Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Sorta-Kinda Progress

Almost no progress on leatherworking.
No progress on doing the books. 

Did do a little putzing around with letterpress.

I fooled around with laying out Lewis Carroll's "Jabberwocky" and Clement C. Moore's "A Visit from St. Nicholas" on the computer with different page sizes and close approximations of our metal type faces. I got "Jabberwocky" into a shape we both liked, printed it out as printer's spreads, and taped the pages together (because I was too lazy to mess with duplexing the right bits together) to create a page-layout guide to make an 8-page book. 

I meant to mess about with some short Lewis Carroll poetry and business cards, but got distracted by visiting with Ron's sister and nephew, and making a tunic for Wash. While I was working on that Ron, Xap, and Wash were looking at examples of leather armor for LARP/SCA-ish combat, and playing with the leather scales we haven't done anything with since for quite a long time. Maybe with Wash's help we'll actually get some quantity estimates and a start on instructions. 

We also picked up a couple Slinkies (it's fun it's a wonderful toy . . .), which have been tacked down to boards for drying stands for printed material - the line in the dining room works, but it isn't perfect. So we'll try the Slinkie-stands. 

I got my Uhlen Rundgotisch yesterday. Still waiting for the spaces, as the font didn't come with them. I've laid out the promotional Capricon Cafe by MuseCon thing we're going to do using my Uhlen Rundgotisch electronic stand-in, so once the spaces come in I can start them. The USPS said the thin spaces were supposed to be delivered yesterday, but they didn't leave the sort facility in Colorado until some time late last night, so I'm thinking the USPS is still cleaning up the last of the pre-Christmas shipping deluge.

Saturday night we uploaded a file of images we'd like to get made into plates to Boxcar Press, and ordered a base. The plates are in production, but because of UPS' holiday schedule won't go out until Thursday (normally they'd go out today). But Boxcar is only in New York state, so there is an off-chance we'll get them Friday (I don't think standard ground service includes Saturday delivery). 

This is a JPEG created in Paint via cut and paste from a PDF, useful only for illustrating this post. The format is long and narrow because the platemaker spits out a piece of film 17" by up to 22", so I packed what I could into 17" by enough the other way to be at least 50 square inches, with at least 3/8" between images (hence the upside-down Otter logo - it allowed better packing). I did pretty well, our end area was billed as 51 square inches. Yes, I am having some text printed as plates, so we can have a consistent font and not always be setting the same bits of text from type.

Robin's finished a bunch of trays. The base size is the 12-1/2" by 12-1/2" type cases we got with the presses, and then he's also making quarter size, and for himself, half-size for transporting miniatures. Over the weekend he finished up the first few quarter-size trays, which are deep enough for our border sets to stand up in without being taller than the trays. Here's a couple pictures:

The large trays have shorter and narrower sidewalls, which caused some assembly problems. Robin's got plans to offer trays for sale, he thinks other miniature gamers might be willing to buy them. For gamers he's going to stick with the taller and thicker sides. And I need to proof-read his first draft of website verbiage. He also needs to price lumber to come up with tray prices, since we only bought the fiberboard for the bottoms, and he's been using lumber from the stash for the sides. 

Last night I sorted the wooden furniture for setting up the presses into the large trays. Most of it fits into two large trays, and there's a few pieces of really wide stuff to go in a third (when Robin finishes one - he's limited by glue drying time and number of clamps). We also have some furniture that's too long to be used (unless/until we get a bigger press...), that I moved to the back of a shelf.  

Friday, December 27, 2013

New Font/New Look

One of the things we want for letterpress printing is a "Boxcar Base", which is a slab of machine aluminum, on which you mount photopolymer (fairly thin plastic) printing plates to bring them to the right height for presses designed for metal type. Its called a "Boxcar" base because its made/sold by Boxcar Press. The minimum order of photopolymer plate is 50 square inches, so Ron has been working on packing images that we want plates of to get our first plate run made.

One of the things we definitely wanted was an Otter Necessities logo, with the O-Otter for the O. In the past I've used Papyrus font for the words, which is a font that gets a lot of scorn. Last year I used this font, which is I like (which is good, since its one I bought), but the knockout inside the letters could be iffy to print letterpress, especially at small sizes:

As mentioned elsewhere about letterpress, we bought a font of Parsons in metal type. Its Art Deco, but not too over the top. A digital revival of Parsons is Parsnip NF, which includes the cool swashy capitals and italic text. Which looks like this for the basic font:

(the gray background is an artifact of generating sample text from the Linotype website) 

So, when Ron discovered that Papyrus wasn't installed on his laptop, I decided to switch to Parsons/Parsnip, and bought Parsnip. And now we're blaming MS for not installing the font in any rational way so that you can get to the cool swashy alternate capital Ns. AAARGH!

Anyway, we're also planning on having photopolymer plates made of "Letterpress printing by Otter Necessities" and our URL. Because I am feeeelthy merchant scum, yes I am. 

