31st January 2018
This vehicle, currently known as the great beast (to distinguish it from the ‘big beasts’ of the British Tory party), doesn’t yet have a name. I think I suggested ‘Marcel’, though I can’t remember why, but this was rejected by Hacina.
It / he? is almost wholly owned by the bank as I write – so that, and learning to drive it [several steps up from our miniature Suzuki wagon R] are the preoccupations of the moment at Rainring HQ. I’ve been wanting for years to own a camper van large enough to read cards in, and this is the beginning of our attempt to achieve that. I am at present taking first steps towards furnishing same, which involves me indulging in two of my long-standing passions: Turkish carpets and antique furniture – so I hope to create, if not a full-blown Mystic Meg experience, at least some tasteful and self-awareness-friendly surroundings for readings. ‘Carpets’ I should add is an absurd glamorisation for a category of textile more generally referred to in the trade as ‘mat’. These things certainly are carpets, but very miniaturised, to around 3 feet by 18-21 inches (90 x 46-53 cms: the only size able to fit into the narrow ‘alleyways’ available on the floor of the camper). I will post pictures when all this process is complete. (taster available now in archives)
Exactly where I aim to take the van is under review at the moment. I was hoping to secure a one-dy-a-week pitch at the nearby seaside for the summer, but this seems a bit problematical so far, at least in a public space, so I’m going to look at the possible alternatives – first on the list being to approach a private venue such as a well-visited garden open to the public, and propose my services. Festivals is an obvious possibility for one-offs, so this also will get a look at. All this is only in a very preliminary stage right now.
This is intended to be the year of the big publicity push, and Wednesday, starting today, is the day earmarked each week for focussing specifically on Rainring business. I intend, at least, to produce somewhat more frequent updates as things actually happen, rather than filling this space with pious notices of plans, only to have to confess later that they never actually came to fruition.
6 September 2017
Strange how fast things go, so that my sense of having recently posted suddenly becomes a post nearly two months ago.
So, quick update this time to say that I have a precious free week available to try and a) close out the videos and b) work out what the next priority is to be and get it in motion. For tonight, just to say that the videos are complete, there is a 30-second preamble (though it may well stay as is without music) and I am now poised to start uploading the instruction series. I’ll update further when this step has been taken.
15 July 2017
Above – a still from one of the new videos
Wow, the below seems like ancient history! After having suceeded in maintaining some kind of continuity over a period of months last year, I seem to have collapsed completely in terms of diary posting. Perhaps I could justify this by saying that extreme busy-ness has kept me away from here. But I don’t think that would be sufficiently true. However, it certainly IS true that I have covered a lot of ground since last October. First – and it seems to belong to another era – I did get instruction booklets from Nigel2, more cards from HK and managed to put together some packs ready for sale.
I’m no longer exactly sure where I went from there – I think I decided that I needed to have some instruction videos available on You Tube before I offered my cards to Watkins bookshop, or went to Gardners books for distribution – because of the difficulty of people being able to access help in learning how to use the cards. [Not sure if I want to do eithr of these at the moment]. Anyhow, that was quite a long time ago and since then I have been plunged in the whole business of 1) finding out what kind of audio/video equipment to buy and how to use it; 2) buying and learning to use a suitable selection of gear; 3) learning how to shoot and edit videos.
To date I have completed (in what I call a penultimate version) about seventeen of around 20 minutes, with probably a couple more in the pipeline. Once these are done, I have to put together an intro (music and images), then begin to upload them – probably at the rate of one per month. I am also going to produce some kind of fast-track version, which will do the instructions from beginning to end with no frills and possibly no interludes either.
The other thing in the pipeline is a camper van, from which I can give readings. greatly desired, but not yet a serious proposition. Let’s hope it won’t be numerous months before I post again.
27 October 2016
It struck me that writing this is – if nothing else – a good break from my tendency to get philosophical. Practicalities only, please!
