The unveiling

So for about 5 weeks, I struggled with ideas and execution on Eric’s birthday present. I knew I wanted to make him a board game because he loves board games, but I wasn’t sure how to create game play that could capture all of the facets of his personality, his life, and our life together. I toyed with the idea of a card game, a board game similar to Monopoly, and I got frustrated enough to stop thinking about it for a while, which was a bit unfortunate.

Finally I realized that I had an old copy of Trivial Pursuit that we never play, and the format was clear. I would create a trivia game with questions about Eric!

The only problem was that I wanted to unveil the game at his dad’s war gaming club, and not everyone there knows enough about Eric to do well, and I didn’t want it to be boring for people. In answer, I made one category about Eric specifically, and the others would be about things he likes, so I ended up with one category about Eric, one for entertainment (music, games, etc), one for general history, one for arts and literature, one for the Packers, and one for war history.

The biggest challenge was the trivia part. I spent weeks coming up from work and scouring the interwebs for good trivia. It was exhausting. I managed to put together 50 cards with each of the categories, which amounts to 300 questions. I hand wrote all of them, too, in tiny letters, so they would fit on the playing-card sized paper.

The code card and trivia cards. A 6 hour labor of love.

I spent so much time on the cards that I almost ran out of time to decorate the box. Even that has a great story. I had decided to do minimal changes, so I called the game “The Trivial Pursuits of Eric”; I simply added the letters and words I needed to the box.

After I had changed the title and put a picture of Eric on the cover, it seemed a little empty on top, so I decided to name it the “30th Anniversary Edition.” Easy! I used the same Sharpie I had used on the rest of it, but sometimes when you’ve been awake since 4am, things kind of run together, and I ended up with “30th Anniverary” instead.

No problem! I cut out a star burst of yellow construction paper and wrote it on there, then used Mod Podge to decoupage it onto the box.

Oh wait, though. When the construction paper got wet, it began to bend, and I ended up with a lump in the center where it hadn’t stuck to the box. I discovered this before the adhesive dried, luckily, and I attempted to flatten it. But in doing so, the ink of the marker smudged.

I took the whole star burst off, but the outline was still there.

My final answer (geez, this is even longer typed out than I thought…this is good, though. It gives a great feeling for what I went through) was to paint the star burst shape with the same bronze metallic paint I used on my dad’s clock and re-write the title. I retitled it “30th Anniversary Bronze Edition”, and it was done!

And I finished it all with literally one minute to spare. I completed the last card and put the cover on the game just before Eric got home from work last Friday. We left that afternoon for Grayling to visit the folks up north and attend GWC, where I would unveil the game!

Alas, we did not get to play the game at club, but I did give it to Eric, and he was a fan. Since we didn’t get to play, I asked him all the trivia questions on the drive home on Sunday. He actually missed some of the ones about himself, which I thought was great.

Eric’s displayed the box on his game shelf! Hooray!

To be honest, I feel a little crappy that we didn’t get to play it, like somehow it’s not as cool a gift since we skipped the whole game play part, which was sort of the point. But I’ll make it up to him. Next week, on the actual day, I don’t have to work, and he has an early day, so I’m thinking I’ll set up a board game to play for when he gets home. Of course, we also have an appointment with the bank that day to start talking about home loans and all that jazz.

Regardless, it all worked out, and I have a lot of crafting ahead of me! But for today, I’m just going to watch the Avengers again.

Zoe is going to watch it, too!


Super Birthday Project Complete!

Last week, I bought the initial materials to make my brother’s birthday gifts. I have officially finished the project, and it is sitting at my dining room table, waiting for a box, so it can be shipped.

As I was making some finishing touches last night, I started musing on the benefits on homemade gift-giving. Apart from the obvious “it comes from the heart” bits of the homemade preference, I started wondering about cost, etc. So I am breaking that down using this project. Just as a preface, I think the homemade thing is cooler in general, and I will continue to make gifts if I can. I was just curious about this bit.

The Cost of Store-Bought

  • Spider Man Curtains with drapes and valance: combined $16 on Amazon.
  • Marvel Fleece Throw: $14 to $30 on Amazon.
  • Comic Sound-Effects Pillow: $13 to $25 on Etsy for most similar item (smaller throw pillow).
  • DC logo wall art:  $13 per logo x 3 logos = $39, not including framing.
  • Frame for ordered art: $7 and up

Total: $89 to $130ish

The lower end is not bad, obviously. Online shopping lends itself to lower prices, but for some of the items that I made, I would have had to move into the online hand-made sellers (art prints on Etsy) or art galleries online. The cost would have come from some of the more stream-lined items that I made (pictures at the end!).

Of course, the other issue is that I would have had just clicked a few buttons to get these items, so not much care would have gone into them. Also, I would not have ended up with the extra fabric that I now can use for other projects, which brings me to…

The Cost of Hand-Made

  • 4 yards of Spider Man fabric: $30 at Joann Fabric **2 yards left over = $15 for fabric used
  • 2 yards of Sound Effects fabric: $15 at Joann Fabric **1 yard left over = $7.50 for fabric used
  • No-sew fleece throw w/ Marvel Heroes: $20 at Joann Fabric.
  • Polyester Filler: $3 at Joann Fabric.
  • Frame for hand-made wall art: $5.25 w/ discount at Michaels.

Total: $50.25 for used items, $78.25 total

Even without taking out the cost of the left-over materials I have, I spent less by making the gifts. If you don’t count the extra fabric, then I spent a little more than  half of the lowest cost of buying pre-made goods.

One might argue that I should calculate the cost of my time. I spent, all told, about 10 hours working on this project. In order for me to calculate the time, I need to determine what that time is worth based on what other tasks I might have been doing otherwise. The answer of course is…nothing. I love to craft. Had I not been making curtains, I would have been making something else. If anything, I would say that the added benefit of doing something I enjoyed for ten hours in one week would drive the cost down.

All told, I am happy with how most of the items came out. I hope they look good in his room.

The final bit was this:

Is that the Justice League calling?

Last night, I decided I wanted to make something that would grow up with him a bit more – something that had a little bit of a modern feel to it. I cut up some card stock into 4×6 rectangles, and since I had already sent some money toward Marvel, I thought I would show DC some love, too.

These were relatively easy to make, all things told. The hardest part was the Superman logo because I wanted to make sure the proportions were right. Nothing a ruler and protractor can’t help with, though. I also did not have my Crayola green marker, so I had to improvise and use a Vis-a-Vis wet-erase marker for the logo on the Green Lantern’s and a Sharpie for the background. It still came out okay, though. The best part? With the exception of the frame, this part of the project cost nothing. And the frame, as I noted above, I got a discount on, so it was less than $6. It came out better than I’d hoped, and I think it will make a great final touch.

So that’s it!

One week, 10 hours’ work, and $50 made my brother some nice new additions to his Super Bedroom.

Next on the docket: a tote bag.

The only gift I didn’t make – some Super Stickers!

Curtain, valance, blanket, pillow, and wall art – made by me!