Help! What Do I Say??? (3 Podcast Tips for the Nervous Author)

So, you’ve landed that big podcast interview you’ve always wanted. Hundreds (maybe thousands?) of people are going to hear your voice on that show. They’re going to listen to what you have to say. Maybe, they’re going to go and buy your book(s) afterwards.

And now you’re nervous, and stressed out, and you have no idea what you are going to do.

Maybe you’re a natural introvert. Maybe you’re shy, or you don’t like talking in front of people. You’re nervous that all your words are going to be recorded. Perhaps you have that little bit of knowledge in the back of your mind that other people are going to be listening to your conversation later on, so you’d better say all the right things now and not make a fool of yourself.

I’ve been there. And I’ve come out the other side. So today I thought I’d give you a couple of helpful tips that I’ve learned along the way. Not all of these tips will work for everyone, but hopefully some of them will be useful to you.

Here we go:


1. Don’t try to wing it.

I honestly don’t remember who told me, but one of the first pieces of advice I received when I told people I was going to be on a podcast was, “You’d better not write anything down. Just wing it. It has to sound natural.”

No disrespect to whoever gave me that advice (seriously, I do not remember at all), but it really messed me up. It sounds really smart, right? You certainly don’t want to sound like you’re reading from prompt cards. But by not writing anything down at all, and trying to just wing it, I ended up in a complete emotional breakdown while I was in the recording session with the interviewer. I felt physically incapable of responding to the questions at all. I couldn’t think of a single thing to say. Not pleasant. Not at all. Thankfully, she was gracious enough to let me try again at a later date, but I still felt like a fool.

Now, don’t get me wrong. There are certainly people out there who can wing just about anything and come away with a brilliant interview. There are people who are stifled or hampered by outlines or written out answers. This is definitely not a hard-and-fast rule of any kind. If you are comfortable with winging your interview, go ahead. But at least study the questions ahead of time, and maybe mentally work out the basics of what you are going to say. My interviewer, Pam Barnhill, sent me a list of questions way before the recording date so that I could study them and figure out just what I was going to say. As I said, the first time around I forgot everything I had so carefully worked out in my head and was unable to do the interview at all. So I went back and took my time and wrote down an answer to every question, even if it was just a few lines. We didn’t end up using all of the questions in the podcast, but at least I felt secure knowing that I had a response if one was needed. I even went ‘off script’ a couple of times.

Even if you don’t write out your full answer to every question, it’s probably best to jot down a couple of bullet points of what you’d like to touch on. A sparse outline is better than no outline at all. A quick glance at your notes should remind you of what you wanted to say if you forget in the middle of the interview.

2. Do ask for do-overs.

The nice thing about podcasts is that they are recorded and edited before anyone else gets to hear them. It isn’t like being on live radio or TV, where if you mess up you don’t get a second chance. If you get off track or flub your words, you have every right to ask the interviewer for a do-over. You can say the line again (hopefully correctly this time) and the interviewer or whoever does their editing can easily go back and edit out the mistake. You aren’t live. Everybody messes up sometimes. Even the interviewer may have to do over their lines at some point. Don’t hesitate to ask for a quick second try if you need one.

3. Do stay on topic.

Podcasts are great for getting your name and maybe your work in front of others, but they shouldn’t act as a platform for you to talk endlessly about your book or make some kind of big sales pitch. If the interviewer wants to talk about your book(s), go ahead and talk about them. But if the topic of the podcast is, I don’t know… dogs or something (stupid example, but bear with me), then trying to make a big sales pitch in the middle of your interview isn’t really going to work. If people listen to this hypothetical podcast to hear about other people’s opinions on dogs, then they aren’t going to want to hear your big speech about how amazing your book is instead.

Now, hopefully the topic of your podcast relates a bit more to your writing or your area of expertise than dogs probably does (unless you do happen to write about/be an expert on dogs), but that doesn’t mean that you can still go ahead and make a big sales pitch the focus of your interview. As I said a few minutes ago, people don’t listen to podcasts to hear authors brag about/try to sell their books. You are a guest chosen to speak about topic X, so you’d better talk about topic X, and if the interviewer also wants to talk about your book(s), that’s great. But selling something should not be your main focus. Your main focus should be to say something interesting about the topic, and to entertain people.


I hope you enjoyed this little article! I’m glad I have some advice to share in this area, and I hope you find them helpful. SHAMELESS ADVERTISEMENT: If you’re interested in my podcast interview with Pam Barnhill, you can find that right here.

