Friday, December 30, 2011

Midwinter Gaming Convention

This weekend is a 4 day holiday from the office, so my plan is to work on preparing stuff for my booth at Midwinter Gaming Convention next month.

I'm really excited about the 2012 convention, since it has now moved to a much larger venue (The downtown Hyatt...fondly remembered by many from the days of GenCon being in Milwaukee at the MECCA/MEC). This will be my second year of vending at this convention, so I have a pretty good idea of what to expect. MGC was one of my best events of 2011, with a terrific con com and awesome attendees.

This year's convention programming includes a few different steampunk/dieselpunk LARPs, film screenings, various panels, TONS of gaming of various flavours, and more. (FYI: to keep up with new additions and conversation about the con, join the MGC page on Facebook) While I'll be missing a good portion of the daytime events because I'll be busy shilling my wares in the goblin's' room, this doesn't mean you have to (The discounted pre-registration rate for the weekend is still valid through midnight 12/31, BTW). I'm still going to have fun again in my booth, nattering with my fellow geekfolk, and I can go play in the evening.

Oh...I should also mention that MGC is doing a clothing drive for St. Vincent De Paul Society at the con. Toss an extra garment in your suitcase while packing for the convention and support a good cause!

(design by Lucas Schultz)

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Great Repurposing of December 26th

I am a clearance rack scrounger, an archaeologist of the scratch-and-dent aisle, always looking for a way to reuse some 80% off castoff into something nifty. Natually...I love after-Christmas decoration sales.

The other day, I happened upon a blog post detailing an awesome tutorial for using shatterproof tree balls to make Victorian hot air balloon decorations.

Clever idea and, considering come Monday, the main component of this project will be on deep discount, it's a really inexpensive one too! I can just imagine one of these dangling in a bell jar (or in one of those 1990s glass candle holders turned upside down. These seem to pop up with some regularity at my local thrifts) as a steampunk decoration on a shelf.

Martha over at Ornamento also posted some ideas for combining glass balls with polymer clay, fibers, and other items to create not-necessarily-Holiday ornaments.

Goodbye snowman! Hello posh frippery!

Skitzo Leezra Studio posted a few years ago about transforming a estate sale find tree skirt into a circle skirt for a child (which looks like it would be easily transferrable for a shorter skirt for an adult)

Jumping completely away from the Christmas look is this white flower lantern tutorial from CraftyNest. What a clever re-use of a fake pointsetta garland!

This started me thinking about what sort of repurposeable bits I look for when hitting the post-Holiday clearance section.

-Ribbon: Admittedly, the Christmas red plastic-backed "velvet" outdoor stuff is of limited use, but better made ribbon is a good find. I usually look for dark jewel tones or ivory, but non-Christmas-y shades of Holiday colors like deep burgundy or olive/forest tones work.

-White Lace: Whether paper, fabric, or tatted-looking, I consider whether I can cut it apart for usable portions and whether it will take a tea/coffee bath for a more antiqued shade.

-Decorations That Can Be Deconstructed: Can beads or glass cabochons be removed to use in other projects? If the starburst was clipped off with wire cutters and repainted, would it look midcentury modern?

-Broken Things: Is there anything usable/salvageable about the item if you look beyond it's original purpose? The porcelain angel may have a cracked head, but could the repaired head/limbs be used in an assemblage piece? The embroidered table runner may be stained, but does the remaining undamaged fabric justify the $5 price tag?

-Metal trays: Repainted or decoupaged with a hanger mounted on the back, these make great magnetic memo boards. Paint the inside surface of a deeper tray with chalkboard paint for a writeable board (the wall of the tray makes a good chalk rest).

-Holiday Paper Products: Sometimes just the 20 high quality envelopes are well worth the 90% off price of Christmas cards in January. Also, I look at wrapping paper and paper napkins as potential papercraft materials (For example, Hobby Lobby had some nifty black on black swirly design paper this year). While bright gold foiled paper might look pretty Holiday-specific, it would look less so if sponged with brown alcohol ink to mottle it (Same for silver foil and grey ink). Tissue paper is also high on my snag-able list for countless reasons.

-Random Tchotchkes: Often I look at the basic shape of things and figure out whether a good coat of paint (or sometimes stripping of paint) could un-Holiday them. If I unscrewed the hooks from the bottom of those cast iron fleur-de-lis stocking hangers and painted them black, I could have bookends! Stars and birds are frequently-used holiday decoration shapes and de-hollyfied, can be used year-round.

My best finds from last year were a few very nice Baroque-looking glass and silverplate cross ornaments that were marked down to 1/10th their original price. I combined these with my holy water and wolfsbane potion charms and "silver bullet" charms on a long silver-finish chain to make vampire and werewolf protection talismans for a local LARP convention.

How have you recycled something "Holiday" into art supplies? Please share!

Junkie handmade projects

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Starting the next generation right

As some of you know, I'm kidless (except for cats and, since I can't use them as tax deductions, I reluctantly admit that they are not "actual children"). I do, however, have a 2 year old niece of awesomeness. As clever and quirky as her parents... she rocks. As auntie, I feel that it's necessary to encourage her on the proud geekgrrl path.

This Christmas, I will be gifting her with various toy tools, including a battery operated cordless screwdriver...aaaaannnnnnndddd a satin and net tutu (made by a fellow Etsian).

Because, really, what more does a preschool girl need but play powertools and something pretty?

Finely aged Wisconsin cheese

I really need to get in gear and prepare for vending at Midwinter Gaming Convention next month. Sooo...of course...I'm not. Instead, I'm goofing around on the web (I'm also actively procrastinating about cleaning my apartment).

In my procrastinatrix wanderings online today, I found this: Vintage Wisconsin Dells, a growing archive of photos and other images from the village of the tourist trap.

Right now, there's about 3100 images in the archive and they're actively soliciting more submissions via the site. I am a HUGE fan of vintage amusement memorabilia...and antique photos...and Midwestern regional history...and kitsch, so I've really enjoyed poking though the archive. Looking forward to seeing more images as this grows!