Lady Churchill’s Dalek Wristlet, or: Continuum8

I went to Craftonomicon/Continuum8/Natcon in Melbourne! I survived! Daleks were drawn on people!

Lady Churchill's Dalek Wristlet

This counts as a version of the Dalek Game as it is for Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, and Kelly Link was one of the guests of honour, so there are connections (also chocolate-and-book-fests) all over the place.

Drawings of small witches / small drawings of witches were delivered to Jonathan Strahan!

Here is one:

Here is the other:
Winter Warfare

Light Touch Paper, Stand Clear was launched, with many wonderful stories. My story, “Kindling”, about a delivery boy and a waitress named Minke and the trouble with detailed maps, is also in it. ASIM 56 was also launched, which has an emergency Llama illustration in it, but the website has not yet been updated with it (it’s that new). There was cake.

Here are some people working at Brisbane airport:

Not many pictures were drawn because there was a box of free yarn, and Emma lent me a crochet hook (which I broke), so I made many octopi. Please to note the state of the crochet hook:

Several were worn as fascinators at the Maskobalo, and all have found good homes. I attempted to write the pattern down, but it is awaiting translation into contemporary notation.


And more people:

I have so much chocolate in my system right now. ANYWAY, moving right along, that is Kirstyn McDermott at the bottom left, looking so much like an evil queen that it was very disconcerting when she smiled. As she eventually did when it turned out the stand-ins for the delayed Ditmar trophies squeaked! There was a chorus of squeaking rubber octopi all evening long. Congratulations to all winners!

Mine were blue (she said immodestly, thereby implying she received more than one – thank you for the votes, and congratulations to all the nominees!).

Mostly I spent the weekend talking to all the wonderful people, forgetting where they live (as far as I know their natural habitat is hotel bars), drinking coffee and chocolate, planning Lovecraft readings and receiving many many books. I bought two, gave one away and came home with 20, so it is good I packed light, although light enough to bring all those back in onboard luggage is also light enough to have packed nothing suitable to wear to the awards, so packing needs finessing before I got to Toronto.

I had a book cover due this weekend and have just sent it off which is why I’m a little excited. Plus, residual convention high and two squeaky blue Ditmar octopi sitting on the bookcase staring down at me, and the trailing glory of long conversations and plans.

Calmer tomorrow!

Future Imperfect: art for Swancon

The Future Imperfect art show is being held at Swancon in Perth over Easter. I cannot go (one day I will make it to Western Australia!) but I am putting 4 pieces in the exhibition. The catalogue is not yet out (I will link to it when it is published), but I have seen it and the art is all large and vibrant – except for my tiny monochrome pieces!

These are all in pen and ink and measure approximately 11 x 11cm (just over 4″x4″).

Listening device - a Victorian lady wears a flowered hat with a metal horn angled towards her ear

The text for the picture above reads, “A personal listening advice – portable and adjustable…” and was inspired by articles (new and old) on the Death of the Book. The writing in the top right corner is a reference to “Vere Thornleigh’s Inheritance” by AM Hopkinson (I haven’t read it, but it is serialised in Cassell’s Family Magazine, which is a favourite reference of mine). Those are my eyebrows, and the roses I bought on sale at at the supermarket.

Mechanical Magpie - a wind-up tin magpie with the punched paper strip which programs it

The mechanical magpie is based on iPods and the Emperor’s Nightingale, and a small tin goose Christmas ornament I have. The pearls were my Australian grandmother’s, as was the silver box their case is based on, and the key which has become the winder on the bird. The image behind is an Australian reimagining of some Chinese silk embroideries an ambassador gave her on a cruise.

Text messages - two Edwardian school girls send messages by pigeon

A rather obvious joke, perhaps, in this one. The text reads, “They will send text messages when they should be studying…” The art is with apologies to the illustrator of Sophie Knightley’s story “The Mascot of Merlin House” which appeared in The Violet Book for Girls edited by Mrs Herbert Strang. The internet says it was first published in 1914. My extraordinarily battered copy was “presented to [Lollie? Sallie?] Harris for attendance” at Wyena State School at “Xmas 1914”. The patterned glass is in all my favourite windows.

Flying nurse - a nurse sits with a patient in the basket of a dirigible

The style of this one, like the “Text messages” picture, is intended to hark back to the girls’ adventure books. The nurse is based on a picture of my great-great aunt? grandmother? who looks both startlingly like me and like Mrs Gulch, although with more lace. I’ve toned this lady down a bit. The name of this aircraft is the Victoire, because the first plane in the Australian Aerial Medical Service (later, the Royal Flying Doctor Service) was the Victory. My family never had to use the service, but I did a substantial portion of my schooling over a Flying Doctor radio.

Natcon Sketchbook – Conjecture 2009

As usual, if you want to see a larger version of a picture, click on it to go to its Flickr page, then click on “all sizes” above it.

