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Torquus Simae Maleficarum [entries|friends|calendar]

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Rotterdam Comic Con 2017 [05 Mar 2017|10:13pm]

So - quick update. I quit my job at Speldorado per September 1st 2016, both because I needed to be able to put more time into Jack of Dice, but also because working for Roeland was becoming very stressful to me. The best thing I could say is that he and I have very different work styles, so let's leave it at that.

Since I became a full-time entrepreneur, I decided to set up store at a lot more events than before. Last year saw my first foreign Con (FACTS in Gent - very much worth it and I will be going again) and my first boardgame event (Spellenspektakel in Eindhoven, ditto).

January and February have been quiet. Very few cons which seemed worth while, but this gave me plenty of time to prepare a better setup. A central table with three-tiered 'wings' on either side. The setup can fit in a 2x6m spot and allows a good amount of behind-the-stall space for personal belongings and to retreat from serving customers, while still allowing you to peer between the shelves to watch all the pretty costumes. We're calling that part the Bunker.

And now March has arrived, and the Con season has kicked off! First con of the year: the Rotterdam Comic Con in Ahoy!

Well...it went allright for me. Not spectacular, but I'm pretty happy with the result. As the event goes, it could do much better. Not enough publicity, not enough visitors, not enough to do FOR the visitors, both in their selection of merchants and in actual activities. Some interesting guests - actors from Game of Thrones, Sylvester McCoy, and others - but yeah...not much to do.

One major gripe for me would be that they sold Early Bird tickets. Bad for the merchants - we would prefer not to have to leave home an hour early, TYVM - but the visitors who paid extra for them did not get much benefit from them either. The event was not busy at all, and most of the visitors were pretty much done after a few hours. It just adds to the general vibe that the event is mostly trying to make money rather than offering a memorable experience for the visitors.

Personally, I would not choose this event over others, neither as a standholder or as a visitor.

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Hobbies and interests [18 Jun 2015|10:00pm]
Once, while job-seeking several years ago, I wrote down a list of hobbies and interests so I could get a feel for what I would like to do. Though it did not help me narrow down my interests to a single related group of things I would do well in, it did put into view for me how many things appeal to me.

Some of these things are probably boring to a lot of people (organizing, coming up with systems), others are more exciting (archery, swordfighting). Some mundane (cooking, reading), while others are pretty exotic (making chainmail, costume design).

This list was handwritten, using concise terms to describe my hobbies and interests. It filled nearly two columns on a sheet of A4 paper before I ran out of immediate ideas. I realized I could probably easily double that amount in a month if I were to keep the list around and add to it as I went along. I'll keep adding things to that list like a kid picking up pretty rocks to add to their collection.

Now I run two webshops and work a parttime job in a toy and game store, where I get to be a know-it-all on the subject of boardgames; am chairman to a Larp organising events for up to 90 people and occasionally cook for groups of up to 75. Life seems to have come to a place where most of my many interests can finally be expressed. It feels pretty damn good.
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Lentil burgers [31 Aug 2014|07:54pm]
This recipe yields about four firm, filling burgers.

1/2 cup dry lentils (I use red split lentils as these cook more quickly)
1 onion
1 slice of old bread blitzed into breadcrumbs
1 clove of garlic
1 1/2 tsp of cumin
1/2 tsp of smoked paprika powder
1/2 tbsp of mustard (or 1 tsp of mustard powder)
3 tbsp of tomato ketchup

Soak the lentils in water overnight. Drain, then blend the lentils, onion and garlic using a food processor. Combine with the rest of the ingredients and form into patties. Pan-fry the patties in oil for a few minutes on each side until golden brown.

These are great either as hamburgers or with a side of wedges and salad.
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Goblin Surprise: Post-post-apocalyptic oatmeal cookies [25 Mar 2014|11:36am]

During Larps, I'll sometimes make meals out of leftovers. Reheat stuff, add leftover ingredients; chuck pantry stock together into a meal...surprise! When I started doing this I played Wicks the Goblin, servant and general handyman for the Mage Guild. The surprise is that it usually still tastes great, since I do try to make the flavours work together after all. Hence, the name, and it has stuck.