Thank you so much for reading. I’ll see you again soon!


Podcast Tips

Chapter 6 of The Tangle is Live!

the-tangleHey, everyone! Just a super quick update to let you know that ‘Fugitive’, Chapter 6 of The Tangle, is now live on Channillo! Click here to check it out.


Sorry I haven’t been posting in a while… Last week was my break week from school, and I may have been a bit lazy and watched a lot of Sherlock instead of actually doing anything, so… And this past week I had been trying to cram about a week’s worth of school into three days so that I could go to the Great Homeschool Convention on Thursday, so there’s another excuse… 😛 I’ll try to get back on track next week!

That’s all for now. See you soon. 🙂

Chapter 5 of The Tangle is Live!

the-tangleNo, your calender’s not wrong. Yes, this post is late. I have only myself (and my work schedule) to blame. I ended up working two hours extra yesterday, and completely forgot that “Tiles”, Chapter 5 of The Tangle, was supposed to be coming out that very day! But, anyway, Chapter 5 is live on Channillo.com, so, if you like, you can check it out here.

Sorry for any inconvenience!

That’s all for now. Hopefully, I’ll see you on Wednesday for another Wednesdays with words. If I remember. 😛

Wednesday with Words: Rejoice Ever More

Hey, everyone! I know I didn’t post a Wednesday with Words last week (I had a really, really bad flu with a high fever, and was feeling way too loopy to try to write anything at all coherent), but I’m back this week, so… yay? (I was able to post the tutorial last week, as it was pre-written. I’m not a Wednesday with Words slacker, I promise!) 😛 Anyway, once again, I have another John Adams quote. I’m nearly done this term of school, and consequently I’m finishing up a bunch of books, including John Adams by David McCullough, this week. John Adams is such an amazing writer, and he has so many good quotes, so I thought I should share one more with you before I finish the book.

John Adams 2

On a more author-ish note, I’m doing my best to get back to work! I’ve had a huge writing slump over the past couple of weeks, but I have so many projects I need to work on, so, get back to work, Aria! 🙂 ‘Tiles’, Chapter 5 of The Tangle, will be up on Saturday, so I’ll see you then! Bye for now.


Wednesday with Words is hosted by ladydusk.

14528-www2bladydusk

How to Make an Aperture Laboratories Personality Core Plush (Part 3)

Introduction:

We’re almost there! Today, we’ll be finishing up our personality core: attaching the handles, finishing and stuffing the sphere, and stitching on the final decorations. If you missed part two, you can find it here.

Let’s begin:

Grab the handles you sewed and stuffed earlier, the part of the sphere we created last time, and a length of black thread. We’re going to attach the black cylinder to the edge of the side sphere panel, as shown below.

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But first, we’re going to need to cut out a hole where you want to attach the handle. The circle should be no wider than about 3/4s of an inch across. It’s fairly hard to predict just how big our circle will be when using the method laid out below, so cut it small at first and only make it bigger if you need to.

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Find the place which will be the center of your circle, and fold the material over so that your center point is at the corner of the folded felt, as shown above.

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Cut the corner in a curve. The result will be something like this:

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By folding the sphere in half, we can find the exact place where we need to cut out a symmetrical circle on the other side of the optic. We’ll also need to cut two of these circles below the optic for the lower handle.

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Remember, the holes need to be on the same level so that the handle won’t be crooked.

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I cut the holes a little too big. Learn from my mistakes, and cut your holes small at first. Only make them bigger if you really need to! You can stitch the black cylinders into holes that are a bit too big, but it will stretch and pucker the fabric around them, resulting in an ugly finish.

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Sew in the black cylinders, using a length of black thread and a blanket stitch. At the end, when you’ve stitch both, you should have something like this:

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Now, stitch in the lower handle in the same way.

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Here’s how it looks inside:

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You can see some of the puckering around the black cylinders. Oops…

Now, it’s time to finish the sphere itself, and stuff it. Grab the last two sphere panels and a length of white thread.

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You know how to do this by now. Starting at the top, blanket stitch the panels together down the curved side, until you get to the bottom.

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Grab the other panel and stitch it to the raw edge of the other side of the sphere. And… you’re finished with the basic sphere! (Finally, after like three posts worth of this…) It should look something like this:

Sphere Finished

Now, it’s time to turn the sphere inside out and stitch up the back.

