Monday, December 29, 2014

More Booklets

I made two more booklets last night:

#3 is the little one, with pages 1/8 of a letter-sized sheet in size. #4 is another one with quarter-sheet size pages. Same off-white mystery paper pages and reproduction map of San Francisco for the covers. Both are sewn with off-white linen.

#3 just has the cover paper folded over to the inside and glued down, on #4 it wraps over and is glued down to a piece of cardstock. 

It looks like I could have paid more attention to getting the book square to the streets on #4, but the blocks on the two sides are actually not perfectly aligned, so at least halft the cover was going to look slightly off-kilter no matter what I did. The truth is, I picked the straight edge of the remaining large enough chunk of paper, and worked from that. I think it was square to the edge of the map, but it might not have been. 

FWIW, the circular arcs are every half-mile from a "Ferry Depot" that looks to be in the same location as a modern Ferry Building Marketplace, which is on the northeast side of the city/peninsula. And now you know as much as I do. 

Above are the inside covers of books #1 and #3. Book 1 doesn't have the folded-in bits of the cover paper glued down, #3 does. I prefer #3, gluing the flaps down looks more finished.

And here's #2 and #4. #2 has the cardstock endpapers glued down over the cover flaps, #4 has the flaps folded over the cardstock (yes, it is a lighter shade of green). I like #2 better, it looks more finished. But I like #4 better than #1, because the cardstock beefs up the cover a little. Booklet #4 is small enough that it feels fine to me without the cardstock. 

I decided my Mom is getting me a sewing frame for Christmas. Now I just have to decide which I want of the three Affordable Binding Equipment makes. 

While I was looking at sewing frames yesterday, I was reminded of the plywood and laminate lead-weighted press board that Affordable Binding sells, which is a nice wooden box, with laminate exterior, filled with lead, weighing in at 8-9 pounds. For $39, plus shipping. A useful thing, for, say, flattening finished booklets, or any squashy-smooshy job. But more than I was willing to pay.

I asked Ron if the shot bags we got for weighting down photography/lighting tripods were easily accessible. They were. We went to Menard's in search of countertop remnants. After a minor in-store detour, we found them, up front, by the shelving. I got a 4' long, 12"-ish wide piece, that's over an inch thick. The sign on the shelf said it was $5, but the cashier rang it up for $2. Its chipboard, and we didn't get the stuff to finish the edges, but for that price I'm fine with not-pretty edges.  Ron cut it into four pieces, and here they are pressing booklets #3 and #4.

Yeah, you kind of have to take my word for it that the booklets are in there. Ron brought down all four shot bags, so there's probably over 20 pounds of weight on the stack. Yes, it is sitting over the table leg. 

Yesterday I picked up some fancy patterned paper and coordinating solid-color paper for pages for another style of book, and to the side of the picture above is a reproduction map of Rome that's going to be a book similar to 1-4, but with the sewing hidden, and cloth on the spine - the next step in complexity. I cut the pages for that one last night, but I need to go to Dick Blick and get some heavier board for the covers of both the next books. I have some 130# cardstock that I thought would be heavy enough, but Ron disagreed. So I'll probably get that tonight. And book cloth, because I can't find the roll I got earlier this year. Grumble. 

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Getting Back in Sight of the Track

As mentioned, we were all sick the week before the week before Christmas. During that week Ron made chainmail owls, Robin worked on miniatures, and I kinda flailed around. I got a couple books on Zen Cart, open-source shopping cart/e-commerce software. I got them for both MuseCon reasons and possibly putting a store on the Otter Necessities website. Unfortunately, the one endorsed as a manual by the group that "owns" Zen Cart is . . . poor. Haven't gotten very far with it. 

Last week we were still more or less off. Ron did some more chainmail, and I worked on knitting mittens.

Christmas day I finally started building the Lego Maersk Sealine container ship that I got for my birthday (yeah, back in May). I got the hull built, which is 1/2 to 1/3 of the project. I also started a chainmail pendant. Ron made chainmail pendants and a "glass caterpillar" bracelet with glass beads that were part of of his Christmas presents. 

Robin worked on miniatures. The dogs were underfoot, except when they were busy with their beef shank bones. 

This morning we ordered parts for chainmail owls. We got more "turkey" colored ones, in orange/bronze, and gold, black and silver, blue and silver, and ones that should look like snowy owls with silver and gunmetal, and mostly white wings with black lines. We got supplies for both big owls and little owlets in all the colors. 

This afternoon  I updated the MuseCon bookmarks and business cards, but didn't get them put on our personal webpage because Dreamweaver was not cooperating, and I decided it could wait for tomorrow, when Ron could help me (probably by hitting one or two buttons that I just didn't know where to find).

I considered working on my container ship some more, but decided to leave it for New Year's Day. 

I did, however, finally start messing about with bookbinding. I've been more or less resisting it for a couple/few years, especially after one of the leather suppliers I used to use semi-retired, and is now specializing in bookbinding leather. I got a book and some basic supplies about a year ago, and a finishing press and "pricking cradle" after ACen. 

The book I got is "Bookbinding, A Step-by-Step Guide", by Kathy Abbott, ISBN: 978-1-84797-153-1

The author is from Great Britian, so all the measurements are metric and paper is all in A sizes. But I can cope.  

I started out today with the most basic sewn binding, and mostly followed the instructions (other than working with non-A4 paper). The first deviation was on how to cut paper in half. The instructions are to crease the paper, then cut it a particular way. Several messe-up sheets of paper later, I cut it a different way, because there's more than one way to cut a piece of paper in half, dammit. The other deviation was an error on my part, and meant there's not quite as much margin along the front edges of the covers as the top and bottom edges.


The interior pages are some off-white generic printer paper. The cover is relatively inexpensive sturdy wrapping/decorative paper from Dick Blick, that's a 1900-ish map of San Francisco. The edges of the cover are just folded in, and its sewn with natural linen thread. It's a little bigger than a quarter-sheet of letter paper, which is the interior page size. 

Then I did another one, and kinda wandered off and did my own thing:

Same cover and interior paper and page size. This time I added an inner cover of cardstock, glued to the outer cover, and did two sets of stitching with brown waxed nylon thread, and put the knots on the inside. 

