Wednesday, May 23, 2012

(Graphic) Design Stuff

MuseCon party signs updated for WisCon, as well as the preliminary grid brochure.

I've been meaning to make a lighted sign to advertise nachos at parties, but failin to get a Round Tuit, and then realized yesterday that WisCon is careening closer. I e-mailed Ron links to a couple wooden boxes from Hobby Lobby and battery-operated LED lights from Ace to possibly pick up. But when I got home I discovered that he'd had a different idea - one of the glass-front jewelry display cases we'd gotten a while back from his sister, and a string of LED rope lights.

I'd been thinking of a battery-operated sign so we didn't have to worry about putting it near an outlet, but making one out of things sitting unused around the house is a win that trumps battery-operated.

While Ron was drilling holes for zip ties to keep the rope light under control, I made the sign portion. I based it on one of the party signs we made for Capricon, which was in turn inspired by an old mouse-trap ad. A friend of ours is printing it.

Here's a picture of the almost-completed sign. This is one of the party signs the final sign is based on, with a layer of paper behind it. You can still see where the individual LEDs in the rope light are, our plan is to have some white tissue paper to put behind the final sign, to see if that helps diffuse the light better. Painting the interior of the box white would also help, but that will have to wait until after WisCon (if we're going to keep doing nachos at parties - they were a flop at Cap).

Monday, May 21, 2012

Weekend Follow-Up

So far I'm happy with the tool chests for hardware, but 1 day's use doesn't really tell us a lot, does it? Now I need to gather up the odds and ends of hardware that are nesting in several places around the dining room and put them away. They're probably more of a nuisance to put away than the initial filling-of-drawers with pre-sorted large amounts of things.

The Publications deadlines for MuseCon are sneaking up on me quickly - the first one is only two and a half weeks away, and the final deadline is two weeks after that. And this week I need to update my signage for the party at WisCon - which is making sure the times listed are correct, and putting in the right day and room number. I should probably do that tonight so I'm not asking anybody to print/copy them at the last minute.

I haven't taken any more Graphic Design classes at Harper since the Variable Data Technologies/junk mail 101 class I took fall semester finished. There's pieces of a couple classes that looked interesting, but nothing that was quite enough for me to feel like it was worth the cost. Summer is busy for us with SCA events and MuseCon, so I won't even think of looking at classes, and Robin will be starting at Harper come fall, so I think I'm done for the time being.

I was looking at my to-do list for Otter Necessities, and it keeps growing, even when I get things done. Part of that is because I keep doing things that never made it onto the list in the first place - like all the machine sewn pouches I've done in the last couple weeks, and getting the tool chests and moving the frequently-used hardware into them.

And then, making sporrans has actually added to the to-do list - now we need to make sporran straps/hangers, get pictures, do some work on kilt/Sam Browne belts (currently they don't use the Sam Browne hooks, which I'm going to correct Real Soon Now), and make a "kilt accessories" web page with sporrans, hangers/straps, and the wide belts. And list things on Etsy/ArtFire.

Back at the beginning of the month/late April we brought some pouches in to get pictures of so I could put them on the website/Etsy/ArtFire. My thinking was that since we didn't have any sales events in May, I should try to encourage on-line sales. Guess how well we've done on that? Yeah, not so much. And the next four weekends are not going to be conducive to getting things done (although Saturday of graduation weekend is actually relatively free . . . so far).

That said, in the next two weeks I'm hoping to sew up two black satchels, and put the shoulder straps on them and the copper-colored one I've already sewn. I think that's a reasonable goal for evenings, in addition to getting the boatload of recently-finished pouches into inventory and tagged, and doing some other fiddly behind-the-scenes work, but we'll see.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Sewing & More Sewing

The new cutting dies did arrive on Friday, and this morning Ron took a pile of scrap leather downstairs, and returned with a big pile of tabs to hold pouches shut:

Having tabs, I was able to start on the new smallish pouches. I put one together to figure out hole spacing, cut two more out of scraps of the pretty copper-colored leather, and started sewing.

Today I finished two copper-colored sporrans, and seven of the new small soft pouches (two black ones, which are hiding behind the off-white, two off-white, two copper-colored, and one pretty dark green). IIRC Friday and last night I also finished a couple black belt satchels and a sporran, but I didn't get pictures.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Hardware Bins

We started out this morning with housecleaning - I did the upstairs bathroom while Ron and Robin started the living room, then I came down and attacked the disaster at "my" end of the couch. Which meant sending a bunch of stuff that had slowly oozed into the living room back out to the dining room.

Erk. At that point the dining room was a disaster.

