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Why does anyone do what they do? - Tactical Ninja

Jul. 31st, 2013

09:31 am - Why does anyone do what they do?

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So yesterday a package that clinked and weighed a lot arrived at work, and stirred curiosity among the admin staff. One of them must have volunteered to bring it to me back in the dungeon corner where I work, just so she could ask me what was in it. It was my scales, and so I had to explain what, why, and a little of how. That why question was kind of interesting. I mean, why does anyone do anything? And yeah, it's an unusual hobby, but not that unusual, surely? Lots of people make costumes.

What do I get off on about making costumes? Mostly it's two things - one is the production of something that's beautiful, authentic, or well suited to its purpose. The other is the thrill of working out how to make things work. So cosplay costumes and replicas and the occasional lightbulb idea are perfect for this. Looking at a picture (or an idea) and thinking about how to bring that into reality where previously it didn't exist, gives me a kick like nothing else does. And how is that different from making a pair of socks? OK it might be a bit more ambitious and involve a different mix of skills, but it's still just making stuff. Making mail is remarkably like knitting with pliers actually..


Also, it appeals to my OCD*. A lot of the tasks associated with costume making are repetitive and precise. I strongly believe that my talent for proportion and perspective are related to the OCD. I mean, being able to line things up perfectly by eye is the flipside of being disturbed when something isn't perfectly in line, you know? It also means I can sit down and do things like put studs into quilted fabric for hours and still be enjoying myself at the end because all the studs are lined up perfectly and I made it happen. It makes me feel good, focusing on the details to that extent.

Speaking of studs, last night was the Stud Party. It wasn't as exciting as the one suggested by rivet, but I am satisfied just the same. It was the studs that started the whole thing actually. I was looking at the picture of the Regalia of Weisshaupt, and started wondering how the jacket was made. I realised that in order to make the jacket, you'd have to first make the fabric (quilted with studs). And then my mind instantly went "I wonder if I could....?" And then I mentally tallied the work involved - fabric fabrication, sewing, leatherwork, sculpting, painting, armour making.. and something just switched on in my head going DOooooo eeeeeet! *cough*

So, quilting and studs? I'll give you quilting and studs! I started on a sleeve, because that's relatively flat and easy to see. First was sewing the wool backing that provides the bulk and padding in a grid pattern:



I'm only putting the quilting to the elbow because the gauntlets come to above the elbow and there's no need for it below that. Also, the whole outfit is going to be quite warm to wear, so the less extra warmth the better I think. Anyway, the next step was poking the stud pins through both layers of fabric in the centre of each square, and also adding a craft foam backing so they don't easily slip out and to keep them well pressed in on the visible side. I thought I'd have to use an awl for this but apparently not. It was fast. It took less than 40 minutes to place the studs for one sleeve:





I think I'll do the first step (quilting) on the rest of the fabric, then assemble the jacket while the fabric's still light and easy to handle, and then when I place the studs I can go right up to the seams and not have to guess where they'll go and worry about running over one with the needle.

Then, because there's nothing like a bit of novelty, I had a go at putting together the mail. Or, if you're a purist, it's apparently maille. There were a couple of false starts because at first you just have three scales linked together, and the whole thing gets tangled up if you move it and then you forget what the pattern's supposed to look like. But once the first few are placed, it gets easier. Given that I'd never done it before, this piece took about 20 minutes to make once I got going. Here's the back:



And here's the front:



It'd be easier if I were making wider strips I think - they'd be more self-supporting - but the design calls for long, narrow strips so that's what I'm making. No doubt by the time I've assembled eight strips each about 70cm long, I'll have it down pat. Or have gone a bit potty, one of the two.

You know, if this comes out as well as I hope it will (haven't made any substantial ballsups so far), it might be worth entering in a competition or two. No, I have no idea if they have competitions for such things, but if they do and you know about it, can you let me know?

Yes, I am turning into my mother. She used to get obsessed with something she wanted to make, dedicate a million hours to it, produce artisan-quality stuff and then find competitions to enter them in. Her buzz was.. well, she started with quilting I think, but the last national award she won was for a handspun design. So, um.. Hi Mum, ok so I knit with pliers but your legacy appears to be perpetuating. I aspire to produce stuff of the quality she did.

And my brother makes things that basically destroy other things spectacularly with high voltage, because he can. It runs in the family, apparently.

* For those of you who are new, I am not being flippant. I have OCD. It's not debilitating and it was much worse when I was an adolescent, but it's there and it colours my life. I don't see it as a disorder for me, but I'm also aware that others are not so lucky.


Anyway, I could see that the person really didn't get it even after my attempt to explain. I think people are just different and get excited about different things. I don't see the point of rugby, yet it has a huge following here and some folks enjoy tying their identity and wellbeing to how well someone else plays the game. That's baffling to me, but it's obviously a pastime that's enjoyed and shared by a substantial amount of people. So who am I to be a snob about other people's hobbies vs my own? And I guess I can't expect folks who are motivated by other things to really grasp what makes me want to do what I do. The least I can expect is for them not to be snobs about my hobbies vs their own, and I'll do the same.