Both the linen and nylon thread were bought for leatherworking. The linen is a smidge heavier than called for in th ebook, but close enough. When I was at the local papercrafting store they tried to sell me a roll of "bookbinding" linen thread, and I narrowly avoided being rude. I did tell them that I had plenty at home, since I buy it by the pound for leatherworking (as opposed the little-bitty spools they had). The reaction was amusing. The nylon thread is probably a bookbinding abomination, but I don't really care,  

In the pictures above, I have the book(lets) sitting in the pricking cradle. Here's a shot of the second book in the pricking cradle, the way its actually used:

There's a slight gap down at the point of the vee formed two sides of the cradle. ou lay the parts to be stitched in with the vee shape of the cradle holding all the creases lined up nicely, and make your stitching holes with an awl. The pricking cradle is about the most basic piece of bookbinding equipment, after hand tools. The book I got has instructions to make one from heavy cardstock and fabric (for the vee), but the wooden one is nice. 

At the moment both books are in my bookbinding finishing press, the first one padded out with some cutting failures, since it has fewer pages and a thinner cover:
I've also got baking parchment between the pages and inner cover on the second book, in case of any glue oozing. 

Skill-wise I'm a ways from actually needing the finishing press. Today's booklets could just be pressed between boards with any convenient weight or woodworking clamps. But I decided to get the press, which is for doing real leather or fabric bindings of full-length books, with proper curved spines and everything, when Ron got the printing press, because I knew I'd want one eventually, and I had the funds. 

The equipment came from Affordable Binding Equipment, made by Mr. Jim Poelstra,  Mr. Poelstra's day job is doing custom cabinetry, and he makes his binding equipment from leftovers. It is very nice, and very nicely made. Hmm. Maybe my Mom's Christmas present to me will be a piece of equipment that falls between the pricking cradle and the finishing press. 

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Not Con-Alt-Delete Aftermath

Canceling our presence at Con-Alt-Delete wasn't easy, but it was the right call.  Time and meds mean that Ron and I are recovering, but were not anything like actually healthy.  I was feverish Thursday, we were both dead tired all weekend, and Xap woke up Saturday with no voice.

In 20/20 hindsight, I should have pulled out back in September.  Yes, September.  I considered it then, when I withdrew our application for Anime Midwest 2015, and had I at that time, *should* have been able to get most of our fees refunded.  Here's most of an e-mail I sent to Ron and Xap to explain why:

For the last day or so I've been mildly pondering doing ACen again next year vs. other anime cons about the same time period - our end profit was better at Anime Midwest that ACen, because it was significantly cheaper to get into Anime Midwest.

This morning the questions got a whole lot . . . messier.

I followed a link to a link and ended up at which is a blog related to a podcast of similar name, by three guys, about Midwestern fandom - more of the comics, anime, etc. variety thereof. Two of the three were involved in founding DaishoCon and NoBrandCon. 

I ended up at the site because of an article about the spectaularly-failed Tumblr Con changing its name and moving to Indianapolis next year, but I noticed an article about Ryan Kopf and his, which puts on Anime Midwest, Con-Alt-Delete, and others. Which led me to a couple more, mostly by Trae Dorn, aka Traegorn. is Kopf's for-profit venture, which I think I'd mostly grokked. Trae Dorn has issues with a number of things related to how Kopf runs his anime cons:

*  Underage/Minors as volunteers. Whatever, there's lots of places I don't see that's a problem. As badgers, yeah, that's probably not a great place to put a 14-year old.

*  "Molly Blue", who I exchanged e-mail with about the Anime Midwest dealer's room is apparently a Kopf sockpuppet, and not the only one. WTF? Why? Just use an obvious alias like "dealers@" and get on with it. Stupid, but not a deal-killer. This would explain why communication sucks, if it's a largely one-man show.

*  Chrono LLC, Kopf's Iowa-based corporation that runs does not appear to be actually registered as an out-of-state corporation to run cons in Wisconsin or Illinois. Similar issues with a new corporation for a couple new cons, where Kopf's name is only on the domain registration.

*  Using an address in Chicago that doesn't actually exist.  

* Likes to perma-ban critics, and banned somebody for ghosting, when it isn't clear that said ghosting actually happened - bannee supplied a screenshot that essentially said "meeting friend at WhateverCon hotel, not buying a badge to con".  Which could be ghosting, or just meeting friend completely outside function space.

*  Ridiculous rhetoric: has said that getting banned from a con means that he can have you arrested for being at a con hotel at all. Teh Stoopid, it burns us, Precious.

My filthy merchant scum brain was ok with still dealing at his cons at this point, then things get worse:

* Kopf is anything from sleezy creep to rapist. 

One commenter to Dorn's personal blog pretty much said Kopf was caught taking upskirt photos one year at Geek.Kon. Can't find anything else about that.

In 2013 a police report was filed in, IIRC, Davenport Iowa, naming Kopf as the perpetrator of sexual assault, with what sounds like a side-order of beating up the victim. She didn't want to submit a rape kit and decided not to press charges (surprise surprise). Several posters/commenters have gotten copies or called the police department in question and confirm that the report, which can be found on-line, is real. Other women and girls have also said he's assaulted and/or been pretty creepy with them.

Trae Dorn and Nerd and Tie presumably have critics, but I don't see anything particularly damming or that they've got a particular axe to grind against Kopf, other than "beware of creep". 

We're registered for Con-Alt-Delete, money paid, yadda yadda. Put in the registration form for Anime Midwest, but haven't heard anything back, or paid any money.  Cancellation policy is $75 fee if cancelling within 65 days. I did ticky a box on the Anime Midwest application agreeing to pay for space if I was accepted.

My thoughts:  
* Filthy merchant scum with conscience and/or ethics, thankyouverymuch. I can't get behind the "but a con is put on by lots of people" argument when it is a for-profit con with the problem being the CEO. 

*  Swallow hard and go to Con-Alt-Delete. Because we've paid and not sure I want to try to get money back and made the reservation not knowing, yadda yadda, yeah, filthy merchant scum is in the ascendancy there.

* Contact Anime Midwest and withdraw application.

The options listed at the end were what we did - swallowed hard and carried on with planning for Con-Alt-Delete, withdrew from Anime Midwest, and won't be doing any more of this guy's conventions.

Should I have said something before now?  Fair question. See above re: rhetoric and being quick on dropping the ban-hammer. Yes, I did plan on making this post this week.  Yes, timing was valuing CYA over the possible safety of readers.  In large part because think most of the regular audience is/was likely to be safe from this guy anyway.  Or maybe I wanted to prop up deciding on the path of less potential resistance.

It has been surprisingly hard to do the right thing here. I like making money. Despite being an introvert, selling at cons is weirdly fun. But sexual assault and rape are bad. Indescribably bad. Money can't fix it. I can't call myself a decent human being and put money in a skeevy creep's pocket.  In a way, getting sick last week dealt with the issue - Kopf did get our money, but I didn't spend the weekend wondering if being there at all was doing the wrong thing.  

