Some Fleece I was asked to embroider for thingies.
Whew, finally got a chance to take a break from embroidering the world to write up how BronyCon went. I got a double table since I needed a ton of space based on how much I use at LPU. I had some empty table space, so I shared that with Dusty Sculptures. I had a lot of fun hanging out with him. He even made a tiny little sculpture of E which I wore on my badge!
I decided to bring my embroidery machine for fun and to answer lots of embroidery questions. I was also planning on making custom patches while I was there, but that didn’t work out as planned. To bring it, I had to build a platform for it so I could bring it outside my truck. The platform is also made so that one person can load/unload it even though the platform and machine weigh about 300 lbs. You can red abotu that fun adventure on my blog here: http://ethepony.blogspot.com
Once arriving in Baltimore, finding parking on thursday was not exactly fun. There was a game going on, so most of the parking was taken for the game. I also arrived about 2 hours later than I planed on because I stopped about once per hour to check on the embroidery machine and cover. After parking, I went to get my badge. The only problem with that was that the Hilton didn’t have any signs as to where checkin was so it took me about an hour to find it. Once finding it, getting my vendor badge took about 5 minutes, probably because it was before regular checkin started. Having 2 lines (vendor and normal) for checkin really helped the vendors out. I did hear from quite a few attendees and vendors that they waited several hours to get their badge if they got in late on Thursday, so hopefully there is some more check in folks next year to handle that.
After check in, I had to figure out how to get to where I needed to be to set up my booth. This took about another hour, because no one had any clue about where to go. I knew the basics about what room the vendors were in, but not how to get there. every door was locked except for a single door which happened to be on the lower level as far away as physically possible form check in. So of course it was the one I checked last. I talked to security and found out that I could drive my truck there and they would let me in. On the walk back to the hotel, I explaned that process to at least 6 other vendors all trying to figure out the same thing. It would have been very helpful to know this ahead of time so that I didn’t waste about an hour trying to figure it out. However, once figured out, it was super easy. You could drive your vehicle into the convention center and about 20 feet from your booth. I was very lucky because my booth was the 2nd closest to the unload area so unloading was very quick. This was the best load/unload process I have ever seen.
I set up the majority of my booth in about 2 hours, and in the next 90 minutes or so I calibrated my machine and threaded it. Threading all 15 needles takes about an hour so I deliberately left thread spools on it for the ride and taped them down so they wouldn’t bounce. This didn’t work as I expected because the thread ended up in a big knot because the spools basically unwound themselves as I drove even though they were taped down. I had to spend about 30 minutes just cutting thread off from everything before I could thread the machine. I also lost 2 spool pin nuts and the spool pins due to vibration and are somewhere on the interstate. Thankfully, I brought a ton of spare parts for my machine, so I could easily swap in new ones. I tested out the machine and the stand (this was the first time I tried this stand) and it worked perfectly.
After that, I went back to the hotel because it was almost 9. I heard there were some major issues with some of the vendors getting in very late and the head of the vendor support team (FireEnvy) not getting out until 4 AM when the official end of setup was 9 PM. I was looking forward to getting a drink with him, but he was just to busy helping vendors that didn’t prepare all that well or had issues on the way.
The next day was Thursday. They opened the vendor hall to vendors about 2 hours early for vendors to finish the setup from the previous night. I got there about 45 minutes early to make sure I got the full time to set up, but with the early opening, I ended up with 45 minutes of extra time. I think the vendor team told vendors verbally the night before because I had no idea and did not get an email on it. No worries on my end though since I was already done with pretty much everything. I used 3 ring binders filled with pages similar to baseball card pages to display patches. That meant folks could grab a 3 ring binder and look at it while others were looking at a different binder or something. This really helped folks find the ones they wanted quickly. I think that 3 ring binder idea came from Dusty when I was lamenting about how bad LPU was with having patches just directly on the table. Thursday was insanely busy. I had no time to do any thinking at all, it was one person after another, from open to close of the vendor hall. Another vendor offered to get me something to snack on, which was awesome.