Last weekend I cooked at Xenophobia II together with woran. The setting is post-post-apocalyptic. Society has collapsed and a new order is established. The players all hail from a group of compounds protected by a forcefield where they have been safe from the outside world for generations, where they have built a meritocratic society. Everyone is expected to Contribute, and when they no longer can, they must leave (and almost certainly die in the outside world, a place filled with bloodthirsty cannibals and who knows what else). But now the forcefield has failed, and they are forced to leave.

The setting calls for relatively simple food, certainly not any kind of excess. But in this case, there were lots of supplies which we might as well use up before they would be left behind. All in all we cooked about 25-30 dishes.

These sweet, crunchy, chewy and very filling cookies were the last item, served after time-out. Several people have asked for the recipe. The original recipe for these cookies came from here, but we tweaked it to make it fit our ingredients. Here goes:

  • 60 g butter (room temperature)

  • 100 g caster sugar

  • 100 g brown muscovado sugar

  • -> 200 g powdered sugar and caster sugar (leftovers). Less might be better, see below.

  • 2 eggs

  • 1 vanilla pod Scratched, we had none.

  • 120 g flour

  • 130 g rolled oats

  • 4 g baking powder

  • 4 g cinnamon (added a bit more, both to replace the flavor of the vanilla and because we had lots of it)

  • 6 g salt

  • 75 g pecan nuts Crunchy muesli breakfast mix (leftover from breakfast)

One more challenge: we had no oven at this location. After a bit of tweaking we found a setup which worked: a lightly greased frying pan covered with a lid, on a simmer plate on the smallest burner turned low.

Mix all the ingredients together, adding the eggs last. Take about a tablespoon of the mixture per cookie and flatten it onto the bottom of the pan. Leave the cookies a bit of room to expand - I could make about 6 cookies per batch in the pan I had. Bake for about 7 minutes until the bottom is golden brown, turn, and bake the other side for another 7.

For a final tweak, I'd use less sugar (probably about 100 grams), since the crunchy muesli adds a lot of sweetness as well. Instead of crunchy muesli you could also use trail mix or any other dried fruit (chopped small if necessary) and nuts for filling.

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Jack of Dice [23 Jan 2014|03:52pm]
So, last year I started a business:

Selling, as the name might imply, dice. Polyhedral dice for D&D and Pathfinder, 10d10 sets for White Wolf games, six-sided dice for the usual games, odd dice such as the Seven virtues/Seven Sins die, and so on. And I'm finding more interesting, cool, pretty and weird dice all the time.

Besides dice, you'll find accessories directly connected to dice and the games that employ them: leather dice bags and dice jewelry hand-crafted by me, dice towers, gaming mats, etcetera.

So far, things are running really well. Some things are amazing, others briefly frustrating, but overall this adventure is teaching me a lot and I find it thoroughly enjoyable.
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Lextalionis X: Meet Prophet [28 Nov 2010|11:37pm]
Lextalionis! Never played there, not very well-versed in WoD either, but had so! much! fun! High points:

Carpool from Janestarz. Thank you so much!
Exploring the old, rundown derelict farm with medieval parts which lay next to the castle.
Exploring the old, rundown derelict 'other' half of the castle (and outbuildings).

Stick out like a sore thumb dressed all in white amongst all the Vampire characters during the pre-IC brief. Have the SL's declare during the brief that I have, for all intents and purposes, a carte blanche regarding powers.

It took toggling a switch to get into the Prophet char. The first parts (at the 'stakehouse') where we freed the younglings from torpor I was still somewhat unsure, and kept to the background. Vera, my bodyguard (played by Janestarz) took the lead and kept the momentum going. Then I had to introduce myself, and became Prophet. After a bit of stumbling over my words I was fine for the rest of the event.

"I am Prophet. I speak as the voice of God. Know that these are the end days, and that the final judgment will come soon".

Getting to know the characters. Joining in their victories over the Elders. Being asked to bless their missions.

Negotiating an exchange of prisoners over IM. Prophet had until then been a voice on a video and a name under some Hunternet posts, so this was my first direct contact with my adversaries. "Spiegel, Oriana, and a supply of blood in exchange for Sigurd. The exchange will take place in the courtyard, one minute from now."

