Sunday, August 21, 2011

On Zombies

'Zombie Bunny', made from pattern in Zombie Felties, Nicola Tedman & Sarah Skeate, 2010
Zombies are a phenomenon in popular culture. I would argue that they are even more popular than werewolves and vampires. This is despite vampires and werewolves being sexified in recent years. Both werewolves and vampires are romanticised and portrayed as outsiders worthy of love and even admiration. I don't think anyone has tried suggesting that a romantic attachment to a zombie is something to aspire to. It's interesting then that they are as popular as they are. Even to the extent that people regularly dress up as one and hobble through towns.

Partly this popularity could be attributed to series of successful films about zombies, and their excellence as a video game subject. But there must be more to this. The fact there are so many zombie films is because of their instant popularity which cannot be due to the films alone. I like Dan Birlow's analysis of their popularity. He accesses various theories such as that zombies reinforce paranoid belief systems, or that it is a like of being scared of turning into one that makes them popular but then comes to the conclusion that is because people like imagining themselves as survivors in an apocalyptic situation.

Somehow though zombies can also be amusing. This humour can be seen in Nicola Tedman's and Sarah Skeates excellent book Zombie Felties: How to raise 16 gruesome creatures from the undead. I have been playing with this book and used it to make the following felt zombies:

It is lots of fun and the patterns are easy to follow. I recommend it heartily to all who wish to make their own fleet of mini-zombies.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Happy Mothers Day

The chicken design I sketched from somewhere, but I forget where. It's a simple applique but quite a cute effect I think. The inside is padded along with a piece of cardboard to keep it stiff.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

On String

String (/strɪŋ/) is a wonderful thing. At first it seems mundane, even boring, but the slightest investigation reveals that string may very well be the most versatile and useful invention made by man. It has shaped our physical and linguistic world. We love string.

Its versatility has led it to infiltrate our language. String is highly flexible, in more ways than one. String is used in musical instruments, necklaces, bows, and sports equipment. You can use it to fly kites, tie shoelaces, bind books, control puppets and even to tie things together.

“To go to heaven in a string” refers, rather jovially, to being hanged. The Oxford English Dictionary places the use of this phrase to 1710 with the publication of T. Ward’s The English Reformation and claims it referred originally to the Jesuits who were hanged during the reign of Elizabeth I.(1) After this point the use of the word ‘string’ in describing a hanging became common.

String is a device that allows you to control the world around you. You can string someone up, lead someone by a string, string things together, string someone along, and pull the strings. ‘No strings attached’ are the failsafe watchwords of contracts.

‘String’ can also be used, rarely, to mean a lure. T. Carlyle warned in 1837 that “we walk in a world of Plots; strings, universally spread, of deadly gins and falltraps”. (2) String is such an easy metaphor to grasp that it is indeed luring. It tempts us with its versatility.

The word ‘string’ has been appropriated for all kinds of new theories and inventions, including, string theory, cosmic string, brock strings, string galvanometers and G-strings. This list is by no means exhausitive.

String is demonstrably all around us. It's in our products, our theories and our language. Imagine a world without string and it is a lesser world at that. Without string we'd all be strung out to dry.

1 "string, n.". OED Online. November 2010. Oxford University Press. 9 March 2011
2 Ibid

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