New stuff at the nerd store

Hello faithful readers,

I wanted to share something with you that I recently learned, and it is this:

there are some incredible new games out there.

Dear wife and I began a few years ago playing Warhammer. It is a battle game where you collect miniature figures, build your army, and then battle them against your opponent. It is super fun, but takes a lot of crafting. You have to buy the miniatures, assemble them, paint them, build your army, and then learn how to battle. It is a lot of crafting and hobby fun as well as the actual gaming fun.

Well, we went down to our local hobby story (nerd store) recently and realized that there are a ton of new board games. I am not referring to the old boring games like Monopoly or Risk. There are new games with incredible artwork, high quality cards and playing pieces, and some even come with miniature figures that you can paint or leave plain.

The games come in many different styles. There are board games, card games, and dice games. There are some where you manage resources like collecting wood for your village. There are some that are fast-paced and competitive, and some others that are easy paced and you work together with other players.

Some games are based in outer space with aliens and ray guns. Some are based in medieval lands or even on pirate ships. Any environment that you can probably imagine, they probably have a game for it.

The artwork is incredible on some of the games, and could easily be something you might want framed if it was larger sized.

You won’t find these games in the typical Walmart or regular store where you buy Chutes and Ladders. You may have to go to a hobby store or a comic book store. There are also plenty of places online you can order from.

The quality is incredible nowadays. The game mechanics are extremely varied. Somewhere out there is a game for everyone.

Playing one of these games feels like a way better use of time than playing video games.

Get down to your local hobby store and take a look. You might be surprised.

Go ahead, make a mess, play a new game, have some fun.

Hooded robe

If you need a medieval character, try a hooded robe for a costume. I just finished sewing this one. Which you could do if you learned how to sew.

Take a look at how many different looks can be achieved with a hooded robe.

hood 1

hood 1

thief

thief

hood down

hood down

forest wizard

forest wizard

last one

last one

Lots of looks from one very practical piece of costume.

Go ahead, have some fun, learn to sew.

Weight in your composition

I have an interesting thing for you today.

See this photo?

two chemicals

two chemicals

That is a two part epoxy glue that I use all the time. You are supposed to squirt out a small puddle of liquid from Part A which is clear, and then squirt out the same amount of Part B (on the right), which is amber colored.

So, notice how the levels are not the same? It is because of an illusion.

I squirt out small puddles of this stuff all the time. I do my best to make sure the puddles are the same size. You can see the difference in the levels which shows I am not equal at all.

This is why. The amber colored liquid looks heavier because of the darker color, so my mind adjusts, and pours a smaller puddle of amber. The darker liquid holds more weight in my mind. When I try to pour two exact same sized puddles, I always will unconsciously pour a smaller puddle of the darker liquid.

This is a great concept for your artwork, or film composition. A darker color on one side of your photo image, or artwork can be balanced with more light color on the opposite side. A white square on one side of your painting is not going to balance out a black square. If you are trying to balance your composition, you have to take in to account that darker colors weigh more in our minds. A larger volume of lighter color will be needed to balance out the darker color.

I also notice this effect when I am mixing blue putty with light yellow putty. I always use more light yellow even though I try to mix them equally.

Go ahead, make some art, have some fun.

Archery quiver

My hero needed an archery quiver. My friend Meri wanted one as well.

So I crafted one from leather. I made a cylinder shape from leather, hand sewed up the side, then made my best guess for the shape of the bottom. Hand sewed that part in to make the basic quiver. All of you know how to cut and sew leather by now, because you read my earlier blogs dealing with leather work.

Once I had the basic shape, I wanted to make it a bit fancy.

pattern

pattern

I place a piece of brown paper near the top of the quiver and cut it so it fit nicely. Once I had the proper sized paper band, then I hand drew some designs on it.

quiver with band

quiver with band

The basic quiver is there for you to see. This seam goes in the back of the quiver.

finished pattern

finished pattern

The pattern was finally finished. I used sharpie, ball point, and crayons to show what I wanted to stay. I made sure when I cut out the leather, it would remain one piece of leather.

leather piece

leather piece

I trace the pattern onto a piece of leather, then very carefully, cut it out with a razor knife. Once it was cut out, I dyed the whole piece black.

glued and pinned

glued and pinned

I used slow setting leather glue and lots of pins to get it in place. It wasn’t really easy to do. I still had to go back and touch up some spots that were not glued well.

pins

pins

The black showed up pretty good against the brown.

finished

finished

The finished piece looks pretty good. The spaces could have been a bit wider, and there are some glue stains on it, but overall not bad. I scraped the glue off later with a knife.

3 feet test

3 feet test

Three feet away it looks great.

I made another smaller band for the bottom using the exact same steps as before.

my new quiver

my new quiver

I added straps, which are not totally done yet, but in the above photo you can start to see what it will look like finished. The whole quiver was distressed with oil, sawdust, and sandpaper to give it some age.

Go ahead, make a mess, make a quiver, have some fun.

fake arrows

I needed a quiver of fake arrows for my hero.

I happened to pass by an archery store so I went in and looked around. I realized real arrows were $2-$4 each, so not super bad, but I thought I could do a little better.

