Saturday, August 23, 2014

New workspace!

After 7 years of working on two tv trays to create custom ponies, finally, FINALLY...

I'm so happy.  *sniff*

I still have the cabinet to keep supplies in, but I now also have a giant table on which to work (with a plastic table protector to keep the paint off).  I also have space for my little display case that I can keep WIPs in, rather than having to pack everything up at the end of a session.  Also, the table is significantly higher than two tv trays, so I can paint and sculpt tiny details to my heart's content without completely destroying my back bending over.

In addition, Roomy has a new computer desk and filing system for writing/editing on.  We both have white boards up in our spaces for brainstorming and bookshelves for storing reference materials.  We also have a brand-spanking new printer/scanner/copier (so beautiful!).

Soon we'll have posters and art up too, to inspire us.

I spent 7 hours working on customs today in this space, and I'm ready to go back.


Friday, August 15, 2014

This will STILL be the year I catalogue my collection!

Did you think I had given up on cataloging my collection again?  No, the process was just slowed down by Fair preparation.  I'm still determined to eventually get everything photographed, listed, and organized.
To that end, I've spent some time today photographing some of my merchandise, and a few of the ponies who were ready for their photo shoot.  I've also cleaned the ponies I bought at this year's Fair (which is more than can be said for the poor ponies I bought at last year's Fair), so they'll be ready for their close up once their hair dries.
I very much doubt that I'll be done this project before 2014 leaves us, but I'm still further along than I've been with the project in the past.  Realistically, I won't have time to work on this project each weekend, but when I do, I'll be cleaning a few ponies at a time.  While I wait for these to dry, I'll be able to photograph the previously-cleaned ponies.
The more difficult aspect is the actual catalogue.  I don't currently have a functional laptop, and carrying ponies up and down from the top of the house to the desktop computer in the basement is not practical.  Ideally, I'd have a laptop with me in the Geek Cave, where I could access my excel file, update the pony's condition, and check if I own any of the accessories that go with her before I take my photograph.  In the meantime, I may just have to go back to pen and paper to record everything.
Ah, a collector's work is never done.  ;)


Friday, August 8, 2014

Should I have a budget?

It's a variation on a question that often comes up at conventions when Roomy and I talk on general "collecting" panels.  Should I plan my spending on my collection?  How?  Why?  Is it necessary to have a budget when you're a collector?
I do feel it's important that, as collectors, we discuss the important aspects of collecting.  Budgeting isn't the most entertaining topic, but it's an important one, perhaps the most important one for collectors and non-collectors alike.