Slapping down the Tremere suggestion that they Diablerize a volunteer to gather enough power to break the ward. Even better, the bemused reaction from the Kindred at his complete lack of opposition to the plan of a modified Valderie ritual.

The breaking of Project Nimrod (a brainwashed Malkavian supersoldier) to free the soul beneath. Prophet didn't do much, honestly. Carl Bakker did the actual work, but him asking Prophet to see what the state of Nimrod's soul was made it seem possible. He succeeded and freed a soul which had been suppressed in that body since WW2.

The entrance of Prophet and his closest trustees to the final battle, commanding the fighting Kindred onto their knees. Getting staked, puling out the stake, dropping it, and repeating the command. Presence 5.

Judgement. Prophet walks down the corridor first before the Kindred, toward the light, praying to the Lord to forgive him. His steps falter. He has been found lacking "Please Lord. Help ... me". He dies, and is destroyed.

The Nosferatu gang. Heartwarming until the very end, always looking out for each other. At the end of the event, they went together, clinging together like a group of rats crossing a river, stepping around the bodies of the Kindred who had been found lacking. Four of the six were saved. Prophet's spirit would have been proud, if it hadn't been too busy burning in eternal agony in pools of fire and brimstone.

A lot of the players, or at least of the 'Younger' group did not seem to realize that Prophet was not Kindred, and even more surprised that he was a Hunter. The reactions when they found out OC were priceless :D

One big downside of the weekend: the food. The location required it to be catered by their staff, and the food was...blah. Blah upon blah piled high with blah. Boring broth for the first dinner (served 18:00 sharp, don't be late or you don't get fed), followed by rice, cooked chicken breast and 1980's style 'curry' sauce straight from the packet. Oh, and slices of canned pineapple. Also, they hadn't cooked enough and ran out.

Breakfast on day 2 (served 12:00 sharp, don't be late or you don't get fed. Incidentally, many didn't get to sleep until 07:00 that morning): mildly overcooked spaghetti with crime-against-food tomato and mincemeat sauce. No vegetarian option. Forensics revealed traces of onion in the sauce, but no other herbs or spices appeared to have been added.

Dinner on day 3 (served 18:00 sharp, don't be late or you don't get fed): fries with rancid-tasting mayo, letuce, and meatballs (still shaped like the plastic packaging they has been extruded into) warmed up in sauce. And a cup of ice cream for dessert. The ice cream was decent, mind you, as was the lettuce.

Breakfast on the last day was better, but the theme of 'cheap and made with minimal effort' continued.
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X-power Blaster 200 - Revenge of the Modding [30 May 2010|10:15pm]
Aha! Success! By adding a ridge of superglue around the inner front edge of the launch tube, it now forms a perfect seal with N-strike standard darts. Just shot a whistler dart over 7 meters.

Solved the rattling spring by delving into my other interest: chainmail. I needed washers with an outer diameter of less than 15 mm and an inner diameter of at least 10 mm.Four aluminium rings with an inner diameter of 10,0 mm and a wire thickness of 2 mm did the job. No more rattling, and more kick out of my spring.
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Nerf clone: X-power Blaster 200 [28 May 2010|11:09am]
Ran into Nerf-clone blasters, of the brand I posted about in my last post, in our local Marskramer, including some models not in the Intertoys ad. I picked up the cheapest one (a one-shot blaster the same length as a Hasbro Nerf Nite Finder, but smaller in all other dimensions) to poke at it.

Details en foto's onder het knipjeCollapse )
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Nerf gun heads up [26 May 2010|08:59am]
For anyone not getting advertisement folders in the mail: Intertoys is having a sale of Nerf-clone guns. Two types of rotating barrel guns, both for 8 darts, for EUR 13,- (35 cm.) and EUR 7,- (22 cm.) ; and a set of two 22 cm. single-shot blasters for EUR 9,-.
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Byrnie: pictures! [15 Mar 2010|05:40pm]
Progress: 7/50 patches completed. I'm still on schedule, though it was difficult to find time to finish the planned three patches. Some unexpectedly long train travel on Friday allowed me the last bit of time I needed though.

pictures under the cutCollapse )
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Byrnie - stats and update [04 Mar 2010|09:00am]
I'm planning to make the byrnie the same way as my previous shirt: make patches and stitch those together into sheets. A goal of three patches a week is attainable, and should allow me to finish within a reasonable timeframe.

