Wednesday, December 16, 2015

December Update

Good afternoon everybody!

With the holidays being so frantic, and they usually are for me, I have had little time for outfitting, let alone any gaming. The last time I had a chance to get online for more than five minutes, other than dropping by friend's TS servers to say hello, was before Thanksgiving. Odds are I won't be back until New Year's has come and gone. That being said, I'd like to take this moment and wish everyone, no matter what you celebrate...

~Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!~
May you be surrounded by family and friends this season! 


With love,

Nathrien

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Talons of the Windlord



It seems that every year, around this time, I'm inspired to create bird, feather, or harvest themed outfits. It's probably because Thanksgiving comes next week in the United States. Last year was a month of Swan outfits. The year before I squeezed in a harvest outfit. This year, I decided on an eagle. If it weren't for the eagle-crested Shield of the Company I received from a quest on my Beorning, I would have forgone making this. Pair it with the Hauberk of the Eagle's Crest, which never dyes well outside of blue, gold, white, and grey, and it makes a phenomenal starting combination. I already knew what sharp and feathered skins to add to this, but it was a matter on deciding on what colors to use and where for balance.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Ward of the Neldoreth



With very few chances to play LOTRO between January and September, I missed out entirely on two festivals. Luckily, I was able to procure the new Nárië cosmetics from this year's Summer Festival from the auction house. I've yet to get my hands on the New Bloom cosmetics from the Spring Festival. I've been keeping an eye out for those, hoping I can grab them without having to wait for the next one. It pleased me greatly to see more surcoats and tunics making their appearance in the game. Even the Fall Festival had a new dress! I've even wondered what the Yule Festival has in store this year!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Beacon of Calmindon



The name of this outfit is borrowed from Calmindon, the great First Age lighthouse sitting in the Númenórean Bay of Rómenna. I may not be the best at recalling the lore from the Unfinished Tales or The Silmarillion, but I believe it was erected as a warning not to defy the Ban of the Valar. For the Númenóreans, it meant they could never sail so far west that their own lands would disappear from view, for attempting to see or visit the Undying Lands was forbidden. This lighthouse, along with Númenór, was sunk into the sea towards the end of the Second Age by Eru Ilúvatar, when the Númenóreans corrupted by Sauron and Melkor challenged the ban and tried to forcibly reclaim the immortality they felt they were denied. Only the Faithful, a very small group of Númenóreans loyal to the Valar, were allowed to escape destruction and found the kingdoms of Arnor and Gondor some years later.

I think that's enough of a history lesson for now. Hopefully, I interpreted the lore correctly.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Dorthonion Scout



Meet my Beorning, Vanydis. This is the only character I've been playing since January, when I cut LOTRO down to a minimum. I hadn't bothered with making outfits until I felt I had distanced myself from this blog. For months, I was content to simply play and enjoy adventuring in Middle-earth without attachments or distractions. When I made it to the Trollshaws (the much needed revamp was amazing, by the way), I felt the need to make an outfit. Not quite knowing what to make, I mentally explored several concepts, finally settling on one while questing in the North Trollshaws. The abundance of evergreen trees reminded me of Dorthonion, the pine-covered highlands north of Beleriand. I've always imagined it to be similar to the other great forests of Middle-earth before Morgoth corrupted it. Thus, greens and browns became my central colors.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Drake-bane



Posting here again is an incredibly surreal experience for me. A part of me feels like it never left. The rest feels like it's forgotten how to do everything. The last time I wrote a post was back in January of this year. Can you believe it's been eight months? Originally, it was my intent to leave LOTRO entirely, as I had been fed up with the development of the game, the mass exodus of players I knew, the rampant negativity of the official forums, and cosmetic blogging had become a chore. You'd think I'd have been over this MMO entirely by now, but I discovered that I could never truly bid farewell to Middle-earth. Casually leveling my baby Beorning without any attachments to other players allowed me to experience and appreciate the early areas of LOTRO for the first time in years. I fell in love again, having a second romance. It also doesn't help that Tolkien's lore has been a part of me since I read the Hobbit nearly 20 years ago. And then there are the other reasons included in the last post I made.

