Friday, December 23, 2011

Best Laid Plans, Etc.

Got none of the things I meant to try to do last night done. In my defense, it's because we went to Williams-Sonoma where we got pie weights and cheesecloth for the brewing of mead, tagine seasoning for use in the tagine for dinner tonight, and I resisted an egg-waffle pan. Temporarily. 

(egg waffles, I am given to understand, are a Hong Kong street food.  They look yummy.)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Some More Progress

Monday at lunch I finished up the miniature Lace Mania pouch.

That's one of the small rotary latches on it. The pocket watch it's intended to hold is 2-1/4" wide and 3-1/4" tall, which should give you and idea of the size - small and disgustingly cute.

It went off in the post today. The customer was very pleased with it based on this picture, and although I was worried about it being wide enough, experiments with my iPod and iPhone indicate that it will be ok. Ron thinks I should make some more, and I'm thinking the same.

The chestnut-red leather thing its leaning on is the cartridge pouch that Ron finished up. All that's left is for me to cut the shoulder strap for it. I'll try to get a picture of it soon. Still not sure what I'm cutting out for Ron next.

Last night I was poking at my shipping label/receipt template. I've been using an InDesign document, but I recently figured out how to make a fill-in-able PDF, so I've converted it to that form, we'll see if it works the way I want next time I have an order going out FedEx. USPS generates a page that prints as-is, FedEx generates just the label image that I paste into my label/receipt. I actually prefer the FedEx method, because the lower half of the USPS-generated page is unnecessary instructions, so I end up printing the receipt on another piece of paper.

On the missing tool front, I ordered replacements for the stitch wheel, edger, head knife, and I went ahead and did get a stitch groover. I also succumbed to ooh-shiny-itis and got a skiving knife (skiving is shaving down the thickness of leather). I can skive with a head knife, and I have a skiving knife that needs sharpening, but as I said: ooh-shiny.

The new tools arrived Tuesday, and today I took the skiving knife back - the edge of the blade was not the straight line it was supposed to be. I'm not blaming the people at the local store, it's a quality control thing farther up the line. And they had no problem exchanging it for me.

The missing tools haven't shown back up yet, I expect they're waiting until I actually use the new tools. 

Monday I got in leather that I'd ordered. Two were for making molded pouch fronts, they're pretty much what I expected, maybe a bit nicer. The other, a black, is meh. I won't bother returning it, but I won't be buying it again, either, unless it turns into a swan when I start working with it. It's a little stiff, which is ok, but it also feels like it's going to be hard to cut. And the finish is glossier than I prefer. 

Robin has been working on cleaning up and rearranging parts of the basement; so hopefully this weekend he and Ron can build me a cart for merchandise boxes, get the rest of them in, and I can do inventory. 

My goal tonight is to list the small purses on Etsy, maybe a couple more pouches, maybe start getting belts up on ArtFire. 

I've also been thinking about the design for a small pouch for a class for MuseCon. When I make pouches I mark the stitching holes on the body only, then punch through the glued-together body and gusset together. It would be simpler for a class to have pattern pieces marked with the stitch hole locations and let the students punch each piece separately, rather than having to glue together and deal with the resulting pieces that don't lay flat politely. My first attempt at a pattern made that way wasn't wildly successful, but I've got a couple ideas on what to change. 

I'd like to poke at pattern creation/modification again tonight, but besides work on Etsy and possibly ArtFire I have some more bookwork to do, recording the latest sales and purchases. Boring, but I've been keeping up with it better than some years, which makes me much saner come tax time, which is careening closer by the minute.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Belts on Etsy! Etsy Coupon Code! And General Natter!

First off, I've finally gotten belts posted on Etsy! (is that "thunk"-ing noise the sound of you fainting? I thought so...).  Not all the styles, and I haven't gotten any up on ArtFire, but it's a start. So far I have two styles of 1.5" wide "mundane" belts, wide belts with rings, and narrow belts with rings.

To celebrate, I've created a coupon code: BELTCELEBRATION, which is good for 10% off everything, including pouches, frogs, etc. Good through at least the 26th. 

I wanted to do a coupon to mimic what I do at events, which is if you buy two items you get $5 off, but Etsy coupons can only be for free shipping, or X% off.  Grumble.

Yesterday Robin got the cutting table in the basement cleared off, and will be working on rearranging/cleaning up various things in the basement as a result for the next few days. I have a faint hope that once he's done I'll be able to move one of the leather carts from the dining room down to the basement, to hold the (large) rolls of leather that are likely to be cut into belts or otherwise broken down on the cutting table.

Thinking about the repercussion(s) of listing belts on-line, that means I probably should bring the bins of belts in the house from the trailer. And if I'm going to bring the belts in, (or rather, have Robin bring them in), I might as well have all the merchandise bins in the house.

So Friday night, when we were out getting shelving for the basement project, we also got some lumber and wheels to make a cart to stack the merchandise bins on.  That way I can evict them from the dining room to the kitchen (or the front entry, if we ever get that doorway cleaned up) when I need/want space in the dining room to work. Cart construction is awaiting Robin to finish the rearranging, as it includes the woodworking shop-ish space in the basement.