Updates since last: replaced Prontaprint (who never answered) by Nigel – not Nigel1 – as he must now become – my esteemed website creator but Nigel2, printer, of Portslade. He is producing 1,000 booklets of 88 or, hopefully, 87mm, as the proofs ended up being (because the pages don’t lie exactly one on another) – a smidgeon wide for my 89mm boxes. I received my beautiful guatemalan mini shoulder bags and purses from the US, and they will be brilliant to offer for ladies to put the cards in.
Been off sickish since yesterday, so today I sent money to Hong Kong for a second lot of cards. With what I have from before, I should now be able to make up 300 sets of cards (though still a Q mark over tuck boxes).
The grand plan is that the revenue from 300 boxes (plus some books, hopefully) will be enable me to launch a big umpire purchase. This will produce enough re-formatted packs to reach the end of my catch-up on the existing old-format packs. If I ever manage to get that far, I can then, finally, do integrated purchases of boxed packs of cards (in new format and with in-box instructions). At that point, I should have no further re-supply worries, even if I reach a significant volume of sales.
So why the 1,000 instruction booklets (and perhaps 1,000 tuck boxes to follow if I can get the right price on these)? Just to spread the cost, so that I can then go for 1,000 or more sets of umpires, knowing that it won’t break the bank. [The other issue here is that I want to get vlogging before too long, and I need to keep some funds aside for that.]
All that is a bit bricks-and-mortar, but the cutting edge area now is that I am going to start trying to find a way to develop my presence on the web and to SELL!!! Nigel1 has just had a family bereavement, after which he has promised to tidy up some stuff over on the main blog for me, including re-direction to here. To be continued…
Ape tape, labels and yellowish boxes all arrived so I have been playing with the labelling and boxing of some cards. Day off today (Tuesday) so have been sending off into the ether for tuck box  quotes; also swallowed my anger (which would not have played well) and re-approached Prontaprint to see if they are still willing to produce 1000 booklets (88mm this time if I’m lucky) at the price they quoted before, which according to Chris2 is way cheaper than anything he found.
Have also been in contact with Nigel who is (apparently) in Africa again but who promises on his return to make the various tweaks I need to tidy up the rainringcards site a bit.
Have been spending my days/nights on Etsy and have taken delivery (from UK this time!) of two boxes: one very pretty but slightly too small (I didn’t ask them to check ‘approx’, the other nice but I have to admit a bit massive – so not a resounding success so far, but will persevere. Also interested in bags/pouches/purses, which could also be a valid way to go as pack of cards containers. Not sure what happens to RR shop to accomodate this.
So, am looking at prep-ing 1000 boxed and instructed sets of cards, if I can finance that, in order to be able to try and push the cards commercially – e.g. perhaps through Gardner’s Books – with some confidence that I cope with initial orders (if suddenly they start to come in), without running dry before I have the chance to set up a high volume re-order.
Also met Chris1 again and took delivery of a high-res version of what he has produced, so I can store them out of harm’s way. He recommends putting them somewhere safe such as on an external hard drive. Salzman of Chicago can’t write correct English and refer to ‘our factory in China’ – oh dear. Just like the tuck box people with a London phone number and UK email address who speak with an Indian accent and want to do everything by chat and email – as if they were in Bangalore, not in London at all – guess what?
Putting all this down makes it seem as if I have been in a regular flurry of activity!
Some progress – slow and tortuous as ever. Chris2 ran trials with an improved version of the box-top label, which works fine – but I arrived at one minute past five to find the place deserted and don’t know if he did the big label-print run, which I’m waiting for so I can label a bunch of boxes. Still waiting for the kraft (yellowish) boxes and for the ape tape. Back to work tomorrow, so now everything slows down.
Have had a nice contact with a person on Etsy who has a very nice box to sell which will fit RR cards and I want to buy – though with shipping from US, customs, tax etc it won’t end up cheap. Anyhow, this has got me interested in two things: first, buyin a few interesting boxes on etsy to sell cards in; later, perhaps, having my own store on etsy. Is this the way to engineer my marketing breakthrough? (Or one way…) More later
09 September, 2016
Am I getting anywhere? How I answer that probably depends on my mood at the moment you ask.
