Apr 21, 2008

Skillups: Super Potion Candles... maybe?

One of my favorite things about the wide world of crafting is that it's perfectly okay - encouraged, even! - to build on someone else's idea. If you see a pattern you like, see a design you admire, see a wooden carving with a shape you adore, you're nothing more or less than an inspired artist if you take the three and meld them together to create something that is wholly and truly your own. Those three crafters that inspired you are most likely to be flattered that you found something in their work worth pondering, nurturing, and evolving as your own.

It's beautiful and rare, this sense of community with strangers. Not all types of artisans share it.

Shelbi of The Bronze Kettle, who I think is precisely this type of artisan and crafter, is today's source, the origin of an idea that was simple, elegant and ripe for expansion. As I mentioned last week, she took over the World of Warcrafts column on WoWInsider and had me drooling over her very first post, called Super Potions. In case anyone missed the memo, I am a rabid alchemist at heart. If you put adorable, shiny, bubbly little bottles of 'alchemy potions' within my real-life grasp, I will (and did) have to have them. Being a complicated dreamer, however, I wanted to go a step farther. I wanted my potions to have a purpose beyond just looking incredibly cool on my mantle; I wanted them to light up my desk and fill the air with enchanting fragrances. Thus, I took Shelbi's concept, already conveniently made of candle materials, and took it to the next step. Super Potions became Super Potion Candles.

Here's how:

Step 1: Gathering the Mats

Following Shelbi's simple advice, I took my trusty credit card to my local craft store for everything I needed to make sweet little gel candles in potion-shaped bottles. There, tucked in between the soap molds and the decorative cake-baking supplies, I found my treasure trove of real-life alchemical goodness:
Gathered Mats
  1. One vat of Gel Wax - $20
  2. Liquid dye vials in three colors; red, yellow and blue - $6
  3. Liquid candle scents in three varieties; cinnamon, vanilla, and lavendar - $10 *
  4. Medium-weight, bleached wick; 3' roll - $2
  5. Wick clips; packet of 25 - $2
  6. Assorted small bottles, complete with cute little corks - $1 each
  7. Pretty, sheer ribbon that was on sale by the counter; 2 rolls - $1 each
I decided not to get the $20 special melting pot (which is only special insomuch as it saves you from the temptation of using your nice cookware to melt insidious wax), but I also didn't want to use my nice cookware to melt insidious wax. Thus, I stopped by the great little grocery at the end of the street for a few supplemental supplies:
  1. Coffee stirring sticks; pack of 100 - $1
  2. Aluminum foil mini-loaf pans; pack of 3 - $2
  3. Plastic funnels; set of 3 - $1
And that's all. In total, it cost me about $45 to get started, but I will have dyes, fragrances, and wicks for at least another dozen potion candles. It won't be this expensive every time I get the urge to whip me up a bit of pretty elixir.

One more item, by the way, which I forgot but really missed. Make sure you have some super glue on hand. Something that takes about 30-60 seconds to set up but makes a firm bond will really help you to get the wick clips well secured to the bottom of the bottle. Believe you-me, it's a pain when your oh-so-brilliant, cobbled-up attempts to stick those suckers down give way the moment you pour in the wax. Sigh.

Anyway, you need to farm up three more (hopefully easy) items before you can start your crafting:
  1. Super Glue
  2. Pliers
  3. Protective surface (aluminum foil, in my case)
Set it all up in a nice, open space near the stove.

Mmm... space!

Step 2: Wick-ed Ways

There's really only one significant difference between what I did and what Shelbi described in her column, and that is the process of adding a wick to your potion-candles. It's not really that complicated, but to do a really straight, well-centered wick in a poured candle can be just a little bit challenging. .... especially if you don't have the aforementioned super glue to help hold your clip to the glass. Double-sigh.

Gently melting.

Start this process either before you put the wax on to melt or while it's melting. A lot of the literature I read said that the wax would melt in around 5 minutes or so, but I found that it took more like 10 minutes at my nice, low temperature. I probably could have sped that up, but I didn't want to a) risk burning the wax through my thin tinfoil pans and b) risk not having the wicks ready when the wax was ready. Thus, I cut my wax, put it on the stove, and then got started to the measuring, cutting and clamping of my wicks.

Measuring: It's always better to have too much wick than too little.

Cutting: Measure twice. Cut once. Buy plenty more wick material than you need.