Having the embroidery machine going was a great draw. Everyone was asking questions about it or just watching it make stuff. I didn’t have it behind the table, it was right out in front so you could get really close to it and watch. I had it going decently fast (700 stitches per minute) which kept people about 2 feet away from it. If I sped it up to maximum (1100 stitches per minute) people ran away thinking it would explode. If I slowed it down, people got closer than I would have liked. 700 seemed like it made just enough noise to keep both adults and kids from sticking their hands close enough where I would be worried. I think the entire weekend I only warned one person to step back, and that’s because it was off, and he was leaning on the pantograph, which is probably the weakest part of the machine.
I was planning on doing requests such as putting designs and shirts and hats, but that just didn’t work. On the first day, I had 5 requests inside of the first hour. I stopped taking more requests after that because I wanted to get them done first. Sadly, because it was so busy, I never got the chance to do more than 4 of the 5. I also screwed up one for a little girl that wanted her OC’s cutie mark. I think I made 7 of that patch before I did it correctly because I misunderstood what she was looking for. At least she got lots of ‘almost her cutie mark’ patches. Lesson Learned, don’t try to make one off stuff at conventions. A better idea on the embroidery machine would have been to set it up to make one character or one patch, and just have it make those all weekend as more of a demonstration instead of doing one off stuff. Most of what I made was the Celestia Rank Patch: http://fav.me/d6532n3 because I left those at home on accident. I made 14 and sold all but 2 of them.
Speaking of things I forgot, I forgot my business card stickers. I printed up about a thousand stickers that were actually business cards but I left them at home. I also left Lyra http://fav.me/d62i23h Dr Whooves cutie mark http://fav.me/d6e8f9g and the Celestia flags http://fav.me/d4u9vsf at home besides the 1 of each that was in the 3 ring binders. I lost 1 sale of Lyra because of that (2 people wanted her total) but only 1 person wanted Dr Whooves and no one… No one at all… wanted Celestia’s flag. Poor Celestia, no one wants to give her hugs.
Besides selling patches, I also talked to almost all of the vendor staff (who all got a free hat of their favorite character if I had it) and a ton of awesome people. I wish I could remember everyone, but it is still all a big jumble in my head because I never got a single moment to slow down. Security was chasing people away from my table after close on Sunday because people still wanted stuff and wouldn’t leave. I got to talk to some other embrodierers, mostly for plushies before and after close of the vendor hall. It was fun to identify a plushie as having my designs on it, and introduce myself to the maker of the plushie. Some of the looks I got were great, because they were expecting a little old lady to something to be E instead of me. I also had fun talking to plushie makers and giving tips and such. I gave out a good dozen of the embroidery snips I use for making eyes and patches and taught folks how to use them. Easily the best investment for embroidery ever, and they are only a buck. As I was showing one plushie maker how to trim the thread ends, I brought out my portable blowtorch lighter to use on the eye and the look on her face was priceless, then when I was done turned into ‘how the heck did you do that?’
Believe it or not, one of the vendors was doing nothing but ‘plushie repair’ for plushies that were in need of… love I suppose. She was busy for most of the convention, I think she was charging about $20 and had a huge line in front of her booth. The height of my weekend for talking to people was probably meeting White Dove. I have loved her plushies since forever because she puts so much work into making them perfect. Not for money, just for love of the show, characters and fans. I admire people with those values instead of just trying to make a quick buck. We had a good hour long conversation when I saw her carrying around 2 of her plushies.
Another big draw to my table was the $2 bills I was giving as change. I got a bunch of $2 bills to give as change since I was selling patches for $8. A lot of people loved them, especially when they gave me a $20 and got $18 in sequential $2 bills. Some people came to my table just to get some $2’s. I did have 1 person refuse to take them as change because they thought the $2 was fake. I tried not to laugh until they left earshot :)
The only scare I had was when stopping on the way home from the convention to the hotel. I stopped at a place to get dinner and a panhandler just wouldn’t leave me alone while I was waiting for my sandwich. That doesn’t bug me, but when he started talking about his knife and switch blade collection I got worried since I had thousands in cash in my bag. He left after a few minutes of ignoring him, so besides 5 minutes of being paranoid of him somehow knowing I had money and hiding around every corner, everything was fine.
