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Artisan Work (OOC Welcome - Feedback Needed)

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(Going to try something different here.  I don't know how often I will make posts. This will be a collection of microstories about Otto crafting and creating special gifts and items for certain purposes. This may be boring who knows – feedback welcome.)



"Sir...are you sure?" Ridley asks me with legitimate doubt and bewilderment. She is one of the only souls I will tolerate second guessing me.


"Yes my dear Ridley, of course I am certain.  Six dozen roses. Go out to Gridania and fetch me a variety of red hybrid-tea roses.  I want extremely large and full ones, petite ones, and everything in between. I want half to have thorns and half to have no thorns on the stems."


Ridley gives me her customary salute, and heads out the door with her shopping orders. The image of Ridley carrying over seventy roses back to my shop humors me and I allow a smile to creep across my face as I focus on the task at hand and the work on my desk.


I am working on a special project. Something I have only ever done twice.  I am going lacquer and then gild a rose. I'm not doing this on commission or for a client, but as a gift to a friend. A woman I have found attractive at times, but all around someone I like as a friend and otherwise.


This is something that is rare for me because the work required is immensely delicate and time consuming. The kind of lacquer I will be using must be applied in very thin layers and allowed plenty of time to cure with an array of fire crystals set behind glass filters to specially cure and harden it as it sits in a wooden cabinet I have on lone from the Carpenter's Guild. This cabinet is going to let me control the humidity, letting the air stay damp to assist in the curing process.


There are few people who would ever deserve such a pure expression of artistic work from me. This will be a challenge for myself. There are very few that posses the talents needed to do this and it would do my ego well to observe reaction of the person I am gifting this to as they unbox it.


First things first though, I need to prepare my lacquers. A lot of people would run to resin for a job like this and those people will never have the vast fortunes I own for good reasons. When resin dries and hardens it does so via evaporation, contracting on the surface and curing into a shell of sorts. That lends itself to problems for roses if you are trying to preserve one. The heat applied from the process of melting the gold leaf that I am going to trim every petal and leaf with could melt or crack the resin. Another problem is that the curing process for resin will actively draw a bit of moisture from the freshly cut rose, potentially stealing some of the beauty when the veins of the leaves or petals look distressed. Lastly, over time the resin will age and fracture as it becomes more brittle and work with my name behind it is made to last.


Lacquers, the ones I will be using, lack all of these problems. When lacquer it cures it does so via something blacksmiths and alchemists know as oxidation, changing on the fundamental chemical levels as it reacts to the air around it. It doesn't go through an evaporation process and contract onto the surface. I've learned a lot from the Alchemist's Guild, they have been one to provide many insights into how to improve my work with precious metals.


My rose wont be requiring a refinish, something you can't exactly do to a flower but something resin needs on furnishings. It will preserve the beauty and integrity of the rose and its petals, keeping the soft and felt-like texture supple and visible through the clear, high-gloss lacquer I will use.


Before I can begin working though, I open a drawer in my desk and pull out my pestle and mortar again. I reach to my small pink silk bag I keep in a coat pocket, untie the top of it and dump a little of my 'sugar' into it and begin to grind it into a fine consistency. I've been consuming it orally for a while but lately I've been snorting it, taking it in through the nose. I waste no time in digging out a small amount onto my pinky, plugging one nostril as I inhale the drug with the other off my finger. I quickly dip the finger into my glass of water and follow the drug with snorting in a few drops of water to help fight the burn off.


I lean back into my chair, laying my head across the top of it and look up to the ceiling and close my eyes. The kick will come any moment now and I can prepare my lacquer after that.


(to be continued...)





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The feelings of euphoria roll over me soon enough. Your heart rate increases, you start to see and hear better. You feel light as warm summer air, your mind churning through being alit like cotton doused in oil and set to a match. With your mind racing, rapidly shuffling through ideas and thoughts, you think you can take on the world as one of the smartest people it will ever know. You are wholly confidant, immune to social pressure and any worry or concern is bulldozed out of the way in favor of a cocksure attitude and aloof openness.


I lean forward in my chair, dazed as I run my hands flat against my favorite work desk. The top of it covered in soft embroidered leather, the texture feeling incredible against my palms as I push them outwards across the surface to the edges of the desk. With my arms outstretched, I rap the fingers on both hands across the desk, looking to the side and away towards nothing in particular as I sit and let my new state of mine fully sink in.


Minutes pass, as I sit there completely unattached from the world, silently and repetitively rapping finger on the desk as I lose time. I absorb none of my surroundings as I stare off into the void. Eventually though the fog starts to slip from the mind and I notice my left hand has been holding my artisan spectacles under the palm as I kept hitting my fingers against the desk. With a sharp inhale through my nose I raise both eyebrows, finding myself at my desk. Renewed with energy and a re-sharpened mind I decide to get to work finally.


