Archive for May, 2011

One of my hobbies is tabletop miniature wargaming.  It’s a little bit like chess, or historical wargaming, except that it uses little pewter miniatures to represent fantasy warriors like knights, fierce beasts like giant werewolves, and giant, steam-powered, magic-controlled robots.  The miniatures come unpainted and unassembled, and putting them together and painting them has always been one of the highlights of the hobby for me.  While some may see it as an expensive hobby, it can be cheaper to pick up a new miniature than to spend a night out drinking with friends.  Budgeting helps, as well.

When I moved to Atlanta, one of the first things I looked for was a friendly local game store(FLGS) to play at.  The game I play is Warmachine, by Privateer Press, and my search online quickly led me to Giga-Bites Cafe in Marietta, just to the northwest of Atlanta.  I stopped in with my fiancee several weeks after arriving in Atlanta to take a look around and see what the store has to offer, and was very impressed.

The store is a long rectangle, leading back from the front door.  To your right as you enter is the cafe section – yes, the cafe.   Owner David Finn had a brilliant idea, and the store serves food and drinks as well as being able to sell you the latest miniature.  The cafe features a variety of coffee drinks and smoothies, as well as sandwiches and paninis, and David knows his way around the espresso machines.  On the left are racks upon racks of miniatures mounted on the wall – everything from Warhammer 40,000 to Warmachine to Firestorm Armada and Flames of War.  The center of the space has large tables meant for playing those miniature games on, and on any given night you can find a number of gamers rolling dice and moving their miniature soldiers around.

At Giga-Bites, certain days of the week are reserved for certain games – that is to say, there are many varieties of tabletop wargame, and on certain days, preference for table space is given to players of those games.  Thursday night, for example, is Warmachine and Hordes night.  That doesn’t mean that players of other games will get kicked out; the store is incredibly fun to hang out at, and everyone I have met so far has been super friendly.  On my first day there I was quickly welcomed, and had a chance to play several games over the course of the night.

The store is a friendly and welcoming place to play, and the hours of operation reflect the hobby – the store is often open until 11pm, and tournaments on the weekends can run all day.  If you need a miniature that isn’t on the shelves, the salesperson will be happy to order it for you, and orders generally arrive within a week.  The store also has a “Rolling Bones” club – members pay $15/year and receive a 10% discount on all purchases – worth it if you plan to spend a good amount on your hobby.

I’ve found through over a decade of being in this hobby – miniature tabletop games – that most gamers are friendly and welcoming people, and it’s wonderful knowing that there is a safe place to play games to your heart’s content and indulge in your hobby with likeminded people.  Giga-Bites is certainly a shining example of the FLGS, and I’m glad to call it the place where I play.

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I’m not usually one to call out other people, but I found a few awesome things tonight, so I thought I would share before bedtime.

The first is a shop filled with magic, art, and whimsy.  You should all check it out.  It’s called Art by Kristin Kemper, and can be found here:

http://www.etsy.com/shop/Kecky?ref=pr_shop_more

The second is a shop focused on spiders, spiderwebs, and other little creatures that crawl.  It’s called SpiderwoodHollow, and it’s all about the arachnids.  Take a look here:

http://www.etsy.com/shop/SpiderwoodHollow

That’s pretty much it for today.  I finished another drawstring bag, this time created from a fabric with keys printed all over it.  Also, I plan to draw more(again), since I need to catch up on my drawing and want to improve my skills.  I recently stumbled across an artist’s Tumblr post, in which he states several important things that he wishes had been taught in art school.  One of the tenets was “Draw awesome stuff and put it on the internet.”  I think I’m going to try and strive for that… and with daily sketching/drawing, I should see improvement, and so will you(if you keep reading my blog, that is).  I’m going to try to draw every day, snap a quick picture or two of my sketches(no scanner, alas), and post them here and on my Tumblr.  Which can be found at thekiltedgerman.tumblr.com

Here is that drawstring bag with keys that  I mentioned above.

http://www.etsy.com/listing/74678012/the-key-drawstring-bag-by-greyedout

I touched on this a little bit in my first post, but I thought I would revisit the topic again briefly in today’s entry.  I’ve been wearing my kilt regularly for several months now, and it’s become another garment to wear, instead of something unusual to put on for special occasions.  I don’t feel odd about wearing it outside anymore.  I do still have days like today where it’s easier to put on a pair of pants.  But for the most part the kilt has become a part of my wardrobe.

