Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Blog Update

This is just a quick update to let anyone reading this know that I have not forgotten my blog. I have quickly discovered that, although life where I'm living right now is less stressful overall than while living at our old house while it was on the market, it has been very difficult to find reliable time to write for my blog. We've gotten the process started for finding a new place to live, so I'm hoping that we can be out of here before too long and back to normalcy (or at least what passes for it around our home). Unfortunately, I don't think I'll be able to reliably keep this blog up until we get moved in to a new place of our own. I am still going to try and do work in progress updates, although they might not always be on Wednesdays. I'll post other entries as I get chances to write. ^_^ Who knows, maybe we'll find some kind of routine where I can get back to writing before then. I'll try to be optimistic.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Angels > Pokemon

I spent this past week rewatching Angelic Layer with my Mom and my kids. My Mom had never seen it before, and it'd been a while since the rest of us had seen it. Angelic Layer may not be one of Clamp's more spectacular works, but it was cute. Of course, as an avid cosplayer, I have to say that one of the strongest draws this series has for me is the wide variety of costume designs.

For those who have not seen Angelic Layer, the series is about a girl, Misaki Suzuhara, who moves to Tokyo and starts playing a game called Angelic Layer. The game involves customizing an Angel doll, which when placed a special surface called a Layer can be moved. The player wears a special helmet that transmits their thoughts to the doll and the doll moves accordingly. The idea is that what an Angel can do is limited only by the player's will and imagination. The plot follows Misaki as she progresses through the big Angelic Layer tournament. There is some family drama mixed in with all this, but I won't go into detail here since that would give away the bulk of the plot--Angelic Layer isn't all that complicated a series.

One thing that I noticed on this go-around with Angelic Layer is that it's a lot like Pokemon--I'm sure there are other series like this too, but it's not really the kind of thing I usually watch. =P In Angelic Layer you challenge other players, similar to how Pokemon trainers will challenge each other; the players' Angels fight each other, kind of like Pokemon fight each other for the trainers. I think Angelic Layer is better than Pokemon, or at the very least, I think, given the choice, I'd prefer to play Angelic Layer over going on my very own Pokemon journey. XD One of the biggest reasons why I prefer Angelic Layer is that Angelic Layer ended. Pokemon doesn't seem to ever die. XD That makes my kids happy, but after a while, I do wonder how much longer they can honestly drag it out. For another, Angels are kind of like Ball-Joint-Dolls, only cooler--they're slightly more customizable for body type and they can move and fight while in the Layer. This means, though, that you can dress the Angels up in all kinds of neat outfits or make your own clothes for the doll. As a cosplayer, that aspect definitely appeals to me. Finally, as an added bonus, you don't ever have to feed your Angel or really worry about ever offending it or anything, since, you know, it's not a living thing. =P

Here are screenshots of my two favorite Angels, Ranga and Wizard. For those of you who've seen Angelic Layer, which Angel did you like best?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Works in Progress No 1, Vol 9

Technically this should be No. 3 or 4 or something for November, but it's December now, and November wasn't a great month for getting any kind of art or craft work done. On that note, I have high hopes for December. I only have a little bit to post for today, but look at it as the start of what's going to be a highly productive and fun month. =D

First up, a couple of friends of ours had their second baby boy just before Thanksgiving. Normally I like to make baby blankets for people, and usually I like to get it finished before the baby's born. This time, it's already here, and I'm only just getting started. No big deal. =P I'll have it ready in time for Christmas. When I made the blanket for their #1 boy, they'd asked for autumn or earthy colors, but when I went shopping for yarn, the selections of warm colors, especially the oranges, were horrendous. They were all too bright or too pastel, so that blanket ended up going with greens. This time though, I found a great dark orange color, so this time they will get an autumn blanket. Right now it looks like a nifty scarf. =P

The other post I have is the random badge project I started at Anime USA. I'm not going to say what it is right now. Can you guess? I hand-inked it and did some pencil shading because I was bored. I will probably scan it into Manga Studio and redo the lineart digitally because I'm not overly happy with it. Otherwise, I like it. It makes me giggly.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Moving Recap

For those who have been watching my blog, you'll know that we've been moving around, a lot, and dealing with a lot of crazy stuff with our house, which due primarily to cruddy market conditions and too much competition was not selling. Well, on Nov. 1 we got an offer on our house. I'll admit I nearly cried when I listened to the message from our listing agent. Those were words I never thought I'd hear. That call though was the start of a long and stressful month. We have had to go through various inspections and negotiations. Once everything was agreed on, we had a small list of repairs that we had to have fixed. I'm used to fixing everything myself, but the buyers wanted licensed contractors (not that I blame them), but I discovered what a headache it was trying to work with those people, plus the sheer number of contractors out there totally willing to rip you off. For example electric: almost everyone I talked wanted around $2500 for the work citing high material costs. I did find someone more reasonable, and in the end I paid less than 20% of what the other companies wanted to get the work done. Still it's sad that there were so many contractors out there who were charging so much more than what was necessary.

Most of that is over with now. We moved everything out of the house and into storage on Friday, minus stuff for my art business, the kids' school work, and clothes. Almost all of the repairs are already finished. The only things left are to pick up our cats from the house, get the carpets cleaned and some minor work done on our furnace. We're getting the cats today. I'm looking forward to this; I missed them over the weekend. The carpet cleaners are also coming today. We have the heating contractor scheduled for early Wednesday morning. I'm pretty sure this guy's ripping us off--he came back with a number 1.5x what they'd quoted us for when he came out to look at the furnace more closely (on the day we thought he was coming out to actually fix the thing). Unfortunately by that point in time, they were the only ones we could get to come out and fix it before closing. >_< I'm trying not to think about that too much, and with luck, everything will be done with this Wednesday. Closing is at noon. I've been counting the days to closing for most of this month and stressing over all the details, trying to make sure everything on our side goes as smoothly as possible. Now it's almost to the point of counting down the hours.

Since closing is on Wednesday, I'm going to try and get on top of things and write up my WIP post Tuesday night, but since I generally fail at things like that, the WIP post might not get posted until Thursday. =P One of these days I'll get my butt organized. In the mean time, I'll continue spending my time working on projects and stumbling through things as best I can. ^_^

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Another Failed WIP Post

So, I actually had some works in progress to post today, but I went and packed them yesterday without getting pictures of them. XD Brilliant right? They have been shipped off, along with all of my art table inventory, display, etc., to my parents house where I will be staying interim while we look for a new home. This means, that there won't be any WIPs this week, although maybe I'll post some on Tumblr this weekend.

In the mean time, let me tell you what's coming in the next couple of weeks. Originally I'd planned on adding four new "What Would ___ Do?" prints and badges for Magfest. That number has now increased to twelve, and there are several that I am extra excited about. There's only one that I'm a little iffy about--that's Bioshock; I've gotten a lot of requests for something from Bioshock, but neither my husband nor I have actually played any of the games. Usually we try to keep it to what we know, so for everything else at least one of us has played the game. We'll see how that goes. We do have some friends with the game, so maybe we can get a chance to play some of it before we put together the final print.

Also, my husband has convinced me that I want to try and finish up some bookmark sets too for Magfest and my mage girl pin-up prints. I'm starting to debate the sanity of this proposal at the moment. We'll see what I can get done realistically. To give you an idea what this includes, the additional bookmark sets include about 33 or so new designs, plus a possible 7 character surprise set--something we'd be doing just for lol's. There are only 3 girls in the pin-up set, but those will be 11x17 poster size prints, and I'm doing them in a style that's very different from what I normally do. Also, just for the fun of it, there might be another 6 character badge set; this one is actually fairly likely since I started drawing it while at AUSA, plus it makes me giggle... a lot. XD There might also just have to be a group picture print of those 6 badge characters. I'm not going to say what they are just yet--I'll post a WIP in next week's WIP post, and see if you can figure out where it's going. ;-)

Anyways. I'm off to finish off our packing. I'll try and get a moving update posted Friday, but I'm not sure what my computer access is going to be like that day, so it might have to wait till Monday. In the mean time, hope everyone has a Happy Thanksgiving. <3

Monday, November 21, 2011

AUSA 2011 Recap

I spent my weekend at Anime USA, an anime convention located in the Washington D.C. area, with my husband, two good friends, Kevin and Melissa, and my middle son, Luke. This is why there was a gap in posting here. ^_^ Just a heads up, but this week is likely to be rocky for posts too given the holiday, plus we're moving, so there may be a few days where I just don't have access to a computer or internet.