I didn't get as much work on making new pouches done this weekend as I would have liked to, since Saturday was pretty much a loss. However, Ron did get a Civil War-era cartridge pouch done (I just need to make the shoulder strap). I asked him what I should cut out for him to work on next, but he hasn't answered yet.  :)

Yesterday I worked on a miniature lace mania pouch - I got an inquiry via Etsy for a pouch to hold a pocket watch, and that's what the customer decided on. It's disgustingly cute, pictures to follow once I finish it up (probably at lunch today). Ron and I are thinking it's not going to be a one-off. We use good rivets that aren't likely to scratch things inside a pouch, but since I know this one is for a watch, I decided I'd rather do the job right and line it. 

I think that it's probably time to do inventory again, very likely in the next week or so. It's not a big fat hairy deal, but it is a nuisance. I do reasonably well at keeping track of things, especially since I started numbering and tagging pouches as they're made, but errors still creep in and the inventory on paper can drift from the real thing, especially with hardware and belts. (Yes, I know, it's probably a requirement for tax purposes, but I'm talking about a for-my-sanity inventory check here). 

I'm also perturbed about missing tools. I'm not sure where my 5- and 6-stitches/inch stitch markers are, a stitching groover, and or two of my good head knives. Or maybe just one. I checked (and cleaned up) around one end of the couch where I thought they might have fallen, but there they aren't. I may just bite the bullet and order new stitch markers and maybe a head knife from Weaver - and then once I do I'll find the ones that are hiding. Having duplicates of the stitch markers is ok, especially since I plan to teach at MuseCon again. Not so much another head knife, but my sanity is probably worth getting one. I've got another acceptable groover, and don't think I'll need a third, so I'll take my chances it's with the other tools.

A similar circumstance is why I have duplicates of some end/slot punches, and a different style knife, so I know whereof I speak on the reappearing. Although they'll wait until I wouldn't feel right in returning the head knife, sigh...

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Even More Flailing

Last week ended up being completely made of flail, as Ron was checked into the hospital Wednesday evening, and was there until Saturday evening.  I did end up with an order from the phone message that Ron took, and got that shipped out.  But my evenings were spent at the hospital.

Saturday morning I did get a little work done - I found the parts to a Civil War-era cartridge pouch that we'd started on, found the pattern and instructions, confirmed that I had all the necessary parts and hardware, and packed it up with the necessary supplies for Ron to work on  sewing it together.  
Except I didn't get to the hospital, after dropping Robin off at Cookie Lab, after karate, until almost 2:00, and we figured it wasn't worth bringing it in, as he was hoping to get released soon.

I should have brought it in, the doctor probably would have shown up much sooner if Ron had started sewing!  :D

Saturday morning I also looked at what pouches I have in various stages of completion, and worked on three of the smallest soft pouches I had cut out. . . and set the latches an inch too low on the fronts. Which is not a disaster, it just means I have to cut three back/flaps with flaps an extra inch long, and new fronts to replace the ones I messed up. But it was annoying.

Sunday we were both pooped, so nothing happened. Monday night was more recovery. Tonight I have the final for my Graphic Arts class, but I can take it on-line from home, so I might possibly be able to accomplish something. Except that we've started keeping the dogs in the kitchen during the day, with access to outside via the new-ish dog door, so I have to make sure I do dishes every night. And I'm thinking by the time I do dishes and take my final I'll be ready for bed again.  Sigh...

But I have good intentions, dammit!  Maybe tomorrow...

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Monday and Tuesday Not as Planned

For various reasons, Monday evening and Tuesday were pretty much a complete loss.  

On the other hand, during Monday night's or Tuesday's flailing about, I got an Etsy order for a little square soft belt pouch, and last night while I was at my current Graphic Arts class (Variable Data Technologies, aka Junk Mail Production), Ron took a message from someone who phoned with questions about a possible order.

Also, the zip ties and zip tie gun arrived yesterday, as expected. 

This morning, no longer being at the end of my rope, I dug the little black belt pouch for the Etsy order out of the bins, and located a couple possible items for the phone customer. While doing so I pulled out the garb, and found the receipt books. 

I pulled the things off of Etsy and ArtFire that sold at Boar's Head, and figured out how to do a US Postal Service shipping label with postage. I'd tried once before, but their helper application is Windows-only. Although this morning I figured out it's an unnecessary app, you just open the file the web site generates in Adobe Acrobat and print from there.  Yay me!  

I did have a space cadet moment and set it up to mail from the office (even with home as the return address), instead of just sticking it in our mailbox at home - with is plenty big enough for the box in question.  Duuuh.  Oh well, it didn't change the postage, just caused an unnecessary carrying-about of an 8-ounce box this morning.  Oooh, the tragedy.  

So, I still need to wash some garb and put other stuff away, and do books, but the more pressing post-event business is taken care of. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Festival of Maidens Probable

I called about Maidens, and sent in my information.  It was a teeny bit frustrating, as they don't break the merchant space up into spaces, they ask how much space you'd like.  Err, um.  I finally said I was happy with the 10' x 20' space at Boar's Head, but I can also work with just about any space and/or configuration I end up with - straight line, corner, along a wall, in the middle of the room, whatever; and that I usually ask for two spaces when merchant space is broken up into space units.

