I’ve just changed the name.

So I made this a few years ago and hardly use it. I really mean to but then life gets in the way.

When I named it I hadn’t really established who I was politically or in regards to social justice. I felt strongly about things but didn’t really understand some issues like I do now.

I’ve also never made my struggles with anxiety a secret and am not at all ashamed to tell people about my experience of therapy (which was so flipping useful). I also hope that I’ve always been supportive of others and their mental health.

I’ve since realised that regardless of my intention the flippant use of “crazy” in my blog title isn’t cool and is ableist and that isn’t who I am or want to be.

So on that note if anyone read this in the past and was offended I apologise unreservedly, that was entirely my fault and I’m working on not doing this kind of thing anymore.

Vegan Coconut Caramel and Dark Chocolate Slice

This is what I did on the weekend, thanks to Miss Laura.

Strange times with strangers on trains.

My life is crazy busy these days, I’m out more nights than not and I’m constantly trying to cram as much stuff in as I can. There are always too many books to read, too many theatre events, gigs and films to get to and far too many TV shows for me to try and cram in around my friends and my burgeoning gaming activities.

This has all contributed to me becoming a public crafter; I’m always working on small projects whenever and wherever I can. I don’t see it as being that different from reading on the train. I have to squeeze as much productivity out of my day as I can, especially when I think about the project queue I have, and all the ideas that just seem to rain into my head some days

Sometimes this public display of crochet or cross stitch gets funny looks from my fellow commuters, and I’m ok with that, it is a little unusual. Other times someone will ask me what I’m doing and I get to have a conversation with a stranger about something I am passionate about. Well a few things I’m passionate about since most of my craft links into some other obsession of mine. I’m also quite happy to show off so I welcome the opportunity

However today I had a strange encounter, it was the first time my crafting has led to negative interaction with a stranger.

I’m currently making a doll based on a film character. He is mostly crochet but will have some elements of his costume and accessories made out of modelling clay. I’ve been working on him for a while (a lot of planning) and I really want him to be fantastic. At the moment he is in the early stages, just a basic person shaped thing, none of the real detail that will give him his identity is done.

Doll in progress, he did end up looking like Lloyd Dobler

Doll in progress, he did end up looking like Lloyd Dobler

I was sitting on the train with my guide patterns (The amazing Crafty is Cool Doctor Who Pattern Set) and a sheaf of reference pictures for my doll and deciding how I should make his little shirt a lady sitting next to me told me “He doesn’t look like that”. Now obviously this is true, my doll has no details yet.

I very politely replied “Not yet, but he will”. She leaned over and actually started touching my stuff ad repeated that my doll “doesn’t look like that”, I told her “she’d be surprised once he was finished” which she just scoffed at and asked me if I’d be “making his little toys as well”. By which she meant his weapons. Well yes of course I am, they are part of what will give him his identity.

Now I’ve made dolls based on famous people and characters before and they only really seem right when they are finished.  Nick Cave, Lloyd Dobler and Death to name a few. Death I completely designed myself, the others are based on Crafty is Cool patterns I’ve bought.

Nick Cave circa 2010

Nick Cave circa 2010

See he did end up looking like Lloyd.

See he did end up looking like Lloyd.

Discworld's Death, dressed as Bill Door.

Discworld’s Death, dressed as Bill Door.

I don’t think this lady was being intentionally rude but I find it really weird that she would be ok with belittling me and touching my stuff when we have never met before. But by crafting publicly should I expect the public to be unreserved in their judgement of me and my work? The looks I’m ok with, I’ve gotten judgemental looks from strangers my whole life but people actually touching my things without permission just seems in invasion that isn’t warranted just because I’ve taken my hook outside my house.

Crowd-funding isn’t Philanthropy

Recently I was trying to explain why I had supported Amanda Palmer’s Kickstarter (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/amandapalmer/amanda-palmer-the-new-record-art-book-and-tour) to a friend and found myself trying to explain my I supported any crowd-funding projects.

