Tag Archives: fandom

Brace(let) yourself–here comes Project 31

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At long last, here’s the knotted bracelet I made at the Supernatural fans gathering, which I mentioned last week. We were supplied with a length of hemp cord, a DIY charm made from a decorated washer, and a gun charm to represent the demon-killing gun made by Samuel Colt in the show’s lore. There was a collection of other charms we could use, so I added 3 to make a nice, even number. A wing to represent the angels storyline, a key to represent secrets (or just Papa Winchester’s self-storage locker) and … well, beats me what the big honkin’ bird represents. I just liked it.

Not sure if this is before or after I trimmed the adjustable ends a bit.

The other side of the washer-charm:

This side of the washer has the Solomon's Seal aka the devil's trap

My captions have disappeared, for some reason. This side of the washer has the Seal of Solomon, aka the devil’s trap.

I was going to link to the sites listed on the instruction sheet, but I can’t find where I put my little swag bag from the con. I found some hemp bracelet video tutorials on eHow (and I don’t know about you, but I find I’m much better watching someone make a knot than looking at a diagram of how one’s done), and this is a similar knot to the main part of the bracelet: http://www.ehow.com/video_4433735_making-square-knot-hemp-bracelet.html

The separate piece that the two long strands slide through to adjust the fit is the part I’m not sure where to find. I had a tough time getting that right (and think I screwed up at one point). And now there are a couple of long strings hanging out of that clasp knot, and I’m afraid to snip them because they might be key to the whole thing.

But hey, it works and it is a neat little piece and blah blah blah spirituality of imperfection.

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Hitting the fan

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Believe it or not, I am not projectless, just fairly wordless. Spent one weekend away, then every night and half of last weekend madly writing a story that turned out to be an epic. I opened windows several times to post, then just stared at blank screen.

The weekend away was at a gathering of fans in a nearby city. If you think ComicCon or DragonCon, you are WAY off-base. There were fewer than 20 of us, but we had a fantastic time. And luckily one of the activities was the making of a bracelet themed around the CW show “Supernatural.” Profound exhaustion precludes me from getting off my ass to photograph the bracelet, but I’ll do so within the next couple of days.

At any rate, this weekend I encountered a cool multi-fandom craft challenge to make something related to the object of one’s fannish obsession. Anyone reading this who wishes to check it out (either to sign up or to bookmark to check out the resulting crafts) can go here: http://imadeathing.dreamwidth.org/332.html
There are prompts you can choose, but it’s pretty loosey-goosey and you can just use it as general inspiration with a deadline if that’s what it takes to get you moving.

And speaking of fandom and craftiness, GISHWHES is returning this year to haunt us again. Actor Misha Collins and cronies create a list of bizarre things to make, do, document, and send his fans forth to accomplish them. I suspect my craft rate will go way up, but I probably won’t be able to show off what I’ve done until the competition is over.

Remix culture For the Win

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Search for “Somebody That I Used to Know” on YouTube and you’ll find a squizpillion covers and remixes done by everyone from solitary kids in their bedrooms to a full choir. Instead of sending out Cease and Desist notices or having YouTube take down the vids, the original performer of the song, Gotye, did a brilliant remix that’s visually enjoyable and musically amazingly beautiful.

Somebodies: a Remix by Gotye http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=opg4VGvyi3M

This is why I am in favor of loosening the corporate grip on music and film and TV, to add to that cultural conversation that fans participate in when they express their love of a work in making another work. And how cool is it when the original artist then enters the conversation in the same spirit of joy and love?

Fandom acts

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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.

Invisible Project

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I have, in fact, been working on a project all weekend long. You just can’t see it.

This one’s a short story. It’s a gift, part of a summertime gift exchange, and authors can’t reveal their identities until all the stories are posted, which is expected to be in September.

So maybe now is a good time to write about the gift culture of fandom and crafting, as it’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while.

Or maybe not, yknow, now, because it’s time to get myself ready for work.

I hope to get some small project done in the next day or two as a visible project, and yes, also a post about gift culture.