Each patch is roughly 20x20 rows of rings. The actual ringcount per patch is 410 rings. Each patch will need 40 rings to connect it to the rest of the byrnie, which gives a total estimate of 22500 rings. At approximately 200 grams per 1000 rings, the completed shirt will weigh around 4.5 kilograms.
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Byrnie [26 Feb 2010|09:48pm]
Today I've started making a byrnie: a celtic-style short-sleeved maille shirt. I'm using 1.1x6.7 mm (18 ga. 1/4") copper-plated steel rings, mostly because we have a crapton of them, and they're not selling at all.

I plan to strip the copper of the rings though, since copper plating smells foul. As luck would have it, there is a simple way to strip copper plating which will leave the steel intact: just dunk the piece in ammonia. Yay science :)
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Nerf dye experiment [24 Feb 2010|10:12pm]
[ mood | creative ]

So someone on the Brass Goggles forum mentioned that fabric dyes could be used to dye plastic. Someone else remarked that it would be interesting to do on Nerf guns. I decided to try it. A black base coat is used for most paintjobs, but the paint often gets worn off at the corners. Dye wouldn't wear off, and a quick drybrushing or rub and buff could be used for all kinds of metal effects.

I went for black Dylon Multi-purpose dye, because it is suitable for synthetic fabrics as well. The gun is a Maverick.

The first downside I noticed was that basically, everything has to come apart much further than with a regular paintjob. For instance, the turret consists of several parts which are screwed together.

Since this was mostly an experiment, and I didn't have a pot I was willing to sacrifice big enough to hold the larger parts of the shell, I just put in the visible bits which would fit. The big blue main shell will have to stay blue for a bit longer.

The liquid needs to stay at a pretty high temperature (around 90 degrees Celsius) for 20 minutes. While stirring, I noticed something worrying: The complex turret parts were getting warped out of shape. I'm guessing the heat caused the plastic to expand, causing the part to push against itself. To be safe I'll let the pieces sit in the dye bath until they've cooled by themselves, rather than risk having everything set in their warped shape by cooling it too rapidly.

The colour doesn't seem to have taken as well as I'd hoped for. Instead of black, the yellow parts have turned an olive green. Not unattractive, but not what I was going for either, since I'd still need to paint it to get a black base coat. The originally metallic gray parts look better though. The cocking slide got a quick sandpapering to take off the Nerf logo and warning print before I dunked it into the dye, but most of the factory original paint was still on. The paint seems to have dyed just as well as the plastic.

Edit: After letting the dye bath cool and cleaning the parts, I'm afraid I've got some disappointing news. The two main turret parts and the two halves of the slide no longer fit together. The smaller, more compact pieces seem to have come through quite well. The colour is not spectacular: yellow became dark olive green, orange became purplish, silvery gray became dark blue. In poor light the colours might pass for black, but not in daylight. Maybe a higher concentration of dye would work better, but it would also need to work at a lower temperature. 90 degrees is too hot for Nerf gun plastics.

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Come on spring [22 Feb 2010|11:44am]
The plants janestarz gave us a year ago refused to be dead and started to sprout. Feeling mercy for their plight I repotted them, so now I've got two pots of sprouting bulbs on my windowsill.

On Saturday while driving home from the event I got a blast of sunlight from the setting sun.

Though each season has it's beauty, and I can be entranced by the view a foggy morning over snow-covered fields, I'm quite happy spring is starting to arrive.

Further update: the job is winding towards it's end. My contract runs until April 1st, but there isn't enough work for us temps to be done. This means that as of last week I get to sit at home while still being paid :)

The extra time this gives me is especially welcome right now. steelweaver started her new job last week, and is working 32 hours for a while. I've taken over emails and orders for The Queen Ring to free up her time for this. Also, I needed to prepare quite a lot of stuff for the event last weekend.