Friday, December 19, 2014

Owls! Ron Made Them! You Want Them!

If you have Ron as a Facebook Friend you've (probably) seen the chainmail owls he's been making this week:  

There's been a lot of squee. People want their own.  Who are we to argue?  Ron will make owls for sale, and this is the place to pre-order them (since I don't have a Zen Cart store set up on the website, yet, and why give Etsy a cut?) 

The Interesting Details:

Large Owls are about 1-1/2" tall, Small Owlets are about 1" tall.  

The large owls in the picture are in "Turkey" colors - bronze, orange, and gold rings, with bronze wing scales. The small owlet is black and bronze, with black wing scales.

"Turkey" - bronze, orange, and gold, with bronze wings
Black and bronze, wings may be either black or bronze 
Some permutation of black and silver (or gunmetal), white or black wings to be determined.
Other colors - rings and scales are available in a lot of different colors, *but* there are minimum packaging sizes, so if you want a custom color combination, you need to commit to at least one large owl or a pair of small owlets. 

(yes, they are all leaning to the right. Or maybe dancing.)

Large Owls: $20
Small Owlets: $10
Pendant bail (silver) can be added to the back of the head for no charge.  If the bails are too big for the small owlets, we'll put a ring on instead.

Large Owl necklace: $25
Small Owlet necklace: $15
Necklaces will be strung on a coordinating anodized aluminum chain.

Pair of small owlet earrings: $25
Owlet earrings on titanium french wires. We can also get niobium or nickel-free stainless steel wires.

So how do I get one?

Leave a comment or e-mail me at otter at otter necessities dot com, telling us what you want - size, color, and add-ons like pendant bails/rings, necklace, earrings, etc. Please include your e-mail address if there's any question that one of us (Lon, Ron, Xap) doesn't already have it.

On December 26th I'll order the parts. Giving shipping and assembly time, I'm not going to try to estimate the time delay until completion.   If you (collectively or individually) want a lot of owls, I might be able to order before the 26th. I may also have to ask for deposits.  I may also ask for a deposit if we don't know you personally, or if you want an odd color combination. 

Can't order right now? That's ok, I expect we'll have finished owls up on the website and/or Etsy sooner or later. This is your chance to jump in at the front end, not a now-or-never. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Changes in Plans

The plan for last (as in a few days ago) weekend was to work on things for Con-Alt-Delete, which is this coming weekend.

Did not go quite according to plans.  Saturday morning we went to get our nails done, which ended up taking up stoooopid amounts of time, for reasons. We got done just in time for Ron to drop me off at home, grab a couple things, and head off to the Capricon meeting.  I went out and got lunch, and went to Hobby Lobby for . . . something. Oh, I remember now, sharp small scissors to leave by the big sewing machine. I didn't find what I wanted in the sewing section, but I did in the scrapbooking section.

I did get some work done on satchels, belt satchels, and little tabbed pouches, and finished several. Unfortunately the splitter was demanding attention, so splitting down more binding was a problem. Also splitting down leather for gussets for the pouches I'd cut out the weekend before, or strips for the new amphora bottles that came in (clear and more dark amber). So I ran out of steam by about the time Ron got home.

The plan was that Ron would pay attention to the splitter (hone the blade, adjust thickness settings, lubricate) on Sunday morning, while I worked on other things, and then I could work on things requiring the splitter. Unfortunately, remote access to his office network broke (again - seems that Windows causes problems, and the fix is to re-install, feh). So he had to go in.

While Ron was at work I got strips cut and marked for skirt hikes, got dinner started in the crock pot, cut strips  for amphora hangers, made scotch eggs for lunch, and was working on putting the binding on some more pouches when I broke a sewing machine needle. Breaking a needle on the big machine is . . . exciting. Usually it results in whoever else is in the house asking if everything/everyone is ok (nobody's ever been hurt, only surprised).  At that point I quit.

And then I had an meltdown, for reasons. One side effect of which was an evil horrible sinus headache.

Ron got home, and stuck me back together, and we had the scotch eggs that I'd left in the toaster oven (which I knew would shut itself off). We goofed off for a little while, and went to Durty Nellie's for dinner and a jazz concert - Jazz Consortium Big Band, with a HS jazz ensemble as an opening act. 

Monday Robin punched holes in the skirt hike strips for me. That was about the end of useful work getting done. 

Ron had felt a little iffy on Saturday, and was definitely sick on Sunday. I started feeling sick on Monday, and in the afternoon melted down again, for other reasons. See above for evil horrible sinus headache side effect. And Robin was also getting sick.

Monday night we discussed Con-Alt-Delete, and figured we should probably just cancel, as it was unlikely that we'd be healthy by Thursday night setup.  Unfortunately, there are no refunds after 65 days before the convention, no appeal (not-huge cons often refund if they can fill from a wait-list; and I don't think of C-A-D as being in the "huge" category).  But I dithered around a little more, and debated waiting until Thursday morning.

Tuesday morning I e-mailed and cancelled. Which was the most productive thing I did for a number of hours.  We all stayed home. The family symptom list is cough, congestion, runny noses, sinus pressure, all the way up to an evil horrible sinus headache pretty much any time yesterday that I wasn't sleeping, which may be part of the reason the meltdown Sunday and Monday also resulted in similar headaches.  I was also very very queasy on and off yesterday. 

Last night I came back to the living room from starting dinner (avgolemono soup) to find a Robin-shaped corpse-like thing passed out on the couch.  I couldn't complain since napping had featured prominently in my afternoon. I got the garbage and recyclables together, Robin took them out to the wheelie bins, and Ron took the wheelie bins out to the curb. Other than that, the disaster area that was the kitchen had to fend for itself. 

Woke up today feeling less bad. The evil horrible headache has pretty much abated to a sinus headache on and off.  Robin was not sounding good, so I kinda invoked the Mom Voice to suggest that working tonight making pizzas at Little Caesar's was not a good idea.  He didn't really argue, I think he just needed a nudge from one of us. 

Robin was probably going to be ok not going to work today, but any longer he was going to need a doctor's note, which would probably be a good thing for me too, so this morning we made a trip to the Acute Care Center a family outing (our doctor's office was full up, Acute Care is part of the same facility, so it was really just seeing a different doctor who had all our records).

I was thinking we had colds and not flu, because we didn't have the muscle aches and not much in the way of sore throats, but I know there's a flu strain going around that the flu shots (which we all got) this year didn't cover. So the surprise from the flu culture/tests was that Robin and I do have flu, and Ron does not. WTF?  We figured he gave it to Robin and I.

