I survived to tell the tale !

I’ve been sitting on this, because I didn’t want to jinx it, or say something wrong, or get into a copyright conflict or something. I talked to the producer yesterday, and he said that it’s definitely going to air, and it’s OK to talk about it and publicize it, so now I can tell you.

I’m going to be on TV!

I will be featured in an episode of HGTV’s “That’s Clever,” airing some time this Fall/Winter. Some time in September, I will find out the actual episode number, date, etc., and I’ll update then.

It started out by email. Somebody sent a press-release “call for submissions” type email to my boss, and she forwarded it to me. I emailed the folks at That’s Clever, and figured nothing would probably come of it… the info in the email about the show focused heavily on the “crafty” aspect, and my work tends to be a little too tedious for some folks. But, then we Tivo’d some of the episodes, because the show airs while Chris and I are both at work – and saw that they feature a wide range of arts and crafts, from people who glue shells on things, to people working with ceramics and hot glass. We didn’t see any weavers, crochet, knitting, or any other string crafts, though – so I figured it was just a dead end.

But, they emailed back, and we started talking. The coordinator talked to me about what I do, I emailed her info and photos of my work along with detailed information about my process, and she pitched the show to their producers. I was delighted and surprised when it was approved, and then she turned me over to the field producer. He called, we talked, and after a lot of discussion, back and forth, he scheduled me for a shoot date, and worked out the plan for shooting. We had a couple of twenty or thirty minute phone calls, and then one long one. I had to make up the same projects in various stages of completion, so that it could get “done” in the time we had to shoot, and they gave me detailed instruction on how to set things up for the shoot space.

I put it in the silkworm room, because that was easier than trying to put it in multiple spaces. I usually do my reeling at the dining table, boil water on the stove, weave in my comfy chair – but having it all in one space made things go much more smoothly as far as lighting and cables. The field producer and the director made a “prep” visit two days before the shoot day, talked to Chris and me about how to tweak the room setup for best effect, and told us about how much space they would need to set up monitors and run lines. There was a lot more setup than what I had expected – two cameras running full time, a small sound board, video monitors, and lots of cabling.

The day of the shoot was very, very long. There was climbing in the tree to pick leaves (not something I normally do, but it makes for good TV, I’m sure), there was silk reeling, there was warping, and weaving, and finishing, and lots of silkworms. There was quite a bit of corniness – that’s part of their schtick for the show, and although some of it felt a little over-the-top, I think it’ll be OK. I managed to dodge the bullet, though – they had talked to me about wanting to show me coming out of a human-sized cocoon (which, of course, I have – it’s actually a sleeping bag liner, but it says “cocoon” on it, and it’s the right shape), but they forgot about it. I didn’t remind them.

Overall, it was a great experience. Exhausting, though! You know how you feel during Finals Week, when you have stayed up late every night for a week putting your last papers together, and then you have day after day of non-stop intense tests, and then you feel kind of like you’ve been beaten to a pulp? Kind of like that. It’s amazing that it takes so much time and energy to shoot what will end up as a six or eight minute segment. It was draining. There were two cameras on me the entire time, I was wired for sound, and there was a director explaining what I should do and what I should say. Four people, a boom mike, two huge lights, and two cameras in a small room with big shelves *full* of stuff, is a lot! Oh… and no air conditioning. The AC made too much noise, and the mikes were picking it up, so we couldn’t run the AC all day. I kept wiping myself off between shots. It was sweaty. I actually wore *antiperspirant* – something I never do, and I had to go buy a stick just for this – but I’m glad I did!

About my project:

I usually work in dark and jewel colors – mainly, lots of black backgrounds, with bright work that floats on top of it. Black is a no-no for TV, because of the light balance. So is red, and so is white – two others that I use all the time. They really wanted pastels. So, I worked up this project in medium blue and light gold. It’s 62 cards wide, which is wider than I’ve ever done before. I figured I was biting off a lot to chew, especially having to make it four different times at different stages – but, I wanted it to be wide so it would show up on camera cleanly, and so that I could use the luna moth design! I designed this from a photo I took last year. The word Dream was actually their request – when I told them the ribbon could basically say *anything* short, they asked me to use the word Dream. Which, ya know, fit perfectly with me, so I was fine with that. The top of the ribbon has a realistic image of the moon. I love working this wide for the graphic complexity it allows – I was able to get light and dark for the craters and lunar seas.

