Sunday, February 3, 2019

January Recap

Weeeelll, my hopes to keep up (better) with blogging have not gone so well so far.  The last couple of weeks in particular, I've been dealing with some heavy depression.  The thing that kicked it off was Jeff getting his orders for us to leave Japan..  in 6 months.  I really don't want to leave. 

Of course I've known this was coming, since before we even got here, but him getting the orders suddenly made it "real".  So that, coupled with several other things, got me into a rut and I've stayed there for the most part.  Not good news in the productive/creative department, though I have been working on some things.

Here's a summary of what went on in January!

The view from the Studio for most of the month

First, back in December, I got us a dog!  His name is Joey, he is a 2-1/2 year old yellow Lab, and he is the goodest boy.  It's been quite a while since we had a young, energetic dog.

We've been going on snowy walks...


...and lots of snowy walks.

On the way back, Joey sleeps in the car.

Jeff and I went on another snowy adventure, up to the Hakkoda mountains, not far from here.

This is one of the roads up there:

We rode the Ropeway (cable car) up to the summit of Mt. Hakkoda, thinking we'd hike around on some of the trails up top.

However, at the summit, it was what I imagine Antarctica to be like: complete whiteout conditions, HIGH wind, heavy snow, bitter cold.  Here's Jeff, looking over the snow covered, partially buried trail map.

Below was as far as we could see and it's deceptively bright and clear in this picture (which my camera auto brightened).  In reality, we couple barely see the people here.  The trails were closed, we wouldn't have dared to set out in these conditions anyway.  In this picture, you can see some of the famed "snow monsters" - trees that get covered with so much snow that they form giant lumpy shapes. 

When not out braving the snow (with and without Joey) I've been doing some gaming, sometimes with Tealight looking on.

I've also been chipping away on not one, but two Arabian costume panel sets.  I'm not as crazy about this green and blue set as I thought I'd be when I made the pattern.  Though I figure that'll make it easier to part with if I ever actually turn it into a full costume. 

Next up on the creative department, I've finally started on my MEPSA Makeover horse for this year.  You may remember Rexy, last year's project.  This time around the mold is Lady Phase.  My goal is to make her into a race horse, in a full gallop, because, that's what I do.  haha

I haven't been documenting her progress as thoroughly as I did Rexy, but so far all I've done is a few chop and heat sessions.

I pulled out my Visible Horse, who helped a bit in the creation of Rexy, to double check the bone structures inside.  One of our bathrooms is my chop shop, since I learned the smoke/fumes during dremeling sets off smoke alarms in the house.  Also it's probably a good idea to contain (and vent, via the exhaust fan) such fumes anyhow.  I do wear a respirator and safety glasses. 

In the Happy Mail department, the latest medallion from the Mystery Medallion club arrived and she is beautiful!

I've now got a pile of medallions building up.  Just recently I saw that The Jennifer Show will have medallion classes and I think this means I need to get some of mine painted!  Eventually...

On the NaMoPaiMo front, I've started prep on my project horse, but quickly became overwhelmed by how much prep she's going to need.  I really don't like prepping.  However, I'll be back to work on her later today or tomorrow. 

I think that about wraps up the first month of 2019. 


Monday, January 7, 2019

2019 Custom Horses To Come

This isn't so much of a "New Year's Resolution" list as it is just me wanting to get all of these organized on a list and I thought: why not share it?  

The first batch are those with deadlines, afterwards are some lose ideas I've got rattling around at the top layer of the bottomless pit of ideas...

MEPSA Makeover 
Deadline: February 15th
The mold for this time is Lady Phase.  My idea is for her to be a racehorse, full gallop, because, why not?  Is she started yet...?  Hahahahaha...  no.

Start: February 1st
Deadline: February 28th
I'll be painting my Kitty Cantrell Chincoteague Pony mare resin as a palomino tobiano.  She needs quite a bit of prep..  I really should get going on that.

MEPSA Mini Contest
Deadline: March 31st
I think I'll most likely do a couple for this, but no idea yet who.

Meows And Minis 
Deadline: early August
I wanted to donate some custom minis last year, but didn't.  This year I'd like to do at least one.

Others, non deadline:

Copy Cat Custom
I've loved the idea of this since I first heard about it, but have not yet started my own.  Here's the Facebook group for it: The Copy Cat Custom Project.

A fun idea I've had for a little while and something I've been thinking about a lot lately.  A Talbuk is an antelope-like creature in World of Warcraft.  Several of them have been made into mounts that the player can ride and one of those (the white one pictured) is my favorite ground mount for my main character.  I've always loved the way they look and I worked long and hard on the quest chain that allowed purchase of the mounts as soon as I could.

Original Sculpture(s) 
I have a large classic Thoroughbred stallion in the works - barely started, been that way for years...

Many, many years ago I started a SM scale cutting calf.  Would like to maybe work on that again.

Possibly I'll try to do a medallion or two?

