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The Biggest Complaint I Hear about Classes

A few of you might know that I live streamed my Floggers 101 class on my Firebird Leather Facebook page last week. While I got mostly positive feedback for the class, I did get quite a few people asking me why I didn’t teach it at one of the local dungeons. I live in Los Angeles where we have many great options for places for kinksters to gather. So why would I primarily teach classes either online or privately in a neutral space?

It is not because I have anything against any of the wonderful local establishments, and I will occasionally come out of my whole to present at some of them. However, this class was primarily for my clientele. I have an international client base, and so any information I want to give them is best given via the internet.

But there is a bigger reason. The one complaint that I get after almost every class I teach as a guest of an educator, or hear about/witness in classes taught by other people, is that the guest presenter is constantly interrupted or cut off by either the host of the event who invited them, or the audience member who I will call The Storyteller.

Let me outline the situation a little more clearly. Many educational events in the community are held by a group with a host. The host is the primary educator and gives most of the classes on a specific topic. Sometimes they invite other educators to come in and teach the class to get a different point of view or information about the topic they might not have all the experience in.

While they invited this educator, the host will interrupt their presentation to either give their own opinion of what the person just said, or “expand on a point” in such a way that ends in them basically just teaching the class themselves with only mere commentary from the guest.

When your class is 75% the host and only 25% or less the guest, what was the point of having them? Every community has educators who get off on teaching because they feel it makes them a big fish in a niche community. So perhaps this behavior is born of ego and insecurity, but it leads to many people coming away from the class saying, “I wish they would have let that person talk more! I’ve heard the hosts opinion, I came to hear a different one!”

This is *much* more prevalent when the host is male and the guest presenter female.

Next up is The Storyteller. This person is a member of the audience, and it is likely anyone who has been to a lecture has run into this person. The Storyteller is someone who also attempts to add their own commentary on the class topic but does it by masking it as an anecdote or lengthy explanation leading to a question that only sometimes has anything to do with the point the speaker is trying to make.

The Storyteller is the person who keeps trying to make the class all about them, and who you wish would just get with the presenter afterward to ask all these “questions” because they are slowing the entire class down.

The Storyteller puts the speaker in a tough position. Many speakers encourage questions and discourse to a certain extent either during the lecture or after, but The Storyteller isn’t really asking a question, they’re trying to fluff their peacock feathers in front of an audience. Unless the speaker is fairly experienced, it can be difficult to shut The Storyteller down without coming across as rude and/or discouraging other people from asking real questions.

Being a presenter requires a certain amount of skills. You need to be articulate, have a thorough knowledge of your topic, and a willingness to teach, but these are only the very basics. A good presenter can read the energy of a room and work it to give everyone a good experience. They are skilled at using inflection and body language to convey information and they are good at avoiding getting caught in the trap of The Storyteller. They also can command a room in a way that makes the host less likely to interrupt.

I am not a full-time professional presenter. I know a lot about a few topics and am happy to share my knowledge, but I do not have the extensive practice in working a lecture crowd and I do get caught in The Storyteller’s trap, and I can be undermined by the host.

So to the hosts; stop speaking over your presenters. If they get stuck then interjecting a question or a prompt is helpful, but keep your lengthy opinions to your classes. To The Storytellers; find your own class and then you can talk as much as you want. What you’re doing is rude. Quit it.

To the hosts who hand the reins over to their guests without ego; Thank you! You rock! And to everyone who attends classes and lectures and asks good questions that help the groups understanding of the topic and add to the discourse; Thank you! You also rock.

10 Things I Wish I Had Known About Selling on Etsy

Let me state first off that this article is geared toward people who eventually want to quit their day job, not the people who just want to make crafts casually and sell them for fun. There is nothing wrong with being a casual crafter, but these tips are how to grow your own business on Etsy which is going to be more hardcore than what you’re looking for.

I’ve been on Etsy since 2010. My shop was originally called Firebird Floggers and has since expanded to become Firebird Leather. The majority of my sales come from Etsy and I have been doing it full time since 2014. I’ve definitely gone through my own love-hate cycles with Etsy, but I am all for passing on what I know so hopefully others can skip some of the hard bumps I hit.

