All posts by themumblingmouse

I like cheese, and writing.

Voraniss Voices: Issue #1

 

Voraniss Voices Issue 1, Page 1

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Voraniss Voices Issue 1, Page 4

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Legends of Voraniss: The Story of Osag

If you ask around the Realms, people will tell you all kinds of things about spirits. Some adventurers believe that spirits are simply the restless dead, while others will tell you that spirits are their own type of being from another plane of existence. Going farther out there, some people will think you’re talking about booze and they’ll get all excited. In Voraniss we have a special relationship with the spirits; for there are many that have chosen to take residence within our borders. Some of these spirits take the shape of animals, and we have built various shrines to them all throughout our territory. One of my favorite spirits is Osag, the Guardian Bear, and it is he who I wish to tell you about.

Osag’s legend is one beloved by our locals. It begins long, long ago when humanity first arrived within the lands presently known as Voraniss. Never before had they seen such ancient trees, and they felt as dwarves beneath a giant’s heel. Fish and game were bountiful, and so the humans were able to wander free from place to place as they followed after that which they hunted.

Osag was one of these early humans; a proud warrior who led his tribe forward by the point of his spear. Osag’s life hadn’t always been so blessed, however. He had grown up without parents, as many adventurers do. His mother had fallen early on to a particularly harsh winter famine, and his father had died a warrior’s death charging into combat against an enemy tribe. The others helped him as best they could, but he was expected to pitch in often; to prove beyond a doubt that he was more than a burden. The labor made him strong, and by the time he was a young man he was larger than most of the adults. Osag’s size made him a natural leader on the hunt, and the strength and wisdom that came with his experiences made him a fierce opponent.

I tell you this so that you might understand what was going through Osag’s mind when he first entered the forest and saw a wounded bear cub struggling to survive on its own. With no parents in sight the weakened creature mewled and cried out in distress. It was a perfect target for the hunters; easy prey for them to enjoy without risking their health or energy. But Osag couldn’t let them take the creature, for something in him related to its predicament. He remembered how alone he had felt without his parents to guide him, and his heart softened. Instead of dinner, the creature became his companion.

As Osag aged, so did the bear. It grew larger and more powerful, towering far above the men of the tribe when it stood on its hind legs. Many of the others in Osag’s tribe were wary of the creature, for they did not trust the instincts of a once wild animal; especially not one as huge as the bear. Osag didn’t mind though, and he continued to treat the bear as a brother. They hunted together, slept next to one another, and even shared their food.

One fateful winter Osag’s tribe was having trouble finding game. They had traveled south towards the thicker forests of the land, but heavy snowfall had left them stranded and hungry while the deer outran them. The people began to get restless, and supplies were running low. As desperation grew one man suggested that Osag let them kill and eat the bear so that they might save themselves. Osag refused, and a fight broke out as tempers flared.

Punches were exchanged as the two men brawled to resolve their differences, and Osag threw his adversary to the ground where he got a mouthful of snow. Furious that he could not beat the mighty Osag with his fists, the man got back to his feet and reached for his spear. Raising his arm behind his head, he threw it forward before Osag could arm himself. Only, he didn’t aim for Osag…he aimed for Osag’s beloved bear. Osag cried out in warning, springing to life as he ran for his companion. There wasn’t enough time to get his own weapon, or to hit the soaring spear out of the way. Sorrow swelled up deep within his heart as the realization dawned upon him.

Osag did the only thing he could think of and threw himself into the spear’s path. The weapon pierced his lungs and pinned him to the ground. Everyone was in shock, but none more so than Osag’s bear who no one now dared touch. It stood up on its hind legs to roar, chasing off the scared and confused tribesmen before returning to Osag’s side to lay down and press a nose into his cheek. Osag knew there was no way he was going to live, and so he used the last of his strength to turn his head and smile at his friend.

