I quit MLPF and Poniverse a while back, or at least I told myself so. It had become too habitual to not be curious of the going-ons, checking up on those I still care for, and being unable to shake the mentality I had for so long concerning Poniverse's direction. PR head and board was short for me, but enough to get into my head and make me care a smidgen too much. Without closure, I feel unable to leave and end my haunting of this place and it's characters - only now have I found that closure.
Just over a week ago I got married to the man I met here, Simon. A year to-date from when he moved into my house spontaneously during a weekend visit. He's been much better at letting go of Poniverse, held mostly by my occasional updates. Poniverse holds so many frustrations and confusions for me, and in moments of annoyance I regret ever being here - but at the end of the day, I cannot be anything but thankful for all that has occurred, which has brought me so close to the one I love.
Somehow, by marital bond, I feel this chapter of my life has ended peacefully. There are many things to many individuals left unsaid, which should stay unsaid.
I'm blessed to have had this opportunity, to have had the positive and negative influences of each and every individual I've encountered. I stand stronger, next to who I love. Thank you.
Upon further review and fear of threats, I have come to the conclusion that Simon is indeed the best person I have ever had the joy to be around. I have enjoyed his company so much that I have open my home to his constant arrival and my heart to his constant abuse. Regardless of my extended relationship with SFyr or my blossoming infatuation with Koukatsu, Simon has remained the best person in my life ever.
Meeting him at BABSCon was the best possible experience - one that I would not trade for anything in or out of this world. I apologize for misrepresenting his highness in my previous blog concerning my BABSCon trip; I did not accurately dedicate my words to all that is Simon.
I love you, dear Simon.
Upon further inspection, I have come to another conclusion that my knowledge of Chipmunks and Chipmunk paraphernalia will never be as extensive or "on the same level" as Simon's awesome and vast knowledge.
I've been trying to write this silly blog about BABScon all day, and I honestly struggle to put my feelings into words. I have never met a more amazing group of people who made me feel so welcomed and loved the second I met them. By the end of the convention, I'm not sure I really cared I was at a convention at all.
SFyr and I booked a super late flight to arrive midnight on Thursday, so we could attend our evening classes and say our goodbye to the kitties. This was the most painful day of seeing our friends ping Skype with messages of flights or hotel arrivals while we waited in my mothers living room for time to pass. We arrived with plenty of time to get through airport nonsense, and boarded SFyr's first flight ever. I've never seen him smile so much or so big in my entire time knowing him.
We shuttled over to the hotel around 1am and figured the Poniverse party was long asleep and we'd grab Melon Blitz, our roomie, and pass out for events tomorrow morning. Upon our arrival, half the Poniverse team with sleepy eyes waited for us in the lobby. This was just the first of amazingly kind gestures that absolutely ruined me all week. After dropping off one of my finished commissions, we passed out.
Friday started off with a wonderful team sans Simon breakfast, uncomfortably and unexpectedly paid for by Koukatsu. While some of the team have met each other before, a lot of us were strangers to each other. Still, the sense of camaraderie was unbelievable. After grabbing some badges, SFyr and I ventured out of hiding from the team anxiously and manned the table with Michael, who's an absolute sweetheart. Fhaolan joined us after a while, who is now privy to my endless adoration of his crafting skills and desire to live with him if only to leech all his crafting skills and supplies.
I finally got Simon to slow the hell down and have a chat with me right before the Poniverse panel, who showed no interest in interacting with me and obviously was in an awful state. Simon was by far the staff member I have had the most interaction with, and I couldn't help but feel a little disappointed. He's lovely online and perhaps just a little awkward in person, so I shared my concern for his pendulum activities and let him do his panel.
The Poniverse Meet-up followed, and SFyr and I snuck away to grab a quick snack. Right before we snuck out the door, Koukatsu questioned where we were going and I jokingly offered him an inclusion in SFyr and I's "private time". Koukatsu and I have had nothing but business talk before BABScon. He's a lovely individual and I respect him as a moderator greatly, but our online personalities are extremely different. By the end of a few hours laughing to death and joking in a hotel room, I can happily call him one of my best friends.
Friday night was capped by a lovely celebration of Jeric's daughters and the most people in a hotel room I've ever experienced. The amount of affection, trust and understanding between all these individuals is absolutely indescribable.
Saturday morning I overslept most of breakfast, but Koukatsu and SFyr delayed their hungry bellies to accompany me to a smaller breakfast. I attended a few panels with SFyr and met up with the staff during the day, and retreated to the top floor skywalk for a nice long chat with Kou and SFyr about literally everything. While we were up there, two of the con-heads passed by and eventually sat with us and told silly con stories for hours. It was amazing how similar issues and con politics were to the issues we face in Poniverse. Just as amazing was how genuine and caring these two were about their role in BABSCon and how much they cared about forming a relationship with 3 strangers.