Clamping: No wussies allowed. You really want to take your pliers, get a good grip on your wick material, and cinch that little guy hard and tight. Imagine it's the head of that rogue that showed up for the first time, last Gruul run, and won the roll for your Dragonspine Trophy.

There you go. A nice length of wick clamped into a little metal tab is all that separates the Super Potion from the Super Potion Candle. However, our work isn't quite done. That wick isn't going to do its job well, chillin' on the countertop. It's time to take that ever-so-important superglue and a handy coffee stirrer and attach the clip to the bottom center of the bottle.

Note: It's tough in smaller bottles, but really work hard to make sure you center that wick. Candles made all wonky and crosswise in the wick department do wonky and crosswise things when they're burning. It's worth extra effort now to save you disappointment when it self-destructs, later.

Step 3: Pour Your Heart Out

By the time your wick is assembled and installed in the bottle, your wax should be pretty well liquefied. You may have already added your dyes and fragrances, or you may be ready to do that, now. It doesn't really make a difference so long as you mix them in before you start pouring your wax into the bottle. Just remember, as Shelbi said... Go slowly. You can't undrop any color or fragrance if you make it too strong, but you can always add more if it's too weak. Now, I didn't have one, but I do recommend that you use an eyedropper if you want to be precise with the liquid additives. I found that they poured very poorly and ended up dripping down the bottle as much as anything else.

Anyway, melt your wax, mix it up to be the color and fragrance you want, and grab your funnel and a hot pad. (Those aluminum baking pans, not surprisingly, get nice and hot through and through. Great for wax melting. Not-great for finger not-melting.) You'll need to be a little mindful of your wick, but basically that just means shove it off to the side when you put your funnel in there. No, nubby nubcrafter. Don't let the wick fall into the bottle. :P

Dribble, dribble.

Okay. Your candle is coming along, but remember what I said about wicks? Straight and centered. Take another of those handy coffee stirring sticks and wrap the extra wick around it like spaghetti until you have it braced against the top of the bottle. If you do this right, it will give you a gentle tension on the wick that will make it stay upright and straight while the wax cools. It will also let you adjust it to keep that line of highly-flammable string in the center of your volume of wax. If it's not staying on its own, you can always grab some tape and tape the ends of the stirrer to the sides of the bottle to give it a helping hand. There are lots of different ways to ensure your wick fidelity. Me, I used a few different ones to experiment, including the diabolical cork-bracing method (which was not necessarily the best). :P

Step 4: WTS 3x [Super Almost-awesome Candle Potion]

About 30 minutes of cooling time and a wick-trim later, I had three adorable little bottles of colorful, bubble-thick gel. I was enthralled. Thrilled. Ever-so proud. I grabbed my sale ribbon and a hot-glue gun that I found in the closet and set about simulating some of the potion icons I looked up on WoWHead. Ta-da! Three Super Potion Candles!

Super Potion Candles

Wiktory, right? Supreme glory and the glow of accomplishment?

I thought so. For about ten minutes. Then, I went to take my coup-de-grace photo, the one where my three pretty candles were all lit and glowing with their own majestic power.


Let's discuss, for one moment, the needs of a combustion reaction.
  1. Ignition - Check. Provided by my Flickr lighter. Or a piece of burning wick. Or ... heck, lots of options here.
  2. Fuel - Check. Provided by a taught little white wick and that wonderful gel wax.
  3. Oxidant - .... um. Maybe not so much. Now, this is a very subtle problem that I didn't see coming at all. Let's take a glance at the scale of our potion bottles.

  4. Oh, snap.

    That, boys and girls, is an index finger. You can see that the mouth of the bottle, wonderful and potion-shaped as it is, is only about 3/4" interior diameter. It opens out from there to an ~3" diameter 'ball' bottle. It's small and cute and sparkly, and it doesn't sound too bad until you start thinking about air-flow-in versus air-flow-out. Go ahead. Give it some thought.

    Yep, you guessed it. These candles will never light. Believe me, I tried everything. The fact is that the mouth is too small to allow oxygen to flow in while smoke and carbon dioxide flow out. Instead, any flame that enters that mouth instantly suffocates on its own excrement (nice mental image, eh?). It diminishes, then sputters and dies within a second.
Bummer. :(

But hey, that's okay. It's a very important candle-making lesson learned, and it certainly doesn't put my dream of potion candles out of reach! Now, I need to do more shopping and find slightly larger bottles that will let me have my candles and burn them, too. A larger mouth or a slightly different shape with less neck will make these work just fine. I'll report back when I find them and can really give you that coup-de-grace photo I wanted. Until then, I have "Super Potions" that are every bit as fun as Shelbi promised and looking hawt beside my friend the Orcish Rider.

