I had speculated for some time on embroidering a Devil's Trap, but I couldn't quite figure out how to make it and so I repeatedly shelved the idea. Not so last September. Reinvigorated by wanting to make one to share and show off at the next convention, I got to work figuring out how to make the pattern and make the talk turn into action. This article, however, won't cover the making of this Devil's Trap. That'll be shared later. Instead, this is the article about the Trap's debut at this year's Van Con.
I spent all of season nine making my Devil's Trap. With every step, I could feel the anticipation of sharing it with the cast, the crew, and most of all my fellow fans. Of course, I grew too impatient to wait, so each week I tweeted a photo update tracking my progress. The further I got, the more people seemed to be excited by what I was doing. It also gave me a record to see how it went from concept to final product. (You can follow all my embroidery updates on Tuesdays at @farawayeyes4)
And yet, even when it was finally hanging up, it felt somehow incomplete. I could see silver splashed all over it. I could see myself sharing it with everyone at the next convention. I knew it wouldn't truly be finished until I could debut it at a convention. In some ways, the Devil's Trap as a concept was born in fan conversation, so sharing it in person with other fans would truly make it complete.
Van Con 2014 gave me the first chance to share it. Upon joining Bardicvoice and Tigershire in Victoria before making our way to the convention, I let them get the chance to see the Trap in person for the first time. They had seen all the tweets along the way and had commented on several of them as I progressed, so I knew that they'd really like it. But the thrill upon seeing their expressions as they looked at the stitching up close? It made all the hours of work worthwhile. The value of the Trap in dollars doesn't quite compare to the value it had in seeing another fan appreciate and enjoy my personal shout out to Supernatural. Among fellow fans, I'm among people who understand why I made it, too. In some ways, that's the best part!
Once we got to the actual convention, I looked forward to showing it to more fans and finally to the cast and crew. Over a few months I had purchased several autograph tickets with the aim of getting as many signatures as possible. As much as my fellow fans are considered my Supernatural Family, so too are the cast and crew. I wanted them to see what I had spent all season working on and feel the appreciation I have for their hard work captured in my own.
But as excited as I was about getting the silver splashed on the fabric, it seemed that Bardicvoice was more so. I found her shadowing me at almost every autograph just so she could witness their expressions along with me. Even if she didn't have their ticket for her well loved and autographed bag, she'd tag along and simply watch me present the Trap to the next person at the table. There was such an infectious giddiness and glee in her reactions to their reactions that made this whole experience all the more sweet.
The first two autographs happened in the vendors room. Bardicvoice and I were scoping the place out when we spotted a gentleman at a table offering to take fans on “walking tours” through downtown Vancouver to see filming sites. Considering that Bardicvoice was to be our tour guide already for downtown and so much more, we didn't need his guidance, but we thought we'd talk to him anyways. He was friendly, approachable, and eager to share what he knew---including a secret identity! He was the hand stand-in in for Curtis Armstrong aka Metatron. For all the close ups we have of Metatron's hands as he's typing at that typewriter, those are not Armstrong's hands. Instead, it's this man's! His name is Arthur Sacramento, and because he had done work on Supernatural, I granted him the first autograph on the Devil's Trap. He was beyond honored that a fan would want his signature and signed it eagerly. Bardicvoice also took out her well loved and heavily autographed bag and him autograph it as well.
Then, we made our way to Dan Payne. Best known for his work in Divine: The Series, he briefly appeared as the angel Abner. I was happy to see him at the table and we bought the tickets for his autograph to get the second splash of silver on the Devil's Trap. He was excited to see it and eager to sign, too. It certainly added an elegant flourish to have his sweeping and swirling name etched onto the black fabric.
When it came time for the main autographs, I started with Gil McKinney and had to come up with a presentation spiel on the fly. In all my preparation, I'll admit I hadn't put as much thought into it as I should have. But once I had it down, I found it easy to rattle off what I wanted to share about my work and had it fairly down by the third autograph. Each one seemed to be rather impressed with what I had unfolded before them. The Trap is a rather large size, after all. It has to be if it's going to get a lot of signature space!
After each one, I'd fold it back up and move onto the next line. It'd keep the stitching safe from snags or hooking or anything that would harm its integrity. It also allowed me to take some time to rattle my speech off if I had to first unfold the thing for them to sign. It helped build the anticipation, too. Before their eyes, this large swath of fabric would be opened to reveal the blood red center. Each time I repeated the process, it somehow became that much sweeter.