Looking in my wallet for something else, I realized that I had a Menard's rebate certificate worth about half of the tool chest I'd been looking at, which Ron said was a sign, so off we went.

When we got there, Ron arm-twisted me into getting two.

After lunch and some grocery shopping, we got home, and Ron did most of the work packing up all the books (which were two deep) on one of the shelves. Then he brought the tool chests in, and we discovered a problem - they didn't quite fit if the point was to be able to open the drawers more than an inch or two (the rack of glass for lampworking being the obstruction). We debated and juggled things, and finally ended up with a re-arrangement of the upper two shelves that would work.

At which point Ron discovered that the lock was broken on one. The key turned, but it never unlocked.

I didn't mention that the final configuration resulted in the upper shelf resting on the tool chests - the shelves are/were supported by concrete half-blocks. By removing the blocks on the end away from the glass rack we gained enough space to open the drawers on the chest near the rack.

Fortuately, Ron was able to sneak the broken bin out without having to move everything again, and back to Menard's we went. Exchanged the chest, and picked up drawer liners.

Back home, shelves re-assembled and loaded, and I started putting the liners in.

You'd think that if the chests are 17" deep overall, and the liner material is 16" wide, the drawers would likely be 16" deep. Wrong. 15". Fortunately, the material cuts nicely with a rotary cutter, so it was only mildly annoying.

I'm glad Ron had me get two chests, by the time I'd put away, with yet more help from Ron, the frequently-used hardware that was in the dining room, most of the drawers were full. I've got some stuff in the drawers that can be evicted, and a bit of space still, but one wouldn't have been enough.

Pictures below. The red Craftsman 4-drawer units don't seem to be available any more, which is kind of annoying, as they're all shallow drawers; I wasn't sure I wanted any deeper ones. The new units are the black 3-drawer ones above the red ones. I can see into the top drawers, but I wouldn't want them up any higher. The bottom drawers on the new units are deeper, which is actually ok for some things.

The stuff on the left edge of the pictures is the rack of glass for lampworking. I did have to take one long glass rod out of the rack to get clearance for the drawers. In front of the shelves is the Workmate where the anvil-shaped-object lives. The pictures were taken from the big sewing machine, the shelves are next to the doorway to the kitchen.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

A Somewhat Meta- Post

Back at the beginning of the month I started posting links to this blog on Google Plus, then promptly got the Upper Respiratory Thing, turned into a space cadet, and forgot to keep linking to G+. Sorry about that, Gentle Readers. Now that you're (presumably) here, you can play catch-up if you'd like. I'll try to do better in the future.

Which brings me to the more meta part of this post. There's a business owner who has a blog that I subscribe to in my Google Reader feed. Her identity isn't really relevant to the discussion, so I'm going to leave it out. She commented recently that she wants to try to re-build her blog following. I considered posting to give her a clue why I think she might have lost followers, which is the reason why I occasionally debate dropping her blog: follow-through. I decided not to, because I couldn't think of any way to say it nicely and she seems smart enough to figure it out on her own.

The blogger has a tendency to start a series of posts about going through the steps of A Project, or on a topic like running your own business, gets a couple-few posts in, and then . . . nothing. The series just disappears into oblivion.

I understand Un-Finished Objects, I have plenty of UFOs of my own lurking about the house, and I do start to natter about them, mostly on my personal blog, and then they drop off the radar when I don't continue with the project. OTOH, I don't announce that I'm going to start A Shiny New Series, showing you how to do Cool Thing, which is what the blogger I'm picking on does, and then drop it. I hope.

I think what I do is more like the Yarn Harlot, where I natter about The Thing of The Day (TToTD), and when TToTD changes what I'm nattering about changes with it. So you might get a half-dozen posts about This Thing while I work on it, and then I move onto Next Thing when it catches my attention, and/or I finish the first thing. (Eeep! too many things in this paragraph!)

Anyhow, I think what it boils down to is that if I've done the first thing here - Grand Announcement of Series that Fizzles, I apologize. Please smack me about what I've done it with/to, and I'll try to update, if nothing else to say that it's still in a holding pattern.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Weekday Progress

Ron and I discussed hardware storage last night and poked around various websites. Sears no longer carries the 4-drawer tool chest sections we have a couple of, and what they do carry is expensive. (Sears has gone down the tubes in general, it seems) Menard's seems to have the best (on-line) selection and prices. I may hit Berland's House of Tools one of these days, and see if I get any ideas there. I'm still not sure making room on the shelves for another tool chest is the solution I want, but it's the best we've come up with so far.

