Since I was not aware that I was likely to be terrorised by my mail today, I didn’t think to record my reaction for posterity. Therefore, I shall attempt to describe what was going through my mind in the moment I opened my post, in the manner of a text-based RPG.
<You have just woken from an unfulfilling nap and put a pot of coffee on. You’re still half asleep but it’s later than you expected, so you go to see if there has been any mail. A large manila envelope is waiting on the mat>
Your brain: Oh, crap, that looks important, which probably means I’ve defaulted on a loan I didn’t know I had, am in trouble for something I don’t remember doing or am having my house repossessed… by Canada?
<You mentally tot up all the possible reasons why people in Canada with access to official-looking stationery might be writing to you. Sensible reasons are in short supply, so you shift gear towards entirely nonsensical ones. Now you are suddenly entirely awake, moving up the scales of anxiety and kind of hoping you (and by extension, the postman) just misread the address>
<Nope, it’s definitely intended for you>
Your brain: Oh, shit.
<The rational part of your brain taps on your shoulder and suggests that perhaps you don’t know why you have official-looking stationery from Canada, marked with a sticker from either a financial institution or a solicitor in your hand, because you actually haven’t done anything wrong>
<You put the letter down on the bureau>
<You pick it up again>
Your brain (resolutely): Better to find out.
<Your hands are shaking slightly while you try to open the envelope. The tape holding the flap down refuses to peel off>
<You go to the kitchen for a knife>
Your brain (hopefully): Maybe the tape doesn’t want me to see what’s in the envelope, either?
<You take a knife and manage to slit the end of the envelope open without cutting off any of your own fingers>
<The first sheet of paper you see has been written on in a child’s scrawl. Beneath the words is a scribbled sketch that dumps adrenaline in your system and makes your skin crawl>
You, out loud: What the actual fuck?
Your brain (wails): OMG, I read the writing! I read the writing! Why did I have to read the goddamned writing?
<Your hand moves, unbidden, to take the paper. You realise it’s one of many documents filling the envelope. You absolutely DO NOT want to touch it but you’re going to do it anyway>
<Something small and soft flies out of the envelope and bounces off your arm. Somewhere between it hitting you and falling to the floor, you realise it’s a lock of hair>
<You shriek like you’re about to be murdered and drop everything. You were asleep ten minutes ago and now you’re starring in a horror film that should be taking place in a gothic mansion on a misty island, inhabited by a weird, hermit-like couple and their creepy, dead-eyed kids, not in your perfectly normal and perfectly sane kitchen>
<Hearing the scream, your dogs come running, barking and start bouncing around you. They don’t know if it’s a game or if they are supposed to rescue you from something but whatever it is, it’s exciting!>
<Your heart is beating so hard, you can actually feel your pulse in your fingertips>
<Rational-brain taps on your shoulder again>
R-B: If you’re done with the theatrics, entertaining as they are, can I tell you that you’re a complete moron?
Your brain: Huh?
<You try to calm yourself and two licking, bouncing, barking lurchers down, and rescue everything off the floor>
<The dogs realise the floorshow is over and start to settle, and the penny finally drops>
Your brain (starts checking for unusual electronic devices in the corners): I’m on a hidden camera show!
R-B: (Sigh) No, try again.
<You look down at the envelope and lock of hair in your hands, confused. You think you can feel the black eyes of the goblin watching you, even though you can only see the top corner of the page poking out>
Your brain: Ummm…
R-B: You saw it on Facebook about six months ago? Does that help?
<It does. You’re an idiot. And, likely, a drama queen. You actually screamed, you fool. Someone obviously thought you had too much time on your hands and they’re clearly right if insane flights of fancy are the first place your mind goes to on getting a strange letter>
You, out loud: Oh, crap. It’s a mysterious package, isn’t it?
R-B: Yes. Yes, it is.
<Overwhelmed with relief that you’re not about to start being stalked by some demon from the Dungeon Dimensions and mildly embarrassed by your extreme over-the-top-ness, you quite suddenly sit down on the floor and start laughing like a lunatic>
<The dogs are equally excited by this and the bouncing starts up again but you can barely gather enough breath to calm them>
R-B: You’re aware that this is still an extreme reaction, right? Go get some coffee before you embarrass yourself any further.
<You get up, carefully return the hair to the envelope and pour yourself some coffee. You’re only sorry that no one was home to document the entire incident on camera>
The letter that accompanied my nightmare-in-an-envelope informed me that the contents are from the first of several safe-deposit boxes, and that anonymous instructions were given to forward their contents to me if they had not been collected by July 2017. The writer expressed their own personal curiosity, as they grew up in the area of London noted on the letters and blueprint, and noted that while no one seems sure what had happened, the house in question had a dark history.
Now that I’m over my initial insanity, I’m having so much fun digging through all the documents. They’re beautifully made and there’s nothing obvious about either the items or the envelope they arrived in to indicate that it’s anything but what it claims.
