What next?

Worldcon has been over for more than a month now. I’ve had time to reflect on the things that we did in the run-up to Dublin 2019, and am still marveling at everything that happened at the convention itself. The Raksura Colony Tree turned out to be much better than I had imagined, and brought together a community of crafters. As the convention neared its end, I talked with a lot of people inside that community as well as others who enjoyed what we did. We discussed what it is that makes craft opportunities so important at a huge event like a Worldcon. There’s many good reasons I’ll discuss in a future post, but one thing we were all agreeing on is that we want projects like this to be part of future Worldcons as well. And since just wishing something into reality only works in fairytales, I want to provide us with a place to discuss ideas, document things that have been done and provide a bit of continuity in this area, which in particular for Worldcons isn’t easy to create, with a new team taking care of things every year.

For the moment, here’s how I see the scope for this blog: community art projects that encourage creating things together, as well as other self-directed craft activities that can be offered, such as colouring pages or origami. Those have some of the same benefits for people at a convention as the community projects while often being easier to organize, which is why I’d like to include them.

In the next weeks, I’ll slowly reorganize this page to reflect its new, extended mission. I will keep the name, since it is kind of fitting: In the Books of the Raksura, the Arbora are described in loving detail as craftspeople, and I’m sure they’d approve of the kind of work we’re trying to do here. I hope that in a few years our Dublin 2019 community project will have been only the start of something that’s become a permanent fixture at Worldcons and maybe beyond them.

~ Constanze


The Dublin 2019 Drawing Wall – another Community Art Project

While we were all busy putting together our tree, another community project was quietly taking shape on the other side of Warehouse 1. The ingredients: roughly 15 metres of free wallspace, a couple of rolls of paper, and a variety of drawing implements – markers, felt-tip pens, crayons, colour pencil, and pastels. With the help of the Art Show team, I also made sure some of the artists exhibiting in the Art Show would make a start filling all this white space up, to encourage others to follow suit.

As should be expected by now, I totally failed to take any pictures. The end result had loads of interesting things on it. Here’s a few in-progress pics provided by Mair Abram:

I’ve received another lovely set of pictures from Shana Worthen. She took quite a few pictures on Saturday as well as on Monday. Here’s some of Saturday’s crop:

And here’s more from Monday:



As promised, I’ve been collecting some of the pictures that have been taken by people not me. First of all, Cora Buhlert posted her haul over at File770. There’s some lovely details to see. Thanks a lot, Cora, and I love that you’re sharing this with the much wider audience of File770!

The next set was taken on Friday by Anna Stefankova, one of the convention photographers:

Simon Bubb, another of the convention photographers, came by on Monday to take pictures of the finished project. All images below are copyright Simon L. Bubb:

Here’s another set of lovely pictures taken on Monday by Shana Worthen:


I love all the detail shots, and seeing all the ways my original vision for this got extended in unexpected directions. There was a paper tree! A chenille stick Raksura! Lots and lots of random little things that brought the model to life. I’m very happy that I’ve been able to inspire the kind of community we ended up having around this project.

~ Constanze

And it’s all over already…

Worldcon is over for this year. I’ve had an excellent time. I’d like to thank the Dublin 2019 crafting community that sprang up around this project. Couldn’t have done this without you! Here’s everybody who could make it to the celebration:

I definitely owe you all good pictures of the final result, but I was way too busy yesterday to take any. I know who did, though, and will do another post once I have them.

I’ve had loads of fun, and I hope everyone who was part of this did as well. Hope to see you all at another Worldcon (Glasgow in 2024, anyone?)

A very generous donation from This is Knits

I’ll be blogging from my phone for the next week, so please excuse any shortage of words.

Lisa from wonderful Dublin yarn shop This is Knit has kindly offered to donate some yarn and tools to our project. When I went to pick things up today at their lovely downtown shop, I was blown away by their generosity.

Here’s the yarn:

The colours are even more lovely in reality. I then spent some quality time with a swift and ball winder to prepare the skeins in the lot for use.

Oh, and when unpacking the bags Lisa had prepared for me I discovered that we’ll have giveaways! So, if you come to one of our workshops and make something for the tree, you’ll have a chance to win something.

Thank you This is Knit for helping this project along!

The Box

… or why it’ll feel a bit like Christmas when we’ll do move-in on Wednesday next week.

So, you make something awesome and big, and then you need to get it somewhere else on the planet so others can enjoy it as well. In this case, this:

Model, covered, with platforms

I knew I was going to have to ship it eventually, so I choose a cardboard construction that can be flat-packed like IKEA furniture. Still, the big vertical sheets are the full size, which is 50x70cm. So I needed a box with at least that base area. Which is honestly huge in comparison to most of the shipping boxes everyone stores in their basement. A friend pointed me at a shop that specializes in packaging, and I got the smallest box that fitted the requirement for base area:

Shipping Box

It may not look that big in the picture, but it was always standing in the way in my kitchen for a while there. You can just see the cardboard pieces inside already. Here’s a better look:

Box with cardboard pieces

Doesn’t look like much, lots of box space left, but the box couldn’t be any smaller because of the large size of some of the individual pieces. Time to fill up the box! Who needs packing peanuts when you have wool?