It seems to me that people who are not familiar with the idea behind crowd-funding, and it is still quite new, so that is a lot of people, think that when you crowd-fund you are giving people money and that is the whole transaction. The artist/designer/filmmaker/start-up just takes your money and runs.

Put there is another side to this transaction. Crowd-funding really is pre-ordering in most cases; it allows me to get in on the ground floor of a final product that I WANT. Now crowd-funding it might be the only way to make sure it gets made so I can have it. Or in the case of Amanda Palmer, it would get made anyway, but I’m going to get exclusive things that non crowd-funding fans will miss out on. Yes some people give money for no reward, but all projects give you the option to take part of it home when all is said and done.

I am a pop-culture tragic and an obsessive nerd. I collect everything I can that relates to the things I love, and I love lots of things. I found Kickstarter via Neil Gaiman, he tweeted about The Price, a film in production based on one of my favourite short stories, http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2024077040/neil-gaimans-the-price. For $100US I’ll get a Blu-Ray, with exclusive backer only content and a limited edition print. That was 18 months ago, the film isn’t finished yet, but I am kept up to date on the progress and have received my print already, and it is amazing.

I’ve since funded 14 other Kickstarters, 3 Pozible projects and the new Ben Folds Five album on Pledge. I’m getting something in return for all of them! Things I would buy if I saw them in a shop. Some of the things I’ve backed are now available for everyone to buy, but I had them first. Yes I’m helping someone achieve what they set out to, but not really just because I can, yes I like that I’ve helped these people, and I’d love to fund more, but I’m doing it so that I can get what they have to offer me.

Amanda Palmer has been criticised as someone that is too big to use crowd-funding and various other reasons, but all she did is offer her fans a direct way to buy her art, we just gave her the money a few months early. She is already allowing us access to songs from the album. I wonder, if she had just set up a pre-order page on her online store, would people have been offended like they seem to be by her audacity to ask her fans for support? Is her Kickstarter so offensive because it was so successful? In my opinion people like Amanda Palmer using Kickstarter is only going to be good for the platform in the long run. It has generated so much buzz and introduced so many people to the idea of crowd-funding. Hopefully this will mean more supporters and even more projects.

I like to make things, strange things.

A few years ago I discovered crafting. It had always been an important part of the lives of people I love, my Nan and my Aunty Deb in particular. I have always marvelled at the things they made and loved the few things that became mine after someone had worked so hard to bring it existence, but I never really felt that it was for me.

Then I found a book – How to make dinosaurs and dragons, a wonderful book from the 1970’s, much older than me. I was at a swap meet and it cost me a dollar, and needed me to own it. My best friend had not long before had a 1st birthday party for her son and the centrepiece was his dinosaur cake. Putting these things together I decided that despite not having touched a sewing machine in 12 years since a 6 month, year 8 sewing class I would make a T-Rex for my godson’s 2nd birthday.

This required that I not only teach myself how to sew, but I had to get a sewing machine and all the other things that you need to sew anything. The machine was easy; I acquired from someone’s rubbish a beautiful, green Pinnock machine.

Made in Australia in the 1950’s, she is sturdy, vintage and still in her original case. All I needed was a copy of the manual, which I found available as a PDF online and a new foot. I have a brand new machine, but I still love to use her because she cost me $10 to get in order and just runs so smoothly for a girl pushing 60. Anyway enough about my enamel and timber precious, back to the T-Rex.

The book suggested upholstery fabrics, with no experience I trusted that and ended up with a beautiful, kitsch teal and brown pattern. Next step enlarge and cut out the fabric, the pattern needed to be enlarged about 200%, I actually had to get it professionally enlarged in order to get the body printed on A2 paper. That was when I began to be concerned.

I also procrastinated a little, and as a result had 6 weeks to make my first ever toy, do my first real sewing, before my deadline. Somehow I managed it, every hour I spent at home was focused on working out how to sew, stuff, and finish what ended up being a toy larger than the small boy it was intended for! And that was just the start of me making crazy things.

70 T-Rex