Wednesday, July 27, 2011

What's up with Wednesday?

This is just a quick post to let everyone know what's been going on since I missed Monday's post. Monday was the big moving day. We got a call from the movers Sunday evening letting us know they would be at our house at 6:30 a.m. Monday morning. Of course we weren't ready. Long story short, we were up way too late trying to finish up. I got up at 5:00 to finish up last minute detailed. 6:30 came and went; no movers. 6:45 we get a call from them... It turns out that someone had mixed up the paperwork and had switched the move-to and move-from addresses. Although I feel bad for the poor movers who had an extra 2.5 hours to drive now both ways (they were starting out close to where we were moving from), we got a couple of extra, much-needed hours of sleep. After that, they came, they moved, and there was much rejoicing. In spite of the mix-up, they did an excellent job moving everything and were very polite.

So, most of the day was spent moving. We followed the movers up in the large van I was borrowing with a load of stuff (some for the house we were moving to, a lot for storage). Once the movers were finished and gone, we moved in the stuff from the van and attempted to unpack some and make things look somewhat decent. We called it quits earlier than we'd have liked primarily from lack of sleep. We made it back to Misenheimer, and pretty much fell asleep the moment we walked in the door. Proof as to how exhausted I was: we were sleeping on an air mattress since, of course, all of our furniture was now at the other house; I slept for 10 hours straight.

Tuesday, we spent cleaning the Misenheimer house--well mostly my husband cleaned the house. I spent a large chunk of the day sorting and trying to finish up some of what I had left to work on for Otakon. That continued today. Needless to say, I didn't get a fraction of what I'd originally planned to get done for this convention. I'd amended the original plan to maybe just get a bunch of charms done. That didn't get completely finished either. I did manage to get badges and bookmarks I had left to laminate from the end of the Anime Tarot set finished, and I did get a decent number of charms finished. So, there will be some new stuff for people who saw my table at other conventions last year--not as much as I wanted, but all things considered, I'm just happy to have something new prepared.

I'm really excited, and I can't wait for the convention. I haven't been to Otakon since 2002; I'm sure there's a lot that's changed. I'm a little nervous because I've never tried running a table in AA at a convention even close to this size. I'm determined to have fun though. Right now, I'm borrowing my in-law's computer--we're staying here for the night and dropping off Logan for the weekend. Tomorrow, we'll be heading back to Misenheimer briefly to pick up our bags for Otakon and our cats. We'll be dropping the cats off at the "new" house (Kisa will be going to a kitten-sitter). Then, we'll be driving up to northern Virginia where we'll spend the night at my aunt's house--I think by the time we reach that point we're going to be ready to pass out. Friday morning we'll go on to Baltimore. I have my doubts about posting a blog from my phone on Friday. I will be posting photos on my Tumblr once I get to the convention: No promises about Friday, but I'll definitely be posting on the Otakon experience on Monday.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

D&D and Fat Cats

This morning's blog is brought to you by Dungeons and Dragons and overweight cats. Really, yesterday went by in such a blur that I completely forgot about this blog--we are almost entirely finished with packing everything up and moving it around. There are a few things left that will go in one last trip to storage tomorrow, but that's it. I am incredibly sore as I don't usually do things that require using muscles this much; it's really rubbed in how out-of-shape I've gotten. I should probably fix that one of these days.

So, when it got too dark last night to continue loading boxes onto the sprinter van we borrowed from my Dad's company (the van's about the size of a small-medium UHaul truck) I went straight to bed and crashed. I'm happy to report that I slept well (as opposed to the night before last where stress and tension kept me awake half the night and I only got maybe 2 hours of sleep). So, I'm sitting down at my computer this morning chatting with my husband when I remember that I forgot yesterday's blog. What should I write about now? I could write about exhaustion, lack of sleep, and the craziness of moving, but who wants to read about that, and honestly, I don't really want to write about those things either. So, the topics of D&D and fat cats arose because this afternoon we're playing D&D and our overweight 20-lb cat was trying to curl up on my lap, with only moderate success as he's really too big to fit.