I wasn't told that the merchant space was full (not surprisingly - SCA merchants spaces tend to fill up much later than SF con dealer spaces in my experience), but I'm also not assuming at this point that I'm guaranteed space,  in part because I hadn't seen a response to my e-mail as of this morning.

But, I went ahead and made a hotel reservation anyway - the event as at the U of I Union, which has hotel rooms in it, and that's where I made my reservation - why drive to and from another hotel when we can just stay there?  If something happens that we don't get merchant space (which I figure is unlikely), I can cancel.

Interestingly, the information for merchants says that they're looking for an emphasis on handmade items.  No problem, the only things that don't count are the little bit belt-related hardware (which all goes on one one-foot-square-ish display board), and the alpaca fleece/roving and knitting patterns we get from Ron's parents. Pedants might also include the machine-sewn satchels and belt satchels, but that still wouldn't be a big deal to not put them out, although I expect the dividing line is more along the lines of "handmade" vs. factory-mass-produced.

Of course, for some of the things, satchels, belt satchels, and soft pouches in particular, I do engage in small-scale assembly-line-ish or mass production - cut out a bunch at once, then do various steps on all (or a bunch of them) at a time.

Maybe tonight I can get the bookkeeping done from Boar's Head. I lacked sufficient brainpower yesterday. Which reminds me, I need to pull two pouches that sold Saturday off of Etsy and ArtFire. I also need to unpack garb and get things into the laundry pile and/or put away, as well as putting back away the stack of garb we were rooting through Friday night finding something for Xap to wear.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Yes. Ages. I Know, I Know!

Yes, it's been ages. No, still no belts on Etsy or ArtFire.

That said, there's been progress elsewhere in Otter Necessities -land.

Yesterday was Boar's Head (SCA, north of Milwaukee). Friday morning I realized we haven't re-built the frame for the folding scaffolding, which is what we've been hanging belts on. And we need a (better) way to display belts.

Gridwall.  We've debated it before. Robert Ham has a warehouse south of Chicago, but that's a haul.  I googled. Well what do you know, a store fixture supplier in Des Plaines!  I called and ordered 4 panels, then since both Ron and I were home (see my personal blog for more natter about that), off we went.

When we got to Specialty Store Services, we looked around their showroom.  And added on to our order. We ended up with 8 gridwall panels (2' x 6'), 4 quarter-circle hanging bars, and two sizes of shelves - 3.5" deep with a front lip, and 6" deep.

In the afternoon I did the packing up of tools, etc. that I didn't get to do Thursday night because of the low-stress but horribly long ER trip Thursday night.

Got up at 4:45 am yesterday, and hauled up to West Bend. We'd rented a small U-Haul instead of taking the big trailer, which was nice. (Robin loaded it Friday night).

Xap went with us, and had many helpful suggestions on setup with gridwall. We had two 10'x10' spaces end to end, and two of the site's 8' tables. Those were in a line, pulled back from the font edge of our space, with our 4' tables making a very wide very shallow U on the ends, opening toward the front. At each end we had an L of gridwall, with two of the quarter-circle bars on each, where belts were hung. In the center of the two big tables was a T of gridwall, with the stick of the T between the two tables. The last piece of gridwall was grafted to one of Vees holding belts. We had shelving on the T and the extension to the one V. It worked out really well, I'll have to get copies of Xap's pictures.

We had about 24 linear feet of table space, plus space on the gridwall, so I put out everything: Alpaca fiber, knitting patterns, even the steampunk-ish merchandise. And we sold bits of everything. We did get some teasing about the wrist-rockets, but nobody was snarky. One set of wrist-rockets tried to grow feet, but Ron nicely chased them back. Hopefully it was a moment of extreme (pre/early-teen-) stoopid, and not a habit.

Xap also suggested curtains for the quarter-circle hanging bars, so you can see the belts better - less distraction from the tails hanging down behind. I'm going to make 4, all the same length - the ones for the top bars only need to go down a bit below the lower bars, not all the way to the floor. And if I make them all the same, we don't have to worry about grabbing the wrong length. In a happy coincidence, about a week ago I got 30 yards of unbleached pre-washed muslin.

Xap was also a very good salesperson. I don't even have my price list memorized any more, so all she had to learn was what the various things were (some of the names I use for things are not always obvious), which was mostly belts, as pouches are pretty well tagged.

The day started out horribly slow. Usually we sell a couple-few belts and maybe a pouch or two right off to people that forgot theirs, new people, etc.; and then people look but don't buy much until afternoon. Skipping that first little batch of sales made me really nervous. But it turned out to be a decent day. Not as good as some years, but that's when the economy was at a level I don't expect to see again any time soon (if at all).  We paid for the day (fees, gas, food), the gridwall, and 3 days rental on the U-Haul (being used today to help Xap move some appliances), plus some.