When his remaining life finally drained from him, Osag’s strength failed and his forehead rested upon the bear’s nose as his body slumped. For days the bear lay beside Osag, not even bothering to get up and eat. Without his friend, his savior, his heart was broken. The spirits of the forest, those that whisper between the trees, were moved by the brotherhood of bear and man, and they took pity upon Osag who had sacrificed himself to save a creature of the wild. Using their great magic, they pulled the essence of the hero back to the woodland and gave him new form. Osag was to become a bear, a guardian spirit of the creature he had given his life to defend. Joy would return to the earth, and that year Spring came early.

 To this day, you can find Osag keeping watch over all of Voraniss by his den near the forest where he fell. He’s more bear than man now that the memories of his former life have faded over time, but they say he’s still always watching out for orphans and lost souls. If you watch long enough, they sometimes even say you can see him playing with the other bears like he’s always been one of them.

Character Spirituality & Religion

In my last article about roleplaying tips and tricks I briefly touched upon the subject of the divine. In a fantasy realm where we’ve literally seen the wrath of the Gods in action, spirituality and religion should play a large role in our culture. A character who isn’t living under a rock should have some opinion about these goings on, and as a result, will have a way to better connect to the immersive world around them. But where does one start with all this rigmarole? How does one decide what one’s character thinks and feels about such a deeply personal subject? Luckily for you, we’re going to break down that process and give you some key points to think about that should help you with your decision making.

1.)    The Realms is in a unique situation where you can be any creature and have any backstory that you want. However, this doesn’t mean you should necessarily write in your own deities. As such a long running LARP, Realms has a vast history and lore that has been going on for many, many years. Learn what the setting already has, ask around and see what your options are before you generate new content. You’ll be adding to the continuity of the world and setting yourself up for interactive relationships with other players.

2.)    Consider your character’s history and where they grew up. Was there a cathedral or temple in their home town? If so, what Gods/spirits were they exposed to in their early life? Did this affect them in any meaningful way? Some people resent being told how to worship, other people cling to what they know and are familiar with. Find out what kind of character you have and think about their history in a deeper way. In Voraniss, we have Mogar who struggles to have any kind of relationship with the Gods. In his backstory he spent much time trying to survive in a world hostile to Orcs. No matter how much help he needed, he never saw the Gods come to his aid and so Mogar feels betrayed by the divine. He acknowledges their existence, but doesn’t actively worship any of them yet because of his painful history.

3.)    If you don’t have a backstory that is super fleshed out, think about your character’s general personality. What is important to them? What are their goals? Sometimes the answers to these simple questions are enough to guide a character towards a particular God’s domain. When my own character, Mouse, first started adventuring and making friends she knew she wanted to protect the people that had become important to her. She also knew that she wanted revenge upon the demons that had made her time in the Abyss unbearable. As it turned out, there was a deity that already existed who had both Protection and Vengeance as domains and Vandor became a perfect fit.

4.)    Let’s say that you do all your research and still can’t find a God/divine being that fits with what your ideas are. What do you do? If you’re going to create your own, think about how to make it different from anything else the game has to offer. How does this being like to be worshipped? Is there any organization to your Church? Ranks? Are the members of this religion easily identifiable? Does the God have a symbol? Is this God or religion going to bring something unique and special to the game? Will it be contributing to immersion or are you just trying to be silly? It is important to remember that when you make a deity, they sort of become community property. You aren’t making them just for you, but also the world. A magic marshall may not interpret your ideas the same way that you do. Don’t get angry or upset, just go with the flow.

5.)    People may disagree with me on this one, which is fine, but I like to encourage people not to bring real world deities into a fantasy setting. You don’t know what people’s OOC religious backgrounds are, so an easy way to avoid offending anybody is by not touching that subject matter at all. On top of that, I’d like to encourage people to get more creative than relying on something that already exists. It can’t hurt you to push yourself a little further, right?

Hopefully this gives you some stuff to think about as you continue your LARPing adventures. Even though I’m writing this from the perspective of a Realms LARPer, I think some of the points are fairly universal. You can take them with you and brainstorm no matter where you’re making your characters. Have any questions, need help with some research? Hit me up. I’m always available to help with this kind of RP project! 

