teskine (teskine) wrote in artists_beware,

Beware: Frostcat-Studio / Ritz_Bitz / Ritz_Tweeting

This is something very difficult for me to do, but it needs to be done. This happened over the span of a couple years, so much is undocumented up until issues arose as I did not think it would be a problem. However, I feel there is more than enough after the fact. After much advice, I’ve decided to come forward and make a post here about this, mostly to warn people. I took my time writing this as I know there is no action I can take at this point and am very busy.

WHO: Ritz_Bitz / Frostcat-Studio (and FA) / Ritz_Tweeting

WHERE: Online, texts, emails, twitter, and at Further Confusion 2015

WHAT: One full fursuit (~$950)

WHEN: Discussions starting in 2012, first purchase of materials March 4th, 2013, payment from a sponsor on November 25th, 2014, agreement of $200 of payment finalized with attendance at Further Confusion where the suit was delivered, and serious troubles starting shortly after.

PROOF: Many images linked throughout explanation.

This originally started as one of my best friends offering to build me a fursuit for a “friend” price. I had worn one of her suits once and got hooked on the fun it was. Over the years the details swapped around and much was discussed in person when I had lived nearby. Nothing was really set in stone for a long time and it was purely talk.

March 4th, 2013
I purchased an order of fur and fleece for the project at Ritz’s request and had it shipped to her. I can't remember what happened, but she had to backburner the project. The fur sat around for almost 2 years before the project could finally be worked on, so there is a large time gap. (At some point I had also sent her DTDs of my feet for sockpaws, a pair of thick, long socks for the sockpaws, a tracing of my hand for the gloves, and extra fleece I had from a previous project based around my character.)

June 2014
After attending Califur 2014 with my good friend (who I will refer to as Bob for this,) he started talking about how much he had wanted a fursuit after trying one of his friends’ suits on at the convention. He was hoping to purchase a fursuit and get it by Further Confusion that next year, and I referred him to Ritz as she was also doing my fursuit. When he found out my suit was on backburner, he offered to sponsor some of the cost for the project so it could be put into her paid queue so we could suit at Further Confusion together. I spoke to Ritz and she agreed to reserve space for Bob’s suit as well as mine and a guarantee for completion by the convention in January. I was happy to be helping her get some bills paid and to be helping Bob get a quality suit. Ritz had always told me steps she took to ensure her suits were durable and of high quality craftsmanship, so I had much trust in her work.

June 27th, 2014
Bob contacted Ritz about a quote for his suit, also mentioning to her his intentions to sponsor a portion of my suit’s cost. Everything seemed pretty cut and dry at this point and Ritz waited for the payment so she could start the process of constructing the suit.
Ritz confirmed that she can complete the suit by Further Confusion and states she planned to start work on my suit in August.

September 20th, 2014
Bob placed a down payment to secure the slots.

November 4th, 2014
I text Ritz asking when she will be needing my DTD. She answers asking it be sent the start of December.

November 15th, 2014
Ritz has started constructing the head. She sends me a text asking about the eye color and shows me an early WIP of the foam sculpting, followed by more complete WIPs of the sculpt and what she planned for it. I was surprised she got the snout acceptably shaped in her style off the bat as it’s the most often misinterpreted part of my character. I praised her for this and asked one small request to the brow which she said wasn’t difficult to add, and informs me of things most people worry about in case I start to worry about similar things.

November 16th, 2014
I receive an image of the progress she made as well as the change to the brow that I had requested. I was very pleased with the shape and happy it worked out so quickly with only that one minor change needed.

November 20th, 2014
Ritz texts me asking that I bug Bob about making the second payment. It was weird that it was my job to ask him, but I overlooked this as this was a friendly transaction I had helped to arrange. We discussed the confusion, making jokingly grumbling about it as was custom of us when we spoke. We continued on to negotiate $200 of the suit payment to be taken out of what she would owe me for room and dealer’s table costs at Further Confusion.

November 21st, 2014
Ritz texts me asking about the ears for the suit. It’s a little difficult to communicate, but I was happy with the shape and aware she only had two hands so just curious about the final curvature at the top. I jotted on the notepad what I meant and it was understood and she says it’s not hard. (This was laden with a very inappropriate joke and I have censored it out.) She also reminds me to send my DTD within the next two weeks.

November 25th, 2014
Ritz contacts me asking about more details for the head. At the end I tell her she has my trust in recreating the mouth due to color limitations of fleece.

November 29th, 2014
Ritz contacts me while at the store purchasing fleece for the mouth. We figure it out and even settle on the wings ahead of time to just be white due to the lack of proper shades available. I inform her I’ll be making my DTD the next day and shipping it out soon.

