Somehow Final Fantasy inspires a lot of shiny things. It just fits.
That said, wow was getting the Swarovski crystals spanned between sides of the ring a "challenge". But I did it! Another dumb idea that worked! Ridiculously. Like making the ring an open centerpiece. I'd tinkered with the pattern for the beaded skull for a while, trying to get it as small as possible but still retain the feel I was going for. ...Admittedly the sizing was luck and a shot in the dark, and the arrangement of two magnetic clasps with another little silver skull inbetween was an alteration to the original thought. It would have wound up too long to be comfortable with my original concept, but this way it's just right, with just enough slack to slide and move comfortably. It's also got a little weight to it, as the ring itself is surprisingly heavy stainless steel with some really solid magnetic clasps and a decently heavy small skull bead as a counter-balance. It actually feels quite good on, and rather matches my... aesthetic. (As does most Insomnian fashion, I must admit.)
Ever just have a dumb idea and then you stumble into bits and pieces of exactly the right things to accidentally make it much better than you ever imagined it could be? Yeah, this was weird. I'd played with the idea of making a tiny representation of the crystal from Final Fantasy XV, but I'd wanted to get to learning how to make an artificial druzy/geode first. I was a little surprised to come across the perfect, real geode for the project without meaning to, and it all... snowballed. As things will.
Once I had the geode in hand, I wanted to sculpt around the outside to more resemble the crystal in the game itself. Thanks in large part to this Tumblr post (and later to Episode Ignis), I'd made certain... observations about the crystal itself. It looked blown open, for one, exploded. And where it's pierced to secure it in place, it appears to be leaking or bleeding. That combined with the "tendrils" underneath made it both beautiful and unsettling, some odd mix of organic things, and obviously I kind of love some of that horrifying stuff, so I had to run with it. I'm also pretty proud of managing to make it look like stone. The wire emerging from the sculpture itself is iron (later coated in protective enamel), because that gave me the sturdiness I needed in such a relatively "thin" gauge of wire. While the stone plus all the outside sculpt itself added quite a bit of weight, underneath the molded epoxy is a wire harness to make sure everything is fully and completely secure. The fact that the chain is a very heavy gauge steel (along with the clasp) helps too.
Then it came time to work out the interior. I'd toyed with the idea that maybe I could make it glow pink or purple, but didn't really hold much faith in being able to do so because of how difficult and expensive it is to get those colors... but I stumbled across a place that sold very small quantities and I went for it. Boy am I glad I did. IT'S IMPOSSIBLE TO PHOTOGRAPH CORRECTLY, but with the aid of a few seconds of blacklight, the resulting glow is astonishingly bright in vibrant pink, fading out to purple, then blue. It does charge in full sun, as well, but won't glow quite as brightly afterward and be more purple than achingly neon pink. There's a range of color and glow possibilities and I love them all, is what I'm saying. So once I had the glow color down, it was a simple matter of layering blue and purple iridescent pigment to finish the rest of the interior while still showing off the actual natural crystal. No matter the lighting, it is awesome, shiny, and glowy. Success, level up.
...The result is also a little painful. You can tell what experience Final Fantasy XV fans had with the game by their reaction to this. Though I should hope the bulk of the reaction is somewhere on the spectrum of "Ooohh shiny!"/"Ooohh glowy!" I'm really happy to share the pain and passion in this manner. Clearly
This is, and is meant to be, a one of a kind piece. I will never do anything quite like this again. Which is... probably a blessing, though one of these days I might get back to playing with making artificial druzies. Just not anytime too soon, and certainly not this large.
It's always a bit of a trip; even working from the sprites to make a pattern, it's impossible to see what I've actually made until I take a step back and see it from a slight distance.
This was a fantastic project with a lot of communication and encouragement, and an overall great experience. I've also been made aware that the receiver of the gift was very appreciative, which is always a joy. Handmade geeky bling for Christmas, y'know?
As for the materia themselves, the small ones are my usual uber-glowy acrylic beads in the usual spiral wire wrap, but I wanted to do a little something different with the Huge Materia. Not just make them bigger, clearly, but give them all a little sparkle. I kind of liked keeping everything "rounded", so I used larger jade beads, dye, and so many coatings of iridescent pigments to give them a different look. Plus I both really liked the idea of the "caged" wire wrap for them, thanks in part to in-game "Huge Materia container" field model, and just the fact that the beads were a bit heavier and needed some extra security for long-term hold.
I also decided to do the spacer beads myself. They're black epoxy, hand-formed and then hand-drilled because it ain't FFVII unless it's super extra. Plus I just wanted to see if I could do it, and behold.