Actually, the best solution would be winning millions in the lotto, hiring packers/movers, and moving to a house with a bigger workshop, in which we'd have a whacking big tool chest or two for tools and hardware. There would also be a way to store leather flat (hanging, I think) and away from UV light, and near my cutting table which would be away from walls on at least three sides. Hmm. Since I want windows/good lighting in my workshop, storage for large pieces of leather and the cutting table would probably be in a adjacent interior room or basement. Which would be ok. I want a dumbwaiter just for the cool factor anyway.

"Fine Woodworking" magazine puts out an annual "Tools and Shops" issue, which I like to drool over. Many things you want in a woodshop are also desirable in a leather shop: A nice workbench, lighting, space to move around, easy cleanup (sawdust vs. little leather bits), access to power/bench tools, yadda yadda. I don't see a need for woodshop-style dust collection, and leatherworking involves fewer power tools, but those are minor differences that I handwave away.

Messed about with belt satchels and sporrans while dinner was cooking last night. Got latches on a half-dozen of them, and sewed belt loops/sporran-strap dees on a bunch - putting dees for sporran use on some of the belt satchels. I also cut a new gusset for one of the sporrans, since the gusset I cut had vanished. It was less annoying to just cut a new one.

Tippmann Industrial, the company making my dies, called this morning, should be shipped today. They're in Ft. Wayne, IN, and their web site shows we're in the 1-day shipping range for UPS ground service, so I expect to see the dies tomorrow or Friday (depending on what time their actual UPS pickup is/was in relation to when the dies were packed). Yay!

Ron's been thinking about adapting the cavalry equipment pommel bags to make a shoulder bag/satchel for an iPad. I think he's thinking of mostly softer leather, and has his eyes on the Stupid Amounts of copper-colored leather we got Monday. Now he's got me thinking, but I'm more likely to stick with the firmer leather the pommel bags are made out of. We'll see if either of us ever gets sufficient Round Tuits. I cut the straps to make Ron a new 1-1/2" wide belt mumble years ago, and we still haven't finished it.

This weekend I need to interrupt Otter-ish work to do some general housecleaning, because the weekend after that we'll be at WisCon (only shopping in the Dealer's Room), then the next weekend is Robin's graduation, with at least one set of grand-parental-units coming to town, and the house is anything but presentable. Then after graduation the next two weekends are Border Skirmish and Ragnorak Rampage, and starting work on the MuseCon program book.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Bonus Not-Quite Weekend Day

Yesterday I had a couple awkwardly-timed medical appointments, and Ron has an Upper Respiratory Thing, so we both stayed home.

We weren't quite satisfied with how I put dee rings on the back of the sporran prototype (at the top of the belt loops), so I put another one I'd cut out together with dees sticking out toward the sides, next to the belt loops. It was more complex to do, but it came out better.

After showing it to Ron I commented that I should cut out a couple brown sporrans. Ron suggested a trip to the Tandy/Leather Factory store to root through the bin of large scrap pieces for leather for brown sporrans. I observed that we're also low on brass buckles and dees for satchels, so off we went.

There was more of the pretty copper-colored leather in the bin. Lots of it. I think I got all the big pieces, all 18 pounds worth. Ron counted up when we got home, it was 11 pieces, about half to a third, lengthwise, of a side (half a cow, split down the spine) each. Out of maybe half of one of them I got the pieces for two sporrans. Yeah, definitely Stupid Amounts of copper-colored leather.

Around my appointments I got the belt loop/dee assemblies made for three more sporrans, and decided to do similar loops/dees for three of the black belt satchels. I haven't gotten them sewn to the pouches, but I did hem a bunch of pocket pieces.

We also made a sporran hanger, essentially a narrow belt with a swivel snap on each end, for one of Ron's co-workers. Ron took the two black sporrans and the two copper-colored belt satchels I'd finished for his co-worker to decide between. He also took business cards, as the co-worker and other leaders for a Boy Scout troop had all gotten kilts for an Scouting event next weekend, and we'd be happy to sell the other leaders sporrans, too.

Still waiting for my dies, to make tabs for the smaller soft pouches. Friday was two weeks since I placed the order, so I called the die maker yesterday, and am hoping for them by the end of the week.

I'm trying to figure out what I want for hardware storage. Right now most of the hardware (buckles, dees, latches, rivets, grommets, blah blah blah) live in a set of divided plastic trays/boxes. That's working out ok for some things, but for stuff I use regularly, and larger hardware (some of which also lives in the big green tool chest/road case), it isn't working out so well. I have most of the tools in a couple sets of tool chest drawers, on the big bookshelves in the dining room. I'm thinking maybe something similar for hardware, but where would I put that?