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Starting at the bottom, grab another length of white thread and, once more using a blanket stitch, sew up the seam about a fourth of the way. Then, tie off the thread. We need to leave a gap of several inches so that we can pull the handles through and turn the core right side out.

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Snip the thread and tie another knot at the end. Starting at the top, stitch up the seam, leaving about a three inch gap un-sewed.

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Reach through the gap, grab one of the handles, and pull it through. You’ll have to bend it, but that’s fine. If it’s stuffed firmly, as it should be, you’ll be able to just press it back into shape later on. Anyway, pull one handle through, then the other, and turn the whole thing right side out. Now, it’s time to stuff your core!

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Don’t skimp on this step. You want your core to be fairly firm, so he holds his shape when you give him a great big hug! (And he is supposed to be a robot made of metal, after all…) Also, make sure you stuff the black cylinders so that the handles aren’t floppy.

Stuffed Core

Alright! Now it’s time to stitch up that gaping hole at the back. Get a length of white thread, knot the end, and get ready to make a hidden stitch. This special stitch of my own devising is designed to mimic the back-and-forth loops of a right-side-out blanket stitch, but sewed from the outside.

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Pass the needle through one of the raw edges of the felt. Pull it through, and loop back over, making another stitch through the edge of the other panel. You want to fold the raw edge over slightly. Below, I’ve illustrated the steps of this stitch with a few photos.

Hidden Stitch

This stitch fairly difficult to master, and even more difficult to explain properly. The end result should be that the raw edges of the panels are tucked underneath the seam, invisible to any prying eyes. 😛 If you can’t get the hang of this stitch, that’s fine. Just use a simple whip stitch. Even if the result is a bit ugly, it’s fine. We’ll be covering it up with the core’s back port in just a few minutes. When you reach the end of the gap, tie off the thread.

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We are almost done, and we’re completely through with any stuffing or blanket stitching. Now, it’s time to stitch together the back port, and attach it to the sphere.

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Grab the other 4 inch black circle, the gray circle with a cross cut out, and the 1 inch gray circle. Stitch them together as shown below:

Back Port

We’re going to attach this port to the back of the sphere, right over the seam we just stitched up.

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Place the port in the center of the back of the sphere. Grab a needle and a length of black thread, and, beginning at the bottom of the circle, on the seam line, make a stitch. Sew it on  all the way around, as shown below:

Back Stitch

Here’s what it should look like when it’s stitched on:

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The top and bottom of our core are looking a bit empty… Grab the two 4 inch gray rectangles, and the 2 ½ inch black rectangles. Stitch them together as shown below:

Top and Bottom peices

These will be stitched onto the top and bottom of the sphere. Use the same method we used earlier for the back port to attach them, this time with a length of gray thread.

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Stitch one on top and one on bottom.

Now, grab some black thread and the four long black accent strips and get ready to attach them. When sewn on, they will look like this:

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You’ll need two for the top and two for the bottom of the sphere. They pass above the black handle pieces, and are stitched to the edges of the 4 inch black circles at the front and back of the core. Attach them to the black circles as shown below.

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We’ll just be using a simple whip stitch. One stitch through, then back over and through again, till you get to the end of the short edge of the strip.

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Attach the other end of the strip to the black circle at the back of the sphere. It should be flush with the sphere, and look like this:

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Stitch another strip in the same way on the other side of the optic, then turn the core over and do the same at the bottom with the other two strips. Depending on how spherical your core turned out, you may have to trim the strips so that they fit.

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There you go! We’re almost done. Just one more little thing to finish off…

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Grab the last two pieces, the 3 inch by 2 inch black rectangles, and a length of black thread. We’ll stitch these over the center of the white handle bars, to add some definition.

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Wrap one of the rectangles around the white tube, right at the center. The 3 inch sides should be the ones that you’re stitching together. Make sure that the rectangle is centered before you begin. Stitch up the side with a whip stitch, as shown below:

Handle Accent

You should pass the needle through the white fabric of the handle bar for a couple of stitches, so that you fix the black accent in place.

In the end, it should look like this:

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And… there you have it! You’ve completed your very own Aperture Laboratories Personality Core plush! Give him a big hug, just to let him know that you love him to bits, and go show him off to all your geeky friends. 😛

Here are a few more pictures of my Space Core:

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Look how happy he is! Don’t you just wanna give him a great big hug??? ❤

How to properly care for your Personality Core:

The stuffing I use is supposedly machine washable, and, if you double thread all your needles, the plush *should* be strong enough to withstand a gentle machine washing. However, felt does get annoying little pills of fiber on its surface when machine washed, so I usually don’t wash any of my felt creations this way. If you really need to clean a spot or two off your personality core, use a damp washcloth to scrub it away.

