A week ago someone from my LARP group turned 30 – my own big one is approaching fast, as well, and this year sees quite a couple of these in my circle of friends – so it was high time to finish this project.
He’s starting a courier business at the next game, and I assumed that a messenger can never have enough containers for important papers, complete with rings to hang it from a belt or sling it over the shoulder with a strap. I also wanted to test if I could make one of these the way I imagined it to work.
The scroll case is based around an old whiskey packaging – you know, those sturdy cardboard tubes with the metal lids. I wrapped it in old sofa leather, hunted down in the streets of Marburg long ago, first to glue it on and then to stitch it shut. The most complicated part was the lid, while I could just glue a cuff around the lower end I wanted to fully cover the upper, but with the lining that I added so the original inside of the whiskey tube wasn’t visible I had to change a few things.
I hammered the inside of the lid until it fit back in – not really elegantly done, I admit, but it works – and then added a piece of leather on top. You wouldn’t believe me if I told you how long it took me to actually add the last thin strip of leather around the edge to finally conceal the leftover bits of tin cap… Anyway, another challenging thing was hammering in those rivets – I couldn’t exactly open up the tube for them but wanted it to be somewhat sturdy (I think I used a rolling pin on the inside), and I think the trouble was worth it in the end.
Overall I’m happy how this project turned out (and I think the receiver liked it, too) and I think I might even make another one to conceal my camcorder at games so I don’t disturb the ambience if I decide to film.
Let me know if you’d want a tutorial on that in the comments! ♥
P.S.: I’m very much looking forward to my new camera. The phone is nice and convenient and everything, but it doesn’t beat the more traditional digital device.
Disclaimer: If you’re a vegan and/or dislike the sight of bones and animal parts this might not be the post for you.
I haven’t done a simple look-what-I’ve-bought post on the blog in a long time. But while I absolutely love making thrift hauls, especially now that I loosely theme them rather than just throw things at the camera, I also love taking pictures and making things pretty little still lives. As the title of this post says these are what I brought back from this year’s ConQuest (the biggest LARP in Germany). I always adore shopping there, in and out of character, as the in-game market is huge and has such wonderful and unique treasures to be found.
My friend and immediate-boss-on-Thursdays Tarquin and I often joke that our friendship is based on parts of dead animals because we both enjoy the untamed quality of bones and taxidermy and irregularly gift each other things that fall into this category – teeth, skins, chicken feet, stuff like that. Luckily at ConQuest there are several stalls selling these things, and one of them didn’t only sell bones – the tiny vertebra above is about the size of my thumb’s nail – but also old glass beads. I put two of my olddreadlocks back in and now wear the clear glass rings around them, like quartz or solid bits of water.
This cup wasn’t bought so much as found at one of the dumpsters on the grounds. Aren’t the acorn details darling? The tiny flasks were a gift from the Scoundrel who only visited for a day and didn’t stay for the game itself, but found time to pick up a parcel of jewellery for his merchant character, and these were part of it.
Spinning wool is something I haven’t bought in ages, but the boyfriend got into felting recently and I might either spin this or use it on some unsuspecting bit of woollen clothing. Either way I purchased it with copper pieces rather than out-of-game money and was very happy to part with those coins for these strands.
The little cup isn’t actually a cup but rather an old coffee filter, perforated at the bottom and with a likewise perforated piece inside. I’ve been wanting something to make coffee with without breaking the ambience in camp, so this is ideal. I got it from a lovely French seller who explained to me how to use it, too, and I’m happy to report that it works wonderfully.
There’s one stall where I linger a lot each year, and I decided that I might take home a piece annually. Last year I bought a hare’s foot there that actually gets worn by my character, and this year I decided on a badger’s hind paw. Those are quite a bit smaller than the front paws which looked ridiculous on me, but I’m of course in love nevertheless.
The femur (I’m guessing rabbit) is from the other stall with the beads mentioned above and I wore it in my hair. While it was a character thing at first I think I might do that in my everyday life, too, it makes me feel like a feral fae who just by chance wandered into the modern world and decided to stay without abandoning her wild ways.
The wing is a pheasant’s – I’ve wanted a preserved wing for some time now and I might add a handle of sorts or a sling to hang it at my altar. I’m already curious for the treasures this stall might bring next year.
And last but not least I bought these metal ornaments at a stall that sells so many of these I had a hard time deciding which ones to get. The round one is Trif’s, whom I play at ConQuest, the other ship is for a character I’m still planning and I might fake-enamel the sails at some point, and the thistle is just for myself (and if you watch my videos you might know why).
I couldn’t for the life of me remember the names of the other two stalls mentioned, and of course, I bought traditional sweets (I always do, and the stall is at our local historic yule market as well – they know me by now) and wild rose wine, but the former are already gone and the wine is rather tasted than seen.