(Featured image photo credit goes out to Samantha B. Flanagan!)

Reflections of a Newbie: By DJ Sapienza (Varrmagn)

I’ve had plenty thoughts about Realms and Voraniss bouncing around in my head lately and I thought I would share some of them as a sort of reflection on Uncle Cecil’s and the calendar year. I want to sort of sum up my experiences as a newbie. I’ve been thinking a lot about some of this, especially at and after Uncle Cecil’s.

I decided to really expand on this idea after reading the post Renee made about all of our experiences over the weekend. And in that vein, I’ve got more to say about some of you than others. I hate to say it, but that’s mostly because I simply haven’t interacted with some of you enough. I’m really hoping to change that with upcoming events though!

I’ll probably get a bit sentimental in a way, and ramble some; but I hope nobody minds either.

THE EVENTS

Realms & Voraniss…
Renee has been bugging me for years to join and Derek started too, even before I was told about the forming of the Nation. I avoided the issue for plenty of reasons. I really dislike new situations and people, I feel a weird sort of guilt trying to insert myself into a pre-existing group, I was either not able or not willing to travel; and some other reasons. I knew some people had been in Realms for most of their lives, or did other games, or were just so much more experienced and I was intimidated.

 I am actually glad I resisted until now. I was guilted and bribed into trying Voraniss, knowing it would be a small group (to start, at least!). I was made to feel like I was helping to start something new, heading down a fresh path that would also be new to others so that my own broad newness would parallel the experiences of more veteran players in the new Nation. With Renee and Derek being back in NY and recruiting locally, with generous carpooling arrangements to events, and with the willingness of others to travel here to NY for Nation activities I haven’t really felt like the geographic separation mattered.

The Nation of Voraniss is one I would want to be a part of, even OOC. Open, but close-knit. Protective, but not possessive. Welcoming and intimidating, as appropriate. These are the snap-shot impressions I have developed and I feel they are reflective of some of the best aspects of the Nation. We have grown quickly, but with purpose and vision. There is so much respect earned and given within the nation, even to a newbie like me. I feel like I belong, IC & OOC. In that respect, I have blatantly tried to make my character’s experience directly parallel my own.

Frankly, I truly never expected to get this excited about the whole thing. I never thought I would make so many new friends so quickly. I admit to feeling a bit overwhelmed and anxious about it. But I can’t imagine changing it if I could.

Black & White…

The Voraniss coming out party. I was really honored to be a part of that. First time LARP event ever and I was part of something truly spectacular. And that was only the reveal!

The ritual performed there has also stuck with me in a quiet but significant way. It was an aspect of LARP I had never heard of, never considered. And it was pretty well done, and it was done in such a way as to feel a very deep and meaningful.

I got introduced to a handful of people, and I tried to take note of many more. I managed to forget most of their names automatically; there was just so much I was trying to take in, but some of their faces and characters stuck with me. I felt mostly unnoticed except as a part of Hygar’s new venture. But there were a few who took the time to interact with me which I awkwardly appreciated, and that was enough for my first event.

It was also my first chance to get to know large portions of the Pack. I was a bit standoffish, but quickly warmed to people. I took the easy path of “stoic observer” and was accepted, but encouraged to dip my toes in the waters, and rewarded with fun every time I did.

Uncle Cecil’s…

My second event, and my first event where I partook of any sort of questing or fighting. I had a better idea of what I was walking into. Discussions and crafting sessions and even lots of joking around really helped. I truly felt a part of the Pack and Nation at this point. I feel like being accepted by and associated with some players who were well-known and had earned some respect among the Realms was a big help. I never once felt like I thought I might as a “newbie.” I was accepted, involved, and even respected. I felt like I had to prove myself and earn those things. But I also felt like I was being given a real chance to do so.

