Join in with the creation of the Herbalism Kit and see how I transform individual components to a DnD centrepiece.
Story telling with a little bit of drama, it’s time to roll initiative and jump in!
The story of how the idea came to light can be seen here so now we are in the second phase, getting the Kits created as they were for the final prototype. I’d spent months checking up on prices, collecting second, third and sometimes fourth back up options should the need arise.
This is a work in progress, at the time of starting this second ‘diary’ I was onto the main part of staining boxes. So there will be more added as I go along until the point that they are all shipped out to their owners.
There was a lot of components needed to produce one box, making it cost prohibitive to outlay for all of them before knowing if anyone would actually want to own one of them.
Making a spreadsheet allowed me to see exactly what I would need to order if I wanted to make just one, 12, 25, 50, 100 of them allowing me to settle for a reasonable expectation for the Kickstarter.
31 components made up just one box. All of these being put together by me, myself and I. I needed to work out how many boxes I could stain in a day, how many bottles I could fill with resin in a day, how many lid covers I could sew in a day… all so I could then estimate how much time I would need to ensure that I could ship when I promised to ship by.
Preperation was crucial. If I didn’t have a strong grasp on what I was doing now, then there was no way that I would have know how to do all this when the time comes… and no way of convincing people to back the Kit.
The end of the Kickstarter doesn’t also herald the funds being paid instantly to you, there is 7 days grace for people who might have expired cards to update them etc… so once the timer is up, the first round of fund collection is attempted then after 7 days (and emails from Kickstarter to the backers) the second round is collected. Anyone who was unable to update are then classed as dropped backers.
There were a couple that ended up dropped, which meant that I needed to readjust the costings and ordering amounts (another reason to not just order stuff on a credit card and hope to pay it off later!) and then you wait again, for Kickstarter to take their cut and process the funds to you. So, the reward costs have to factor in that if for example, you work out that the raw items are going to cost you £100, you need to add on extra to ensure that Kickstarter isn’t going to eat into the funds you need to actually make the thing in the first place.
Trusty spreadsheet to the rescue as it allowed me to see exactly how much I needed per box to be able to buy all the bits and still allow Kickstarter to take their fee. Once the funds were available, it was time to order everything.
First thing I ordered was dice. They had the longest shipping time so needed to get here asap to ensure that they would be available as soon as I needed them.
By previously trawling through hundreds of manufactures, in several locations and contacting reps to discuss prices I had already found the ones and was in the position to just click the hyperlink I had saved and place the order.
They turned up a week later! Ready to be debagged and stored until needed.
The bottles were next on the list and these proved more troublesome.
My first choice for two of the sizes came from a German manufacturer. In the space of checking their availability before the new year to checking again when the funds had come in, they were no longer shipping to the UK due to shipments were being returned to their warehouses after long delays at customs. Despite offering to pay customs myself they were not budging, they were not going to be sending anything to the UK.
My option was to order them anyway and get them delivered to a contact in the Netherlands and have them forward the bottles to me or go for the second option.
It had to be the second option realistically as the double cost that would have been incurred for shipping the first choice was unfeasible.
Eventually though all the bottles (and stickers for the lables) got here.
I also had the wax, lavender, palm leaf and reindeer moss already. This I needed for the prototypes so the funds collected ‘refunded’ the initial outlay.
The twine I picked up from a store, the fabric needed for the base of the box and the wadding were delivered on rolls from a long trusted fabric store. The felt arrived for the lid along with the fold over elastic used to secure the vials.
The dividers that I wanted to use to ensure that the bottles just didnt roll around into one another was going to be interesting. It came from a builders merchant (got to get those trade prices where you can!) and at the time of locking them in as my first choice it was going to also involve a drive over to them to pick it up and work out how to get 2.4 meter lengths of it into the car. Then lockdown number 3 happened and they were actually delivering it (yay!) so a man with a van turned up with it as I tried to not get it wedged between the ceiling and floor in the hallway.
That stuff was swiftly cut down to the required 21 cms lengths needed for the boxes!