This isn’t a fully comprehensive list. I could go on about this topic for hours, but these are the big ones. There are a lot of good tutorials on Etsy itself that will give you the basics of how to create your shop.

 

  • 1. The most important thing about selling on Etsy is having good photos. Beautifully staged photos that are clear and show the product off well without annoying filters are best. You don’t have to spend a ton on a big camera, but you should watch some youtube tutorials, read Etsy’s articles on product photography, and invest in some lighting. The more info about the product you can put in your photos the better. Many people don’t take the time to read the description.

 

2.You have to promote your shop on social media and work to gain your own following. If you think you can just make crafts and post them on Etsy expecting them to sell like hotcakes, you’re wrong. If your goal is to quit your day job, then you have to realize that you are aiming to be a business owner and your workload will increase, not decrease. You can’t have the attitude of, “I don’t like to post on social media,” “I don’t understand Instagram,” etc. It is now your job to know. Do your research and suck it up. No eyeballs on your stuff means no sales and Etsy gives more traffic to shops that draw their own.

 

3.The second most important thing is understanding SEO. If you don’t know what SEO means then I suggest you do some research because it determines whether your items get found on Etsy or on any website. You want your title, description, and tags to all use keywords that someone might use when shopping. If you’re selling a leather dog collar, don’t call it Fido’s Pride or something whimsical like that because no one is going to search for that. Etsy also weights the first three words of the title the most heavily. Ideally, you want something like;

 

Title: Leather Dog Collar – Size Large

 

Description: This dog collar is made out of hand burnished veg tan leather in black and red. It is a size large and adjusts from 14” to 20”. Etc, etc. Etsy recommends a description of around 500 words. You want to put your keywords in the description as much as you can without beating people over the head with it.

 

Tags: Leather dog collar, Leather collar, dog accessory, pet collar, dog collar, adjustable collar, Large collar, YOUR SHOP NAME, handmade leather, leather accessory,

 

Bonus Tip: Include your shop name in your tags so that people can find your shop easier on Etsy. If someone searches for your shop name you want your listings to come up. That will only happen if you include your shop name in your tags. Sometimes Etsy will ask in tiny letters at the top of the page “Did you mean shop…?” but it is easy to overlook and will only happen if your shop already ranks in SEO.

 

  • 4. You need more than a handful of items in your shop to look professional. If you want people to trust you enough to buy from you then your shop needs to look complete and well thought out with good photos, well-organized shop sections, clear shop policies, and clearly branded images in the icon and header. If you offer an item in more than one color or style you should have a listing for each one.

 

  • 5. If you sell kinky items like floggers, collars, etc, put one tag that says “mature” in every listing of an adult item. Every once in awhile Etsy tries to clean house of the people who sell adult goods and if you don’t have “mature” as a tag on your adult oriented items they will give you a strike against your shop. Three strikes and you’re out and even one listing without the tag can get you a strike.

 

  • 6. Underpricing your items makes you look unprofessional and can hurt your sales. People equate quality with price. If you price your items below what they are worth people will think they are low quality or that you don’t take your shop seriously. There are a lot of resellers of outsourced products on Etsy masquerading as handmade and selling for dirt cheap. This is not the price bracket you want to be in. People can tell the mass produced from the real.

 

Develop a mathematical formula that allows for you to get paid what you need per item and cover your costs as well as count toward future growth. Underpricing out of fear that the price will scare off a customer is a rookie mistake. Realistically, you need to make a certain amount of money to have this be a successful endeavor. Numbers are impartial and are what you need to rely on. A basic starting out pricing guide is Cost of Materials + Hourly wage x number of hours + 10% of that number for overhead, tool wear, etc. This gets you your WHOLESALE price. For retail you double that.

 

I know it sounds like a lot but this is money that has to cover your learning and growing in your craft, expanding your business, and refining your product. Trust me, it will still feel like you’re barely scraping by for awhile.