Maybe not a full wiktory, but hey... I'm happy. Who can be sad when looking at real-life alchemy pots?!

Super Potion Not-Candles

* Note: Liquid additives ONLY. You can't use the solid candle scents that you'll see. They cloud the gel wax and make your sparkling potions look like vials of rancid Troll Temper.

Apr 10, 2008

Link Love: Potpourri from the Blogosphere

Rumors of my death have been gr--... well, moderately exaggerated. I apologize for the quiet week. I'm not much of one for a dozen excuses; I've just been very busy and exhausted from a crunch at work and a convergence of many different real-life energy and time sinks. The work crunch will last a while, yet, but I am hoping that this weekend will give me a chance to clear out the rest of the rubble. I'll be back to a quality pair of posts, next week.

For today, however, here are some great places to go and enjoy the content I'm not up to providing:

  1. World of Warcrafts at WoW Insider is not exactly a brand new cloumn, but since it was taken over by Shelbi from The Bronze Kettle, it may as well be. The quality of the crafts she has offered up is already leaps and bounds above her predecessor. If you're looking for an afternoon project, a bit of fun to share with the kids, or just a cool distraction to get you out of the game for an hour or two, then you should definitely check out her column and see what you can make. I'm really tempted to make myself some potion candles for my desktop.

  2. Maybe gameplay ideas are more your creative flavor for the week? If so, then I think you should go read Siha of Banana Shoulders. She has great advice for those of the paladin ilk, and I really enjoyed her creative method for Farming For Shattered Sun Rep. When all your quests and group runs are exhausted for the day, you can use this method for eeking out a bit more of the SSO love on your way to Exalted. That's the way to think outside the box, Siha!
  3. Roleplay is always fun, and perhaps never more so than when you're A Cheerful Corpse or an Orc with an attitude and a tendency to cross-dress. Both blogs are short, sweet reads that are guaranteed to amuse or make you think twice about some of your character assumptions. I know I'll never look at Jaina Proudmoore the same way, again.
  4. Another fun blog to visit is this newcomer: Warcraft and Other Hooha. I think if you click the link, you'll immediately pick up on why I like to visit so much. Ankhara has some great screenshots displayed, both of the lovely variety and of the funny variety, and I am excited to go investigate a couple of the obscure quests she's highlighted. She's a promising new blogger, and I can't wait to see what else she brings us.
  5. Mama Druid, true to her name, is trying to protect us from our own stupidity.* She has shared a profile of an interesting and moderately frightening new 'type' of player that might be lurking on the other side of the hedge, hungrily eyeballing your guild bank. I highly recommend you read her description and make sure that your guildies know better than to use the /ginvite command like a revolving door.
Oh, and since I will never, ever, ever write a 'oh, lookit mah shiny new loot' post, I think I'll take this small, unobtrusive opportunity to share a squee from last night. After topping off with a Karazhan run, I took Rhoelyn and her entire wad of 154 Badges of Justice to our new friend, Smith Hauthaa**. After much grunting and sweating, some syllables of obscure words of power, and a bit of magical investiture, my dear Shadow Priest was rewarded with the best thing since sliced bread (although I suppose it would be really good at slicing said bread). We're the proud wielder of the Scryer's Blade of Focus. Faces everywhere had better be trembling in fear. :D

* Talk about aiming high, huh? :P
** I'm very proud of my server for being the first to unlock the smith, but this isn't a WoW News blog. If you want to read more about the path through 2.4 content on Proudmoore, then please go visit Siha at Banana Shoulders. :)

Apr 4, 2008

Titans and Demiurges 04 - My Little Dreadsteed

Well, hey. Since yesterday was a cop-out, and today has dropped some fun, creative fodder in my lap... Here we are with an off-schedule update.

Wertle over at the Livejournal WoW_Fanart community has made a great gift for a guildmate. Inspired by an old WoW Insider contest entry by Amynnah, she customized a My Little Pony into an adorable dreadsteed present. Isn't that just about the cutest thing since babies and kittens?!

It begs the question... what other 'My Little Pony' customizations could the game inspire? I wonder if you could get as far as a Ram or a Talbuk? And what other toys might be customizable into fun creations from our World of Warcraft experiences?

Inspiration of a Dreadsteed

Apr 3, 2008

Cop Out: Gnome on a Turtle

Today has been... odd, to say the least. I'll spare you the details. Suffice to say that I ain't writin' nothing, and ya can't make me!

