News from the Pipemaking Workshop with the Funk.
Talbert Pipes Website - Kentucky Fried Popcorn - My Web Comic.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Talbert Shirts and Gifts now open

Biz News - Two new Goblins and one new Talbert Briar! There are also several new Ligne Bretagnes, including a seasonal churchwarden sandblast. And then there's the subject of this blog post....

We have a clothing & gift shop! It's a minor affair, and pretty basic in selection, but you can now check out a starting collection of Talbert Pipes shirts, hats, and various other goodies in our new Café Press webshop. The shirts and coasters all showcase our snazzy new logo, recently redesigned by myself. I was perfectly happy with the old one but did feel its muted colors weren't quite accurate for us, so the basic design has been reworked into a newer, somewhat more "graphic novel"-ish look, and the coloring has been reworked to showcase all the colors of Autumn, my favorite season.

Probably of more interest to general pipe folks, I've also posted some "all purpose" pipe smoker shirts, hats, and other gear. We have a seasonal Christmas card pack (more on that in a sec) plus all sorts of fun pipe-ish gifts for the pipe connoisseur of your household. A Talbert Pipes shirt, a Smoking Zone hat, and a Goblin wall calendar should make great stocking stuffers this holiday season! Everything is priced in USD and ships from within the US, so American customers can expect to get their goodies pretty quickly and international customers can get things in time for Christmas if they order within the next week or two.

Why are we doing this? For fun, really. Café Press prints the items as they are sold and handles all the billing, shipping, and guarantees, while we collect a (very) small slice of profit for the use of our logo and other graphics. I don't have much control over the pricing so please don't complain to me if you think such-and-such is too expensive - odds are that we're only making a buck or so out of an item's total price, and I seriously doubt that any of this stuff is going to sell in the millions of quantities it would require to make us rich. I will be quite happy if the gift shop can just manage enough sales to buy me a free pizza each month, and it will probably be unlikely to even achieve that. What it does do, however, is provide some fun gift items and surprise presents for our collectors and fans, and it will also be a handy source of stock for us when we're off to shows and need "stuff for the table". Who could resist a mousepad like this?

It will also give me a chance, time permitting, to play around a bit with some "pipe art", posters, and other artistic pursuits, with a convenient sales outlet ready-to-go for whatever I can produce. I plan of shuffling the inventory OFTEN, assuming anything sells at all, so expect items to vanish and be replaced by different items and different logos over time. This opening offering is pretty simple, just what I have been able to put together in recent weeks in my spare time, and I hope to do better once I can relax and focus on one picture at a time instead of having to get a dozen finished at once. In particular, the current Christmas card is likely to change within the next week. I think it's OK as it is but there are things on it I'd like to change and tweak, so it will probably be updated or totally replaced.

Aside from the new pipes and this new shop, there have been a few other subtle changes on the site. Emily has started learning her Gimp and HTML so she can do more site work (giving me more time in the workshop), and her first project has been to (finally!) fix the menu buttons on the home page and in all the menu bars. After something like four years, the little buttons all light up properly again, and the text graphics have been reworked to match our new logo in color and style, while being darker and sharper for easier reading. Also, I dropped Yahoo as our website search engine after they unceremoniously broke the code that I had been using. The site search is now Google-powered, like the rest of the universe. Em is currently reworking the link graphics in the "Life in France" section, and will eventually have the whole site unified to one graphical look, assuming she doesn't explode first. One last item of note - The "Pipe Resources" pages will partly be going away. I'll leave the links, but a bunch of the workshop pages are now so old and outdated that they're just clutter, and the whole idea of that site section has been superseded by this blog.

That's it for now, back to the shop!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Ghost of an Idea

I mentioned in my last email notice that I had a speck of an idea floating at the back of my mind. In the US, we tend to focus all our horror and fantasy-oriented projects around October, culminating in Halloween, but I've been amused and entertained since moving to France, to learn that Britain has a long tradition of Christmas ghost stories. In fact, the BBC is more likely to air haunting films across the twelve days of Christmas than they are Halloween night!

I think it's fitting - Christmas is a time of joy (in theory), but it's also a little bit scary and creepy, especially for those of us who grew up loving the story of Scrooge and his all-night haunting. With that in mind, I decided to see if I could create a few Talbert Briar "Christmas Ghosts" this year. I want them to be a bit different from the Halloween pipes, more suggested horror than overt - a theme that's proving to be an exciting design challenge.

Here are a few of the first sketches of what I have in mind for one single pipe idea. I don't know how many I'll make - as many as I have time for and seem likely to sell - and I don't know how much they'll cost (but unlike the Goblins, they will be genuine Talbert Briars, handmade right here from end to end, and probably falling into the category of, "If you have to ask..."). If I could sum up this first idea, I'd call it, "Something very disturbing under a sheet." Among the various derivations, the top left and the bottom right drawing are my favorites, and I'm especially taken with the extra-long wrap-around nail for both disturbing and practical reasons.

We'll see where it goes....