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Clockwork Firebird Designs
Ramblings and chirpings from a clockwork critter
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Clockwork Firebird


 Hello! I finally updated the LiveJournal and I'm playing about with various themes and layouts to try and make it a bit easier to navigate my reviews, event feedback and posts about new kit. Currently we're on the 'orange-y thing' layout whilst I try and find something with a calendar, tags and recent posts list that is in a less offensive set of colours. Suggestions most welcome!


Ark! Ark! Art..! By Megan Williams.

The hope for this blog is that I will update it in batches when I can, so that people can use the tags to navigate through and find reviews/specific events that they would like to read about, rather than manually scrolling all the way through. We'll see how well this works and if by the new year it's still a mess I'll be moving to a different blog site.

Commissions are currently OPEN for the Winter 2013 period, and I have a few slots available. I am able to take on small-medium size items all the time over the Winter period, please email me for more details.

As always, and emails/questions can be directed to EPHYN [DOT] DESIGNS [AT] GMAIL [DOT] COM
Clockwork Firebird


Following on from the Clockwork Watch events last year, the Make Believe Market completed a three-day Steampunk celebration in the heart of London, with Clockwork Underworld on the Friday, the Goblin King's Masked Ball on the Saturday, and the market on Sunday.

Trading alongside wonders such as Empire Edibles (whose confectionery I can recommend in glowing terms) whilst quite literally alongside Gorilla Perfumes (who promote fair-trade scents and other products) Clockwork Firebird Designs was stationed in a side-room of the main venue in the old metalworks building in Islington. This caused some consternation as to whether people would realise there were stalls in this area, because it was an offshoot from the main route into the rest of the stalls and the bar area. Luckily, the organisers had thought of this and decided that all the live music (ranging from bluegrass to medieval folk music) should be performed in the side-room on its small stage.

The organisational team for the Make Believe Market were on the ball, knowledgeable and so friendly that it made the pre-event nerves and early transport-hopping in to London more than worth it. Everything that was needed was provided, and the team took any suggestions or problems entirely in their stride. The event overall was pleasantly busy with a lot of people stopping to chat as well as browse. The live music made the day colourful and a joy to attend.


Ark! Ark! Art..! By Megan Williams.


In short: There are more Make Believe Markets pencilled in for later in the year, and I will definitely be attending as many as I can!


What's next? Where am I going? Here's a list:
-Profound Decisions 'Odyssey' - June - I'm not trading at this one but I am Player/Crewing as required! I cannot recommend games run by Profound Decisions enough, as they're always extremely professional and their settings are excellent.
-London MCM Expo - October - Fingers crossed, guys! I'm trying to book for this one if they have any trader space left. It'll by far be the biggest event I've ever done!
-Make Believe Market - ??? - Whenever these run again, I plan to attend as a trader.

As always, and emails/questions can be directed to EPHYN [DOT] DESIGNS [AT] GMAIL [DOT] COM
Clockwork Firebird


Earlier this year Profound Decisions launched their new fest-LARP game, Empire. Briefs, world setting and rules have been being released in stages since the ending of their previous fest-LARP, "Maelstrom". Having been an avid "Maelstrom" player I was looking forward to Empire, but not without caution. I opted not to play, and wasn't going to attend at all until I was made aware that Profound Decisions was after Costume/Monster crew. Given I knew quite a lot of the current crew, I though this would be the perfect way to pitch in and be part of the action whilst putting my efforts to good use in the game world.

The weather was typically unforgiving, ranging between 'I can see my breath' and 'My extremities feel like they have turned blue and dropped off'. I have no end of admiration for the Red-Cap Crew team who were out in all weathers before, during and after the event putting up tents, sorting out plumbing, and fixing tech bugs. Players and non-Red-Cap Crew were on site from Thursday daytime until Monday afternoon as this event ran over a Bank Holiday weekend.


Ark! Ark! Art..! By Megan Williams.

This was the first fest-LARP that I had crewed, though I have been crew for many smaller systems in the past. I have to say that I had an absolutely fantastic time despite the awful weather, and I will definitely be crewing again in future! As crew, your event 'ticket' is free and there are meal-tickets provided when available (I understand this is a long-running agreement between Profound Decisions and some of their regular catering team), as well as a bonus t-shirt to mark you out as crew to any other player on site.