I'm not going to tell you how to budget because it's none of my business how you organize yourself, and different methods work for different people.  As long as your method works there's no right answer.  But I do think it's important that we all have a budget of some kind to help keep us on the straight and narrow collecting path.  Below I've identified five reasons for developing and sticking to a budget that I find particularly important.
1. First things first: the necessities of life must always come before your collection.  You, and the entities who depend on you, must be housed, fed, clothed (if not furry, feathery, or scaly) and medically cared for.  You must have transportation of some kind, the lights must stay on, the phone connected, the heat available, the debts paid.  Only after all the necessities have been paid can you begin to think about spending money on your collection.
Most collectors don't have much trouble with this first one, but we've all known or seen or heard of someone who was drowning in debt, unable to keep their head above water.  Often, it's through no fault of their own, but it's all too easy to overspend and get ourselves into financial trouble, especially when you're as passionate about something as collectors are about their collections.
2. Remember the hidden costs: say you've decided that you'll spend $25 a month on your collection.  You find the Pony of your Dreams for sale on ebay for exactly $25, and you jump at the chance to buy her.  Oops, you've already overspent!  You forgot to count the shipping costs, the difference in exchange rate (if you're buying from another country), perhaps bank fees as well.  Suddenly your $25 pony now costs you $40 and you've already spent half your collection money for next month.
3. Plan ahead, don't shop ahead: if you're budgeting it can be easy(er) to save up a certain amount for an upcoming convention or specific purchase.  When I decided to buy my Brazilian Heart Throb as a reward for a new job, I didn't go out looking for one the next day.  I checked what the current going rate for her was so I knew how much I needed to save up.  I had some money I'd received as a gift, so I put that toward my goal.  I also budgeted a certain amount of each paycheque toward her.  It was only when I knew I had enough money set aside that I began shopping.  It took another two months for me to find one for sale, but I knew that if I looked before I had the money I might buy her and have to live with the debt.  I might ultimately have overspent, as once the pony is paid for it's easy to justify letting that debt be carried along for awhile and spending on other things.
4. Curate your collection: by this I mean simply choose what you're going to collect.  I have/had many collections in my life, but when I decided that I would collect MLP I made the decision that this would be the only thing I would actively pursue.  That way much of my discretionary cash could go toward building my MLP collection.  I could also use most of my display space for MLP.  But that doesn't mean that I buy anything and everything MLP.  I choose which ponies I want.  I don't collect doubles.  More recently, I've chosen to limit my merchandise buying to mainly vintage items.  I still occasionally add to my Breyer Stablemates/LPS/Unicorn collections, but rarely and only when I haven't spent money on my MLP collection recently.  Within the last two years I've also begun collecting Doctor Who dvds and merchandise, and of course that means that MLP doesn't get quite as much money as it used to.  It's all about balance.
5. Have fun!  If collecting has become a chore, if instead of the thrill of the buy you get only buyer's remorse, if your credit card debt can be tabulated in ebay purchases but not covered by your next paycheque, then it's time to re-evaluate.  Collecting should be fun, it shouldn't cause you financial strife.  If your collection stops bringing you joy, if you've overspent or are considering doing so, then it's time to take a break.  You needn't stop altogether, but you also don't need to buy something every day/week/month.  Take the time to enjoy what you have, rearrange your figures, change your display, talk to other collectors, and plan where you want to take your collection from here.

This is just the beginning of the discussion.  If you have any suggestions or comments you'd like to share, I'd be happy to hear them.  I plan to talk more about budgeting in a later post.


Friday, August 1, 2014

Workspace woes

I looooooooove our new house (not so new to us after a year and a half) but there's one area that hasn't yet been addressed...the workspace.

Roomy and I have planned to share a workspace in the finished basement.  We have so many plans involving desks and computer setups and storage.  So far, none of it has been accomplished. Since we can both make do without the workspace we've prioritized other things, like couches, Geek Cave improvements, you know, the important things.  Soon, however, we will look at getting our furniture for the workspace.

In the meantime, I thought I'd show you where I've been creating customs for the last several years (well before we moved).
Yep, that's it.  A couch, two folding tables, and a tv that's usually playing some variation of Star Trek (I need something to watch while I work, but not something that's so engrossing that I forget to work.  No Doctor Who or anything new).
I have a cupboard where I keep my supplies, which keeps them safe from the cats.  It should also keep them organized, but that ain't happening.

I am looking forward to having the proper space set up, where I can leave a few things out, or at least close at hand, rather than packing everything up each day to get it out of the way.  Soon...soon.


Saturday, July 26, 2014

Dazzleglow Rehair

Remember a few months ago when I last talked about alternate rehairs?  I've finally found the time to finish the last one for my own collection.
Dazzleglow was looking a bit rough when I found her in the Value Village, but I was happy to get the blue heart variant of her.  I'm not really a fan of her original haircolours, so I didn't mind needing to rehair her.  My initial plan for her rehair was to use the blue hearts and yellow symbols as inspiration, but when I pulled out the matching hair, I didn't like the look at all.  Her body colour is a bit of an odd one, and it took a fair amount of staring at my hair colours to pick two that I thought worked with her.
She ended up being rehaired in Unlucky Clover and Sugarplum, which I think gives her a pretty cool look.  She's been able to rejoin the herd now, and doesn't stand out as the last bald pony.