With my task at hand made clear again, I take out a pink silken handkerchief to clean the lenses of my spectacles. Putting them on I look across my desk, splayed with a menagerie of hand tools, paint brushes, various pumice and coal polishing stones, polishing sands made from gold and silver sand, jeweler's loupes, glasses with magnifying crystals I can flip into place and the precious lacquer I have ordered from experienced Botanists. They've cooked and refined it into a clear style and its ready to use once I open the airtight jar and ready to be applied with small paint brushes.


My most precious ingredient though, is the gold leaf I pressed and made myself. I have plans to add flecks of gold into the thin layers of lacquer I cover the rose in as they dry. This will give it a three-dimensional look as the golden flecks seemingly float on top of each other on the leaves and petals of the flower. An extremely time consuming and delicate process even for me. This will add a definitively unique look that is gaudy but proper for work made by me.


Now all I need is for Ridley to return with my roses so I can begin my work at once.


(to be continued...)

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"Six dozens of roses.. bloody heck!" It's what I thought as soon as I left Otto's room...and that's only part of my complain.

The fact that I had to carry that many roses made me feel tired already. Sure, I like roses, the fact that I carry a big axe doesn't mean I can't be soft but -six- dozens roses? For what now?! Urgh, oh well time to get work, Otto is still my boss and it could be worse. It could be six dozens axes.


I went to the airship port for buying my ticket: that bratty bitch kept me down whenever I had to move to Gridania for my show: I used to be a dancer when I came to Eorzean, almost three years ago, and I often arrived late because of her. "But the damn airship is there, how can it be late?!" I kept asking back then. "It's needing refilling". Refilling of what, remained the biggest mystery and it made me wanna punch her so bad! Of course my pay would keep getting cut because of that! Good thing I left that job and became a "merc" by myself. At least I could punch people and get paid for that.


"Have a nice day!" She said, with her annoying smile.


"Yeah, sure, whatever" I said as I got got my axe from beside the counter and put it on my shoulder, which is at least three times my weight: I dunno why but it never felt heavy to me, even if it's at least 150 kilograms. Maybe I'm naturally strong, despite my short height. The good wine is in the small cask isn't it?  However, I gotta say I loved the sight of that woman when I got my axe on my shoulder: I cannot deny that I just did it on purpose, at least a tiny little bit, and the fact that maybe she recongnized me made me chuckle a little inside. I'm a freaking mess I know...


On the airship it's usually empty, but few people were there: a man and a woman, maybe couple, but who cares: I just loved the expression of that guy when he looked at me...and at my lack of armor. Yeah yeah, I guess they think I'm some sort of courtesan, especially when I tend to use my weird pigtails once in a while but the reality behind this armor is that it's my dancing suit with a little touch of iron. And Voila, like Otto says I think, here's my armor: not much protection, but best mobility ever! Besides, I got used to it nowadays: it was uncomfortable between my legs but now pff, it's like it's part of my skin...actually that might not be a good thing: that's where the hat comes in!


I might need new armor soon...


I could smell the scent of flowers from far away: yep, it's Gridania alright, green and more green as far as the eye can see. I kinda liked it and I even moved here for a short while after my discharge from my last company: I needed a break from that sand, and the sea is certainly bad for my armor.


I went to the shop, finding some roses but most of them were sold out. Kinda impressed, they usually aren't so requested: maybe some festivity that I don't care about is on. Oh yeah, I hate parties, lots of people that don't care about anyone, but only themselves. I might be bitter, but I grew up in a bitter place: the stone cold palace of Fort Helencia in Radiata, far away from Eorzea. I just ask where I could find some myself and then move.

Time to pick up my botanist license!


Roses are red

My axe is brown

I don't remember what I said

I'll just take you down!


I kinda have lame sense of humour, but that's what happens when I have to do boring stuff. And picking roses is one of them. "Six dozens...urgh, there are plentiful at least" and as soon as I done, my bag was full of roses, so much that whenever I took it it would cover my sight! "Hafta do it then!"


I went to the ticket vendor and didn't know how much I gave, the bag of roses was in the way, and when I reached Ul'dah the bag of roses was becoming a burden, but I was close...VERY...close...actually so close that I didn't see the pillar slamming into my face, making me drop the bag of roses. A sound swear word came out of my mouth, as I fell on my knees to pick them up as fast as I could, my mouth not stopping on making more swears as I picked them up. "Ul'dah, jewel of the desert...well it's one lame jewel!" I thought.... using my mouth in the process. Yeah, I kinda made some people mad.