There were no issues in packing up or the drive home. A few vendors stopped to watch me load up my machine, and remarked on the platform, which was cool. I also removed the thread spools from the machine but left the thread itself threaded int he machine. That made it a ton easier when I got home to get the machine hooked up again. About 30 minutes after I got home it started raining, so perfect timing on never testing the waterproofedness of my canvas cover. Overall, I am super happy with how the stand, platform and embroidery machine performed on the 1500 mile round trip.
The vendor support was overall good during the weekend. There were some things that could have gone better, but since I was prepared (probably because of how horrible LPU was) it did not impact me besides wasting some time. A few vendors forgot important things, and I was able to fill some of those needs. Mic the Microphone was helping out the vendor support too by being a gopher, and I was able to pull some of the stuff Mic was looking for out of my box of holding. The only thing I heard of that was unexceptable was something that happened to Smittyg, who was directly behind me. He was told he couldn’t sell a print at the show after getting it preapproved and having a ton of them printed. Making prints isn’t free, so if there was even a question on it, then Smittyg should have been told when he first asked before outlaying hundreds to get prints made. It isn’t fair to a vendor to tell them at the show that they couldn’t sell something when 3 months earlier it was OK’d. Besides that one incident, the vendor support did an admerable job considering they were unpaid volunteers with no experience, and I never saw any of them with a frown or get mad. To be fair, I do stuff similar to convention support for about 8k people at work; to me setting up a convention the size of bronycon is easy, but I have 7 years experience in doing similar things. So not exactly fair of me to be harsh when the vast majority of the convention went just fine. Take my comments with a grain of salt.
Brought embroidery machine on a platform outside my truck, and it was awesome.
Met a ton of people, and that was awesome.
Bronycon support was good, but you could tell they were green. I’m sure next year will be even better based on how the vendor support team is taking feedback.
Total cost to me was $150 for table, $130 for electricity, $580 for hotel, $350 for gas to get to the convention. Ouch, but so worth it.
I didn’t know there was a merit badge in Lyra.
Almost forgot to mention. The parent has a bunch of merch left over from Bronycon as well, which are available up on eBay! Scarves, plushies, pillows, hats…pretty much anything you can name, we probably have it! AND she does commissions!
You can check out all the listings here: http://cgi6.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewSellersOtherItems&userid=chaosynergy
Even if you can’t bid on anything, reblogs would be appreciated to get a little bit of publicity. This is kind of how she makes her living now.
Do you like hand-made pony plushies that are super soft and cuddly? Then look no further! The parent’s got a bunch of merch leftover from Bronycon up on eBay, so if you’re interested, give it a look!
Yay, my 2” CMC patches :)
I am dumb for not writing down pony names, but have a cutie mark that was requested at bronycon. I like the design of this one and how it came out.
How to bring an embroidery machine to Bronycon in 247 easy steps continued again. The pictures are actually on the way out of Bronycon, packing up the embroidery machine on my custom made carry cart/mount for the 12 hour drive home. The blue part is 2 pieces, the stand and the hitch mount and were custom made by me (see previous posts for pictures)
Honestly, it worked better than I thought it would. The hitch mount worked great when driving to/from the con. Yes, the hitch part hangs directly off the hitch with no support or wheels, I designed it to not need them. The hitch part is lifted about 1.5 inches using a small screw jack to lift it over the stand, then the jack is lowered to bring the weight of the hitch part on to the stand, then the pair is slid out of the hitch. So one person can move this entire thing, which weighs way more than a person could lift alone. I timed it, and it took 9 minutes to get hooked up or unhooked from my truck. Super fast cross country embroidery machine delivery!
