FP: A Mighty (Small) Dragon

Handsewn felt dragon

This dragon came as a kit, and when I unfolded the pattern sheet I thought “Oh, I’ll have to blow that up on the copier”. Haha, nope. The pattern was actual size and had some tiny, tiny pieces. This little guy is 14cm from the back of his wings to the tip of his tail, and the tops of his wings are about 11cm from the base. He fits perfectly in my hand, which is how I was going to measure him for you until I realised your hands might actually be a different size to mine.

He was kind of fiddly in places, but I think he turned out pretty well. I did take a shortcut with his arms. The pattern has the fingers individually cut out, but I looked at that and thought “Nope”. Instead, I popped in some stitches to divide the fingers after I stuffed the hands. He took a fair while to sew, but it was a joyful project. Of course it was, otherwise he’d be half sewn and shoved in a drawer (the fate of everything that turns out boring). The arms and legs are jointed, so he can be posed a little bit.

The kit is from Winterwood Toys and is available in several colourways. I went with Rainbow, obviously. The kit is really really good, I have to say. You get the pattern and instructions, the felt, thread that matches your felt, the buttons for the joints, thread for the joints, beads for the eyes (5 of those, presumably in case you drop one as they’re tiny), the wool roving for the head and a needlefelting needle to attach that with. Also a huge amount of wool stuffing, which is a delight to work with after years of the acrylic stuff. I had a heap left over, so I’m stuffing a tiny felt bear with it now.

I Have No Style

We’re just going to ignore the fact I haven’t said anything since last September and move on.

Anyway. As a result of digging around on the internet, I found a Creative Community for Creative People to Connect (Creatively) and thought “Oh, cool” so I joined. I’m not particularly bold with sharing my projects. I mean, sure I have this blog when I remember I have it and I have been known to post the odd project to Craftster, which is an awesome community. Due to this lack of boldness, I quietly backed away from this new website.

A quick poke through the photos on this blog will tell you I am not a photo stylist. At best I find a background that isn’t too terrible and that’ll do. It was the styling of all the photographs on that website that turned me off, and frankly even on other blogs an over styled photograph makes me a bit “meh”. The reason is that craft, or handmade, or home made or whatever you want to call it is turning into personal brands rather than a celebration of the creative.

Perfect white backgrounds, whimsical props scattered around, photoshop brushes and stamps – photographing something you’ve made is becoming a professional effort more suited to magazines than websites. It’s no longer good enough to make something you want to show off, now you’re expected to Brand it with your own photographic style before you put it online.

Some styles are simple and designed to show off the item and I enjoy that. I want to see what you’ve made! I want to look at it, and you’ve kindly posted it online for me to look at. Then we get into “Over fussed with”. A narrow depth of field that throws one tiny line of the project into sharp focus while the rest is a blur, over exposing edges so there’s a halo of white, filters, touch ups – it goes on and on. The idea of just taking a picture that shows what you’ve made is becoming lost in the desire to show you know where the filters toolbar is.

Well, I don’t have a style. I don’t have any pure white walls, for one thing, so I can’t pose my stuff in front of those. I don’t have anything white, really, apart from some mugs and a sheet. When I decide to post a project online, it’s the project I want to show off, not my collection of whatever random items I might find to throw into the shot. I also don’t have a DLSR (yet) so my shots are only ever going to be as good as my terrible manual focus function.

It’s fine that people want to invest their time in making shiny photos, but at the same time it’s (for me at least) intimidating. And then I get cross at myself for being intimidated, because even if my stitches are wonky and my finishes aren’t perfect, I’m usually a bit proud of myself for making something. The fact that I don’t fancy fussing around for an hour taking a picture of it shouldn’t lessen my wish to share things online. So from now on, it won’t.

We need to celebrate the non perfect. Us “mere mortal” crafters need to appreciate and understand that perfectly styled photos of perfectly made items are personal branding as much as sharing. We need to understand that some people feel the need to preserve their brand by photoshopping out wonky stitches, and by only posting the very best of their craft.

While we’re on the branding of handmade, can I just for one moment say “ugh” about the word “Make”. I don’t mean in the usual sense of the word, like “This is what I make” or “I think I’ll make that”, I mean as a description of what’s been done. Instead of “This is my project from today” or “I sewed this today” people are starting to say “This is my make from today”. “Here’s my make from the weekend!”. No. It’s horrible. Stop it. We have so many descriptive words for crafts – we can sew, knit, crochet, weave, dye, create, carve, paint, cast, sculpt, cut, spin… to squish all these down into a clumsy phrase like “This is my make!” is awful. Cut it out.