The second ritual was truly impressive. I was honored to be a part of it, very proud of myself. I had put a lot of thought into the moment I was provided with and as cheesy as it is, once the ritual started, it didn’t feel like role playing at all. Just role filling. I remember watching for reactions from people. Voraniss seems to be getting a reputation for spectacle. And it’s glorious. From where I stood, I saw the crowd grow. I saw them lean in and step closer to hear what was going on. They were literally drawn in. And the crowd participation… There was less than I had hoped, but more than I had expected. But I felt like it was a powerful addition to, and a strong validation of what we were doing. In the moment and in general. I hope others had the same impression.

I know the questing was not plot heavy, but I thought it was well-done from the event side. Things I wished were different were largely the results of other players, or things beyond anyone’s control. I was genuinely pleased and impressed with most of the nation to nation interactions. I had heard plenty of trash talk from all sorts of people; some of it whispered in serious tones, some of it shouted like a 3 Stooges scene… But when it came to the quest and getting things done – I barely noticed any of it, and truly felt unaffected by it. It was refreshing and inspiring.

I drank. A lot. By my standards. I don’t think of myself as a lightweight, but I am not a heavy drinker. I’ve never wanted to be. But I learned a new level of my own intoxication. And I think it was good. I felt safe enough to really let go. I pushed my bounds and learned that super drunk me wanders around giving awkward compliments. I knew I was out of my comfort zone, but I never felt at risk. First of all, the whole hall was mostly looking out for each other. But mostly, I had my Pack. It was loads of fun.

THE CHARACTERS (I am going to try to be mostly IC here)

Hygar…
I sometimes have a difficult time separating Hygar from his alter-ego, Derek. I never really had a chance to get to know one before the other. Hygar is the founder. The leader. The Alpha. But he fills the role in one of the most subtle ways I’ve ever seen. He sets a goal, and he works towards it fastidiously. He gives expectations instead of orders, and he lives up to them himself first and foremost. In character he sets the standards high, and perches himself at that pinnacle; and then he lifts others up with him so that everybody can share in his vision.

At events, he literally leads from the front. We need no standard bearer, for he IS the standard. The point we rally to whenever needed. But I for one have never felt tethered. I’ve been given the freedom to explore this world in my own way, but fully knowing I am never truly on my own. This is the Nation Hygar has created around himself.

Mouse…
I honestly don’t know what to say about Mouse that somebody else hasn’t thought or said before. I sort of think of her as the “perfect companion” for Hygar. They can each function perfectly well on their own, but when together, she pushes things to a whole other level.

I think that’s what she does. She pushes. She pushes people she likes or has an interest in to do more or better. I bet she pushes buttons on people who annoy her. And I’m sure she’d happily push her actual enemies off the nearest cliff. (Maybe this is why she’s so proficient with pro-enchanted?)

Gavin…
Forgive me for gushing, and don’t take offense, but I have been continually amazed by Gavin. Every single time I interact with him, even for a few seconds, he pulls me deeper into the world of Realms. Every. Single. Time. And it’s not just that. He is constantly elevating the experience, and getting others to “up their game” but he does it in such a subtle way. To use a buzz word… He does it IMMERSIVELY.

I’ve come to look to him when I have some sort of issue or difficulty. He has helped me learn and grow both as a player and as a character, without me even knowing I needed that help. He uses the simplest things to help create a richer, deeper experience. From something as small as a feather, to something as simple as an otherwise inconsequential task. I really look forward to being able to quest and fight by his side.

Mogar…
Oh Mogar… I really wasn’t sure what to make of you before this weekend. I was actually worried you and Varrmagn might not get along. But you came out of the box swinging and knocked it out of the park. You managed to make an orc rather endearing. After Uncle Cecil’s, I frown to imagine Voraniss without you!

I know I was a slow student, but you were more than happy to try and teach me anyways. I just wanted to practice calling my shots, but you insisted I learn to fight not lose. I didn’t appreciate it at the time, but looking back… Your reputation as a fierce fighter is well-deserved. You were a tougher opponent on the training field than most I faced on the battlefield. (Even though I’m sure you were holding back at least some.)