On our way back down to the hotel room, we stopped for a drink from the vending machine. I was sleepy and hungry, and I lock my knees when I stand - this perfect storm led to me conking my head on the wall and then the floor. After I gained back my wits, I was in the middle of being "lifted" by the two most out of shape humans to possibly be around. I stumbled down the hall a little further, dropped a button, and fell once again.
Most of what happened is blurry to me now, but I honestly will never forget the kindness shown to me by near-strangers. Kou and SFyr stayed by my side for hours, making useless conversation with my childlike self. Kou's sweet non-poniverse roommate, PrinCrim, kept me from babbling and whining by dredging up pony videos and game grumps until I shut my trap and laughed. Rusty and Melon put up with my confused questioning, but I cannot get over the kindness shown to me by Jeric.
Jeric scares me a little. He's an absolute angel and an amazing admin, but he's a person who I respect greatly and therefore don't want to bother him with my childish, Stitchy nonsense. Kou called him at godknowswhathour in the morning, and sweet Jeric met us at his door sleepy-eyed with an offering of food for my empty belly. I've never seen so much concern in someone's face, after he was assured I was not drunk as hell. Again, I cannot describe how much this meant to me, even in a dazed state. I did make the mistake of winking to him, which probably didn't assure him of my mental state. I'm just a winky person, Jeric, I promise!
After a lovely Kou-delivered breakfast, I spent most of Sunday in bed watching Naked and Afraid with any grown man who happened to stumble in the room. By the end of the evening, we were playing pony card games and I was watching the clock preparing to say my goodbyes to catch my early flight in the AM. I finally reached my bedtime and prepared my goodbyes, and Simon asked me to go to Las Vegas with the group. Simon had warmed up to me on Sunday. He accepted that I like hugs and laugh loud and understands that if I insult you it means I love you. I looked around the room of people I had come to adore and booked SFyr and I's flight with help from Simon and Kou. I'm not an impulsive person. At the point in time, I realized I was smitten by these people.
If I continue, I'm just stressing my point. I had most certainly the best time of my life and met my favorite people. It's important to understand how valid my username is to my personality. I've been seeking therapy and treatment for general anxiety and agoraphobia for most of my life. I cling to SFyr, who understands my issues and helps me feel a little secure. I go about my life very quietly and calmly, although inside I'm an incredible handful. I experience terrible panic attacks just a minute from my apartment and plan my life around not doing things in person.
Never had I wanted to be in public, be with friends, do things and not be in a "safe spot" more than being around these wonderful individuals. Never have I laughed so loudly so often and just exposed myself as a person completely to people I met just a few days ago. I felt like a different person than how I've ever been to new faces, a person so much closer to who I am to myself; without any anxiety or fear or nerves. I met such a large portion of my family this past week.
Conventions don't get to be a silly pony thing for me anymore, but a requirement to see my best friends...thus begins the countdown to BronyCon.
Working on Rarity for Oobrony for his MCM raffle win as of late. I've been doing a ton of redecorating, so I came across some of my old plushies that have never seen the light of day.
I'm not a person awesome with words, as much as I like to type a ton of them. Sometimes I pick up doing different crafts or arts, and then get frustrated after a week or so and stop doing it. On the rare occasion (read: once) I stick with a craft, the improvement that can happen in a short amount of time is nuts.
Nice opportunity for a little bit of reflection.
Still lots of improvement to go.
I thought I'd create this in-depth exploration of my expenses as a better resource for my pricing on my shop
Why are Plushies soooo expensive?
I hear this a lot, and I see this a lot. I figure it’s past due to sit down and create a fairly comprehensive run-through that documents all the expenses and time involved. I fear this being interpreted as complaining – it isn’t! I wouldn’t create plushies if I didn’t genuinely enjoy it. It feels like a wise idea to clear the air a little, since not as many people are familiar with the process as I thought.
All of this is my experience. While I am sure other artists have similar expenses, I speak only for myself and the expenses I have faced! Perhaps others have found a better supplier or method of doing something…feel free to let me know if that’s so!
This is just a rough estimate. Some of these supplies will last me 1 pony, some will last me for the rest of my sewing hobby.