 

  • 7. When someone leaves a negative review you have two choices. A) You can respond and your response will be shown below the review. This is a good option if someone leaves a negative review for something that is pretty much on them. For instance, if they bought a collar and it wasn’t the right size but the size is clearly stated in the item description. Offer a reply with roughly the format of; a statement acknowledging their dissatisfaction, offer a solution to their complaint, mention that for future reference the information is in the item description.

 

Responding to a review will take away your ability to report it to Etsy to have it removed.

 

  1. B) Reporting a Review. Etsy will only remove a review if it fits very narrow criteria. Etsy takes FOREVER in resolving any issue whether it be a reported review or other things, IF they ever address it at all. I would only rely on the report option if the review was just made up of insults, a customer cursing at you, or otherwise over the top.

 

  • 8. Learn the ins and outs of shipping. I have found USPS to be more reliable and more inexpensive than other carriers but you do have to take the time to learn the rules, some of which are nonsensical. Purchasing labels online is cheaper and saves you time because you can just drop the packages off at the post office without waiting in line or schedule a free pickup.

 

Also, investing in a thermal label printer will save you tons of money in the long run over an ink printer.

 

  • 9. When someone opens a case against your shop deal with it quickly. Having cases open against your shop negatively impacts traffic to your shop. I am going to be honest here; Etsy encourages you to simply issue a refund and eat the cost of whatever item is in dispute no matter what your shop policies are and they threaten you with action against your shop if you don’t. They will not come to bat for you to enforce your shop policies. Once someone opens a case against you do not sell to them again.

 

  • 10. Have other avenues of selling and promoting yourself such as selling on other sites like Amazon Handmade, Wholesale, your own website, and craft fairs or vending events relevant to your market. The ultimate goal should be to eventually get off Etsy and have your own brand and store that stands on its own without being subject to the whims of a third party.

 

 

Custom Laser Cut Dress for the Lovely Lady Scarlett Sin

I recently had the opportunity to work on a beautiful dress for the amazing Scarlett Sin This dress was in celebration of her winning Ms LA Leather!

The breakdown of the dress is 3 panels of black deertan cowhide laser cut with her logo and custom filigree patterns. You can see a timelapse of the pieces being cut out for the pattern here;

Once each piece of black leather is cut they’re backed with red suede to show the design. The inside lining is made of red satin.

The dress has a corset back so there are 8 spiral steel bones to allow for some cinching. The first rendition of the dress looked like this;

After the first fitting we decided to drop the neckline and add a button panel to the front to hide the zipper as well as add some ruffles to the bottom in order to add some length and further accentuate the swallow tail. And here is the dress’s final form!

If you would like to commission a dress or piece of clothing/custom wearable then please email me at nix@firebirdleather.com

Flogger Cleaning Kit and How to Care for your Floggers

This is a question I get asked a lot and so I decided to put together a video tutorial as well as product kit for you guys.

You can find the cleaning kit here- Cleaning Kit

The video covers a basic flogger cleaning, flogger storage, and when and how often you should clean your floggers.

Some other points I wanted to bring up are;

Why clean my floggers?

The obvious- It’s kind of gross not to. Floggers absorb oil from the skin of people they touch. Would you want someone to rub a cloth down your back that had touched a bunch of unknown people? No? Same deal with a flogger.

It keeps your flogger throwing correctly. When tails absorb oil over time they get heavier, especially the tails on the outside of the bundle that hit first. When some tails are heavier than others you have “stragglers” or tails that always fly away from the main bulk.

Handles can become slippery over time when not cleaned. Ever had a flogger get caught in a ceiling fan?

It keeps the leather in good condition. What you do when you clean leather is use the water and soap to get rid of dirt, etc and then use the conditioners to restore the oils and preservatives leather needs to stay nice and supple.

Why did I choose the products I did?

They’re not overly expensive. They work well and are beginner friendly. They are easy to find on the interwebs if you want more. They have a low wax content as well as a low carcinogen content. They work well on most leathers used in floggers including game leathers.

There are other amazing products out there. Hubert’s is great, so is Elephant Wax. But I wouldn’t use either of those on elk, moose or bison. They’re rather oily feeling and tend to kill the lovely velvety touch the game leathers have. They work miracles on abused cowhide but I needed to put something together that would work for a wide range of toys and be a go to for as much of the toybag as possible.