This morning I ordered 2000 cable ties (1K each of two lengths), and a cable tie gun. We'd gotten some of the official gridwall connectors, and a bag of a hundred cable ties for connecting gridwall. Ron quickly decided to stick to cable ties, and we also used some for hanging things up once the shelves were filled.

The 3.5" deep shelves worked better than the 6" deep.  We'll be getting more of those.

Once I'm done here I'll probably head out to Home Despot for a hundred or two S-hooks, and I'll raid the scrap bin for wide belt cutoffs to put nice ends on and holes in: thread a pouch or two on, and hang with S-hooks. Much like is done at the local SF conventions with gridwall.

Why yes, I am cheerfully stealing good ideas! I are S-M-R-T Smart!

I e-mailed the Capricon Dealer's Room coordinator yesterday, and there's still space at Cap.  But, Festival of Maidens (in Champaign) is the last weekend in January, is cheaper, and we'll probably do better there. I'll give the person in charge of merchants there a call once I'm done here, and if there's space we'll go to Maidens instead of Cap.

We're still pretty good on soft pouches, but we could use more hard pouches (did before yesterday). And we need to re-stock belts. But I can do a lot of pouches in almost two months, and re-stocking belts is only a few hours work over a couple evenings. But I'm getting too old to cut on the floor, I need the cutting table re-cleared (currently covered in beekeeping equipment). Fortunately, Robin can be bribed to do that by reminding him that if he does, he and Marmaduke can use it for miniature wargames (which is part of the reason it's already gridded with 6" squares).

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Pictures! We got pictures!

Bwah ha ha ha ha!  We took pictures yesterday!  Lots and lots of pictures!

Belts, (except for kilt belts), and a bunch of purses and pouches.  We started with Ron taking the pictures and me setting stuff up on the table, then I finished up while Ron took Robin to karate.  It was a slower process doing it all by myself, but not too bad.  Ron tweaked the exposure, etc. in Lightroom (correct one, apply to batch), then I cropped. 

I exported to the proper size JPEG today, but haven't posted anything yet.  

Also continued work on the steampunk cargo carriers today, after I finished up a knitting project.  I got the lacing done on all three flaps for the pockets.  

Now, I think, it may be time to go off to the tub.  Besides doing Otter-ish stuff I've been on a cooking binge all weekend.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Progress! But Not Pictures

Still no pictures.  Still no belts on Etsy/ArtFire.  

A couple days ago I was on the Tandy/Leather Factory web site and our attention was grabbed by a sale on "Bright Upholstery Hides". Friday I went to the local store and got a nice dark green one. A little while ago I e-mailed AltKilt and asked if 45 square feet would be big enough to make a kilt for Ron, and what she'd charge for the job. I could do it myself, but I'm willing to pay an expert.

I also got a bright blue hide. Again, about 45 square feet. These are the biggest individual pieces of leather I've ever bought - usually I buy sides, which are about half the size.  I also bought several pieces of split that were on sale, so at well over 100 square feet of leather, it was one of the larger purchases in terms of square footage that I've ever made, too.  I have, however, spent a lot more money.  

I've got some nice red garment/upholstery leather already, and some nice heavier bright yellow, so I ignored the other colors.  

Going back to the split that I purchased, it's what's left when you split a piece of leather down in thickness. It has very little strength (most of the strength in leather is in the grain, or "nice" surface), but it's useful for adding heft/stiffness to something like a cow's worth of blue upholstery leather.  The "soft" pouches I make, for the most part, actually need something stiffer than upholstery leather.  And I've got a lot of blue to play with now . . .

Yesterday I was feeling seriously anti-social and was having a rather bad attitude, so I stayed home instead of going to the MuseCon wrapup meeting/party.  Ron had heard all my input already anyhow.
I did get the steampunk cargo carrier pocket flaps ready to lace, sew on, and the latches set.  I still have to decide exactly how the whole thing is going to go on a belt, add loops/dees, and assemble everything - although I'm going to go ahead and start sewing/lacing the pockets.

Today I attacked the dining room mess. I emptied out some wire bins that were part of a couple shelving units many years ago, and the bins themselves are now at the curb. One big Rubbermaid bin has been slated to be banished to the basement, and another is holding the rolls of wierd/old leather I got really cheap last year. I've thrown out a large shopping bag of stuff. There's not much more floor visible right now than when I started, but I've seen the floor and can easily re-locate it. Getting the garbage and bin to go to the basement out of here will help too.

Time to go work on dinner: mexican chicken pot pie. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

That Was the Week That Was

Following on from our last installment, I did find ribbon and be-ribbon the Etsy/ArtFire merchandise.  

The cutting die for the kilt/Sam Browne belt piece arrived last week (Thursday-ish, IIRC).  I don't think it's as sharp as the dies I got from Weaver were when new, but it's probably sharp enough.  I haven't actually gone down to the basement yet and tried it out, though.  

Robin and Marmaduke took over the living room Saturday afternoon to paint miniatures, so I hung out in the dining room and started a new project.  I also determined that the stainless-steel workbench does interfere with sitting at the big sewing machine.  I'll try shifting the sewing machine over a bit before rearranging the whole room.  I'd have drafted Robin and Marmaduke to move the sewing machine on Saturday, but there's mess that must be dealt with first.