We all were sent home with notes from the doctor, and prescriptions for oral cough meds and Tamiflu. Robin and I take the Tamiflu twice a day for IIRC 5 days, Ron takes 1 dose for twice as long, to try to head off the flu. 

We went north for Robin to drop his note off at his Little Caesar's store, and got lunch from the little Indian place in the same shopping center.  

Did a second pass of dishes, finishing them off. Took a bath, and have been trying to stay awake until its time to start dinner, which I could probably do soonish (ate lunch late - we were at Acute Care from 10 until almost 1). 

Ron's been somewhat productive, making chainmail owls. Robin's gotten some painting done. Yesterday my head wasn't really conductive to doing anything but listening to "The Lord of the Rings" audiobook, and making dinner and dealing with garbage through sheer stubborness. Today I . . . did dishes. And looked at chainmail books, and am blogging. If I'd been home I probably would have managed some knitting or something equally low-energy. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Boar's Head Report

Boar's Head, an SCA event we've been merchants at many many times, was on Saturday.

Sales were good. I think it's likely to have been our last Boar's Head.

Yes, those do seem contradictory.

First, the overview of the day:  

The weather wasn't particularly cold, it was dry, and there was only a little snow in the parking lots and no ice, which is much better than some years. There was road construction, but it didn't introduce any delays that I noticed. We got there early enough that they opened a garage door and had Ron pull the truck and trailer into the hall to unload, which made it really easy.

Our space included a pillar, but it was roughly in the center of our space, so it wasn't nearly as annoying as last year, when the pillar would have taken out about a quarter of our usable space. This year we just wrapped gridwall around it and carried on. We didn't use all the gridwall. 

Sold a little bit of everything, except belts. Only sold one belt. I think we were being undercut price-wise by another merchant. We sold a half-dozen tails, which was a surprise. We also sold several bottles. The amphora bottles were the most popular. Despite having yarn, patterns, knitting kits, needles, and notions on sale (20% off), we only had one fiber-related sale. Which kind of reinforced the decision to discontinue the knitting stuff, which I now have to figure out what to do with (knit, duh, but that still leaves me with multiple copies of some of the patterns, needles, and notions). 

Although we'd brought food, we ended up (buying and) eating the lunch that was offered. And don't ask how much cookies and fudge, because the SCA group that hosts the event does a cookie-sale fundraiser that's just plain evil. Canadian butter tarts were this year's particular evil, IMO. In the usual afternoon dead period I worked no sewing swivels onto tails.  We forgot to check the mail Friday evening, so although Ron did bring some scales to play with, he didn't have the order that was delivered Friday, d'oh!

Tearing down and leaving was relatively uneventful, other than that we were all varying levels of tired and sore, and one of the UPSes took a bold leap for freedom (appears to be OK). Dinner at Cracker Barrel, where a couple fox Christmas ornaments and a chicken stacking teapot/teacup combination followed us home.  I drove from the north side of Milwaukee to Antioch, since Ron's back was very Not Happy. It was the first time I'd driven with this trailer, which behaves much better than the big old white one we had before. 

This torque also followed me home (shown with the arm ring I got last year), from World Tree Hoard.

I was lusting after a sterling silver arm ring, with pretty black patina, but I didn't see it until after it had been set aside for someone else to come back and pay for (I did get first dibs if they didn't come back, but they did, drat). I have favorited his Etsy shop. 

We were tired and sore zombies yesterday, although I did get a few new things cut out. I also ordered more tails, and more bottles. I got more dark amber amphora, plus clear and a violet, and violet ball bottles. I was going to order some really big amphora bottles at Ron's request, but they're out of stock until January.  The ornament bins I got seem to be working for bottles, some of which were also packed into the ammo cans that we were using for yarn. The 4' tall gridwall and front fence we had Robin make worked reasonably well for containment. 

So, why was this likely to be Otter's last year at Boar's Head?

The problem is that Otter Necessities has grown over the years, and a lot in the last couple years. Once upon a time we could do either setup or tear-down (including packing the truck/trailer) in an hour. Not any more. Not even with 4 people. Getting up stupid early in the morning, driving a couple hours, setting up, selling most of the day, tearing down, and then driving home (with a stop for dinner) is a lot of work. A LOT of work. 

If we're going to keep doing the occasional SCA event, we're going to have to do one of two things:
Switch to a 2- or 3-day event, most of which are in the summer, and involve camping.
Simplify setup, by reducing the amount of gridwall we're erecting to just the belt display and anything not on that to tables, and/or limiting what we bring and sell.

The problem with #1 is finding a weekend event that fits the schedule, especially in the summer, which is dominated by ACen (May) and MuseCon (July-August). And camping is not especially attractive when one considers bad knees, bad backs, CPaP machines, and general dislike of heat, humidity, and mosquitos. And the lesser issues of dealing with tents and weather. And security, if we elect to sleep off-site. Which we do for conventions, but having a storm in the middle of the night is less of an issue, since convention venues are less susceptible to weather-related issues than tents. 

#2 is possibly the more viable solution. As Ron currently has the trailer configured, he can get the Things, Max, and the Grinch out without unloading all the gridwall. So we could bring in them, and just a few pieces of gridwall to display belts, and maybe contain glassware, and set up on tables only. We might also consider limiting what we put out for sale, although as the unexpected tail sales and lack of belt sales showed, we might not be as smart as that. Or maybe we could/should skip the belts, and stick to pouches and all the other stuff. 

We have time to think about it, the lead time for SCA events is typically in the range of a couple-few weeks, not many months like conventions. 

Next thing on the schedule is Con-Alt-Delete, the weekend before Christmas, in Rosemont.  We're in the Hyatt Regency, instead of the Stephens Convention Center, need to contact the organizers and see where we need to go for setup and teardown, etc. 

Monday, December 1, 2014

Lots of Nattery Things

My Ringlord order, which was delayed in Buffalo, NY by the anger of the snow gods, did indeed arrive last week. Ron almost immediately started playing with the scales. I got red, black, and brass-colored scales, so hopefully soon we'll have pouches decorated with scale mail.

Photo Gallery: 
While the Tree of Damocles was being removed on Tuesday, I uploaded and processed the photos from my phone and Ron's phone and tablet. I also tweaked the galleries, and added descriptions for the galleries. 

When I finished that, I went through some of the photos on the desktop's Otter Necessities directory, and found a bunch of pictures to add to the gallery. After weeding out the ones that are already on the website, I uploaded them to the gallery, and am working on adding words.  That batch includes a bunch of hanging pouches, wrist-rocket bracers, and belts, which was good.