As part of Costume/Monster crew I was involved in the sub-team of crew that manhandle the weapons, costumes and make-up around, including kitting up the 300+ Player-Monsters (that is, paying players who have opted to 'monster' for a bit) for the pitched battle scenes in the woods on both Saturday and Sunday. Costume/Monster crew were also sent out to be NPC roles every so often to rouse up the players, provide plot, or be generally horrible-- I mean, 'Lovely' as various flavours of Things That Go Bump In The Night.

At no point did I feel like a spare wheel, and at no point did I feel as if too much was being asked of me. Every effort put out there by the crew was thanked for by other crew members and players alike, and the general 'backstage' feeling was good. Yes, we were all tired and cold, and at one point I fell asleep on some kit in from of the turbo-heater in the Monster tent, but it was still fun! Personally I didn't encounter anyone being rude or brash to crew, and players were very attentive of crew instruction and ref direction.

In short: Very highly recommended, and I'm definitely attending as many of these events (as player or crew) as I can!


What's next? Where am I going? Here's a list:
-Profound Decisions 'Odyssey' - I'm not trading at this one but I am Player/Crewing as required! I cannot recommend games run by Profound Decisions enough, as they're always extremely professional and their settings are excellent.
-London MCM Expo - October - Fingers crossed, guys! I'm trying to book for this one if they have any trader space left. It'll by far be the biggest event I've ever done!

As always, and emails/questions can be directed to EPHYN [DOT] DESIGNS [AT] GMAIL [DOT] COM
7th-Jun-2013 03:21 pm - Event Rundown: SunnyCon!
Clockwork Firebird


In late March of this year I went on something of an epic journey through snow, ice and biting winds in order to get to SunnyCon up on the coast in Sunderland, UK. Right up until the wire I had no idea if I was even going to make it to site, what with the horrific snow  at the Workshop end of things meaning that it was touch and go for all forms of transport, and in the end I even booked a flight to get out there and had to watch as we took off in 3" of slush! Eventually things came together and I was able to partially set up inside the Dealer Area before bailing out to find some much needed refuelling.

Once again I was trading alongside Khaos Kostumes, with Tab's Steampunk badges, goggles and jewellery as well as his own books from the Khaos Komix webcomic.

SunnyCon saw the debut of a few new things on the stall, including Furry/Cosplay tails and My Little Ponies! I'm pleased that they were so popular, and I've made them a regular item on the stall for all future convention events.


Ark! Ark! Art..! By Megan Williams.

In terms of the event itself, I found SunnyCon to be well run and well managed. There were definitely some tech-based issues with the sound system, and the weather didn't help the front-of-house team as the lobby stayed marginally above freezing for the entire weekend. Volunteers and staff were very friendly, and it was lovely to see familiar faces from NemaCon turning up to say hello.

Weather pending, I will be attending more of the SunnyCon events in future, though I'm not likely to make the smaller Chibi-Sunny event this October.


What's next? Where am I going? Here's a list:
-Profound Decisions 'Odyssey' - I'm not trading at this one but I am Player/Crewing as required! I cannot recommend games run by Profound Decisions enough, as they're always extremely professional and their settings are excellent.
-London MCM Expo - October - Fingers crossed, guys! I'm trying to book for this one if they have any trader space left. It'll by far be the biggest event I've ever done!

As always, and emails/questions can be directed to EPHYN [DOT] DESIGNS [AT] GMAIL [DOT] COM
Clockwork Firebird


There was an event! It was my first one of the year! I have just returned from Picocon 30 - Resurrections, down in Imperial College, London.

Thank you to everyone who came by and said hello, it was lovely meeting some old friends and meeting new people as well. I am sorry that Sunday was a bit on the dark side, as we only found out where the lights were at about lunch time. Still, I am glad I brought my LED fairy lights for the stall.

Picocon this year was a two day event as opposed to a one day event, featuring guest panels, the writer's workshop, library access with DVDs on show, LAN gaming, and the traditional 'Harmless Fun' and 'Destruction of Dodgy Merchandise' (this year sadly lacking the liquid nitrogen, but making up for it with an even larger hammer). There were also NERF fights going on, which was mostly my fault, oh well!

As always, the staff and crew were polite and helpful, and did whatever they could to make life easier for the traders. Any issues - like the lights - were venue based, where the venue appeared to have forgotten that we were going to be there for two days. I am very much looking forward to next year and making a regular attendance at Picocon.