(Note: The Enrichment Center makes no guarantees regarding the ability of an Aperture Laboratories Personality Core to survive machine washing, floods, lightning strikes, incineration, the Apocalypse, or any other unspecified catastrophic events. In the event that any of the above happen, you are on your own. However, we are pleased to let you know that all Aperture Science Personality Constructs will remain completely functional in low power, apocalyptic situations of as little as 1.1 volts. Good luck, test subject!)

Always show your personality core how much you care about him! A few hugs, cuddles, or words of endearment to this little robotic companion of yours will go a long way to keeping him happy, and stable. Do not, under any circumstances, attach your core to the Aperture mainframe or use him to replace a damaged central system core, as this will probably cause him to go completely power mad and try to kill you and/or throw you into dangerous testing situations once he assumes complete control of the facility. This has happened before. Once. Don’t do it. You will die.

Anyway, yay! We made it! Here is celebratory digital cake: 🎂🎂🎂


Thanks so much for bearing with me for this long haul. I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. If you make a personality core using this tutorial, please take a picture and tag me on Instagram (or Twitter). I’d love to see what you make! You can find me @ariaemaher on both platforms.

On the other hand, if you’re not a huge fan of Portal, and would like to see me make something from another game or fandom, please let me know! Send me your plush ideas, and I’ll definitely see what I can do… Also, let me know if there are any improvements I could make on this tutorial, or anything which could be better explained. I know explaining how to sew something is hard, so hopefully all the pictures will help you.

Anyway, bye for now!

🙂


Personality Cores

How to Make an Aperture Laboratories Personality Core Plush (Part 2)

Introduction:

Hello, everyone! Welcome back (to the Enrichment Center). Today, I’ll be continuing my Aperture Laboratories Personality Core plush tutorial. If you missed Part 1, check it out here first.

Last time, we finished our personality core’s optic and attached it to the front panel of the sphere. Today, we’ll be focusing on completing our core’s handles and sides, and then next time we’ll attach the handles and finish up the outer decoration.

So, grab your scissors and thread and let’s get started!

                                                                                                                             

Let’s begin:

Personality cores have to ports on either side of their spherical bodies. For the plush, these consist of two pieces, which, like the optic from earlier, have to be stitched together first before attaching them to the sphere. Below, you’ll see the pieces laid out:

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You’ll need one of the 3 ½ inch gray circles, and one of the 2 inch black circles with a slot cut out of the middle. Stitch these together using the same method as we used for the optic: take a length of black thread, knotted at the end, and pass it up through the gray and out at the edge of the black circle. Then, pass it back through the gray felt to the WRONG side of the port. This is the first stitch. Make another one about an eighth of an inch away, and so on, all around the edge of the black circle. Don’t forget to also stitch around the inside slot!

Side Port Front and Back

 

Above, you can see what the finished port should look like. We’re going to need to make two of these, so grab the other gray and black circles and sew them together in the same way.

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Perfect! Set the two ports aside for now. We’ll come back to them in a minute. Right now, we want to focus on the actual sphere. Grab the front sphere panel we made last time (the one with the optic stitched on) and one of the four remaining white sphere panels. We’re going to attach these two together. Place them together as shown below. Make sure that the optic panel is placed WRONG side out, (i. e., the second panel should be covering the optic, and the side of the optic panel with visible stitching should be facing outwards).

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Pick a side, any side! (We’re going to use a blanket stitch to attach the panels on one of the curved sides.)

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Grab a length of white thread, knotted at the end, and, starting at the top corner of the panel, make the first stitch. We’ll be using what is called a blanket stitch to attach the sphere panels together. Below, you can see how to make one of these strong, simple stitches. Remember: the smaller and closer together you stitch, the stronger, and less noticeable, the seam will be!

Blanket Stitch

 

There you have it! The blanket stitch is indispensable for sewing plushies, and you just mastered it. This is what a several blanket stitches look like, one after another. They look ugly now, but don’t worry! We’re going to turn the sphere right side out once we’ve finished it.

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REMEMBER: Don’t sew through the edge of the black circle when you get to the middle of the panel!