Ron saw the orthopedic specialist for his wrist Wednesday morning, who diagnosed the problem as a bone chip floating around. The chip may be a result of the altercation with the wall, or it could pre-date it, impossible to tell. The doctor said that if Ron's wrist is improving (it is) and doesn't hurt (too much), don't worry about it, and doesn't require a splint. 

Ron's knee seems to be better.

My wrist was sore Monday evening, as reported, but was much better by Tuesday morning.

So, barring more crashing about, our Boar's Head plans are unaffected.

General Nattering:
Went to the local Tandy/Leather Factory store Friday morning, largely to get out of the house; but we did take advantage of some Black Friday sale pricing.

Friday through Sunday I meant to cut out some new bags from patterns I've bought, but never quite got that far. On Friday I was figuring out the patterns, and having them re-printed in color.  Saturday I picked up prints, filling out an event application (more below), picking up some needed lumber, and some other hardware I didn't actually need.  I did get some cut-out pouches ready to lace, though.  Yesterday I just didn't have the gumption to cut new stuff out. But I did work on lacing some other pouches.

We are listed as merchants for Boar's Head, which is Saturday. 

Since Kitsune Kon (anime con, Green Bay, 20 March) has failed to respond to me in any way, we decided to try the Geneva Steam Convention (steampunk, Lake Geneva, 6 March) instead.  The vendors are juried, so they wanted pictures of setup and merchandise, and a list of merchandise with prices.  I didn't see anything saying I could just point them to on-line pictures, so I got a half-dozen pictures from ACen printed in color, and put a note on the paperwork to see the website for more pictures.

The merchandise list was more annoying. We sell a *lot* of different stuff, at a lot of price points.  I went through the point of sale inventory and generated a list of a bunch of categories (ie: belts, pouches, shoulder bags & purses, potion bottles & vials, etc.) with price ranges. On that I included a note that those are price ranges as of now, but I could make new stuff outside the price ranges listed. 

We'll see how it goes.  

Con-Alt-Delete is the weekend before Christmas, in Rosemont. Probably should start checking soon to see if there's more detailed setup information. IIRC we're in a hotel ballroom this time, not the Convention Center.  

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Crash, Boom, Bam

At Maneki Neko Con we discovered that Windycon was working on disposing of excess gridwall. We thought it was 8' tall. Turns out that it's only 7' tall, which is good, because 7' fits in the trailer (8' might, but would be more tricky). So at Windycon, a week and a bit ago, we purchased a dozen pieces. 

(No, I'm not sure exactly how we're going to utilize another dozen panels, but I'm sure we'll manage). 

On the Monday after Windycon, the gridwall was unloaded from Robin's truck into the front entry, since Ron hadn't gotten the Round Tuit to modifying the interior of the trailer.  On Sunday that happened. While Robin was off procuring some two-by-sixes, Ron was shifting the gridwall from the front entry to the kitchen, then from the kitchen out to the porch.

I heard a yell, and a crash. I decided that sounded like a problem that should be investigated. Pippin got off the couch and followed me, because I was heading for the kitchen.  As we got to the door, which was open with a couple panels of gridwall laying in it, I realized there were Ron feet under said gridwall, and he was laying on his back on the porch. Coincidentally, I was telling Pippin he was a lousy Lassie. 

Ron had tripped going out the door. He hobbled around the rest of the day on a very sore knee. And sore back, and neck, and jaw, and wrist (he didn't hit his head on the porch, but his neck demanded the privilege of telling him how/why).  He didn't think of icing his knee until evening. D'oh! - on me, too. 

Yesterday he went to the doctor. She had his knee X-rayed, no sign of damage to bone, all soft tissue. She also had his right wrist X-rayed, because its still sore after an altercation with a wall 2+ weeks ago at Teslacon.  There is sign of fracture there, he goes to an orthopedic specialist tomorrow.

Depending on what type of cast/splint/whatnot he may end up with may affect our going to Boar's Head, in a week and a half.

And then last night I slipped and fell coming in. Fortunately, I mostly sat down in an uncontrolled way, so most of the impact came on my backside. Unfortunately, I also came down on my left hand, so I had a sore wrist last night. It seems better today, though. 

This morning I told Robin he's not allowed to fall and hurt himself.

Monday, November 24, 2014

New Photo Gallery

Yesterday morning I decided that the website needed a gallery, for a couple/few reasons:

  • I haven't been keeping it up to date adding new pages for new things like bottles. With a gallery at least there'd be pictures.
  • Steampunk events, which we're looking at doing, seem to be more likely to be juried. A gallery allows pictures of things not on the website as per the prior item, as well as pictures of our setup.
  • I feel like I can get away with less-than-perfect pictures in a gallery, vs. what I'd want in the main pages of the website.
Dreamhost has Piwigo (still haven't figured out how to pronounce it) gallery software available as a one-click install.  For doing everything else, the documentation is . . . lacking. But I'm reasonably comfortable learning-by-poking, so that was OK.

One thing I definitely wanted was the ability to add to the gallery from my iWhatsit. Initial setup and some customization from the desktop isn't a problem, but I wanted to be able to do routine additions from my iWhatsit. I've found that tasks that require the desktop are just less likely to get done on a timely basis, whereas things that I can do wherever I've got WiFi coverage are more likely to get done.  

Unfortunately, the Piwigo iOs app do sucketh, verily. I couldn't get logged into the gallery the couple times I tried yesterday. Ron got logged in, but then couldn't do anything else. It appears from the app store that something broke in a major way in the last year. OTOH, the standard web interface, once you switch to the HTML uploader (default is Java), is reasonably well-behaved on my tablet. Adding tags has been the only iffy task, and that hasn't been too bad.

I meant to work on Otter Necessities stuff most of yesterday, which did happen, but it ended up being adding pictures to the gallery. I've put up 30-mumble that were on my iPad, and then I went through the pictures on my phone, and Ron went through his iWhatsits, and mailed more pictures to my Otter Necessities account. I've got 33 messages with pictures, so that's probably about 50 more pictures. And I haven't poked to see what we've got on the desktop machine.  Adding pictures would go faster if I didn't add titles, dates (just month/year), and brief descriptions. 

Ron poked at things last night, and switched to a different theme from the default. He also determined that you can associate a picture with more than one album, which could be useful, since one of the albums is "Steampunk", and I can see having things there also in a what-it-is-type album (ie: pouches). 

Related to the posting-from-not-the-desktop-computer thoughts above, I've gotten the process for putting new things up on Etsy from my iWhatsit down. The first few pictures I was using a white chemise as a tablecloth, now I've got a piece of white muslin, which I even ironed. I put the table up in front of the couch, and take the picture facing the couch. Crop, then post on Etsy using the "Etsy Sell" app. I suppose I'd better figure out how to mark the pouches I've been listing on Etsy so they're packed so that they're easy to get to once they go to their first event. Right now they're in a bin on the shelves in the front entry. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Shipping Update

DHL package arrived late yesterday afternoon. I have fine dark brown hand-sewing thread, and pretty brass buckles and other hardware to play with.

