Animazement 2015 Recap

So, Animazement was two weekends ago, (I’ve been trying to write this post since then and between resting after a busy weekend and then getting the con crud, well…here we are now) and as you may have heard, it was my first time selling at their Artists Alley. I’ve been going to the convention since 2011 and pretty much since then have dreamed of being able to sell there with the other artists. Since starting Illumine Artistan Works last September, I’ve had that goal in mind as a focus for what to work towards; it’s a con I’ve been to several times so I’m comfortable with the atmosphere, it had started getting a little stale so I was ready for a new “con experience,” and the kinds of things I was making would have their best audience with the crowd that attends. All in all, seemed like a good first venue for me to sell my wares to the public. So obviously, I was pretty stoked to get accepted, and ever since February have been working even harder to make sure I was prepared for my first show!

Flash forward to Friday. I got up early and headed out of the house to make it to the convention by 9AM when registration opened and artists could begin setting up their tables. I’m lucky that I have never experienced the long wait lines for picking up preregistered tickets – when I was in college I got special badges through volunteering with my school’s anime club, and last year I only attended in the evening so I picked my badge up after the rush – and I’m glad I got to miss out on that this year too! Artists, for the first time ever apparently, had a separate line for badge pick-up, which honestly makes the most sense and made getting into the convention a breeze. I didn’t have very much stuff with me so I was able to easily fit everything onto a little hand cart and wheel it through the convention center to the hall that housed the Artists Alley. Setting up took no time at all, and after that it was just manning the booth for 11 hours! woo!

The first day I really plugged my custom patches, taking commissions all day that I promised to fulfill all throughout the weekend. This ended up being a bit of a mistake – I spent ALL DAY Friday working on commissions, and it was super exhausting and I think I gave myself serious eyestrain from embroidering all that time. I did get 5 custom patches done for people though, so that was certainly cool! Saturday and Sunday I did not offer to make patches at the con, because I knew I would get extremely tired if I did and I didn’t want to make any promises I couldn’t reasonably keep. I continued to let people know that I do take custom orders through Etsy, though.

All in all, though I hate to admit it, I have to say that I did not have a particularly good time. Two 11-hour days in a row (followed by a 5 hour one) where I didn’t really get to take a break was very, very exhausting. I had my boyfriend there to take over for me every so often, but for the majority of the time I was there all by myself. It got pretty lonesome, especially considering I knew that all of my friends were out and about having fun at the rest of the con’s activities. I was definitely expecting that the majority of people would either pass by or look and not buy, but it got very wearisome after a while to see people look for a few moments and then walk away. I did make some sales, and I managed to recoup the cost of my table/badge and even make a little bit of a profit, but when I consider that the majority of the people I sold to were my friends and acquaintances, that number isn’t very encouraging to me.

To be honest, I kind of expected going in that there isn’t a huge market for my products. While a lot of people think my badges are cool, spending $12 on a little piece of decorative fabric is just not something a lot of people want to do. Considering the amount of work I put into my badges, I should be selling them for 3-4 times that amount anyway, so making money off of them is not very viable, no matter how aesthetically interesting people may find them. I like making them, but I can’t make a living off of them (or even begin to attempt to).

As for my future as far as conventions go, I’m undecided. I’d still like to sell my artwork, but I don’t think the things I’m currently making are very marketable. Also, I realized that I really want to be able to enjoy the convention more – being a merchant isn’t my idea of fun, I suppose. I have a friend that was also selling there this year, that I may potentially team up with next year so we can both have more free time to go out and explore; also, hanging out at the table all day with a friend beats sitting there alone! I haven’t made up my mind yet though. I have to re-organize and put together a new game plan.

I feel guilty about admitting that I didn’t have a very good time, considering the outpouring of support my friends and family have shown for this endeavor. However, I will say that I do not regret doing the convention, because it’s something I have wanted to do for years and I’m proud of myself for accomplishing a goal that I set for myself – something I don’t do enough of. If I didn’t try to get accepted into the convention, if I did not go there and participate, I would have been down on myself for years to come for not trying. So I tried it, and I have that experience!

Illumine Artisan Works is probably going to be shifting focus from here on out. It’s not going away by any means, but I’m probably going to be focus on making new things from now on. I want to get back to fiber works, and I have many new cosplay ideas I want to try. Keep your eyes open!