It's time for a quality cop-out*...

Cue the Gnome on a Turtle!

Gnome on a turtle!

* "Quality" being a relative term, of course. I'll be back with a real update on Monday. :)
PS: For those of you from the guild, bonus points if you can guess the guest-gnome!

Apr 1, 2008

Compendium of Fools - 2008

If you haven't looked at your calendar - I mean, really looked at that-there datestamp, then you're in for a rough day. It's April 1st, and that means you're best served to suspend all belief until 11:59 PM tonight.

On the bright side, presuming you didn't fall for any of it, this is a great day for a smile and a laugh, both of which I love to bring to my audience. Thus, though it's not an official update day here at PoC, I give you my Compendium of Fools. Go. Enjoy. Lock your gullibility in the closet on your way out the door.

  1. Slugs with lasers!
    Blizzard has announced its newest foray into the Console market: World of Warcraft, The Molten Core. With such features as movement in any of 8 unique directions, glorious 192i resolutions, and SOUND, how can you possibly resist what is sure to be a record-breaking release for your PS3 and Xbox 360?! (... or maybe the Atari 2600?)

    The Molten Core
  2. In a monumental feat of productivity, Blizzard has also taken the opportunity to announce a new hero class for the Wrath of the Lich King expansion: the Bard. If you thought 2.4 was breaking the barriers of gameplay, then you've got to see what's in store for those of us who take the path of hardcore Rock damage. Sexy and powerful, this new ultimate class may just beat the Death Knight into obscurity.

    The Bard
  3. There's more. Blizzard has brought a new addition to its StarcraftII page. The Terran Marines are getting a boss new unit, and he ain't there to chew no cud. Meet the Mad Cow Marine, the baddest bovine on the block! After so long, it's finally true. There is a cow level.

    The Mad Cow
  4. Last, but certainly not least, Diablo II hasn't escaped the Blizzmonster initiative for 2008. Added to the expansion page is a wonderful new accessory, the Loot PiƱata. I don't know how we ever dungeon crawled without it. (Though I wish I knew who found this page, because they need a big old pat on the back. I could not find any linkage from the Diablo II site.)
    Loot Pinata
  5. WoW Insider, long considered a key source for all the latest WoW info, tips, and tricks, has decided that it's time to move along with the tide of change. Say goodbye to WoW Insider and hello to Hello Kitty Insider, your source for HKSuperman and so much more. Triple B assures us that this is no joke, so it must be true. Have you got your Hello Kitty Online beta key, yet?
    HKO Insider
  6. WoWHead, the popular and very useful WoW database site, has gotten a minimalist... and rather familiar-looking overhaul for this most auspicious of holidays. Now, where have we seen that look, before? Hmmm...
  7. Druidity and Roguery
    Phaelia and Valenna, apparently having recently traded WoW accounts altogether, have written up their respective guides to their new 70 classes. Check out Phaelia's Guide to Roguery and Valenna's Guide to Druidity. Not only are these two BlogAzeroth founders wise about their new toons, but they are apparently well versed in the creation of new and exotic WoW terminology. Who will be next to pontificate about classifery?!
  8. Over at A Dwarf Priest, our earnest and honest little healiforating friend is not trying to fool you for this April 1st, but she is doing a good job of amusing you. Check out the amusing and impressive loot on her boyfriend's Loot-a-day World of Warcraft calendar. I'd totally go for with a gnome in those babies! Wouldn't you?!
  9. McLovin' has done it, again. Always the first to bring us the latest news from the Tech front, he has yet another wild scoop over on his World of McLovin'. The iRaid, long rumored to be in development, is confirmed, and WoW is on its way to your handheld. Sweet! Farming during boring meetings never looked so simple.
    World of McLovin'
  10. Leafshine brings us a very new, very important secret to that 10-man instance that we all love to hate. Make sure you go see her Secrets of Karazhan video! If you follow her simple moves, you'll be rickrollin' your way to phat lewtz in no time.
These are the WoW April Fools that I've found so far. What else can we add to our list? Have you found anything hilarious? Whatever you choose, have a fun and lighthearted Tuesday. Happy April Fools Day!

Late edit:

I just found this one, and though it's not WoW-related, I think this crowd will appreciate the tease.
  1. From IGN, we have Legend of Zelda: The Movie
Ah, if ONLY this were real... and about 50x less B-quality. :P But still, it's a great present for April Fools Day. We can dream!