Stewhart…
You are an intriguing fellow. You somehow manage to combine being playful and stoic. I get the impression of you as being soft-spoken, cool and collected while out and about (questing and such). But then at the end of the day, when among Pack or friends, you seem no stranger to letting loose and ramping up the shenanigans. I really appreciate the sort of balance you have and bring to the group.

Esther…
A little ball of genuine innocent ferocity. It’s tough not to feel protective of your excitable, cute nature. But I’d hate to be the one to rub your fur the wrong way! (Figuratively, I promise!) You have so much enthusiasm for everything that it’s difficult not to get swept up in it!

Wynn…
Your gentle curiosity is a real treat to have as part of the group. So far in our group, you’ve been like the warm soft gooey center of a delicious freshly-baked cookie. I am pretty excited to see just how you grow and find yourself a place in the pack. I wonder what sorts of adventures you’ll find to take us on alongside you.

Artair…
I think you’re going to end up embodying the phrase “walk softly and carry a big stick.” Armed with just a dagger and a handful of new spells, you were right there in the thick of things behind me. You were a real boon, and a literal life saver. Not to mention, you had the cutest animal companion of the weekend! (I can’t remember, did you ever decide on a name for your friend?)

Lyra…
I admit, I’m a little confused by you… You have embraced the Pack whole-heartedly, and I really hope you feel like you’ve gotten the same back… You’ve been there a lot, but haven’t much jumped into the thick of things. I am worried you might not have found your niche yet… But I see you as a firework… One of the ones that doesn’t draw a lot of attention as it sizzles and sparkles up to the clouds, and then right at the apex, it bursts into something spectacular. I am VERY much wanting to quest with you, and can’t wait for the chance to do so!

Like I mentioned before, there are more of you in the Pack, I just haven’t had much chance to get to know you IC yet. But I have no doubt that it’s my loss, and just a matter of time before we fix that!

THE PEOPLE

(Derek)
Out of character, he’ll work his fingers to the bone, even if he has to use an antique machete to do it. Any expectations he has are simple and reasonable – that everyone contribute what they can – and his rewards to those working beside him are beyond generous.

In the real world, I’ve shown up at varying times. Not once has he seen me at the door and thrust a project in my arms, or said “DSAPS, DO THIS!” But on several occasions, I’ve walked in and after a few minutes offered to help, and usually I’m given a rundown of things that need doing. I’ll pick one, and work on it, trying to give it my full attention, because Voraniss doesn’t do anything half-assed. And even when the reason I am there is to work, he’s always grateful.

Renee…
It doesn’t come up much, but I’ve known Renee for a long time. Longer than anyone else in the group, I think. So let me mention something that might not be evident to some of you…

When you see how excited she gets about the Pack and the Nation and our adventures together… She’s holding back. What we’re all doing together really makes her happy. She puts so much of herself into this, and she’s too stubborn to really ask for very much in return; even though she deserves it. She just wants this to work, to grow, to be amazing.

Tonya…
You and I have gotten along since the first moment. You’re an interesting and intelligent person, and always seem to have something interesting to say. I really appreciate that and I’m really glad to have met you.

Craig, Cat, Kayla…
I’ve barely begun to get to know any of you, so it’s hard for me to really say much, but you’ve all been great. I was really worried about feeling like an outsider joining a group where most people knew each other already, but you’ve each done plenty to make me feel like an idiot for worrying about that.

Justin…
It’s been a ton of fun to meet somebody in real life who shares such a wide range of interests and appreciations. It was really unexpected, but awesome.

Jake…
I feel bad for saying that I was pretty put off by you at first. But damn, if that wasn’t the best example I’ve ever had of not judging a book by its cover! I’m REALLY sorry if I gave you the cold shoulder at first… You’re an awesome guy, and I’m sorry I doubted that!

Honestly, I could ramble on for several more pages, but I’ll be surprised and grateful if you’ve even read this much. Long story short… Realms, Voraniss, The Pack, and all of you… Have really exceeded my expectations in nearly every possible way. I’m hooked; and it’s your fault!