Why can’t I just use the leather cleaner I use on my upholstery?

Those products are usually less about cleaning and conditioning than they are forming a protective coating over the leather. This is isn’t necessary for floggers and can change the feel and throw of the tails with unnecessary added weight. They are also not made to treat the flesh side of leather and will usually mat it down.

Do I need to clean my floggers when they first arrive?

No. When you order floggers from me they are in the most pristine state they will ever be ( aside from fluffies still present from the cutting process). The leather is fresh from the tannery and has already been conditioned and then I condition it again during the making process. I would assume it is the same for other makers as well.

You said not to use this kit with suede or nubuck! So what do I do with my suede or nubuck flogger?

Find a suede cleaning kit online or at your local leather store. It should have the following; A cleaning solution, a brush and something that looks like a rubber eraser. Cleaning suede involves a lot more brushing and scrubbing than a normal tail. Suede floggers are usually less expensive at first, but here is where you pay the difference.

STI and Flogger Cleaning

This is a touchy subject mainly because there are so many different opinions on it. Here are my two cents. There are two levels of “clean” when it comes to microbes. Sterile, an item that is completely cleaned and preserved in an environment in which all foreign bodies have been eliminated, and Sanitary; an item which all reasonable procedures and precautions have taken place to eliminate dangerous microbes from the item but the risk still exists due to the environment.

Floggers cannot be Sterile and nor can they be Sanitary as defined above. Leather is porous so it isn’t really possible to guarantee that a cleaner has gotten into all the microscopic crevices where a baddie microbe could be hiding. Therefore it is also nearly impossible to guarantee it is Sanitary even if cleaned with a product that is guaranteed to kill every STI under the sun. It’s just not possible to make that call without thoroughly soaking the leather which will most likely destroy or harm your leather, especially more sensitive hides like game hides (deer, elk, moose, etc).

So what to do? Well, let’s say you were living with a person who has Hep C or HIV. The CDC website states that is is highly unlikely you can contract these diseases through household items like towels, clothing, dishes, etc. Only things that have been exposed to blood will carry the disease.

Hep C can live outside the body at room temperature for up to 3 weeks, and HIV can live up to a week.

If you play with someone whose STI status you do not know and blood gets on your floggers the safest precaution would be to quarantine them for three weeks, then give them a thorough cleaning, and continue on with your life.

Keep in mind, even if you were to flog someone with Hep C or HIV and get blood on your flogger, you would then have to flog someone in such a way that the tails had contact with their blood stream as well in order to transmit.

What I’m trying to say is it’s really unlikely you will give someone a disease with a flogger. But you should clean your stuff anyway because not doing it is gross.

 

 

 

Nix’s Rant about Vegan Leather

I get asked constantly about vegan products or if any of my products can be made with vegan materials. The short answer is no. Leatherwork is a specialized skill which requires tools that are unique only to leather and aren’t used for anything else. Asking me to “just make it the same way out of something else”, is the equivalent of asking a baker to make cookies out of yarn. It just doesn’t work.

Are there people out there who make vegan products out of synthetic materials or imitation leather? Absolutely! And if that is what you’re looking for you should definitely hit them up. But here is my caveat, a lot of people like to call various synthetic products “vegan leather”. It isn’t. Leather is by definition made from an animal hide. Much in the same way a cubic zirconia is not a diamond. In order for a product to be sold and marketed as leather it legally has to meet certain criteria. One of those criteria is how much of the product is derived from ANIMAL hide. Not pineapple, not mushrooms, ANIMALS.

Now I’m not trying to dog on the other products. I’m sure there is some pretty cool stuff going on in these new materials and synthetics, but that still doesn’t make it leather even if the goddamn Huffington post calls it that.

Why is this important? It’s important because none of these products will feel exactly like leather will. This is important because I constantly have people coming to me saying they want a vegan product that feels like the beautiful deerskin flogger they felt once upon a time.

I’m sorry, but it’s just not going to happen. I’ve searched. Believe me, if I thought there were a vegan product out there that felt as good as leather did in a flogger I would be all over it. I get asked often enough that I would be after it just to get people to stop asking me and then annoying the hell out of me after I say no with questions like, “What if you make it out of an old leather jacket?”