I still get comments and questions about the kilt, which I don’t mind at all – I’ve found that I really like answering people’s questions.  I had a woman in Whole Foods ask me about irish stew and colcannon a few weeks ago.  I think she assumed that because I was wearing a kilt, I must be Irish/Scottish, and therefore know the particulars about that cuisine.  I answered as best I could, and I hope her irish stew turned out well.  A gentleman on the bus asked if I wear the kilt due to my religion.  And today someone suggested that I should be at the Georgia Renaissance Festival.

Every reaction I’ve had so far has been positive, except for the teenager months ago who yelled that I should go back to Scotland.  I like to think that by wearing the kilt and letting people ask questions I can improve their knowledge about the garment a little bit, and bring a better understanding of other cultures.

Utilikilt actually has a referral program that I’ve thought about joining, but the way their description is worded on the website makes it a little hard to understand exactly how it works.  From what I understand, if I refer someone to the website using a specific URL associated with me, and that person ends up buying a kilt, I get a certain commission off the sale.  Which might be worth it just to eventually acquire another utilikilt.  They’re incredibly comfortable, and even the Workman’s model that I have is wearable in summer heat.  I believe that the standard model is a slightly lighter fabric, with fewer pockets.  If I were to get another utilikilt, I’d be looking at both the Workman’s model and the standard model, which are both offered in a decent number of colors.

When I first saw the utilikilt online I thought it was interesting, and I did want to get one to try on, but I never imagined that I’d be practically living in it.  I can see why people like wearing non-pants garments – the extra air circulation definitely helps on warm days!  It’s much like wearing shorts, except that it’s a skirt.  For men.  A very manly skirt.  With rugged pleats and pockets.

On Tuesday I took a trip via MARTA and headed downtown to a place called Piedmont Park.  It was cold, and windy, and wearing my kilt probably wasn’t the best idea in the world.  The trip to get there isn’t fast, but it’s relatively easy once you know your way around downtown Atlanta.  The MARTA station is very close to the theatre district, and the Woodruff Arts Center and the High Museum of Art are also close.

All in all I had perhaps an hour at the park, and I didn’t get to explore all of it.  We had a cold front the past few days, and the day I chose to adventure in the park it was probably around 60* F, windy, and chilly.  It looks like a great place to walk and run, and they also have some baseball and soccer fields, from what I saw.  I strolled for about twenty minutes, and then found a park bench so I could sit and write for a bit longer, before I had to find my way back to the train station to make my way home.

The park looks large on the map, but that could be deceiving – one runner passed me several times as I sat and wrote.  It was a fun trip, and I’ll probably go back a few times when the weather is warmer again.

I’ve also decided to start drawing again, because I need to in order to improve.  I’m calling it a Drawn365, a drawing(or more) per day, and I’m going to try to upload them here.  They will probably also show up on my Tumblr, thekiltedgerman.tumblr.com  – so keep an eye out.  I’m interested in seeing the improvement over time.  Here is the first sketch, based off an old man’s picture.

Last year I decided to start an Etsy shop to sell some of the smaller items that I like crafting.  It was a fairly easy process to set up, and listing items is simple and clear.  I listed several items, and then waited.  And waited.  And waited.  It wasn’t until January, four months after starting my shop, that I had my first sale, and it was a great experience waking up in the morning to the “you made a sale!” email.  I’ve had several sales since then, but by the end of February things had dried up.  I listed more items, and renewed my current listings to bring them to the top of the queue, with no luck.  Even now I’m still trying to make more sales.  It’s a bit disheartening, to say the least.  But I’m keeping at it, because it’s important to me and because I like the feeling of giving customers what they want to the best of my ability.

Recently, though, I’ve come across several instances of resellers on Etsy.  For those unfamiliar with the website or the term, Etsy is a place for selling handmade and vintage items.  A “reseller” is someone who takes mass-produced items bought very cheaply in bulk and resells them listed in his/her shop as their own creations.  It’s against Etsy rules, although from what I have seen and heard the Etsy administrators are willing to let resellers slide… because they bring in a lot of money.

