You ever been looking on Etsy, and happened to think of something you wanted and in the next second, have a giant “duh, I'm a moron” moment? I had one tonight.
Among other things, I have a Blythe. Actually, she's a Basaak, which is the fake version of Blythe but having handled both, they're pretty darn close to equal. My doll, Æris, is really my filthy alter ego. But, never mind that. Point is, I love my little trampy doll, and I've made a few clothes for her, and she's got some fancy toys, including a fancy kotatsu from Rement. Everyone who knows me, knows Maude and Æris and give them their due as the household deities. These days, Maude is mostly retired. I've decided that while I adore the Obitsu bodies, there's just something endearing about that giant head and great big googly eyes. You can see Maude and Æris along with my mini Blythes, Michiru (Pet Shop) and Bia (Takara) on their own Facebook page along with seeing them here at Scale Adventures.
So, what is this about Etsy? Well, most know I sell on Etsy, as “Dirty Girl Designs”. Believe it or not, I don't do much doll stuff. I have little desire to do it like this, mostly because sewing clothes is a pain in the ass (even I mostly buy the clothes for my dolls) and I cast in resin and metal and shrink plastic so what possible skill could I use that for?
Duh. Pulls. See, Blythe have these little rings on them, they connect to a string that when you pull it, changes the eye color on the doll. I can not only make them out of resin, (which, there are actually several Etsy sellers who do this already) and I can make them from resin, and I can even cast them from metal if I'm feeling real ambitious. So keep watching, I'll soon be making and selling custom Blythe pulls!
When things work out with me and shrink plastic, they work out VERY well. When they go wrong? They go VERY wrong.
So because this blog is about learning as much as my place to vent and yak my little fingers out, I'm going to go with the bad first.
Now, last year, I came up with a jointed doll that I dubbed the “Bondage Babes”. They're for the kinsters who shop at Dirty Girl Designs and I've never said otherwise. Sometimes those in the lifestyle like a more fun way to declare their interests and the Bondage Babes are still cute enough to be taken as just a casual necklace.
As you can see, they are super simple, they just have a protective glaze on them and have basic features. They aren't meant to be real detailed.
So, I decided that given the abilities of the inkjet shrink, I would computerize the BBs. Easy right? Well, yes and no. I figured it'd be hit or miss and it is still a work in progress, but my friend Bunnykissd who is a graphics genius (I very honestly try to avoid working with this sort of thing, let other, far more agile brains do this) took the babes and put a few bodies onto a page that I could print out and then cut out the bodies. Giving me several bodies to a page instead of stamping them out by hand. (my next step is to somehow get my Cricut cutter to do what I want for once and cut the Babes out) so yay for an easier life! And this morning she sent me a sheet with several bodies on it.
I was thrilled! I printed them out onto some regular paper and here's where I made my first mistake. I knew what the torso (including the head) measured. And I didn't measure my print. I was so eager I said “yay! Looks great! and used my last piece of inkjet shrink to print out the sheet of bodies.
Reader, I should have measured before printing. (yes, I'm reading Jane Eyre, bite me) Turned out that they are an inch too short. And with shrink plastic, this can make such a difference. There is no room for error. None.
Now, on the left, is a ruined Babe (ain't they all?) and on the right is the new Babe. Now, you can see, this difference is massive. Oh, I'm not crying in the corner, I am a little upset, with myself, not with the Babe or the graphic, I should have measured first before printing onto the precious shrink. I also don't feel this is a massive issue, just annoying. I can't work with this size, not at pre-shrunk size, that's fine, but at shrunk size, this is tiny for things like jump rings. I'll probably just print on the other side some rings that I can sell as “oops” because of the dolls printed on the back. I'll figure something out. This does show how crucial size is in shrink plastic. So the Babes will be delayed until Bunny and I can figure this out.
Now, onto the good.
So I've been doing buttons with my inkjet shrink, I'm now officially out and will be trying another brand. I still feel Shrink Dinks brand is way too expensive and am trying a couple sheets of the Grafix brand, that I can buy in packs of 50. Yes, I'm semi converted to the inkjet instead of the hit or miss of printing on regular shrink. I'll still be using regular shrink, but whatever that coating is, it makes it worth the $2 a sheet.
Now, my deep love in crafting is metal and resin. I love both. But there is an instant gratification to shrink plastic that I can't deny. It also impresses people, when it shouldn't really, that you are far more creative than you really are.
Buttons are easy. I can't stress this enough. I find images I want, get them into the shape that works, and punch them out with a 2” punch. I then punch holes and then shrink. I add UTEE and then sand and drill. Done. Not complicated. In fact I feel pretty guilty for charging $2 each for buttons but I've had several people tell me that if anything, I'm not charging enough. I've looked at other buttons made of shrink plastic and sometimes I tend to agree. Don't get me wrong, hand made art and drawing it yourself generally beat computer images hands down, but that's if they are good. And what I've seen being charged $3 each for? Ain't good.
I'm unsure if I'll sell many buttons one at a time, I plan on keeping them in groups of 6 for the $12. I feel most people want at least 6, and yes, $12 is a bit much for buttons, but I also feel you aren't likely to go to JoAnn Fabrics (there, just two buttons can run you $15 if you follow that link) and find Elizabeth Tudor portrait buttons.
Yeah. You heard me. Elizabeth Tudor. (yes, she became Elizabeth I of England later)
A friend and fellow SCAdian (again with SCAdian friends wanting buttons!) had admired what I'd done so far when I mentioned that I'd intended on doing some of Elizabeth I of England. She began to squeal. The “meat colored dress” portrait was our favorite. Even better, she wanted the buttons for a mundane (non SCA) sweater. So I ran up a sheet of 12 fairly quickly.
