Con Survival Part 1

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Hello and welcome to Sunday, readers! I mentioned last week that we would be prepping for Gen Con this week (it’s so close!) and since I’ve been attending so many conventions in the last year, there are certain things I’ve learned to depend on when it comes to having the best experience possible. So in the upcoming weeks, I will share with you some of the hints and tips I’ve formulated to help you survive your next convention. This week I bring to you Con Survival Part 1: Packing.

Maybe we should have packed the kitchen sink, too?

Maybe we should have packed the kitchen sink, too?

There are always a number of things to consider when packing for an event but conventions are a special sort of animal. There are definitely some questions that need answering before we even start making a packing list:

  1. How far away is the convention and how are you getting there? If you are driving, you may be a little more accommodating in your packing as you are only limited by how large of a vehicle you are taking. If you are flying or taking some other form of public transportation, you will be more limited on how much you can cram in to your bags. If you are close to home, fantastic, but you still aren’t going to want to lose valuable con time because you had to go back for something.
  2. Where will you be staying once you get to the convention? If it’s a hotel, snacks may be limited to non-perishables if there will not be a fridge to store them. If you have rented a condo or apartment, you may be able to stock up at the local grocery store. If you are lucky enough to be staying with friends in the area, don’t forget a thank you gift. Scout out the distance to the convention center and where local stores may be just in case you forgot something.
  3. What will the weather be like? Even if you plan on being in the convention center for the entire weekend, you will still need to travel back and forth. You definitely do not want to be stuck under a vent in a freezing cold complex while dripping wet because you decided not to pack a jacket or umbrella. You also don’t want to get a nasty sunburn because you did not pack sunscreen and were stuck in the food truck line for an hour (not that I would know that one personally).
  4. Are you cosplaying? This is a very large consideration since all of the props and pieces will have to be transported and stored as well.

Ok, have you answered those questions? Good. Because next we make THE LIST. I am a master list maker, if I do say so myself. My significant other often laughs at the lists I have for my lists but you know what? They get the job done. Over the years I’ve used grocery list paper, the backs of used envelopes, napkins, and even tried a list making app but I hadn’t quite found something that really helped me remember everything every time. Until I found the Pack This! pre-printed lists from The Container Store*. Man, these things are awesome!

Even if it's not already on there, the categories are the biggest help.

Even if it’s not already on there, the categories are the biggest help.

Ok, so now you’ve got your list going. The one big consideration for packing we mentioned was the cosplay bit. There are special considerations for the care and keeping of your costume pieces! I found this lovely article from Cosplaying on a Budget about cosplay con survival kits that should pack pretty easily if you plan it right:

Also useful for making new cosplay friends if costume repair is needed!

Also useful for making new cosplay friends if costume repair is needed!

The last but no less important thing to consider for packing is snacks. Going to conventions is an expensive endeavor and you can save yourself money with added health benefits if you bring some of your own little nibbles to keep you going through the weekend. I found some great ideas for snack tackle boxes on the web, including this one (wherein I’d probably include more nuts and dried fruits):

The chocolate can stay, though.

The chocolate can stay, though.

This should hopefully give you a good start on packing for the trip. Next week, I’ll give you my con bag packing tips so that you don’t strain your back nor have to make a dozen trips back to home base.

Stay crafty!

~Laura

*CraftHackers is in no way affiliated or sponsored by The Container Store, we just happen to be really big fans.


Kickstarter Feature: Wyrmwood Gaming

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If you were planning on ordering anything from Wyrmwood Gaming in the next few months, or even at GenCon this year, you may just have to do it now instead.

Wyrmwood Gaming normally has a selection of 14 core woods. The Kickstarter is launching the portable dice tower, attachable dice tray, and dice vault in 70 different woods! This is the greatest selection of wood they have ever had.

In addition to being able to order a complete set in 70 different woods, they have offered two amazing and unique rewards, the dungeon master collection and the Wyrmwood Adventure.

We offer the ultimate Wyrmwood Adventure to one backer. You will meet with Douglas and Ian Costello, our founders and head craftsmen, to collaborate on a tower, personal tray, and dice vault made from the finest materials available. From sourcing the lumber personally, to brainstorming design elements in a pub, to learning master woodworking techniques, your Complete System will be entirely unique, and you’ll have a hand in every part of the creative process.

I have finally bought my own system.  I can’t wait until it is delivered and we can start using it.  They already have complete funding, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take this opportunity to get your system in some woods that may not be offered again.  You can find the Wyrmwood Kickstarter here.  Their regular website can be found here, their Facebook can be found here, and their Twitter can be found here.

-Toni


Crafts of GenCon

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One of the things that I learned about GenCon this year is that it’s not all about table top gaming.  In fact, there is so much fun to be had doing other activities!  So while Toni, Nicole and Marc were working at their awesome booth, I took it upon myself to fill up three whole days with crafting!!  And now I’m going to share that crafting with you, in all their stages of incomplete.  🙂

I started off my Thursday morning by learning how to crochet a gnome.  This being the first time I’ve crocheted in well over a two decades, I was a little slow on the uptake!  Here’s how far I got on mine.  The second is my friend’s gnome.  She managed to get hers done when we got home.  Isn’t he adorable? IMG_20140820_203624857_1200x674  IMG_20140818_165057043 (1)_506x900

After this crochet adventure, I made sure to check out Toni’s booth, visited with Marc and Nicole and drooled over everything they were selling.   I also played some Super Robo Rally where I won with my Wall-E robot and got in an Indy catacombs tour.

Finally, I ended Thursday with fairy painting!  It was so much fun, relaxing and a great way to finish off our first day at GenCon!

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On Friday, I started my crafting day with a knitting class where I got the materials and pattern to make a kitten hat!  Truly the cutest thing!  Unfortunately, knitting is a little slow going so I didn’t get very far but we got to take all of our materials home with us and I promise to finish it!!  Really, I will!  This class was taught by Claire Knits!  Check out her other cute classes from GenCon.  You may even be able to see me in the class picture!

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Then we went to a chainmaille/scalemaille class where we made this beautiful firebird cuff.  This one I was committed to finishing in class, even if it killed me and finish I did!  Vanessa from Kali Butterfly was an awesome teacher and gave great one-on-one instruction.  A fantastic class and if I get to go to GenCon again, I will definitely take another of her classes!

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Saturday was a full day from 9:00 am to midnight!  I started by making kitten mittens to match my kitten hat!  I got far enough on this one that you can see the little paw print!  Then I tried my hand at crocheting a hobbit hood.  Again, I didn’t get very far but you can see what it’s supposed to look like on the instruction page.  I also made a posable dragon bracelet (not displayed) and we finished the day with some serious chainmaille!  I probably should have known better than to try making a serpentine chainmaille necklace at 9:00 at night to midnight on our third day into the con but alas!  Sticking with my “usual”, I did not finish it!  But I did buy the pliers so I can keep going on it.

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All in all, I am very happy with my first GenCon experience and the crafting classes were so much fun!  I hope you’ve enjoyed this little adventure into my three days at GenCon and I hope you’ll join us next year!!

– Lindsay