Next was Lauren Tom aka Mama Tran. Bardicvoice may have missed seeing Gil's reaction, but she was there to witness Lauren's. Once I realized that Lauren Tom was also the voice of Amy from Futurama, I knew I had to have her autograph. I love both characters, and it was exciting to share the Trap with her. She was rather surprised and amazed by the effort put into the actual stitch work. Bardicvoice was rather giddy with how she seemed awed by it, too. I may have been the one to make it, but this was certainly turning into a Supernatural Family affair.
After, it went back into its protective fold so we could stand in Adam Rose's line. Adam Rose has certainly built himself a fan reputation by favoriting and retweeting various fan tweets. As I tweeted my anticipation preceding the convention, I found myself on the receiving end of this attention. He seemed just as thrilled about the event as we were about attending, and so I knew I had to have his autograph grace the Trap, too. As I unfolded it in front of him, Bardicvoice and I watched his face closely as he examined what I wanted him to sign. I gave him my little presentation speech---adding in that he could follow the updates on my other embroidery projects. I offered to tag him into those if he wanted---which made him smile. Mission accomplished so far!
The last one I had to get that first night of the convention (because as Richard pointed out, Friday People are the best) was from Osric Chau otherwise known as Master Chau for the duration of Van Con. He had appeared earlier in his panel in his Goku cosplay outfit. I was eager to share my own fan project with him. He seemed to be the type to truly get it on a different level. I wasn't disappointed. I unfolded it carefully, gave him the same spiel, and watched him react. Osric was awestruck and gentle with the Trap in a way that the others hadn't quite been. He asked very politely if he could touch the stitching and I relented. Gently, he brushed two fingertips over various areas on the design as I told him about the particular thread and stitches used to create it. That seemed to really pique his interest in it all the more.
Of course Bardicvoice was there to witness the event and as we walked away and folded the Trap back up to take to our rented apartment, she was almost more pleased with Osric's reaction than me! I had expected bringing something like this to sign to bring an added layer to those oh so short but so sweet interactions between fan and cast. I had no idea it'd be nearly this memorable or this sweet. If anything, I'd always remember Osric's appreciation vividly!
The next round of autographs wouldn't come until Saturday---and the first ones of the day would be special ones. They'd be from production, crew, and writing members of the Supernatural Family. These were complimentary for anyone that wanted one---well that is if they braved the lines and it didn't take too long to make the circuit around to all four. It was a much more popular event than perhaps anticipated by the folks at Creation to say the least.
I promptly found myself in the sluggish line clutching my Trap protectively in the hopes that I could share it with these four. The line crawled and we were warned we might not get in before they would be ushered to their panel taking place that afternoon. But luck held and Bardicvoice and I managed to get in and actually make it to all four, unveiling the Trap at every turn.
The first stop was producer Jim Michaels. He seemed rather impressed with the work and signed it. Unfortunately we couldn't really say too much (beyond getting a few digs in on one another's football teams) due to the already mentioned long lines. Our next stop was Kevin Parks with his dog, Kuma. Surrounded by oh so many people, Kuma didn't seem fazed one bit. He seemed to know that we had really come to see him and not these people. Kevin signed the Trap---but had a stamp for Kuma, too! In the chaotic rush, I didn't think to have him stamp Kuma's paw print signature on the edging. Alas, the Trap's fabric was black! The stamp wouldn't show!
Pressed for time and space with the long lines, we were forced to move onto Adam Glass. I unfolded it and started my spiel. Adam seemed very impressed by my efforts---so much so he asked to take a picture of it to tweet to his followers. It was more than I could have expected from anyone I had shown it to yet. If anything, the exchange reaffirmed my view that my work created to appreciate the Supernatural creative team's work was a success. All the months I had put into this Devil's Trap captured my feelings about the show---and now I had my chance to share that with those that spend so much time to create the show itself. It also seemed to give the Trap a boost considering how many people retweeted and favorited Adam's tweet. That's probably the best compliment for my Trap yet.