But there isn’t. It’s just not the same. All of them have different reasons of why they’re not the same so I’ll just leave it at that. For those who are vegan out of concern for the environment, many of these products are actually more harmful to the environment in their creation than leather is. So if your hope is to make a purchase that is earth friendly, I recommend you do quite a bit of research before buying imitation leather products or you’re really just serving a false sense of self-righteousness and not actually accomplishing anything.

And before people jump down my throat saying, “But I have an imitation leather jacket, pair of boots, purse, etc, etc and it feels just like real leather!”. Stop. The leather used to make floggers is NOT the same that is used to make clothing or footware. They are completely different types of tan, different thicknesses and weights and yes it does matter. A flogger made from a jacket, even a real leather jacket, will feel and throw like shit.

There is a common misconception out there about a leather called Veg Tan leather. This is NOT vegan leather. It is leather that has been tanned with vegetable oils and I can assure you, it is made from an animal hide. Most likely a cow. It is the same type of leather used in saddles, equine tack and a lot of high end leather goods. This misconception comes from people glancing at the name without really looking at it, and Tandy Leather capitalizing on the fact that they can sell veg tan leather to any person who doesn’t know anything about leather walking into their store and asking for vegan leather.

Seriously. I’ve known several people who took classes at Tandy thinking that they were being good vegans because they were working with veg tan leather and the instructors just smiled and nodded and refrained from actually explaining that no, it is still animal hide just so they could rake in the class fee.

To be fair, veg tan leather looks different from normal leather. It is a light tan color, usually referred to as naked leather, and almost looks like worbla with a fuzzy side. This is because it is made to be dyed by the leatherworker outside the tannery. It can also be tooled or molded using water and leather working tools. It is what I use to make my armor, D20 purses, and anything else that needs a hard sturdy leather or that I need to dye on my own.

So in short, no I won’t make you a vegan anything. I’m not re outfitting my shop with tools that will work with the stuff and re inventing ways to make all my products. I completely get that people want to be vegan because the poor animals. I’m a vegetarian and have been for almost ten years and can’t understand how people can eat meat once they know how shitty our farming practices are. And yes, I do purchase my hides from a tannery that gets their hides from the meat industry. No, I don’t feel the need to justify or explain my reasoning behind this.

Giveaway raffle for Orlando Victims

In order to help those who were injured in the Orlando massacre and the families of those who were murdered I am trying to help Equality Florida with their Funding Campaign in which they have promised all monies will go directly to helping the families and victims.

What can you win? If you donate to the fund you can enter to win one of the following;

$300 gift cert to Firebird Leather
a Hames Handle Alligator Whip from JustinSayne Leather
A pair of dragon Scale gloves and a handcuff necklace from Armored Hearts Chainmaille
donation collage
 

With possibly more to come!

How to enter;

Donate to the Pulse Victim Fund by Equality Florida

Forward your donation confirmation email to nix@firebirdleather.com

ANY donation amount gets you an entry. Each person can only enter once. The drawing will be held on Saturday June 18th.
We can currently only ship prizes to the following countries, USA, Canada, UK, Australia, Germany. Unfortunately entries with shipping addresses other than these countries will be disqualified from the raffle, but your support is still appreciated!

We must raise a minimum of $200 in order for the raffle to happen! If we can’t reach that amount then Firebird Leather will donate $200 to the fund and the raffle will be cancelled. I realize this sucks for the people who do donate, but remember we are trying to do whatever will benefit the cause the most.

If you cannot donate then please help us by sharing this on social media and getting the cause in front of as many eyeballs as possible.

If you are a maker and would like to contribute an item to the raffle please email me at Nix@firebirdleather.com
Winners will be contacted via the email address used in your forwarded email confirmation. Prizes must be claimed within 30 days and winners must provide a valid shipping address.

Allies vs Bystanders

When I woke up to the news of the murders in Orlando I was at a gay resort attending a kinky womens only leather event. I was surrounded by wonderful people of all ages, many different walks of life, and varying gender identity. While sexual orientations differed from person to person, to say that the rainbow flag flew high with us would be an understatement.

