Onward to 2020!

Hi guys, and thank you for sticking with us through our creative adventures! As we roll into 2020, I once again notice how rarely I update this blog and thus all the stuff you guys never get to hear about. So, here goes:

Building Update!

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Back room, our big project! Tearing out the old rotted flat roof.

The great adventure that we moved into two years ago and purchased last year is crawling towards being a better and better building.

The first good update? It’s not raining inside anymore! Yes, we got our roof repairs done and took away Nathaniel’s serenity waterfall. It will still need a more complete roof replacement in the future, but this is a huge positive step.

There is still lots to do. Apparently the constant moisture was the only thing holding together some of the floor boards back there, so now that they aren’t constantly getting wet the wood started to crumble. So, one more thing to replace before we can really open the storefront.

But it is all fixed enough that we can occasionally open to guests… and we’ve done a lot of fixing to the front as well. We hope to soon exhibit local artists in our big front display window rooms!

Major Projects

IMG_20191208_111310-02We have had some ambitious moments this year, some bursts of wild creativity. Some have been successful, some have not. Fixing the building has delayed getting our rental inventory really built, but we have found a greater interest which helps.

Of course, one of our coolest projects this year was the Amethyst God Hammer.  Because sometimes you just want to make something absolutely awesome,

And speaking of “cool,” we had one silly little thing to combat the intense Virginia Renaissance Faire heat take off more than expected this year –fan holsters! Seriously, I could not keep these in stock for a chunk of this summer.

The building took up a lot of our time and interfered with a chunk of our productivity this year, so hopefully 2020 will mean a lot of new awesome coming out of the studio!

Shows We Did

We did a lot of our old standbys this year – Madicon, Virginia Renaissance Faire, Dragon Con – but we always try to add in a handful of new. We’re experimenting with where our new “local” is, and as a result how far south we are willing to go. We started off our 2019 season in Atlanta and ended it in Orlando! Ah, nice weather in December is delightful…

We’ve been sticking to more renaissance fairs and less comic conventions in the last year, a trend that will probably continue. We generally do well with our unique blend at small renaissance festivals. The comic convention market has been interesting over the last year or two, so we’ll be keeping an eye to see what happens.

We are expanding into more horror and haunter events. We were not able to do the haunted house again this year, but we’d still love to try again in the future. But we’re going to start off our 2020 at Hauntcon, to promote our custom services to the haunter and Halloween community! That should definitely be fun!

So, here’s to 2020 everyone – may this year be better than the last, and may we make all of the awesome things!

 

Call For Artists!

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Hello local artists! We want you to show off your awesome work!

We have an awesome 10 foot by 10 foot display window at the front corner of our store. It is our goal to use this to display the work of an eclectic assortment of creative people.

What is the space?

The retail display window is approximately 10 feet by 10 feet. It includes a back wall with a doorway for access and full glass windows on three sides. It is regularly driven by on both The Boulevard and Irving Street. It is in high sun and does have significant changes in temperature, so bear that in mind when thinking of what you want to display.

What can I display here?

Almost anything you want! Want to make a big installation piece? Sure! Want to sell things from our window? We can help with that. Want to suspend things from the ceiling? As long as it’s nothing really heavy, go right ahead! Want to paint the room itself? As long as it is returned to neutral at the end of the month, have fun!

What’s the catch?

Minimal catches, we promise! Each artist will have the space for one month. You must install your work within the first week of the month, keep your work up for as much of the month as possible, and clean out the window and return it to neutral by the end of the month. If you let Wyrd Armouries make any sales for you, we will collect 25% commission on those sales.

In return, we will promote you and your window in our social media, and have your contact info of your choice easily at hand for anyone who sees your work.

What do I need to do to display my work?

Simple answer? Send us an email at wyrdarmouries@gmail.com ! Please include the following things in your email:

  • Your name and contact info
  • An artist statement or artist bio
  • Photo examples of your work
  • A proposal of what you would like to display
  • Your top three choices of what month you would like to display your work.

Availability:

Please note that in October and December Wyrd Armouries decorates this window for the holidays. These months are not available.

Currently available are:

  • January 2020
  • February 2020
  • March 2020
  • April 2020
  • May 2020
  • June 2020
  • August 2020
  • September 2020
  • November 2020

When What Can Go Wrong Does Go Wrong

Being a small business, a creative person, an artist, a self-employed person… there are so many things that can go wrong, and usually no one but yourself to fix it. You can’t keep going if you don’t adapt.