Do you enjoy shopping at renaissance faires, medieval markets and artisan shows? Have you had any luck there this year? And which of my treasures is your favourite? Let me know in the comments! ♥
Hello Thistledown Gang, and welcome to the very first instalment of Thrift Fixes, the part of my channel where I take thrifted, found, scavenged or already-there items and try to make them a bit more custom, comfy or pretty (your mileage may vary on that). Today: A strange wicker fish for our LARP camp!
I decided that for videos like this I might as well give you my voiceover notes, just in case you don’t feel like watching and want to read about the weird things I do for my hobby rather than watch. In the future (read: when I’ve acquired a decent camera again) I’ll try to document the projects by photograph, as well, but for now, this will have to suffice. But without further ado, here’s the weird fish!
First things first, I wanted the fish to have eyes, actual, cold, shimmery fish eyes. Thanks to a trip to the riverside a few days before I started this project I had the perfect material: river shells. I scrubbed them clean – dish soap and a toothbrush are your friend and look at how SHINY they got. Like, wow. So shiny. I estimated the size needed by putting a piece of paper over the eyes that were already there and hatching over them, just like you would do with inscriptions or engravings that you want to read better or take home. We did that in kindergarten, a lot. Was that just us? Let me know, I’m curious.
I then used chalk to get the size onto the actual shells and then… well, that first attempt wasn’t ideal, and neither was the second, and while sanding shells was interesting we will skip to the idea that actually works.
To save the shells from breaking and being completely wasted I glued them onto fabric scraps – this way they can break however they want but still stay in the desired shape. I justified this by telling myself that this – albeit with bone glue or birch tar or somesuch – would be an accessible method for the imaginary craftsperson who would have made this fish thing in-game. I’ve got priorities, okay? Anyway, after that, I could simply trim the shells with crafting scissors, which was incredibly satisfying.
Again estimating the probable materials I decided to paint the eyes with ink rather than a sharpie or acrylics – I’ve painted shell disks with ink before and it works beautifully. I use Windsor & Newton, who don’t sponsor me at all, by the way. I wish. I eyeballed the pupil and added a black ring around the iris to get more of a “cold, dead fish eye” stare and to visually even out the shape.
I ten decided that the whole wicker situation didn’t look sufficiently like it had been exposed to the elements for a while – far too shiny. I put the whole thing in the tub, doused it with bleach, left it overnight, rinsed it off and then set it out to dry in the heat for another day. Much better.
Now here’s the explanatory bit, namely the answer to “What the heck made you spend five Euros on that?!”: At LARP we play a group of coast guards. Medieval-renaissance-ish low fantasy coast guards. And we like maritime decor, of course. And this thing – the fish, that is – was so weird that, when I came across it at the thrift shop, I sent my group a text saying, “Hey, do we want this?” – and they said yes. I had already been out of the shop when I got their answers so I wasn’t sure if it would be there the next time I stopped by, but apparently, nobody wants a weird basket fish… except for me.
So the poor thing had dorsal fins and the tail, but no pectorals whatsoever, so I found myself a stick with enough forks to make some. Had I more patience I could have tried to find something closer to the original wicker, alas: I have none. It would be covered anyway. I sawed off the two most promising forks and whittled the ends flat so I could wedge them into the weave of the fish later. I decided to make them a bit more fluttery and flowy as opposed to the stiff wicker fins that the fish already had, considering that it would be outside most of the time and silk makes the best streamers EVER, so I ripped up a thrifted silk scarf I had around anyway. I didn’t only want two fins to flutter, however, so I started be weaving strips of silk through the dorsal fins. It took a bit of twisting to get ends that would push through well enough and I needed to stab the whole affair with a knife at some points, but eh. *shrugs*
I secured the ends with a few drops of glue, but in the end, only knotting them would probably have sufficed.
The tail fin was a bit different as I needed to reattach it as well, but I decided to work with some more silk strips here, too. I was going for some sort of fancy goldfish tail that would look good in the breeze, and the colours of the silk remind me of seaweed, which is just so lovely.
A lot of maritime decor in LARP, or anything that centres around water or the sea, really, is only shades of blue (or grey if people are feeling experimental and maybe moody), but when you look toat places like Britanny or Northern Germany or the Netherlands, for example, there’s a lot of yellows and greens going on, and I love this palette very, very much.
I attached the eyes next because I wanted that done before the pectoals made things a bit more unwieldy. I used glue again and held the shells in place with wires as they dried, which worked surprisingly well – it was the same wire I’d used as a needle substitute to be-silk the tail fin.
I wedged in the pectoral fins and first tried to glue them down, but in the end that neither worked nor was it really necessary, because the silk strips were enough. This time I used an actual darning needle because I needed to be a bit more precise, working inside the fish and everything. I did a super simple – that’s not even a weave, is it – and then installed some more streaming potential along the sides. The silk weaving really took the most time in this project, the best part of the around four hours of footage that I gathered.
