Category Archives: Uncategorized

Not dead

Standard

Just popping in to say I know I’m behind on projects and random commentary and the like, but I do not have regular internet access at the moment and no access to my photos of my most recent project, and so I won’t get a chance to post for a while.

I will be back with new exciting projecty stuff when I can get more internet time.

Have a great holiday, those of you who get US Labor Day off! (And a good Monday for those who don’t.)

Fandom acts

Standard

So. Fannishness and fan culture. There’s liking a show or book or movie or whatever; people who do that might even consider themselves a fan of that whatever. But fandom is when people seek one another out to talk about that thing, squee over it (sometimes complain about it), create things (stories, vids, drawings, cartoons, podfics or podcasts), consume those fan-made things, write meta about themes and issues in their favorite source text, do good works within or outside the fandom community, get together to see actors in person at conventions, or get together to see each other at cons that have no celebrity component. Some even find themselves collected to seek advance degrees in media studies or popular culture, hyphenating themselves as Aca-Fans. I have been a solitary fan and a part of fandom, and I much prefer the community of fans. One of my closest friends got me into fandom as a way of life, but fandom as a way of life has also gotten me some of my closest friends. It’s so Escher!

One of my ways of interacting with my fandoms has been writing fanfiction. I’m absolutely no good at writing meta posts that explore every angle of a character or plotline, but I can write a story that shows those angles and goes even further than the source does. It’s just how I’m built. I started writing fanfic as an adult as a break from a very frustrating piece of literary fiction I was writing, and then I just didn’t quit. Because of the nature of fandom, I quickly learned that the things I wanted from a literary publication — people talking about my writing, people talking to me about my writing (I worked in publishing for 10 years, so I didn’t bother wishing for money or huge bestsellerdom because I knew too much about how things work) — those things are readily available to fic writers who are good writers. (And, actually, to some who are terrible writers.)

Despite the widespread belief that fanfiction is written by people who can’t actually write or by 14-year-old girls, there’s plenty out there to blow your mind, if you know where to look. We’re not all “practicing” or venting our frustrations with our sad, miserable lives. Henry Jenkins and other aca-fans point out that it’s a way of taking stories back out of the hands of multinational corporations, of engaging in dialogue or even criticism of the source texts we love. (And yes, there are plenty of times we fall in love with problematic texts. As Woody Allen said about being a dick and taking up with his lover’s daughter, “The heart wants what it wants.”) We explore, we “what if,” we fix. Some of us write steamy alternate universe fics where vampires and werewolves are dental hygienists or Formula One race car drivers, and some may even file the serial numbers off, as we say, and have NY Times bestselling trilogies.

A just about perfect introduction to fanfiction is last summer’s Time article by Lev Grossman, who really just got what it’s about. You can find that here, if you’re interested:
http://www.time.com/time/arts/article/0,8599,2081784,00.html

One of the things that’s great about fannish life is the gift culture that surrounds the writing and artwork fans create. It’s not just the legal ramifications of trying to sell stories about characters who are licensed and copyrighted up the yin yang. It’s that we write for the sheer joy of exploring the worlds and characters we love, and we’re delighted to share what we’ve made when we’re finished. Often people who read a story will respond with some praise and a “thank you for sharing this.” I wouldn’t consider otherwise (mostly), but it’s nice to hear. Sometimes you get offerings in return: an icon, a bit of art, a desktop image, a recorded podfic of your story. There are fic exchanges that are directly gifts, written to order, with random recipients hand-chosen or chosen by algorithm. Yuletide is one of the biggest, in which participants request stories in an obscure or tiny fandom, and write in another obscure fandom for their recipient. It’s kind of terrifying to sign up for these events, but kind of awesome too. (And the organizing of such events is also a big labor of love, done by fans for fans.)

I was telling all this to a friend who visited a few months ago, and she’d just come from an academic conference. She loved the “gift culture” phrase a lot — and said that at the conference, it was expressed as “gift economy.” She said the difference in words was hugely important. Nobody’s counting up, it’s more pay it forward than pay it back. I like that too.

One thing that has struck me as I’ve gone through Pinterest marking potential projects and reading tutorials from here and there. The crafting community seems to have a feel for the gift culture too. Tutorials have a feel of “I made this thing; let me show you how,” or “I figured out this neat trick to make this other thing easier.” Or sometimes it’s “I am not insane and am not going to pay $3200 for a handbag. Let me show you how to make something close.” I have to confess, I’m kind of okay with that. I don’t care about labels. I find it hard to believe there’s a handbag anywhere that’s worth that kind of loot. I think sharing those ideas and appreciating one another’s work is a cool thing about Pintersts and the blogs I’ve traveled because of a lead I got on a pinboard.