Fortunately, we are stubborn.

Oops, We forgot something!

 

With as many shows as we have done, it is to be expected that occasionally something has been left behind. Packing for events is never not stressful, no matter how many times we have done it, and it often happens at the end of very long weeks trying to make as many things as we possibly can.

Sometimes, it is specialty displays that get left. We left our mask displays behind once, before we learned how to show them on gridwall. Last minute solution? Skinny pillows from Goodwill that matched our booth colors. We still use the pillows to add some interest to our displays.

Inventory that gets left behind is probably the most annoying. That’s things that might have sold that customers never see. Fortunately, all of our inventory doesn’t fit in just one box, so we’ve never left behind all of our inventory. It does mean putting out pretty much everything else we have made to make up for it.

Most recently, we forgot a bag of stakes that goes to our large, medieval pavilion for a one weekend event. It uses both large stakes for tension and small stakes to pin the 16 poles. Replacing all of those at a moment’s notice was next to impossible and would have been painfully expensive. In that case, it was a cost decision – buying a new backup tent at Walmart was more cost effective than buying all new stakes. So creative use of Walmart canopys it was!

For one show, we even had our entire tent not ship on time! And that’s why one of our backup tents is a 10 x 20 carport.

Rain, and Wind Oh My!

If you do outdoor shows, you have to contend with weather.

Actually, amend that. Sometimes, you have to contend with weather even with an indoor show. Shows on snow days where no one can make it to your indoor show are a not good you can’t do anything about.

And then there was that one time there was a pipe leak above our booth and we had to move tables to avoid stinky water. Thank goodness none of our products were directly under it!

But rain and wind… they will happen, and you have to adapt.

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Poor mangled steel tent! The only tents that survived the night were the full reenactor tents.

Wind is our least favorite. Several seasons ago, we lost three pop up tents in the course of a year. One was twisted beyond any hope of salvaging by a hurricane remnant. That was the year that made us buy our medieval pavilion!

Sometimes, it just means no sleeping in the tent at night, like we usually do at renaissance faires. High winds or thunderstorms tearing through a camp site can send us to sleeping in the car – which at this point we are well prepared for with foam mats and car blankets. It used to send us to a hotel.

And then there’s rain. Rain is easier for a tent set up than wind, but not good on leather products or on foot traffic. Product we can shift, and what is where will rotate when the rain get bad. Leather goes to where it is most protected, wood gets a little wet. But rain also means mud. We were “the dock” at last year’s Virginia Renaissance Faire because the hill became a river that parted around our makeshift wooden platform. Not setting up for an extended time without a platform again!

But if it’s only a one weekend event, we have to rely on organizers for things like straw. Our poor neighbors once had a river through their tent!

But whatever the problem, if there is a show we have paid for, we will be there! Maybe sometimes a little late. Maybe sick or sleep deprived. But we’ll be there!

What show disasters have you had to deal with? I’d love to hear your stories in the comments!

Wyrd Armouries Swag!

When Nathaniel and I went to the Halloween & Party Expo (which was totally awesome, by the way), I designed t-shirts for us to wear on the floor. They were made last minute with iron-on transfers, but we still like the design.

So, we’ve made it available for all of our friends who are Keeping It Wyrd! Proceeds from the sale of these will help us keep renovating our studio and bringing you new creative projects. If you have a moment, think about picking up a little swag to support Wyrd Armouries!

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Support Wyrd Armouries section of our Etsy store

The Other Stores – More News from The Boulevard

So, continuing down the list of updates from 2018, here’s our two sibling businesses, and a short tale of how they came to be! (Seriously, we were not planning on three storefronts in one year. That’s crazy talk.)

In April I made the move to officially live in Eden most of the time. We had met one of the local building owners, and when asked what homes were for rent near the studio… well, there literally was one across the street. Cute little old yellow house, 2-3 bedrooms depending on how you set it up, entertainingly crooked with age. It was actually a lunch room in the 60s, with living areas above.

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(There it is, before it was painted yellow, with the theater next door on fire.)

So, I happily moved in and starting setting it up to suit me. So, see that picture above? Some point after the theater burned down, the local post office was built on that spot. Our local post office is now much bigger and in a different part of town, and by the time I moved in a small church was using that building.