When you reach the bottom corner, tie off the thread a shown below:

Tying Off

Awesome! The sphere part of our personality core is now about 2/5ths completed! Look how adorable he already is…

Cute Space Core

Now, attach another sphere panel to the other side of the optic panel, just as you did a minute ago. Remember to sew on the wrong side of the fabric!

When you’ve finished with that, and you have three panels sewn all together, it’s time to grab those side ports we made earlier and stitch them onto the sides of our personality core. You’ll want to put these in the center of the panel, like you did with the optic, but set them back towards the raw edge of the felt, as shown below, so that they will be more centered on the side of the sphere.

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Stitch these on exactly the way you did with the optic in the first part of this tutorial, using a length of gray thread. When you’re done, it will look like this:

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Here’s a couple more photos:

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And the inside…

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Now, it’s time to make the handles that sit above and below the core’s optic, which can be used to carry him around. Set aside the sphere for now, and grab the four handle side pieces (the solid ones, not the similar ones with holes cut out) and the eight small white circles, as shown below:

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Stitch them on as shown. When that’s done, grab the two long white rectangular handle pieces. These will become the actual handles of the core, the part you hold with your hands. Fold the pieces in half and sew each of them down the long edge, using a blanket stitch, to make two white tubes:

Handles

Turn both of the tubes right side out. I use a ‘special’ stuffing skewer to help with this. They’re really just little wood sticks, which often come packaged inside bags of stuffing. They really come in handy when trying to turn narrow or small pieces right side out, or when stuffing small corners. You can use the eraser end of a pencil as well, which I have often done.

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Now that the handles are right side out, you can attach them to the interior handle sides. These are those gray pieces which look just like the four side pieces we saw earlier, but with two circles cut out. There are four of these pieces, two for each handle. Attach the white handle piece at the smaller end of the interior side piece with a blanket stitch, as shown below.

Handle Blanket Stitch

Sew all the way around, then tie off your thread. Do this for all four interior side pieces.

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Phew! Still a few steps to go, but don’t worry. We’re nearly done with the handles! Grab the four black rectangles (they’re 2 inches by 1 ½ inches), fold them in half, and blanket stitch them up the shorter side to make four small black cylinders, as shown below:

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Turn them right side out, like you did with the white handle pieces, and stitch them to the interior handle side; again, just as you did before:

Handle Blanket Stitch #2

Now, it’s time to finish off these finicky handles, once and for all! Now, bear with me here. Turn the handles inside out, as shown below:

Inside Out

Now, all the raw edges will be on the outside. It’s time to grab those exterior sides we made earlier and attach them to the interior sides with a blanket stitch, as shown below:

Handle Sides

Stitch all four handle sides together, all the way around, matching small ends to small ends and big ends to big ends. You should end up with something like this:

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Okay. We’re almost done. Now it’s finally time to turn these right side out, once and for all!Right Side Out

Finally, stuff the handles firmly. Don’t skimp on the stuffing! The handles need to hold their shape.

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And… here are the finished handles!

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Wow… We are about two thirds of the way through! Next time, we’ll attach the handles, finish up the sphere itself, and add the last few details. See you then! Bring celebratory digital cake… 🎂🎂🎂


Please let me know if you enjoyed (Part 2 of) this tutorial! I’ve been wanting to do sewing tutorials for a long time, but this is the first one I’ve ever made. I know there’s probably a lot I could do to improve, so… give me a chance to make another tutorial! If there’s something geeky that you’d like to be able to sew, please let me know. I’d love to hear you suggestions, and if there’s something you want me to make, I’ll definitely see what I can do!


Personality Cores

How to Make an Aperture Laboratories Personality Core Plush (Part 1)

Introduction:

Although I’m not a huge fan of Portal 2, I really do love Wheatley and the other personality cores. They’re cute, funny, quirky little characters, who provide a touch of lightness and humor to an otherwise dark game. I love sewing things out of felt, from video game and movie characters to original creations, so of course I had to make myself an adorable little Wheatley plush. Here he is!

Wheatley

Basically, he’s a white felt sphere with a bunch of decorations sewn on, plus the handles on the front. I used these photos as a reference. Lots of people make awesome plushies and other fandom goodies and post pictures online, but there’s hardly ever a tutorial. I’m okay at figuring out how to make things based off photos, but I know there are plenty of other geeks not blessed with this skill who would probably love to know just how to make something geeky and adorable from their favorite fandom. So, today, I present my first ever geeky DIY tutorial! I know that usually this blog is about writing and books (and movies) and author stuff, but I thought it would be fun to show another side of my personality, the geeky DIY side, and help you Portal fans out there to make yourselves an adorable plush! Posts like this will not be super regular, but if I make something crafty and geeky, I’ll be sure to tell you about it!