My new project is something similar to the Steampunk Spare Pockets from My first pass at the pocket portion was constructed along the lines of a fabric pocket, and was a flop as it was too bulky in leather. And it would also be too much like the AltKilt pockets.  

The second pass is going better - I'm going with a 2-piece pocket - a front and a soft gusset.  I'm confident enough in this design that I went ahead and cut out the parts for all three pockets (1 larger center pocket and a smaller pocket on each side), the apron bit, and have some of it ready for sewing. I'm going to lace around the flaps for the pocket, but not the other parts, in part because the leather I'm using for the flaps doesn't cut as nicely as some, and lacing hides imperfect edges.  And it's the thing I do.

Yesterday my plan was to cut out the flaps and doing other work on other flap-related things - setting latches, getting flaps ready to lace, etc., and then take everything with me to a friend's Labor Day party in the afternoon to work on.

Didn't happen. The kitchen porch ate the morning and part of the afternoon, and by the time we got home I only really had time to put dinner for today together.  I'll go natter on about that on my personal blog, but it was frustrating. Probably more frustrating than it should really have been. 

Still no pictures taken of belts or other new-ish merchandise taken. Blame the porch. Robin did reassemble the light table, maybe one night this week I'll go up and do some photography on my own responsibility, something I actually am capable of.  If I don't keep myself busy working on the pockets.    

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 

Monday, May 30, 2011

MuseCon Class Registration On-Line!

Class registration for MuseCon is up and running! Point your browser at and you can register for the convention and classes!

Yes, some of the classes have pre-registration: either they have a materials fee, or they are limited in size. Yes, we have the schedule that far along.

AFAIK none of the classes *require* pre-registration, but it's certainly a good idea.

If all the official slots in a class fill up, you don't really want to make the widget, or your budget is tight, you're always welcome to attend and listen.

And finally, if you know you'll be staying at the hotel, please don't wait to make your reservation.

Why yes, I *am* promiscuously cross-posting. I'm in charge of Public Relations for MuseCon, it's my job...

- Posted using software from hardware

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

That Thing I Hinted About A While Back

A couple weeks ago I hinted about something amusing I'd be sharing.  So here it is, me playing with a scam artist (or group).  I've put the conversation in order for reading simplicity, and done a little editorial cleanup.  I'll refer to the scammer(s) in first-person singular by the name presented, for simplicity.  (green background is my e-mail, pink is his)

Michael Swanson to me, Apr 26  
Hello , i'll like to order this items listed from your store to my location in Fiji. However i want you to provide me a total quote to this items including the shipping fees to the location provided.So i can effect payment and get them shipped to my address in the 
Address: Winina Arcade,
Main Street (Opp. New Rups),
Nausori Fiji Island
So i will place you my card info so you charge fees for the items including shipping fees.So get back to me as soon as possible.

Ok, I did salvage this from my Gmail spam folder, but there's a reason I check it daily for false-positives.  It didn't come through our website contact form, the spelling, the lack of actually, y'know, mentioning a particular item, etc. were danger signs, but I thought I'd give it a response.  

But, Fiji?  Wouldn't Australia be closer/cheaper? Ok, I did have an inquiry earlier this year via Etsy from Singapore, but that was about the shipping cost for a specific pouch (ouch, pricey, was the answer)

 Liana Winsauer to swansonmichael7, Apr 26  
You will have to specify which item, what colors, hardware, etc., and how many you would like before I can give you a price quote.
Once I have given you a price, payment can be made via PayPal or Google Checkout, and I will not ship until the funds have actually cleared the process of withdrawl and deposit to my account. I do not accept traveler's, cashier's or third-party checks for international orders.

But I'm not stupid, I know the cashier's/third-party check scam. 

Michael Swanson to me, Apr 28  
Your site wont open from my side please send me a product and price list.

Liana Winsauer to Michael, Apr 28  
Our business is small, we do not have a catalog. I have belts, belt pouches, purses, wallets, checkbooks, and book covers, and some costume accessories. What types of items are you interested in? Please note that we do not offer wholesale pricing.

I am curious how you found my contact information if you cannot access my website?


(Actually, if I had a real customer with a large order, there would be a price break)

Michael Swanson to me, Apr 28  
Please help me with a price list on the listed items below

purses, wallets, belts  

Ok, fine, but I'm not going to spend a lot of time on it...

Liana Winsauer to Michael, Apr 28   
All prices are in U.S. Dollars.

1" wide belts start at $15.00
1.5" wide belts start at $30.00
2.25" wide belts start at $35.00
Purses are typically $50.00-$80.00
Wallets start at $25.00

Also, I would appreciate answer my previous question about how you came by my contact information.

Michael Swanson to me, Apr 29  
Thanks for the response to my mail, However the items needed are listed below in the mail.