You can’t really plush without a place to plush. I live in a one bedroom apartment with my boyfriend and instead of a TV and lounge area, we have a sewing station! For about a year, I sewed on a 4’ folding table for $40 from Wal-Mart. Not only was this not enough horizontal space, I had no drawers to stick any of my haberdashery. There is a lot of haberdashery. We’ll touch that later, though. My mother and I really love Ikea, and I’ll fight anyone tooth and nail who says their stuff isn’t any good! We picked up two Alex drawer units ($79 each) and a Linnmon tabletop for $35, along with way too much other Ikea goodies for her house. $193 later and I have a working table – and boy, does it work. I have drawers for everything, they’re all labeled; no more searching endlessly for the other side of my embroidery hoop. One problem though – I’m still a little low on tabletop space. One more trip to Ikea, two more Alex drawer units and one more Linnmon later, I’ve doubled my space. So much room for activities!
“You don’t need a sewing machine or embroidery machine to make plushies.” - I hear this often. Perhaps not everyone does, but I certainly do. To produce consistent, strong, stitches or applique or lovely cutie marks and eyes, you better have a sewing machine and an embroidery machine. For my sewing machine, I have the Brother SE400 - $315 on Amazon. It’s a combination sewing machine and embroidery machine, which is fantastic for piddling around until you realize how long embroidery takes and you’re edging to sew, but you still have 3 hours left of watching your precious sewing machine be used for silly embroidery purposes…you splurge for a dedicated machine.
For my dedicated embroidery machine, I use the Brother PE770 - $586 on Amazon. I have zero complaints about this machine, to be honest. If I had to choose between this machine and my boyfriend, he better find another place to live.
Space: $386 Sewing machine: $315 Embroidery machine: $586 $1287 later, I have a lot of space, some machines and literally nothing I can sew or do. Whoo!
Minky is costly. I usually order from Fabric.com and pretend to be a ‘new customer’ for that 20% off coupon. Do I feed bad? No. Do I have a lot of email addresses? Yes. They cut this discount down to 10%, which nearly makes it useful to find another supplier. If Fabric.com doesn’t have what I need, I have to order from overseas. Plushaddict.co.uk has a lot of colors no one else does, but they’re $21.51 a meter (so, basically a yard) compared to the $12.48 I pay per yard at Fabric.com. Any color I need, it’s useless to get less than a yard. A yard from Fabric.com is $12.48 and a half yard is $9.36. Ponies with a little bow or tiny accent of a color sometimes require purchasing a full yard; I’ve tried hard to stock up on colors so this isn’t often a problem. I actually keep all my receipts from buying fabric. A quick calculation of all my fabric receipts put me at $493.01.
Embroidery is a lot more time intensive than one would think. Let us run through the process! Starting from square one, an embroidery machine is like a printer. You give it a picture and the right color thread, and it pops out that part of the design that requires that color. Sadly, the embroidery machine cannot just eat up a .jpeg and pop out a beautiful eye. There is a process called “digitizing” that enables the machine to read the new picture; and you’ve guessed it, this require its own program. I use Embird, which is $164 for the software plus $150 for the Digitizing Tools. These programs can run from free (they’re buggy and not very user friendly) to over $1000 (they’re over $1000!). Embird works great for me!
Now, it is ready to shove on into the machine. Or, I wish it was time to shove it on into the machine. You have to hoop the material first; and this requires some stabilizer on the front and back so the fabric doesn’t stretch during embroidery. A roll of Cut-Away stabilizer for the back is $12.95, and will last me awhile. For the front, a roll of Water Soluble stabilizer is $11.39. To get the Cut-Away to stay on the fabric, you need some temporary spray! For a regular sized spray bottle, that’s around $18. Now we can hoop the fabric. Alright – the fabric is on the machine…we press the go button…and oh wait, there isn’t any thread! Embroidery thread isn’t sewing thread. It’s thinner, decorative, and prettier. It mainly comes in Rayon and Polyester. I started with 2 sets of ~50 spools (that ran about $40 each) of Polyester off-brand thread. It looks fine, but it breaks too often and isn’t as shiny and textured as I’d like. It’s time for another investment! Madeira makes some great Rayon embroidery thread, but I need around 100 spools to have enough colors to be happy. I recently picked up a set of 40 spools for $99, and I’ll buy individual spools as needed for $2.25. On top of this, I use so much black, white and bobbin thread that I spent $21 to get some large, nice spools of these colors. Rolling bobbin threads takes a little long, and it’s easier to make the investment to just buy a pack of pre-wound bobbin threads. For 144 pre-wound bobbins, $29. The embroidery can begin. Of course, it doesn’t always turn out right. Sometimes the machine messes up, sometimes the design isn’t the right size, sometimes the world just hates you and wants to waste your time. That’s okay. Our embroidery is finally, finally done.