Square-Enix's FFXV Moogle fan art contest was the absolute best excuse to finally get on with a project I'd been debating for a long while, anyway: a little beadwoven "sprite" version of the FFXV Moogle. All off-loom weaving, nothing but beads and thread, and... a bunch of hours. Finished within two weeks, so beyond that, what meaning does time really have anyway.
I started with a picture of the official key chain, available at the Square Enix Cafe, and based a very basic pixel version around that. Brightening up the colors and adding more shiny elements, because I am me, I was very happy with how the "standard Moogle side" came out.
But. In the game, the Moogle is definitely a little different. Being that I am who I am, I decided to rework the pattern slightly, selecting off-white beads and trying to translate the stripes and patterns to itty bitty pixel sprite form. Ultimately I also added a little bit of thread detail as well, just because I enjoyed that element of the original design.
Then I was further myself, deciding that yes, I needed to make this a double-sided piece of beadwork, because I've never joined two sides with this complicated a shape before. How'd it go? I really, honestly, do not want to talk about it and no I don't want to replicate this anytime soon... but I did it. Success. A lot of work and time and cursing and I'm taking a few days off after, but it worked!
I kind of love how it all turned out, not going to downplay that. On one side, brightly-colored "traditional" Moogle, and on the other side is the made-with-love patchwork FFXV Moogle. I'd have gotten around to it no matter what, but if I can reflect even a little bit of the love and devotion FFXV inspired in me by submitting it to a fanart contest? I am totally happy to be spurred into starting, finishing, and submitting this as my entry.
I even attempted to record a quick little video to better see the way the light moves across the beads, and how flexible the finished piece is. Which... is not anywhere near the best video in the world, but hey, it's a thing.
(Full disclosure: I never had the heart to use one in battle. Yeah, I know. I just... how dare I.)
Several layers of sparkly and a wide variety of techniques later and ta-da, there be a corrupted water crystal. As is the standard case with me, trying to get a decent representation of the colors under various lighting proved... challenging. There's a depth of purple beneath the blue, and the crystal itself remains translucent, so depending on how the light bounces and how much there actually is shining on it, the crystal itself has waves of both purple and blue, while the tentacles are always a darker blue with an opaque black base.
This one's both spoken and paid for, but I'm definitely planning to play more with the concept in the future. I'm also open for commissions, as per usual.
Trying to approach this without spoilers is. Difficult. Shall we say there are reasons why I actually hesitated both to buy this and to make anything with it. Symbolic and otherwise. Leaving it as a ring was never an option. I wanted to turn it into a pendant. Using gray/black labradorite was a no-brainer; depending on the light source, they're everything from black to silver, but if you turn them just right, they flash a very particular bright blue. Guess what I could almost not convince to happen at all in photographs. There are 15 (representing the game) beads on either side, altogether making 30 (it just so happens to have been made in Final Fantasy's 30th anniversary year). 13 (representing the Armiger weapons) knots in silk cord separate each bead. Some... thought went into this.
Minor aside: single-string necklaces are wrong and terrible and don't do it or eventually the string will break and you'll lose beads or just everything altogether. Despite how thin and small the cording looks, each side is comprised of three separate strands (two super strong nylon bead threads in medium thickness, and one of surprisingly strong silk cording), doubled and knotted, so technically there are 6 strands carrying the weight of the pendant and supporting the beads. It can be done, don't be lazy. Okay, back to my geeky not-shame.
And the best bit, as far as I'm concerned? The way it hangs makes it really subtle. You don't see the front unless you inspect it, it's just kind of a pretty weird ring pendant and then surprise, it's pain.
Oh, right, and of course the crystal is Swarovski. I mean, come on. The setting itself drove me nuts for a little while before I figured out how to make it work, as it's not sized for any standard crystal size in particular. Buuuuuut it gave me an excuse to play with a new material I had my eye on for a while, so. No complaints.
...Save one. ...I began this project with the intent to sell it. To send it far from here. But. Uh. ...I've grown attached. I'm more than happy to make more by commission, to individual specifications. But this one? ...I think maybe I want to keep it close. To remember. S-E has pretty much completely ruined my life at this point, yeah.
But that was too easy, wasn't it. Initially I designed all 16 icons in a larger size, 30 pixels high. ...After making the first one, I realized how incredibly huge the whole line would turn out to be (and how much extra time it would take), so I completely redesigned all of the symbols at 16 pixels high. Ish. The Rouge got an extra pixel so I could pull off the detail, but I believe we can all agree she deserves it.
4,176 beads for the main design. Yeah, I didn't really want to know that either. 3+ weeks and... well. I really don't want to think about that. The result is kind of amazing, though. I wound up picking beads that I hadn't expected to pick (more on the process here) and I am so very pleased with the result... but of course the different ways the beads shine make it so, so very difficult to get good pictures. I did what I could and I'm incredibly happy with the result.