November 30th, 2014
I ask her if she needs me to retape the dummy before sending it and inform her the lines were cut a little weird. (They were slightly wobbly in a few areas, but I had no issue matching it all back up for retaping.)

December 1st, 2014
After seeing Ritz tweet pictures of the finished head, I contact her to question if it’s too late to add the fur tuft my character always has. I was a little upset that she didn’t offer a solution, but it was just a fur tuft. I wasn’t going to make a big deal about it. It still looked good, which I made sure to communicate to her. I also inform her I’m sending the DTD the next day.

December 8th/ 9th, 2014
I ask if she received the DTD in the mail yet. The next day she responds that she has.

December 14th, 2014
Ritz texts me during conversation about how big the tail for another suit is, using my head and DTD as comparison. My DTD appears to be partially stuffed and looks fine.

December 16th, 2014
Ritz texts me informing my my DTD split at the seams during the stuffing process. She claims every seam that was cut split apart because I didn’t use long enough strips of tape. I felt bad because I knew it would be annoying to retape. She says it can be repaired (it’s just taping seams back together) and she was working on it. This is very important for an issue later, as she tells me she’s going to stuff and pattern one half and mirror the pattern.

December 20th, 2014
Ritz texts me asking if I want the feet separate or attached. We’d discussed it previously, but it was so long before I understood many things were forgotten.

January 1st, 2015
After seeing tweets of the completed sockpaws, I text her in private to ask her if it’s too late to add larger claws. Again, this is something we’d discussed many times in person down to the shape and how she planned construction, but I understand forgetting. She’s clearly upset at the mere question of the possibility, so I immediately try to reassure her I’m just curious and not trying to upset her. I was very concerned as a friend that my question may have been upsetting to her, but from a client’s standpoint I knew it was very wrong and I began to worry about voicing my opinion on anything being wrong with this very expensive product.

January 12th, 2015
After seeing only one WIP of the wings being completed on her twitter since the sockpaws were complete, I am now texted with the completed suit only a few days before the promised deadline. She first informs me that the magnetic wings wouldn’t work and that she had to sew them into the bodysuit. Not a big deal. However, I instantly noticed the padding on the legs looked… odd and lumpy. I also became worried that the bodysuit fit her as I’m a very small person. From the backview you can also tell the ears were not evenly shaven and have bumps in the structure already. It was days before the convention and I knew bringing up the issues would cause a very tense upset, so I kept quiet and informed her I was happy with the suit and we began talking about the fun we’d have at the convention that weekend.

January 15th, 2015
The first day of Further Confusion for us, as soon as we set up in the dealer’s den, we went up to the room eager to suit up and go have fun. Ritz begins to help me put the suit on for the first time and issues already arise. The bodysuit is extremely baggy on me, which was odd considering I’d gained a lot of holiday weight since I had made the DTD. When it came time to put the sockpaws on, I noticed there was a hole in the inner sock, but shrugged it off considering it was difficult to get my feet into the paws. I had provided her with DTDs of my feet, so this was also confusing. We discussed it and since she only patterned the right foot and flipped it, it being my smaller foot caused the sizing issue for my left foot. The worst problem came when I tried to put the gloves on. They couldn’t fit past my second knuckles. She immediately became upset and, again, I took the blame upon myself and said it wasn’t her fault and that I probably traced my hand wrong. She gladly accepted this and it became the new “fact” of what went wrong. When putting the head on, I noticed a part of the zipper was separated from the fur of the head. An easy fix. We quickly discussed the issues. She explained she was extremely busy with personal suit projects she wanted to get done for Denver Comic Con and didn’t have the time to do these repairs and make new gloves. I felt bad and said I could probably handle it with the small amount of sewing experience I have. This seemed to clear things up and we went out suiting. I tried not to pay attention to the flaws and just enjoy the con.

January 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th, 2015
We only suited up once more after that, and I wore the suit as a partial a third time out with her because the padding in the thighs of the suit were unsecured and chafed me to no end when I walked. Nothing stayed in place how it was intended because the suit was so baggy. Meanwhile, tensions rose during the con due to Bob’s suit having issues. Ritz was extremely upset by this so I absolutely couldn’t bring myself to say anything negative about my suit. In fact, I rushed to defend her despite having my own issues with my suit. Sunday night when we were going to suit a final time, tensions blew up, drama happened, and we cancelled our plans and stayed in the room. The con ended and I took my entire suit home with me with plans to try to repair it myself and save Ritz the time.