Smoky, started for ICEE
Ah yes, my ICEE project who was not to be....  I had put a coat of primer on him after this picture, contemplated doing a rush job to finish him, decided no.  So he's in the holding pattern herd.

Nameless, faceless, hordes
Then there's, um, the fact that I'll be back stateside this summer/fall and finally able to go to some shows again.  (!!!!!!!!!!)  I reeeeally want to have a fresh new show string and not keep trotting out my oldies.  I love them, but... I sorely need some new faces in the herd.

That does mean that right in the middle of all of this, life will be uprooted by another big 'round the world MOVE and most all of my horses, supplies, and so on, will be in transit for a few months.

I really need to plan ahead and around that.

Okay, time to stop typing, daydreaming, and get to work.  Or go take a nap.  Ha!

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Did You See So Much Videos??

Today I filmed, and uploaded, not one, but TWO videos to my YouTube channel.

The first was a bit of a tutorial on (part one) of how I prep a Stablemate for painting.

The second was a viewer request from my last vlog, where someone said that a video about the laser business would be neat.  So I threw that together too!

My goals for this year include a lot more videos, blog posts, and in general social media type stuff.  I certainly don't think I'll be able to do two videos a day, everyday (ha!), but I think today was a good start toward that goal.

PS: The title of this post is inspired by a quote from this Kid Snippets clip: Kid Snippets: "Salesman".  "Did you see so much money?!"  is a quote that Jeff and I use, or versions of it, quite a bit.  If you haven't heard of Kid Snippets, you should check out some of their videos.  The premise is: what would happen is kids wrote movies.  Kids act out scenes and then the adults lip sync and act out what they said.  They are hilarious.  Some of our favorites are: "Math Class", "Cooking Show", and "Hunting".

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Happy 2019!

Happy New Year!

During our time here in Japan, we've tried to check out MANY cultural events.  For New Year's we've done a few different things. 

Our first New Year's here, we made the trek south to Sendai for their "Pageant of Starlight".  It was a truly magical sight: an entire city main street lined with towering trees, on either side and down the wide median in the middle, that were completely covered with tiny white lights. 

In another year, we went to a large Shinto Shrine to bring in the New Year.  That year we also experienced what ended up being the national shopping day, similar to "Black Friday". 

As this New Year approached, we had talked about what we should do this time.  We considered another trip to Sendai.  However, it is a long way away and, most notably, very expensive to go there on the toll road (the only real "interstate" type highway.  Neither of us were thinking we'd do that again.  We wanted to do something, but what?

I had an idea.

A couple of years ago, I came across the Japanese tradition of seeing the first sunrise of a New Year.

I'd already mentioned to Jeff that I'd like to go see a sunrise at the beach this winter.  It would be our last chance to catch a sunrise at a more reasonable time here.  During the summer, the sun is up by 4am.  Seriously.   

So, I proposed that for our last New Year's here, we should go see the first sunrise.

Yesterday, we went to our friends' house and had a great time, eating, playing games, and laughing until our sides hurt.  We didn't come home until about 10.  Last night, admittedly, I was second guessing my idea of getting up early, in the dark and cold, to go stare at the horizon...

But, we did it!  (and I'm so glad)

Here's what the sky looked like shortly after we arrived at the beach:

Interestingly, the colors faded and stayed that way for a little while.  I worried that we'd actually missed the sunrise?

Oh wait, what's that?

There it is!  Hello, sun.

We watched as it moved behind a cloud, which seemed perfectly positioned.  As it neared the top, the cloud was so bright and we could see the rays spreading across the sky. 

It's all the way up, too bright to look at now.

Time to head back up the beach. 

When we first arrived, one car had just beat us there.  On the walk back, Jeff said "look at all the cars!"  The section of beach where we and the other car had parked had turned into a parking lot.  We saw many people out to catch the first sunrise. 

On the way home, I got a text from my friend Jennifer

I had a good laugh at that.  Last year, I had messed around, asking where the signup page was, on January 1st, over here.  If you didn't know, we are a day ahead - a fact that I've had a lot of fun with at times.

Okay, okay, let's see...

As soon as we got home from the beach, I went to the studio to consider my options. 

I hadn't actually narrowed down my choice of model or color -at all- but invigorated from just spending a couple of hours out at the beach, I thought it would be fitting to (finally) paint my Chincoteague Pony mare resin.  After all, it would be great to get some pictures of her here on the beach before we go...

For color, I ended up choosing palomino tobiano, which is terrifying.  Not so much the tobiano part, I don't think... but the palomino bit.  Despite loving palominos and buckskins, I've always found them a massive challenge and very intimidating to paint. 

I filled out the entry form, sent off my entry fee, and made a quick post to the NaMoPaiMo Facebook page all jumping the gun, before those in the U.S.

And with that, I'm committed!  Or, maybe I should be...  Heh. 

Jeff, Joey, and I weren't the only ones who enjoyed the sunrise this morning.  I found Tealight basking in the glow of it in our upstairs hallway. 