From the top left and moving clockwise:
After cosplaying Warden-Commander Mahariel for the fourth time last year, I realised my breastplate was starting to look a bit battered and the paint was beginning to flake on my scales, so I decided it was time for a rebuild.
I didn’t have a heatgun when I built my original breastplate and did the best I could with what I had available to me, but I always knew it was a part that I would want to make again later on.
I actually really liked the way it looked as plain, blue foam, and if it hadn’t been for my visible lines, I would have been sorely tempted to seal it and wear it like that! After sealing and priming, I could get on with my favourite part – painting and weathering.
I was so pleased with how my knitted scales turned out but, aside from cracking and flaking paint, they were bulky and not very comfortable to wear for long periods of time. The more I looked at them and the more photographs I saw, the more I kept thinking about getting some decent hardware and seeing how much maille weaving I could remember from my time in re-enactment. Not only was it a much easier process but I’m completely in love with how these scales look against the blue.
The only thing that I’m keeping from version one is my velvet jacket, which has had the straps added to the sleeves and the griffon sigil to the left arm. Next to finish – gauntlets and greaves.
We’ve had a busy start to the year giving our house an overhaul, which means that I finally have space to move my crafts into our now-empty spare bedroom. The room used to be my study, before I realised the guest room had been used twice in the previous twelve months and was twice the size of where I was sitting, squeezed in between art supplies, computers and my extensive collection of books. Since swapping furniture, almost ten years ago, the spare room became the safest place to put things away from cats and dogs, and gradually turned into our dumping ground for anything that didn’t really have another place it belonged. Even with the spare bed folded up into a futon, it was difficult for an able-bodied person to actually get through the door, so other than attempts to squeeze something else in there, it stayed closed up and unused.
After spending most of January clearing out old furniture and finding better places for the things we decided to keep, I was finally able to get in and start planning. I’ve got loads of ideas for my craft room but for now, I’ll leave you with my new door sign!
I was reminded today that I had started a bookbinding project with the short stories for the Dragon Age II companions, but had never gotten around to finishing it.
I was trying to come up with an in-universe reason for the companions to have shared these parts of their backstories and decided that it would be a single volume print as a birthday gift for my canon Hawke, Lyanna.
My husband deserves credit for his suggestions, particularly for inspiring the exchange between Anders, Varric and Bodahn, and for letting me use his own handwriting for Anders.
The plan is to get this printed and hand-bound once I’m done with my prototype, so I may be opening commissions on these eventually, with comments addressed to your own Hawke. But for the time being, the collection can be viewed by clicking on the cover pages below.
With ten days until The Calling, I’ve been buried under piles of fabric and foam to get my cosplays ready. During some downtime, I joined in with a FaceApp thread on a Dragon Age Facebook group and the next thing I knew, I’d lost half the afternoon to it.
(Credit toon Nexus Mods for the mods to remove Dorian and Blackwall’s facial hair)
Four months in, 2017 has thrown me some real curve balls so far, which has badly depleted a lot of my energy and motivation – but my cosplay builds are still miraculously crawling along. I am going to get around to full posts for each project but for now, here’s a quick update on how things are going.
Celene has fallen onto the back burner a bit recently, as I had to postpone my plans to go and make the ballgown. That said, she now has a mask and a wig is on its way, so I’m going to have to get myself sorted out for dress making and fittings in May, otherwise my brother isn’t going to have an outfit to wear to the ball when The Calling comes around in June!
The other big task is going to be the lion’s head for the back of the dress, so I’ve been doing a few experiments with resin casting and need to find the time to actually sit down and make a clay master.
My Emerald Knight is slowly but surely coming together. I’ve finalised the embroidery design and started drafting patterns for the sewn garments. Her foam armor pieces are pretty much ready for priming and painting – just the sabatons to build and a few tweaks to the breastplate, then I need to settle on which shades of paint I want to use. I decided that I wasn’t happy with the foam scalemaille that I made for Mahariel, so I’ve been busy weaving chainmaille for Lindiranae’s sleeves, which is almost finished, and to remake Mahariel’s Regalia of Weisshaupt.
A while back I booked an appointment to get another geeky tattoo and decided to get the Inquisition sigil just above my ankle, to balance out the Stark direwolf on my other leg. I have a couple of other designs pretty much ready to go – I just need the funds and to decide exactly where I want to put them!
Last month we went to MCM Birmingham and (after a few trips back and forth waiting for a quieter moment to queue) I got Gareth David-Lloyd to sign my Inquisition art book. I’ve since started stalking the other voice actors’ Twitter and Facebook pages to see if we’re likely to get any of the others at relatively local conventions so that I can get the other character pages signed.
Our next scheduled event is The Calling in June (UK Dragon Age fans, go check it out!) so I badly need to crack on!