For this tutorial, I made Kevin the Space Core (Kevin is an unofficial name. It’s what he’s called in the Blue Sky fanfiction, so I’m going with it because Blue Sky is awesome), but you can make any core you want just by using different eye colors; green for the Adventure Core, purple for the Fact Core, blue for Wheatley, etc. I’ve taken tons of pictures and listed out all the steps and provided some printable PDF patterns. Usually, I cut everything freehand, but if I can get my hands on a pattern I’ll use it. It just makes everything so much easier, and hopefully it’ll make it easier for you too!

I make the majority of my plushies out of Rainbow Classic Craft Felt by Eco-Fi. It’s really good quality acrylic felt made from recycled plastic, comes in a variety of lovely colors, and, where I live, retails for about 23 cents a sheet, or four sheets for a dollar. Also, it doesn’t stretch unless you really pull on it, which is good when cutting out small or thin pieces that you don’t want to become misshapen. You can usually find this felt at Walmart, in the crafts section. They also used to have it at Meijer, but the one near me doesn’t carry it anymore, so I’m not sure if other Meijers still have it. However, you can use any kind of acrylic or wool felt you happen to have lying around. Just make sure the colors are consistent!

I sew all my plushies by hand. If you would like to use a sewing machine, you’ll have to cut out some of the pieces with an extra half-inch or so. Felt is very easy to sew by hand, and good for beginners and seasoned sewers alike. Usually I use a blanket stitch and turn it right side out so that the ugly edges are all on the inside. This results in a nice, smooth exterior. However, acrylic felt is a bit coarse, so you could try sewing your personality core out of soft fleece using a sewing machine so that he’s cuddly and fluffy. If you do that, please send me a picture!

Finally, this tutorial will be divided into several parts, as it is so long. This is part one, where we will deal with cutting out all the pieces, and sewing together the optic, or ‘eye’, of the core. Please read everything below carefully before you begin, so you have some idea of what you’re doing before you start.

Okay, enough talking. Let’s get started!

You will need:

At least four sheets of white felt, wool or acrylic (assuming the sheets are about 9’’ by 11 3/4’’)

About two sheets of black felt (or large scraps. I have tons of scraps lying around from other projects. Always hold onto your big scraps! They come in handy and you won’t waste felt)

About one sheet of dark gray felt

Two sheets/large scraps of eye-color felt, light and dark shades (i. e. one sheet of dark blue and one of light blue, for Wheatley, or dark yellow and light yellow for Kevin the Space Core, as shown below)

Needles

White thread

Black thread

Gray thread (Try to find some that matches your shade of gray felt)

Eye-color thread

Scissors

Felt sphere pattern (printable image link here. Right click to save it to your computer) This pattern originally from this website.

Core decorations pattern (printable PDF link here) I made these patterns myself, using Windows Paint (yes, I’m so professional). If you repost these somewhere else, please link back to my website. 🙂

Polyester Fiber-fill (stuffing). Amount will vary based on the size of your core, and whether you want it to be firm or squeezable. For Kevin, who is fairly firmly stuffed, I used most  of a 16 oz. bag. You’ll also need some stuffing for the handles above and below his eye.

Required Peices

Q: How much will this cost?

A: If you went out today to my local Walmart and bought all this stuff (minus the needles and scissors), it would be about sixteen dollars, assuming you bought a big bag of Fiber-Fill. Now if you like, you could go shell out about thirty bucks for a Wheatley plush online (Not kidding. I looked, and you can get one), oooor you could make your very own customizable personality core for about half that, and then go impress your friends when you tell them that you made it yourself… 😛

Q: How long does it take to make one of these?

A: I didn’t do a precise count, but I’d say that it took me somewhere around 5-7 hours start-to-finish to make the Space Core. So, it’s probably best to do this project over several days, or find an extra-long Saturday afternoon and an engrossing audiobook.

