Thursday, September 17, 2009

zinesters do it for love! - opinion based cross stitch/embroidery

more of my political/opinionated needlework pieces!

purple frame

this piece was inspired by a few things.

the first, and the main, inspiration for this is something that i've been seeing for quite a while, and something that's been bugging me for quite a while. i've been in love with zines since i first discovered them in the early 90s, and the advent of internet shops seems to have changed what people think they're about.


i'm sorry, but no. that is not the freaking purpose of making a zine. zines are made for the love of it, to get your words out there, to create communities, to share experiences and knowledge.

it's generally agreed that zines originated in the 1930s, started by science fiction fans. (think depression era fanfic!) wikipedia explains current day zines nicely -
A zine (an abbreviation of the word fanzine, or magazine; pronounced /ˈziːn/ "zeen") is most commonly a small circulation publication of original or appropriated texts and images. More broadly, the term encompasses any self-published work of minority interest usually reproduced via photocopier on a variety of colored paper stock.

A popular definition includes that circulation must be 5,000 or less, although in practice the significant majority are produced in editions of less than 100, and profit is not the primary intent of publication.

Zines are written in a variety of formats, from computer-printed text to comics to handwritten text (an example being Cometbus). Print remains the most popular zine format, usually photo-copied with a small circulation. Topics covered are broad, including fanfiction, politics, art and design, ephemera, personal journals, social theory, single topic obsession, or sexual content far enough outside of the mainstream to be prohibitive of inclusion in more traditional media. The time and materials necessary to create a zine are seldom matched by revenue from sale of zines. Small circulation zines are often not explicitly copyrighted and there is a strong belief among many zine creators that the material within should be freely distributed.

this one is even better, borrowed from the microcosm website, who borrowed it from Chris Landry - "Zines are the best expression of the d.i.y. ethics of the punk rock subculture. While bands can be co-opted into the mainstream and the music scene continues to be male-dominated and increasingly a-political, zines have been keeping it true. Zines take the profit and fame motive out of artistic expression and focus on communication, expression and community for their own sake. Zines are the one truly democratic art form. Zine writers are the most important writers in the world."

(emphasis mine in both quotes)

and now you're wondering, but amy, i thought you were the one who was all gung ho about valuing the work of crafters and artisans and writers and stuff by paying living wages for the goods they produce? i totally am! BUT NOT with zines. if folks want to put out a self published book of some sort with a profit-based price tag, that is AWESOME, good for them. just don't call it a freaking zine! in addition to not devaluing the work of people, we ALSO need to be careful not to devalue important and neccessary opportunities for people's voices to be heard and the cultural significance of zine making and true DIY culture.

this is partly due to people not doing their research, and making themselves a chapbook and then saying "hey, i think i've heard the word zine before, i'll call it that!" without having any clue about the history of zines. and it's partly due to things like the super annoying fact that etsy uses the term incorrectly all the freaking time (i have a pet peeve about etsy's search engine, can you tell?). there ARE some amazing zinesters selling on etsy, but it's bloody hard to find them mixed in with all the not-real-zines!

so yeah. zines are made for the love of it, NOT for profit. (i do believe that art zines can be a little bit more expensive, cause hey, they're way pricier to print with colour, etc. but still, NOT FOR PROFIT folks!)

(and on the same kinda note - overcharging on shipping zines totally sucks too. when mailing internationally, you DO NOT need to take the damn thing to the post office, it's PAPER. stick a stamp on it and drop it into the mail box. if you're worried, write "pamphlet" on the envelope, like people have been doing for 20 years. it's not hard.)

and the second inspiration, which is much more mellow, was those awesome 70s ringer tees with the glittery slick iron ons with phrases like "teachers do it with class", "football players do it in the end zone", "seniors do it better", etc. i found one for a friends years ago that said "musicians do it with rhythm", and i've loved them ever since. (there seem to be a lot of remakes of these, judging by google image search, but unless they're glittery, they don't count!)


i tried something a little different for this - i wanted to cross stitch the words, but i didn't have waste canvas small enough. i also wanted it to be a little less perfect than cross stitch usually is. so i used a cross stitch font! the font is called Home Sweet Home, and it's from i typed it out in a word document, 42 point size, and then trimmed a piece of tear away stabilizer to 8.5"x11" and printed it right onto the stabilizer.

it was so freaking easy, i don't know why this never occurred to me before! i use tear away stabilizer for a lot of my stitching, because my stitches are so freaking tight that they tend to pull on the fabric if i'm not careful. the stabilizer helps with that,plus, it's way easier to transfer patterns onto than dark fabrics!

after i'd printed the words out, i used a pencil and traced an image of a typewriter on the stabilizer.

zinesters pattern


that's actually one of my typewriters, i blogged about it when i first got it, ages ago, and i had fooled around with the photo in photoshop awhile ago, making it outlines only, so it was easy to trace. it's mostly all backstitch with 2 strands, except for the keys, which are single strand, and the typebars, which are chain stitch with 2 strands.


i'm pretty happy with it! i LOVE how the purple frame looks with the piece in it!


Jennie said...

Thanks for the stabiliser tip. I'm newish to embroidery and am always trying to find ways of getting my design onto fabric, or onto something on top of the fabric!

amy dame said...

i find it quite handy, i hope it helps you too! i started out just using it for embroidering on knits, but now i use it for almost everything.

you do need to stitch fairly close together for the stabilizer to tear smoothly, but if you're using larger stitches, just go along with an empty needle and poke more holes along your stitching line. and DEFINITELY remove the stabilizer before using "fill" stitches! i learned that the hard way!

in this case, i did the two outer rows of chain stitch for the typebars, then removed the stabilizer and did the rest. i probably should have just done half the cross stitches,removed it, and then gone back to do the 2nd stitch, but i didn't think of it at the time. the stabilizer was a little tricky to remove around the words.

it's super easy to trace designs onto, because it's kind of sheer.

you can buy the stabilizer at fabric stores, it's usually in with the interfacing bolts. i've seen it for about $5/metre, but i found it at an outlet type store for $2/yard, and i bought an entire bolt the last time it was half price!

Unknown said...

I loooove this piece. The typewriter is excuisite, the frame is fun and the lettering sweet. And I'm totally diggin' the educational moment about zines.

amy dame said...

thanks virg!

i have a larger piece planned of the typewriter as well, though of course i haven't gotten around to it yet!

bronwen said...

Amy, where did you find this delicious frame??

Love the blog, keep it up!

amy dame said...

thanks bronwen!

the frame's from a thrift store, actually value village, i think. i don't usually buy frames there cause they're too expensive, but i picked it up when they had a 50% off sale at the beginning of the summer. i painted it purple using spray paint from cdn tire (if you'd like, i can check the brand!).

MafiosaGrrl said...

This is lovely, your color choices are gorgeous!

amy dame said...


the colours were chosen to go with the frame, but also because i love blue typewriters!

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