"Oh I meant ehm...well ta-ta!" I fled as fast as I could, heading back to Otto's room: good thing I didn't make a riot or something. That wouldn't be good to put into my list of skills, and surely not something I want. My heavy wolfram boots were echoing in the place - and who's this wolfram anyway? - and as soon as I reached Otto's place I knocked with my armored hand, trembling from the exhaustion.


"Six dozens roses, here you go!" I say, but he lets me enter his room: surprisingly it's empty. I put my roughly made bouquet of roses on a table and make my salute. "Mission accomplished, I bet this big amount of roses is going to make someone happy!". I must say I was impressed, making this many roses for someone: I'd be feel honored for sure!


Otto goes closer to the bouquet of roses and carefully checks it, for then picking a two of them and holds them in his hand, enjoying the scent of them while having a big smile on his face. 

Then, he looks at me. "You can keep the rest"







As the day ended, I had a bunch of roses on my table of my room...and also near the beds and wherever I could put some more...I mean six dozens roses aren't a few bunch to put...maybe I could decorate my tickets! "Ridley Silverlake " , but with twenty percent more roses!


....screw it, tomorrow I'll go sell them in Gridania. Maybe I can get enough for a bottle of something!

As long as it has no roses in it...

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Ridley returns with my delivery dutifully and without much fuss. She brought in a good haul, most of them were idealistic tea-roses. Still, I only took two and gave the rest to her. I picked a second in case I somehow ruin the first. I will be coating both of them with the first layers of clear lacquer to initially seal them. From there I will only take one to completion.


For a task like this though I need to get comfortable before I can start working. Work such as this does not require much in the way of 'working' clothes, I can wear just about whatever I want. I have a particular apron I enjoy wearing when I make most things by hand. My late-wife bought it for me a couple of years ago and its one of the only things I kept from my previous life. Its a rather simple leather apron, cured and treated well enough to withstand hot coals on it for a short time if need be. It is stained thoroughly, I usually wipe my tools off on it as I am polishing or grinding a metal or stone or something to that effect. I remove my suit-jacket, wearing only a simple undershirt as I take to draping the apron over my neck and tie it secure behind my back.


My first task though is to clean the roses of any dust they may have accumulated from their trip. I prefer to use effervescent water that has been chilled with ice shards to a glacially cold temperature. The gas trapped in the water helps disturb any dirt and dust that may be wanting to stubbornly stay on the stem or trapped in the delicate felt like surface of the petals. I get the brushed steel vat I have my effervescent water in and remove the ice shard from it that was keeping it chilled. I wrap a tiny wire loosely around the hip of the rose to let me fish it out from the water without touching it and dip it into the water. After letting it rest in the water for a moment I take to knocking the sides of the steel vat with light rapid strikes to agitate the gases, releasing them and letting them bubble up to clean the surface of my rose. After a few minutes of this I gently pull the rose from the water, setting it on a small rose wood rack to let it airdry as I repeat this process with the second rose.


After I finish cleaning the second rose, the first is dry and ready to be sealed with an initial coat. For small delicate work like this I need to pour some lacquer onto a sheet of wax paper first to work into an evenly thin consistency. I use a small joint knife to run across the lacquer, repeating this motion dozens of times as I spread it in a line across the paper to loosen it and make it ready for application. I had Ridley bring me fresh paint brushes, I prefer to stick to flat brushes for my current task. Narrow and only a few hairs wide, it will take a minimum of two bells to fully coat both roses with the initial clear coat layer to seal the flower and preserve it.


I take off my currently spectacles and use my jeweler's loupe to thoroughly assess the rose, ensuring cleanliness. After I inspect it and confirm it ready for preservation I take off my current spectacles and put on the glasses with various magnifiers on them I can slide into place and start to finally get into the thick of the actual work. Extremely small, measured, and tiny brush strokes are how I apply the lacquer. I am constantly cycling through the various lenses on the magnifiers, paying close attention to keeping the brush strokes as smooth and even as possible. I am aiming to having the coat be as smooth as glass, with no visible striations. The work is performed at a snail's pace, deliberate as I work my way up the stem, covering the leaves and hip and finally the rose petals.


I made sure to leave the tip of the stem uncovered, where the rose was freed from its host bush. I insert a wire made from silver into the stem to give myself a handle to hold the rose. This ensures I don't touch the surface of the coating as it starts its curing process, it reacting to the air to change chemically. I welcome the chance to stand up from my desk. I've been hunched over it working on this and my eyes could use a rest from being behind constantly changing magnifying lenses. I take the rose by its wire and carry it over to the furrole, the cabinet that lets me add artificial humidity I have on loan from the Carpenter's Guild. Lacquer needs damp air to fully complete its curing process, around 80% relative humidity to finalize the process. I suspend the rose from a rack inside the cabinet by its wire. At the base of the cabinet I have already set up my array of fire shards behind rose-quartz panels to shine a faint light upward into the box to help keep the temperature just warm enough.