Onto the AUSA recap. This convention went off a lot more smoothly than AWA. We only had a few hitches getting the new bookmarks printed, but things came together, and we were actually on the road by 2:00 p.m. Thursday, which was awesome. The trip was easy, especially since no one was exhausted. We ate a leisurely dinner on the road to avoid most of rush hour traffic and pulled into our hotel a little after 7:00. We spent the evening playing cards (Munchkin mostly). It was nice not to be working on last minute laminating or costuming details--this doesn't happen very often.

Friday morning, we got to take our time waking up and dragging our butts downstairs to set up. My table ended up being in a slightly awkward location--it was right in the middle of a walkway that was only about 3-4 feet wide, which didn't leave a lot of room for people if they wanted to stop and look. I spent most of the weekend at my table--no surprise there, right? I did leave Friday evening to go see the Trigun movie with Luke, which was awesome, except for the fact that we got there late and couldn't really see the screen.

Saturday, my husband took Luke to see Godzilla vs. Mothra. Luke absolutely loved it, and apparently, near the end of the movie when Mothra was destroying a large chunk of the city, right after an especially large explosion, someone in the back yelled: "My cabbages!!!" Shaun said that got cheers from the audience. I kind of wish I'd been there to hear that one. For those who don't know what the cabbage reference is from, go watch the Avatar: The Last Airbender tv series. It's well worth watching.

Sunday was quiet, relatively. Overall, I had a blast at the convention. I really enjoyed talking with a lot of people who came by the table. I got to see some great costumes--there were tons of Miyazaki cosplays there this year, which I loved. My favorites were the girl dressed as Sheeta from Castle in the Sky and the couple dressed as Haru--in her yellow gown that she wears in the Cat Kingdom--and Baron from The Cat Returns. I also saw several Howl cosplays (Howl's Moving Castle), San (Princess Mononoke), Ponyo, and the two girls from My Neighbor Totoro--I don't remember their names. There was one particularly well-done Howl who went around Saturday with a Jack Sparrow taking votes as to who was more of a "lady's man." I, of course, voted for Howl. Jack's good, and this particular cosplayer did a great job of playing the role, but he can't compare to Howl, at least in my opinion. I found out Sunday from Howl that he won that contest by one vote. There wasn't really anything spectacular going on at AUSA this year, but the people really made it a great con.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Second Best Way to Spend the Weekend

Clearly, as far as my opinion goes, the best way to spend a weekend would be at an anime convention hanging out with friends, cosplay, and play geeky games. Since that wasn't an option for this past weekend, I did the next best thing, hung out with friends and played geeky games all weekend. This past weekend was supposed to be our last (probably) D&D game at this house, except almost everyone was sick; we'd already downgraded the D&D game to hang out and play cards or board games since my husband was recovering from a plague-like cold and didn't have the voice to run the D&D game. It turns out 80% of our group had the same plague-like cold, and so the turnout for this weekend's fun was small, but we made the most of it. =)

We played a scenario for both the Ravenloft board game and Wrath of Ashardalon, the more standard D&D board game. It was amazingly epic. For the first (and probably last) time ever we managed to go through both games without anyone dying. I was especially shocked with the Ravenloft scenario; you think Ravenloft and the first thing that comes to mind is player death. The board game does a great job of capturing that feeling from the table-top game setting. It wasn't like we were necessarily going after one of the easier scenarios either. My husband picked out the biggest monster mini in the box, and said "Hey, let's go after this thing." If anything though, those two games back-to-back made the last (probably) game get-together here memorable.

After playing the D&D board games, we moved onto Munchkin. We played Zombie Cthulu Munchkin and Super Munchkin Bites. I especially liked the Zombie Munchkin and Munchkin Cthulu combination. It seemed an oddly appropriate set to mix, and the sets played well together. Super Munchkin is, I think, by far the most over-powered over the Munchkin games. We joked that by pairing it with the vampire Munchkin game, we were creating Vampire Mary-Sue characters... *cough*Twilight*cough*

We topped the evening off with pizza. It's not what we'd planned on preparing for dinner. However since we had such a small turnout, and it was such a relaxing evening of playing, it just felt like a pizza night. We finished the evening off with pizza eating, chatting, and watching an episode and a half of Tiger and Bunny on Anime Season--my computer decided it wasn't interested in cooperating after the half way point on the 2nd episode. All things considered, it was a fun weekend. I did get a little bit of drawing done, although it wasn't nearly as much as I should have. On the other hand, it was nice to get a break from working on things for Anime USA and just relax for a bit.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Crazy Month Is Crazy

I completely forgot to post this yesterday. I'm not too surprised considering what's going on here. This post is to give you guys an idea of what this month is going to look like, and why work on art projects is going to be kind of hit or miss.

As you may recall, last week, I posted that we got an offer on the house. The house has been inspected, and we have a list of repairs to make--all of them fairly reasonable. Starting now through the end of the month, we will be working on fixing things in our house. Also, later this month we will be packing up and moving everything (again), although this time it won't be so bad since a lot of our stuff is still in storage and won't have to go anywhere; we'll just be packing up what we kept and adding it to storage. Still, I hate moving and packing, even with less stuff. >_<

So, the first reason why this month will be crazy is we're going to be moving and doing a bunch of repairs to the house. The next reason is Anime USA. This coming Thursday, we'll be driving up to the Washington D.C. area, and spending Friday through Sunday running a table in Artist Alley. On that note, I am still trying to get the Sailor Moon mecha pilot bookmarks finished for the convention. I have today, and maybe Monday, to get those done. @_@ At that point, I have to take stuff to the printers, so I make sure I have time to cut out and laminate everything before we leave for the convention.

Oh yeah, and if that wasn't enough craziness, I'm pregnant. =P Seriously. XD This explains why I've been so tired over the last month--those following me on Twitter might have noticed the number of naps I've been taking or nights where I've just gone to bed super early. All in all, that's not a bad thing, and the real craziness for that won't show up until the spring, but it does affect my energy levels, so I probably won't be pulling the all-nighters I normally do before a convention, which means I may not be finishing all 15 of the bookmarks I wanted to have done--#5 will be done today; I might try for 10.

Keeping all that in mind, I'm going to try and keep working on art projects, but it's probably going to be a fairly slow month. I'm hoping December will be better--I'll be chilling at my parents temporarily while we save money for a down payment on a new place to live, so the moving and house stuff won't be an issue. There are also no conventions on my schedule for December. There will still probably be low-energy days, but I think I can work with that. December, I'm planning on a new "What Would ___ Do?" set. Twelve new prints and badges featuring different games and characters from the first set. In the next couple of weeks I'll probably put some polls up for some of the games where I'm having trouble picking which character I want to draw from it. =)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Works in Progress No. 2, Vol. 8

This week, there's going to be a real WIP post. =D This week I've been working on the Sailor Moon mecha pilot bookmark series for Anime USA. I really want to make this a nice even set of 15 (I like sets with numbers divisible by 5--at least for bookmarks; for badges, I like sets divisible by 4 for whatever reason). This set will feature at the minimum the same characters from my Sailor Moon harem bookmark series, done for Anime USA last year, plus Sailor Chibi-Moon. That gives me 11. I don't like 11. If I can manage it, I want to add the three Starlights and human Luna. Cross your fingers that I can become a drawing demon this week. =P

So far, I have finished Sailor Moon and Sailor Mercury. Sailor Mars is about half finished.

Monday, November 7, 2011

June 5, 2012

You might be wondering why I'm writing about June 5 of next year, since that's many months away... 6 months and 28 days or 211 days away to be exact. Well, in 211 days, on June 5, my family will be visiting Walt Disney World. Why is this exciting? My husband and I haven't been to WDW in more than 10 years, and our kids have never been there--unless you count the fact that I was pregnant with my oldest when we went last. This is something we've been wanting to do with our kids for years now--face it, whatever your opinion on Disney is, the parks are a lot of fun for kids (and adults).

What brought this trip on now? To be honest, this trip wouldn't be possible without the help of my parents. The idea to go came from the fact that my extended family is holding a reunion down at a beach house in Florida; since we're driving all the way to Florida, we thought, why not hop on down to Orlando for Disney while we're down there? I'll admit that the idea was mostly mine, but my parents liked the idea, and thought it'd be fun, so they're helping send all 7 of us (my parents, me, my husband, and our 3 kids) to Disney for 4 days.

