Thursday, June 27, 2019

Mini DM Screen

The client requested this over twitter back in December and I'm a bit embarrassed it took me six months to finally get them there Screen.  I had a prototype back in February but I wasn't happy with some of the details and I didn't get another shot at it until June.

Much of the delay came down to finding a cost productive way of cutting the steel used to make the Screen magnetic.  Once I got that solved the second prototype came together fairly quickly.  I widened the card pockets to make them easier to use and set the Moloch statues gem eyes inside the leather so the surface would be flush.

The result is nice and sturdy and folds up to about pocket-sized.  It's magnetic from either side and just the right size for hiding a few key notes without blocking a view of a dungeon mat.  I should have them up on the shop before too long.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

5e Bag of Holding

This was one of those orders that took buckets of blood, sweat and tears but it was all worth it in the end.  My wife's been saying I should make a 5e bag of holding out of leather since 2015 (or at least I have notes going back that far) but I never had the opportunity to invest the time and materials to really develop the idea.  That changed back in May when I received back to back requests from two apparently separate clients for exactly this idea.

Turning my notes into a draft took a month and then my first swing at production turned out to whiff.  I'd been planning to engrave oiled leather then inlay canvas to make the various designs with some sturdy layering.  Once I got to it though I quickly realized that once it was cut the canvas wasn't stable enough to inlay.  It would deform or fray or generally not be up to snuff.

So mid-production I had to shift approaches.  I swapped the oiled leather for milled veg and replaced the inlays with paint and stain.  I'd been afraid the paint would be patchy or uneven but paired with engraving it came out fairly clean.  To get the cleanest cuts and engravings I often had to pass the same component through the laser cutter multiple times.  That introduced the challenge of how to get the alignment even for each cut.  I used everything from jigs to very low power scores to to get that sorted

For all that the result is pretty grand.  The bag has a nice feel and heft to it.  It holds its shape pretty well but it's flexible enough to swish if pushed.  And it perfectly fits the core books and a little extra.  I have a few tweaks I'd like to make but it came out so well I've already added it to the shop!

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Map, Banff

This was an anniversary map made of the Banff area.  I used the same approach I'd normally use for a city map; building the draft from public domain maps.  That's what gave me the park borders to engrave but in hindsight I wish I'd found a way to add the topography.  All the mountains around Banff are really what the area's known for.

Meanwhile, I've been experimenting with burning a hole in the backing instead of stapling a bit of lace on the back.  So far it seems to be working pretty well.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Dice Cup, May the Dice

The client definitely had a clear idea of what they were after here.  They were looking to emulate the old "May the Force Be With You" logo from Star Wars on a star field.  At first I'd figured the starfield would be the tricky part because white paint on black leather doesn't always turn out well.  Though once all the staining was done the starfield came out wonderfully and it was the yellow paint in the lettering that was patchy (despite 3-4 coats).

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Map, Waterdeep

Despite a fair bit of overlap it isn't that often that my daily work and our weekly games interact but this project was one of those times.  Doing the research and drafting for this map showed me just how detailed Waterdeep's background and lore really are.  And when I told the rest of our table about it we wound up picking up Dragon Heist to explore it ourselves. 

Getting back to the map, I traced a map of Waterdeep from an older edition to make the draft.  When I started I believed I had the correct map and didn't realize my mistake until after I was 4 or 5 days into the drafting.  But the biggest difference is the Upper Downs, now known as the Field Ward by Dragon Heist-y time. 

To get the most out of the scale we decided to really push the limits of the laser cutter and ran right up against its margins.  This turned out to be a hurdle when I began engraving the draft onto the leather since different elements wound up with different margins.  That took some sorting to work out but I was able to disguise any missing bits with a little hand carving so it all worked out. 

And the final result looks pretty darn nice!  I'm hoping to do some more tweaking, clean up some elements and maybe add some topography, and make this a regular item on the shop.  Because cool!