I am back in the Workshop as of Thursday, and will be in full production again by Friday, ploughing on with the current commissions and stock-making for the next even, which will be Sunnycon. I'm meant to be taking part in their costume competition, and I sense a lot of sleepless nights ahead as I make things. This is going to be fun...


Ark! Ark! Art..! By Megan Williams.
What's next? Where am I going? Here's a giant list:
-Sunnycon - 23rd - 24th of March - Sunderland
This will be my first Sunnycon attendance, as they are only in their second year themselves. Sporting a HUGE dealer's hall, I will be trading next to the wonderful Tab of Khaos Komix.
-Insurrection LARP Event 9 - 19th - 20th of April - Markfield
I have booked to crew this event again, their team is professional, fun, and really knows how to run a game.
-Clockwork Watch - 4th of May - London (?)
The second Clockwork Watch event, I shall be attending as a trader if I can sort out my travel logistics. This event will also feature Professor Elemental performing an evening show.
-ConFuzzled 2013 - 30th of May - 3rd of June - Leicestershir
This is going to be the longest convention I will ever have done. I will be in the Dealer's Den across all the days that it is open, as well as being social with people outside of the Dealer's Den hours. People appearing with sugar and caffeine would be most appreciated!

As always, and emails/questions can be directed to EPHYN [DOT] DESIGNS [AT] GMAIL [DOT] COM
Clockwork Firebird

Hello again! It's time for another update, one that has been rather delayed I feel. But, I hope you can forgive the Clockwork Critter a bit of silence, it's been very busy here!
Firstly, and possibly the most important:
We have a new website
Built by Harry Bentley, in a new-and-shiny WordPress format, it promises to be easier to update and keep on top of adding new items, and it also looks stunning. The old HTML/Frames site still exists and will be changed to a re-direct page once I have a complete grasp of the new site.
As with the old site, you can't order items and there is no shopping cart function. What the website is for is to show all the things that I can make for you, with their relevant price options. I'm still a one-bird operation, so all my items made for stock go straight onto the Etsy shop at the moment.

Second most important announcement: Despite what the banner on the website may say, I am currently FULL/CLOSED for Commission orders until the end of April!
This is because most of my current work has a deadline of Profound Decisions' "Empire" Event 1, as well as other events which I shall detail below. I cannot take on any more commission work and make my trade stock for those events. I can still take emails and discuss orders with you if you wish to contact me now, but no work can start until the end of April at the earliest.

Ark! Ark! Art..! By Megan Williams.

What else? Oh yes! Where can you find the Firebird this year? After a rather bleak Christmas season thanks to the weather and bits of me complaining so much that I wish I could replace them with clockwork, I am happy to announce that I have confirmed to book/am in the process of booking the following events:
-Picocon - 16th - 17th of February - NEXT WEEKEND! - Imperial College, London
These guys were fantastic fun last year and I'm very happy to be going back! And hey, their T-Shirt this year even has a Firebird on it.
-Sunnycon - 23rd - 24th of March - Sunderland
This will be my first Sunnycon attendance, as they are only in their second year themselves. Sporting a HUGE dealer's hall, I will be trading next to the wonderful Tab of Khaos Komix.
-Insurrection LARP Event 9 - 19th - 20th of April - Markfield
I have booked to crew this event again, their team is professional, fun, and really knows how to run a game. 
-Clockwork Watch - 4th of May - London (?)
The second Clockwork Watch event, I shall be attending as a trader if I can sort out my travel logistics. This event will also feature Professor Elemental performing an evening show.
-ConFuzzled 2013 - 30th of May - 3rd of June - Leicestershir
This is going to be the longest convention I will ever have done. I will be in the Dealer's Den across all the days that it is open, as well as being social with people outside of the Dealer's Den hours. People appearing with sugar and caffeine would be most appreciated!
Incidentally I am also looking for room share options within the venue, or for room sharers in hotels nearby.