What's awesome about D&D? Well, lots of things. Today's game is going to be particularly great because we're celebrating two birthdays today. Both birthdays are actually tomorrow, but who cares about little details like that. The two birthdays belong to my husband and his roommate for 4 out of 4.5 years in college--honestly how lucky can you be to hook up with a fellow geek and gamer for a college roomie by your second semester there? Every year though at the end of July we try and do something extra fun to celebrate because it's also cool that they're birthdays are on the same day; I think we determined that officially our friend is 2 hours older than my husband, or something like that. We're also going to be in Ravenloft today--one of my most favorite settings ever in the D&D world. Dragonlance is my favorite, but I'll admit it isn't as fun when it comes to playability. Last time we met, we fought off an oncoming horde of zombies from an abandoned mill and discovered a cult that was researching substances to enhance the existing zombies to turn them into super-zombies. We also got arrested and hauled off to jail. XD By the way, I'm playing a Buddhist Monk using rules from the Anime RPG supplement, and it's been fun. One of these days I'll also finish setting up the Team Sidequest website so other people can share in the Anime RPG goodness. I have to say I'm extra excited by today's activities because it doesn't involve packing and moving boxes!

Now, on to the fat cat part of today's blog. Our cat, Badger, is 4.5 years old and weighs 19.6 pounds. Now, he's always been a fairly big cat, and he's also always been a bit of a pig--our first indication that he was going to be a pig was when we first met him as a kitten, he licked left-over cake icing off my fingers (I'd been decorating Luke's birthday cake) and then fell asleep in my arms. So, he's a pig--an affectionate pig, but still a pig. He comes running when you call for him by either Badger or Piggy. However, a year ago we moved to Misenheimer to be near where my husband works at Pfeiffer University, and some time during the move, our cats picked up some fleas. Well, poor Badger had a horrible allergic reaction to the flea bites. He scratched or chewed off all the fur around his neck and tail--classic symptoms of a flea bite allergy. After several months of fighting the fleas, we finally rid our house of them. After the fleas were gone, Badger continued to chew his fur off around his tail, back and on the backs of his legs and stomach area. The vet put him on steroids because at this point the chewing had become a habit. The steroids were to reduce irritation from those areas and help relax him. They also helped him gain weight--at least 5 of his pounds came while he was on the steroids. He's off that now and on kitty Prozac since the steroids weren't helping alleviate the chewing. The Prozac has worked. He's slowly starting to grow fur back now. I'm really hoping he doesn't have to go through this again with the move next week.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Wednesday WIP - July Part 2

There hasn't been anything super exciting going on with my art and craft projects this week--I've been more concerned with the fact that I have to have everything ready for storage trips tomorrow and Friday. Saturday we will be celebrating my husband's birthday, then Sunday will be spent preparing what's left for the movers who will be coming Monday. After that we have to come back down to this house to clean up and repair things, but I'm hoping during that time I can pull out my pencil and paper and work some on artwork or other craft project. I've really missed my regularly scheduled art time. It's been tough getting ready to move 5 people and 4 cats with only 2 weeks notice. *sigh* Thankfully that process is almost over.

So, what has been done this week? Well, I've been working on more charms. Why? Well, they're easy to sit down and work on in small chunks, and they've made a good break from packing--breaks are good; they keep me from getting too overwhelmed and crazy, especially considering how short my attention span generally is. XD I also go to listen to my husband read From the Earth to the Moon by Jules Verne. We were reading it, since neither of us had read it before, but we wanted to give it to Ty as a reading project for the first 6 week session of school. That also made things interesting. It's a very good book; I'm not really into sci-fi-ish stories, but I'd recommend reading this one. So, anyways, the first picture is the current round of charms that I'm working on--these will have white bases with pink, lavender, red, or blue. I have one more round planned after this one; we'll see if I can get to those. The second picture is what I've "finished" so far--finished being relative. I've finished sculpting them and they've been baked, but the pendants still need the designs added and I still need to put a glaze on the whole set. If I get all the charms I have planned completed, then I'll be adding another 120 different charms to this picture.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

What's In a Name?

