Friday, February 28, 2014

Product Story: Simple Beaded Bracelets, or Modern LARP Jewelry

Fiery Marble Bracelet with Silver Steel Chain
(or, as I like to call it, "+5 to Fire")
by BokBok Jewelry
This particular product line started with a combination of sleep deprivation and beader's block. I frequently have periods of insomnia - or just times where I don't sleep well, whatever you'd prefer to call it - and understandably, I get a little loopy. During one of those times, I was also in a creative slump* and hadn't made anything for a while.

(*)This one requires a bit more explanation, because "creative slump" or "beader's block" or what-have-you usually means you're out of ideas; for me, it means I have a tornado in my head of ideas, and I can't pick just one to focus on. I only call it a "slump" because that's exactly what I do during these times - I slump around the house until something changes and either the tornado slows down or I manage to grab an idea out of the chaos. Sometimes it's an environmental change - clutter, in particular, is incredibly distracting to me - and sometimes it's a change in my routine, and sometimes all it takes is for me to write down the thoughts; getting them out of my head and into the world tends to help immensely.
My inspiration, found here.

One day, while I was shuffling around like a sad zombie, I happened to toss a glance at a piece I had made already - a simple, beaded, pendant necklace. Why couldn't I do something similar, but in bracelet form? I had lots of necklaces already (earrings, too, for that matter), but not many bracelets.

In my sleepy haze, the thinking process was a little wonky. I wound up skipping the whole planning/sketching process and just ran with my instinct. That turns out to be a good thing, because I remember trying to figure out how to make some sort of pendant bracelet, like a charm bracelet with only one charm. I may revisit that idea (as I type, I can see how it could be done with a smaller bead and a different layout), but at the time, all the idea was doing was distracting me from actually getting anything made.

I don't actually remember the making process - I do remember being frustrated with my sluggish brain, and I remember consciously deciding to just "make something happen", but I kind of went into a zone once I picked out the bead and chain. Something was going to happen with this combination, gosh darn it, and then I had a finished product, but don't remember much of the stuff in between the two. At least, for the first bracelet. I'm used to "getting in the zone" while beading, but the lack of sleep makes my memory unreliable. Anyway, I was double-checking the piece for any flaws - were my loops okay? did it fit nicely? did it look good? - when an idea struck me: modern LARP jewelry.

LARP, for those who don't know, stands for Live Action Role-Play. It's like playing Cops-and-Robbers, but for older folks (teens/adults), and that's about the extent of my knowledge. I know of Dungeons-and-Dragons-esque LARPing, and people LARPing other table-top games (Vampire and other World of Darkness games are another option), but I've never actually done it.

I have a general understanding of the DnD world due to my love of fantasy RPGs on consoles and computers alike, so I figured most of the fantasy LARP jewelry would probably be elaborate, elfin-looking pieces. A Google Image Search confirmed that guess. What if people wanted something they could wear every day that reminded them of their fire-flinging wizard character, though? Or what if someone did a setting hack that changed it from medieval fantasy to modern (or even futuristic) fantasy, kind of like Final Fantasy 7 (or FFVII, or FFX, or Shadowrun, or any number of other games I had played)? I thought this may have been an unexplored niche, and another Google Image Search confirmed that thought as well. It's also possible that the medieval fantasy folk just have much better SEO than modern fantasy folk, but I couldn't know without trying. I quickly sketched up ideas for jewelry based on different elemental forces (fire, water, earth, wind), and felt so much better. I slept well that night.

The next day, I took another look at this idea. Maybe there's a very good reason that I couldn't find any modern-fantasy LARP jewelry, and that was because no one was LARPing that setting. I felt like that was a pretty good possibility, and so I knew that this jewelry would have to have a general appeal as well. I had to keep it simple, and that's not necessarily something that I do often. Challenge accepted!

Olive Green Beaded Silver Chain Bracelet
(or, as I like to call it, "+5 to Earth")
Looking through my design notes, I settled on my next piece - an earth-based bracelet. I had a large, green, faceted, probably plastic but possibly glass bead, and made a bracelet like the first. The olive green color reminded me of a mossy forest setting, and it looked interesting with the silver chain. It also passed my, "can I wear it on the street in broad daylight?" test, which isn't actually a test but just something that I asked myself. :P

When the time came to list these two in my Zibbet shop, I was very grateful that Zibbet has the option to have as many shop sections as you want. I made a "Modern LARP Jewelry" section, and listed them there as well as in my more generic sections. There haven't been many hits on them there, but I was careful to not use any brand names or game names in my shop to avoid the trademark issue, and I think that maybe I'm just not reaching my intended audience because of it. After all, if someone's going to LARP DnD, they'd probably search for stuff by name rather than in general. I'm trying a different tactic on my TicTail shop, that being a more general approach, and Pinterest loves the designs, so there's still hope!

Victorian-Inspired Tiered Cameo Necklace
by BokBok Jewelry
Since I'm familiar with the tabletop version of Vampire: The Requiem, I decided to look up vampire LARP jewelry (in general, not just VtR) in Google, too. Apparently, vampires love red and black, lace or silk chokers, and Victorian-style design elements. Predictable! But again, that may be for a reason. Those are definitely the first two colors to come to my mind when I think of vampires. I thought briefly about coming up with a vampire LARP line similar to this fantasy-setting line, but then I thought about it, and logically, vampires can probably wear whatever they want because they're basically immortal - while individual characters may vary, when speaking generally, their setting transcends time. In other words, while I can set up guidelines for myself when making the fantasy LARP jewelry (like the colors for the elements, for example), I found myself unable to do the same for the "vampire style". The best idea I've had so far is to use colors other than red and black, but again, those are probably classic vampire colors for a reason; another issue with that idea is the question, what would make that jewelry scream "vampiric"? That's not to say that I definitely won't do that (especially when I've already given it a shot), but I'm just not marketing it as specifically "vampire LARP jewelry".

Going back to the modern-fantasy line - as of today, I still have yet to make something for either wind or water. For the water, I was thinking a wire-wrapped pendant necklace, quite long; it looks really neat in my head, but I want to do it well, so I've been working on other wire-wrapped projects for practice. As for the wind, I'm just stuck on the color issue. I was thinking about yellow, because in the games I've played (again, electronic games, not tabletop - at least for the fantasy settings), wind tends to be either yellow or green and I already picked green for earth, and I don't have many yellow beads to choose from. As I type, though, I'm running through my beading inventory in my head, and there may be an idea there without having to buy more beads. I'll keep y'all posted.

For right now, I don't have a section for LARP jewelry (modern or otherwise) on my main shop site, but you can find the section for it on my Zibbet store, here.

If you see a product of mine that you'd like to know more about, please let me know! I plan on having these Product Stories be a regular thing on my blog, and I'm fine with having y'all tell me which one I should do next. ;)

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