Weekly Update... 2?

So I picked a bad month to start trying to do regular updates on here.
The rest of September since my last post was a chaotic gallop towards the finish line of tabling at my first ever convention - at times feeling like I was building a train as it was already speeding down the tracks toward the station - but we made it!

A photo showing a table covered in stock at a convention. A banner across the bottom of the table reads 'Morningstar Makes RPG' in front of some product photos. In the center of the table are three tiered rows of D20 candles in various colours, including a few pride flags. To the left is a try filled with stickers and a bowl of pins, as well as art print examples pinned to a mesh wall. To the right is a set of shelves containing packs of spell cards in a few different designs. The stall is decorated with sparkly black fabric and hanging ivy.
Our table at the con!

[obligatory etsy link]

I had three main things that I wanted to get ready as products for the con (plus a few extra bits and pieces that I'll chat about too): the stickers, the candles, and the card packs.

Firstly, the stickers! Last time I updated here I was still in the process of cleaning and colouring the last few designs, which feels like eons ago now. My favourite of the new set is definitely the Component Pouch - I put a lot of care into getting fun and specific detail into it, and I'm so pleased with how it turned out. I'm really pleased with the whole set actually, but there is a favourite child.

Greataxe sticker
Staff sticker
Component Pouch sticker
Quarterstaff sticker
Morningstar sticker
Rapier sticker
Shortbow sticker
Hand Axe sticker
Wand sticker
Click for a closer look!

(Apologies for the obnoxious watermarks - I know several folks who've had DND sticker designs in particular stolen and I don't trust these not to get scraped 🙃)

I use StickerApp to print these guys, and as always the quality is excellent. Curiously, the colour saturation is noticably higher on the freshly printed ones compared to my old stock, but it doesn't look bad at all. (Also its not colour fading from light exposure because the sticker on my water bottle looks no different to the ones that have been living in a dark box for the last year!)
I still need to get proper individual photos of the new set in order to list them on the etsy, but that should happen some time in the next week or so.

A close up of a sheet of printed stickers, each depicting a weapon and some colourful polyhedral dice.
Sticker sheets fresh from the printer.

Next, lets chat candles! I spent a solid couple of weeks in September just getting my head down and cracking on with chandlery: ending up with a total of 59 D20 candles to take with me to the con.
Each of my candles are hand-poured with coloured paraffin wax, and then the numbers are filled in, also by hand, with wax via a glass pipette and a lot of patience. The process definitely got more streamlined as the days went by, although I still have plenty of waiting time while I wait for various things to melt or set.

A pink, yellow and green coloured D20 candle, inspired by the Druidcraft cantrip. Two lesbian flag D20 candles, one of which has had its numbers partially filled in with white wax. A large cardboard box filled with layers of candles and bubblewrap.
A few photos I snapped throughout the making process.

Because this was my first ever in-person event, I wasn't sure how many candles I would need to stock. It turns out 59 was very much over-enthusiastic, but that means that there will be far less crunch in prep for the next event (yes I want to do more oh my god). Not all the designs are pride flag based, but a lot of the ones near the end were, hence the prominence in the photos.

If you're curious about more of the making process, I have a few wonky reels up on my instagram page.

The main thing I learned while working on the candles is that I do need to mix my tasks up from day-to-day where I can. Candlemaking is very much a "requires half your attention, no more and no less" kind of task most of the time, with a lot of broken up intervals of waiting as well. I got through SO much youtube and podcast content over those two weeks and I slightly wanted to scream by the end of it.
Side note, Tango Tek released his game-within-a-game of Decked Out 2 at the perfect time for my personal schedule - I must have consumed an obscene amount of footage of various Hermitcraft members running the dungeon over the last 3 weeks, but its been a great source of background noise while I work. Also holy shit what an impressive project and incredible achievement he's made with it.

A photo of the card packs on the stall. They are displayed on a set of wooden shelves, beneath a sign that reads "Card packs for DND 5E and Lancer". Another sign above informs the viewer that higher level packs are available on Etsy, while below the shelves lay example cards from each pack.

Third, but not quite finally, the spell card packs. Working out how to bring what had previously only been available as a digital download to the con was a bit of a nightmare task in a few ways. I am glad that I did it, but MAN I'm changing the way we do these once I'm through my current batch of stock.

We printed the cards nine to an A4 page at a local print shop (the same layout as the downloadable files on Etsy), and the quality of the print is really nice. Unfortunately, the printing itself was delayed first by me catching COVID (I'm fine, but it was bad timing), and then by the print shop being overly busy. The day that I was due to collect the prints - a week after first placing the order, which in itself was longer than their usual turnaround - I got to the store to find they hadn't even started them. Not the most reassurring thing when we were four days out from the event and I still needed to cut all 607 pages of the damn order. Anyway I finally collected it all on the Thursday before the event, and my dear husband ended up doing a lot of the cutting while I was busy trying to juggle like 20 other things.

Needless to say, we did not get even half of the ordered packs cut. This worked out okay in the end as, like the candles, we overestimated the stock numbers we would need (first con, no idea what to expect, etc.). The 607 pages included a ton of art prints, as well as 15 packs of each of the six designs, which were either five or six pages each, depending on the game they were for. Anyway, it turns out cutting packs of 54 cards by hand takes a long time and a lot of effort! I wouldn't recommed it actually!

