Friday, August 30, 2013


Toshiba is nice, and gives Ron both Friday and Monday off for Labor day.  This morning I realized that this means he could go down to Specialty Store Services in DesPlaines and get the additional gridwall we've been discussing since ACen. They don't necessarily have the best prices, but we don't have to pay shipping, which would probably be extra-expensive since it would be to a residential address. I didn't sit down and run the numbers exactly last time I was shopping for gridwall, but I'm pretty sure the price differential will wash out with shipping from the cheaper suppliers.

I opened up the bank account to confirm that we could afford to buy gridwall today, blinked a couple times, and told Ron that it would be no problem. As the result of negotiations between the State and the unions, I'd gotten a couple deposits that will cover it.

We went through the on-line catalog, and decided on another four 2' x 6' sections of gridwall, a dozen 1' x 5' sections (1' x 6' doesn't seem to be available), a couple waterfall hooks, some corner shelves, scanner hooks, and acrylic brochure displays. We usually run out of gridwall before we run out of the 2' wide shelves we use, so we didn't order any more.

That brings us up to 12 pieces of 2' x 6' gridwall, for a total of 24 linear feet if we stretched it out (to display belts we use quarter-circle hangrails). With the added 1' wide gridwall, I'm wondering if we can reduce the number of tables we use.

The plan is that the 1' gridwall will stick out from the main 2' gridwall walls, like so:

Then, the hooks go on the 1' sections, and are long enough that they can hold a belt pouch through both loops. We got "scanner hooks", which have a secondary hook, in the hope that they'll keep the pouches from rotating too much. We'll probably need more hooks than we got today, but we're not sure which type will work best, and hooks are small enough to ship economically.  

The corner shelves are triangular sections of gridwall that hook into the corner formed by two pieces of 2' gridwall. 

The brochure displays are for MuseCon flyers. Because we're like that. Now I need to make some 2014 flyers before Maneki Neko Con.

Unfortunately, we couldn't get all the 1' gridwall we planned on, only three sections. More should be available some time next month. It would be really nice if we could get it by Maneki Neko Con, so we can give everything a good test-run before the bigger events next year (Military History Fest, ACen), but if it doesn't it doesn't. 

This morning was cool enough that I was thinking maybe I could get in and start working on the dining room in the mornings this weekend. I'm feeling the bug to get things made, with an event coming up. Unfortunately, nobody can clean that room for me, at most Ron or Robin can move stuff around as I direct. We'll see if it actually happens or not.

In other shopping news, I just remembered, the 300 yards of cotton twill tape I ordered for tails arrived a couple days ago. Each roll (100 yard roll each of black, off-white, and white) is about 3/4" thick by maybe 9" in diameter. They won't sit on the shelf where I've been keeping the few yards I got from the local fabric store rolled up on an old lace spool, but they won't be a problem to store. I had no idea how big they'd be, and was a little worried.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Schedule and I am Opinionated

Fox Hunt, an SCA event, is coming up on September 7th. Its at Plowman's Park in Big Rock, which is a nice site and not too far away. We'd probably do well at it. But my calendar looks like an ink explosion (although removing Robin's class schedule from it helps), particularly the weeks bracketing Fox Hunt. So we're not going. Ron says I'm not a wimp.

Got the Windycon progress report uploaded to the printer Sunday night, once the backup sucking  CPU cycles finished. There was some communications flail in some related issues, but I think it should be going out Real Soon Now. Which, carp carp carp, reminds me that I never sent the text to the webmaster to make a web page version.  Done. And the first/main deadline for program book content is careening at us (13 Sept.).

Its going to be warm enough this weekend that I don't forsee getting the dining room clean. I will, however, be starting the ACen exhibitor registration process on Sunday. Two spaces! Which will cost more than one space this year (but not double - time-tiered pricing), but less than we grossed this year. I think it'll be worth it. I hope. No, I think. We waffled, but I have capital-D Decided.

But on to the real point of my post today, which I can't seem to reduce down to one pithy bit.

This morning I was looking at a fairly well known crafty/creativity blog, where the blogger posted pictures of a Disney-character-themed steampunk outfit, including a belt pouch she'd made and antiqued. In part by toasting it in the oven.

I did not, quite, scream out loud. I did leave what I hope was a polite non-critical comment as to why this is not a good method for something like a belt pouch (toasting=brittle leather), and suggested that there are many sources out there for other techniques.  (If you suspect you know which blog, mine comment  is in the first 40, and is my Blogger ID, which is what I post under here).