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#WIP Wednesday: Super Sonico Cosplay!

As you might have realized by now, I’m a bit of a nerd…and like many of my fellow nerds, I like to go to nerd-related conventions! Also, being crafty, I like to make costumes and dress up. MAGFest is coming up pretty soon, and I’m going to have the opportunity to go! My friends and I have been wanting to go for a while, and we decided to make it a reality. We’ve been planning it for months, so it’s pretty exciting (and a little scary) that it’s almost time.

As for who I will be dressing up as…I’ve been working on my Super Sonico costume for quite a while! Well, I’ve been planning it and preparing the materials, but as is typical of me and many other procrastinators, I have left the bulk of the work until last minute. I’ve got a lot of work done, but there are still some very crucial steps left to go. As long as I put in plenty of work from now until then without goofing off too much, I should get it done without a problem.

One of the things I started working on today is making the “fur” edging for Sonico’s hoodie and boots. Originally I purchased some thin feather boas that I planned to attach to the costume, but after handling them very briefly it became apparent that it was going to be a total pain to go that route. However, after seeing a finished hat made by my friend WoollyRhinoCrafts on her facebook page, I got the idea to construct those pieces after a fluffy yarn instead. A bit more time consuming, but much more durable and easy to sew onto fabric. I purchased a small peg loom used for making large i-cords, and went to town!

so fluffy...and no shedding!!!
so fluffy…and no shedding!!!

Other than that, the majority of the work is done on my shirt and hoodie. I still have to hem the shirt, add ears and a tail to the hoodie, and hem it, but that shouldn’t take too long. I’ve also got the Wig and boots mostly done. The biggest hurdles at this point are the headphones! I can’t believe that I almost forgot about those. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to figure out a suitable way to construct them, but after doing some googling and having some luck looking around at Joann Fabric, I think I came up with a good plan for how to make them. Expect progress pics soon! For now, here’s a picture of the main pieces I have so far.

Looking pretty good so far!
Looking pretty good so far!

All in all, I’m really pleased with how this is coming along, but I’m still a little stressed out since I’ve got a lot on my plate between now and MAGFest! I think it will all work out, however, and I’m really looking forward to it.

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Persona 4 Mug Rug

I’m working on more sewing projects that evoke familiar elements from anime without necessarily being direct copies of any particular image, and I also want these projects to still feel very crafty and handmade while being relatively simple and quick to put together.

My latest project is a mug rug inspired by the video game Persona 4.

If you’re not familiar with Persona 4, you can read about it here. The design of this mug rug was inspired by graphical elements in the game, where the menu systems and some official art feature a bright yellow background with black accents and multicolored stripes. The piece itself was very simple to put together as I just sewed strips of fabric to each other to create one larger piece. I really like how easy it was to construct and yet also evoke the visual themes from the game.

This mug rug ended up being a birthday present for my boyfriend’s brother. Earlier this year I borrowed his Playstation Vita to play Persona 4: The Golden, and only a few weeks ago I finally beat it and was able to return it to him. This was my way of saying “Thank you!” for letting me borrow it for such a long time, as well as saying Happy Birthday. :)

In other crafty news, I’m still plugging away at  my fabric design for an upcoming Spoonflower contest, and I’m also working on some quilted coasters with simple anime symbols on them that I’ll be sharing soon!

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My First Fabric Designs!

As you all can probably tell by now, I’m a huge Spoonflower fan. I’ve known about them for a long time, and I’ve always been interested in making my own fabric designs, but never really took the time out to sit down and draw any up. Recently, however, as I’ve been getting more and more into sewing and trying to forge an identity for myself as an artist, as well as getting more involved in the Spoonflower community, I just couldn’t resist finally taking the plunge and drawing up my own fabric designs.