Monday, September 14, 2015

An Unexpected, Yet Temporary Return

Good morning everybody!

I bet you're surprised to see a post appearing here (assuming I'm still in your RSS feeds). This certainly makes that gigantic farewell post feel anticlimactic.

After careful thought and certain circumstances, I've decided to return to cosmetic blogging, though it is most likely a short-term, temporary thing. Unfortunately, there is much more to this decision than I'd like to admit, most of it personal. I'll tell you a few of things that led to this unexpected return.

First of all, I suffered a significant reduction in hours at work, leaving me with some financial strain and much more free time. That's something I hope to have fixed soon by looking elsewhere for full-time employment. Second, I just had my car's transmission rebuilt. Good grief, those are expensive. Third, within the past few months, I had a rather sizable amount of money stolen from me, some of which I have recouped. I had to cancel all my game subscriptions (FFXIV especially) and seriously curtail my spending. This has led me back to F2P games, LOTRO in particular. Lastly, a small part of me never stopped outfitting my characters. I've slowly been leveling my Beorning since January (she's somewhere around level 40), dressing her up from time to time. You'll get to see those outfits soon. That's as much as I'm willing to say here. The rest cuts too close to home.

Blogging, for me, is very time consuming. Just collecting screenshots could take two or three hours. That's why I retired in February. I can't promise I'll be posting on a schedule and neither can I tell you how long I'll be hanging around. However, let it be said writing and creating content for Material Middle-earth brought me joy in the past and I hope it will continue to do just that. And I need a little of that happy in my life again!

See everybody around!

~Nathrien

Here's a vintage picture from 2010 of Nathrien!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Melody of the West - A Fond Farewell



My grey ship has arrived and it's time I sail into the west, away from LOTRO's shore and towards Valinor.

Four years ago, I started dabbling in cosmetics. Three and a half years ago, I began to share outfits with some close friends, embarrassed to admit I played "virtual dress-up," as I had once put it. Three years ago, I began sharing them with all of you...and it's been a glorious three years.

It's with a heavy heart I make my final cosmetic entry here at Material Middle-earth. I thought it appropriate to end on an outfit using the same location and similar colors as my very first--sea blue and the elven homesteads in Falathlorn--which can be viewed here.  Even though this blog opened with a cosmetic contest I held for Forgottten Darkness in April 2012, it wasn't until June that I mustered the courage to post my own creation.

There have been 150+ posts here, ninety percent of which have been outfits. The other ten has been about beta previews and updates regarding cosmetic additions to the skirmish camps. I honestly never expected to reach that number. From June to December of 2012, I was an outfitting machine. I had a new outfit every two to four days (some of which I think are absolutely ugly...and it's not because I was new to this) and I quickly burned myself out after making fifty-something outfits. I returned in April 2013, just in time for a server fashion contest and the release of the Wildermore zone...and then a computer hardware failure left this blog suspended until September. I returned again and managed to ahdere to a weekly posting regiment on Saturdays, which has worked very well. I've never felt any pressure to make an outfit or haphazardly throw one together under that system.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Hobbit-skald - Pennycandy of Gladden



This here is the final outfit request I'll be honoring. As you know, Saturday will be my final day updating this blog. I understand that there are other creations that some of you would have liked me to make, but I'm out of time. It's taking all of my willpower to stick to my guns and retire, as planned, this weekend. Thank you for strongly encouraging me to continue, but the longer I stay, the harder it will be to leave. Let's get back to the outfit, shall we?

I had a brief conversation with Lilyrose, the leader of Rangers of the West on the Gladden server. Some of you may recall that I've had the pleasure judging two server fashion events hosted by her wonderful kinship between 2013 and 2014. Anyway, she was wondering if I could make some sort of warrior-skald outfit. Usually she dons her Draigoch set and charges headfirst into battle on her hobbit mini. I'm hoping this gives her (and other similar halfling characters) another combat-ready option.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Revisiting the Early Days of MME

As promised in late November, I've gone back in time to 2012, taken old outfits from this blog, and reposted them here in bigger, brighter pictures with much improved graphical quality. It was difficult to choose from over fifty outfits, but I narrowed that list down to eight. With each picture, I've included the name of the outfit (most sound soooo corny!) and a link back to the original post for the dyes and skins. I almost changed some of the pieces, but decided to leave them as is.