The eyes weren’t what I wanted them to be just yet, though, and were lacking structure. After some experiments, I re-used the wicker chain links of the original fastening of the fish for the ridges by cutting them open and wiring them into rings, and attatched them with more silk and again the biggest darning needle that I own. I might have to re-do these at some point, the knots loosened a bit, but other than that the thing held up fabulously.
Anyway, in the end, I just added a rope handle and now we have a weird fish in our camp. We used it for some LED candles this year, which was strange, but in a cute way, and I think everyone just adopted this thing as a mascot.
I’m really looking forward to make more of these videos. Altering things, bending them to my aesthetic wishes, is one of my favourite pasttimes and I really like to share my trial-and-error experiences as well as the things I actually know.
You might have picked up by now that I’m a pack rat. A horder goblin. A scavenger. When we were in Berlin earlier this year my treasure hunter instincts were pleased with some of the places and sights I found but in terms of thrifting… no such luck. I must have been to seven-or-so thrift stores and while there were a few really cute pieces all I saw was fabric (I might have to rely on the locals more next time). Clothes are nice but rarely treasure, and if they are they’ll have to fit, too.
On our last full day there we were lucky, though. The Mauerpark flea market isn’t only full of lovely old things but also lined with stalls of local artists, perfect for my treasure-hungry claws.
The ashtray above was one of these treasures. I used to be very much into suit symbols – I still like them, not as much, though – and something in the shape of a club was just too perfect not to pick it up. I use it as a ring dish now, and I love the patina. Maybe someday I’ll feel the urge to polish it but for now it’s just lovely the way it is.This spinning top might count as cheating: I didn’t find it at the flea market. I have the tiny souvenir challenge for myself to try to bring home a top from each of my bigger trips. I like these toys, they don’t take up much space but are still a great source of joy and fascination for me. This one is from Levy’s Contor at the Hackesche Höfe, a lovely traditional toy shop that also deals in Judaica.This lovely skeletal bird patch is reserved for a battle vest that I’m still collecting things for. It’s from one of the artists of the Lysergic collective but they don’t seem to have this specific motif anymore, at least not online.I sadly don’t remember the name of the artist I picked up the Tausche Kunst Gegen Geld (Will Art For Money) sticker at. That one’s going on my laptop.
The tiny copper cauldron is for a LARP character in the making, and the silver spoon is for my collection. I like finding handles I don’t have yet.I really like old kitchenware. This pan will be perfect for boiling breakfast eggs at LARPs and make a decent piece of camp decoration. I plan on sanding off the inside again, just in case. But isn’t the texture beautiful
This metal frame was love at first sight and by that I mean it was in fact one of the first things I laid eyes on at the flea market. It’s very light-weight, perfect for our strange walls that are impossible to get through with a percussion drill at one point and only need a poke with a pencil three centimeters over.And last but not least I found the perfect picture to put in that frame. If you’ve ever seen my Twitter or YouTube account, met me in person or been at our camp at ConQuest you’ll know I have this thing for fish-tailed hares. I even have one tattooed on my left arm. There’s more than one story behind it that I might tell one day but for now that’s probably enough reason for why I HAD to buy this print. How often do you encounter fish-rabbits (because this isn’t a hare, but never mind) by chance, eh? The print is from Berliner Babylon, and this is surely not the last motif from them that I want for my wall.
The merrabbit now hangs over my books-and-art-supplies shelf, vigilantly watching my room.
As I mentioned there are visual treasures, too, but these are reserved for another post.
Do you have any recommendations for thrift shops or indie stores I should check out when I visit Berlin next time? I’d love to read about them in the comments! ♥
I really like filming my drawing progress and looking back on it in a time-lapse video. It makes me see what I actually do, that it’s not just throwing paint and lead on paper and then suddenly something comes out that resembles a drawing. I don’t forget how hard drawing can be, I just forget that it’s actually an aquired skill, something that I can be proud of, that I’m able to do fairly well and that helps me make a living, somehow. Sometimes we need reminders for things like this and I found my reminder to be, partially, my camera.
Jeniveve Joneit, the subject of this drawing, is a character for a Lovecraftian horror LARP, played by Mo Mo O’Brien. She (Jeniveve, not Mo Mo, who is a singer, coffee shop princess and YouTuber) is a blind psychic working for the Department Of Occult Research. Mo Mo made a Q&A starring her character and I had the sudden urge to draw her with a cup of Scarebugs to-go where they spelled her name wrong. Again
On a different note I’m sorry the Amsterdam posts are taking so long (but a week isn’t long!, the kinda normal part of my conscience exclaims but is soon cut off by my disoriented need for proving that I exist that yells, it feels like f*ing agessss!!!) but they’re coming. I just took so many pictures that I have no idea where to start. ^^