Friday, July 18, 2014

MLP Fair 2014 Recap

Well, Roomy and I are back in the land of cats and comfy couches after our annual Fair trip.  I think I can honestly say that, in spite of a few travel snafus, this might well have been the best Fair yet.

We arrived in Nashville shortly before the Hall of Fame dinner on Friday evening (an improvement on last year, when we came screeching into the parking lot half an hour before the dinner began).  The dinner was great fun, with a presentation created by the lovely and talented MustBe Jewel that you can check out here. The food was amazing again this year, and it was so lovely to see Bonnie Zacherle and Liz Knight, two creative women responsible for the creation of MLP, honoured that evening.
The next morning we were up bright and early for vendor set-up starting at 7am (thank goodness we'd jumped a timezone and it was really 8am for us!)  The vendor set-up took us longer than usual in spite of the fact we had only one table this year (or perhaps because of that).  At 10am the doors opened and the Fair was officially underway!
My booth, prior to adding ponies
This was the biggest MLP Fair by far, with activities taking place in six rooms (I never even made it into some of them).  Over 1000 people were in attendance, with 100 vendor booths as well.  Along with the usual contests, there were panels on customizing, Nirvana (Argentina) Ponies, and the Hasbro Q&A.  There were special events with the special guests, an opportunity to check out some new products not yet in stores, a pajama party, and, of course, the trivia competition.  There were also lots of games attendees could take part in, with the chance to win prizes and raffle tickets.
Trivia finals + Fair Staff
To be honest, I didn't get to half of the activities I would've liked.  This was mainly due to the fact that I wanted to spend the better part of the first day shopping.  The Fair is where I do the better part of my pony shopping for the year, and there were a few things I knew I didn't want to miss out on!  There were also some wonderful surprises, such as several Factory Sample ponies up for sale that Liz Knight had held onto.  I was lucky enough (and thrilled) to add a Factory Sample Peachy to my collection.
My Factory Sample Peachy
As usual, the contest entries were excellent.  I think the costumes get better every year.  The customs were fantastic, and I was excited to see Colorscapesart's working carousel in the Hasbro-inspired contest.  I was happy that my Aurora took second place in the Original custom contest.
Gypsy as the Smooze! - 2nd place in the most creative category
Colorscapesart's working carousel won the Hasbro Custom competion, surprising no one
As always, the Fair staff did an amazing job putting together a fantastic event.  I'm always amazed at how the staff manages to run such a large event with grace and poise every year, no matter what gets thrown in their way.  Their dedication and good humour is most appreciated by the community, and I hope the organizers know just how much we appreciate them.  The volunteers also deserve a round of applause for helping to keep things running smoothly.
We spend so much time looking forward to the Fair, and the weekend seems to fly by.  I'm already looking forward to hearing where next year's event will be held, and getting back together with my Pony Friends again.  Pony Summer Camp is the best summer camp.
My 2014 Fair haul
You can see the rest of my pictures here.  Until next year,


Saturday, July 12, 2014

Fair contest entry - Aurora

If you’re reading this, you’re probably not at the MLP Fair right now, and for that I’m sorry.  But in the meantime, you can have a look at my custom entry for the General custom contest: Aurora.
sorry for the orientation - photobucket is being uncooperative
Aurora started as a pink Celestia Fashion Style pony.  Obviously, she’s been fully repainted, and she’s sporting two different aurora borealis patterns on each side of her body.  Her hair is Dollyhair nylon in *deep breath* Black Magick, Mulberry Crush, Arctic Frost, Pussycat, Pacific Ocean, Sugarplum, Venom, Candy Kiss, Envy, Unlucky Clover, Mermaid, Brambleberry, Heartthrob, and Key Lime. *whew*
I’m so pleased with how both of my contest entries turned out this year, and I hope you enjoy them too.