UPS tracking has finally been updated, in such a way that it appears that the package went back from Indiana to Buffalo, NY, and at a little after 3 am got to East Syracuse, NY.  I am very cautiously optimistic that maybe the supposed movement to E. Syracuse might have actually taken place as shown. Note abundance of weasel-words.  I'm not cranky that the package got stuck by the snowstorms, that's unavoidable. I'm cranky about how UPS dealt with it, tracking-wise.

Meanwhile, FedEx simply puts a banner on their tracking pages that severe weather may be affecting deliveries in certain parts of the country, check linked web pages for more information. IIRC when I had a package affected by a storm last year, FedEx's tracking was reasonably useful at reflecting where it actually was.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Shipping Frustration

On Friday I got e-mail from Abbey Saddlery that they're sorry, one of the items I'd ordered does not actually exist in that size, should they substitute this size instead?  I replied yes, but not until late for the UK, so I assumed it wouldn't go out until Monday, which was correct; and that Royal Mail would take a very long time for delivery, because the Royal Mail does not have a good reputation (including actual experiences of members of a miniature gaming forum Robin belongs to).

However, the package was actually sent DHL, and on Monday it left Manchester, went through the East Midlands, got Cincinnati, Ohio customs clearance, and in the early hours of Tuesday morning, arrived in Cincinnati. Then it went to DHL's O'Hare-ish facility in Franklin Park, and to our house a little before noon.

Unfortunately, nobody was home to sign for it.

Signed the slip to let DHL leave it, and left it on the door yesterday, just to be safe, in case Robin missed hearing the door or ran out to do an errand.

Meanwhile, my package from The Ring Lord, from Concord, Ontario was wending its way through the UPS system, via Buffalo, NY. UPS tracking said it cleared customs and left Buffalo Monday night, and on Tuesday went through facilities in Ohio, Indiana, and got to Chicago, for delivery Wednesday.

Not so much.  No packages when we got home from work. Nothing when we left for or returned from our music lessons.  At 7-7:30 I checked tracking for the Nth time.

DHL was saying delayed by severe weather, aborted at 5:15 pm. What the what?!?  We were having absolutely no such thing. Called, talked to drone, then supervisor. Eventually the supervisor explained that delivery trucks were delayed yesterday due to late-arrivals from farther east, he would note that I'm cranky, and try to push the route around for early delivery today. I'm guessing the delivery driver decided to knock off at 5:15 and didn't realize or ignored the fact that the delivery address is residential.

Last night I also noted that my UPS package was bouncing around IL and IN facilities, and although claimed to be on time for delivery by the end of the day, was not actually showing as Out For Delivery.  The UPS explanation was not clear, but seenpmed to boil down to left on a larger truck and back in Indiana, probably would be delivered today, call if it wasn't.

Overnight it was updated to Ghu-knows where, last point shown in Indiana (probably just over the IL/IN line at a lot where triple trailers are broken down to come into IL, and built up for the reverse trip), delayed due to adverse weather.

Call UPS. Domestic service drone read me the tracking page, and eventually transferred me to International service when that didn't satisfy me. International drone was only marginally less useless. Supervisor finally managed to tell me that my package really is delayed by actual adverse weather, because it never left Buffalo, NY.  The so-called tracking is what should have happened, based on normal container/trailer movements. 

I expressed my displeasure that the tracking had, in the past three days, never been updated/corrected to reflect that. I could forgive a few hours of anticipated movement, but not several days in error, since they obviously know where it actually is and could do so.  And I said that my reaction was not "confusion" about what tracking was showing, it is flat-out false/deceptive information.

So, I should get the Abbey Saddlery order today (currently showing as "with delivery courier"), and Ghu knows when I'll see my Ringlord package, since NY has clearly pissed off the snow gods.  And UPS tracking is only good if nothing goes wrong, and is apparently not updated if something does.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

More Post-Teslacon Natter, Plus Shopping

Nothing in the way of shipping information, or cleared payment, from Abbey Saddlery. I'm going to give it another day or so, then see what's up - if I remember the time differential right I placed the order in the wee hours of Veteran's Day, on that side of the pond. 

This weekend I'm planning on cutting out another prototype for loops to hold dees onto belts for Sam Browne belts. Ron's, which he's wearing here, has the dees permantly sewn in place, which causes problems when one, say, loses a bunch of weight after the belt is made:

(No, we did not make the very spiffy leather corset/vest. That's from The Artifixer, 

Permanent loops also can cause issues getting the belt through belt loops on pants, kilts, or belt pouches. I'd made one floating-dee-loop prototype several years ago, but it wasn't successful. Ron had a suggestion for a different approach, that I think will work. If it does, I'll get dies made to cut out versions for 2-1/4" and 1-1/2" belts. 2-1/4" are what Ron's wearing here, and what we sell as "kilt" belts. 1-1/2" is a standard mundane man's belt. The shoulder strap buckle (in the middle of Ron's chest) and dees on the belt are 7/8", but that's an uncommon size, so I think I'm going to go with 1" instead. 3/4", which is the lighter-colored shoulder strap for his bag, is a little too narrow. 

This morning I ordered metal scales from The Ringlord, a big chainmail supplier (from Toronto, CA, so more international e-commerce). We'd talked about putting leather scales on a pouch flap, like the autumn leaves pouch. I'll probably still do that, but I think the metal scales will also be cool. 

Tails arrived last night. Usually the supplier puts each tail in a bag, with a label as to what it is. Most of the tails were packaged that way, but on the top of the box (with a layer of paper above, so no worries about tape sticking to it), were several loose ones. One of the advantages of tails-in-bags is that it helps protect them from inquisitive dog noses. As soon as I got the box open Pippin was investigating, more avidly that usual (the bags are only stapled shut, so they still have plenty of interesting smells). 

Tuesday I had the bright idea to take pictures of some of the pouches I've finished lately, to go ahead and post for sale on Etsy. The pictures were taken with my iWhatsit with a slightly wrinkly white chemise spread on a table as a background: 
Not as good as Ron would have done on the light table and studio lights and a camera on a tripod, but better to have things up for sale with thoroughly adequate pictures than not at all because of lack of Round Tuits. 