As the bright SoCal sunshine did its draining work on my naturally nocturnal self, I sat with my feet in the pool amongst the lovely trees and the hum of conversation, laughter, and the various other sounds one hears at a kinky lifestyle event. It was familiar and comforting. This is a tribe I’ve been a part of for a long time and I feel at home with them, even if I don’t know every person.

The knowledge that members of my community had been brutally gunned down in what was supposed to be one of our safe spaces left me feeling cold, even in the desert heat. I looked around at what should have been a peaceful place and my vivid imagination saw my sisters laying lifeless on the concrete in pools of their own blood. Screams, pleas, roars of rage, and more echoed in my head as I watched the IMAX overlay play behind my eyes.

I worried for my friends back home in Los Angeles who would be marching in LA Pride that day and may have narrowly escaped the same fate but for a stroke of luck.

It could have been us. Hell, could still be us. We were in what was unofficially called the Gay Ghetto of Palm Springs. Our little haven was surrounded by other gay resorts for more than a block. What would stop someone from doing the same here?

Still, there was no anger. Not yet. Just a deep, slow moving sadness weighed down by the despair born of a lifelong struggle that seems to have no end.

The anger came later.

When I picked up my phone to check in on friends, some who were at LA Pride, others who I just wanted to send some love to, I expected to see a nation grieving on my social media and news feeds.

Instead I saw the Gov. of Texas saying, “reap what you sow”, and the Republican Nominee twisting the situation to make him look like some fake tan Messiah. I saw mudslinging and  people calling the murderer a terrorist. People crying out about gun control and Islam and all the old arguments that we try and fit all of our problems into so that we can point the finger at someone else.

Politicians who previously voted against laws to protect my people from discrimination were all of a sudden praying and well wishing. People who just weeks ago stood on a stage in front of the world next to a man who has made no secret that he believes me and all of my tribe should be put to death, and smiled.

Now you are praying for us? Now you wish us well?

Your prayers are cheap and insulting, your wishes nothing more than hot air.

Then there are the hand wringers, the ones who stand on the sidelines saying, “That’s so awful! Why can’t everyone just get along? Stop the hate!” But next week this will all be forgotten. The hashtags will fall in the rankings, the posts on Facebook will fall down the timeline under selfies and Buzzfeed articles. People will feel righteous once they announce themselves LGBTQ Allies and move on.

Sound familiar? These self dubbed allies are part of the problem.

Why? Because nothing is so helpful to evil and hate as the silence and inaction of “good” people.

A real ally stands beside you, fights beside you, and lends aid. A bystander remains on the sidelines and does nothing. Right now we have too many bystanders calling themselves allies and we are floundering on promised support that never comes through.

These murders were not an attack from an outside source. They were the result of the culture we have allowed to take root and grow here at home. Perhaps you yourself don’t hold hate for others in your heart, but most of you have looked the other way for others that do.

You want to be an ally for real?

As Cameron Esposito said, “The two biggest weapons for peace are your voice and your vote. Use them.”

The President is a small part of our government. Their power is actually fairly limited and meant for quick decision making and fast change. For large reform and foundational reset we need to change Congress.

Now I know, it takes effort to sift through all the bullshit and find out who actually votes in favor of the rainbow and who has shot holes in it. Suck it up. Being an ally is an ACTIVE DUTY. It will take more effort than a hashtag post.

Next: When someone tells you something like, “I don’t want to go to your state, city, party, house, place, etc, because I don’t feel safe or acknowledged as a human being there,” STOP MAKING EXCUSES.

Stop saying things like, “Oh, well actually there are a lot of gay people here,” or “My best friend/sibling/uncle is gay,” or “Actually, its not like you think because Reason X,”. Stop it. Shut up and realize that you see the world through a different lens. People treat you differently. It’s not a matter of blame, or a reflection of your personal values. Stop taking it so damn personally and look around and listen.

If its a space you have control over, then ask the person who is trying to show you a slice of their life what you can do to help. Don’t assume you know. LISTEN.