Let’s begin:

Start by cutting out all your pieces. Below, I have a photo of all the cut out shapes used for the Space Core. For Wheatley, the original plush I made, I used five of the sphere shapes, because I had cut them out bigger than the guidelines, as I was trying to make a larger plush. Unfortunately, this seems to have resulted in Wheatley being slightly lumpy at the back, and not entirely spherical. But I ended up using five panels for Kevin as well, and I’ve had to cut out the panels with an extra quarter inch on all sides to make the sphere big enough. No matter what the original website says, five panels is the way to go. It’s still not a perfect sphere, but Kevin did turn out a lot better than Wheatley, just in general.

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you print out the sphere panels to be about four inches across at the widest part, you’ll have to add an extra quarter inch to either side, if you’re hand sewing, and about half an inch if you’re machine stitching, to make sure that all the pieces fit on the surface of the sphere.

Pieces

Above, you can see all the pieces cut out.

Now, we’ll start by making the core’s optic (his eye aperture, no pun intended). We’ll sew all the pieces of the optic together before stitching it onto one of the white sphere panels.

Here are all the pieces you’ll need:

Optic Peices

One of the large (four inch) black circles, the dark eye-color circle, the light eye-color circle, and the two outer optic shells. Optionally, you can add an eyelid (or two) to give your personality core a bit of… personality. With the Space Core, I gave him a little lid on the bottom of his eye to give him a goofy, crazy, space-happy expression. If you’re making the Fact Core, for example, you might give him a drooping, disapproving lid on top of his eye, to emphasize his cynical nature.

Below, you’ll see the layers of the Space Core’s optic, the order in which we’ll attach the pieces:

Optic Layers

First, place the dark eye color circle in the center of the black circle. We’re going to stitch it on first.

Optic #1

Thread your needle with a length of eye-color thread, and tie a knot at the end. I always double-thread my needle. This is essential when sewing a plush, because it makes the thread twice as strong, and so keeps the seams from pulling apart. Take your needle, and , starting on the WRONG side of the fabric, pass it through the black and yellow felt, so that it comes out right at the edge of the yellow circle.

Optic #2

The needle will now be on the RIGHT side of the felt (the side which will face outwards). Pass it back through the black circle, just above the first stitch, as shown above, and pull the thread through.

Optic #3

The needle is now on the WRONG side of the felt (the back). Make another stitch, beside the first one and about an eighth of an inch away, passing the needle out through the black and yellow felt and onto the RIGHT side, as shown below:

Optic #4

Pass the needle back through the black circle, just above the second stitch, as you did before. On the back, it should look like this:

Optic #5

Continue to stitch like this all the way around the dark eye-color circle.

Optic #6

When you get back to the top of the circle, tie off the thread as shown below:

Thread Tie Off

This is what the back and the front of the optic will look like now:

Optic Front and Back

Next, stitch on the smaller, light eye-color circle, right in the center of the darker circle, once again using the yellow thread:

IMG_1264

This next step is optional. If you want to add eyelid(s), now is the time to do it. I stitched it on using the same method as above, but I didn’t stitch across the flat edge, as I think it leaves a crisper, more defined line between eye and lid.

Optic Lid Front and Back

Next, it’s time to stitch on the outer optic shell, which surrounds the eye itself. Grab another needle and a length of white thread for this step. Unlike with the Wheatley plush, I didn’t cut out a chunk of the optic shell from the upper right hand corner. If you want to do this, go ahead. I just found it simpler to leave the right shell all in one piece. Also, on Wheatley I did try to draw a little Aperture logo in the lower right corner of his optic shell with marker, for a game-accurate look. It didn’t come out very well. If you want to try this, or try to embroider it or something, go ahead. You probably know how to do it way better than me… 🙂

Again, I didn’t stitch these all the way around(I stopped at the top edge of the eyelid), so as to leave a crisp line between the shell and the eye:

Optic Front and Back #2

We’ve now finished the optic itself! It’s time to grab one of the white sphere panels and attach the optic to it.Place the optic onto the sphere panel as shown. It should be right in the middle of the panel, at the widest part. Make sure the piece is centered before you sew it on! We’ll use the same method as before: up from the back, through the white and black layers, then over and back through the white, all the way around. Use a length of black thread for this.

Optic (Attached) Front and Back

 

Here is the fully attached optic! If you’ve made it this far, awesome! You’re well on your way to creating your very own Aperture Laboratories Personality Core plush. Join me tomorrow for Part 2, where we’ll tackle the sides of the sphere and the handy handles for carrying him around. 🙂


Please let me know if you enjoyed (Part 1 of) this tutorial! I’ve been wanting to do sewing tutorials for a long time, but this is the first one I’ve ever made. I know there’s probably a lot I could do to improve, so… give me a chance to make another tutorial! If there’s something geeky that you’d like to be able to sew, please let me know. I’d love to hear you suggestions, and if there’s something you want me to make, I’ll definitely see what I can do!