I'm really excited about this trip. We're going to be staying in one of the villas in the Animal Kingdom with the savannah view--I've wanted to stay there ever since it opened, plus I think the kids will love it. From what I've read, we'll be able to get night-vision goggles to watch the animals at night. =D I've always wanted to play with night-vision goggles. =P The kids are excited. Luke has already pulled out my tape measure to check and make sure he's tall enough to ride all the roller coasters. =P He's even been eating food he normally won't touch just so he can try and grow a little taller, since there was one ride he was too short for at MGM--I mean Hollywood Studios (when did they change that name btw?)

It may be early, but there are some things worth planning early. We got the last villa with the animal view for the dates that we're going, and the trip is still almost 7 months away. Crazy right? We were told that next month we could go ahead and start making restaurant reservations. At first, I wanted to laugh, but maybe it's something we'll want to look into since we almost missed out on getting one of the more fun rooms at the resort we wanted to stay at--I mean really, if you're going to stay at one of the Animal Kingdom resorts, then you want to get one of the rooms with the animal views right? So maybe sometime in the next month or two, I'll sit down with the family and the WDW website, and we'll look through restaurants. Maybe we will make some reservations because if there's something we really want to see or do, then it'd be a shame to miss out just because I didn't plan ahead at all.

Friday, November 4, 2011

No News Is Good News, Right?

Yesterday, I posted a belated WIP (sort of) post. The inspectors came. Things ended up weird, but I'm not sure if that's really bad yet. They came yesterday morning, and I came back to the house 2.5-3 hours later and no one was here, so I thought they were done. I dropped off the cats (we always try and take the cats out of the house along with their litter, food dishes, and stuff when someone comes to the house to look at it) then left for an impromptu trip to Misenheimer because my husband's car was having issues. When we got home last night, there were lights on that I know weren't on when I left. There were other little indications that someone had been here. Nothing was missing; it just looked like someone had been poking around. I've talked with my agent and we think that they came back to check some more stuff. I felt a little bad that the cats were here when whoever came back; not that I really think our cats are that bad, but there are four of them, some people are allergic, and their litter is messy, so it's not the kind of thing I like leaving out for people to see--at least people who are looking to maybe buy our house. I'm a little irked that we weren't told that someone was coming back to the house, but I don't want to make a huge deal about it--I really really want these people to buy this house. I am ready to move on past this stage in my family's life. I just hope the cats didn't deter them--I love my kitties, but I can't expect everyone else to feel the same way about them really. I haven't heard anything back yet, and our agent said we probably won't until they're done with this inspection, the termite inspection, and any others they order, unless there's something the buyers have a major problem with. So, no news at this point sounds like good news.

Anyways, our house stuff isn't all that "on topic" for this blog; it is something that is a very big part of my life right now, though, and it will indirectly affect what I can get done art-wise. Now to share some thoughts on something more on topic. Yesterday during my drive, I was thinking about the Sailor Moon Mecha Pilot bookmark set I'm supposed to be working on for Anime USA. Spending days in the car and being sick for most of this week--still sick and really not liking it for that matter--are not the best conditions for productivity. Still, driving can be a good time to reflect and think about projects. This is a good thing because if I can get a clear idea of what I want to draw in my head before I sit down with paper, I will finish a project a lot faster. The result of my thinking yesterday is that I got some really awesome images in my head for the set, except they won't fit on bookmarks. I don't really want to turn them into badges, but I also don't really want to do the larger 8.5 x 11 prints either. I am thinking of doing smaller postcard sized prints of them and also adjusting the images for the bookmark set that I'd originally planned to do. I'm still thinking about this, but I like the idea. Actually I really just like what I want to draw, and the post card size suits the images I have in my head. =P I'm really excited about this set right now, and I hope to have at least the Inner Senshi done by next week's WIP post. =D

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Plans Changed (Works in Progress No. 1, Vol 8)

Yesterday, I wrote my WIP post for Wednesday. All it needed was pictures. I've included the original post below just because--I wrote it, might as well put it out there since I put the time into doing it. =P I've been sick, so after writing the blog post, I'd curled up on the couch and dozed while answering questions the boys had on some of their school work--I've been having them work on subjects that they can do more independently since I got sick; we'll catch up on the subjects that require more of my attention once I start feeling better. It's days like this that I love how flexible our schedule is. So after my nap, I had planned on getting pictures, adding them to the post, then uploading the post. It should be pretty clear from where this is going, that getting pictures did not happen, and it wasn't just the pictures that didn't happen. With the way things are playing out, pretty much everything I wrote in the bulk of my post is now wrong. Gotta love when life does that to you, but in this case, I have no complaints, and here's why.

To start with, my nap ended up lasting into early afternoon, when I woke up to my cell phone. It was my real estate agent calling. If you recall from my Moving Update post back in early July, we had to move back into our old house. My husband has been dealing with a very long commute, and there have been a lot of days where I've had to travel with him (with all the kids in tow) because a lot of our life still functionally exists closer to where he works. This move was to be temporary, we hoped. We would stay in this house until it sold. I'll admit we haven't been overly optimistic. The house went up for sale in early June 2010. However, we got an offer on our house over the weekend, and yesterday, our agent had gotten in the official paperwork where the buyers accepted our counter-offer. So yesterday evening we spent with our agent going over and signing our half of that paperwork. The buyers are very enthusiastic, which is encouraging to me. They're having the house inspected today, which meant last night, we spent a lot of time cleaning things up. Technically, whether the house is clean from clutter or not should not really matter for an inspection, but there are two reasons why we were doing this: 1) Face it, a cleaner house will make a better impression on someone overall; it is my opinion that if the house is cluttered and messy, then the house does not look well cared for, and the inspector will be more likely to find things wrong with the house. 2) We found out from our agent that the buyers will be accompanying the inspector through the house; these are the people we want to keep happy so that they don't pull out, which they can do at any time in the next three weeks--technically four weeks, but after three weeks, we get to keep their earnest money if they do, which makes it less likely that they'll back out then.

Needless to say, at that point, thoughts of getting pictures for my blog were gone from my head. We've been stressing over trying to get things cleaned up here, which although they weren't bad, there was still clutter that comes from me having been sick over the last several days; I haven't been as on top of regular chores as I would normally be. Even this morning, there's still a lot of little things that I need to take care of. On top of that, to start clearing things out, we packed up and sent all the Halloween stuff and scrap fabric for my husband to take back to storage on his way to work this morning. Included with the Halloween stuff were both the Jack and Sally costumes, my Mae costume, and my Gothic Panda costume. It kind of makes it difficult to get pictures of costumes that I don't have access to anymore. XD With all the stuff going on with the house right now, me being sick (I am feeling a little better today, but not close to 100% yet), and art for Anime USA coming up, we decided that fixing the Jack and Sally costumes did not need to happen; we're not even going to bother with costumes at Anime USA this year. My goal now is to take things easier and hopefully get better soon, focus on keeping the house cleaned up--it's not sold yet, so there could still be showings, plus outside of the inspector coming today, there will also be an appraiser coming out at some point this month, and try and get that bookmark set I'd planned for AUSA done. Sadly most of those things aren't quite as fun as the projects I'd like to be working on, but sometimes the stuff life dishes up is more important. I think right now is one of those times.

Overall, I'm not going to complain. After almost a year and a half with this house for sale, we finally got an offer, and it was a reasonable offer. You have no idea how excited I am about this. I'm trying not to worry and stress too much about all the things that could go wrong between now and closing (Nov 28) because worry never helps anything really. If all goes smoothly, we will be moving again at the end of this month. I may hate moving, but this is one of those moves that will be a good thing in the long run.