Now, the blogger in question has experienced a lot of the crap that well-known female bloggers are wont to get, as well as personal issues, so I didn't want to be harsh in my comment, and didn't want to leave a trackback to here, which is why there's no link, as her work isn't really what I apparently want to vent about. Her commentariat seems to be very much of the rah-rah-everything-ish-great variety, which makes it just a little more challenging to not sound like a trollish jerk.

The blogger is, IIRC, in her 20s, maybe early 30s. I suspect that this is relevant. She and I may be technically of the same generation, but I think she's enough younger than me to really not have experienced the pre-Google world.

Now, the blogger in question is pretty new to leatherworking. She's also very skilled at some arts/crafts. She does some things that are amazing. She may have applied the technique of aging a piece be toasting it in the oven from some other field. But I have this niggling suspicion that she got the idea from the web.

The web has many wonderful wonderful things on it. It also has deep festering sewers of stupidity. There certainly have been many many books printed that are festering sewers of stupidity, but OTOH, art/craft technique books, especially the leatherworking ones, are usually decent. Publishers of leatherworking books have often been tools/materials suppliers, and an unhappy customer is a lost customer, and lost business.

The internet is wide-open wild wild west territory. Any opinionated goob can put up a blog focused on leatherworking, and if their work looks decent and they write with some basic skill, there's no editor to do the whole editorial input thing like you (HOPEFULLY) get in a book.

And the internet seems to be taking over the instructional market in a big way. I've bought a lot electronic knitting patterns than paper ones in the last year. We've started buying leatherworking books as PDFs that we own as paper copies - Tandy has created the Leathercraft Library with scanned copies of a lot of their books.

But those PDFs cost money, and the other thing that seems to have grown with the rise of internet craft instruction is the drive for freeeeeee information (which is another rant for another day). 

The problem is compounded in leatherworking when people ignore books that are older - a lot of the basic leatherworking books we use are 20+ years old. Yeah, they look dated, but the techniques are solid. Hand-stitching, for example, has been done pretty much the same way for centuries, substituting metal needles for boar bristles, and adding in the convenience of pre-waxed thread.

There's several leatherworking books on the market currently that I haven't bought because there's no new techniques in them, and all the example projects make me say "ewww" ("fashionable" is not a big word in my vocabulary, guilty guilty guilty). OTOH, I have some books from, IIRC, the 1920s and earlier that include chemical recipes that make me cringe.  So no, old does not automatically mean good, either. But if you substitute in modern dyes and finishes, the basic techniques are valid.

I guess my point is that you have to be review internet sources with a more critical mind, because the author may be talking out of their hat, or neglecting to tell you that X is great in Y situation, but has A and B as site effects, because there's no editor to question them. And remember that the internet doesn't hold all the world's knowledge. Those (old) books of techniques? Still useful. They didn't suddenly go out of date just because they aren't on-line.

Monday, August 26, 2013

More Tails

I still haven't cleaned the work room. Saturday was sucked up by MuseCon and Windycon business, and yesterday was too warm. 

Home today because of having the truck in the shop. I've been alternating between working on knitting and sewing swivels on tails. I've gotten 8 out of a dozen tails done. And had both dogs snuggling at different times. Between the tails and the dogs I'm covered in fur. Pippin has been very good about the tails - he's sniffed, and he has to at least turn and look every time I open the bin, but hasn't done any more than that.

Today is supposed to be hotter than yesterday, so cleaning is not going to get done today, either.

Saturday morning I sat down to work on the Windycon progress report, and discovered that I hadn't set up my style sheet (my term) - the document where I define all my text styles. That took a bit, but got it pretty much done before the MuseCon meeting. I finished up the progress report yesterday about 11 am, did a couple-three editing passes with Bill and Angela, and once a backup that was sucking serious CPU cycles was done, I uploaded it to the printer last night.

(if you read my personal blog, I did indeed copy and paste a good chunk of this post from it)

Monday, August 19, 2013

Monday Again?

Still haven't cleaned the work/dining room.  

Got the new bins for the Thing, but still have not re-packed the Thing.

Ordered a dozen more tails, which brought us up to two dozen needing swivels.  Saturday I sewed swivels onto a half-dozen, sent one home with Wash, and  yesterday I did another half-dozen. This is progress - I'm working on something!  And I think I'm getting faster at sewing swivels onto tails.

Thinking of ordering another batch of tails. The most recent batch were all pale, we could use some more darker ones.

Windycon publications work is ramping up. Saturday and/or Sunday I'll be creating a progress report, and then in a couple-three weeks is the first program book deadline.