This post is a little late partly because of an unexpected trip to Charlotte yesterday afternoon. We didn't get home till late, and I pretty much crashed as soon as we got in. The rest of the reason is that I procrastinated on writing it until mid-afternoon and by then we were on our way to Charlotte. Yep, I had several chances to write yesterday morning, but didn't--I am a horrible procrastinator, and although I usually can still get things done on time, this time, it didn't work out so well. I keep thinking one of these days I'll learn and quit with the procrastination thing. Anyways... my bad procrastination habit is not going to be the subject of this blog post. =)

Yesterday morning I discovered a new blog--not just new to me, but fairly new to the internet as well. The blog is written by House of Decadent Delusion. Her most recent post was a very eloquent piece on where she got the name of her shop. It then occurred to me that I haven't written a post on where I got the name for my studio yet, and I've been looking for a post topic that had nothing to do with moving. As a discussion of my studio name had nothing to do with moving and was a subject that should probably have been addressed sooner in this blog, there was much rejoicing.

So, where did I get the name Gothic Panda? Well, once upon a time, in a galaxy far far away, I was an mmorpg addict. Specifically, I played Ragnarok Online, and I was well pleased with this game. My first character was KasumiAngel--which at the time was my screen name for everything. You can still see remnants from this period of my life in my DeviantArt account: I periodically consider moving to a new DA account that matches my studio name, but I don't think it's really worth the time and effort that moving accounts would take when I could be doing much better things with my time--like drawing more, crocheting more, sculpting more, sewing more, or maybe even cleaning my house. Back on topic. KasumiAngel was a lovely priestess, and she and her wizard husband went on many many adventures together. They reached the highest level, transcended and became high priestess and high wizard together. Their story is a long and involved one and should be saved for another blog post.

Now, you may wonder how I got Gothic Panda from KasumiAngel. Well, after KasumiAngel, I made a long string of alt characters: the dancer Buttercup (yes this is from the Princess Bride, and my husband made a bard named Wesley), the assassin Analthia (b/c Amalthia from The Last Unicorn was taken), the alchemist Rayne, the sage Indian Muffin Princess and finally the crusader Gothic Panda. There were others, many others, because I became an altoholic. Since KasumiAngel's sweet wizard was no longer playing as much, she spent more time on her alter-egos. Over time Gothic Panda became her favored personality. As Gothic Panda, she joined the guild Valiance of Figaro (Final Fantasy VI ftw). She went on many fun adventures with VoF. Eventually VoF disbanded, and she spent many lonely afternoons sitting in front of the Clock Tower in Alde Baran. She was befriended by a nice gentleman who led the guild Dreams. She joined--it didn't take much to convince her; the guild emblem was an adorable little panda. She enjoyed many more months of fun and camaraderie with her new friends in Dreams. This is the abridged version of the story of Gothic Panda.

Ragnarok Online was the first place I used the name Gothic Panda. I came up with the name because I wanted something with the word Panda in it. After several hours of brainstorming I settled on Gothic to go with Panda. I love pandas. I also like gothic things--it's my favorite architectural period in European history, plus I love the more contemporary gothic clothing style; I'm also a big fan of gothic lolita. During the time when I was playing Gothic Panda with Valiance of Figaro, I applied for an artist alley table at Anime USA (2008) on a whim. The application required a studio name, and I chose Gothic Panda because that was the center of my internet identity at the time. If I had done this 2-3 years earlier, I would have probably chosen a name like KasumiAngel's Art because that was my identity then. For many years, I was called Kas, Kasumi, or Kasy. I never gave out my real name online, and most people assumed my name really was Kasumi. That part stuck even after I assumed the Gothic Panda name, although after that Gothic, Panda, and GP were added to the list of names I responded to. Although I no longer play Ragnarok Online, the Gothic Panda name has stuck. Well, I got into Anime USA's artist alley. A moderate amount of panic followed that because I hadn't seriously thought about what I'd do if I actually got the table; at that time, I had nothing. The result was I ran my first AA art table with pretty much only the Major Arcana from the Anime Tarot set and a few pieces of jewelry my husband had made. Since then, I have had 12 AA tables across 4 different conventions. Obviously the content of my table has grown in that time. Naming the studio Gothic Panda started as a whim, but it's come to define my identity beyond the internet, and I really think it fits. For Animazement 2010 I designed a gothic-lolita styled cosplay to wear at my art table. In late 2010, I started posting some of my table inventory on Etsy, and encouraged by my fellow Etsians, in early 2011, I completed the art based on the Gothic Panda cosplay that I now use as my avatar most everywhere--the final result is nothing like the crusader that once represented the name. So, that's the history of my studio name.