Normally I post new outfits on Saturday, but I thought this would be a refreshing change of pace.

You might be wondering what was my reasoning for doing this? Here's my first reason. I never had the followers in 2012 that I have nowadays. When Material Middle-earth was in its infancy, I was lucky to get a hundred views a month. Nowadays, it nets at least several thousand. By not establishing myself on Facebook until late 2013 and Twitter in 2014, many LOTRO players didn't have the chance to see my early work as it was posted. I am hoping, today, that you'll join me on a sentimental journey and see where it all began. And for the second reason, this week's entry allowed me to exhaust whatever marks, medallions, and dyes remained simply by recreating these.

Also, don't forget that next Saturday I'll be posting my farewell entry with a new outfit! Before then, I'll be honoring one last outfit concept from a follower. If all goes well, that ensemble will appear here on Wednesday morning.

The War-forged Defender

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Purveyors of Pie

Mid-January, when I had asked for outfit ideas on Twitter, Fredelas posted the following on my wall: "Could you help me with some LOTRO outfit ideas befitting my position as Certified Pie Inspector?" This was a tall order for me, as I am dreadful when it comes to outfitting hobbits. I never bothered with dwarves during the three year run of Material Middle-earth, but I certainly tried my hand at a few hobbits. For the first week, whenever I applied the term "Pie Inspector" to our adorable halflings, I couldn't think of anything. It was absolutely frustrating. Halfway through a second week of drawing blanks, a blizzard swept through and buried me under 3-4 four feet of snow. Dealing with that gave me a chance to distance myself from LOTRO. This past weekend, when I sat back down, I had a couple of ideas:

  • A Certified Pie Inspector that understands the process of making quality pies from scratch. This inspector holds everybody else's to the same lofty standards that he holds his.
  • A Certified Pie Inspector who has never baked, but eaten enough of them to know the combinations of fillings and mixings that make a superb pie. (Considering hobbits also appreciate good ale, I tossed this into the mix as a side hobby. This explains the robe I chose below.)

Brainstorming was only the first step. Finding the right attire? That was going to be tricky. Other than the Bounder Shirriff's Cap and the tunic out of the Mathom House, I knew of no signature hobbit clothing. In fact, I don't think I've seen anything other than attire that's designed for dwarves, elves, or men (though men and hobbits seemed to share the same or similar styles). Thus began my search to find clothing with justifiable hobbit-like appearances or origins. What you see below is my final product. These outfits might not exactly feel hobbit-like, though they do stand out enough to give our Certified Pie Inspectors the proper air of respect and authority!

Beneath each picture, I've included short captions. I've decided to do a little storytelling for this entry, something that I haven't done in a very long time. Also, you're in for a small surprise. I've featured my first male hobbit!

Naturally, the hardest thing about baking apple pies is reaching those pesky apples first. Everything else is easy for little Pennycandy.

Of course, you can't be an official Pie Inspector if you can't bake your own to perfection! 
Those crusts must be golden brown and just thick enough to not collapse when cutting that first delicious slice...
Head: Plumed Hat (Red, introductory quest reward)
Chest: Arth-crus (White, Fangorn's Edge instance reward)
Hands: Oven Mitts (Red, skirm camp cosmetics vendor)**
Legs: Balanced Leggings of Might (Red, world drop)***

**These mitts are only necessary when putting in or taking out that delicious pie from the oven.
***The Rhuvel-socas leggings from Pits of Isengard would make the ideal pairing with the shirt. I've been trying to get them for a long time, but to no avail. If I had them, they would have been pictured instead.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

To Match a Steed...Three Times!