It's that time of the week again, except this time I don't really have much new to post. I'm currently working on trying to be not sick anymore. I've had this nasty cold/flu thing for the last couple of days. About all I've been capable of is dragging myself out of bed just to curl up on the couch and go back to sleep. XD

However, I can post some not-so-great photos of the mostly-finished Jack and Sally costumes. I need to make some adjustments to the size and shape of Sally--only a little, it actually came out really close to what I needed, and considering I only spent maybe 4 hours on what you see in the pictures, I think that's excellent. I also need to go back and add the black stitching lines on her dress. If I'd really like to do things right, I'll also want to pick up a wig, but eh... that's low on my list of priorities right now. For Jack, I want to completely redo the collar thing and the cummerbund. Inspiration for the adding a cummerbund comes from the Disney character version that you can find walking around the parks this time of year. It's a good idea because honestly, with the proportions of the coat and the way pants fit normal people, the white shirt under the jacket will show around the waist. A black cummerbund neatly fixes that problem, except the one I put together last minute only sort of work and needs adjusting. The jacket needs some minor adjustments to the back--it puckers just a little where the tails connect to the main part of the coat; it's not super noticable, but I know it's there and it annoys me. I also didn't like how poofy the collar piece came out--only partly intentional. The only material I had on hand to try and fill it out was fiber fill stuffing. I'd like to take the stuffing out and replace it with floral wire or something along those lines--something much less poofy, but could still help the collar keep its shape. Of course, I'd also like to actually get snaps or something on the collar, since right now, it's just held on by safety pins. Now, I am technically planning on making at least most of these adjustments by Anime USA because I'd like to take these costumes there. Of course, my plans did not involve me getting sick for half a week, and new art for the art table will be taking priority over these costumes.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween and Cosplay

Since it's Oct 31 and Halloween, I thought I'd be super-clever and write about Halloween today; I thought I might also add a little at the end on how our Halloween party went this past Saturday, since preparations for that took up a large chunk of Friday's post. XD Growing up, Halloween was my absolute most favorite holiday. I loved dressing up, and the candy was a great added bonus. I made my first cosplay when I was 11--years before I ever even heard the word cosplay. That year, I dressed up as Brin Ohmsford from the Wishsong of Shannara. Absolutely nobody recognized me, but I had fun trick-or-treating with my cousin who was dressed as a black cat. I decided that she should be Whisper, Brin's black cat from the book. It wasn't anything super fancy--the costume involved a lot of heavy borrowing from my aunt's closet for belt and boots. For the green tunic, my mom found a cheap Peter Pan costume, and the purple drape was just a piece of scrap fabric with a piece of costume jewelry found at a yard sale for the clasp.

Considering my early interest in cosplay, it's really no surprise that I latched on to anime conventions once I discovered their existence in 2000. On the downside of that, though, once I found anime cons, Halloween has slowly lost it's luster. For the last 10 years, we've hosted a Halloween party for our friends, family, or whoever shows up. We include a costume contest, a murder mystery, a ton of food (some of it is actually healthy), and lots of other fun games. As we've aged though, we put less and less effort into costumes for Halloween--most of the time, in my family, we just recycle old convention costumes. This year was the first year since 2003 that I actually made a costume just for Halloween, although I do plan on wearing it to conventions--it may not be anime, but who cares? Each year I see more and more non-anime costumes at conventions, and really it would be a sad thing for a costume to only be worn once.

This year's Halloween party was fun. I did get our costumes finished. I did not get the Tim Burton badges finished--can't have everything, especially when I had such unrealistic goals. For those that wanted them as a collectors item--some of our regular attendees have collected the badges for the characters they've played in the mystery over the years--I would finish a badge for them and have it ready for the next D&D game, or mail it to them for the people who aren't part of that group. So, you can expect to see at least a couple more of those coming up. I think I'd still like to finish most of the set, although I might change around the character selections since I don't have to match them to the murder mystery now. It may take time, and I may be late, but I do like finishing things. I will do the rest of the Tim Burton designs, turn them into bookmarks, and print the requested ones as badges. =) We had our first ever 3-way tie in the costume contest. No one managed to solve the murder mystery, so the prize for that went to the kid who played the corpse of Tim Burton--one of our friend's nephews decided he'd be the corpse, and he actually laid on the floor in the middle of the circle of players with a white "sheet" (technically it was a lab coat from someone's costume) over him for more than an hour without moving, not even shifting positions. We were all very impressed that a 9-yr-old kid could do that. We watched lots of movies (Tim Burton's of course), played lots of games (especially Zombie Munchkin and Munchkin Bites), and generally ate way too much. I meant to get pictures, but that didn't happen. XD One of these days I'll get better at remembering to pull out my camera. In the mean time, I hope everyone has a fun Halloween. ^_^

Friday, October 28, 2011

Work in Progress No. 4, Vol 7.

 So this is going to be a short, belated work in progress post. I don't have a lot of time today for a super detailed post, but here's a run down of what I've been working on.

For art, I'll admit I've been moving slow. I have 8 badges I'm supposed to have finished by tomorrow, and right now I only have 2. On the positive side, I am doing these almost entirely with traditional pen and pencil, so I can skip the long hours working with Photoshop. This means I do have a chance of getting them finished on time. These badges are for our murder mystery game that we run at our Halloween party every year. Each player will get a badge representing the character they're playing. I will not be turning these into official badges for my art tables or Etsy shop, but I am considering altering them and making them into bookmarks. Here are the two that are finished.

This is Alice from Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland and Jack Skellington from The Nightmare Before Christmas. Our theme this year is Tim Burton, and these are two of the playable characters. I will also be drawing Batman, a martian from Mars Attacks, Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands, Willy Wonka, and the bride from The Corpse Bride. I will be posting these to my Tumblr account today and tomorrow morning as I get them finished.

After this week, for art, I will be working on my new set of Sailor Moon bookmarks for Anime USA. Because of how things have ended up, I will probably forgo trying to get anything else finished for AUSA. I guess we'll see what happens there.

Outside of art, I've been working on Halloween costumes for my husband and I. We are planning on going as Jack and Sally from Nightmare Before Christmas. So far, it's been slower going than I'd like though. I do have Jack's jacket finished. That still leaves pants and the collar thing for Jack and Sally's entire dress. @_@ I will be posting updates on these as well on Tumblr, along with decorations and food any all the other fun stuff we're putting together for tomorrow's party. Here's hoping I can pull it all off. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Ouran as Promised

I said I was going to write about Ouran High School Host Club, so that's what I'm going to do. Nevermind that I also said that I was going to post that this time last week. =P Plans change. In the last couple of weeks I rewatched OHSHC for the 3rd or 4th time. This time, I made my mom sit through it as part of an anime-marathon vacation. We started the marathon with the first 2 discs of Ouran and ended the main part of the marathon with the last 2 discs of Ouran. In the middle we watched all 10 discs of FMA:B. Needless to say, my mom loved both series. Her favorite host was Tamaki. Mine has always been Kyoya. Who's your favorite host?

What do I like about OHSHC? Honestly it's a kind of silly little series, and it's not the kind of thing I'd normally pick up and really latch onto. For starters, the basic premise behind the series with the super wealthy (and beautiful) getting glimpses into the lives of normal people, or commoners as they are called in the series, interests me. I like how OHSHC approaches that juxtaposition. It's like Titanic but infinitely better. For another, I can appreciate the low-key approach to telling the story. This really became apparent while watching the last 2 discs of OHSHC after watching FMA. After the fairly intense pace of FMA, Ouran's pace was noticeably more relaxed. That said, the story may move at a slower pace, but it still has one. To me, it is very important for a series to have a continuing plot. Although it's still possible that I will like a series where the episodes are unconnected, it is less likely. It's why I generally prefer reading novels to short stories. I just prefer longer more in-depth stories.

Ouran's story-telling pace is not only more relaxed, but the story itself is fairly simple. The series starts out with a frivolous appearance. However, as the story progresses, we start to see glimpses into the interpersonal relationships between the characters, their families, and their pasts. We see that, although on the surface they live very pampered and spoiled lives, they have their share of stresses. We get to see how the friendship that develops between the members of the Host Club helps each one of them grow as individuals and support each other in the face difficult situations. It is a very touching story in the end. I enjoy Ouran's story-telling style as well. I think, if it tried to take itself too seriously, the story would have fallen flat. At the same time, I appreciate that it had a story to tell and wasn't just the crazy antics of the Host Club. All in all, it's a well told, lighthearted story. It is a story designed to appeal primarily to girls, but I made my husband sit down and watch it back in the Spring, and even he said it was a good series. Ouran High School Host Club is definitely worth a watch if you haven't seen it before.

Friday, October 21, 2011

What Happened to This Week?

This is a bit of a continuation of last Friday/Saturday's post. XD My plans to do a lot of crafty things went completely out the window, as did keeping up with my normal web stuff, which included my blog. I pretty much spent the entire week in vacation-mode. It was a weird, but good experience. Usually even when I go on vacation, I'm working on art or crocheting something. Instead, I slept.... a lot. And, I watched anime... a lot. This was a very good thing because I also spent most of the week feeling ill, so it was nice to not have any immediate demands on my time or energy so I could rest up.

Now, if I was a much better organized person, I'd have had several pre-written blog posts that I could have snuck in, but that fails at the organized-requirement. I've never been a super organized person, so yeah... no pre-prepared posts here. Everything's written pretty much real-time. The plus side is that everything I post is pertinent and recent. On the down side, there will inevitably be times where I miss posting. Usually it won't be as bad as this where I miss a whole week--I think final count is this: I completely missed posting anything Monday and Wednesday, and today (Friday) and last Friday's posts are just random, why I didn't post anything pertinent posts. There will probably be vacation periods where I miss posting. Also, around convention times it's entirely likely that I'll be missing 1-2 posts right before the convention. That's just how things are around here.