The boxes were next. And you guessed it, the first choice wasn’t making its way to the UK any time soon either. My second choice provided me with a quandary. They had the option of a pre-stained medium oak colour box, but the hardware would have been silver, not the antique bronze colour in the picture.
Did I want to replace all the hinges and latches to save myself from hand staining all the boxes I needed? Would the extra cost of the pre-stained boxes and the new hardware actually be the same cost as plain boxes and wood stain?
The answer was no, hand staining it was…
The last item to arrive was one of the first things to be ordered, the resin.
My first choice due to its longer pot life and longer shelf life for unused resin sent me an email about a week after ordering to inform me that the main warehouse was unable to deliver to the UK.
So back to option number two, which arrived a week after that order. It just meant that the time pressure was on as all 15kg of resin needs to be used in 6 months!
The last little bits to order were dragon charms for the bottles, wood stain, card for the Herbalism Notes book (and early bird notebooks) and then the delivery boxes, tape and padding.
Even with all the delays and needing to switch orders everything required arrived before the end of January. Which was great as my course started up again on the 25th of Jan so what I could get started on now was better for me in the long run and ultimately better for my backers.
While bits and bobs were slowly arriving, I had started on getting the smaller parts ready.
I printed out all the stickers required to go on all of the bottles and started stickering the loose bottles so I knew what one was which (I have a strict measurement guide for how much resin to go in each so the labels help)
The first things I needed to get made were the rewards for Session Zero, Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3.
Most contained Keyrings, which was a little but satisfying task. Filling up the tiny bottles, getting the pliers out to put them together. Attaching the tiny labels for them etc..
Second task was printing out all the pages and covers for the Herbalism Notes that go in the kit, guillotining them to ensure a crisp edge.
The 225gsm cover for them was fun… The laser printer I have was not happy at all for some reason and kept ‘jamming’ (meaning that it just didn’t take the card up at all and then spat out an error message) eventually I had to print them all by putting one sheet in at a time to get them done. Which was great because my printer is not next to my desk, and due to it playing up I almost got a work out for my arms as well as my legs as I was very close to chucking it out the door/through a window/at a wall! (I hate printers.)
The biggest task so far is staining the boxes. I can get six done at a time, lining them up on the camping table that it taking up a large portion of the living room (small flat problems) so they can dry. 6 hours between coats, two coats each.
It is super satisfying through! watching the grain really come to life and seeing them go from crisp pine to a warm aged oak colour.
The last time I did this was over the summer, being able to do it in the sunny garden… not realising just how bad the fumes are and now sitting inside with windows open and a floor fan going full blast in the middle of winter!
The lids were the next thing that needed attention. They need to be complete before I can get them stuck in and if theyre not stuck in then I have a whole heap of items that are sitting around needing a home.
One of the criteria was to reduce needless wastage of fabric. This was the first row being cut from the roll of felt so there was a gap at the top due to the outlet not cutting it straight… after that though, the template can be lined up back to back and side to side down the fabric, leaving only a small rectangle of offcuts from the actual pattern.
Each bit once cut was tested individually in the lid of a box to ensure that I hadn’t smushed the chalk line and cut it wildly out of place. Once it passed that stage of quality control, it was onto the actual sewing.
I sewed one up, elastic and all with no problems. Double checking that in the lid as well to ensure that the shrinkage that would occur was accounted for by the extra allowance I had added into the template dimensions. It fit like a glove.
Started on the next one and the sewing machine decided to eat an ungodly amount of thread and jammed to the point of what seemed like no return. I learnt that the people who make the tools that come with the sewing machines could have never seen the actual dimensions of said machine as the screwdriver included to remove the base plate and allow you access to the guts of the thing doesnt fit under the arm of it. I had to sit there with the side edge jammed in the screw trying to coax it around millimetre by millimetre and was contemplating delivering the ‘out the window’ treatment to it, the very same that almost befell the printer…
In other news, the covers are all on the Herbalism Notes notebooks!
The 225gsm card for the cover wasn’t too happy about being folded over so a quick stint under the paper breezeblock that is my criminal law text book got them to play ball (on the most part!)
Just need to get the trusty metal ruler out and trim off the excess paper on the edges to give it a clean look along the edge and a real notebook feel.