Now that I have all of that prep-work out of the way for the first rose, I take the time to stretch and loosen up before working on the second rose. I'm feeling hungry though, I should have one of the girls fetch me a bite to eat.


(to be continued...)

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One of the things I like about working in my primary workshop in Ul'Dah is that it is very much an unassuming building. Not a lot of people even know about it. Its right off Emerald Avenue near The Rudius. The outside displays nothing impressive and it even lacks my name. I prefer it this way, let my storefronts deal with the throngs of customers and the public. I enjoy a quiet office of sorts to work in. I keep this sanctuary almost dusky and grey. It looks like I pulled the office from the past almost, sitting relatively unused and sterile in the front. It has a pair of reception desks that sit waiting for an actual purpose. In the back where I work is a disaster zone of tools and hardware and my work desks.


I always keep my primary office staffed with at least one, usually two of my personal assistants. Glorified courtesans, most of them are not professional secretaries, and most of them do not wield weapons or guard me. They simply sit around in Tafetta 'uniforms', reading at their desks, or preening themselves as they talk about their escapades, or meander around the office keeping it and themselves presentable for my uses. Some take interest in my work, hovering over my shoulder as they watch and learn as I create my pieces of art, asking about the process and I enjoy it. I find it entertaining talking about my work and my methods, its very fulfilling to one's ego.


Ridley is one of the few actual professionals that works for me, handling receipts, my books, my professional and private schedules, the other 'workers' that come and go, and also a general task-master. Cortana is my number two actual worker, she is quick to learn everything Ridley handles and the two of them have even started to work together and grow close in their own way. Ridley will be getting married one day, I can't keep her forever as much as I would love to and Cortana is going to be vital for future needs as time goes on. I should probably stop sleeping with her someday so that Ridley can really groom her into a true right-hand of mine. Easier said than done considering she always wants to be tended to.


I walk from my shop, hanging myself in the doorway that connects the front reception area to my workspace and look to see who all is here. Tira and Liona, the Fawn sisters. Beautiful non-identical twin sisters who both take to their line of work with enthusiasm, most days. Typical for them when they aren't in a bed earning their true keep, they are sleeping at their desks. If they weren't being paid so well they would probably have left to find other clients by now. I make it worth their time to sit around waiting on my commands though. They don't really stir as I open the door and hover in the doorway, their heads resting on crossed arms as they sleep.


Knocking on the frame of the door I get their attention. They slowly groan to life as they turn to me wondering which one I want or need, rubbing the sleep from their eyes.


“Which one of you fine young ladies is ready to go out and get some food for us all to eat?” This get their ears to perk as they start to stretch out their weariness. I don't just pay them in gil, I take care of my own and share meals with those who work for me on days like this.


“What would please the Mister Vann this evening?” Tira replies, her tone sultry as she rises from her desk to suss her Tafetta top and to try and grab my attention. I indulge her, I would be a fool not to notice them.


“I'm feeling hungry, maybe some coeurl steaks, with eggs. Head up to the Airship Landing and have them cook up enough of that for us all to eat.” I pull my gaze from her chest as I toss over a small bag I have in my pocket. Ten thousand gil, enough to feed a platoon for a week. She can keep the change, small things like that buy surprisingly large amounts of loyalty.


This gets Liona to pipe up, almost leaping from her chair as she springs to me, taking a hand of mine into hers. With a forced and humored innocence to her tone she asks “What about appetizers Mister Vann? I could help with that while Tira gets our food you know.” It's a tempting offer, but my work today will require a focused mind and I can't be distracted with bending her across a desk right now. I shake my head no to her as I pull her hand from mine.


“None of that right now. Just food. Why don't you go help your sister carry it all back instead? Maybe tonight when I am done with this important work I can have desserts after?” I feel bad turning them down, so the least I can do is offer some private time later in the evening. I really just want my steak and to finish this rose so I can get it into the mail for that special someone. They're used to rejection in a way, I am particular when I want more than tasks out of them and I am one to make it very aware. They turn on those heels, walking out in those half-naked uniforms as they head to get us our dinner.


I stand alone in the adjoining doorway to the reception area and workshop. The urge hits me, as if I had forgotten something and I turn to walk back to my desk, pulling out my pestle and mortar again.



(to be continued...)

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