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.