This past week, my mom and I watched all of Ouran High School Host Club and all of Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood. We also watched a couple of episodes each of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and Soul Eater. She enjoyed all of it, especially FMA. It was fun rewatching both series. To any who have not seen them yet, go watch them.... now. For real. That's about all we did though, so that's about it for this post. =P We'll be back to our regularly scheduled programming Monday.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

What Happened to Friday?

Yeah, I know I was kind of supposed to post something here yesterday. XD Clearly I didn't do that. So, what happened to Friday's post? I got lazy. Sort of, but that's the blunt way of putting it. Right now I am at my parents' house. I am working on some art projects, and my mom and I spent yesterday watching the first two volumes of Ouran High School Host Club. She was hooked after the first couple of episodes. I have a feeling finishing the second half of the series as part of our plans for today. =P So, I planned on posting a nice well-thought out review of OHSHC last night for Friday's post. However, after being overfed with lots of good food, I kind of spent most of the evening in a stupor in front of the TV. I could do that post today, but since I'm treating this trip is a kind of vacation, I'm going to say to heck with it; I'll write it for Monday's post instead unless something more interesting pops up to write about. =P I'm determined not to stress about any of this stuff this week. =) So, you can look forward to my take on OHSHC in a couple of days, and I'm going to go watch more anime and maybe finish up that Dr. Who commission I'm working on. Hope everyone else has a great weekend too.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Works in Progress No. 2, Vol. 8

This is going to be a slim week after the extensive WIP post last week.

I've gotten work done on a Dr. Who badge commission and a Sailor Moon bookmark. I think that's about it. XD I blame burn-out from AWA. On the plus side, I should have a lot of stuff to most for next week. I'm leaving this Friday to go visit my mom for a week, and we are going to watch Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood and Ouran High School Host Club and work on crafts. Personally, I think my mom is awesome for liking anime. =) I'm personally looking forward to the vacation. My husband is on break, so he'll be watching the kids for me the whole week. =D Not that my kids are bad or anything; it's just nice to get a breather from the whole 24/7 Mom job every once in a while. Anyways, I expect to get a good amount of art and plushies and whatever done since I will have very few distractions. So, here's a pic of the lineart for the in-progress stuff (the Dr. Who will have a Tardis behind him in the final version, but I haven't added that yet. =P).

Monday, October 10, 2011

Carolina Renaissance Festival

This past weekend was a lot of fun. We started Saturday with a D&D game. This is of course, always fun. The highlight was me, my cousin (GodsLilTippy on Etsy), and an artist friend of mine (Sempaiko on Etsy) getting distracted by Shimeji and ignoring at least 50% of the game (which involved our group screwing up a significant plot point and us nearly getting eaten by a pack of 10' crocodiles). Shimeji is a Japanese (I'm guessing--it's Asian and looks like something that'd come out of Japan, but I could be wrong here) program that causes a little chibi character to walk around the edges of your computer screen, or across the top of a browser window, if it's not maximized. They crawl, jump, occasionally do other things, and multiply. You can also click on them, drag them, or throw them. I should have gotten a screenshot of the hoard of Mustangs running around my desktop, but... I wasn't thinking, so I didn't. XD

That was Saturday; Sunday we left not as early as we should have to go to the Carolina Renaissance Festival just north of Charlotte, NC. This was a real treat for me since I'd never been before. I have been to a Ren Faire before, but it was about a decade ago, and it was a much smaller event. Because we left so late, it was after noon when we got there (it's about a 3.5 hour drive to get there from our house) and got caught in what I'm guessing was the after-church arrivals because we sat in traffic for nearly 1.5 hours just to get into the parking lot, and most everyone was trying to get into the Ren Faire. Aside from that delay though, the whole day there was a blast. Being the dork that I am, I, of course, forgot my camera, so I don't have any pictures from the day. Failsauce.

The set-up at the Carolina Ren Faire is absolutely awesome, at least by my standards. =P It was fun just walking around and looking at all the great arts and crafts and people in costume. They had about a half a dozen stages with various performances going on, not including a bunch of random street performers scattered throughout the festival. The first presentation we watched was the last part of a "bird of prey" thing; Logan was especially fascinated by this. I think his favorite was the vulture. I learned that vultures can eat 100x what would be a lethal dose of salmonella poison for an adult and not only survive, but process it and poop out non-contaminated poo. They can do this with anthrax as well. I did not know this, and although it's kind of gross to think about, I thought that was a really neat fact.

After that we met up with GodsLilTippy (and her brother and mom). They were all in costume. I especially loved Josh's costume; I really want to get Shaun a hat like that. Next time I go, I definitely want to be in costume too. =D (Cosplay addict ftw.) They took us to see London Broil, a juggling comedy act. They were goofy, and I think they were Luke's favorite part of the festival. After watching London Broil, we went to watch the last joust of the day. This was Ty's favorite part. There were three knights participating: one with black and red colors, one with black and gold, and the last with blue and silver--guess which one was supposed to be the good guy. =P Yes, it was the bishie knight in blue and silver--he looked at least 10 years younger (probably more) than the two "evil" knights, had long flowy sandy blond hair, and a well-chiseled face. The evil knights were of course dark haired, scarred, and mean looking. It was cliche, but it was still fun. Our side of the bleachers got the Black/Red knight. Honestly I thought he was the best; he was crazy, while the other two just acted like peacocks. Ty really got into the match though, enthusiastically cheering our knight and loudly booing the other two.

After that we spent the rest of our time there exploring and checking out all the corners of the festival set-up. We're fairly broke at the moment, so we couldn't let the boys ride all the rides or play all the games they wanted to, but we did let them go through the maze, which they enjoyed. Ty and Logan found a couple of plastic golden coins that they got to keep. A street performer snagged all three boys and a couple of other kids, lined them up in order from tallest to shortest, then got them all to hold sticks and pass around a spinning plate. Ty and Luke, I think, enjoyed this. The poor guy performing had trouble getting Logan to cooperate; Logan didn't want to keep holding his stick up vertically. XD Those are the highlights from the day; we left exhausted, but happy.

Friday, October 7, 2011

10 Years of Halloween Fun

This year marks the 10th year for our annual Halloween party, shindig, or whatever you want to call such social gatherings. You may be wondering why I'm writing about this when Halloween is still most of a month away. I'll get to that. =P For the last decade, we've picked a theme and put together an evening of fun for our friends, relatives, or really whoever wanted to show up--we've always had an open invitation. We've had rules--keep it PG and no alcohol or drugs. Yes, most of the adults have been over-age, but we disallow alcohol for two reasons: 1) We have kids, wily kids; I know Luke would get into it no matter how well we watched him. 2) A lot of our friends travel 4+ hours to come to this gathering, and I do not want to be responsible for anyone getting into alcohol-induced accidents. That said, we feed everyone enough sugar to guarantee they're bouncing off the walls by the end of the evening.

Each year we've given our party a theme. For our first year, it was roughly based off of Final Fantasy I. Subsequent years featured Lord of the Rings, Trigun, Star Wars, Pirates of the Caribbean, Harry Potter, Ninjas, Classic Nintendo and Classic 80s. Each year Shaun would write a murder mystery role-playing game to match the theme. The mysteries were fun and easily became one of the highlights for the evening, to the point of where when we threatened to quit making them, there were voiced complaints. With the 2nd year, the one with the Lord of the Rings theme, we introduced "powers" to go with the characters which involved players usually playing jun-ken-po (paper-rock-scissors) to gain access to hidden information on character cards. For that particular year, there was also the "One Ring" which would allow the one player who held the ring to become "invisible"--essentially avoid answering questions for the duration of a round. We also usually added a twist that made things a little tougher to solve, or sometimes just made it sillier. For the Lord of the Rings year, everyone had been partying at the Prancing Pony Inn in Bree, and Gollum had slipped magic mushrooms onto the pizza, so everyone was hallucinating during the events leading up to the death of Mr. Underhill.

The next year, for Trigun, the twist was that someone had created 9 Vash clones, so the goal was to figure out who really killed Vash so they could collect the $$60,000,000,000 reward. For the Star Wars year, we added the additional theme that the mystery story read like a bad fanfic, complete with the narrator named Maria Suevo. In that story there were potions everywhere--love potions, poison potions, even a polyjuice potion (Chewbacca was really Harry Potter in disguise--this was mostly to explain why Chewy could speak English in the mystery but the extra potion made for a nice red herring). I don't think anyone ever forgave us for slipping Harry Potter into that one. The twist to the Ninja theme year was that the goal was to determine which ninja killed the most pirates, but if someone else figured it out, the "winner" had to jun-ken-po battle the one who figured it out to defend their title because they clearly weren't sneaky enough about it. You get the idea.