Then I found on the shelf, fletching feathers in a bag.

fletching

fletching

That bag was about $10. They are real feathers that are already split in half for arrow making. They also sell a double stick tape that they use to install the feathers, but that seemed like too much money for the tape. So, I bought the feathers and headed home.

I cut a single feather into three parts, which is enough for a single arrow. The first piece I tried super glue. It worked ok, but not super great.

super glue

super glue

It held ok, but kinda took awhile to set up. Next I tried barge cement, which I had left over from my leather work. And it worked great.

barge cement

barge cement

The wood is just a piece of wood dowel.

a few minutes

a few minutes

After a few minutes, my first arrow was done. I would later sand off that yellow paint on the end, and carve a notch for the bow string.

fake arrow

fake arrow

So, yes, this is a fake arrow, but in all reality, it probably would fly pretty well.

my new quiver

my new quiver

There is resting in my new leather quiver I just finished. I will talk about that in a later post.

So, I plan to make quite a few more once I have some more dowels. And I may darken the dowel wood up a little.

Go ahead, make some fake arrows, have some fun.

Sewing for the beginner

Ok, you have a machine you that you can use. Either you bought one or borrowed one. I can’t help you set it up or figure out how to set all the dials correctly. Each machine will be different. Just set it to a basic straight stitch.

This nice lady has a great blog post on how to use your machine.

http://www.jenniferpwilliams.com/2013/08/how-to-use-a-sewing-machine.html

Get it loaded up with some thread. You actually have two threads in a stitch. You have the thread color from the spool and you have the thread color from the bobbin underneath. Usually these two colors should match. When choosing a thread color, most of the time you will just choose the thread color that is the closest color match to your finished side of the fabric. If your thread matches, then the stitches will be more invisible.

Ok, let’s talk about finished and rough sides of the fabric. Most fabrics have a side the is supposed to be seen and one that is usually hidden from sight. Some are super easy to figure out which side is the finished side, and which is the hidden or rough side. You will come across some fabrics that are pretty difficult to determine which is which. Usually for the difficult ones it will come down to a shine or not shine. The important thing to remember is to keep all the finished sides facing out and exposed for view, and the rough sides of the fabric hidden. ┬áThis seems pretty obvious, but every single sewer will craft something at some time and find that the wrong side is facing out.

For your first sewing project, find something fairly simple. Build a solid set of skills a few at a time without overwhelming your self.

You could try something like this.

brush holder

brush holder

They used two pieces of felt and sewed them together in long twisty stitch.

sew pattern

sew pattern

It looks like they just used a single piece of felt or fabric. Fold it over on the left side, then follow the pattern. When done it will leave little pockets for your crayons or pencils.

Above, when the stitch turns 90 degrees, get to the corner with your stitch, then turn the hand knob towards you until the needle is in the down position. Leave the needle in the down position (in the fabric) then lift the presser foot. The needle staying in the fabric keeps it from sliding all over. Lifting the presser foot will remove the tension/pressure on the fabric. Now you can rotate the fabric until the stitch is lined up again.

 a larger version

a larger version

To make something like this above image, take two pieces of fabric, green and flowers. Cut them to shape, and put them with their finished sides together (outside of green fabric and outside of flowers touching). The wrong sides (rough sides, unfinished sides) will facing out now. This is a very common thing in sewing, placing same sides together, sewing them, then flipping them right side out again. This process leaves the ugly seam hidden inside.

Here is another nice blog post that helps show that from another nice lady.

http://shwinandshwin.com/2011/08/sewing-101-seams.html

The biggest thing right now is to get some scrap fabric and sew them together. Learn how to handle the machine, learn how to handle the fabric. It helps a lot if you can start with some basic cotton fabric with a right side and a wrong side that is easy to tell the difference. Cotton is also one the easiest fabrics to sew together. Don’t start with anything stretchy, lacey, delicate, or filled with fibers that stick up like wool. Once you have sewn your first stitch, look online at some beginner sewing project or “first machine sewing project”. You don’t have to make them, just look at them and see if they make sense how they went together.

I have some great looking and really easy medieval clothing patterns I can share with you when you are ready to take on a full project.

go ahead, make a mess, sew some stuff, have some fun.

Sewing

Eventually if you want to keep making costumes and props for your films, you may want to learn how to sew. I actually believe almost everyone should know how to do some basic sewing.

I know you think you are super manly, probably a lumberjack or fighter pilot, maybe a kick boxer or an astronaut. But, all of those people could still benefit from knowing how to sew.

The secret is treating it just like another power tool.

I have sewn a tons of stuff, lots of costumes and prop items. And I can teach some basics and some tips to you.

First thing you need is a machine. I don’t care what kind you get, I don’t even have a brand to recommend. To start out, all you need is a simple machine that will sew a straight stitch. I almost never use anything except a simple basic straight stitch. I can’t help you with your machine. The truth is you will have to buy/borrow a sewing machine and teach yourself how to run it. Every machine will need tinkering and tweaking. So, get a machine, borrow one, or buy a simple basic inexpensive machine and learn how it works.

Once you get it, learn how to sew two pieces of fabric together with a simple stitch.

I will put together some sewing tips for you on your journey to learn how to sew costumes.

Go ahead, learn to sew, have some fun.