Alright, it’s over 1000 words into this and we’re just now taking a peek at our sewing machine…but not yet! First, we have to get our pattern pieces. Pull out that master pattern you have slaved over and trace out your pattern. If your fabric is light, you’ll use your handy-dandy disappearing ink pens ($6.94 on amazon) so your pretty white pony doesn’t have lines inside her. If your fabric is black or dark, you’ll use your tailor chalk ($3.49 on Amazon). Sometimes if you’re lazy, you’ll just use a pen. Let’s cut out that pattern! Since minky is furry, it’s a bad idea to use scissors; all that fluff will go more places than it would with an exacto knife. I probably have at least $20 in exacto blades, since fabric dulls them so quickly. We also can’t cut directly on our nice Ikea table…$18 for a cutting mat. It’s time to fire up that sewing machine! I can’t speak much for how much sewing thread costs – I’ve collected it at garage sales and largely from a deceased older lady that has a distant relationship to our family. Since we’re using minky, we have to have a walking foot, or else everything will slide. Tack on another $31.35 for a walking foot. Pins? We have to pin our fabric. Since I’ve bought so many pins over time, we’ll go a little low on our estimate and say $5 for pins. Our pony is sewn up! Time to clip the curves, with our $13 pack of two shears. We can’t use these scissors for anything but fabric, or they dull. Let’s stuff this pony. If you just shove stuffing in her feet, she won’t stand very flat or well. I use plastic sheet in her feet ($2.16 a sheet) to keep her feetsies flat, as well as some poly-pellets ($81 for 25lbs) To give her some flatness and weight. The polyfill I used to fill my ponies is around $10 for 2 bags (enough to fill 1 pony), although I can’t find it anymore. Finally, I use thick stabilizer in the ears to give them some curve. $6 a yard for this stabilizer. As well as some wire for wing or tail stability – I use around $4 worth of wire in each pony.
Some ponies have other stuff. Magnets are $6 for 12, and I use at least 2 for each magnetic item. Buttons, brads, hooks, snaps…I probably have $40 worth of weird haberdashery. Airbrushing? A $80 compressor and a $57 airbrush. Another $20 for a glue gun.
Cost Fabric: $493.01 Embroidery: $586.34 Sewing: $182.94 Other Stuff: $203.00 Total: $1465.29
The pony has to get there! It’s .68 cents for a box that I have to cut down, since most ponies are 14 inches tall and nearly 14 inches long, but not 14 inches wide! $16.88 for some bubble wrap, and $35 for some business cards with a misspelling on them, just for good measure. $10 or so at the post office to get the pony shipped.
Cost Shipping: $62.56
Time is money! I’ve timed myself on a few ponies. This time isn’t always involved time. I could be watching some Netflix while this time is going, and just maintaining the machine when it asks for some help. For my pony base pattern, I probably have 80 solid hours of pattern testing involved. I’m not very quick at drafting patterns.
Time Break-down: Embroidery Designing/Digitizing: 5hrs Actually embroidering: 2 – 6hrs Pattern Cutting: 1hr Sewing pony body/head: 5hrs Stuffing pony body/head: 2hrs Sewing pony head to body: 1hr Sewing pony ears to head: 2hr Drafting mane/tail patterns: 3 - 5hrs Sewing mane/tail: 5 – 7hrs Stuffing mane/tail: 2hr Attaching mane/tail: 3hr – 4hrs Accessories (each): 1hr – 7hrs
Most ponies end up taking me around 25 hours. My longest is around 65.
Total overall: $2814.85 + lots of time
So…what does this mean?
I believe it’s a little frustrating when people see plush makers as overly expensive or just trying to make some cash. It’s hard to turn a decent profit, let alone make a living. It’s more profitable to work at Mcdonald’s, for heaven’s sake. Mcdonald’s doesn’t let you work your own hours in your PJs, though. That’s my saving grace.
Moral of the story? I love what I do. I cringe when I ask for over $200 for what I do. I cringe when I look at other artists that I aspire to be like who charge over $400. Is that what the product is worth? Yes, perhaps more. Is it still a lot for a stuffed pony? Yes, yes it is.
Below is a list of all my completed commissions on MLPForums and elsewhere. I don't want to clog my shop too bad with too many finished ponies, so I figured I would link this blog post and just have it all nicely put here.
This is in order from most recent to least recent next to their reference image:
Lektra - For Bronislav84
Goat - For Anon
Flitter - For Flitterflutter
Seeker Dragonheart - For Seeker Dragonheart
Rarity - For Twixxie
Littlepip - For MLS_Brony
Kyubiki Tenchu - For Kyubiki Tenchu
Silverleaf - For ShadowPony
Kine - For Mort
Selfie Snapshots - For Selfie Snapshots