The event went well. Many thanks to janestarz and woran for helping out. It made a big difference :)

Next up on the agenda: Phantasium in March, and Charm and the Elf Fantasy Fair in April.
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Silent burner [11 Jan 2010|10:37pm]
At Larps, it is not always possible to cook on a campfire, however much I'd like to. The location may not allow fires at all, or there may be more camps than there are places where one is allowed to make fire. Sometimes the event may even be indoors.

nokey picked up a Primus-style portable stove some time back, and became very interested in their workings. At some point he picked up a stove for me as well. Though not very medieval (they were a 19th century invention), they fit most LRP settings where I play. There is a certain Steampunk-y feel to the polished brass, the tubes, and the fact that these stoves run on liquid fuel (petroleum works best, lamp oil is fine too).

I've used the stove several times. One thing that bugged me the most was the continuous rushing sound produced by these things. Not a huge problem for a goblin, but when I play en elf I like to be able to hear when someone is sneaking up on me.

A couple of weeks ago nokey picked me up a silent burner attachment to replace the standard one. This solves the noise problem, and adds the option of having the burner burn low or high without fiddling with the pressure release valve and the pump all the time. Last weekeind at Exodus I finally used it for the first time since the burners were switched out.

Since the silent burner is slightly taller than the regular burner, I had to make some new risers for the top ring. I think I may have made these slightly too long, as the flame now starts below the top ring, which got heated to a glowing red. That is fixable. The flame definitely gets hot enough, and burns a pretty blue with a slight yellow edge (probably because I used lamp oil instead of a more homogeneous fuel).

The burner is much more quiet. I used it indoors, where the noise would be even more noticeable, and had no problems there. If you turn down the flame, there is hardly any sound to be heard at all. Silent burner is silent. Who would have guessed ;)

According to Nokey, this type of burner is more sensitive to wind. As I haven't used it outside yet, I can't comment on that. I'll have to make sure I bring a windscreen next time I use the stove, at any rate.
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Exodus 7: Het doel heiligt... [28 Dec 2009|11:57am]
Nog anderhalve week tot Exodus! tijd voor een to-do lijst:

-Kar upgraden: nieuwe handgrepen, beitsen, en lantarens er aan hangen.
-Kostuum: een jasje wat wél past, een nieuw schort (want de eerste was te klein, en de tweede is kwijt), misschien een nieuwe broek.
-Props: m'n draagmand eens uitmesten. Spul om thee te zetten moet er in passen. Misschien kom ik dan ook m'n schort weer tegen...

Moet te doen zijn, volgend weekeinde is toch een lang weekeind.
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Kisten [04 Oct 2009|09:29am]
Enige tijd terug hebben we twee stalen kisten van steelweaver's vader gekregen, die bij hem op het werk werden weggegooid. Heeft iemand hier interesse in? Wij vragen alleen dat ze zo snel mogelijk weg zijn.

De kisten zijn ooit bedoeld geweest om printplaten voor een telefooncentrale te vervoeren. Ze zijn 37 cm. breed, 30 cm. diep en 30 cm. hoog. Binnenin zijn plastic platen met sleuven gemonteerd om printplaten in te kunnen schuiven.

Foto's achter het knipjeCollapse )
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Chicken curry [30 Sep 2009|10:14am]
[ mood | calm ]

Made some chicken curry yesterday. The recipe can probably be found anywhere, but since I was quite happy with the result I wanted to write it down so I could remember it for the next time. As always, the amounts (especially for the spices) are approximate guesses.

Because it uses coconut milk instead of yogurt, if you replace the chicken with some vegetable filling (potato and green beans, for instance) you have a completely vegan dish.

-250 gr. chicken breast
-1 onion
-sunflower oil
-100 cc coconut milk (1/3 can)
-1 heaped tablespoon of concentrated tomato paste (1 small can)
-lemon juice
-chopped coriander leaf (1 heaped tablespoon)

Spice paste:
-2 cloves of garlic
-2 teaspoons of powdered ginger
-1 teaspoon of powdered turmeric (kurkuma/kunjit)
-2 teaspoons of powdered cumin seed (djinten/komijnzaad)
-1 teaspoon of vetsin (sodium glutamate)
-1 teaspoon of ground black pepper

Pan: preferably a cast iron wajan/wok. Any pan at least twice as wide as it is deep will do fine, as long as it is large enough.