Friday, July 15, 2011

WIP and It's Not Friday

I haven't really been doing a whole lot aside from packing and getting ready for the move over the last couple of days, but I wanted to do a little bit of crafting for this week. I spent this evening working on more charms. These are similar to the black and white ones I posted a week or so back. I've been working on making about 6 basic designs in different color combinations. The basic designs are: Flowers, Fairies, Pandas, Mushrooms, Skulls, and Pendants. The pendants will have something embossed onto them after they're baked. The ones I was working on tonight are going to be yellow/orange and yellow/black in color. The yellow/oranges are ready to bake, and six of the yellow/blacks are too. I've been working off and on since I posted the white/black charms, and I've finished white/purple, green/purple, white/green, white/orange, and orange/black since then. I still need to add designs to the pendants, and I still need to add a glaze as well. I'm planning on making white/pink, pink/black, white/red, red/black, white/lavender, lavender/black, white/blue, and blue/purple. After Otakon, I will be posting these on Etsy along with my old charms which I will be putting on clearance.
Yellow/Orange just finished.
Currently finished color combinations for the fairy design:
Orange/Black, Green/Purple, White/Green
White/Orange, White/Purple

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Where's the WIP?

This has turned into one of those days. This is what was supposed to happen: Get up, eat breakfast, pack some, do school stuff with Luke when he got out of bed, maybe work a little bit on charms, then spend the rest of the day packing. This evening we had a family night event with Ty who is at Boy Scout Summer Camp this week. That's about the only part of today that's gone as planned.

Okay, so getting up, breakfasting, and packing some went as planned too. Today has been one of those off days for school though where neither Luke nor I were really on top of our game. On top of that, the sole on Shaun's shoes melted off--at least that's what it looked like, but the end result was we had to make an unplanned trip to get shoes before the family night event.

Aside from the shoes, it's not like anything really big went wrong today; it's been tons of little things, and so the end result is we didn't get through everything I'd planned to do for school today, I haven't finished any charms (working on yellow/orange and yellow/black), and we're only a fraction of the way through the packing that we need to be right now. Failsauce. Also, generally speaking, I don't have much new to report for crafty WIPs. I could take a pic of the pile of boxes we've been going through and the stack of stuff we have to take to storage next week, but who really wants to see that? =P You can see that I really do have too much junk (I'm a pack rat and I hate throwing away anything that I think I might have a use for at some point). Incidentally, I've been very good, and I've been throwing out or donating a lot of stuff. In the long run, this will make moving much easier--not to mention unpacking later. Maybe I'll be able to post a WIP style post Friday. I hope so; crafting is infinitely more fun than packing and sorting through stuff.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Moving Update

I posted Friday that there was a 50/50 chance that we might have to move. Now there's a forecast of 100% chance of moving, so I have 2 weeks to pack up and move most of a house into storage. I can't say I'm super excited about this, but it's just one of those things. I won't bore you with the details of the whole mess. The simple version is the housing market sucks and after a year of trying to sell our house while renting another much closer to where my husband works (like 3 hours closer), our house still hasn't sold and we can't afford to pay for 2 places, so we're moving back into our house and will just have to deal with a very long commute.

Obviously this will have some effect on my crafting world. I am trying to be very careful packing right now so that all (or at least most) of my crafting supplies stay available. I still plan on continuing to work on the many projects I've posted about in the last several weeks. The real challenge is going to be learning to keep my crafting mess *very* contained since our house will still be on the market. Basically I'll have to somehow craft while making it look like I don't craft--in other words, it should look like one of Martha Stewart's craft spaces, except I don't get to hire anyone to help clean up after me. =P

Packing is going very well so far. Because of the situation, it's forcing me to be 100x more organized than I usually am. Naturally, I'm actually a very messy person--not that I don't like clean, just that I don't notice that messes are in progress until they've consumed everything; maybe it's just part of being an easily distractable, compulsive multitasker. Cosplay projects tend to be the worst--at least with my art, since I do most of it digitally, and my crochet I can only make so much of a mess simply because of limited supplies. Really, how much damage can I honestly do with a crochet hook and a ball of yarn? Ok, so I could make a huge mess if that ball of yarn multiplied into the 7 balls of yarn that are now sitting next to my computer with 4 different crochet plushies in various stages of completion--if that's doesn't count as proof that I'm a chronic multitasker then I don't know what does. =P Considering what I do with just yarn and crochet hooks, imagine the mess a cosplay project makes with all the patterns, fabric, thread, needles, and notions, and that's all just for clothing parts; it doesn't take into account materials and tools for making props.