Think about what you can change in your little sphere. Is your sphere already pretty solid and getting a thumbs up from my tribe? Awesome! How can you spread this to the next sphere?

And this isn’t really a global Ally thing…but just for me, stop calling the murderer a terrorist. The word terrorist means something else to many Americans. It brings to mind us being attacked or plagued by a foreign enemy. This man was not foreign. Our country created him. And terrorism is a two way street.

Terrorism is the committing of heinous actions in order to terrorize people. For it to work the people on the receiving end have to feel afraid.

I do not want you to be afraid. I do not want to see my tribe give in to cowering in terror like a wounded animal, lashing out at everything around it.

I want you to be angry and disgusted, sad and grieving, horrified and darkly amazed at the vast capacity for hate that has been created in our home. Then I want you to let it all simmer into a driving passion that will fuel your rejection of passive silence and your love of the dream that we can become a people who value honor, integrity, and respect.

 

The Rainbow Dragon

The Rainbow Dragon is an outfit I designed after reading way too many fantasy and science fiction novels throughout the course of my life. It’s sort of a reoccuring theme that some dragons can transform or shapeshift into humans and I always wondered why they would bother when it meant they would lose everything that was cool about being a dragon, mainly the wings, claws and scale armor. So I decided to fix that.

The armor of the outfit is made from veg tan leather that is molded into shape using water and heat. I then airbrushed it all black and then put a silver finish over it. To get a truly metallic look takes a blend of dyes and acrylic paint that took me forever to get right. Too much dye and the color isn’t opaque enough, too much acrylic and eventually it will crack and flake off.

wings in progress

The spine is made of several different pieces all linked together. I posted a much more in depth WIP blog about it here.

The lights are all RGB neopixels being controlled by Adafruit Floras. The pauldrons and gauntlets, wings, headdress and tail are all seperate pieces with their own microcontrollers and LiPoly batteries. Each piece has a tiny microphone hidden in it somewhere to allow for the sounds around it to be picked up and translated into light by the microprocessors.

20160324_210808

led armor test

The dress itself is made entirely of leather and there is not a single stitch in the entire thing. All the seams are held together with rivets. Small silver colored aluminum scales have been added as trim. The details of the leather pieces I used are best when seen up close. The white panels are actually scaled in texture and each tiny scale is tipped in gold. The silver black crackle leather on the sides is brush off lambskin that allows more and more metallic to show through as the leather becomes distressed. On the back sides and the center lower panel I’ve used leather with a silver rainbow glitter sheen. In bright sunlight it sparkles with rainbows and in low light just appears silver.

Warrior dress avatar

Warrior dress 5

Warrior dress back

Warrior dress 2

The clawed guantlets were the latest addition that I pulled together. Instead of the bracers with the little light up spikes I decided to go with my more popular claws, only cast the claws in a clear resin rather than my standard black so that the lights could shine through. They are part of the pauldron armor and mainly glow in shades of purple and red. I also took away the old fiber optic “bones” in the wings and switched them out for claws at the top as well. The fiber optic bones just werent jiving with the movement of the wings.

The feather mohawk that completes the piece is actually the first part of the costume to ever be created and uses almost forty lights on the inside and fiber optic cable laced into the feathers.

Twitch Fan Art

Collection of sketches and various comical art drawn by the members of my Twitch Stream. Come and join the nonsense. I stream Wed and Friday at 7pm PST. If you have questions about leather or how I work this is a good place to ask me. twitch.tv/firebirdleather

Carciphona by Shilin

This lady is amazing.

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Not only is her art astounding and the manga she is writing off the hook, but she is actually a really chill person. You can read her manga for free at Carciphona.com and you should definitely check out her Deviant Art account.

I cannot begin to tell you guys how obsessed with this art I have become. It’s bad. I really really want to make the bracelet that Blackbird wears in the manga because its awesome and mysterious and cool.

Shilin also streams on Twitch and you can watch her draw and ask her questions and talk about pizza.

Twitch is a new thing that friends of mine have been talking about for a long time and I am finally just getting interested in. There are a bunch of leather workers who stream from their studios while they work and talk about their process and are super friendly in general. I may start doing a semi regular stream but don’t have anything hard set yet.