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Chickobo Shift Parade

Chickobo Shift Parade

Welcome to the Chickobo Shift Parade! For those not in the know, this 24-hour week-ish-long charity marathon has four daily shift changes to allow folks to actually get something called "rest". On the left side, we have the banners for Dawn Guard (orange and yellow) and Alpha Flight (red). Over on the right side, we have the banners for Night Watch (blues) and Zeta Shift (purples). In the center... that is the land where time no longer makes sense at the very end of this marathon, and we call that Omega Shift. These very specific banners were inspired by JonDale1's work here.

Seeing as how this is the tenth year (I recounted three times) I am making prizes for this magnificent marathon and delightful charity, I decided we needed a little extra celebration. I also decided that surely making five smaller chocobos would be easier and take me less time, right? Well, the chocobos did. ...The layered felt banners with clearly hand-stitched embroidery and then stands to keep them on, which I ultimately decided they ought to be able to be removed from and so decided that magnets were obviously the best solution, however... Yeah, let's not talk too much about that.

Well, we can definitely talk about how the banners can be refrigerator magnets. Or just stick to metal things, because that's fun. The chocobo chicks are also up for some fun, but mostly they just really like to be adored. They're all acrylic yarn and polyfill, with wired poseable feet and semi-precious gemstone eyes (green jade, obsidian, tiger's eye and ametyst). I also decided to fancy up the mostly wood (with some clay and iron wire) banner stands with a little bit of gold paint at the bases and super tiny green Desert Bus trees on the front "foot" to indicate what side the magnets will best stick to. There's also some dark green real silk velvet at the bottom of each for extra fanciness. And also extra green.

Despite taking a little longer than intended because I just had to have Brilliant Ideas, I'm really happy with the result. I hope whoever wins them will ultimately be even more happy. As per the last nine years, it's an honor to be a part of something so joyful and hope-instigating.

This give-away raised a grand total of $2,331. THANK YOU, and congrats to obladerek!

Date: 16 September 2021


This is... so much. And better known as: Six FFVI-inspired Beadwoven Panels, Two Displays, and One Storage Box.

A long time in planning, a long time in making, and a couple of tricks discovered. Mainly that I can make little wooden boxes! The beadwork was already a thing I did, clearly, and this time I sort of had to force myself to actually keep track of how much time they took to make. "A lot", is the answer that everyone else knew and I refused to think about, but once I had a little working system in place, I enjoyed the challenge. And very much the demon chocobo.

The easel stand is a modified mini-easel with a solid panel for the (otherwise floppy) panels to rest against. Tiny black wire loops keep them from sliding off.

The hanging holder was a bit more of a process, since my first iteration was an "over-design" involving a hinged panel with a clear vinyl window. I'd still like to do that for something, but I'd have to figure out how to keep the vinyl from getting scratched up from being breathed upon, let alone actually used. This design was the better option: a solid curved backing acting as a counter-weight, three thin black wires to hold the panel against the backing, and two padded clips on either side to actually keep the panel attached to the board and also to serve as a point to hang the displayed panel from interchangeable chains.

The storage box was the one thing I was least certain about, but turned out to fall together easily once I actually started figuring out how all of the pieces fit together with some reinforcement and so much sanding. I also put a bit of wire at the bottom front and embedded two tiny magnets into the lid so that it snaps closed and stays that way until enough force is applied to open it.

Date: 02 December 2020


You know what 2020 needs? A bright, cheerful, soft chocobo, big enough to help you barrel through! Solana is just such a chocobo, sweet and friendly and ready to remind you there's light at the end of that tunnel, but sometimes you just gotta kick your way through. She offers her services.

I felt an exceedingly bright rainbow chocobo to be extremely necessary for the Desert Bus for Hope Craft-Along this year. I had not actually planned on doing fully wired legs, but that just kind of happened. And then a simplistic wired tail to go along with it... and while it doesn't necessarily look like it, simplistic wired wings for a few poses. There, see? Simplicity! With a few very small beaded accents that are actually ridiculously rainbow, but photographs just do not show them off. And some iridescent pigment that is almost too subtle for the camera, which is a surprise but also the intent, so score there.

I am pleased that I did not accidentally lie about the size, because she's less than 15 inches in all dimensions. 12.5 inches tall to the top of her head (just under 15 inches including crest), with a full wingspan of 12 inches, and just under 7 inches from chest to tail.

Sold for a much appreciated $2,350 to duaiwe!

Date: 10 September 2020
Light Remains

Light Remains

I've tried repeatedly to summarize the person who inspired this, or to put our friendship in simple terms, but I've come to think that's basically impossible. I will simply say that there is a light so bright and sustaining that I feel the need to share it in whatever ways I can.

A personal piece, shall we say. Deeply so; before the greedy bastard called cancer showed up, my friend Zellie was eager to encourage creativity and expression. She made a particular impression when it came to sending me random things to use and be inspired by, and one of those happened to be a collection of beads. The silver and abalone beads, along with the blue AB "crystals", were some of them. I'd been wanting to do something special with them for 9 years, and here finally everything came together.