Ron's currently got a bunch of Christmas gift tags half-done. They fold up to about a 2"x2" square, with a picture on the outside and "To:" and "From:" on the inside. IIRC he's done 3 or 4 Santas in red ink, and a Christmas tree in green, and the insides will all be green. Now we just need a hole punch to put holes in the corners. 

Definitely working on taking orders for Victorian/Steampunk calling cards for Military History Fest. It would be cool to bring Ron's little press, but the problem is the solvents used for cleanup. Even Goo Gone/citrus oil has a certain fragrance to it. Hmm . . . Goo Gone does make "paint clean-up wipes" that could be useful. We shall see what happens.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Printing Christmas Cards and Other Natter

Since my last post, I've done very little leatherworking. I did get the belt section ordered at Windycon made and sent out.  The valise is still stalled with decorative stitching on the endpieces in progess.

Doing the books will happen really really soon now, as the end of the year, and the need to file and pay sales taxes is looming. You don't get until April 15th for sales taxes. More like January 15th.

I have printed Christmas cards. Personal blog readers will recognize these:

Both are quarter-sheet size, when folded. The one with the Santa is actually on white paper, but I didn't get the color/temperature balance corrected on the photo. The snow maiden card is on gray, and has the words on the inside. It also has bleed-through problems because of using inexpensive paper; and I was having problems getting the bottom edge of the block to print. I decided to proceed with a faded-out lower edge of image. The ink bleed-though I didn't realize was going to happen, and didn't discover until I was starting to print the words on the inside a few days later, but it isn't so bad that I'm not willing to use the cards myself. 

I'll probably resume leather production, specifically more reenactment pouches for Military History Fest, with the New Year. 

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Oops, Been a While

Sorry, I didn't mean to fall off the face of the blog.  I think I'll play catch-up in bullet points (Oh nooooo! Not bullet points!), which are not necessarily in chronological order:

  • Click to embiggen pictures.
  • Found a contact for what appears to be Anime Midwest's parent organization, and poked that. That finally got me a response, but not a very useful one, essentially "we've got some apps we still need to review, don't know when we'll get around to it".  I poked again as they completely ignored the question if they had our app, and finally got an answer that they do. Feh.
  • Poked the grommet supplier, poked them again, and finally a third time. They showed up this week, a month after they were ordered. The excuses are plausible, although the delay was certainly annoying.
  • I finished the map case in time for Boar's Head. Its very nice:
  • I've started on a black (saddle) valise from the same leather. So far I only have ends, so there's not a lot to say about it. This one will be simple - one-piece body/flap, no inner rain flap, no liner. It'll be a lot like this one:
  • I also finished some pouches. Not sure if you can tell from the picture, but I discovered that the construction is good enough to hold water:
  • I was actually soaking them so they could dry stuffed with newspapers, so they'd hold their shape better, instead of wanting to bow in, because I store leather rolled good side in. The wetting and drying were successful.
  • One of the pouches I finished is based on this replica of a WWII-era Japanese small map case. Mine, which I forgot to photograph, seems taller, and I didn't add the pencil/pen pockets on the sides.
  •  I also dyed it black, because black sells, and prototypes sometimes have the odd bug that being black can help overcome.
  • The book-keeping?  Don't ask.
  • Working on a new product line, letterpress printed cards. Because on the mumble-th time of being tempted by letterpress I mentioned it to Ron and we both failed:

  • The bigger press is mine, the smaller one is Ron's. See my personal blog for lots more letterpress natter. 
  • I also have plans to print signs (prices, etc.).
  • And steampunk calling cards. 
  • Boar's Head went pretty well. We sold a little bit of everything. I don't think the map case got a lot of attention, but it wasn't displayed as well as it could have been.
  • The weather was cold for Boar's head, but clear and dry. So I didn't complain about the snow on Sunday.
  • Sunday we got new rollers for the small press with some of the Boar's Head proceeds. 
  • Regarding Boar's Head food, the lunch sounded like it was going to be pretty much inedible for Ron and I (hard to swallow/digest), as well as high-carb and pretty questionable in an overall attractiveness, but we didn't check that until Friday evening, at which point it was a little late to contact the group running the event and try to get a medical pass on the "no outside food" rule. So we went to the grocery store, stocked up on meat and cheese, and took turns going out to the truck to eat lunch.
  • The very cold weather was a bonus, as we left the food in a cooler in the truck overnight both Friday and Saturday nights with no worries, and the cooler only acting as food containment. 
  • The Pippin containment measures mentioned in the last post continue to be effective. 
  • On the other hand, last night while Ron and I were out running an errand and Robin was upstairs, he stole a jar of printing press roller cleaner. Fortunately, he was either distracted or decided it didn't smell very interesting once he got it outside, so there's only some superficial teeth marks on the outside. 
  • Plans for this weekend: Belt piece that I ordered the grommets for, printing Christmas cards, Cookie Lab. 
  • I probably should be working on pouches, but, oooh, shiny, printing!