Crush the garlic into a paste with some oil, and mix it with the other spices. Dice the onion, cut the chicken into manageable chunks.

Heat up the pan. Add a dash of oil and the onion, stir and fry until the onion begins to brown. Add the spice paste, stir around once, then add the chicken. Scoop this around until the chicken begins to brown, then add the coconut milk, tomato paste and a squirt of lemon juice. Stir, and bring to a simmer. Turn down the heat and let simmer for a while, until the chicken is cooked through. Add coriander leaf and stir through, let this sit for a couple of minutes before taking off the heat and serving.

This is a very mild curry, containing only pepper and ginger to give it any bite. To spice it up, add some ground peppers or sambal to the spice mix. To make it more suited for a low-sodium diet, leave out the Vetsin.

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[21 Aug 2009|08:19pm]
[ mood | accomplished ]

Yesterday we drove to Amsterdam to pick up selmaika's old PC (thanks again by the way :) Since I'm home on sick leave I decided to work on cleaning and installing it today. Since the comp will be mostly used by steelweaver, I asked her what she would prefer. The comp comes with Win XP installed, and she wanted to be able to use that for some things. We're both pretty well used to Ubuntu by now though. Dual boot it is.

There is no space inside the new comp for an extra hard drive. I'll need to transfer any files we want to keep to the existing (and much bigger) hard disk.

So, after some dismantling, cleaning and reassembling, I took the hard disks out of the old computer, hooked the first one up to transfer some old Windows files. Then I downloaded and burned a shiny new Livedisk image for Jaunty Jackalope (the latest Ubuntu edition) and popped it into the new computer's CD drive.

Here's why I love Ubuntu: From the Livedisk it starts Ubuntu. If you want you can try it out for a bit, or you can just start installing. It installs on the existing hard disk, creating a separate partition for itself without the need for reformatting. Once it is done installing, your computer runs Linux.

Anyway, Jaunty Jackalope installed without a hitch, so I just needed to hook up the other old hard drive to transfer most of the Linux files (important, since most of the Queen Ring documents are on there). I had a bit of a time trying to get the permissions set, and ended up using the Root account to move everything to a USB key, and then using the relevant user accounts to put the files from the USB key into their home folders.

Time for a test drive. Unhooked the old hard drive and closed up the case. Hooked everything up properly, and started up. It turns out there have been several improvements since Dapper Drake, so we could immediately use our scanner (which we hadn't been able to get working yet) and printer (which had taken us a few hours of work under Dapper). Gimp can now actually print stuff, too!

All together I spent about four hours on it. steelweaver is using it right now, so I'll call it a success :)

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[02 Mar 2009|04:08pm]
Last weekend we've been busy. We're pretty much completely stocked up, thanks to three shipments arriving over the course of last week. So on saturday morning I weighed/counted everything, put everything away, and handed a nice list of stock adjustments to steelweaver to put up on the website.

Our logo has been bugging me more than usual lately, or rather the file we have of it. When I first made it up it was just supposed to go onto a website. Not thinking ahead, I only made one the size I'd need for that. The first time this caused problems was with business cards. We solved this by blurring and then sharpening the image, but the result is blotchy. It looks intentional, but it isn't.

So, on saturday night I took a pic of our logo, blew it up to 1000 pixels square, and used that as a guide to remake it bigger with crisp edges. And on sunday morning we worked together to design a new batch of business cards, using our new colours and font.

Then we still had most of the day left! So, since I kind of wanted a new market stall (both for personal use at Larps and for TQR at events) we went to pick up lumber and hardware. I got most of the stall finished before it became too dark to see.

Actually, I thought I had it completely finished except for assembly. It turns out I forgot to drill one pair of holes though. Bit of nift: I made it possible to attach the wheels from my cart to the frame to roll it around. With a bit of work it might actually double as a cart itself :P

It also hasn't been stained or oiled yet. I seem to forgo that part of the process more often. I shouldn't.
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