This leads into the point behind this post and why it's so early in October. Starting with the Classic Nintendo year, I started making badges for players to wear to make it easier to keep straight who was playing what character. This is of course where the Nintendo Noir set came from--all of the characters in that set, minus Zelda and Kirby who were added later, were playable characters in the murder mystery game that year. The ones I made for the Classic 80's year were only roughly finished; those badges featured characters like Jessica Rabbit (Who Framed Roger Rabbit), Jareth (Labyrinth), Ray (Ghostbusters), Doc Brown (Back to the Future), She Ra (She Ra), and Indiana Jones (Indiana Jones). The mystery was named "Who Killed Roger Rabbit" and the game came with a Clue style map featuring rooms named after other 80's films. The goal was to determine who did it, with what weapon and in what room. That was a particularly fun game, and we're working on publishing the whole game under the title "Crazy 80s" through Team Sidequest. As much as I like the original title, we'd hit copyright problems if we left it as is. We're of course altering the characters, loosely, and turning it into a parody. But that's something for another post. Moving on.

Well, with this being our 10th year, we're going to aim for something extra fun. This year's theme is Tim Burton movies. This week I started working on the badges for the murder mystery. Now you see the time-appropriateness of this post. =D Took me long enough to get to the point right? I'm going to try something a little different with the badges this year. I'm going to keep them mostly black and white with very muted color, with a few exceptions, mostly reds, which I'll make really stand out. This is to keep it artistically close to the Burton theme. What I will probably do is draw and ink them all by hand, then use pencil to add shading and details. From there I will either add small splashes of vivid color digitally or using markers--I haven't decided on that point yet. The mystery game will feature 8 characters from 8 different movies that Tim Burton is associated with. =) I'm really looking forward to the badges for this year; they should be a lot of fun to design. I'm kind of curious to see how they come out. Watch the Wednesday WIP posts for glimpses of those as we get into October and maybe a few more posts on some of the fun stuff I'm planning for this year's Halloween party.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Works in Progress No. 1, Vol. 8

This weeks WIP post will include stuff for this week and last week, since I missed posting last week's due to pre-AWA craziness. Actually most of this post will be for last week's stuff; I haven't actually gotten much done since AWA--I've spent most of this week catching up on sleep so far. =P

So, let's start with art--that's the big one, so let's get it over with. I did finish the Zodiacs... all of them. It was exhausting, but I was glad I had them all finished for AWA. That's about it for art though. I'm starting new sets this evening though, as soon as I finish putting together this post, so there should be some cool, exciting, new stuff starting next week. =D
The big time sink last week, outside of finishing the zodiacs and getting all the badges cut out and laminated for AWA, was the Anime Tarot Deck. I wanted to include pictures of the booklet we were putting together for the deck with last week's WIP post, which was why the post got put off so late that it didn't happen. It took us literally all day Wednesday to finish tweaking the formatting so the book would print properly, printing it, cutting out all the pages, arranging the pages in order, folding the book, adding the cover which also had to be cut out, and stapling it. Random bit of trivia: the insides of this book are one of the only things on my art tables that I have printed from home. Usually we take it to another place to print; we did have the cover printed elsewhere.

Uncut pages
Assembled Book
Finished Deck

The next spiffy thing I finished (mostly) last week was my Fluttershy costume. The dress in the photo is a little wrinkled and the wings are a little squished from the trip home, but that's nothing a little trip through the wash then ironing and a pile of heavy books won't fix. Fluttershy's butterfly cutie mark is still missing from the dress; I will have that added by Halloween, since I'll probably be re-wearing it for our annual party.

Finally, I started a new plushie kitty during AWA. It's going to be another Kisa-colored one. =D

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

AWA 2011 Recap: Part II (Sat & Sun)

Continued from yesterday...

Saturday, I was much more conscious than Friday. Aside from working on the commission Friday, I also made a pattern for my Fluttershy wings, and cut them out of yellow foammie. I spent Saturday morning assembling my wings. I opened my Euphemia-turned-Fluttershy wig for the first time that morning, and it was horrendously frizzy. XD This is something I could have probably prevented had I given myself more time to work on the costume *before* the convention. I donned my Fluttershy costume, minus ears and cutie mark--my dress had white butterflies printed on it, so I figured for this convention, it'd be ok. For AUSA, I'll add some pink and blue foammie butterflies to the dress for the cutie mark. For ears, I decided to stop by Yaya Han's booth in the dealer's room and get her resin ears. I felt the weight--her ears are light weight, but they're still heavier than foammie ears would have been--along with the elastic band that would hold them on might help reduce the "poof" on the top of the wig. It worked, mostly; the wig was still very poofy, but less so after I added the ears. I spent most of Saturday hanging out at my table sketching and crocheting, although that didn't last too long--I tore off my thumb nail accidentally and it really hurt, especially when trying to crochet.

The greatest highlight for me from Saturday at AWA was the My Little Pony photoshoot that afternoon. My cousin was dressed as Pinkie Pie, so we both went. It was awesome being part of such a large group of cosplayers for once--as opposed to being dressed as something so obscure that most people won't recognize it. XD It was tons of fun. My cousin and I are now plotting to put together a pony group of some kind for Animazement. I working on getting my husband to cosplay Twilight Sparkle. I think it'd totally fit his personality--he's a college professor, is bookish, and, when given a choice for rp or mmo games, he picks spell-caster classes. After a flurry of texting and harassing people, we got a Rarity and Apple Jack, and we got my husband to agree to do Twilight Sparkle if we could get my other cousin (Pinkie Pie's brother) to do Rainbow Dash. Mwhahaha I think this could work out. The cousin we want to dress as Rainbow Dash is a first-rate Brony, so there's a fair chance he'll agree.
Ty got lots pictures of the Pony Photoshoot. I will post them on my Tumblr as soon as he uploads them off his camera.

I had so much fun at the photoshoot and hanging out with the other ponies, that I'm pushing forward the MLP badge set I have plans to work on, so I'll do them as soon as I get this year's Halloween badges finished. I'm also going to do a set of MLP bookmarks featuring human versions of the main 6 ponies at least, and probably several of the others--I'm thinking Derpy, Trixie, maybe Dr. Hooves, Apple Bloom... There's just so many possibilities. XD Yes I'm a bit of a fan. I still think FMA: Brotherhood is better though. =P

Back on topic... My husband, Ty, and my friend went to see the new Trigun movie Saturday night; they said it was great, and I kind of wish I'd been able to go see it, but... that'd have left my table unattended, which would not have been a good thing. After the movie, my husband brought back stuffed-crust pizza, which was awesome. There's nothing like greasy pizza when you're really hungry (I think I ate lunch at 11ish and it was 9ish by the time the pizza came). <3

Another cool Saturday highlight: Todd Haberkorn actually came by my table in Artist Alley to say hi and thanks for the badges I'd made for Team Haberkorn. That was epicly awesomely nice of him. I, of course, sat there shyly and smiled and talked a little bit--seriously Fluttershy is such an appropriate character for me to cosplay because that's how I behave around other people, especially people I don't know very well. XD It was still exciting that he actually dropped by to see me.

Sunday, we all dressed up in our Avatar: The Last Airbender costumes--my husband as Zuko, my cousin as Ty Lee, my friend as Azula, and me as Mai. Zuko and Mai are by far the most awesome couple ever--at least that's my thoughts on that subject. They lay claim to one of my most favorite scenes in A:tLA:

Zuko: You're beautiful when you hate the world.
Mai: I don't hate you.
Zuko: I don't hate you, either.
Me: *squee* They're so adorable.

I went to my first (and only) AWA panel Sunday afternoon. I went to see Catherine Jones of God Save the Queen Fashions give a presentation on wig-styling. I enjoyed the talk and learned stuff, which is always a good thing.

Sunday was otherwise a quiet day. I got to talk to some more awesome Team Haberkorn people. I also talked to a guy who had almost the same taste in anime that I do, which was really cool, and on top of that, it turns out he's from Asheville, which is where I grew up. So, we laughed about going to conventions to meet people who live near you--along with lots of people who don't. Neither of my AA neighbors were from NC. One was from Colorado, and the other was from New York, although he used to be from NC.

So, that's about it for convention highlights. We packed up at about 3ish. Thankfully the return trip wasn't nearly as eventful as the trip to Atlanta. All in all, it was a great con. I had a lot of fun. =) I'm definitely considering going back next year.