There is one thing that troubles me. That’s the pins/tutorials that show how to knock off a piece that’s something an entrepreneur came up with, who’s not charging batshit insane prices for it. Not everything out there is produced by a faceless corporation, and I think it’s important to be respectful of someone who has put their own creativity out there and taken financial risks to do so. I’ve only seen one example when I know this to be true, and it’s not a site selling the same design already made up, just a tutorial. But the tutorial that’s traveling around Pinterest uses the same name that the entrepreneur came up with to refer to the design. It does also link back to her shop, so it’s not claiming credit, and if you prefer to buy one from the originator, it’s easy to do. So I’m not condemning here, I’m just trying to work out how I feel, where I stand. I’m a fan of the remix, the hack, but that’s where I hit my own personal boundary.

Now was that so hard?

Standard
Now was that so hard?

Well…sort of.

I got up first thing and took 2 pictures of my project and as I was cropping them on the computer I noticed something that’s barely noticeable on the actual thing, so I had to fix it. Did that, photographed it, and now I’m ready.

So, the project itself. This is one that started out in one of our women’s art gatherings. I’d brought another project to work on, but I saw what everyone else was doing, and I was all, “Ooooh, shiny!”

Literally, because we were using shiny silver metal tape [tm] to make fake pewter medallions. This was a project I’d seen done before (when I was also hell-bent on some other project) and thought was cool, so I jumped on the second chance. There’s a lot you can do with this method — adding them to altered Altoid tins (and I really would love to have a supply of these tins, but I am not a person who regularly sucks on mints), or make art cards of them, or do what I did here, adding it as a decorative element to a box.

The shiny silver metal tape [tm] can be found at hardware stores or places like WalMart. I hear there’s now a lookalike of plastic so you have to be careful you really have the metal type. It’s on a roll about the size of duct tape.

The big thing you can do with this tape (other than whatever its actual purpose might be) is play with texture. I’ve seen some very pretty cards made where it’s been taped onto card stock and then rolled through an embossing machine. But for this project we used pre-cut chipwood shapes and used little shaped paper punches on card stock. One of our group uses old plastic cards as her design base — used gift cards, stowaway hotel key cards and the like. Some of the group combined different shapes and came up with some really cool abstract designs. I found a paper punch with a tree design (probably for Christmas card projects) and decided to make a wee forest, and I chose a round chipwood precut as my base, since I decided to put it on a round paper mache box.

The box, by the way, was one of those items that sometimes appears in the stash of art materials in the famous back room at these art gatherings. Sometimes people start working on something and then lose interest, or they’re only there for one time (we get the occasional tourist passing through who comes to art night, which is pretty cool). So this box was one of those pieces, with a patchy coating of white paint. I kind of liked the effect, which made me think of birch bark, so I left it as it was. It could probably look more like birch bark, but I decided I’d rather have it be suggestive of such than be taken too far so it looks nothing like it.

On to the fake pewter! One of the regulars taught us this project, which she’d gotten from a show on HGTV before they switched their programming all around to appeal to a different demographic. Take your backing chipwood piece and glue on shapes of card stock or more chipwood, then carefully tape over the whole thing with your shiny silver metal tape [tm]. Your edges will overlap a little bit, but you want to rub them down so they’re hardly visible. We used orangewood sticks like you’d get in a manicure set. The same stick gets rubbed over the shapes around the edges so there’s some definition there. It takes a while to get the tape pushed down over a complex grouping of layers, but you want to be careful not to punch holes in the tape.

Once that’s done to your satisfaction, the next step is to etch some designs into the surface of your medallion. I went with some simpler Zen Tangle filler patterns, varying the patterns in different areas, as I would in a paper-and-ink Tangle. This part of the project I did a while back, so I can’t remember what I used to make the etched parts — something more pointed than the orange stick, but not so sharp it would tear the tape.

That’s as far as I got the night of the art gathering, and the box and the medallion have been sitting among my stash for a while. So finally I pulled it out and finished it, which was pretty simple. The last bit for the fake pewter is to brush on black paint so that it goes into the etched lines, then rub it off with a tissue so that the paint stays in the lines but mostly comes off the rest. It might take a few times to get it right so all the paint doesn’t come off, and if you rub too hard over the seam where the tape overlaps, it can curl up or wrinkle.

Painting in progress

So after the paint dried I glued the medallion piece onto the round box, and then it was done.

Done. At least I thought so.

So there was a spot that looking at it in person I thought might pass for a part of the fake wood, but that is one photo that screams “tiny coffee stain!” So this morning I grabbed some craft whitewash and a tissue and dabbed some one, and I think I’ve nailed it.

And this:

Standard

You may note if you scroll down that I projected I’d be rolling the Random Craft Tutorial generator dice this week (or in four hours, according to the countdown app below). But I am having family in town for the next week, and won’t really be able to do a major craft so far as I know. What I think I’ll do is click the generator now and settle what my craft will be, then schedule a time for it.

And I’m going to make a rule for this one, too. If the craft that comes up requires major equipment I don’t have or materials that would cost over $20, I’m going to try again and keep going until I hit a suitable project.

In fact, I’m going to roll the dice right now.