On that note, I am going to *try* to make the Suzaku and Euphemia cosplays for Anime Weekend Atlanta. We'll have to see how this goes. I'm going to have to really keep on top of things and avoid cosplay clutter; if it's not working, I guess I'll have to "shelf" the project, which will make me sad. Hopefully, that won't have to happen. =D I can be optimistic about this, although I still have my doubts. XD

Friday, July 8, 2011

Week in Review: Countdown to the end of July

20 days till Otakon.... You've got to be kidding me. That's less than 3 weeks away. *insert panic* Combine this with the fact that our lease ends July 31, the last day of Otakon. I won't go into details but there's an approximately 50/50 chance we'll be expected to be moved out of the house we're in by that day, and we won't know for sure for another 2 weeks whether we're leaving or staying. *insert more panic*

So yeah... I'm more than a little stressed right now. That said, this is going to be a fairly short blog post for now--I can't even remember what I'd planned to post today. XD Since we might be moving, my husband and are going ahead and going through things and "packing". We're cleaning out and getting rid of--throwing away or donating--anything we don't need or can't use. While we're doing that, we're boxing up stuff in a nice organized way, at least as organized as I can manage. This is really a good thing whether we move or not because I've really been needing to go through all the junk we've collected over the years--I confess to being a packrat, and there's a lot there we really could do without. Also, since we don't own this house, there is a lot of stuff that has to stay boxed up because I don't have any place to put it at the moment--it's worth noting that we had an option to purchase this house in our rental contract so that when our old house sold (it hasn't yet), we could turn around and buy this house, and then I could "remodel" the extra room in this house to be a proper workspace for me where all those boxed up supplies would have a home. So, in this case, just because it doesn't have a home, doesn't mean I don't need it--in fact, it's been a royal pain because there's a lot of stuff I do need but can't find because of the mess of boxes in that extra room. Anyways, sorting through everything and re-packing is a good thing whether we move or not.

On top of all that, we're still preparing stuff for Otakon; it's definitely turning into something awkward given the lease situation. I'm still going though; I paid for the convention and the table, plus I have baby-sitters arranged for the weekend. I'm not sure how much of what I planned I'll actually be able to get finished before the convention. I still want to work on stuff; it'll help keep me sane with all the stressful house stuff going on. =) However, July is probably going to be a lite month for blog posts. I'll still try and post every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday; I should be able to keep up with the WIP posts at least, but the other posts might be a little on the short side, and if I disappear for a day or two, you'll know why. ^_^

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

WIP Wednesday - July Part 1

In true Gothic Panda style, I am officially distracted from the projects that I'm supposed to be working on. One week later, Aries has not progressed much, little to no crocheting has been completed, and the closest I've come to getting anything on my "This is what I'm supposed to do" list done is working on costumes. Even then, those are low priority, and on top of that, I spent time working on the one that has the deadline farthest away. Go me! So what am I working on instead of Aries, crocheted bunnies and kitties, and Code Geass cosplays?
Skulls, Fairy, Flower, Mushrooms, Pandas, and Pendant.
These charms appeared on my Tumblr end of last week, and they still aren't glazed, although I did get the "Longlife" symbol added to the white round one. I also realized that what I thought was white embossing powder was actually clear, so I've ditched the black round one until I can find some white powder.  I will be making more of these in different colors. Most will be 2-toned, and I haven't decided what colors I'm doing next, but these are fun to make, so I look forward to it. Also, these aren't too bad a distraction really, since they count as original art, and that's kind of what I'm supposed to be working on for Otakon and AWA. =D
Codex, Vork, Clara, Zaboo, Tink
I really wanted a break from drawing my usual prints and more elaborate pieces, so I've been working on a couple of bookmark sets. This set is 5 out of 6 bookmarks for The Guild webshow--if you haven't seen this, go watch it. Like now.
Bladezz, Caramon, Raistlin, Kitiara, Tanis
Up next is the last Guild bookmark design, and the first 4 designs for my Dragonlance bookmark set. =) I really like Caramon, Raistlin and Kitiara came out. I kind of want to redraw Tanis. XD
Laurana, Human, Dwarf, Gnome, Night Elf
This set has Laurana from the Dragonlance set and the first 4 bookmarks for the World of Warcraft set. I still need to draw Sturm, Goldmoon, Riverwind, Tasslehoff, and Flint for the Dragonlance set.
Draennai, Worgen, Troll, Tauren, Blood Elf
And, this would be 5 more of the WoW set. I don't like the Tauren at all. XD I will definitely be redrawing that one. I still need to draw the Goblin, Undead, and Orc bookmarks. The way things are going, I just might finish these before I finish the Zodiacs--maybe even before I get Aries finished.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 4th