Box beginning to fill with wool

You can see the big bag of leftovers on the right, and the little box on the left holds the children’s loom. The rest of the supplies went on top, and I ended up with a pretty full box. It’s not particularly heavy (somewhere around 15kg, which is way below the weight limit for shipping), but it’s unwieldy and its dimensions are just within the size limits for a normal parcel. Here it is, all taped shut, in front of my apartment door:

box4.JPGThe text on the sides is for the lovely people doing logistics for Dublin 2019, so they know where to deliver it for move-in. After successfully dropping it off at the post office and anxiously following the tracking number, the box is now safely in the convention’s off-site storage waiting for the day it’ll be unpacked and assembled.

I’m looking forward to showing you what’s inside real soon now!

Meeting up in Dublin

With just 19 days to go, I can finally share what we’ve planned for the project in Dublin! We’ll be located in Point Square, in the same area as the Art Show. It is part of the “Warehouse Art Demo Area” – that’s how it’s called on the programme. There will be tables and chairs, and loads of materials. You’re welcome to come by during the opening times, drop off your contributions, help putting things together and making the things that are still missing.

There will be three formal workshops, one each on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, to introduce people to the project. Coming to one of those is a sure way to meet me!

The Raksura Colony Tree – A Community Art Project

  • 15 Aug 2019, Thursday 10:30 – 11:20
  • 16 Aug 2019, Friday 14:30 – 15:20
  • 17 Aug 2019, Saturday 12:30 – 13:20

On Monday, there will be two additional sessions:

The Raksura Colony Tree – putting it all together

  • 19 Aug 2019, Monday 10:30 – 11:20

For anybody wanting to drop things off, this is the last possible time. We’ll spend that time bringing the model into its final form.

And then it’s time to celebrate this project:

The Raksura Colony Tree – Celebration!

  • 19 Aug 2019, Monday 12:30 – 13:20

See the final result and celebrate with us what we’ve created in the run-up and during Worldcon!

I will also be involved in some more programme items, that at least on the surface don’t have anything to do with this project. Since I suspect that they’re of interest to some of you nevertheless, I’ll post them here as well.

Speed crafting – session 2

16 Aug 2019, Friday 10:30 – 12:20, Warehouse Art Demo Area (Point Square Dublin)

It’s like speed dating for handicrafts. Have you ever wanted to try your hand at something new, but haven’t managed to take the ‘plunge’? We will provide the materials and instructors. Each session will have different handicrafts, and you will try each one. You won’t end up with something you can take away, but maybe you’ll be inspired. Sign-ups in advance will be required for this workshop (limited to 15 people).

Session 2: tatting, cross stitch, tablet weaving.

Anne Coleman, Rebecca Hewett (M), Constanze Hofmann

I’ll be doing the cross stitch section for this one.

Hyperbolic crochet

17 Aug 2019, Saturday 10:30 – 11:20, Alhambra (Point Square Dublin)

This panel/workshop is for those who would like to learn a little about hyperbolic geometry, using great visual aids, or those interested in learning a new crochet technique that can produce some spectacular effects. Based on the 2007 book Crocheting Adventures with Hyperbolic Planes: Tactile Mathematics, Art and Craft for All to Explore by Daina Taimina of Cornell University.

Dr Nicholas Jackson (University of Warwick) (M), Michelle Coleman (University of Nottingham), Constanze Hofmann

This is a presentation that will include a hands-on portion, which I will be responsible for.

Introduction to Irish crochet lace

18 Aug 2019, Sunday 12:30 – 14:20, Warehouse Art Demo Area (Point Square Dublin)

Irish crochet lace was created as a faster way to make lace items that looked similar to expensive Italian/French needle laces. Using ordinary crochet stitches, we’ll create an Irish crochet motif that can be used as a brooch or to decorate a piece of clothing.

Knowledge of basic crochet stitches is required to successfully participate in this workshop. Sign-ups in advance will be required (limited to 10 people) with a small fee for supplies.

Constanze Hofmann (M)

I was hoping they’d find someone actually from Ireland to do this, but of course, having made the suggestion, I got the job. There’s class samples already in existence, but please don’t ask about the state of the handout, which will probably get done at the last minute.

Putting things together

The covering has now aquired a few strategically placed holes, time to give everything one last test drive before taking it apart, putting it in a box and sending it off to Dublin.

So, here we are. First view is of the covered model without the platforms, so you can see the backdrop:

Model, covered, without platforms

Now, let’s add the platforms:

Model, covered, with platforms

And here’s a few close-ups – the entrance hole:

Model, covered, detail with entrance hole

… and the hole where the waterfall is going to come out:

Model, covered, detail with hole for waterfall

The fabric covering still needs a bit of sewing at the top edge to have something sensible to adjust the width and to hang it from, but that needs a tiny bit of shopping beforehand. And then it’s off into the mail! The next time you’ll see it in its full glory is when we meet in Dublin five weeks from now. I’m getting excited! (and nervous …)