January 21st, 2015
After coming home and getting unpacked, I finally had time to look over the suit and prepare myself for the work I had to do. I realized there was far more than I could handle and I was not experienced enough to fix most of it. A list of the issues in full is provided after my next piece of information.

February 14th, 2015
The issues in my fursuit worried me. I wasn’t sure what was normal and what wasn’t. I attended the local furmeet this day and brought the head and paws (having issues easier to see in person) and asked some friends with more experience on the issues as well as asking advice on how to handle this delicate situation between my friend and myself. I briefly wore these to demonstrate some of the issues and interact with two young children. I got the advice I needed and confirmation that the flaws in my suit were not acceptable and not my responsibility to fix as she was paid to produce a suit in working condition that I could wear and enjoy. Many told me how clear it was that she rushed it and took shortcuts, which is no surprise given the circumstances. I needed to approach her on the issue and hope for the best. I couldn’t keep pretending it was okay, and I started preparing myself to for this rather difficult step.

The Problems
- The excess amount of fabric on the bodysuit is around 10-14 inches on the midsection. This can only mean when she patterned the half of the DTD and flipped it, she overshot the middle point. Even overshooting this by a few inches can cause excess (2-4x the length of the overshoot) and wouldn’t have been an issue had she taken the time to fully retape the DTD. The thighs have an excess as well, though not as bad.
- I discovered the zipper on the head was glued on instead of sewn. This is why part of it was already separated when I received it.
- The shaving on the head was very choppy. I had actually taken time to hand trim the face to smooth it out, but there was little I could do for the ears.
- The ears were glued directly to the balaclava with no foam to anchor them or keep them stable. This causes them to flop around pretty badly.
- Instead of being sewn to the rest of the fur of the head, the ears were poorly glued on. There are small open gaps at the side of each ear on both sides, as well as at the front of the ears near the fleece.
- There are crinkles in the fleece on the ears where it was glued to the inside material.
- The ears are anchored off-center.
- The balaclava was spottily glued to the inside of the head and was already pulling off bits of foam. It is glued in such a way that it overlaps a portion of the buckram from the inside, unnecessarily limiting the vision further.
- The gloves do not fit past the second knuckle of my hand. They’re also not hemmed at the edges so the fleece was left raw cut.
- On top of the sizing issues, the sockpaws had a hole in the inner sock when I received them from being cut sloppily.
- The sockpaws weren’t hemmed. In fact, the fleece was glued to the sock at the top. It began to fall apart with the small amount of wear they saw at the con.
- The magnets she’d promised me and stated she could not get to work were left in the wings and sealed over with giant globs of glue. You can still see them and the gluey mess is left uncovered to get at the wearer’s back.
- The wings were glued together and you can see the wire in some spots by peeking into the open spaces in the glue seams. (Originally we were planning on realistic wings with wiring, feathers, and vinyl. I told her “Just do simple plush wings like Telephone’s since it’s easier” later on. While the wings she made are cute and a creative middle-point, they’re going to fall apart because glue doesn’t last very long.)
- The elastic loops on the tail were not sewn very securely for such a large, heavy tail and had begun to fall apart at the convention along with a small hole.

February 15th, 2015
I have a short, rather comical discussion with another previous client of Ritz’s who also discloses that many parts of their suit are glued together. I feel this is necessary to disclose to help support my discontent with the quality of my suit prior to the next events as I am accused of "retaliation" later on.

March 2nd, 2015
Unfortunately, I’d been very busy with life, so I had not yet been able to approach Ritz before this point. I don’t like to bring drama into this discussion of business, but this severely complicated the smooth resolution of things. We had not been speaking much as Ritz had blamed me for the drama at the convention and I was giving her breathing space. On this day, she reacted negatively to a tweet I had made on Twitter (she brings it up later) and the resulting misunderstanding caused her to remove me on social media. I contacted her concerned about her and trying to resolve the issue, only to be ignored. (I can provide screenshots, but would rather not as this is just drama.)
In a panic, I discussed parting out the suit as a last resort as I was certain I would now not be given the repairs I deserved. It did not help when I saw photos proving similar quality work on other suits, leaving me more upset at what had been given to me. After speaking to many people and getting advice on this new situation, I removed the comments out of courtesy (despite never once mentioning her specifically) and went forward with their suggestions to attempt getting a rightful refurbish.

March 6th, 2015
At the advice of many, I contacted Ritz with my intentions. I tweeted at her asking for an email to discuss repairs with her, being clear it shouldn’t be my responsibility. She replied with the preferred email. At that point I began to write a thorough email to her. This took me about a week to get finished up.