Paid for our booths for Anime Central this morning, which explains the loud "whoosh" noise you heard from the direction of Otter's bank account.  Check for Military History Fest has cleared, so I assume everything is good there.  No response from Boar's Head to my questions about seeminly-contradictory information on the website, so I think tomorrow I'll mail off a check and the form that is available.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Catching Up Natter

Haven't done a lot Otter-ish, as I've been sewing for Teslacon. 

Picked up some belt ammunition bags and a larger Swiss ammunition bag at Teslacon, to use as models/patterns. Also have figured out a way, I think, to make floating loops for a Sam Browne belt. 

For Teslacon I made a new shoulder strap for my leather briefcase. It came out rather nice, I think.  

Saw some nice leather things in the Teslacon Dealers' Rooms (there were two), and some craptastic. Thinking about making a longer, narrower version of sporran hangers, possibly with a buckle for length adjustment. Also thinking about sectional belt possibilities.  

Last night I placed a rather large order from Abbey Saddlery, in England. I got some lightweight thread for hand-sewing, and some nice hardware, mostly brass. I drooled over a set of sticks for blocking loops (like the keeper loops on belts), but resisted. For now. The joys of the internet and international e-commerce.  

Also have a batch of tails on order, from a domestic supplier, including some red fox tails from Australia, which look rather nice. 

I've started working on the purchases side of the books for this year. I've let it go rather badly. Yesterday (vacation day) I ferreted out all the hard copies of receipts I had, scanned the thermal cash register receipts and printed copies that won't fade (as badly), and cleaned up my Otter Necessities e-mail boxes. Today (state holiday) I cleaned up my pensonal e-mail inbox, so I could make sure anything that should have gotten forwarded to my Otter Necessities mail actually had been. Then I went through and put my hard copies in order, then went through my e-mail and saved and printed copies of everything I had electronically. 

So now I'm ready to actually start recording purchases.  My plan is to do a little bit every day or few over the rest of the year, instead of making myself crazy trying to do everything in one or two huge binges. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Scheduling & Making Things

Scheduling Natter

When I last posted, I'd sent e-mail and was otherwise poking at the schedule. The results so far are:

Kollision Kon: Heard back fairly promptly, that we've been wait-listed.

Kitsune Con: Still radio silence.

Boar's Head: Vendor applications still not available, according to the website.

Military History Fest: Just filled out the application and wrote out a check for six tables.

Bristol Renaissance Faire: Sent e-mail asking if there will be a Visiting Artist program again in 2015, no response yet.

Anime Central: Waffled for a while if we were going to do ACen again or not, and decided we are doing ACen again. I filled out the on-line application yesterday (first day vendor apps were open). Supposedly the rest of the process should take less than a month, which would be faster than last year. 

Making Things

Friday night I cut out a bunch of smaller soft laced pouches - my to-do list says I need the second-smallest size, which I'm not sure is exactly up-to-date, but I figured I'd go ahead and start them anyway. And while I was at it, I cut out some of the small square ones, too.

Saturday, while Ron and Xap worked on sewing for Teslacon, I cut out a bunch of the same type of pouches in black. Because those we do need.

Also started working on some steampunk-ish garb for Ron and Robin. Specifically, cutting vests out of muslin and test-fitting. Round 1 fit Robin with only minor modifications needed, didn't fit Ron. Round 2 for Ron, with another pattern, was closer. Round 3 for Ron is partially laid out on paper, need to make known modifications and test-fit again.

Yesterday and today I made Chocolate Babka, which has nothing to do with Otter Necessities, but it was really good. When we were shopping for the ingredients Ron found small cans of marzipan, so I actually made marzipan-chocolate babka. (Rolled out dough, warmed up the marzipan in the microwave, spread on half the dough as well as I could, folded the dough over to sandwich the marzipan (one can per loaf) and rolled it out again, then did the chocolate filling, which was made with Lindt 85% and 90-mumble% dark chocolate bars and Godiva unsweetened cocoa powder. And margarine, because we forgot butter. Oops, but I don't think the babka suffered.)

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Maneki Neko Con Report, and Scheduling Natter

Maneki Neko Con

Xap dropped X2, who was supposed to help Maneki Neko Con gaming staff, off on Thursday night, so he could get there early in the day with us, and possibly help Otter. Besides packing stuff up, I cut PVC for doll clothes displays, cut a bunch of belts, and clonked my head but good on the corner of a workmate. I wondered if I was going to need first-aid from X2 (Eagle Scout), since Ron was at a meeting, but there was no blood, just ouchie.

Got pretty much everything together and packed Thursday night, packed up personal stuff Friday morning. Ron, X2, and Robin packed the truck and trailer while I went to the bank, then off we went to the Matteson Community Center.

Got there and discovered that someone had mis-read our application. It asked if you wanted table(s) or booth(s), I'd checked the booth ticky-box, then farther down the form indicated two booths. And paid for two. Fortunately, vendors/artists alley were around the perimeter of a generous chunk of gym floor, and we were on a corner by the back door, so were able to ooze forward and closer to the door than originally intended, so it worked out OK. 

Mostly mirrored the Anime Midwest setup left-right. Instead of using our 4' tables and fencing them with gridwall and hangrails, we used the 8' table that was in our space, since I'd only made a couple new pouches since Anime Midwest. Also put the belts and Thing square to the front, with the Thing to the front, fenced with the gridwall and one of the hangrails that we weren't using elsewhere, so we were able to fill up that Thing-table with bottles as I sewed the collars on, without worrying about the bottles escaping from the table. 

X2 helped us unload and set up for a while, then went off to work gaming. To run gaming, as it turned out.

We were pretty much set up by the time Xap arrived midday. Ron ran out and procured lunch. We were open until 8, didn't seem to be a lot of people, but we did equal last year's sales - which were dreadful. So that was encouraging, if 1/4 sales Friday was assumed.

Left the trailer at the Community Center (after clearing it with Taz, the Great and Powerful), and off to the Holiday Inn where we were staying. It was a hotel.

Saturday we were open 10 am - 8 pm. It seemed fairly slow all day, but sales were respectable. Didn't really sell anything to speak of until 3:30-4:00 ish, and then it picked up and most of our sales happened by about 6-ish. Hit the hot tub after getting back to the hotel, and later told Josh "You can't come in yet, I'm not done learning about twerking." 

Sunday's sales were about the same as Friday's. Signage said dealers were open until 2:00, although everything else said 3:00. Traffic was pretty much dead, and everybody else had started packing by 2:00 (and some were already out), so we followed the herd. 