Let’s start with the positives. First, the new umpires from Hong Kong – whose colour is now sorted out – are a close enough match to the original, 20-year-old ones, to make it possible to combine them. [And I won’t use the dis-matched mentions-images umpire:that’s for the bin.] So, whereas I wouldn’t attempt to do eight of the old together with the one new, a 4+5 mixture is do-able. This means that I won’t have to buy nine-card sets and throw all the old ones out.
So far, I’ve done about 60 of the combined sets which, together with the rest of the pack, are now boxed up in the new HK tuck boxes awaiting the sealing tab to be ready for market. This transparent tab with permanent adhesive will feature an image of a pair of scissors and will be printed from sheets of labels by Chris2 in Henfield on Monday (insallah). Yes, I have labels, and the other work of C2 on Monday will be to print a run of 100 sheets of 3 top (image as on cards) and three bottom labels. The latter are destined for the Tiny Box underside, expliciting the box contents and providing the barcode.
Continuing the positives, I have taken a shipment (vanment?) consisting of a giant box of ‘Tiny’ boxes – there are nine different colours in one size and two in another, recycled card, cheeap but nice, except not very versatile for printing on, hence the labels. I have also ordered some Ape tape – my favourite name of all time – which is adhesive-backed aluminium foil. This could be regarded (rightly) as an extravagence, but should give a highly distinctive look to the boxes I hope, plus serving to seal them up. I have an assortment of a dozen or so ‘silk’ (45%, + polyester 55% ) scarves from China via Ebay to use as cloths for spreads, and these will be offered along with the larger version of the Tiny boxes just received – in short, the delux package.
As I write, I am amazed to discover that things do seem to have been happening after all. Even the umpire featured above has had a makeover and acquired dots – slightly too small ones at first, and now suitably larger ones. Once taken, I will post pictures of the boxes with labels, ape-tape etc in place.
The negatives: this re-boxing lark is all a bit cottage industry. There is certainly no way I would be able to cater for an order in quantity. It looks like I have 2.5K packs to deal with in this mickey-mouse fashion before I can return to normal runs of packs of cards: though who the one supplier of these would be is anyone’s guess at this point. I have just sent some artwork to a Jack Salzman of Chicago to see if he might be able to amuse himself producing cards, and how much it would amuse him to charge for that. With the help of the cards, I made an executive decision today. It would be infinitely cheaper to get 1000s of everything, but I am going to not plunge myself in or close to debt to do that right now. I am going to do each separate element in quantity, starting with the leaflets (Chris 2 is on this one also) – and earn the money for each item, cards and boxes coming later, until I have everything ready to go out.
Negative two, of which more later, is no sign of any sales on the horizon – this whole area still to confront.
19 July 2016
Well, well well. So many failures and pratfalls since the last. Final version of cards ended up coming back with an error (all 120 copies). Booklet similarly was a write-off (despite approved proofs), so went to an English firm who then also screwed up by switching the size from 88mm to 80mm without warning. I didn’t see it on the proofs, so another non-result. So now my vaunted new pack is going to contain one card with mentions matched to the wrong pictures and one instruction booklet of the wrong size: and all because of not checking proofs properly – or, if you prefer to think of it in this way – because of printers who can’t carry out instructions without error, and so expect you to come and clean up their mess behind them. I am not a happy bunny!
Now it’s time to get things ready to sell, figure out how to sell, and (after conversation with Tom), hopefully start to get set up for making videos of cards – to get some movement on the web.
24th May 2016
I can’t believe that over three weeks have passed since this last entry until finally, today, I’ve had back the new version of the umpires from Hong Kong. They’re still not a perfect match for the colour of the existing pack, but they’re close enough that when old and new are put together the result will not look a mess.
This means that tonight I’ve emailed Chris to sort out the final upload etc. Once everything is in place, I can put through the order, and we will have saleable packs of cards. Then, finally, I will think about approaches to retailers and strategies for selling the cards.