1" wide belts start at $15.00..............................40qty
1.5" wide belts start at $30.00...........................25qty
2.25" wide belts start at $35.00.........................15qty

Winina Arcade
Main Street (opp. New Rups)
Fiji Islands

So i want you to provide me the total quote to the items .And for the shipping i will prefer you to contact an agent who handles my shipment, you can to get them via , they have been handling my shipments quite sometime now .All you need to do is provide them adequate information of the items or package and they will be able to quote you based on the information provided.So get back to me with the quote to the items and the shipping quote as well .And if these quote have been confirmed and suitable i will place you my card information so you can charge for the fees.I look forward to read from you soon.

Hey, his English is getting better!  And this is starting to just scream scam: stolen CC number, trying to over-pay me to pay the shipper, shady shipper, take your pick.  I did file a report at that point that should have gone to local law enforcement and/or the FBI, but since I wasn't out any money and didn't have any contact information that struck me as legit, I'm not surprised I never heard back.  But it would have been cool.

Liana Winsauer to Michael,  Apr 29  
What color(s) of each type of belt would you like? I have black, dark brown, reddish-brown, and golden-brown. For hardware for the 1" wide and 1.5" wide belts I have stainless-steel with black accents. For the 2.25" wide belts I have nickel-plated and brass buckles.
Before I can give you a price quote you also need to specify if you want the belts un-trimmed and without holes, or if you would like them trimmed and holes punched, what length(s) you would like to order.

Please note that because this is a large order for my company, I will require pre-payment before beginning production. I do not have quite this many belts on hand.

I am not clear why you want me to contact your shipper to get your quote, as that would be a transaction between you and the shipper. Can you please clarify your understanding of the shipping and payment process for me?

For a shipping quote, I am located in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. Until I actually have the belts made, packed, and packaged I cannot supply accurate package dimensions and weight, but as a rough estimate two boxes, each between 25 and 40 pounds, approximately 12" x 12" x 18" in size.

I actually did go to the trouble of measuring a copier paper carton. Then made a SWAG of 1 lb/belt.

Michael Swanson to me, May 1  
Please mix all available sizes, styles and buckle and then provide me a quote. 

Liana Winsauer to Michael, May 1  
A mixed lot of 80 belts, various colors, widths, and hardware,
untrimmed with no holes, will be $2500.00

A mixed lot, trimmed to various lengths and holes punched, will be $3000.00

If you do the math for my "starting with" prices and the numbers he requests above, it comes out to $1875.  And no, I don't normally charge for cutting to length and putting holes in.  Plus my comment above for a large order. I've dropped any thoughts I may have had that he is a legitimate customer and am having fun! 

Michael Swanson to me, May 1  
A mixed lot, trimmed to various lengths and holes punched is preferable, however i am okay with the quote for the order, however i want you to make contact with the shipper i referred you to in previous mail regarding the shipment and their email is ( Once i get the shipping quote and i find it suitable, then i will proceed with the payment providing you my Master card information so that you can process the order fee including the shipping fee. So please get back to me as soon as possible regarding this mail.

Apparently I was doing a good job acting stoopid.  So time for another shipping question.  I didn't want to scare him off, though; nor did I want to actually tell him where I'm at (although IIRC our PO Box address is in plain text on our website.  Which he *claims* he can't get to.  The end result of my pondering had me cackling like a demented thing.

Liana Winsauer to Michael, May 1  
As I said previously, I cannot provide exact weights and carton dimensions until the order is completed. I have, however, provided an estimate to you, as well as my general location. This will allow you to get an estimate from your shipping company directly, all you have to do is copy and paste. When ready I can drop the packages off at a Chicago-area terminal, or arrange for pickup at my facility in the industrial district of Long Grove, Illinois.

I do not understand why you want me involved in paying your shipper, please explain why this complexity is necessary.

"my facility in the industrial district of Long Grove"  I like to just hold that gem up to the light and admire it... 

Oh, yeah, for those not from 'round here, Long Grove is a very tony little 'burb, with high-cost housing and a quaint downtown shopping bit.  No industrial district there!  

Michael Swanson to me, May 4  
Please let me know when the order is complete.

Liana Winsauer to Michael, May 4  
As I explained previously, I require pre-payment before beginning to make the belts, nor will I ship the order until all moneys have completely cleared the payment process. Please let me know which you prefer: PayPal or Google Checkout, so that I can send you an invoice from the correct account.

Not that I was going to give him a live account.  But I wanted to keep my little fishie on the line and play with him some more.

And his English has been pretty decent for a while now, nu?  Wonder if the bad stuff at first was a front to try to convince me he was a non-native speaker from Fiji, or just somebody else at the keyboard?  

Michael Swanson to me, May 4  
I will send you my master card information to process the fees on you POS merchant terminal.

Oh hell no.  I don't want some poor sod's stolen CC number.  Hmm.  Wonder if he's still going to try to over-pay me so that I can pay the shipping fees.  Which I'm pretty sure would violate my merchant service agreement, if I had one.

OTOH, even though I've omitted time-stamps, the May 4 e-mails were forming an almost real-time conversation.  In the morning.  And did I mention Fiji (yeah, right) is 7 hours ahead of IL? 

