robin's kilt/Sam Browne belts
  • Retrofitting the kilt belts for sale 
  • Checking to see if I have an outstanding e-mail order  
  • Fixing the pouch with a broken latch I found, which I think belongs to X2.
  • Get the one book cover I forgot into the books