I could try using up leather, which could create space in a couple places, but I haven't been succeeding on that idea. Ron suggested pulling more books off the shelf  and either packing them away or donating more to the library (we had a big purge a couple years ago), which may also be an option.

I'm also wondering if I could add wheels to a tool chest "side cabinet" something like this one, or find a small tool chest without too many deep drawers, and park it where I've currently got smaller hardware bins stacked up higgledy-piggledy. I should measure the area where stuff is piled and see how that compares to tool cabinets.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Sporran & Belt Satchel Pics

Here's a top view of one of the copper-colored belt satchels and the sporran prototype I made over the weekend. The sporran, as you can see, is a bit taller, about the same maximum width.
From Drop Box
And here's a side view. The sporran has a simple rectangular gusset, and the belt satchel has a gusset that is widest at the bottom of the pouch and tapers toward the top.
From Drop Box
Posting from my iThingy, with a browser that's not giving me all the usual post options, so no colicky-to-embiggen.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Satchels & Belt Satchels & Sporrans, Oh My

Friday evening I made a sporran for one of Ron's co-workers. I used the pattern for the "Lace Mania" pouch we make, but cut it out of upholstery leather and machine-sewed it with all the seams inside, and put a rolled binding on the flap. It looks pretty good for a prototype sporran.

Yesterday I drew the Lace Mania pattern up in CAD, as my old original cardboard pattern is getting a bit worn. Then I went out to the dining room with the new version, and cut out out two more black sporrans, two black satchels, three black belt satchels (having forgotten I already had three cut out), and some of the new soft pouches that I'm still waiting on cutting dies to make tabs for.

Today I finished up two belt satchels that have been sitting around mostly-done for ages, and a satchel and belt satchel I'd cut out of copper-colored leather a week or two ago. I still need to put the shoulder strap on the satchel, but that can wait until I have others done, and I'll do a bunch at once.

I'd hoped to get more sewing done, but I started out the day by sorting hardware, and then I cut and split down a bunch of dark brown binding strips for the things I worked on today. A couple strips would have been sufficient, but I decided that since I was at it I might as well do a bunch. So now I've got some for later.

I think next I'll do some of the black belt satchels, and/or the sporrans. Now that I've gotten started on the sewing I can work on them in the evenings.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Picture Links

The PDF I thought I could extract pictures out of turned out to be of the wrong US Army publication - no pictures.

But I've found some pictures that aren't on antique auction/sale sites, or blogs, so will probably be available for a bit.

This picture shows a 1917 Officer's equipment, including shows the cantle bags - the big one hanging from the back of the saddle (I've always understood the cantle to be the "backrest" part of the seat, so calling these cantle bags seems to be a slight misnomer, and/or I'm being pedantic. Or I'm wrong. Since my horsey/tack knowledge largely is book-learned, this is vory possible). The picture nicely shows how the cantle bag buckles to the saddle. The flap has a seam (not really visible in the picture) so it wraps around the side of the bag - it isn't just a wide flap that's gotten creased through time/use.

That picture also shows a bag hanging from the pommel (front) of the saddle, plans for which I've also been eyeballing. The pommel pockets are done as a pair, and the connecting bit includes a hole that I was assuming went over a horn. Except I now remember that in this time period the cavalry was using McClellan saddles (link to Wikipedia article), which don't have a horn. Presumably the hole is there to make it easier to tie the pockets to one of the loops on the saddle.

This picture shows an 1896 set of equipment, including the saddlebags I was thinking of adapting as a satchel body, until I found the cantle bag pattern. You can't see it in this picture, but the two saddlebags are permanently sewn to a wide, shaped leather piece that's under the blanket roll.

I know a couple people occasionally have link issues, here's the bare URLs:

1917 Officer's equipment:'s-Sadd.jpg
Wikipedia McClellan Saddle article:
1896 equipment:

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

More Horsey Things

As you may have figured out, I have never quite outgrown the adolescent girl - horse thing, emphasis on draft horses. Sometimes it manifests as wanting to make harness/tack, particularly for draft horses. Lately it's cavalry equipment.

As an aside, it may be partly my grandfather's fault. He always wanted a Morgan horse, and Morgans were, IIRC, preferred by the cavalry.

Poking around Sunday evening I found a website that includes an "American Cavalry Blueprint Library", which I spent a chunk of yesterday downloading TIF files from. The images are scans of plans on paper, and range in quality.