Liana Winsauer to Michael, May 4  
That is not an option. DO NOT SEND YOUR CREDIT CARD INFORMATION TO ME. I do not care to be part of a transaction with significant risk of identity theft.

As you prefer not to use on-line payment services I will open a new account at my bank and provide you the information necessary to do a wire transfer. If this is acceptable, I can open the account during the midday, approximately three hours from now, or this evening.

Please note that I will not accept over-payment for shipping fees.


Sadly, I apparently showed that I wasn't stupid, and scared him off.  Sigh.

So, should I send him one more e-mail asking if he still wants to place the order?    

Please note before commenting:
All comments go into a moderation queue to prevent comment-spam. I try to get to them promptly, but if I'm busy it may take a couple days.

Update, 25 August 2011:

Wow, 9 responses here and IIRC I had another one on my personal blog (where I'd posted a link to this post) in the last 3 months.

Just to help along anyone else who is approached by this scammer, a couple commenters have mentioned that the name Michael Wilton is also being used, and at least one used a different address (LOT 1 KINGS CROSS ROAD, MINISTRY LANE, MANOCA, NAUSORI TOWN).  

I haven't responded to individual comments, but I'm glad I've been of some help to people. 

13 September 2011:

Now reported to be using the name Gabriel Wilton, and an address of: Celtic Touch, Shop 3, Honson Arc, Suva,Fiji Islands.  Not the sharpest knife in the drawer, eh?

13 December 2011

New variants!

Gabby Levuka
Lot 1, Kings Cross Road, Ministry Lane, Manoca, Nausori Town
박윤환 " Y H Park
Linda Kappler, who claimed to be from "Wayne Impact Store" out of Oakland, MD, still sending to Fiji
Elizabeth Locke, Oakland, MD, to Fiji via UPS or DHL
Linda Wayne Kappler, whose IP address was traced to Nigeria

back to Gabriel Wilton, this time in Ukraine Islands 

16 April 2012 - up to 54 comments

More variants:
Shane Sherley, and Shane Sherley Gabby

Elizabeth Locke, still in Oakland MD, but now for Locke-Rite or Hemrald Group, shipping to Australia
Shane's Place

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

No, not quite dead yet!

Not much leatherworking getting done lately, although I did ship a couple pouches out last week.  Finished my final project for the class I'm taking this term, which is a promotional folder for Otter Necessities Design Services.  Linky goodness showing you what it looks like over on my personal blog:

I will probably have some more news soon, most likely of a more amusing (and less productive) nature.  

Why yes, that is a teaser!  

Sunday, April 17, 2011

So, last time around I said I was going yo do taxes next day and Robin was going to deliver the book cover. And....

...both things happened as planned!

Then the customer asked if I could modify the cover to fasten shut. And add her name. Repeat previous post comment about book covers going slowly.

So, yesterday I spent significant amounts of time doing the closure modification badly, while Ron tooled the name piece (with breaks for grocery shopping and a MuseCon meeting). By bedtime I was frustrated, I'd accomplished nothing useful, and Ron had the name partially done.

This morning Ron finished the name piece, and I started over on the flaps to hold the cover shut. They went much better, and I started sewing.

Then I finished a pouch, started pot roast,and did dishes while waiting for the name to dry.

Eventually it was declared dry enough, and I got it ready to sew on.

It wasn't too late in the afternoon, so I made a (box mix) cake to celebrate the impending book cover conclusion. Then I went back to sewing.

I finished by dinnertime! Yay! I'd been worried I'd be up stupid late tonight finishing it. After dinner Ron got pictures. Hopefully to be posted tomorrow.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Yes, well, about those statements in the last post...

I did finish the book cover.  Yesterday. As Bob as my witless, I don't know what it is about book covers, I cannot do one quickly.  Anyhoo, the customer works at Robin's school, so he can deliver it.  To the discipline office.  Snicker.

No progress on Etsy/ArtFire, either.  Yes, I are a slacker.  Taxes will get done tomorrow, insert expletive here!

But at the moment, it's time to go retrieve Robin from the local Games Workshop store.  

Friday, March 18, 2011

Accomplishments, or Lack Thereof

This week I've been fairly distracted by spinning, as evidenced by the volume of spinning natter over on my personal blog.  

I could claim that my hands and wrists were tired of hand-sewing and lacing, and I've been giving them a break.  There would even be some truth to that statement.  It would not, however, explain my lack of Etsy/ArtFire updates (insert guilty look here).  

I did get an order directly attributable to the craft fair, so I'll be starting that (and finishing, with luck) this weekend.  I just need to find a book of the appropriate thickness at home so I can figure out how much leather wrapping a cover around it will take.  Oooh, I dunno, finding a book in our house . . . 

I also need to do the books from the craft fair (which shouldn't take long), and do the inventory update and price-tag new-ish finished things (a larger job).  Which I'm not making any promises on.

On the Design front, this week we started our big project for the term in GRA102 - Graphic Arts 101, but more so.  (yeah, I'm just a liiiitle bored, I'm not sure we've done much new yet, except for things I already am familiar with in InDesign.  Sigh).  It's a folder, business card, and inserts for a business or organization.  Can you guess what business I might possibly do?  