March 13th, 2015
I finally sent my email. I noted not only the issues with her craftsmanship, but also with the customer service she gave me that led to increasing problems in the work that had upset me and led me to be quiet for so long. I leave the option open to negotiate a refurbish or simply work out a refund as it seems like it would be easier with her busy schedule that caused the burden of refurbishing to be placed on me in the first place.

March 14th, 2015
I woke up to a rather hostile email back from Ritz.
She immediately accused me of retaliation, being unreasonable, and picky. Our correspondence is plain to see and everyone I’ve asked said I was very kind. She accuses me of getting a suit “for free” even though she received a $600 payment from Bob, a $200 traded payment from me, as well as my purchasing $160 of materials. She then blames me for all the problems she possibly can, while ignoring half the issues that she can’t try to blame me for. She blamed the bagginess on my DTD, which she now attacks me for. I spoke to numerous suitmakers and they said 10-14 inches is definitely not due to retaping seams. (Also note the 2 day gap between the lightly stuffed DTD image and her telling me it split apart as vs. her story now.) The fact she still continued and even brought up personal drama with other clients as well as further wild accusations that, even if true, have nothing to do with the quality of my suit, is baffling. I’m not sure if she was trying to guilt trip me or try to scare me out of pressing the issue to resolution, but it was absolutely uncalled for. She even accuses me of being the reason someone was bringing up issues on another suit she worked on. The fact she finished it up with blatantly insulting me was the icing on the cake. I was also a little disturbed that, despite our cessation of contact on social media, she had still been checking my accounts.
I immediately wrote her a response, on my phone, to address this unbelievable reply she had sent me. Admittedly blunt, but necessary, and deciding at this point I cannot handle a refurbishing process due to her hostility and request a refund. As she showed aggression about Bob having paid in a portion, I made it clear I could contact him to work things out how she’d like.

March 17th, 2015
As I’ve yet to receive a response, I sent Ritz an email to remind her and request she handle the situation civilly. I make note that Bob is aware of the situation and we all just want to resolve this.

March 29th, 2015
I had to duck out to handle life for a bit and figured giving her time to cool off was good. Sadly, I saw signal boosts that she was selling her leftover furs. I saw some of the very same fur used on my suit and contacted her immediately. It seemed like the 6 yards she told me to purchase was a lot and it was likely some of it was mine. At this point I was notably frazzled by this ordeal.
She surprisingly responded, again accusing me of things I am not guilty of and bringing other clients and drama into dealings about a fursuit she did not make properly. She seems to even agree with the fact that the quality is bad and that I should be fine that I only spent $200 on it. Her logic in thinking because I only paid $200 along with $160 in materials means she doesn’t have to give anything back, despite that she took the $600 from Bob, and that is what he would get back, not me, in a refund. She claims it was wrong to take Bob’s money, yet she seems fine keeping it despite not doing her job properly for it. All she has done is avoided owning up and fixing mistakes she made on an expensive product while hiding behind excuses that drama somehow nullifies her responsibility in business.
I made a final response to her as well, and that was where it ended between us.

I have been refused repairs or a refund on a suit that was paid for and delivered in poor quality. It’s very clear Ritz has done a good job to avoid everything wrong with the suit she made for me and justify not fixing the issue and attacking me. She blames me for all that she can and resorts to bringing up drama instead of addressing why half my suit is glued together. I feel she has been trying to take advantage of the fact Bob sponsored part of the suit cost and her sudden grudge against me to avoid dealing with resolving the matter. She took a large sum of money for a product of a certain quality and did not deliver, and I’m honestly upset with how she’s treated me in this ordeal.

The suit needs entirely new hands and feet, major tailoring of the bodysuit that includes redoing the legs entirely, redoing the tail's backing and elastic loops, completely redoing the ears and refurring the head with a new balaclava. Most suitmakers have told me it's not "refurbishing" so much as making an entirely new suit with some scraps.

I basically don't know what to do aside from hope nobody else runs into the same troubles as I have with this suitmaker, but any advice would be welcome if anything can possibly be done at this point.

June 16, 2015 Update
I just took the head out of the storage box for the first time since photographing everything months ago. I've been getting advice on how to salvage as much as I can from the head to go towards making a new one, so I was needing to take a closer look at some things. A small clatter and objects falling out confused me, until I realized that the teeth have started to fall out with even this small amount of age and absolutely no use. The teeth are sculpey, I believe, and left unfinished. Some bases of the silver molars were unpainted, the rest of the teeth are just straight sculpey or whatever they are made of, no paint, and are all starting to separate from the beds of hot glue. This just adds to the poor quality product I was given and the work I am left to cover out of my pocket to fix. I honestly don't have anymore words to describe how I feel right now.