The ribbon is woven of 2/30’s silk that I got from India – it’s not something they usually carry, but Nayeem was willing to custom-spin it for me. Email me if you want more info about the silk. I dyed the blue with Jacquard’s Brilliant Blue, and the yellow with Aztec Gold.

The brocading silk is my hand-reeled flat filament silk. I used a double strand for each line, so it’s about 300 cocoons thick, or very approximately 600 denier. It behaves just like I wanted it to; shiny, flat, and brilliant. It catches the light and flashes when you tip the ribbon. The green is a pale tint of Emerald Green, the purple is a blend of Jacquard Brilliant Blue with ProChem’s Magenta, the gold is an overdye of a pale Brown with Jacquard Gold, and the pale “white” color for the moon is actually ecru. My original design also included this ecru for parts of the moth, but the pattern was getting stretched out from having too many threads per shot. Simpler was better.

Left to right: the original moth pattern, the second version, and the moon. The moth still had some minor problems, particularly in the tails, so it got reworked a little.

This is the final version of the moth, but an intermediary version of the letter M. The final one ended up with a little calligraphic flourish.

63 replies
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  1. admin
    admin says:

    Hee hee… amusingly enough, “hero” is what the TV folks call the finished project, the one that they use for all the beauty shots…

    I had one that had come out a little not-quite-so, and I called it “stunt double.”

    Unfortunately, the only one doing stunts was me. Oh, and a silkworm or two – but no animals were baked or boiled alive in the making of the segment.

  2. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:


    I can hardly wait until the segment airs! To do this and have your Knitty article appear in the same week, well, you are just too hot for words!

  3. fieryredhead
    fieryredhead says:

    I can’t wait to see it! Yay! be sure to remind us online a COUPLE of times when you get the dates in case I miss LJ for a few days. :p


    And yeah, I’m glad they forgot about the sleeping bag thing. Thats just goobery. :p

  4. admin
    admin says:

    Yup. If you’ve seen the show, you know that there’s a LOT of goofball stuff.. and so I knew, going in, there would be some – but I’m glad they didn’t remember that one.

    And I thought about putting my kite behind me like wings, but I didn’t even *mention* that. 🙂

  5. admin
    admin says:

    Oh, I’d *love* that!! I’m planning to Tivo it, but a copy without the commercials, chance of rain, etc., would be golden!


  6. esmerel
    esmerel says:


    You’ve put in a lot of work, it’s kick ass that you’re getting rewarded for it. It’s especially nice that someone who really loves what he’s doing and enjoys sharing it with the rest of us is getting such good press =)

  7. mothie
    mothie says:

    Michael, that’s fantastic. I’ll have to watch the show beforehand to get a flavor of it. Your ribbon is just so beautiful. I love the moon, and the actual moth is incredible. Perfect subject for your silk.

  8. admin
    admin says:

    The show is more than a little corny. I have a totally different appreciation for it, having been through the process – but I still think they pull out the corn syrup waaay too often. 🙂

  9. adrianaendless
    adrianaendless says:

    That’s really great! =) Your stuf is always amazing but it’s good that the world will be able to see some possibilities. It had never occured to me what you could do until I started reading your posts. =)

  10. loveisagypsy
    loveisagypsy says:

    Ooooo!!! I can’t wait to see you!! How awesome!!! Le sigh, I want to have custom dog collars embroidered with “God is my Protector” *giggle* I’m not religious, but I swear all our dogs are protected by some higher power!

  11. purplemermaid
    purplemermaid says:

    Nice work

    Congratulations on being picked. This type of craft needs a wider airing. Having been involved with the making of a similar TV programme with my dance group I understand something of what you went through. Fortunately we didn’t suffer from the corny-ness factor … and I am glad that your programme has escaped some of the worst pieces. As I will not be able to see the programme here in the UK – what corny bits did make it?

  12. admin
    admin says:

    Re: Nice work

    They made me say some hokey lines. Nothing too horrible, really – but stuff I wouldn’t say on my own. Example: at one point, I explained that I use a lot of hair tools, like combs and ponytail ties, for my work, because the yarn behaves a lot like hair. They had me run the big-tooth comb through my very short (buzzcut) hair, and say that since I don’t need a comb for my hair, I use it for my yarn. Stuff like that.

  13. unluckymonkey
    unluckymonkey says:

    Temari? Me? I dunno what one is. To cover my bases of politeness I’ll say: ooops sorry I thought you meant me as well as that’s a tattooed orange if that’s what you mean. 😉

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