When we were supposed to do sketches of several possible logos I asked if I really needed  to do that, since I have an established logo.  The instructor said no, but please sketch what it is.  Thank Ghu she's wasn't expecting a good sketch.  

My plan is that the overall package will be for Otter Necessities Design Services.  I'll include not one, but two business cards - Otter Necessities Design Services, and Ron's photography business cards.  We have an option of doing a set of 4 insert sheets in stepped heights, or a mumble-page insert stapled into the folder.  I'm thinking . . . both.  The stepped sheets in the left-hand pocket of the folder, and then making the stapled insert a mini-portfolio.  Yeah, I think I can generate that much content, especially if I include things like retouching work Ron's done on old family photos, and re-purposing old advertising posters I've done for MuseCon, and custom leather presentation folders/binders.  The only hitch may be time.   

Also been poking at Publications stuff for both MuseCon and Windycon.  A week after MuseCon I get to put the Progress Report mailing for Windycon.  Wheee!  Nothing like a packed schedule!

I've decided not to take any Graphic Arts classes over the summer, still waffling about fall.  But I can wait on that.   

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Craft Fair Report

Sorry about disappearing again.  Besides getting ready for the craft fair, I had to do a presentation at the floodplain managers' conference pre-conference workshop last week, and I kept getting distracted by a new spinning wheel in the house.

I still haven't gotten ArtFire and Etsy updated, and I'm not sure I have sufficient brains tonight.  It was a long week - Tuesday morning I left for Normal and didn't get home until Thursday evening, then had the craft fair yesterday.  Fortunately, Ron and Robin did most of the packing, all had to do was mark straps for the last three new purses, and assemble tools. 

The craft fair was at Palatine High School, so it was nice and local.  It opened for setup at 6:30 am, but we didn't get there until 7:15-ish, since it didn't open until 9:00.  We were set up by 8:00.  Yeah, we're fast, but we also didn't put out all the pouches or belts.

I'd only gotten one 8' x 10' spot, so I only brought one 6' table, and two 4' tables, and figured one of the small ones would stay in the truck.  But we got lucky, and got a corner!  Woot!  So we had a nice L, and the person on the other side wasn't crowding, so we had comfortable space to get in and out, and for Ron to play with his spinning wheel.

I only put out a selection of buckled belts, and a couple (black) tied belts (just in case...), so I didn't bring the belt rack.  I did put out all the purses, satchels, book covers, and a selection of belt pouches.  I didn't bring the alpaca or knitting patters.  I probably could/should have.

Last Saturday was Fremd HS's craft fair, and they did a *MUCH* better job advertising.  We're about midway between the two schools, I saw lots of signage for Fremd's fair, nothing for Palatine's, until yesterday, and only right near the school.  Robin said he didn't see any signage at school.  This may explain why Fremd can charge more.  Fortunately, there was a gymnastics meet, a concert, and at least practice for lacrosse and swimmers yesterday, which probably brought a few people in besides students directly involved.

I wish I'd gone to Fremd's fair, to see what their spaces and vendor selection was like.  A good half the vendors yesterday were re-sellers. And not re-seller's of somebody else's handmade goodies, resellers of Longaberger baskets, Tupperware, ugly but fashionable purses, and Ghu knows what other carp.  Which explains why people seemed so pleased to see me working on purses, and/or when we responded that yes, it's all our own work. The only other vendor I spent any time looking at was a couple guys with very nice woodworking. 

Our neighbor was the one selling Longaberger baskets.  She was nice, and I must say that her table looked nice, too.  Grumbling about resellers aside, I'm glad we were next to her than some of the junk that was for sale.

Sales were not great, but since there were no travel costs to speak of, not bad.  All those purses?  Sold none.  Belts?  None. A belt pouch, and two satchels.  OTOH, the belt pouch and the fabric satchel covered booth costs, and the fabric satchel was one I thought was never going to sell.  The third sale was a leather satchel, so in the end it was a day that would have been decent when I was a new-ish SCA vendor. And considering that I only had out limited stock, that's a fair comparison for sales levels.

And I think I did generate some more potential business out of it.  One lady was very interested in a custom-size book cover.  The lady that bought the fabric satchel for her daughter said they were very into Etsy when I mentioned that I'm local and have an Etsy shop.  There's also possibility of a couple belt sales, etc., especially since I'm local.  

I'm thinking a couple of the high school craft shows per year might not be bad for business, especially if this one seems to result in after-business.  I'm quite willing to lay credit for after-sales to the worth of attending a show.  

In any case, we need to re-build parts of the belt rack.  The bits in question are 2x2s with 3/4" diameter holes near the ends, and they're suffering chipping around the holes from years of use.  I'm not sure if we want to just replace, or go with a partial re-design.

I'm also considering if I want to come up with a smaller belt display option, especially I do decide to do "mundane" shows more often. I'm mulling over the idea of some grid panels, like the ones Windycon owns and loans/rents to Capricon, Duckon, etc.