Monday, October 3, 2011

AWA 2011 Recap: Part I (Thu & Fri)

I spent this past weekend at Anime Weekend Atlanta, which is, big surprise, in Atlanta, GA. I've spent most of the last month working on finishing up my new zodiac set for this convention along with preparing the Anime Tarot set as a deck of cards. Most of last week was spent preparing for the convention, along the lines of cutting out and laminating badges and bookmarks and finishing writing, printing, cutting out, assembling and packaging the booklet for the Anime Tarot deck. I also put together a last-minute Fluttershy costume from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. With all that going on, is it really any surprise that I wasn't ready when my cousin showed up at my house at 6:00pm Thursday evening to leave for the convention?

This is what was supposed to happen: I would finish laminating badges in the morning, and then I would finish up my friend's boot-covers for her Azula costume. I would still have several hours to pack up everything. I would have the van packed with our stuff (our being me, my husband, and Ty), and as soon as my cousin got in, we'd load the van up with her stuff and head out of town to meet my husband near Charlotte where he works (we live in the Raleigh, NC area).

What actually happened: My cousin called at 5ish to let me know she'd be here in about an hour. I had barely 1/3 of the laminating finished--that had turned into a much more tedious process than I'd planned. I decided that maybe I could get the boot-covers finished in 30 minutes, and then pack everything in the remaining 30 minutes. Heh... that was a good joke. After 50 minutes, I gave up on the boot covers; I'd made a couple of mistakes in my haste that were fixable, but not within the frame of time I had to work with, so I called my friend and asked her to pack a pair of boots that would work as an alternative since the boot-covers were not happening for AWA. That left... 5 minutes to pack by the time I got off the phone. Yeah, that wasn't going to happen. My cousin got here, and we spent the next hour collecting things, packing them, and then loading them into the car.

So, at around 7:00pm, we pulled away from my driveway and left to meet my husband. We stopped for fast-food to-go for dinner, and about 2.5 hours later, we met up with my husband. The next stop was to pick up my friend (the one cosplaying Azula whose boot-covers I screwed up). Her house was about an hour away from where my husband worked, but it was on the way to Atlanta, so that wasn't too bad. What was bad was 10 minutes down the road we came across a nasty accident that blocked the road entirely and police were directing traffic to turn around. After a super-long detour, we finally picked up my friend at a little after midnight. Thankfully the rest of the drive to Atlanta was less eventful, but because of the delays, we didn't pull into the hotel until 4:00am--the original ETA had been 1:00-1:30am. Seriously, there's a reason our group's nicknamed Team Sidequest. We don't necessarily go looking for trouble (although sometimes we do); it just tends to find us.

The drive there was long and tiring. We got checked in and everything hauled up to our room by 4:45 and crashed. I was up at 7:00. You remember how I mentioned that I was only 1/3 of the way through laminating everything; well, I had to get up Friday morning to finish the laminating before I needed to head downstairs to check into Artist Alley. Ok, I suppose I could have slept late and just dealt with starting late, but I guess I'm really stubborn about making the most out of the time I had there. If I wanted to spend my weekend sleeping, I could have just stayed at home. =P

Given that I only had about 2 hours of sleep, I don't remember a lot from Friday. XD A lot of it blurs together. We got the table set up. I meant to get a picture of it, but I kind of forgot... XD I had all of my art stuff out, minus the individual prints and badges for the tarot card set. My cousin had a bunch of her really adorable polymer cake charms out, too, and Ty even had a couple of little beaded "tassels" that he made. I didn't leave the table much Friday. I did go with my friend to watch the first two episodes of Ouran High School Host Club live action Friday evening. It was epic and horrible, all at the same time. I want to find more of it to watch.

I spent most of the day working on one commission--lineart of Starscream and Megatron. I've never been a big Transformer (or any kind of mecha) fan, and if you're familiar with my gallery, you'll know I don't draw much of that. It was still a good challenge--it took me a lot longer than a normal drawing would have, but it was definitely good practice. Friday night we all went to bed pretty much as soon as the Artist Alley closed. It's dinner time now, and I'm not going to count on getting back to the computer tonight, so, I'll post the recap for Saturday and Sunday tomorrow. I got a photograph of the Transformer commission, so I'll post that tomorrow too.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Gearing up for Anime Weekend Atlanta

This year an unprecedented number of people are traveling with me to AWA, and these are all people I'd trust to watch my table while I step away. I thought that this year I might actually set foot out of Artist Alley--something I've never actually done before at AWA. =O Keep an eye out; this might just be a sign of the apocalypse.

AWA posted a rough spreadsheet of the con schedule. While perusing it, I got the crazy idea that I'd post a list of panels I'd like to maybe attend. In the process of compiling said list, I discovered that there were actually quite a few events I wanted to go to. XD I guess that's what happen when I pay attention to what's happening at a convention. So, without further rambling, on to the list.

The Engineer Guy - Two part molds: I have no idea what this might be about, but since I'm interested in learning more about molding for cosplay and this might be about that subject, it's on the list.

Sewing 101 with GSTQ Fashions: This sounds like a basic sewing class, but GSTQ does some really amazing work. Also, being a self-taught "seamstress" it might be nice to learn how to sew something the right way.

Ladies of Leather w/ GSTQ: Another GSTQ panel. Seriously GSTQ is a brilliant seamstress.

Turning Tricks in Photoshop for Fun and Profit: Not sure exactly what this panel involves, but I'm always open to learning new stuff about Photoshop, since this is the program I use for most of my art.

Translating Art into Cosplay: No description, but it includes art and cosplay. It sounds like something I'd like.

Retro Sailor Moon: It's Sailor Moon. Do I really need to say any more?

How to Make Your Own Plushie Mascot: I've always wanted to learn how to make plushies.

ACEO & Art Trading Cards Workshop: This is an aspect of the art world that I've heard of but don't know much about.

Sociology in Cosplay: No description, but I like cosplay.

Inking Workshop: Standard art workshop, but I'm always open to learning new things, which considering that I've never taken an art class or had any official training... I stand to learn even from the basics.

Running a Cosplay Business: I did this once, and creating manga and art isn't too far off (this is what I'm doing now). I'd be interested in hearing from someone else who has tried this.

Indie Manga: I'm hoping this is more of a how-to-publish vs. a what's-out-there panel. Since there are no descriptions with the online schedule, I'll just have to wait to the convention to find out.

Cosplay Start to Finish: Ezio Auditore: So, I don't own an Xbox or Xbox 360. I've never played Assassin's Creed, any version. You might be wondering what this panel is doing on the list. This panel is going to be run by Fev, a cosplayer whom I greatly respect. She does some amazing leatherwork and is an awesome propmaker.

Legality of Cosplay and Fan Art: This is a hot topic for a lot of conventions, especially in Artist Alley, and since I draw a lot of Fanart right now, I think this panel would be worth attending.

Wig Styling with GSTQ Fashions: A 3rd GSTQ panel... with 3 of them here, I might just make it to one of them. Plus, I stink at styling wigs.

Cosplay Science: Dunno, but sounds spiffy.

Clearly there is no way I could attend all of these panels, especially since half of them overlap with each other, so I'll want to narrow down my list significantly once I get to the convention. I also don't want to leave my table to my husband or friends for the entire convention. That would be more than a little inconsiderate. This list is a start, though. We'll have to see where it goes from here.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Team Haberkorn!

A few months ago, I was contacted by a young lady who said she was working with Todd Haberkorn to organize a fanclub for Todd. If anyone remembers the super secret project I mentioned a few times in August, this is the project. She wanted me to design badges just for the club. I'll get into that a bit later.

For those of you who might be wondering who Todd Haberkorn is, and why anyone might want to be a part of his fanclub, Todd is one of the top voice actors for FUNimation. He is responsible for roles like Death the Kid from Soul Eater, Italy from Hetalia, Ling from Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood, and Hikaru from Ouran High School Host Club. He's voiced a lot more characters than just these, but that's to give you a sampling of his work. If you want to read more about Todd, feel free to check out his Wikipedia page or his listing on IMDB. You can also find more on the Team Website:

Needless to say, I was very excited to be asked to help with this project. I was asked to draw a chibi of Yamato, who happens to be the first lead character voiced by Todd. I made the design into a badge, which will be available to purchase (actual badge does not have the T.H. watermark on it) at all of Todd's signings for $5. A portion of the proceeds from this will go to the Acadiana Humane Society; in fact, a portion of all money Team Haberkorn brings in, including funds from memberships, will go to Acadiana Humane Society, a no-kill animal shelter in Louisiana. I am also told that the Yamato badges will eventually be available from the Haberdashery, an online shop for Todd Haberkorn related merchandise. If you're at all interested in any of Todd's work, the membership is actually a really good price, since you get a T-shirt, button, lanyard, and a few other goodies, along with access to a weekly podcast that Todd produces. This was a fun project to work on, and I look forward to doing more for Team Haberkorn.