Taz asked us on Saturday about buying some of Windycon's 8' tall gridwall, and my response was thank you, but it wouldn't fit in the trailer. Ron thought we could, if we laid it down, as it is an 8' trailer, but it has a non-square nose. Taz told Ron to take a piece out and try it on Sunday, in the process of which Ron discovered that the gridwall was only 7' tall, and will fit. So we're probably getting a dozen pieces of 7' tall gridwall Windycon weekend. That will give us more vertical space, as well as just plain more gridwall to play with.

I was already thinking of getting more short gridwall hooks, but the decision to get more gridwall confirmed that plan. I ordered that Sunday night. I also ordered two 4' tall pieces of gridwall, so we can fence in bottles, but not obscure seeing people who are looking at them.

Robin made chili for dinner on Sunday, so we were able to eat as soon as we got home and Ron got the trailer backed into place.  Yay for Robin. I was, predictably, snubbed by Pippin Sunday evening, unless he thought there might be a chance of food/treats.

Over the course of the weekend I sewed collars onto about 4 dozen bottles, finished lacing the flap on a lace mania purse, and assisted Ron in assembling belts.

Looking at the sales records, we sold a little bit of everything - bottles (3 of the amphora), tails, pouches, a couple belts, and various other odds and ends, including one doll kosode.  Sales were definitely good enough that we will be doing Maneki Neko Con again next year. Although don't ask about what we spent at the dealer with DVDs and Blu-Rays. 

Thinking that after Boar's Head I'm pulling the last few musical instruments, yarn, and other knitting paraphernalia out of stock. The knitting stuff would probably have been OK if we'd kept doing mostly SCA events, but it doesn't really fit in with the rest of our stuff. The bottles fit in better, with the leather hangers on them. 

Speaking of bottles, I find myself in the very strange position of actually wanting stores to put out Christmas merchandise - I think the best bet for longer-term storage/transport for bottles is ornament bins. The cardboard boxes they came in are pretty cheap, although better now that we've reinforced them with generous amounts of packing tape. 

Scheduling Natter

Sent e-mail off this afternoon asking what's up with our Kollision Kon (early Jan., Rosemont) application that I submitted a couple weeks ago and was led to expect I'd get a response on in 3-5 days. 

Also tried another e-mail asking what the expected attendance is for Kitsune Con (March, Green Bay), and background on organizing group. 

Vendor applications aren't ready yet for Boar's Head (Dec., SCA, north of Milwaukee).

Have the application and information for Military History Fest (late Jan. or early Feb., St. Charles), we need to decide if we want 5 tables like last year, or 6, which would probably give us a whole island. 

And finally, I got information on Bristol Ren. Faire, for 2015, but it doesn't say anything about the "Visiting Artist" program they had this year, which allowed people to vend just one/a few weekends. So need to send e-mail to ask about that, since we're not doing the whole run of the Faire.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

New Bottle Prototypes

Below is a picture of the new bottle prototypes. From left to right are an cobalt blue apothecary bottle, a smoky blue genie and a vintage green ball bottle, a cobalt blue olive branch bottle, an aqua drop bottle, and a dark amber amphora. 

I got the apothecary bottles in clear and cobalt, the genie in smoky blue, balls in clear, vintage green, and red, the olive branch in cobalt, the amphora in dark amber, and the drops are an assortment of lime, red, fuchsia, orange, aqua, and amber.

Catching Up with ACTUAL PROGRESS

Looks like I last posted on the 6th. The 7th was devoted to a big plumbing project to fix the underlying cause of the plumbing panic on ACen setup day - see my personal blog if you want more natter about that.

Got some more doll clothing done, I'll see about putting some pictures in at the end.  

And finally, on the 13th I started cleaning the dining room, which is my workroom, and MY space. Most of the work was actually done on Sunday the 14th. Ron attacked the front entry and front entry closet, including putting up shelves that now hold a bunch of bins that were in the workroom. I worked on the actual room, with occasional help from Robin (during breaks in mowing the lawn). 

I have an ACTUAL FLOOR. Well, had. Then I went and got 10 dozen new bottles, which came in two big boxes. This time I ordered from a different source, who had colored bottles. Besides more spheres/balls and cylinder/apothecary bottles, I got some little ones they call "genie" bottles, tall cobalt blue ones with olive branches, and amphora-shaped ones.

Still have some old parts of projects to sort through, but I've gone through all the newer parts and figured out what I have in pieces, and made a list. Also went through inventory and figured out what we need in the way of pouches. I'll also do belts, when Ron gets a chance to help - that's easier with multiple people/devices/screens, for various reasons.
Saturday afternoon we figured out what we're doing with the amphora bottles - hanging from a loop that snaps onto each handle. And Ron determined that he could set snaps with pretty caps on both sides, so I had to order more caps Monday morning. 
Also ordered more long rivets, which we need the the bottle straps that also include belt loops. But we can work on cutting, marking, and punching while waiting for snaps and rivets.  I'd ordered snaps and short rivets on Friday.
Did some on-line browsing for Christmas ornament boxes for transporting bottles. Only one style of cardboard box listed at The Container Store. I know they had more last year, presumably they'll bring back more soon - will keep an eye open.
Genie, drop, and the big blue olive branch bottles will have a collar sewn around the neck, with a (snapped) belt loop riveted on. Going to do those in black only.
The ball and apothecary bottles are not quite the same as the older sphere and cylinder bottles, so we had to modify the patterns. Got the modification right for the ball on the first try, had to try a second time on the apothecary. However, attempt 1 turns out to be just right for Robin's Orangina bottles.
Got all the tails done, plus putting a swivel on one belonging to X2's friend, on Saturday and Sunday.
Sunday afternoon, before Ron and Xap discussed MuseCon Programming stuff, we went through the schedule, which I'd also looked at with Ron on Saturday.
Tentative plan is to do Boar's Head, Kollision Kon (early Jan., Rosemont), Military History Fest, investigate Kitsune Con and Stonefield Wild West Steampunk Weekend, Geek.Kon, and Ramen Con.
Somehow the depth adjustment on the red press we use for rivets and snaps got cross-threaded on its threaded rod and thoroughly munged up, so yesterday morning I ordered a new threaded rod and adjustment screw. Also ordered, for insurance, a new spring, set screws, and another cheap thing or two.
Sunday I finally got around to getting a new iPod. Yes, I can use my phone and/or iPad, but they have limited capacity, so I end up listening to the same few things over and over and over until I get around to synching a device again. With an iPod I can have a lot of different music. I also got a good set of speakers for the dining room. 
Took a sanity day today. Haven't done anything Otter-ish, other than submitting our application for Kollision Con. May putter around with leather this afternoon, or I may go take a nap. Because I can.
And now, some pictures of doll clothes and my nice clean dining room and front entry (before the big boxes of glassware came in last week):