There's one plan sheet, for a set of what are referred to as cantle bags, that I think are edging out the saddlebags in terms of actually getting made. These cantle bags are designed to unbuckle from the saddle/bits holding them to the saddle, so that the user could buckle on a shoulder strap and use it as a satchel-like bag. At the moment I don't have any pictures I can post (without doing violence to IP rights), but I may be ably to pry a picture of them out of a public-domain PDF tonight. It's a fun plan set, there's insane amounts of information to make a set, including canvas liners, all neatly packed onto one sheet. Robin turned funny colors when I showed him, especially when I pointed out it was all hand-drawn. Snerk.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Bits & Pieces

The Beer Gut did make it safely to NZ, and the customer really likes it, yay!

Upper respiratory thing still hanging on, boo.

Looking at sporrans on-line Friday night allowed us to figure out what we needed to know. Also found several places selling the fancy usually-silver top pieces, known as the cantle. I may get a couple at some point. No further progress on sporrans.

Saturday we relaxed. Not sure if I could have been productive, but I didn't try.

Yesterday wasn't really productive, either. But I did pull out my copy of "The American Military Saddle: 1776-1945", and got sucked in by the section on saddlebags. I know have Google Books copies of several U.S. Army Ordnance Manuals and Ordnance Memoranda with drawings and descriptions of saddlebags. I'm thinking of adapting one (or maybe a couple) to use the bag portion as a satchel, since I don't have a horse, and I'm not sure how many saddlebags I could sell.

Home today, since I'm not sure I could stay awake between here and the office, or at my desk. May poke some more for saddlebag and similar things patterns.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Sick, But Brain Still Operative

Bleargh. Either I'm having horrible allergy problems, or I've got an Upper Respiratory Thing. Probably a Thing. Yesterday morning I was afraid I was coming down with strep throat, but felt better after a shower, and my throat continues to feel not-strep-ish. Haven't slept the best the last couple nights (although last night that was due, in part, to the presence of Courage the Cowardly Dog in my bed), so tired, and accomplishing little to nothing tangible.

Yesterday morning, despite not feeling healthy, I figured out how to make a thing to go with frogs, to support a sword or something you wouldn't want hanging straight up-and-down off your belt, and I'm pretty sure I can do it without any "new" hardware - ie: I may need to re-fill a particular hardware receptacle that's getting on toward empty, but not start using a new receptacle. Yes, I know I'm being vague, but that's mostly because I don't have a prototype yet, so I'm just not certain yet.

The frog-accessory thoughts were spurred on by getting hardware in Tuesday. I'd ordered some 4" diameter rings, for people who say that the large-size belt frogs I was making aren't big enough, and on Saturday I'd bought some 3-1/2"-ish dees I found on the clearance table when I was at Leather Factory. The 4" rings are huuuuge. I think the frogs using those and the big dees are going to have the hanging belt loops like on the rocket pockets, without lacing.

The other day we were also discussing making "proper" sporrans. Ron suggested we order one from somewhere, so we can see exactly how the hanging bits are usually done. I haven't quite decided I'm ready to do that, I want to see if I can come up with information using my Google-Fu first.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

An Error & A Rantlet

I'm so ashamed. I've suffered from a vocabulary failure. I'm not sure I can hold my head up any longer. A sabretache is a type of pouch or wallet or bag, often very ornate, that hangs from a hussar or cavalry officers' belt, not a part of a scabbard.

And now, a rantlet:

I expect that summertime weekend-long SCA events that include camping usually mean the merchant space is outside, and we must fend for ourselves, but would it be so difficult to say so on a website?

Here, I'll even write the verbiage to make it easy:
"Merchants will be located outdoors, and must provide their own shelter, tables, etc."

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Administrivia & Other Frivolous Natter

As sorta-kinda-predicted, I didn't work on books or cut anything out last night; I watched some Jeremy Brett Sherlock Holmes.

In other news, the US Postal Service says that the package for New Zealand left the US on the 11th from NYC (I mailed it on the morning of the 5th, obviously it took the slow boat to the east coast!), and they'd expect it to have been delivered by now (delivery confirmation was not an available service). I've e-mailed the buyer to ask if it has been. Note to self, if/when buying from overseas again, e-mail seller upon successful receipt of goods.

Have gotten answers to my questions for the people in charge of merchants at Ragnorak Rampage and Border Skirmish, need to send my registration information for each.

Having ideas for more complex belt frogs/sword hangers. Must look at historic designs for the bit of military kit known as the sabertache this evening.

In the stack of things that have been sitting around for a while needing to be finished are several parti-color belt satchels. In the past I cut out little tabs so they buckled shut, now I'm considering if there's a way to use the tabs I've got dies on order to make - the tricky bit is the seam up the middle of the parti-color things. Easy enough to sew a tab over, not something you want to put a buttonhole or hardware through. Think think, think think think . . . may have to wait until I get the dies and can cut some experimental tabs to play with.