Side Note: I wasn't paid, bribed, or even asked to write this post. I just wanted to share some of my personal enthusiasm for this project. ^_^

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Works in Progress No. 3, Vol 7.

This week is going to be a fairly large update. I've been busy working on art stuff over the last week. I'm still trying to get all the zodiac stuff finished for AWA, which means it needs to be finished by this weekend so I can have time to get everything printed and all the badges laminated before the convention.

So, what's been done since last Wednesday's post on the zodiacs? Well all the partially finished print-sized zodiacs from last Wednesday are finished--that's Pisces, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Libra, and Taurus. I've also finished Cancer. Virgo has been drawn, inked, and colored, and I've started to shade him. Now on to the badge-sized chibi-zodiacs. Aquarius is finished. I have drawn, inked, colored, and half shaded Gemini and Aries. Capricorn and Pisces have been drawn and inked. Leo has been drawn. This leaves 6 chibi-badge-sized zodiacs that I haven't started yet. Can I finish this by this weekend? Maybe. I hope so. There have been some late nights, and I'm sure there will be a few more.

There has also been some progress on my crochet projects. I finished the Pikachu from last week. I finished the Halloween mini-kitty from last week. I've also started working on a new Kirby, since I sold out of those at Otakon. My goal is to have at least one of each plushie design by AWA--this means I need to finish Kirby and then make an Umbreon and White Mokona.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Normality: Panda-Style

Today, I thought I might share what a normal day in this house looks like. Now this is something like what our schedule looks like:
6-7am: Get up. Breakfast. Morning chores.
9am: School, with lunch break
2pm: Clean up school.
2:30pm: Art time.
5:00pm: Walk at the park.
6:00pm: Dinner, evening chores, personal project time
8:00pm: Kids get to watch a movie or we play a board game as a family
9:00pm: Staggered bed times.

It's fair to say, that we very rarely follow that schedule. On days when Shaun has to work, the 6am "drag our butts out of bed" time is non-negotiable given the 2.5 hour commute and the fact that he has a 9:25 class to teach. Morning chores will happen on a good day--this includes making beds, general cleaning, writing my blog, balancing the checkbook and paying bills, and other types of household maintenance. Usually the general cleaning only actually happens when we get a call for a showing for the house because I'm not that organized in the morning, and somehow, most mornings, 9:00 rolls around and I haven't done a fraction of what I'm supposed to have done.

Then, we get the 9:00 start school time. Most days my kids aren't even out of bed, and I can't honestly blame them. I'm not a morning person; I never have been. Given the choice, I'd probably still be in bed too. Even if they're up, starting at 9 would also require me to be conscious and organized enough to know what we're working on today. By the time we get everyone together and ready to start, it's usually close to 10. We hack through some school work, and usually give up by 11-11:30 for an early lunch. After lunch right now is more independent study style work for the kids, and I've been jumping straight into artwork, lesson planning, grading, or whatever needs to be worked on. I'd worry about the kids' education, but Ty and Luke are both testing in the top 10% of their age-group, so I think they're fine.

This week I'll probably just go into artwork right after lunch, in a mad attempt to get the zodiacs done. In fact, I'll probably keep working on that through dinner and past my bedtime. If it's not raining, we may still go to the park. The weather people are calling for rain all this week, but they've been known to be wrong. The kids will be happy to watch movies in the evening all week, since that is really the only TV time they get. We don't have cable--not a "better-than-thou" kind of thing; we're just too cheap for it, and honestly most of the shows we might want to watch never came on when we were around to watch. Plus it's a huge distraction. Distraction is the same reason we're letting our WoW accounts go.

That all sounds like a nice, relaxing, go-with-the-flow kind of day. Except, into that mix, you've got to add the fact that we have a 4 year old, 8 year old, and a 10 year old, all boys. That guarantees at least a few incidents each day between rough housing, general sibling fighting, and good old boredom, which seems to come around no matter how much they have to keep them occupied. We also have four cats aged 11 yrs, 10 yrs, 4 yrs, and 5 months. The little one is into everything and bothers everyone (cat and human alike)--as I'm writing this, Kisa is trying to climb the kitchen wall (literally). The 10 yr-old cat, Bunny, is a klutz. She's a toothpick, but she still manages to knock everything off of every surface she walks over, from bookshelves and cabinets to side tables and dressers, which contributes to the general clutter created by a homeschooled family of 5. In general, any two (or more) of the cats will be chasing each other through the house leaving destruction in their wake--usually it's one of the younger two that starts this. Most days our house functions at a level of somewhat managed chaos. The rest of the time, it just goes downhill from there (as I type this now, Kisa is running off with one of my husband's dress shirts for work; I'm not even sure I want to know how she got it out of the closet). Today is looking like it might be one of those less well managed days. While writing this blog, I've had to stop about a half dozen times to get Kisa off the counter or out of something (including keeping her from eating my seam ripper). I won't make judgment yet; it's only 8:20 a.m.. There's time for it to improve, although considering how it's starting, and the kids aren't even all out of bed yet...

Friday, September 16, 2011

Pre-Con Stress: AWA 2011 Edition

I've spent the last week somehow convinced in my head that AWA is next week. It's not. It's the week after that. Still, the feeling that the convention is looming over my head like a ginormous dark cloud has lead to an increased sense of paranoia. I keep waking up in the middle of the night, dreaming about weird and usually bad things happening at the convention, or just this overwhelming feeling that I'm forgetting something really important, but that really important thing is stalking me; it's in the dark shadows out there somewhere just waiting to catch me unawares and then devour me whole... or maybe slowly and painfully.

This is what I call "Pre-Con Stress." I get some variation of it before every convention. I'm sure a lot of AWA's stress comes from the fact that I really, really, really want to get the zodiacs done before the convention... all of them... both the print and badge versions. Why? Because I will feel really bad if someone's sign gets left out. D= I feel sad when someone goes up and says where's my sign? Normally that's in context of, "I didn't have room to put them all up on the display, but you can look in this notebook here and see all of them." But, what if I had to answer, "I'm sorry I didn't have time to get your sign finished before the convention." It may be a perfectly reasonable statement; honestly I've only had one month to get all 12 print and 12 badge designs finished, and now I'm down to a week and a half to finish 6 prints and 12 badges. @_@ Still, I can imagine my customer looking disappointed, and I really hate that. It makes me feel bad inside. Nine times out of ten, even if I have the finished product there, they wouldn't buy it anyways. I really hate leaving anyone disappointed though, and the zodiac set is one of those where it really needs to be finished if I want to avoid that feeling.

Then, there's also the tarot deck... wait didn't I say that process was over a couple of weeks ago? Wasn't I just waiting for the cards to be delivered? Yes, and yes, sort of. The deck part is finished and they're already in my hands (they came almost a week earlier than I expected them), but I want to have a little booklet or something to go with each deck that gives a master list of characters and series, maybe a little bit about each card, and stuff like that. Does anyone know how many books I've tried to self print before? I'll tell you. None. So, I'm still working on the writing, well mostly waiting on my husband to get free time to help me write because he is an infinitely better writer than I am, and the layout and design, not to mention trying to figure out how to make it print the way I want it to, then cutting out all the pages, arranging them, and stapling them together. I may just end up printing on one big sheet that gets folded up to fit in the deck box. XD That's my back-up plan, because I'm determined to have these things ready by AWA.

I think all that's enough to warrant extreme stress. Do I think all this can be finished? I'm having strong doubts. I know the zodiac prints will be done--they're half done and the other half is in progress. The zodiac badges... that's a vastly different story. A lot depends on how soon I get the rest of the prints finished--if the prints are finished today or tomorrow, the badges stand a chance. If not, the chances diminish significantly. The mini-book for the tarot deck? I'll have something done, even if it's not the book I'd had in mind. I kind of wish I could outsource that one, but there really isn't time. I put it off for a while because I wasn't sure what the card dimensions would be, or if there would even be a deck. Even after the order went through, I don't think it really sunk in that the tarot set was really going to be a deck of cards until last night when I opened the box and pulled the wrapping off one of the decks to look through it. You're welcome to take bets on what you think I'll finish, and keep an eye out for next week's WIP posts for the next 2 weeks to see what happens and what doesn't.