Virtual Vending

Recently, I had the opportunity to vend at an online witchcraft conference. The Critical Thinking Witch Collective (formerly SASS Witches – Science-minded, Agnostic/Atheist, Secular, and Skeptical Witches) held their annual CritWitchCon at the beginning of October this year, and when I saw on Instagram that they’d be having vendors I was immediately interested. I’ve been following them for a while, and love their approach.

The con is held in a Zoom room, with breakout rooms to offer the kind of hangout space an in-person con has in the hallways. There’s a Discord server for the convention (think instant messaging but there are a bunch of different channels where chats happen), with channels for each presentation, various topics, and for each vendor. The vendor fee was pretty low and included a ticket to the con, so I figured it was worth a try.

I’m so glad I gave it a shot! There are quite a few things to like about my online vending experience:

  • Watching the presentations while also vending. I kept my channel open in one window and the Zoom in another, and so was effectively in the vendor room while also attending panels. Not something I get to do at most cons!
  • Zero commute. I vended from the comfort of my home office. This removes the biggest source of vending costs for me – travel expenses. (no joke, even for local cons there’s gas and time, and for out-of-town events there’s hotel room, parking, etc etc etc).
  • Easy setup and teardown. I didn’t have to haul inventory, set up tables, load a vehicle, etc. I cleared my desk a bit and tided up the parts of my office that would show on camera.
  • I got to be on a panel! There was a brief vendor panel that was even more fun than I expected. It was fun to talk a little about my biz and gave attendees a chance to see me a bit.
  • No con crud concerns! A big deal these days, and the reason I’m not vending in person yet. I’m chronically ill, so I have to be extra careful about covid. But nobody was in my room but me, so it was totally safe on that front!

There were a few less-than-great things:

  • Attendees couldn’t handle my books. This is easily the most important thing for my little biz. Photos don’t do them justice, and the quality of material and construction are much easier to see in person vs. online.
  • Fewer chats with attendees. One of the things I miss most about vending is chatting with folks about books! I had my Discord channel, but it was pretty low traffic. It’s hard to look friendly and easy to talk to through a screen.
  • I wasn’t sure how best to promote myself in the Discord.¬† This being a brand new thing for me, I had almost no idea what I was doing. ūüôā

Overall, though, it was a very positive experience! I have a few ideas for things to do if/when I get to virtually vend in the future:

  • Do a demo! One of the things that’s great about in-person vending is that people get to see me working on books. I posted a few photos in my channel, but doing a proper demo would probably have made more of an impression. Even just a little video stream in my own channel (though having time in the main Zoom would be amazing)
  • Do a raffle/giveaway! Getting more of my books into the hands of folks who can appreciate them is always a good thing.

Many thanks to the organizers for this fun opportunity! I hope to vend with y’all again soon.

September’s a Big Month!

Hey, book lovers!

The blog’s been quiet, but if you follow my Instagram¬†(or Facebook, or Tumblr) you know I’ve been busybusy, getting ready to vend at Rose City Comic Con¬†(9/19 & 9/20)¬†If you’ve never been, it is an amazing con. Fans of comics or of scifi/fantasy in general, it is 100% worth the price of admission ($50 for both days or $30 for one). Plus, you’ll get a chance to buy some of my blank books with comic-book covers! I am not listing them on Etsy before the con.

Other news: The super awesome Two Artsy Gals podcast had me on as a guest! We hung out and chatted about bookbinding for over an hour, and the episode is going to go live on 9/10, so be sure to check it out! (I’m sure I’ll be posting about it everywhere on the day as well, heh.) It’s a great podcast, so if you are irreverent and dig DIY/crafts, go check it out.

Here are a few pix from my Instagram feed over the last couple weeks:

Any Deadpool fans in the house? #bookbinding #bookarts #deadpool #comics

A photo posted by Ealasaid Haas (@thebookroadie) on

Stamping books with my URL, woo! #bookbinding #bookarts #selfie

A photo posted by Ealasaid Haas (@thebookroadie) on

Bruce Wayne, into the book press! He’ll be on my table at #RCCC. #bookbinding #bookarts #comics #batman

A photo posted by Ealasaid Haas (@thebookroadie) on

Getting lots done! #bookbinding #bookarts

A photo posted by Ealasaid Haas (@thebookroadie) on

Quick Update

Hey everybody!

If you follow my Twitter, Instagram, or Tumblr accounts, you know I’ve been busy bookbinding lately, even if I haven’t been blogging about it.

It’s been a trippy few months. Last month, I found and managed to buy a Hamilton type cabinet full of lead type from a fellow member of the Guild of Book Workers¬†– lead type is a bit tricky to use in my Kwik-Print hot foil stamper, but I can do it if I’m careful, and this means I have WAY more options when stamping book covers! I’m still getting the hang of using the Kwik-Print, it’s more of an art than a science.

I’m going to be vending at Rose City Comic Con, which is¬†next month. As in, I have about thirty days to get together a reasonable amount of stock to sell at a huge event. Thankfully, I have a bunch of materials and ideas! I’ve been binding up a storm, and will continue to do so pretty much right up to the last minute. Woo!

Accomplishments!