As most of you know, the car I like to call "Inspiration" has been running on fumes for several weeks. It has been a struggle just to make an outfit, let alone log into LOTRO. I wasn't sure if I'd be able to fill in the final Saturday of January with an original outfit. At the beginning of the month, I casually mentioned on Twitter that I had been running out of ideas. One follower, @AraeElimraen, wondered if I'd take a request. I love taking suggestions for concepts as well as a specific piece or two. It gives me a chance to see old skins in from a different perspective or forces me to find new or unusual combinations. Here's what had been proposed:

  • Use specific gear--namely the Golden Host Coat of Haleness and/or the Wood-wanderer's Cloak
  • Make an outfit befitting of a Mirkwood soldier, loosely based on Thranduil's armored appearance in Battle of the Five Armies
  • Make something that matches/compliments the Blue Roan Steed.

The first two ideas ended up going nowhere. Whatever I did create felt, at best, rushed and lacking completion. However, the idea to match this steed intrigued me...especially since I don't own it. It was removed from the Spring Festival token vendors before I started playing LOTRO and I refused to drop 70 mithril coins for one this year when it returned. I had to search for an image, several in fact, that way I knew what I was working with. For those of you who haven't seen it, here's a picture:

Image courtesy of  Wandering Around Arda
It's a dangerous assortment of colors--smokey grey, black, a silvery white, and a dark teal--and they would definitely present a challenge. I wasn't sure of what characters my Twitter follower had either, as this post is mostly for her. It took some time, but I came up with three ideas to suit different styles of clothing, race, gender, and character class while trying to match the steed itself, the caparison, or both.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Desert Rose - Emeridir of Gladden



For nearly three years, I've been staring at the same old pieces in the wardrobe. I've also been relying on the same gear combinations, altering colors here and there or adding different pieces to distinguish any given outfit. What I've been trying to do in recent weeks is break that habit. Instead, I look at the skins available to me and force myself to use one piece that I've NEVER used. As ugly as I thought the robe and cloak from the 2014 Spring Festival were, I decided to give them a shot. Quickly, I found the robe to be a dead end. The cloak, however, was not. It became the focal piece of this ensemble.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Into the Blue - Andalost of Gladden



This is the second week in a row that I've encountered a lack of inspiration while browsing the vast catalog of cosmetics filling my wardrobe and the vaults of multiple characters. There was no particular idea behind this outfit. It was a random convergence of gold-trimmed and light armored pieces that unexpectedly matched. I didn't bother to check how it appears on other races, as I think most of us LOTRO fashionistas know how notorious shoulders are regarding shape, size, clipping, and placement between the races. I'd imagine this works well for elves and men, as well as the Minstrel, Lore-master, and the Rune-keeper classes. It has almost a mystical element to it.

Perhaps I should have renamed this outfit "Out of the Blue"...

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Highwayman - Cirilyn of Gladden



I can safely say that I'm finally hitting the bottom of the proverbial bucket. Trying to stay original with my outfits, I've decided to give the crafted light armor robe, the Supple Wildermore Robe of Insight, a try. I've been reluctant to use it for well over a year because it isn't very form-fitting and it clips with a multitude of skins in the forearm, foot, and shoulder regions regardless of race and gender. If this robe must be used cosmetically, I'd recommend using either very short/thin or bulky gear as accompanying pieces. Gloves that stop at wrist and shoes work best. As far as I know, only Hymne has been successful in using it. Check out her post from September of 2013!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Idhrellach - Lanael of Gladden



From time to time, I like to set some guidelines for a particular outfit--something completely elvish, perhaps dwarven, or even make something entirely in leather. This time, I decided to ignore all new skins released between Rise of Isengard and the current expansion, Helm's Deep. I hadn't started posting my outfits until June 2012, about seven months after RoI had been released. Even though it had taken me a while make it to level 75, I hadn't anticipated cosmetic blogging would be in my future and I sold or discarded most of my gear. I thought it'd be fun to play the "what if?" game, wind the clock back to when Helegrod and Dol Guldur were the end-game content, and see what I could create.

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