Artist’s Corner With Seeker Cora

 

Sarah's Hygar & Mouse Drawing (2)
Mouse & Hygar as wolves!

 

One of the things that Voraniss encourages is craftsmanship and the pursuit of artistic excellence no matter what a person’s passions are. One of our members in particular never fails to impress with her art. The pencil drawing above was created by Cora who is only thirteen years old (currently the youngest member of Voraniss) and enjoys sketching out a wide variety of wild creatures that includes dragons, ponies, and werewolves. She also enjoys writing and has recently started dabbling in creating some of her own poetry. She is always busy coming up with new kinds of monsters and prefers drawing them to everyday people.

Tips and Tricks for Staying In-Character While LARPing

It’s the year 1017 and you’ve ventured your way to a far off land looking for help fending off a Goblin insurgency. You’ve got your armor on and you’re feeling like a badass warrior that doesn’t want to “take no crap” from anybody. That’s when Carl approaches you.

“Hey man, did you see the game last night?” Carl pulls out his cellphone and proceeds to reminisce about the highlight reels and unfair referees.

At this point you have a few options on how to proceed. Sure, Carl should be polite and understand that he’s at a Roleplaying game, but he must be really excited to see you and chat…so try not to fault him too much. If RP is something that is important to you and so is Carl, try and gently coax him back to the fantasy world. Redirect his attention with a polite prompt: “No, but I’ve heard an awful lot about these Goblins that want to overthrow the King!” If Carl still isn’t getting it, you can be a little more direct. Sometimes I’ll purposefully change my dialect and ask pointed questions like “What is this baseball that thou speakest of?” Usually people will get the hint, and they’ll be respectful of your desire to stay in-character and adjust accordingly. The benefits of handling the situation like this are many, and you won’t have totally shamed Carl and made him feel like an idiot.

Situations like the one described above may happen frequently, but it is ultimately up to you to navigate them with grace. Remember that you can really only control yourself, not other people. The best thing to do is hold yourself to a higher standard and act as a personal example of what you want to see in the Realms. Enthusiasm is contagious, and when people see what you’re bringing to the game, you’ll probably attract likeminded people who believe in what you’re doing.

Besides the classy redirect, you can also think about what your character’s voice sounds like. Some people have accents which makes for a more obvious difference between their out of character (OOC) or in character (IC) selves. If you can do an accent, try it out! It’s a good way to push yourself into RP land and keep you there. If you can’t do an accent, don’t panic! You’re in good company since it is an ability that a lot of people don’t have. If you like a challenge, fiddle around with your real voice and make a more subtle change. Mouse (my character) speaks more high-pitched and bubbly than I do on a regular basis. It’s just one option that you have to experiment with if you find yourself struggling.

Costuming is also a really important part of roleplaying. If you’ve taken the time to get all dressed up, chances are that you’re going to feel more into your role than if you were wearing your regular everyday clothes. It doesn’t have to be expensive either! There are a lot of guides out there on the internet that can help you turn plain old t-shirts into tunics with minimal sewing experience. When I first started Realms, I used to frequent thrift stores to find cheap shirts and dresses that had potential. Take a look around and see what you can find. If you’re not short on money, you can snag really nice stuff at a Renn faire, or from one of the amazingly talented craftsmen and women of our community.

The next tip for staying in character is simply this: Know your character inside out. If your character is different than you, then they should have unique quirks and pet peeves. What kind of things are they passionate about? What would instantly send them into a rage? You should explore their personalities a bit and know the answers to some of these questions. Then, when you’re out and about on an adventure, your character’s preferences or dislikes can help guide your interactions. My character has an extreme fear of cats as an example, but OOCly I love them. If my character met one on an adventure, however, she’d likely run in the opposite direction. Following up on this point, you should have an idea about your character’s strengths and weaknesses. Add in a flaw to make them more interesting. No good story has a perfect hero as the main character. Hygar, as another example, likes to play out that he’s really susceptible to the influences of dark magic. He loves power, and once he gets a taste of it he’ll likely get sucked in if nobody is watching him. It has led to a lot of really epic moments!

