Every month the OTW hosts guest posts on our OTW News accounts to provide an outside perspective on the OTW or aspects of fandom. These posts express each individual’s personal views and do not necessarily reflect the views of the OTW or constitute OTW policy.
Cynthia Mendenhall is an avid crafter, especially interested in cross stitch. She started Taylor and Cromwell a few years ago and loves creating work that people can relate to and be engaged with. In her free time she helps run a cat and small animal rescue. Tina Mendenhall joined Taylor and Cromwell after its creation and does mostly quotes and graphic work. Outside of that she helps run an animal rescue, writes, and is working on becoming a cryptoid. Today, Tina and Cynthia talk about fannish crafting.
How did you first find out about fandom and fanworks?
Tina: I was always really into things like Star Wars and Batman when I was growing up, but for the most part I didn’t really know about fandoms until high school. The things I was into either my friends also liked or I was alone in them. In middle school a friend started getting into the Star Wars fandom, but I was mostly only connected to it through her. In high school a different friend introduced me to Fanfiction.net to show me Full Metal Alchemist fanfiction and a lot of my friends started drawing fan art. I hung out on LiveJournal a lot in different fandoms, but never really said or did anything besides some super poorly drawn fan art. I didn’t get really into creating my own fan art until I was in college and learned to knit to make a Doctor Who scarf.
Cynthia: I never really thought about fandom and fanworks before a couple of years ago, even when I first started making patterns (starting with one of the Hamilton ones). I never really considered it a fandom thing, just a thing I liked and wanted to stitch for Tina. We have a roommate that is in a lot of fandoms and talks about hers pretty often, so I knew the concept I guess at that point, but didn’t consider myself part of any (it seemed like it was something that younger people considered more than people my age).
A couple of years ago it started to click to me that technically I was in the fandoms for things that I really enjoyed. Fanworks were never something I actively thought about — when you enjoy something you like seeing items that remind you of it, and you work it into what you’re doing. You see this come out in all sorts of places, but the first thing that pops to mind is that often writers will write into their characters things that they enjoy (whether it be fandoms/hobbies or just everyday preferences). So if you’re really into something like musicals (or anything else) you’re going to want to collect musical items, or in crafters/artists/fanfic writers’ cases, you’ll want to create musical things. That just has always made sense to me.