And let's face it, if everyone were into the same things, scale mail would be way more expensive. And life would be boring.

Comments:

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From:kehleyr
Date:July 30th, 2013 10:09 pm (UTC)
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I wouldn't mind living in your brain for a weekend and see how you come up with all of this :-). I love it!
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From:tatjna
Date:July 30th, 2013 10:11 pm (UTC)
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If you lived in my brain you'd find out how much of it is taken up with filth and debauchery. ;-)

Occasionally an idea bloops to the top and I grab it like a liferaft before it sinks below the muck again....
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From:tatjna
Date:July 30th, 2013 10:25 pm (UTC)
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Yes to your reasons. They are not that different from my own, although the wide-eyed delight at technological advancement has different applications when you're recreating medieval style things than it does when you're building hypnotutus, I have to say.

You are most welcome to hit me with a sword once the outfit is completed. Most of it will be authentic. The bit that isn't is the plate, which is made of plastic. It'd do a reasonable job of spreading the intensity of a blow and probably stand up to blunt force, but I'm not sure whether it'd cope with a well-sharpened heavy sword, so let's say you can use one made of Wonderflex with a wood or fibreglass core, and you're on.

Also, mage armour is supposed to be a bit squishy or they'd be invincible.

As to your last statement, the Stealth Cloak of Raviness was your idea. Just saying.

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From:meri_sielu
Date:July 30th, 2013 10:39 pm (UTC)
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I really love that you make mail and cosplay/larping costumes, and a lot of my IRL friends would go mental for your work! That scale mail is gorgeous, I can't get over the intricacy and attention to detail. I draw animals and birds because I love the repetitive tiny little details you have to put into getting markings, fur and feathers down perfectly so I can understand the relief for your OCD that you find in it, I think creating is the best possible outlet and what results! :)
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From:tatjna
Date:July 30th, 2013 10:43 pm (UTC)
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I would love to see some of your work sometime. I'm always amazed and impressed by the way people's creativity comes out, and I love looking at the things people make.

At the moment I'm squeeing over the writers for the reverse big bang that I posted earlier this morning. Writing fiction is a talent I'd like to have but don't. ;-)
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From:richaarde
Date:July 30th, 2013 11:13 pm (UTC)
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Actually, if everyone were into scale mail, it would probably be mass produced and cheap. You would probably be able to buy it at your local department store.
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From:tatjna
Date:July 30th, 2013 11:15 pm (UTC)
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Heh, true.
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From:tatjna
Date:July 31st, 2013 06:31 am (UTC)
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It's a lovely effect, eh? I took that bit in to work to show people who'd been asking, and the general consensus was "Earrings!" ;-)

I got mine from The Ring Lord which is based in Canada. I've since found out that Aussie Maille do supplies a little closer to home, but they don't have as wide a selection.

The scales are quite cheap, but shipping can get expensive because they are heavy. At least, the ones I got are -they're galvanised steel. Aluminium would probably be lighter.
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From:pixiebelle
Date:July 31st, 2013 04:46 am (UTC)
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I have strange hobbies and interests that people just don't get. That's okay... It makes me "me" :)

I'd love to make costumes. I want a seeing machine to teach myself on, I was supposed to get one and it never came. Boo. But costumes are one thing I really enjoy and I'd love to make my own. Maybe one day when I'm not broke.
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From:tatjna
Date:July 31st, 2013 06:32 am (UTC)
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I started on my brother's 1950s-era Toyota machine that he loaned me for learning. It's well worth borrowing one if you can to see if you'll keep it up before shelling out for a machine.

But I'm always going to say "Dooooo iiiiiit" because the more costume makers in the world, the better the world is I reckon. ;-)
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From:fushia_darkness
Date:July 31st, 2013 03:47 pm (UTC)
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It's fascinating how people can be intrigued by so different things. I usually assume everyone I meet is like me (since I'm so ordinary I'm like everybody else and therefor everybody is like me) and then realise people don't understand at all things that can hold my imagination for hours.

Costume looks great, look forward to see more as it progresses :)
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From:pundigrion
Date:August 1st, 2013 03:20 pm (UTC)
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I have yet to figure out people who are not interested in food. It is food! Apparently there really are people who would rather just take a pill or eat Bachelor Chow. I bet they also like rugby >_>

THen again considering my own hobbies, I am one to talk...
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From:tatjna
Date:August 1st, 2013 07:25 pm (UTC)
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I used to be a bit like that about food. It was fuel, nothing more. But the main reason behind that was my dislike of cooking, which was fuelled by being expected to cook for many years because of my gender. For maybe 15 years after that I was fully averse to pots and pans, and it's only in the last couple that I've got into making delicious things. Even now, if there's only me to feed I just can't be arsed most of the time. O.o
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