February 2016 Update
This disheartens me to have to even add to so long after the fact of this all happening, but I would like to update this to add a further warning to Ritz's poor business behavior if you happen to get on her bad side as I have with this ordeal. I placed an advertisement up on Furaffinity, in which I used a commission she had gotten from me as it was in my top 10 favorited pieces in my gallery and a great example. My Terms of Service states that I am allowed to use the work I create for people for portfolio and other purposes, and thus I had the legal right to use the image in an advertisement as it's a form of portfolio. I assumed this would not be an issue as I have personally gotten over the drama and moved on past this all quite a while ago, and had assumed she had done the same. She, however, saw this as an opportunity to attack me by approaching the advertisement organizer stating that her character was in my advertisement without her permission, essentially wanting it removed. This was orchestrated with a friend of hers whom also had commission work in my advertisement, also demanding the removal of their commission despite them having both agreed to and being bound by my Terms of Service. This alone was a nuisance, but in having to handle the issue, I saw that she had been publicly trash talking me, clearly stating her intention to try to cause a problem for me for the sake of causing a problem. At this point she obviously holds a grudge against me and I am being bullied for having spoken out about her practices, showing also that she has absolutely no respect to my Terms of Service that was agreed to. I am attempting to resolve the issue with the advertising organizer, but will be forced to avoid exercising my legal rights to display the artwork I created involving her characters in the future all because I want to avoid her malicious acts to attempt revenge for speaking up.

August 19, 2016 Update
After being urged by friends and seeking advice from the community on if I should add further updates, I'm sadly here again. While I'm relatively wary to share due to more fear of retaliation, I don't believe this will ever stop regardless of anything I do. I am urged to warn people the extent of the poor behavior that I have been subjected to for over a year since posting. Occasionally third parties will inform me of things that have been said and I honestly ignore 90% of things, but I had the displeasure seeing one instance myself. I have been ruthlessly slandered since the posting, and at this point been brought aware of possible threats of either legal action against me or potential harm to my person. (If it escalates any further I will contact law enforcement, but at current there is not enough to hold up considering the distance involved.) I have had absolutely ZERO contact with Ritz since the last email shown in the original posting here. Even during her attack on my advertisement, I did not say a word to her, only spoke to the advertising department at FA.

I am going to point out ahead of time, it is EXTREMELY easy to figure out who is being spoken about (me) in all of these instances even if names aren't attached cause a simple google search nets you all the info you need. I already know I'm mentioned frequently by name otherwise anyhow.

Onto the point, what I saw for myself... Was on Wednesday, June 22 in a Facebook group for Fursuiters and Fursuit Makers. A notification popped up onto my phone for a sale posting that was receiving many comments. I'm going to be 100% honest I was wildly curious as I'd heard she quit suitmaking (I'm only human), and I saw this exchange brewing that had apparently been what sparked it into popularity. I avoided the desire to jump in and say something cause NOPE I have zero desire to speak to her. I just screencapped away cause I couldn't believe what I was reading and figured it'd be taken down, which it was.

Color guide for censoring (cause identifying photos/names):
Black = Not involved or moderator names Ritz commented to alert
Blue = Ritz
Red = Some fursuiter who spoke up
Yellow = Ritz's IRL friend


I don't even need to make commentary on how messed up this was. You all can think for yourselves. I avoided updating with it at the time despite people telling me to. I didn't want to deal with it. I didn't think it was that bad.

Now here's what broke me on trying to ignore things. I was shown these earlier this week. Despite being from May, it opened my eyes to how serious things really were this whole time as I attempted to ignore it all. This is only HALF of a conversation someone had with Ritz's locked twitter, but it's very clear what's going on. I was shown this for obvious reasons. This was shortly before BLFC, which we both happened to be attending (I avoided her at all costs, and was apparently wise to do so.)

Censoring: Blue = Ritz's locked twitter handle, Purple = Ritz's friend
(Remember to read bottom to top in each for chronological order cause it's twitter.)

Let me point this out there. Whatever is being said on the other side of this conversation, her friend thinks I should be scared of her. This is NOT okay, and relatively alarming considering things I know about her that are not for me to share publicly. The suggestion of a restraining order despite that I have not had ANY contact with her whatsoever even despite her attempted harassment, is outlandish. Furthermore, the clear discussion of potential legal action because I caused her loss of income due to this beware posting is even more unsettling. This is bonkers. I don't even care about the disgusting and immature names they casually call me when this other stuff is going on.

People are right, they need to know what she's doing because this is, and has been, crazy. Exercise caution when doing business with her, because you never know when you'll end up like me.

Tags: artist-ritz_bitz, beware, fursuit
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