Personality Cores

Chapter 4 of The Tangle is Live! (Plus Updates)

the-tangleHello, everyone! Just wanted to let you know that Disappearing Trick, chapter 4 of The Tangle, is live on Channillo.com. You can check out the series here.


Quick update: I know on Wednesday with Words this week I hinted that there might be one (or two, or three) special posts going up this week. However, it turned out that I didn’t finish them until yesterday evening, so those will be posted next week, starting Monday and continuing through Wednesday. It will be a series of three connected posts (i. e., Part 1, Part 2, Part 3), and if you happen to be a geek/gamer, or you’re in to geeky DIY projects, you are not going to want to miss them! I am super excited about these posts. They might be a bit out-of-the-ordinary for this blog (so far, at least), but hopefully I can showcase another side of my personality that doesn’t really show up much on here (the geeky, DIY side 😛 ), and hopefully there’ll be at least some people out there who really enjoy them. So, if you’re interested, just follow the blog to be notified when those posts go up next week!

Anyway, that’s it for me today. Bye for now.

🙂

Wednesday with Words: A Story and a Lie

I really enjoyed The Night Gardener by Johnathan Auxier, which my mom got me for Valentines Day. It delves into such an interesting problem: what is the difference between a story, and a lie? I think this quote sums it up nicely…

Night Gardener


Wednesdays with Words is hosted by ladydusk.

14528-www2bladydusk


Chapter 4 of The Tangle will be up on Saturday, and I’ll have a reminder post then, but… I might have another, special post or two (or three, it depends) going up at some point this week, or maybe next week. I’m not sure at this point. However, I think these posts will definitely benefit the geeks among us… 🙂

Movie Review: Beauty and the Beast (2017)

Beauty and the BeastControversy isn’t all it’s cracked up to be…


When I heard that Disney was going to be doing a live action Beauty and the Beast film, I was, of course, extraordinarily excited. Although I’ve only seen the animated film once, and I’m not a huge fan of Disney Princess movies anyway, I loved the 2015 Cinderella film, which was absolutely brilliant. So, of course, I was on the edge of my seat to see if Disney could pull it off again.

And then I heard about the controversy. I’d been planning to spend some time with a couple of my friends from church and go to see the movie together, but what I heard made me hesitate. Beauty and the Beast, according to its director, contains Disney’s first gay character. Of course, controversy immediately exploded. Many Christian families decided to boycott the movie. Disney had betrayed them, they said. They were politicizing a supposedly family film, they said, making it into just another part of the normalization agenda. In part, having seen the film with my eyes open for said agenda, I have to agree.

Partially, at least.

But, here’s the thing: If nobody had said anything, I think all the ‘exclusive gay moment’ and LGBT innuendo stuff, if that’s what its intended to be, would have been, for the most part, lost on the majority of the audience. Even the ‘cross-dressing joke’ comes off as more silly and goofy than as a real statement. The only real thing I had any problems with was the final grand ballroom dance scene, which closes the film, where Le Fou, the supposedly gay character, is shown dancing with a male partner, while everyone else is paired off male-and-female. The thing is, the shot is literally about two seconds long, and if this one two second shot was removed, and if nobody had made a big deal about this, I feel like the rest of the stuff would have come off as more of the silliness of a couple of bumbling characters.

Anyway, that’s my say on the controversy. What did I think of the actual film?

Well, to be honest, on the surface this is an amazing movie. Spectacular CGI, costumes, choreography, and singing make Beauty and the Beast a feast for the eyes and ears. But… I felt it lacked the strong storytelling of Cinderella. Don’t get me wrong, I got a bit choked up when Belle rode off from the Beast’s castle to rescue her father, and maybe at a few other points as well, but it was almost as if most of what we knew about these characters had just been told to us, instead of shown. The Beast’s flip from angry captor to smitten suitor seemed to happen far too quickly. In the end, the film just didn’t resonate with me like Cinderella did, even though I probably have much more in common with Belle than with Cinderella herself. A+ for effort Disney, but, unfortunately, you just didn’t quite hit the mark.


Final Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

“Are modern takes on tales as old as time ever quite as good as the old versions?”


Thanks for reading! See you again soon for Wednesday with Words.

🙂