The stand was great when out on the floor when I was demonstrating. The stand is even more sturdy than the one the machine came with, it really cut down the noise when embroidering.
The blue fabric cover is made from duck cloth that has been waterproofed, and has a complete zippered bottom. The bottom completely separates so it is easy to take on and off. It has 5 total of those little metal slips on the bottom which are only there to provide insurance in case the zipper broke in the wind (which it didn’t). Finally, I used the 2 straps all the way around to keep the duck cloth from flapping around in hurricane force winds when driving.
I didn’t have time to make many custom designs, but having the machine running in front of the booth was fun! It lead to lots of questions and comments. One person even pulled up a chair and watched it make patches for more than 2 hours on Saturday. I’ll type up how the weekend went later, but I wanted to post the final set of these for all the folks that had questions about it.
The traffic in Baltimore was pretty bad for Bronycon, but that also meant that when you saw a plate like this in traffic you could get out of your car and take a picture without getting run over.
I had lots of fun talking to folks at bronycon today. Many old faces and lots of new ones. Can’t wait until tomorrow. For now, resting feet.
Come on by and see me tomorrow in booth 609, the booth with the big embroidery machine :)
How to bring an embroidery machine to Bronycon, in 247 easy steps continued. Last weekend I finished welding the platform that will attach to my truck to bring my embroidery machine to Bronycon (picture 1).
This weekend, I finished the detachable wheeled stand that the platform will sit on when at the show, and for moving between my truck and the booth along with adding a hitch to my truck.
The wheeled stand is made from mild steel, just like the platform, except not as beefy since the platform has to ‘hang’ from the hitch with about 400 lbs on it. If I am calculating correctly, the stand has a capacity of around 1,200 lbs, which is more than 3 times the weight of the platform and embroidery machine (standard working vs breaking strength is a factor of 3).
So, you put the platform on the stand, put the machine on the platform, and strap it down with the welded on hooks. Then, slide it into the hitch on the truck and put the hitch pin in. Finally, slide the stand out from under the platform, and you are ready to drive. Reverse the procedure to put the platform back on the stand.
I painted everything blue, because it matches E’s mane. I am currently working on the duck cloth cover that will protect the machine from the hurricane force winds that driving on the interstate creates, along with protect against any rain along the way.
things left to do are finish the cover and water proof it. Then, there is some touchup on the paint I need to do and I need to (optionally) cut off about 8 inches of the 2” square tube that goes into the receiver (the part that isn’t painted). It will be under the table at bronycon so you won’t be able to see it, but it isn’t needed and doesn’t add any strength. I also need to cut the safety chain for the platform, which is currently 10’ long and doesn’t need to be any longer than roughly a foot.
Suprise demanded that I make her cutie mark into a patch or she would lay waste to my shop with a giant robot. I was half tempted to not make it because I love giant robots; but I don’t want one after me.
How to bring an embroidery machine to Bronycon, in 247 easy steps.
So yesterday, a note went out to the vendors going to Bronycon to tell them they couldn’t carry their own wares into the convention. Vendors had to hire local union labor to do it at somewhere around $30 per box (final price not known until tomorrow, estimated at 80 to 100 for 2 or 3 trips) from the car. Heavy items were more, especially if you needed a dolly or hand truck. You were not allowed to use your own hand truck, had to be theirs. But wheeled items like suitcases were okay to bring in.
Okay then, I like solving problems. I break out my welder to make a combination embroidery machine hauler slash embroidery machine stand. It will slot right into a regular 2” tow receiver that pretty much every truck has. Then, when I arrive at bronycon, I bolt on the legs, undo the hitch, and push it into the convention. Hey, it has it’s own wheels, no dolly needed!
The top is done including the strap down points for the trip. Now, I just need to build the legs, drill a hole for the hitch pin, paint it up and sew a protector out of water proof canvas or duck cloth for the journey from here to Bronycon.