...And that's it for now! Any questions, etc, can be directed to my email at ephyn DOT designs AT gmail DOT com. I will be returning to the kit/costume/WIP progress updates as usual.
27th-Dec-2012 06:52 pm - What makes an 'experienced' LARPer?
Clockwork Firebird
It's a term that is occasionally flung about, but what is an 'experienced' LARP-er? I'd like to think that it's not related to the way you actually RP, or that you've learnt how to  best 'play' systems for benefits and gains; I'd like to think it's more like this:

Experienced LARPer skill set:
-Remembering to BOOK IN ADVANCE for all event, travel and other logistics.
-Remembering to check your tent has all the poles and doesn't have a leaky ground sheet.
-Remembering to pack enough bedding for yourself and a spare blanket in case of Very Cold Fresher Next Door problems.
-Packing socks.
--No, more goddamn socks than that.
-Bringing your own food stash for when you inevitably time out after the catering has shut and/or miss a meal due to being up a tree/dead/in a fight.
-Bringing bug spray and sun cream when it's hot, and thermal layers when it's cold.
-Bringing your own paracetamol/painkillers and whatever meds you need.
-Realising that if you have a hangover, it's probably your own damn fault.
-Realising that 'timing in on time' is not the be-all and end-all of a day's event.
-Realising that if you are not having fun, it is PERFECTLY OKAY to change your character/etc so that you are having fun.
-If female-bodied, or otherwise aware of femenine problems, bringing enough pads.
--AND NOT FLUSHING THEM DOWN THE LOOS.
-If likely to be using/wearing contacts, to bring spares and know to wash your dratted hands before putting them in.
-Always offering the person who drove you to site/picked you up/moved your kit for you, appropriate pints or equivalent beverage-fooderage of their choice.
-Not spending the entire contents of your bank account on kit.
--Even if it's really, really shiny kit.
---Okay, fuckit, we never actually learn this one... 

ETA:
And yet more...:
-Knowing that 'Can I pee in my kit?' and 'Can I get my kit off easily when I need to pee?' are ENTIRELY DIFFERENT QUESTIONS.
-Knowing that your tent is not a soundproof object, and if you snore or stay near someone who snores, you will be able to hear them!
--Along with anything else that one chooses to do in a tent. Ahem.
-Knowing that wiping the make-up splatter you've made off the sinks is not only polite. but saves a whole lot of cleaning later.
-Knowing that 'Decidation to makeup' does not outweigh 'I need my eyebrows or I'll look weird at work on Monday'.
-Knowing to bag up and bin your rubbish so that the crew don't have to, even if it's leaving some tied-up carrier bags for pick up later.
-Being polite to the Refs/game runners at all times even if you're not happy with a decision they've made.
-Always thank the crew! 
Clockwork2

Hello! Hello! Just a quick update before I shoot off again to do even more bizarre things at opposite ends of the country (okay, I lie, it's LARP and I'm going between Cambridge and Oxford but they'd like to think they're opposite ends of the country). I have started to put together some Halloween bits and pieces again, only marginally earlier than last year... oops. To start with, I've been playing with leather mask-making, with the hope of catering to Masquerade type events as well as seasonal things. The first two are shown below and are in the Etsy shop already:

~The Horned Scowl~ and ~The Fireborn Cat~ respectively.
Their names will take you to their listings.

There are four more blanks on my desk that I will be doing up tonight, and will hopefully have them into the shop before I leave. I will be away until the evening of the 8th of October, but I will have internet access at that time. As such, feel free to email me and brows the shop, and if you desperately need something posting in short order then let me know and I'll see what I can do. 

Currently I am still taking on Winter commissions (Winter is coming... Look busy?) and I am still able to take on larger commissions. I will hold this as the current state of affairs until all my time is filled and/or the situation changes so I have less time available. 
The new website is still being finished, and will be far easier to update and manage than the current HTML mess, which I coded and is therefore A Bit Crap around the edges. The new one is made from shiny, shiny wordpress guts and the wizardry of Harry Bentley, whose work and details I will be promoting when I announce the new site launch. The art, as always, is by the talented Megan Williams, who has also drawn pieces for the new Profound Decisions "Empire" system, and you can buy these on her Etsy here.


Links:
The Etsy Shop
The Main Website
The Facebook Page
The Flickr Gallery
28th-Aug-2012 09:07 pm - Convention Report: Congenial 2012!
For science

Congenial was the name for Unicon 24 / British Roleplaying Society conventions and was held on the 10th - 12th August 2012. This was my first non-anime, not-really-LARP convention and I was kind of flying blind. I'm pleased to say that it was a tremendous amount of fun!

