Why does anyone do what they do? - Tactical Ninja
Jul. 31st, 2013
09:31 am - Why does anyone do what they do?
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.