One other good piece of news: Sharyn Woerz has just started featuring some Rainring cards on her blog at www.quirkeries.blogspot.com/
She has a very individual take on the cards, which I think is ideal – we’ll see if this results in any traffic.
30th April 2016
Well, re-reading this is an object lesson in how things shift around. So I’ll try and catch it all up.
Good news and bad, in short. First, what we have achieved: today I received in the post the proof copies of the instruction booklet and the tuck boxes – from Hong Kong. So the local booklet supplier is out of the window (not competitive) and the HK people at Make Playing Cards have produced a nice-looking instruction booklet, about which I’m not only pleased, but very relieved: because of battles elsewhere. One or two very minor tweaks to the booklet and then it can go into the first print run.
There is a second booklet: this time featuring the directory of meanings (skeleton version – summaries only) which is going to go on this miscellany site, but also on the dot com site, so I am going to see Nigel [the creator of www.rainringcards.com ] in a few days- always a pleasure, and it’s been a long time: there are other small things I want him to tweak on that site.
The tuck box: we asked for two proof copies – Hacina thinks they look too flash – partly because they are gloss finished, which was not a good idea, partly because they are highly stripy – to match the book, which they certainly do, but maybe a bit excessive – I don’t know, I’ve spent the day increasingly getting used to them. I may reduce the stripes, but not I think eliminate them completely. The unicorn carthorse is (again) featured on the back.
The great PAIN IN THE BUTT has been the cards, also like everything else so far, just received as proofs from HK (ten days ago). One thing I’m delighted about is to have prototype working copies of the modes, which is ace. The problem is the umpires, which are not printing true – at least, the yellows are all muddy and reduced. Compare with scans of the cards we already have:
The old cards are at the top, the new ones underneath.
I am totally drowning in high and low resolutions, not least in terms of what I can even see on my desktop monitor, which is not (i.e. less than) what Chris can see on his Mac laptop. Anyhow, to cut a long and frustrating story short, I am going to see Chris2 (our local printer, [not to be confused with Chris (now Chris1) my trusty typesetter, still less with Chris-my sister)] after the bank holiday. I am going to take to Chris2 the original artwork from all those years ago (1995) which I miraculously still have and rescan it, to see if we can bring it back from the faded and muddy condition you see above in the second row right .
Finally, as if all this was not enough, I have a second ‘box’ project under way: I’m intending to offer online another type of box, this one made of recycled card and normally used to keep jewellery in. Far more sturdy than a tuck box, no more expensive, and available locally. I have a sample here at home and it’s very nice. For this, I have to provide a label to go on the top (lid) and a bar code label to go on the side or underneath. Which is fine, except that I got swallowed up in purveyors of labels-by-the-thousand, which means start-up costs I want very much to avoid. I think I have an answer, however, of which more another time.
When, finally, God-willing we have a product or two [book; box with cards and instruction booklet] to sell, I am going to talk to one or two retailers.
It’s actually more tiring to write about this than to do it! Anyhow, to be followed….inshallah.
February 27th 2016
Here is the new umpire: in my inimitable primitive style, obviously – this is one reason for revamping the cards: to get this properly integrated into the umpires. Anyhow, I’m happy to give reversal its due – all too often reversal is regarded as ‘bad news’ that the querant wants to run away from.
Maybe if I keep a diary online, it will encourage me to feel that things ARE happening. Anyhow, started on phase 2 – the revamp of the cards – but keep getting derailed by (paid) work and frustrated not to have time to push things forward. Found a window this last week to set up the square booklets ready (eventually) to go to the printer. There are now two (I think): instructions and summaries. I have to proof read them, which is like watching paint dry, but must do this before I can approach the (local) printer. This time, I’m doing it all in ‘word’ and bypassing Chris (my typesetter) as I feel (increasingly) the need to practice frugality!
Chris has prep’d the templates for the 9 umpires to go to the Hong Kong card printers. Then we have to get the new tuck box template set up – I’ve worked out the preliminary design already. Once we know the thickness of the booklet(s) plus cards, we can work out what tuck box template to use.
Enough for now – more fun to do than to write about!