I knew that I wanted to focus on sci-fi, fantasy, and anime-related designs that would be cute and recognizable without being too heavily influenced by artwork made by someone else. Think more “inspired by” and less blatantly recognizable characters or logos. The first idea I came up with was to make a spiral design based on Sailor Venus’s Love-Me Chain attack from Sailor Moon. I figured I could make a cute design that would look good as a dress that I might wear to a convention or something like that. I started out by making a basic repeating spiral pattern:

spiral pattern cropped

Once I had worked out all the kinks and made sure it tiled seamlessly, then I used it as a base to put the miniature hearts on top of, and then I created a background that evoked the background from the anime when Sailor Venus does her attack. This is what I came up with:

venuslovemechain-cropped

Since at the time I made this Spoonflower was having a 2-for-1 fat quarter deal, I decided to order a test “swatch” of this (I wanted to hold it in my hands ASAP so I could show it off to my friends and family!) along with a sample of the original template in a different colorway.

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IMG_0881

(I promise the colors are much more vibrant in real life! I just couldn’t get good enough lighting to take pictures in, unfortunately)

I haven’t decided if I want to make the Love-Me Chain design available for purchase yet (I want to make myself that super cool dress first before I decide), but the white and blue spirals are now available to order from my Spoonflower page. I have a few more color combinations of the basic spirals that will be available to purchase once I have a little extra cash to order swatches.

I’m already working on my next design, which I hope to enter in one of the upcoming Weekly Design Challenges! Stay tuned. :)

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My Neighbor Totoro Mug Rug

I have been participating in craft swaps on Craftster.org for years. In fact, my first one was way back in 2008! Man, how time flies! I’ve been hooked on them ever since. I really enjoy them because they often force me to push myself creatively, to try new things and go outside my typical routine in order to make something according to someone else’s tastes. Not only that, I get the satisfaction of seeing someone else enjoy and appreciate something I made for them, AND I get cool goodies in return! It’s a win-win (most of the time).

Recently, I participated in a mug rug swap. Mug rugs are basically combination miniature quilts/giant coasters (they can be knitted or crocheted too, but they are most often quilted), with the idea being that they are big enough to fit a mug as well as some sort of treat, like a cookie. I’ve never really quilted before and was interested in trying my hand at it, so I thought I’d join this swap as something fun to do in between other projects. Quilting in general (like making blankets) doesn’t appeal to me very much for some reason, but I was very attracted to the idea of making a smaller piece of fabric art that I could really put  lot of detail into. I also thought mug rugs would be really fun to have around the house to add more character and personality to the decorating than just regular old coasters.

Here is the mug rug I made for my partner!

My Neighbor Totoro woodland mug rug!
My Neighbor Totoro woodland mug rug!
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detail pt. 1
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detail pt. 2

My partner said she liked earth tones, and she had put a few Totoro things on her Pinterest boards, so I decided to do a woodsy Totoro quilt!

About 50% of the fabric is something I already had in my stash (the lacy, paisley-esque fabric I used for the background has probably been in my stash, totally untouched, for 4 or 5 years!), the rest I purchased to supplement the design. After I cut out the background fabric to be the size I wanted, I cut out the shapes for Totoro’s body, Totoro’s stomach, the tree trunk, and leaves, and ironed them on with fusible webbing. Then I appliqued around the edges of the cutouts to secure everything in place. I’ve never done applique before and was really pleased with how everything turned out! I didn’t applique around the outlines of every single leaf because I thought it would be too time consuming and I didn’t really like the way it would look. I did want to add some extra detail though, so I did some simple hand embroidery to represent the veins in the leaves, as well as add some extra security to the fused pieces. I did the same thing on the trunk of the tree, and lastly added the final details to Totoro’s face and body. Man, hand embroidering through two (sometimes three) layers of fabric with fusible web in between each layer is a PAIN! I don’t recommend it.

The last thing to do was to quilt it and sew on the binding! The quilting also went really well, and definitely a lot better than I was expecting for my first time. I was pleased with how the quilt top looked once I had finished everything, but quilting it really brought everything together and gave it that polished, distinctive look. The binding took a little bit of trial and error, and I ended up hand stitching the back side in order to get more control over the look and shape, which was definitely a good choice.

Overall, I am extremely pleased with how this turned out! I don’t know why, but for some reason I expected this to look a lot more childish and disheveled, so I really exceeded my own expectations. I was so happy with the finished product that I was a little sad to send this away, but I got an awesome mug rug from my partner in return so I wasn’t too sad. ;) I think this project really helped reinforce my confidence in my own skills, something I have only just now started to regain after spending a lot of time feeling down about myself (which I touched upon a little bit in my last post). I’m definitely considering making more of these, both to sell and to display!

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