It was one such instance that prompted me to look at other places online for selling items, and I found a place called Zibbet.  Much like Etsy, it’s a website where sellers can list homemade, crafted items and sell them to internet customers.  Its setup is slightly different from Etsy’s, in that it’s free to list your items and you take all profit, whereas Etsy takes a small fee from your sold items.  On Zibbet, you can sign up for various types of seller accounts, from the free basic account all the way up to the Premium account.  I’ve since created a free Zibbet shop in hopes of increasing sales a bit more.

The Zibbet community is also very friendly and open compared to Etsy’s.  Etsy recently changed their forums, and created what they call “Teams”, which are inclusive groups focused on specific crafting items, themes, and so on.  It used to be simple to go on Etsy’s forums and ask for help regarding crafting techniques, materials, how-to’s, and so on.  The creation of Teams makes that much more difficult, because now you have to search for a team dealing with your situation, and then apply to join that particular team before you can even ask for help.  It’s part of what frustrates me about the recent Etsy changes.  I’ve found the Zibbet forums to be helpful and welcoming so far.

One site that Kathryn likes to check for updates is Regretsy – a site that often pokes fun at ridiculous Etsy listing.  They have their own forums, and a team on Etsy itself, and I’ve also joined efforts there.  Regretsy is what ties everyone together, and they are also a tight-knit community.  I’ve already gotten a bunch of helpful advice, and I plan to take steps to improve the quality of several of my item pictures and listings.

What I would really like to focus my efforts on are period costumes, ranging from the medieval to the Renaissance to the Victorian, and including subcultures like steampunk.  However, at the moment I craft mainly smaller items like dice bags, purses, smaller messenger bags, and decorative houses.  I have a Youtube channel dedicated to showcase videos of my products, and a Facebook page as well – look up Greyed Out Productions for more information.  To find my shops on Etsy and Zibbet, simply search for “Greyedout”.  That’s the name of the shop.

Yesterday was Free Comic Book Day.  For those who may never have heard of it, Free Comic Book Day is an event that many of the comic publishing companies and comic shops around the world participate in.  It’s intended to introduce new people to the world of comics, as well as bring new material to current comic book readers.  Many artists put out special FCBD editions of their work, in smaller, “sampler” formats.  I think it’s  a great idea, and I had been wanting to attend a FCBD for many years now, but had never had the chance because my Saturdays were usually busy.

Yesterday morning, Kathryn and I headed out to find our local comic shop, down Roswell Road.  Roswell is one of the roads that seems to pass through 90% of Atlanta, and it runs from up in Roswell all the way down to somewhere in the southern parts of the city.  The shop that we ventured out to find is called Teahouse Comics.  We found the shop after a little bit of difficulty in trying to figure out how to reach the shopping center that it’s located in, and arrived just a few minutes after they opened at 10am.

A note on Teahouse Comics:  it’s pretty awesome.  The employees were all super friendly and welcoming and excited to be part of FCBD, and the store was clean and well-lit and well stocked.  Definitely impressive.  I wanted to go mainly for the FCBD Mouse Guard edition, which I snagged shortly after coming in.  The shop was still pretty empty, which was nice, and they also had a sale going on for 20% off graphic novels, 30% off back issues, and so on.  Kathryn and I got our free comics, and she picked up Sandman volume 4.  I also grabbed issue #1 of the Mouse Guard: Black Axe series, which I had been looking forward to for ages.

Then, after checkout, we learned that comic shops are dangerous places for Kathryn.  She had spotted an Absolute Sandman: Death volume on the top shelf in the shop.  I haven’t had a chance to read Neil Gaiman’s Sandman yet, but I hear nothing but praise for it.  The Absolute volumes are normally $99, but the 20% discount applied, so after tax it came out to $85 – too good a deal to pass up.  Both Kathryn and I are highly in favor of supporting local shops whenever possible, so we both felt that it was a pretty good bargain.  That’s one of the reasons I always try to support the local game store, even if I’m just buying a coffee or a few vitamin waters on Warmachine night.

We headed home, both satisfied after our comic shop adventure.  I know that if I get the chance I’ll be frequenting Teahouse Comics again, and even though the chance of someone from there reading this entry is probably pretty slim, I want to say thanks for a great experience.  Customer service and friendly employees are important, and I couldn’t have been more pleased.

The Haul