Ark! Ark!

The special guests and speakers for this year's convention included Phil and Kaja Foglio, writers and artists of Girl Genius, amongst other wonderful gaslamp and SF&F works. The event also featured the Write Fantastic team, as well as several other already-shining or up-and-coming SF&F authors, not to mention the attendees who ran and GM'd their own games all weekend. I am told the real ale in the bar was responsible for a lot of gaming enthusiasm and a lot of groggy mornings in equal doses.

Congenial was based in Cambridge, in Murray Edwards (formerly New Hall) college, which despite rumours of being built from the plans for a Middle-Eastern shopping mall (all false, by the way) was really quite stunning. The metal beetle sculptures lurking in the stairwell were something of a surprise. The dealers room was blessedly cool thanks to being the only one in the building with air conditioning. Oddly for a convention Congenial had the dealer's room open from Friday as well as the usual Saturday/Sunday opening hours. Saturday was busy, with the other days being quite but ultimately very pleasant. It was nice to have time to swap stories, book recommendations and random facts about cats with people without having too much to worry about!

Congenial is definitely a different atmosphere to the hectic, crazy, colourful anime crowd, but it was still tremendous fun. Next year I think I am going to have to make time to join in with some of the games that were running (GOBLINS!), or invest in some Icehouse pyramid* pieces and threaten to play Martian Chess** with people if they hang around the stall too long!

*You can probably bribe me for orders with these...
**I'm crap at Martian Chess. You will win. It will still be awesome.

Links:
The Etsy Shop
The Main Website
The Facebook Page
The Flickr Gallery
25th-Aug-2012 01:25 am - Convention Report: Nemacon 2012!
For science

It's time for another Convention Report! This time from Nemacon 2012! Nemacon was held on the 23rd-24th of June in Middlesborough Town Hall (the same venue as last year), and featured a range of guests and activities. Nemacon is distinclty more Lolita-Fashion focused than anything else I have been to, and this was the same last year. Interestingly, Nemacon 2011 was my first ever official trade event, even though Clockwork Firebird was still my 'hobby'. How time flies!

Ark! Ark!

Nemacon had a two-day programme with the Dealer's room open on both days. After some serious kerfuffle with not having enough tables - caused by the venue losing them, not by Nemacon staff miscalculatinge - Clockwork Firebird was safely setup next to Candy & Cyanide Jewellery and Khaos Komix. This year was significantly busier that last year, and I am happy that there was an afternoon lull so I could actually eat my lunch! The 'Ninja' crew members were very helpful and kept traders well supplied with tea, coffee and such like.

I also did two panels this year! The first was on Special Effects Makeup, which ended up being more about what is generally available and where to buy it from. The room wasn't great, as it was the thoroughfare from the 'Lolita Green Room'
. One again the three-legged-wonder-projector was on hand, provided by the venue (even though they promised to replace it), and the lighting in the room made the projector screen difficult to read. Regardless, I think that panel was well received.
Panel 2 was on Leatherworking in Cosplay, similar to last year but with some added improvements and extras based on things that I have learnt. The venue for this one was the Middlesborough Library, which was outside the Town Hall and a bit of a walk away. The tech worked, the setup was lovely and the library staff were very polite. Attendance was small (due to the masquerade being on, I think) but enthusiastic. 

This event was my second forray into painted NERF guns (the first being Clockwork Watch, review to follow), and I brought a few of the smaller Jolt guns and Maverick guns along with the larger, more detailed pieces. I am happy that they were so popular! I find the NERF guns are great fun to paint up and customise, especially when I get to play about theming them to characters. This set was almost entirely Avengers themed. I am a shameless, shameless fan. Yes, there were Thor and Loki guns.
 

Aside from the NERFS, I brought the usual fair of trinkets and armour, with the Runic Wristbands once again being quite popular! I had quite a lot of older pieces with me which found new homes, and a few new styles of hairslide. I now stock My Little Pony 'Blind Bag' toys when I can get them, which also proved to be quite popular. They are adorably sparkly, it has to be said.


So, overall, Nemacon went very well for me. It's still a 'young' convention and there are a few bugs in the system - which are mostly due to the venue, not the Nemacon folks - but I'd gladly go again, and I'm already looking forward to next year!

Links:
The Etsy Shop
The Main Website
The Facebook Page
The Flickr Gallery
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