Following this up, you should probably know how your character feels about the divine. Gods and Goddesses/religion plays a major role in fantasy, and gives you something to talk about on the side. Does your character pay homage to one specific deity? Many? None? Why is that? If you know these answers, you’ll have even more depth to your conversations. My character has long been a fierce worshipper of Vandor (God of Vengeance and Protection of the Innocent) and won’t hesitate to tell everyone who will listen about his tales of valor. Churches in the Realms traditionally transcend nation boundaries, and gives you a whole new aspect of the game to explore through roleplay too.

The last trick we’ll talk about today is having a few conversation topics planned out. Nothing hurts RP worse than downtime from my experience. A boring silence is far more likely to draw out an OOC conversation than an engaging quest, so you can combat that by having a few conversation starters up your sleeve. My character likes Vandor and food, so if there isn’t anything going on you might find her talking about either of those things. Maybe you’re a warrior type character and talking about weapons is more up your alley. Find an excuse to talk to people, engage them and ask questions. You’ll be a part of the solution, and you might be surprised about what you learn in the process!

These are just a few things you can do to help keep yourself IC. Hopefully you’ve found this helpful in addition to having your own routines. Please remember that RP is supposed to be a fun community oriented activity, and if you ever find yourself getting really stressed or aggravated, it may be time to take a break. Keep yourself healthy and happy, and you’ll have a blast.

Tell us about your experiences! Leave us a comment if you have some tips and tricks of your own that you’d like to share!

Project Tutorial: Leather Pouch

So you’ve decided that you want to try your hand at leatherworking, eh? Glad to hear it! Part of what Voraniss is all about is crafting, and teaching other people how to make neat stuff; so we’ve compiled a little tutorial for you about how to make a pouch.

The first thing people struggle with when starting a new craft is usually figuring out what tools they need to get the job done. With leatherworking in particular, you can easily pay hundreds of dollars up front on stuff you might not even need for certain projects. Our suggestion? Buy your supplies on an as needed basis. It will likely save you money if you’re on a budget as so many of us are.

For this project, we used 3-4 ounce leather. Any thicker and you might struggle to mold it properly. We also needed shears to cut the leather (you can use heavy duty scissors if those are more accessible to you), a leather hole punch, a metal ruler, a leather needle, some waxed synthetic sinew, a bottle of Light Brown Eco-Flow leather dye (it’s less toxic and better for your skin), sand paper, a hammer, rivets, a paint brush, an exacto knife, and a sharpie.

Pouch Tutorial Tools
Most of the supplies/tools we used for the pouch.

First things first, you need to cut out the pieces of leather that your pouch will be made from. We construct ours from three separate pieces: the body (front and back) and then the sides. Using the sharpie and ruler, you should measure out and trace how long/wide you want your pouch dimensions to be. Whatever you do, do not use pen on your leather! Dye will not be able to cover up the markings and any lines that you make will be visible after the fact. Sharpie is a much safer way to go. Our pouch ended up being about 6 ½ inches wide on the body for reference, and our sides were two inches wide, and about 5 ½ inches tall. Ultimately, you’re working towards three rectangular shapes. We wanted ours to have a little bit of a rough and tumble feel, so we didn’t make them perfect rectangles. That choice is entirely up to you- the artist!

Once you’ve got your shapes all drawn out on the leather, you’re going to cut them out with the shears. Hygar prefers to rely on the tip of the shears for most of his cutting, though he’ll be the first to admit there isn’t any technical reason for this. It just feels more comfortable to him. Find out what works for you. A lot of crafting is trial and error as you learn what you like and what you don’t. Once you’ve got your three pieces all cut out, go ahead and sand paper the edges. This helps get rid of a lot of the little tiny hair-like pieces of leather shavings that might be sticking out, and helps give your project a more finished and professional look. Additionally, if you’re concerned that your leather isn’t top quality, you might want to sand any surface that you’re going to be applying dye or paint to in order to help it adhere better.

