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Tansy Rayner Roberts

Tansy’s Con Report 1: Crafty Continuum, the Program

June 11th, 2012 at 18:48

Rachel Holkner as '1950's feminine ideal Wonder Woman' complete with chatelaine & pincushion

A lovely convention. The title ‘Craftonomicon’ was reflected in two ways – an emphasis on craft threaded through the programme and the repetition of imagery involving squid, octopi and tentacled creatures. I particularly enjoyed the fact that, with great encouragement of the committee and environment, there were crafters everywhere. Those who enjoy handcrafts often feel uncomfortable doing so in public places or audiences, because non-crafters can interpret their busy hands as being rude or dismissive of what’s going on around them. But the reason handcrafts appeal is often because you’re the sort of person who better pays attention when your hands are busy!

Right from the beginning, it was clear that this was an event that welcomed and encouraged crafty activity. There were random balls of yarn and needles placed around for people to play with, and the beautiful programme included some patterns and ideas. My very first panel, Crafty Characters on the Friday afternoon, involved a small group of people including the panellists (myself, Trudi Canavan and Jo Spurrier) working away at our crafts while chatting about the topic at hand. We sat around a big round table with our handful of audience members, many of whom had also brought handcrafts to work on while we all discussed the topic. It was a lovely way to get started!

the Twelfth Planet beta crocheters

Other crafty meet-ups (at which I worked away on my paper piecing Doctor Who quilt – I’ll update separately about its progress in another post) included a Twelfth Planet crochet pattern beta-test in the bar on Saturday (I went for moral support and quilting, the others were all there with a variety of crocheting skills and had great fun with the project) and ‘Crafts in Space!‘ on Sunday, where Trudi and I joined with Sarah Parker and the wise and wonderful Lyn McConchie at that big round table again to talk about crafting methods and how they would apply to space travel, whether it be zero gravity crochet skills, holodeck stash shopping, or deciding what crafting skills would be most useful to pioneers on new planets. A fabulous, nurturing discussion, and we really enjoyed the format – Trudi and I decided Craftyklatches needed to feature in future conventions, only for Rachel Holkner to tell me later that Continuum totally did that last year.

Some other panels I appeared on over the weekend:

Galactic Suburbia – Live Podcast. Great fun, and yes we ARE capable of doing an hour long episode. Will be up sometime this week.

“Playing God – A Guide for Beginners” in which I finally got to meet Michael Pryor, who moderated the worldbuilding discussion with great elegance – other panellists were Trudi Canavan (we were stalking each other this convention), Louise Cusack and GOH Alison Goodman. It was a fun discussion, which showed how different our working methods were, but brought up several key things we all had in common: the use of real history to furnish fantasy worlds being the biggest one!

Readings with Kelly Link, Jenny Blackford and Alan Baxter. We were very lucky that Kelly read us a fascinating sort-of-horror story that is soon to be published, Two Houses. Jenny shared some cat poems with us, deciding understandably that it was far too intimidating to read prose straight after Kelly Link. I read the first piece of The Patrician, and Alan read part of a novella about a King’s Cross murder.

Finally on Sunday there was a crunchy ‘where are all the wonder women‘ discussion on female superheroes with Grant Watson, Russell Blackford and Alice Clarke. We managed to record that one & the sound quality turned out really well so it will be up some time in the next week or so. I enjoyed it very much and it might well have inspired a new blog series in me… we’ll see!

Contrary to Alex’s belief I do like attending panels, and my quilt in progress gave me an excuse to sit in on some! Not as many as I would have liked, and I was particularly sorry to miss the Boxcutters & Outland panels on Saturday afternoon, but I did enjoy The Forgotten Frontier in which Jonathan Strahan, Random Alex & m1k3y were super judgemental (in various entertaining ways) about space opera, and the first hour of The Writer and the Critic live podcast, in which Mondy & Kirstyn were very scathing about Anne McCaffrey’s The Crystal Singer, while Kelly Link & Alison Goodman provided quite reasoned defenses of the work in its historical context.

The great thing about the directional microphones used by Kirstyn is that we could heckle from the audience without being heard, and I think mine & Jonathan Strahan’s best achievement on that score was convincing Mondy he had to do a Jim C Hines and re-enact the cover. Sure, you won’t be able to see it on the podcast, but it was a classic photo opportunity, and value-adding for those who were THERE. Several of us had commitments in the second hour and thus got to stage a walk out.

My favourite audience experience, however, was probably the Masters of Podcasting (PODMASTERS) panel, not only because Terry Frost, Alisa, Kirstyn and Jonathan had many interesting stories to share about their podcasting experiences, but because the audience was mostly packed out with all the OTHER Aussie spec fic podcasters (plus two real audience members) and it made for a fun community get together rather than a traditional panel.

All in all, it was a great program – I heard positive things from so many participants and audience members, the most common one being that there were so many things people regretting to not seeing which is the sign of a good con! Possibly my only gripe is that there was no intruction as to how to manage the time which meant the default seemed to be starting & finishing all panels on the hour – leading to a bit of strife & chaos at all beginnings and ends. Also some of the rooms were weirdly hot or cold. But those are minor notes in an otherwise thoughtful & balanced event.

And speaking of events… there were LOTS of them. Will post again later.

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5 Responses to “Tansy’s Con Report 1: Crafty Continuum, the Program”

  1. Terry Frost Says:

    Agree whole-heartedly. We have to do another podcasters meetup in a year or two at Natcon. And again, congrats on the award.

  2. Alex Says:

    I do apologise that I was confusing you and Alisa when it came to panels :D

    I’m not REALLY that judgemental, am I??

  3. The Great NatCon Blog Post Round-Up « Randomly Yours, Alex Says:

    [...] has several posts about different aspects of the con: first there was discussion of the craft and the programme; then there was all that food (cocktails, cupcakes, trifle oh my!); and then the Night of the [...]

  4. Australian National Convention 2012 links | Dark Matter Blog Says:

    [...] Rayner Roberts made three posts: Crafty Continuum, the food (not a surprise as a while ago she tweeted that everything she’d pinned on [...]

  5. Continuum8, Melbourne: the Australian sci fi and fantasy NATCON « Louise Cusack Says:

    [...] caught this great photo of her above which I’ve borrowed (there are more photos of the con on Tansy’s blog).  I did bump into  Donna Hanson (left) who is one of the organisers of the Canberra Con [...]

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