You can see why lots of people love this Flemish School painting of the young Elizabeth Tudor. The composed young ginger here is clearly secure, yet at the same time, vulnerable. Not yet the rigid, scarred and scary queen she later became. Her salmon colored dress is pretty, and you can see she has her mother's graceful neck (if still intact, unlike her mother's)
This is a case of when it works, it works great. I'm nearly out of ink in my printer, but you know what's nice with shrink plastic? Inkjet or regular, colors get stronger and darker when you bake. So while there is some variation in these buttons, it doesn't subtract from them in any way.
I really can't wait to do these “portrait” buttons with shanks. Without anything to detract from the design (the holes) the full glory of portraits like these will be amazing. I also intend on experimenting with crystals around the edges to get a more lush appearance. Think of the old miniatures with pearls or gems around the edges and you'll have an idea. But at the same time, the buttons with holes are still good, after all, for a kid's sweater, they'll be on firmly. Shank buttons aren't always the firmest of things.
So there's without a doubt good and bad runs with projects, I mean, mistakes I make with resin and metal casting are epic at times. Metal I can luckily re-melt, resin mistakes are pretty harsh, there's no fixing those. Shrink plastic however, because its so cheap (well, the non inkjet variety anyhow) mistakes are more lessons in swearing. I'm annoyed, but I can move on fairly easily.
I got a surprise commission today, but it gave me a chance to do some serious experimenting. I'd worked a couple times with inkjet shrink plastic but not in any depth really so I won't claim I know the stuff beyond avoiding it because it is insanely expensive. But anyhow, an old friend had seen my buttons and asked if I could do some custom buttons, he wanted some for an SCA event, and I said “sure no problem”. Well, some rough starts later, including some miscommunication on the image he wanted used, I finally thought I had the images in the right place for being punched out with my Fiskars 2” punch. And yes, I did. I did a test run on some plain paper with grey scale (I hate wasting color ink) and the test turned out great. I knew however that I really didn't want to do these on clear shrink plastic, which was all I had left. So when he asked, I told him that translucent or white shrink plastic would be best. Now, normally, I'd have hopped up onto Lucky Squirrel and ordered a big pack of white. But, he was in a rush (he wants these by Thursday) so I sent him to Hobby Lobby. I figured he'd just get a pack of white, he only needs 30 buttons after all. But when he arrived, he'd bought 2 packages of white, and 2 packages of the inkjet shrink. To my delight, he said to keep them and just see what I could do with them. I actually really wanted him to take back the 3 packages leaving me just one of the inkjet, but he's that kind of guy. So thank you Terry. I owe you. So, my biggest drawback to the inkjet shrink plastic so far? Cost. Because it has a special coating of some kind, at Hobby Lobby, it is $12.99 for 6 sheets. That means each sheet costs a little over $2 each. Owie. (and 6 sheets at Hobby Lobby of Bright White is around $5 compared to my $13.99 for 24 sheets at LS) break this down a bit further, and it's around 18 cents per button. Which isn't terrible, and sometimes I can get more than 12 buttons off a sheet, but 12 is about average. So is it worth that? Well, yes and no. The idea of paying $13 for 6 sheets of plastic causes me to cringe. I admit it. I'd have never bought those sheets, much less 2 packs. Theory says one package will give me at least 72 buttons. And yes, you just keep breaking this down. I sell sets of 6 buttons for $8–$12 per set, depending. Now how about the printing right? I have to admit. Wow. Just, wow. Now, as I've said before, you can print using a printer on regular shrink. You need to sand the hell out of it. On this stuff, nope. And part of the issue here is white versus clear, so keep that in mind too. The biggest advantage I see is that when I touch a button or pendant, it's not smearing halfway to hell when I touch it out of the printer. The inkjet can be touched instantly. That saves me time in a lot of ways. So that feature, yes, makes the cost worth it. Now, lets have some comparison pictures shall we?
This is translucent and clear in the Russian buttons, and one of my “mistake” buttons for my friend. The “mistake” button is clear shrink with some glazing on it to create dimension.
See what I mean? First, the white really makes the colors pop. Big time. And the lines are far more crisp. Amazing. The second picture shows the glazing added, I'll be hitting the sides with an emery board to remove the doming material, along with drilling into the holes to free those up again. In real life the button is a more ivory color. Now, while I think the clear domed buttons look great, the white looks amazing. Here's another good example. Both are Russian Button, the 4 done on translucent, the second set done on white inkjet.
Now, don't get me wrong, my friend Bunny does some sick photography, but the fact is, these look amazing on white shrink. I can't wait to dome these and really make them just explode with vibrancy. I really am looking forward to trying some pendants and some rings with both the white and the inkjet. So my end opinion? Is the inkjet stuff worth it? I'm torn. I really am. I think in the logical part of my head, I accept that the cost isn't that bad when you break it down, I can get several pendants, rings, buttons or what have you on one sheet, which means at $2 a sheet, each piece costs pennies to make. (not including ink from the printer and adding things like chains or other things) but then there's this part of me (thank you Scotch grandparents) that flinches at the idea of paying $13 for 6 sheets of plastic. I think in the end I'll be buying the inkjet stuff occasionally and using the white 99% of the time for things like the buttons no matter if its inkjet or just plain white shrink from LS.
So I haven't updated in forever, and realized, I very much need to. I do update my blog over to Wordpress on occasion, but I haven't been doing any of the three very much. And I need to. While Facebook can be great, its not the place for venting as I do. And I don't do BDSM posts here anymore, I do them up on Fetlife.
Basically, not much going on. (such a sad commentary on life eh?) Reading, and making stuff for the Etsy shop (another post on that later I think)
Anyhow, yes, still alive. Is Livejournal?