To prove Crowley's theory about what Hell should look like, Bardicvoice and I were ushered to the end of the line again as we wound our way towards Russ Hamiliton, the famed Locations Manager of Supernatural. Oh no, we weren't being punished. Russ was simply taking his time as he signed things brought by fans. There were a few moments of anxiety as we approached the upcoming panel that would cut short the autograph session. Would we reach Russ in time? Luckily, as the sands trickled down, we did. The presentation was made and Russ got the chance to look at the Trap and sign it---even if he had to rush through looking at it to finish his autographs---something he took heat for from Jim, Adam, and Kevin as they were already done and ready to go! I was pleased to have his patent “Movie God” signature put on---with the added “This Rocks!!!!!” touch from Russ.
The next debut for the Devil's Trap came in its first photo op. As soon as I had started to make it, I knew I wanted to get a photo taken with it and Mark Sheppard. Unfortunately, it'd spoil the unveiling at the actual autograph line, but getting the photo taken would be more than worth it. I brought it in with me, got to my turn, and unfurled it. Mark protested for a moment, quipping that he wasn't “in” it. I had thought about having him stand on it, but there's no time in those photo op lines to have him take his shoes off to stand on it and I wasn't about to have shoes tramp over my fine stitching. So, I replied that we would be taking the picture “with” and held it in front of the two of us so it would be part of the photo. I'm rather pleased with how it photographed in that photo op. Next, I'll have to get the Queen of Hell aka Alaina Huffman to pose with the Trap. It'd be a matching set that way!
Photo op taken and Trap now memorialized by a professional photographer after months of my amateur update photos, it was time to get ready for the evening's autographs. I only had two to get: Mark Sheppard and Tahmoh Penikett. I was excited to properly show Mark the Trap. Sure, he'd seen it in the photo op, but it was so fast and facing away from him in the shot, so here was its chance to shine. Shadowed yet again by Bardicvoice, she witnessed Mark's impatience as I started to unfold the Trap to reveal its blood red glory. He wanted to sign a bit too early! Once unfurled, Mark made his move to sign somewhere below the Trap---until I pointed to the center. If I couldn't trap Crowley in my photo op, I was going to trap him at the autograph line! And so, Mark Sheppard signed the center, giving my Trap one of its best features yet.
Even so, I managed to get my pitch in---with another layer added in about a second Trap that will be auctioned off for charity---Juvenile Diabetes Foundation to be specific---at a later date. This seemed to please him and I knew I had succeeded. We made our way out, then, into the lower lobby where they had stationed Tahmoh. By now, I was prepared for the stunned expression. However, that didn't mean I didn't get a thrill from seeing that awed look cross Tahmoh's face. It's certainly one of the treats I've had in sharing my work with all of the cast, crew, and fellow fans thus far. And the signature Tahmoh left behind is certainly one of the most graceful ones. Etched in fine silver, it seems like the perfect adornment!
That left me with only Alaina Huffman's autograph to get. I had the King of Hell in the center. I was excited to see the Queen on Sunday. We arrived to the ballroom for the appointed autograph session and made our ways into the lines---well I did alone. Bardicvoice decided to get a ticket for Alaina, and so had to miss the unveiling of the Trap for the final time at the convention. The line progressed rather briskly, and as I made my way to her table, I started to rattle off my spiel as I unfolded the Trap. It was my turn to be surprised! I wasn't even half through unfolding it when Alaina gasped and said, “I know what this is! Adam (Glass) tweeted a photo of this!” I faltered a bit in my shock, but recovered to explain a little bit about how the Trap was made.
And where did the Queen of Hell sign? In the center next to the King. Forever, Crowley and Abaddon will be locked in combat. It seemed fitting and Alaina readily agreed. I may have missed the surprised and awed expression, but seeing her excitement at getting to finally see the Trap in person more than made up for it. And when I look at her autograph, I remember that moment fondly. The silver signatures make the Trap much cooler---but it's the memories attached to it that will make it forever priceless.
Luckily, we ran into Kevin Parks and Kuma again. They were in the lobby area after the J2 panel. Kevin had his stamp with, and fast thinking on my part got me that elusive signature. I looked down, bemoaned the black background again and then looked at the bright red edging. Of course! Kuma could sign the Trap after all. Kevin leaned over, stamped Kuma's name and paw print onto the edge, giving my Devil's Trap perhaps one of its best features yet.