I was able to take a pretty long vacation from my day job for the holidays this year, and I decided to keep roughly the same schedule but do bookbinding instead! I had a great time, and bound a ton of books. Check it out:

Accomplishments!

BOOKS COMPLETED: 19
BOOKS READY TO CASE IN: 13
BOOKS IN PROGRESS: 24

For the curious, the reason I separated “ready to case in” and “in progress” is that once a book is ready to case in, it’s almost done. The actual casing-in gets done all at once, so it’s basically a single, longish step that ends with the book in the press overnight. The steps leading up to that are many, so the in-progress books are a lot further from being done than the ready-to-case-in ones.

I’m back at my day job as of today, but I’m hoping to keep up the momentum as much as possible in the six weeks I have before I vend at Pantheacon. Wish me luck!

PAPER

So, anybody who’s interacted with me in a bookbinding context has probably already figured out that I’m a paper geek. I love paper.¬†Love it.

Naturally I am SUPER excited about the paper in the photo below! It’s from the fantastic Pulp & Deckle, a papermaking studio here in Portland. They graciously made me a bunch of handmade, hand-marbled papers to use as endpapers, and I am SO EXCITED.

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Pulp & Deckle papers in my thrilling newish flat file!

Look at that loveliness! They use recycled and reclaimed materials (like old sheets from thrift stores and used wrapping paper!) to make this lovely, thick, soft paper. I am smitten. I’ve already got one book in progress using a pair of these for endsheets, and I will soon have many more, I’m sure.

*crickets*

So, it’s been quiet around here!

That’s because I’m moving in April — and not just moving like I normally do (ie, about 20 minutes away, and via several car trips over a week or three plus one big push with friends). No, no, I’m moving out of state. All at once.

This requires, unsurprisingly, a shitton of work. I’ve been sorting through the boxes of miscellanea that have accumulated over my years of not-really-having-to-purge-when-I-move, and I’ll be doing a similar sort through basically all my possessions… except, as will likely surprise nobody, my book collection.

I joked recently that once I’ve read a book, it gets a forever home in my library — and I meant it.

Anyway. Once I start packing, I plan on doing another series on moving so y’all can come along. I have huge plans for posts I want to write, but right now all my spare time is taken up with my day job, moving preparations, and trying to fight off some bug that’s taken up residence in my body. So hang in there. More posts are coming! It just might be a while.

NaBoBiMo: A Look Back

Geez, where did the month go? It’s nearly the end of December, and I never did a quick summary post for NaBoBiMo!

Well, part of that is that I wound up working my first two craft fairs (which went great!). And part of it is that I fell short of my goal, and who likes looking back over not making a goal? Not me!

Anyway. The finally tally was: 16 books (plus loads of prep for the other 14) over about 30 hours. That means it takes me under two hours to do a book, which is pretty awesome! Plus, I learned exactly how much each needs in the way of materials and how many books i can feasibly do in a month without making myself crazy or giving up my social life. (Which also means I learned that I can do more if I do give up my social life!)

I count NaBoBiMo 2012 as a success, if only because I made way more books than I have in any previous month. Go me!

NaBoBiMo Day 19!

Yeesh, the month is getting away from me! Good thing the holiday weekend is coming up. Hopefully I can crank out enough text blocks in time to get them trimmed by the lovely folks at Signature Print Services before Turkeyday.

Anyway! Here’s the status after today:

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Up top are six text blocks almost ready to trim. Below are two text blocks ready to prep for binding and four finished books.

Here are the two I finished most recently:

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The colors aren’t quite true here, since it’s night time, but the right one has gold fabric and a sort of orchid violet with gold brushstrokes on it. So pretty!

Here are their endpapers:

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Not bad!

If I bind two books a day for the rest of the month, I’ll be four short. Since I should be able to bind at least three or four a day over the holiday weekend, that’s actually not too bad! The real bottleneck will be getting the text blocks trimmed.

Progress:

  • Cutting/prepping of materials: Cover materials almost entirely prepped! About 1/2 of endpapers prepped.
  • Text blocks sewn and awaiting prep: 8
  • Books prepped and awaiting casing-in: 0
  • Total books cased-in: 4
  • Total time: 17:24

NaBoBiMo Day 12: FINISHED BOOKS OMG

Holy cow, I pulled two finished books out of the press today! Very exciting. BEHOLD:

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Pretty sweet, eh? AND I prepped two more text blocks for casing in. Woot!

The other thing I did today is finish hacking up all the paper and bookcloth I have — which turns out to only be enough for a total of 25 books. Oops. So my estimates were a leetle off.

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My back hurts, gah.

Progress:

  • Cutting/prepping of materials: Cover materials almost entirely prepped! About 1/2 of endpapers prepped.
  • Text blocks sewn and awaiting prep: 7
  • Books prepped and awaiting casing-in: 2
  • Total books cased-in: 2
  • Total time: 12:30

NaBoBiMo Day 11!

Welp, two books are IN THE PRESS and drying, so as of tomorrow, I will have two books FINISHED. I’m looking forward to casing in more and more books as the month progresses. Because I only have one nipping press, I can only do 2-3/day, so I’m glad to have some in already. Wooo!

The other book-related thing I did today was post a bunch of books over at my Etsy store. Just in time for y’all to start your holiday shopping early! Check it out!

Closeup of Royal Goldfish blank book