There were a few other issues with the cards too - unfortunately, the front and back designs weren't quite lined up in how they'd printed, so a few cards in each pack have a single white border on their backing design. I figured that just cutting to the alignment of the front was best, as the back is just for decoration and would rarely be seen during gameplay, but it was still frustrating to have to make that call. Additionally, all of the packs are packaged in cellophane by hand - a process that was actually easier than I expected, but still added to the time and complexity of each individual pack.
I also actually managed to fully kill my mini guillotine from all of the thick card I was asking it to cut. The poor thing is probably nearly as old as me, and its a cheap craft one, so it has lived a very long life for what it is at least. I ended cutting the last few packs with a metal ruler and a scalpel though, which was, yet again, slower. And much more painful on my hypermobile fingers.

We still have a BUNCH more uncut packs of each design sitting in a box right now, and I don't want the cost of the printing and card to go to waste, so we'll keep using those up for the next while. But I am NOT doing this process again! I've actually already sent a few quote requests in to playing card printers about getting the packs done through them, which would include printing, cutting and packaging all to a much higher standard, and based on what I've seen it looks like a much more economical path to take in the future. Of course I don't want to outsource everything, but it is definitely worth it for the cards. Yeesh.

A photo of the badges on the stall. They are kept in a heart-shaped wooden bowl, with a handful laid out on the table in front. The badges each feature a D20 coloured with a pride flag, and a combination of "lawful / neutral / chaotic" and various LGBTQ+ identities, such as "Chaotic Pan" or "Lawful Ace".

The last product I want to mention briefly is the badges! These were a fairly spur-of-the-moment addition about halfway through September, as I knew I could knock them up pretty quickly with an hour or two in Illustrator and a quiet evening to put them all through the badge-it. Yes I use a kids' badge-it machine for my professional business stuff. Yes I nearly spelled that "profreshional" because Splatoon 3 takes up too much of my brain.

I'm really glad that I decided to take the plunge with these though - not just because I find the methodical routine of the badge machine very grounding and chill, but also because they were a great hit at the con. We started out with twice as many Chaotic _____ badges as the other two variations, which was pretty much the perfect ratio - as we finished the con with exactly 11 left of each of the three variations.

Chaotic Trans was by far the most popular full combination, and we sold out of those quite early on. I'd love to do a full breakdown of the stats for each type sold some time, as I think that would be a fun (if not at all scientifically-viable) chance to play with data analysis.

Overall, this event was a really great experience and I'm kind of itching to get out and do it again (especially now that I will have to make FAR less stock in the run-up). I've already sent an email to a local collective about their christmas market, and I'm definitely going to book into the next edition of this convention in March. Honestly, this is the most engaged and connected I've felt with something in years - I moved to this city during May of 2020 in the middle of lock down, leaving and losing all of the community and friends I'd made at uni in the process. I really struggle to put myself out there, but this feels like such a positive step and I really want to keep doing it - if I can turn Morningstar Makes into a viable full-time income stream, that would be kind of a dream come true right now especially since the animation industry is kind of chewing its own leg off. I feel actually, genuinely confident in both my work and myself right now, and fuck me I don't want to let go of that any time soon.


Right! Following that sappy stuff, here's a quickfire round of the few things I managed to squeeze into September that weren't con prep!

A photo of a jar shaped like a castle, with a large dragon perched on the lid. It is painted in faded colours pre-firing. Peeking out behind the dragon is a similarly-painted bowl, covered in stars.

My husband and I went on a pottery painting date and I painted a cool-ass dragon jar! I usually go for more generic things that I can then turn into an excuse to draw my OCs go ham with detailed illustrations, but I really just wanted a "minimal brain required but still will look cool" project for this one. I was a little experimental with layering colours, so I hope it turns out well.
My husband painted a cute little trinket bowl with stars and Ghibli soot sprites, although I don't have a decent picture of it to share.

I finished my piece for the Tiefling Secret Satan 2023 event! God this feels like it was eons ago but the submission date was the 14th September.

My victim was the lovely Parziivale, and I drew faer character Tarquin, destressing with his favourite drink after a long day. My satan was Moie, who drew me a gorgeous piece of my warlock/wizard Tye! I looove the way that the chromatic aberation adds to the magical vibe of the flames <3

A digital illustration of purple-skinned tiefling man leaning back on an office chair, holidng a Starbucks takeaway cup in one hand. His eyes are closed in a moment of quiet contemplation. Through the windows behind him we see the sunset over a city landscape. Digital painting of a tiefling woman in black and gold robes. She is smiling at the viewer, holding her hand out with a magical flame bursting from it.
"My submission [left], and my recieved art [right]!"

I'm pretty dang please with how my piece turned out, and I'm glad I tried hard to stick within a tertiary colour palette for the whole thing, as I think it really ties it all together.

On the subject of stunning artwork I've recieved recently, my friend Leon finished a commission for me of my paladin Parlay, and I am obsessed:

A digital painting of an eladrin elf leaping off a clifftop, glaive held above his head, ready to strike. He is wearing an organic looking cloak, leaf-like chainmail, and a long green scarf.
Holy SHIT this looks so good.

I also started re-watching She-Ra (2018) and I am once again reminded of how fucking good this show is and how well it handles its character arcs. If you haven't watched it yet, I HIGHLY reccomend it!

And finally (I promise lmao), I restarted driving lessons for the first time since 2020 this week. I'd been kind of bricking it because the city I live in is kind of notorious for being a nightmare to learn in, but the instructor I'm with is actually like. Excellent. He's really chill, which helps a lot as a very nervous driver, and he doesn't mind re-explaining things or meeting me where I'm at with things I'm unsure of - its a much nicer experience than my previous two instructors, and it makes me feel a lot more confident on the road! I'm booked in again for next week :)

Okay I'm done- if you read through all of this, hi! Thank you for listening to me ramble about my month 🌟

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