A convention never seems like it’s over until it’s blogged. I have decided against a blow-by-blow account, mostly because I did not keep notes, but there are at least plenty of pictures, although as usual they are selected by the method of choosing what stood still long enough. So if you read this and are disappointed you are not in any of them, that is obviously because you were moving too fast.

Early Friday and south-east Queensland was covered with fog. I hoped it would lift and we would find ourselves in a Wyndham novel, but it was a very prosaic fog and the plane was only delayed by an hour.

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On the flight I amused myself creating small scenes of maritime tragedy on my fold-down tray. I think there are few English phrases more comforting than, “There is a whistle and a light for attracting attention”.

On arriving, I noted my knees were experiencing a wind chill factor, and checked into my possibly-haunted hotel. I had been worried that I would be lonely, in a nice hotel room all by myself, but then I realised this meant I could have all the hot showers I wanted to! I unpacked and felt very grown up, then went out for a milkshake.

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Before the convention, there were free tours of Haigh’s chocolate factory, with samples. As registration started, I caught up with lots of old and medium and new-ish and brand-new friends and did not draw anything until the next day but that does not mean nothing happened. The convention bags had tiny little matchboxes in them with real matches which actually worked (Kate Eltham tested them). Here are Peter M Ball and Karen Miller being mildy snarky at a panel on Urban Fantasy, which is a name for a moving-target of a genre. What I write is not urban fantasy anymore but no-one knows what it is. My characters do not wear low-slung leather trousers, but then that might be what’s missing.

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A rather heated steampunk panel, followed (I dimly recall) by lots of food and chocolate and talking and lacing of Emilly’s corset (corset-lacing forms a small but vital undercurrent of convention activities), and then the Maskobalo. I did in fact dance, but the lights were very bright and I was all in black, and also Sean Williams was DJing which meant I knew the words to most of the songs and therefore could dance to them and overheated and had to sit down. Catherine Scholz of the green dress, and Steve Scholz of the steampunk backpack were the fan guests of honour. Julie E. Czerneda was the international guest of honour but I did not get her in my sights long enough to draw.

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Conventions have a higher incidence of public knitting than almost anywhere else I know. Here is my costume (same as last weekend) and a sovereign remedy for the Perils Of Insisting On Authenticity, ie a gin martini. Most of the cleaning products in my hotel had exactly the same smell.

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We had the most awesome kids’ program, and almost everyone I spoke to wanted to go. They had marshmallow guns and pinatas and made ornithopters and TARDIS cookies. That is a TARDIS cookie at the top right. It had a little white marshmallow on it, but I ate that, and the icing was much bluer than this. The frightened looking object beneath it is a frog cake, which every South Australian says is an icon but none of them remember having eaten since they were 8 and I am not surprised. The top was very nice although it was a bit like eating frog-cake-brains because it is icing over mock-cream, but the cake underneath was just too sickly sweet.

I had coffee and lunch and dinner with lots of people (but not breakfast because my hotel had a pancake machine and I was not passing that up for any sort of society) but most of our time we spent in and around the bar, traumatising the bar staff and drinking far too much English Breakfast Tea.

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It was very sad to say goodbye to everyone at the end, but ends drag on and when I left Liz & Nigel’s room where we were having more tea after dinner, there were still plenty of people still sitting in the bar. I went back to my hotel and overheard some men asking to change rooms because of a creepy feeling, and then the hotel staff discussing other people who had asked to leave that room because of cold patches and vibrating beds, etc.

I stayed an extra day to see more of Adelaide than a foyer. Occasionally it rained and I would duck into a bookshop which, in retrospect, is possibly not as cost-effective as just buying an umbrella. I drew things and bought some patterned rubber rollers in a shop that recycles old building elements and wandered the streets on what I thought was a rather boring recommended walk, until I worked out that it was a busline and my instincts were correct.

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I bought chocolate and looked into arcades and went to the gallery again to see what it was like without the evil influence of Jason Fischer and Dirk Flinthart, but still all I could see in the renaissance paintings were saints with stigmata lasers. But it is a proper gallery, with high arched ceilings and green trim and very worth gold-lettered labels on the rooms and the museum had, as it ought, a room full of stuffed mammals which is always disconcerting. The best part was the Mawson exhibit, with real ice and a replica of the hut.

I had a wonderful time, and made new friends and caught up with old ones and talked until my voice went and drank a great deal of tea and ate too much and hardly slept and went for dinners with odd collections of people and formed the conclusion – as always happens at conventions in strange cities – that the city is populated mostly with people I know, and met artists and writers and raconteurs and bought too many books and wore my favourite shoes and wandered around a new city and can’t wait for the next one.

Post-con post

Natcon has finished. I’m staying an extra day in Adelaide to see the sights (although going to the gallery today with Dirk and Jason has given me a new perspective on art history) and should be back late Tuesday night, assuming I survive frog cakes, chocolate frogs and a hotel which appears to be acquiring a reputation for being haunted.

I’ll upload con sketches when I get back. In the meantime, here’s a page from the last batch (and next in the sequence of tv sketches):

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