As for an explanation of the pendant, something about Carbuncle had always reminded by of Zellie. She loved "ocean colors" and enjoyed "adorable monsters", but also Ruby Light and Aura were just... very much her. Sustaining, protecting. Without specific spoilers, when FFXV's Carbuncle and the Platinum Demo came around, it all very much aligned. So I used the abstract shape of Carbuncle which has shown up in official merchandise, and filled it with tiny abalone chips I've had laying around for probably quite a few more than 9 years, matching the necklace band itself. I thought the other beads, some stainless steel chain, and a little stainless steel chainmaile were just the things to finish the piece off.

And for the curious, please do feel free to check out Lightning Spliced by Zellie Blake, her only completed novel. To this day, all profits go to the American Cancer Society.

(For Sale. One half of the profit will be donated directly to the American Cancer Society.)

Date: 30 October 2019


Luxie's part of a grand tradition, stretching back to ancient times: once a child has reached the age when they want to go off adventuring, a grandparent figure will make them a plush chocobo to go with them, protecting them from harm and keeping them company until they return. They're very good listeners, these chocobos, lending an ear in exchange for head scritches and hugs. This one in particular has chosen Luxie as their name, and would love to accompany an adventurer of any age!

Look, I legitimately did something simple. ...Simpler. No wire, okay?! But really, I wanted something simple and straight-forward and succeeded even though I gave in and did more for the tail than I was intending, but it all worked out and became one piece eventually. I wanted to revisit some old styles while applying techniques I'd learned over time, and a sitting chocobo seemed like the best way to do that. Plus I got a discount on the yarn and the polyfil, so bonus.

Congrats to sheikun07, and thanks to everyone for raising $1,842 for this chocobo!

Date: 27 August 2019
Me and My Kingdom of Three

Me and My Kingdom of Three

Made as the development cycle of Final Fantasy XV winds to an end, but conceptualized long before, this is something I made for me. Four crystals inside one ring, surrounded by a total of 13 skulls, on a band 13 beads wide, color splashed between black and silver. I'm very, very happy with it, and it means a lot to me.

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.)

Date: 27 December 2018


Have you been wanting to keep a chocobo of your very own, but they're just too big? Have you ever wanted to cuddle your chocobo indoors? Have you wanted the companionship of a big feather friend in a smaller friend-shaped package? Drake Chocobo Ranch has the solution for you - miniaturized house chocobos! Loyal, soft, and bred to smell like cedar! (Mostly. Within reason.)

I have to admit... she was kind of an accident. I'd meant to do a regular Play Art Kai-scaled chocobo! And then I just... made the feet too big. And thought, "Well surely putting the claws on will take some length off the toes." ...And it did. ...And it did not matter that much. I spent a good couple of hours considering starting over with smaller feet, but then I just sort of. Didn't. And here we are. I needed this, long story short. Even if the work took way, way longer than I could have imagined, and challenged me much more than I was prepared for. No sob stories here, folks; it's been A Year, and it's my most sincere hope that Sable will make people happy and do a lot of good. And before anyone asks, no never again. (A fabric one, maybe, someday. But not soon.)

The skeleton/armature is comprised of several wound heavy gauge steel wires and occasional flexible plastic rods. The armature itself was covered in felt to make the structure lighter, with the crocheted acrylic yarn more or less being built up around the structure and stuffed with polyfil as I went. Her beak and claws are made of epoxy clay, the beads on her tail are hemalyke, and her folding wing structure is composed mainly of plastic-coated wood, wire and steel. Her collar was an old bracelet of mine, but the tag was etched by EngraverSteve on Etsy. Her eyes are dichroic cabochons made by WillowGlass on Etsy.

Side notes: in Episode Duscae (the first FFXV demo), occasional encounters with black chocobos made them appear to have "sparkly eyes", I believe in part due to some light/reflection error. (Then again it might have been intentional, and that would make me happy.) So yes, I based the design more or less on the FFXV art book's "ancient black chocobo" concept art, with my own little touches. Her feet and legs are poseable, as well as her neck, and all of her tail feathers are wire with either soft or solid heavy gauge wire cores. Her jaw is hinged, the top of her crest is wired, and of course her wings either hang a bit loosely folded at her sides or opened; but due to the nature of the heavy yarn and the stability of the smaller materials needed, her wings can't stay in place when they're raised. That's why I'm including a very simple "wing support bar" that enables the wings to raise at her sides and stay supported. It must be said that her legs are made from a very solid but lightly "springy" wire, and getting her to stand just right may take a few little toe and leg adjustments. The tail itself is designed for better weight distribution, but sometimes she tilts a little. let her stand next to a friend when possible, okay?

All told, Sable wound up about 25 inches tall to the top of her head, and 17 inches from her chest to the very start of her tail. 28 inches long, including the tail. Her full extended wingspan is 27 inches, and she's about 16 inches wide with folded wings at her side. She also weighs in at roughly 6 pounds, so I'm pretty sure any effort made in lightening her frame is definitely looking like a good decision now.

This girl was auctioned at Desert Bus for Hope 2018 for an enormously generous $2,641.94 from ekimekim.

Date: 05 October 2018
Heart of Dawn

Heart of Dawn

The heart and soul of a world cast in darkness, it beats with the essence of light; and indeed, perhaps, hope. That will be up to the one who will wield the light within.

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.

Date: 19 February 2018

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