About the churches… Eden has a ridiculous statistic with its high concentration of churches. The Boulevard is not that big a commercial street, but it has Eden Baptist on one end and Shaw Christian Church on the other, plus it had this small church in the middle.

A couple months after I moved in, the little church moved out. At which point Nathaniel jumped on the property, because he had ideas. The plan? The Olde Post Office Theater and Game Parlor. Getting it off the ground has been a bit of slow going with everything else we are up to, but we were able to do one awesome thing with it – This year, Wyrd Armouries sponsored/threw our very first haunted house!

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Our awesome haunted house cast!

More on the haunted house in my next blog post, because hey, it was awesome and deserves its own highlight!

Also in October, the little crooked yellow house got its new storefront addition. See, living on the street that we are trying to help revitalize, I felt a little guilty that this adorable building was now just a home. But it did have two entrances, and the front one goes into a room that can be easily closed off from the rest of the house.

I repainted that room and used it a couple of times in the summer as a pop-up gallery of our work, since the studio could not be opened to the public yet. But by October I made it into its own thing. So, now the little yellow building is home to Crooked Treehouse Enchanting Gifts, my own little hole-in-the-wall witchy shop.

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Front stoop of the witchy shop

That store is now open in the evenings, and the Old Post Office is working on launching. If all goes well, that will we an improv and gaming space, as well as a space where we can teach classes and throw events that show off what Wyrd Armouries can do.

So thank you to The Boulevard for giving us a new home, and don’t mind us as we take over this little corner of it!

Update – The Great and Terrible Studio Building

As promised, I’m following up on our 2018 in review with some more detailed posts, so here’s a “where we are” update. Our big news last year was finding a new building to move our business into. Well, it’s a year later and we’re not nearly as far along as we hoped, but progress has been made and we’re learning a lot.

First, we found some of the history of the building! We got into a storage loft that had been painted shut since the 70s to find various seasonal displays stored away. Not in the best of shape, but still a cool find and let us piece together more of the history. Our tax records put our building as dating from 1930, but we have a suspicion it was built on the bones of a previous building on the same corner. The business in 1930 was Globman’s department store, a local chain started in Martinsville, VA (about 30 minutes away) by a Russian Jewish immigrant family. By the 70s they had outgrown the Boulevard, Eden location and moved to the then new Eden Mall. By 1973 our building was a Western Auto. We found some of their holiday displays, too.

As of this fall, we officially own the building. So that’s exciting! After going back and forth for a while with our landlord to try and find ways to fund fixing our roof, we worked out buying it from him instead. So yeah, it’s ours! Wonders and problems and all.

Here’s a look at the inside – our progress, our problems, and why we still love our new old building.

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“Cynthia’s” side of the studio, where we’ve both been doing much of our work as we renovate the rest.
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Leatherworking station. More permanent furniture is still to come, but I’m loving the room.
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Sewing station.
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Front wall mostly built, to divide our showroom from our work areas. Look at that lovely tin tile ceiling!
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View into Nathaniel’s side of the back… with our room problems showing in the back of the room.
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The beginning of storage and work bays being built on the back side of the dividing wall.
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Display case salvaged from another local building we’ve been clearing out. There are 2 more of these we still have to restore. Love the rolling base Nathaniel built!
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View from the inside of our front window, out onto The Boulevard.

Last Day of Store Fundraising!

Hello everyone! First of all, a huge thank you to everyone who has contributed to our fundraiser for our new storefront! We have raise 21% of our goal. Not enough for the major repairs, but enough that next week we will be starting our major build out!

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Our window sticker has gotten a lot of excitement and curiosity from our neighbors!
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Turning the office side from industrial cream to warm brown. Going to continue the steampunk aesthetic in here!
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Stripping off decades of old paint, we found beautiful old oak beneath!
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Speaking of beneath, beginning the clean out of the old basement. Yay working sump pump!

There are still a few hours to donate, so click here to help and get cool stuff!

What’s next for us? Next week is loads of lumber, so we can begin building the wall to separate our front gallery from our workshops, with new counters and new flooring for general awesomeness.

Thank you again everyone for your help!

 

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One last cool picture for you: Historic picture of The Boulevard! We found this in the shop while cleaning it out.