After all of that excitement, I crashed on the couch for a couple of hours. 

Happy New Year!  ;)  I hope it's a good for you.  :)

Here is another article about Japanese New Year traditions, if you'd like to learn more: New Year in Japan

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Thanksgiving and Wolfenoot

Happy Thanksgiving!

"Um... you think those are MINI pumpkins and corn?!"


Happy Wolfenoot!

You might be thinking "Wait, what...?"

Here's an explanation:

Also, I just found the official Wolfenoot Facebook group

Jeff and I first heard out about this a few months ago and immediately decided we would be celebrating Wolfenoot.  When doing our shopping for Thanksgiving cooking, we picked up cake mix, icing, and the meat (steaks).  We forgot about the hiding gifts part, but that's okay. 

The cake has been baked, the meat will be cooked tonight, and we will be enjoying our first Wolfenoot! 

I hope everyone else has been enjoying the holiday(s)!

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Yabusame Competition - Quick Recap

(A quick recap here, much more to come!)

The Yabusame event was this past weekend.  I've been in recovery mode all of this week.  It was a HUGE thing for me to do, on many levels - battling my social anxiety, stage fright, etc., etc., and it took a lot out of me - though it was AWESOME!

In the weeks leading up to it, I'd decided that I had three goals for the competition:

1: Stay on the horse.

2: Don't drop anything (bow or arrows).

3: Fire off all three arrows each run.

Once the event arrived, I added another goal:

4: Run a qualifying time each round. 

After all of that, the cherry on top would be to get points for hitting a target.

I'm happy to say that I did 1-4; I stayed on Toby, held onto all my gear, managed to shoot all of my arrows each time, and ran qualifying times.  What I did not do was hit any targets.  I was missing consistently, hitting about 6-8 inches past the target.  I think it was because Toby was running faster than he does in practice and so my usual point to fire at was going by faster too.  I was dialing it in though and I think with another run or two, I might have gotten one!

For the practice sessions the two days before, and the practice runs each morning over the weekend, I wore a Go Pro on my helmet.  Jeff and several friends were there taking pictures.  As a result I have a TON of video and pictures to go through.  I need to finally stop procrastinating and learn how to edit videos.  (for example: the first practice day resulted in 21GB of video - need to trim that down!)  I can't promise when I'll have videos available, but hopefully soon-ish...?

In the meantime, here are a few pictures from the Saturday morning practice:

Friday, October 12, 2018

Yabusame Crafting

The Yabusame competition is a week away (eeek!) and I've got a few craft projects to put together before it gets here:

1: Helmet cover

2: Decorate my arrows

3: Make a thumb chard, or two

I finished number two today, decorating the arrows.  I've been practicing with a set of arrows that my friend Angie loaned me, but during a yumi (bow) lesson a few days ago, I learned that they are too short for me.  So, I took the plunge and bought my very own set of three arrows!

They come with a plain wooden tip and most everyone decorates them, sometimes they are painted, but many of the ones I've seen are covered in washi paper. 

I hadn't ever done anything like this, but figured I'd give it a go.  Thinking it'd be fun to document it, I snapped a few pictures along the way.

Here's the plain wooden tip, they put a label with my name on each of the arrows:

I was told I should reinforce the tip with some tape, so I started off by doing that. 

Here's the pattern I made, using printer paper:

My idea was to wrap the paper around the tip and then glue down the tabs.  (Side note, see the owie on my thumb?  Hence my desire for thumb guards.  I realized just recently that it appears I'm giving myself "paper cuts" with the fletchings, particularly these new ones which are still crisp and sharp.)

I think it will work!

Here's the real paper, some pretty washi paper I've had for a while.  I wanted something to match my riding kimono (which I received yesterday and: It. Is. GORGEOUS - more on it in a future post).  The top of it is my favorite rich blue color, which oddly I don't have in my paper stash...  but the bottom is shades of white, pink and purple, so I went that route:

The "spine" and first side glued down:

Time to cut the tabs on the other side.  I was going to cut all of the tabs before putting them on, but then decided it'd be easier to cut them where I wanted them on the actual tip.

All glued down!

Here are all three of them.  My paper wasn't quite long enough to cover the whole tip.

So I went back and added some strips around the top.  I also put a strip of pretty washi tape around the start of the shaft. 

I think they are ready to go! 

As for the thumb guard, I think I might actually try and wear my cycling, fingerless, gloves.  My last lesson, at the club, is tomorrow, I'm going to be experimenting with a lot of new stuff: arrows and gloves.  If they don't work I'm going to make a leather or synthetic leather cover for one or both of my thumbs.

The helmet cover comes next!  I was given the extra fabric from the two kimonos that were combined into one for my riding kimono, so can make the cover to match.  I'm far from a seamstress; I think the most sewing I've done has been on model horse blankets.  Ha!  But I'm sure I'll figure something out.