Hope everyone had a wonderful 4th of July. =) I spent the day playing Wrath of Ashardalon--the Dungeons and Dragons board game. We tried grilling hamburgers, but ended up having to finish inside because of bad weather. Things cleared up by later this evening, and we still got to shoot of some fireworks with the kids. What did you do to celebrate the day?

Friday, July 1, 2011

I Can't Belive It's Already Friday

Seriously, when did that happen? For some reason, my brain is having trouble processing the fact that it is not really Thursday. XD So, today's post is going to be pretty informal with a mix of what I'd planned on posting Wednesday and the results of some of the yesterday's adventures.

For no logical reason, I'm going to start with progress on our cosplay projects. Yesterday I had to pick up some stuff from the Scout Store, which happens to conveniently be right next to Hancock Fabrics (the only fabric store within 40 miles of where I live). We hadn't planned on buying anything yesterday; we were mostly just researching available materials for our upcoming costumes, since we're really still in the planning stages. We found some okay whites for Suzaku and Euphemia, although I'm still not sure about Suzaku's white. That one's going to be tough (at least I think it's going to be). It'd be awesome if I could find something similar to what is used in real military uniforms or maybe marching band uniforms. Anyone know what that is? We also found the most awesome yellow-gold fabric for Suzaku; the weight and texture were good and the color was perfect. As an added bonus, it was also on clearance. =)

Not the best background for the picture, but if you hold the fabric up, it is a spot on match for the gold on Suzaku's jacket.
Casting supplies we picked up yesterday.
Yesterday we also went to Michaels. The goal for this trip was to find supplies to make another attempt at resin casting. I had tried making resin gems for cosplay accessories several years ago, but the result was always very sticky and never seamed to set right. Fev--an awesomely talented artist and propmaker--recommended a different brand of resin when I asked her about the stuff she casts, so I'm going to give that a try. By the way, you should all go follow Fev; her stuff is amazing (Link to her facebook page: Right now, we're mostly going to be experimenting with the stuff, but I'd like to use it to craft parts of the Twilight Princess Zelda costume remake.

Finally, I talked a lot about plushie making and art and stuff a few posts back, so I thought I'd share a brief update on how Otakon preparations are going. I haven't gotten much more finished on the new Aries design. She's inked, but I've spent most of my art time fighting with my computer to get it to work with the file--the zodiac psds file range from 70 to 90 Mb in size and my poor computer has trouble processing that. This probably means I need to upgrade my computer, but that's not really in the budget right now, so I'll have to deal with it. I've also been working on plushies. Earlier this week I finished pale yellow bunny and kitty mini-plushies, and I'm almost finished with a gray bunny. I've also been trying to build up my stock for some of my other plushies--which up until now, I've only kept one of on hand. So, I got a picture of all my finished plushies: from left to right starting with the back row: Black Mokona, Moogle, White Mokona, Pikachu, Pikachu, Kirby, Umbreon, unfinished Toothless, Pikachu, unfinished Kirby; front row: unfinished Gray Bunny, Yellow Bunny, Yellow Kitty, Peppermint Bunny, Peppermint Kitty. My goal right now is to have 3 of each fanart plushie and a decent (vague, I know) number of the mini-plushies.