While I had now completed my signature circuit at the convention proper, there was another opportunity to be had at the VFX event held by SuperWiki. After all, Bardicvoice and I had promised Ryan Curtis that he'd get to see it there when we were waiting in Adam Glass's line. So, after the Q&A session was complete, I made my way towards Ryan and the other VFX guests to show them the Trap and have them splash the final pieces of silver onto the black background. Ryan and Mark Meloche were very impressed with it. Most of all, they got to see someone else's work appreciating their own.
I also nabbed one special signature when I approached Jules aka SuperWiki herself. If not for the demonology section and the image of the Devil's Trap at the site, I may not have been able to find a way to make my pattern at all. The image at the SuperWiki was the best one that I could find for a Devil's Trap by far. It was simple, clean, and fit the bill for translating it from an image on the internet to fabric and thread. It would have been a far more difficult task to make this project any other way without the SuperWiki. So, I had to have Jules sign it. It's perhaps one of the best ones yet on the Trap. She may not be part of the cast or crew, but Jules may be better. She's a fan and one of us---and most importantly Supernatural Family.
But that is not the end of the Devil's Trap grand debut story.
While sitting in the theater, I spotted Mitch Kosterman making his way around the place. I had a chance to say a couple words to him at last year's Van Con, but hadn't had a chance to do any type of interview with him. As he made his way down the aisle in front of the back row where we were situated, I waved at him. I figured it would only be a wave back, but instead he came in and hugged me and I knew that he somehow remembered me after all that time! Instantly, I boldly mentioned to him my Devil's Trap as quickly as I could and he offered to do an interview with me about it for the Supernatural documentary.
We had a few misfires as I ran into him on his way to other things and he ran into me on my way to panels or photo ops or autographs, but finally we found the time to go out into the lobby area in front to of the theater to conduct the interview. The experience was formal at first with the obligatory paperwork filled out. Once we were ready to film, however, I set down the unfurled Devil's Trap and its companion quilt squares to explain how I chose to express my love for Supernatural. Mitch stood next to and slightly behind his camera man, who steadily filmed me. I found the camera a bit daunting at first. Clearly, this was an actual TV camera and not someone's amateur camcorder.
In true Supernatural fan fashion, I heard Dean's tight and frightened gruff voice state, “Look anywhere but the camera.” I also wanted to make sure I'd avoid Sam's awkward movements---staring up at the ceiling and randomly swinging my arms and such. None of that would do! I giggled a little inside, but found myself forgetting the camera was there as I focused on Mitch as if we were simply having a conversation. It seemed to work as I managed to explain how the Trap and squares were made and how I was working on a second Trap that will be auctioned for charity. The interview went by quickly! I found myself surprised that my embroidery projects were worth the likes of this Supernatural fan documentary and that it would be one piece of the project for the whole Supernatural Family to see. I certainly hope I managed to handle the interview and not look as stiff as Dean did in “The French Mistake.”
But the Trap wasn't the only thing to make its grand debut, either. I had quilt squares along with me---two finished ones and one still in the works. A gracious friend of mine, Janet, offered to give me her Jared autograph so he could see my embroidery work. I didn't have an auto as they were sold out before I could buy, so I was very happy that she was so generous. Originally, I had planned on having Jared sign the Devil's Trap. Then, I started the Supernatural Quilt and I knew he had to sign the initial square.
So, when it came time for the autograph session, Janet ushered me to the line for Jared, gave me her Silver lanyard and waved Bardicvoice over for the last witnessing of the convention. When it came time to reveal, I didn't have to unfold. I put my small square down, the initials facing Jared. He looked down at it, and declared confidently, “I know where I sign!” He then added his signature with a silver flourish. It wasn't until I declared boldly, “I made that,” that he realized exactly what he was signing.
Jared took a double take, looked down at the square, looked up at me, and then back down again. Quickly, I gave him a refined spiel about the square and how I made it. He was way impressed and attentive as I explained. To make the moment brighter, Jared stood and shook my hand firmly. If anything, it proved that the Quilt is as successful as the Devil's Trap.
What I learned most by bringing my own handmade items to be signed is how special those moments truly become. Each one of us has something that is special to us that relates to the show. It can be a favorite photo either printed from the internet or bought in the vendor's room. It can be a well worn and loved t-shirt. It can be a figurine or a poster. Whatever it is, the moment we share with the cast and crew---and our fellow fans---makes it all the more rich. It also gives us a chance to be all the more connected and have memories that will carry with us the rest of our lives.
It gives us something to smile back upon---and isn't that really the whole point?