Thawing Out, Starting the Batch (and Site Changes)

Kind of an interesting mix of activity levels around here. The lab has been interspersed with sounds of work. On the cusp of 2021, it was often quiet work. You know, not as much of sound coming from the workbench area of the house. Its been that quiet “doing taxes”, some cleaning binges, and those other “necessary for a business but not much result” actions. With the usual January/February lull in the lab behind us, we now March on with some form of an update.

Its easy to sum up 2020 as a year that was “slower” than usual. We still got some stuff done, but it probably didn’t look like it. Our work<–>Wildgasmasks life balance got a bit tipped, as Stego’s full-time job veers on the side of “essential”. Working through our queue had some delays and then some of the typical sidetracks. One of our orders involved some experimentation in how we can change airflow and allow for a slightly different choice for dragons muzzles. We are always grateful for some helpful lessons (even the kind that don’t feel helpful in the heat of the moment or are time-consuming), because it lets us do better. We even had the opportunity to provide a re-coat on a mask from days before a “Wild Gasmasks customer” was even really a thing. It was amazing to see how far we had come, renewing an old jackal god by placing it underneath the latex waterfall.

5 rubber mask shells sitting on top of the printer. There is a stack of 2 jackals and a cat on the left, and another two masks next to it.
Stacking them up for the next queue opening. These shells do not have a shiny finish in this stage.

Balancing some overnight work calls, I have been hearing more of the grinding wheel. We are pretty much “on time” for a March or April opening. Stego is creating stackles of jackals, as well as popping out a few horse/dragon shells and KG1s. You know what that means. (Yes! Yes!)

All while that is going on, revamps to WildGasmasks.com are coming. My winter has been spent balancing the job hunt and building a whole new website for us. Im already very much aware of how slow our website is to respond, even though people are just doing simple browsing of pages.

There will be some checking and revising of some of the things behind the scenes, and that will be reflected in some of our information and product pages. With some of the changes in the world for logistics, there is some need to review the current situation. I know the website has been lagging hard so chances are, some may be seeing this update again after seeing it on our social media.

Im doing all of this behind the scenes, and then the site will be formally switched. Still, things on this live website may go a bit funny. If we have any major downtime (or issues as I switch things over), than our social feed will be used. (Feel free to just bookmark it, if you dont have an account). Dont mind us …. just working in the background.

The Dragon Age

Sadly, taxes took a bit longer this year and we were having a hard time fitting mask work into our schedules. We have transitioned out of that in the last week or so. Progression will still be a bit slow now that our ledger has essentially been taken back to zero. We are restocking our supply and accessory shelves, and getting back into a rhythm.

We do admit that this site has been neglected, so it is nice to have an update here. In fact,  we can now tell you about some trials (experiments) which we have been keeping quiet about until now…..

Taku Dragon at Further Confusion 2016For those of you who went to Further Confusion, you may have seen this character walking around in the evening.  Taku Dragon, a Bay Area costume creator, was one of our first guinea pigs….err dragon, for what is now known as our DG1 and DG2 masks.  Over the holidays, while we prepared for convention and taxes, Stego put this mask together.  Although Taku makes his own rubber costumes and fursuits, the DG2 mask seen in this photo became a welcome alternative head/mask for his character.


While we are still working on handling our waiting lists (backlog), we have started a list for people interested in our new(ish) fantasy creature.  DG1 and DG2 masks are based off of the molds that we create our HG1 and HG2 masks from. So, this does mean that people ordering a dragon will be queued in line with any horse orders that are in the queue at that same time.

We are still only taking on as many orders as we can reasonably do with our team’s current work (employment) schedule and around our Spring Season. Id say we are about 65% through our backlog from 2015 so we are getting close to a time when we can start working with new orders. With these site revisions, this is your chance to review the product of your choice, and maybe bring out your inner dragon.

 

Of Holidays and Hoods

Is it December already?

Man, time really did just pass by and I do not even feel like any of us even blinked. And yet, here we are facing the end of 2014. When autumn arrived, it seems that all three of us became really busy with our respective families and friends.  When November came, there was no shortage of birthday, Thanksgiving and anniversary celebrations for that month.  So, things got a bit hectic around here, with us having just a few opportunities to get together after work and brainstorm/toss some ideas around.

Such brainstorming has also been related to hooded masks, which we closed orders for back in August. When winter falls, and the temperature drops (well…by Southern California standards anyway), its harder to achieve the finished quality of each latex coat/pouring.  So, some of those moments of brainstorming and breaking out our supplies have been geared towards this popular option.   We have been re-tooling our hood making process, identifying some better materials to use when creating and sizing them.  This should eliminate some of the problems and other issues that made the process take that much more time for us to complete each hooded order.

Once the holiday season is over and our outdoor workshop is more suitable, we will be opening back up for the more complex orders. However, while you wait, hop on over to our Wild-and-Free listings to see some of our ready-to-ship products.  For those in the US, there is still just a little more time to grab one of these and get it to its destination in time for Christmas morning.

What Goes Down Must Come Up

I cant tell you how nice it is to have an update for you guys…let alone one that is the polar opposite of our last one. Over the past few months, having to lament the loss of productivity, we are happy to report that we’re back in full force (and then some!). This is thanks to our secret weapon — a third set of hands in the form of our shop pony. With pony’s help, we have been able to get back up to a consistent production speed and have begun taking care of people who have been waiting in the wings.

For those following our Twitter, you may have noticed more updates happening more often and more opportunities to look in our lab and see how we are doing. Our production still has its limits, mainly in the area of hooded orders. Sadly, its a matter of replacing certain pertinent tools to this process, and our search has resulted in a lot of dead ends. When we do find this specific tool (and at a price that our small shop can afford in these tough times), we can go full throttle and start taking on more orders for our encasement-happy friends.  This hurdle has also affected the potential of long-overdue-but-planned projects. In fact, a number of people have recently asked us about the brand new species designs. Much to our dismay (especially Kat’s), the aforementioned dearth of these specific building tools results in us having to put our bright ideas on the back burner.

With shop pony putting his ass to the grindstone and us optimizing our processes in what small ways we can, its only a matter of time before we will announce an opening of our queue. Soon, we will happily begin taking hooded orders, even if it is on a case-by-case basis. If this kind of mask style is your fancy, I thank you in advance for remaining patient and dropping us a line to let us know that you haven’t given up on us yet.