Thursday, August 29, 2013

Schedule and I am Opinionated

Fox Hunt, an SCA event, is coming up on September 7th. Its at Plowman's Park in Big Rock, which is a nice site and not too far away. We'd probably do well at it. But my calendar looks like an ink explosion (although removing Robin's class schedule from it helps), particularly the weeks bracketing Fox Hunt. So we're not going. Ron says I'm not a wimp.

Got the Windycon progress report uploaded to the printer Sunday night, once the backup sucking  CPU cycles finished. There was some communications flail in some related issues, but I think it should be going out Real Soon Now. Which, carp carp carp, reminds me that I never sent the text to the webmaster to make a web page version.  Done. And the first/main deadline for program book content is careening at us (13 Sept.).

Its going to be warm enough this weekend that I don't forsee getting the dining room clean. I will, however, be starting the ACen exhibitor registration process on Sunday. Two spaces! Which will cost more than one space this year (but not double - time-tiered pricing), but less than we grossed this year. I think it'll be worth it. I hope. No, I think. We waffled, but I have capital-D Decided.

But on to the real point of my post today, which I can't seem to reduce down to one pithy bit.

This morning I was looking at a fairly well known crafty/creativity blog, where the blogger posted pictures of a Disney-character-themed steampunk outfit, including a belt pouch she'd made and antiqued. In part by toasting it in the oven.

I did not, quite, scream out loud. I did leave what I hope was a polite non-critical comment as to why this is not a good method for something like a belt pouch (toasting=brittle leather), and suggested that there are many sources out there for other techniques.  (If you suspect you know which blog, mine comment  is in the first 40, and is my Blogger ID, which is what I post under here).

Now, the blogger in question has experienced a lot of the crap that well-known female bloggers are wont to get, as well as personal issues, so I didn't want to be harsh in my comment, and didn't want to leave a trackback to here, which is why there's no link, as her work isn't really what I apparently want to vent about. Her commentariat seems to be very much of the rah-rah-everything-ish-great variety, which makes it just a little more challenging to not sound like a trollish jerk.

The blogger is, IIRC, in her 20s, maybe early 30s. I suspect that this is relevant. She and I may be technically of the same generation, but I think she's enough younger than me to really not have experienced the pre-Google world.

Now, the blogger in question is pretty new to leatherworking. She's also very skilled at some arts/crafts. She does some things that are amazing. She may have applied the technique of aging a piece be toasting it in the oven from some other field. But I have this niggling suspicion that she got the idea from the web.

The web has many wonderful wonderful things on it. It also has deep festering sewers of stupidity. There certainly have been many many books printed that are festering sewers of stupidity, but OTOH, art/craft technique books, especially the leatherworking ones, are usually decent. Publishers of leatherworking books have often been tools/materials suppliers, and an unhappy customer is a lost customer, and lost business.

The internet is wide-open wild wild west territory. Any opinionated goob can put up a blog focused on leatherworking, and if their work looks decent and they write with some basic skill, there's no editor to do the whole editorial input thing like you (HOPEFULLY) get in a book.

And the internet seems to be taking over the instructional market in a big way. I've bought a lot electronic knitting patterns than paper ones in the last year. We've started buying leatherworking books as PDFs that we own as paper copies - Tandy has created the Leathercraft Library with scanned copies of a lot of their books.

But those PDFs cost money, and the other thing that seems to have grown with the rise of internet craft instruction is the drive for freeeeeee information (which is another rant for another day). 

The problem is compounded in leatherworking when people ignore books that are older - a lot of the basic leatherworking books we use are 20+ years old. Yeah, they look dated, but the techniques are solid. Hand-stitching, for example, has been done pretty much the same way for centuries, substituting metal needles for boar bristles, and adding in the convenience of pre-waxed thread.

There's several leatherworking books on the market currently that I haven't bought because there's no new techniques in them, and all the example projects make me say "ewww" ("fashionable" is not a big word in my vocabulary, guilty guilty guilty). OTOH, I have some books from, IIRC, the 1920s and earlier that include chemical recipes that make me cringe.  So no, old does not automatically mean good, either. But if you substitute in modern dyes and finishes, the basic techniques are valid.

I guess my point is that you have to be review internet sources with a more critical mind, because the author may be talking out of their hat, or neglecting to tell you that X is great in Y situation, but has A and B as site effects, because there's no editor to question them. And remember that the internet doesn't hold all the world's knowledge. Those (old) books of techniques? Still useful. They didn't suddenly go out of date just because they aren't on-line.

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