The next step is punching holes. On our handheld hole puncher, we use the smallest setting possible. Go slowly and make sure that you aren’t punching through the edge of the leather by mistake. Feel free to practice a few times on any scrap leather before you punch for real. You’ll want to evenly space out the holes to the best of your ability too. On the largest piece of leather, your body, the holes are only going to go on the long sides. Starting at the bottom and working your way up, stop punching holes about three quarters of the way. On your sides, however, you’ll want to punch holes for the entirety of the length as well as across the bottom. Ultimately your goal here is to punch holes along the body equal in length to the combined length of one of your sides. Think of it like this, if you have a side pieces that is the same as ours (2 Inches wide and 5 ½ inches tall), you would need to punch roughly 13 inches of holes on each side of the body. This makes it so that you have an equal number of holes around the side piece and on the body so when you go to assemble all your pieces they fit together nicely.

Pouch Tutorial Hole Punching
Hole punched leather!

Our next step was adding belt loops to the pouch. You don’t have to do the same ones that we did, but these are the ones that we’ll teach you to make.  It’s pretty easy too! All you have to do is cut out two more rectangles from your leather. Ours were about 6 inches by 1 inch. We then folded them over and punched two rivet holes through the bottom of both pieces and marked corresponding holes on the body. Once everything was lined up, we hammered quick set rivets into place and attached the loops to the back of the body. Don’t forget to sandpaper your loop edges during this process too! Paying special attention to all the individual pieces of your project will really make it pop.

For the next step of the process, get ready to play with water! You can use a plastic container or just your sink if nobody in your household needs it for anything. Fill the container or sink up with water and then submerge all the pieces of your leather. They don’t need to sit in there for long, just until the small streams of bubbles stop coming out of them. Once that happens, it indicates that your leather has moistened all the way through. Wet leather is easy to mold into shape, and it takes tooling well if you want to add any to your project. It also makes the stitches much tighter when you’re pulling them together.

After you’ve got your leather wet and kept an eye on the bubbles, you can remove it from the water and immediately start work on the next step. Fold your body piece in half and try to line up the sides where you intend for them to sit because you’re going to start stitching. Thread your needle with sinew (we always aim for about double the length of what we’re stitching as an estimate of how much material we’ll need), and push the needle through the top hole on the inside of your side and body piece (the holes closest to the top of the flap). Bring your needle back to the front and push it through the next hole in sequential order. Repeat this process and keep pulling the sinew tight as you go. When you get to a corner, you keep going. Pulling the sinew is going to start pulling the pouch into shape automatically.

Work your way down the left part of the side like you’re writing the letter U in reverse. When you get to the top holes on the right side, you make your final stitch and then you tie off your sinew. Repeat the same process on the other side of the pouch.

 

Frontal View of Pouch After Stitching
Frontal view of pouch after stitching.

 

 

Side View of Pouch After Stitching
Side view of pouch after stitching.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you’ve made it this far, congratulations! You’re almost done! You’re ready to move onto the dyeing portion of your project once your leather is dry. We used a paintbrush to apply the dye for this project, but we also highly suggest wool swabs. Dip your brush or swab into the dye and try to put an even coat over every leather surface. You might be tempted to go over the same area twice at first, but be warned that if you do this- your color will get darker. Make sure that is actually what you want before you proceed. Depending on what kind of dye you use it can take a few hours for things to fully dry. Make sure you’re not doing this step at the last minute unless you’re fine with dye potentially staining your skin.

Time for the grand finale! You’ve got this nice looking pouch, and now you need a way to close it. Many places sell elaborate closures you can fasten onto the front of your new pouch. We decided to try something a little different, and made what can only be described as a “belt.” We took a strap of garment grade leather and attached a buckle to it, then pulled it closed around the outside of the pouch. Do what you want with this part. It’s a fun way to customize your piece.

Pouch Closure
How we closed the pouch.

Hopefully you found this helpful and informative. Remember that the people that work in your leather supply stores can also be really great resources if you find yourself with a lot of questions. Good luck out there, and happy crafting!