In scheduling considerations, I've pretty much decided that we'll be doing Boar's Head in December, and not a brand-shiny-new anime con that's being held in Lisle. They're on consecutive weekends, so doing both would be too much. The convention recently had some identity issues that I'm concerned would hurt their projected attendance, and is pricey. Boar's Head, OTOH, is usually good, and we haven't done an SCA event in a while. So we'll stick with the known quantity. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

MuseCon Report

I survived MuseCon. I didn't kill anybody. Yes, that was an accomplishment.

I did get signage done. I got signage printed. Then I got some more things printed. And then some more things printed. The week or two before MuseCon I always end up making multiple trips to Kinko's. Fortunately, there's an office on a not-unreasonable route between home and work.  

One mistake I did make was making and printing errata sheets for the book on Tuesday. Silly person. Friday morning I was making new ones. Note to self, don't try that again - MuseCon has a printer/copier, make the sheets up, and bring the PDF for Registration to run off.

One thing I did right was to give Registration a thumb drive with PDFs of all the documents I thought they might want to print, so they wouldn't have to chase me down. I'm not sure if they used any besides the correction sheet and the one-sheet schedule grid, but they had access to them.

And I actually got leatherworking done! I started a pair of mittens Friday night, but realized that if I was going to be running leather sewing as an Open Build (drop-in workshop), I should probably be actually mucking about with leather so people could see that I was the person to talk to about it. I'd brought the percussion cap pouches I'd started back in, what, February? I finished the sewing on two and have a third at least tacked together (all had already had belt loops sewn on). 

We'd emptied out one of the Things and packed most of our stuff in it - kits and tools for leather sewing (2 sizes of key fobs, book covers, belt pouches), leatherwork for youth (mystery braid bracelets and pre-punched coin pouch kits), Ron's leather tooling class, which meant slabs of granite and *all* of his tooling tools, and paints, miniatures, etc. for Robin's painting wargaming miniatures Open Build. Plus some personal stuff. We still ended up with a suitcase and ukuleles not in the Thing, but it made getting in and out a lot easier. I think we'll be doing that again next year.

Not sure if I'm doing leather sewing again next year. If so, I'll definitely be dropping, re-designing, or doing some pre-assembly on the belt pouch, as doing the belt loop then the gusset makes it take too much time. I had two students who didn't get to finish. One is GT offspring, and had all the hole marking done on the gusset, so I sent him home with an awl, needles, and thread to finish on his own. The other had done some lacing, so he decided he'd take his pouch home and lace the gusset on. 

Next year I am going to do a costuming class - Japanese-style costuming. I'm calling it costuming so I can tell any authenticity fascists to stuff it. My plan at this point is to do a scheduled session on Friday talking about the various garments and basic layout and construction, and then do an Open Build for doll clothes version of the garb we wear (and get compliments on) to events. 

Looking at hiring a cleaning service at home, because the house is *still* a mess from ACen prep. and I'm sick and tired of it, but I'm not getting much done about it. Cleaning Fairies (as in magical beings that clean house when you're not looking) don't put crap away, but would help. And we actually got *raises* at the day job. No, the state is still broke, but the unions bludgeoned the state into giving us something for cost of living. Together with some other changes in what goes into and comes out of my paycheck, I'm pretty sure I'm going to hire Cleaning Fairies.  But not for my workroom, because I don't want to scare them to death, and much of the time I wouldn't them messing about in there anyway.

On that vein, my plan for this coming weekend is some housecleaning. Because even if we do hire Cleaning Fairies, e have to put our own carp away, and oh great Flying Spaghetti Monster, my workroom is a complete disaster, and unusable as is.  And I think I'm finally ready to get back to work. And maybe we can actually record sales/inventory from ACen, because no, we haven't done that yet, ad way too overdue. Yes, I am embarrassed to admit that. 

Provided I don't just sleep all weekend. I'm not up to this staying-up-late-at-convention thing any more. Gronk, I am a dinosaur, gronk gronk. I was thinking about going home early and taking a nap, but at some point a repair person should, hopefully, be coming out to fix the front windshield on the Kia (stone chipped/cracked yesterday AM). 

Must remember to stop at the Container Store this afternoon and get two new smaller vaguely milk-crate-like bins to replace a large one currently in use in one of the Things - it's too easy to over-pack, and then the sides bow out, and the other bins don't stack on top of it nicely. Ron has declared that It Will Be Replaced, and since we're re-packing tonight, now's the time to do it.