Bonus – Banners, Flower Crowns and Figure Skating

Bonus – Banners, Flower Crowns and Figure Skating

Becs: Hi! So this minisode is actually a companion episode
to our figure skating and photography episode which we released a handful of days ago. However, we got so many listener-submitted
questions related to photography and that, combined with our interview with Joosep [Martinson],
meant that we really thought it would be best to split the banner and flower crown related
questions and discussion into a separate minisode because runtime was getting quite long on
the photography episode. So here is our discussion and answers to all
of your questions pertaining to banners and flower crowns. We hope you enjoy listening! Kat: Nikki asked, “I was wondering what banner
size is recommended if it’s going to be hung and what kind of material do you prefer? What is the ideal picture size you should
work with so it doesn’t look all pixelated?” Gabb: Okay, so there are a lot of questions
within this question, so I’ll start with the banner size. I think for banner size it really just depends
on the rink. If there’s a lot of railing space, if the
railing space length-wise is long or not, if you have to tape it to walls – it really
just depends. For me, I’ve found that working with a base
[length] of 3 feet works pretty well for hanging banners, so I would suggest that. But it just depends on what the rink is like
and where you’re hanging it. For materials, last season I used vinyl materials,
so it was kind of heavy. It dented really easily, which wasn’t ideal
for traveling because I would have to bring poster tubes and then I would have to make
sure it wasn’t dented and then roll it out the night before so that it’s not curled inwards. This season, I decided to go with cloth banners
which I got the first batch of last week and it’s really nice. It’s really nice, it’s really light. I could fold it, I could just shove it into
my suitcase if I travel with it which is really convenient. Kat: Vacuum seal! Gabb: Yeah exactly, I could vacuum seal it! So it’s going to be really great and it’s
super light so I just do not have to worry about how much weight it is. Because just carrying around my vinyl banners
last season was super heavy. Kat: They were, oh my goodness. Becs: They were so massive. Kat: I brought the three banners in the tube
– because [Gabb] shipped them directly to my house – for Four Continents, and that ended
up being my check-in [luggage]. I just checked it in and it was so unwieldy
to carry around! It was the most annoying thing to carry so
I was just “I’ll chuck it in with the gate check,” and then I had to wait for it forever. And it was so heavy and then when I got there
they made me take out all of the banners that were all rolled up so nice and neatly. Gabb: Oh yeah, I had to do that too at the
airport! Kat: Oh my god. Becs: It was such a trial. Gabb: And then I was just trying to roll it
up really fast so I could leave and it was really annoying. Becs: One thing that we might want to note
is that this season, in terms of a lot of the major competitions for instance I know,
Gabb, that we’re mostly planning on doing handheld banners just because a lot of the
rinks and venues have slightly stricter, at least on the surface, policies than a lot
of the major venues last season in terms of whether or not they permit banners to be hung. Gabb: Yeah, looking at the competitions I
am attending this season, so many of them do not permit hanging banners and only Skate
Canada so far is one that says “Yeah, hanging banners is fine,” which is really sad. So a lot of my banners this season are just
like handheld banners, basically. So it’s also important to look at those FAQs
just to see if you can get that information. Becs: Right, so long-term if you want a banner
for your favorite skater that you maybe want to carry for three seasons, hopefully, handheld
might be a slightly better bet. If you have a large hanging banner it makes
a stronger impression but if you want longevity, especially with how fickle and inconsistent
– not even just among different federations or different competitions – different rinks
can be regarding banner policy, you have to kind of weigh the pros and cons. But handheld might have longevity – you can
bring them to ice shows, you can do whatever with them – they’re a little bit more flexible. Kat: Especially since, again, the whole thing
with photography and security being inconsistent because the rink management versus the ISU
versus private security – they don’t know the rules exactly. Sometimes the FAQ for the rink will say “No
banners allowed,” but obviously we know that banners are very commonplace at figure skating
competitions. But then the competition official site will
say “Banners can be within this particular size.” So you don’t know exactly what the actual
rule is. When I went to Four Continents, I was stopped
every day in practice – at Tuesday and Wednesday practices, they did not let me bring in banners
or hang them or anything. And then Thursday, suddenly the security was
like “Oh yeah, once doors open at 11:30, we’ll let you hang the banners.” You just gotta play it by ear sometimes, take
the risk. But then again, banners can be kind of unwieldy
and hard to carry so, again, it’s pros and cons. Becs: Yeah, if you think you’re going to go
to a lot of competitions this season, maybe consider investing in smaller handheld or
cloth banners just for your own sake. Gabb: As for image size and quality, I think
that really just depends on what size your banner is. So usually I tend to use my own photography,
just because I know that is the maximum size of the image I can get already. It just depends. On Google, you can easily filter out pictures
to get the larger file pictures, so that might help. Also, this is really technical so not everyone
knows what this means, but basically you want your picture to be 300 DPI, and you can check
that on Photoshop just by resizing it, it’s going to list your DPI and there’s usually
a number – sometimes it’s 72, sometimes it’s something else – but you usually want that
to be 300 and then you can be sure that picture is going to be really good quality. Lae: And also just make sure if you’re using
other people’s photos that you have permission from them to use them, just from a legal point
of view. Please don’t steal people’s photographs. Gabb: You can also filter your [Google Images
search] to be labeled for re-use, so that’s also helpful. Lae: So, all we’ve touched on so far have
talked about banners that have been professionally printed and designed digitally, but do we
have any advice on making handmade banners, such as what materials to use or is printing
kind of the go-to? Gabb: I use printed just because I have a
degree for it. It’s easier for me, I know how to work with
printers. But you can easily just make handheld banners
yourself using paper. Kat: [laughs] Lae sitting outside the rink
at ACI drawing Yuzu and Wakaba banners! Becs: The 4am Wakaba banner sketching session! Lae: Yeah, from experience, you can just buy
an A3 size piece of card and buy some gold stickers and a permanent marker. Honestly, it’s just the thinking and it’s
the design that goes into it. Kat: It’s the thought that counts! Becs: Truly, be creative, banners are supposed
to be fun. Gabb and I have been playing around with ideas
of a lot more sort of multimedia stuff, so I’ll go to a craft store and see some crazy
thing that I’m like “Can we stick this on a piece of cloth as a banner?” and Gabb will
be like “Oh my gosh, let’s give it a shot!” So try to just think about, if you’re not
the best artist at hand drafting or if you’re not as confident in your drafting skills as,
say, Lae is, look at different things you could use. You could use patches, flowers, you can glue
things on, stickers, lettering – there are so many options. Just have fun with it! Lae: Spend an hour at the craft store, essentially! Becs: Just be inventive. Think about weird things you can do. It’ll stand out if nothing else if you do
more multimedia. Start a trend! Lae: Perfect. And now we’ll move onto the final segment
on flower crowns. So Miriam C has asked, “How do you make flower
crowns and how much time does it take? Are they real flowers and do you know what
skaters do afterward with it?” And then also, “How do you make flower crowns
sturdy?” Kat: Do we use real flowers? Becs: Tragically not. I wish we had the budget, it would be the
dream! Kat: And the time, also. Becs: Yeah, one of the downsides of using
real flowers is that they have to be fresh flowers. So if you wanted 20 crowns for a competition,
you’d have to make 20 crowns in a night. Kat: And then stick them all in the refrigerator. Luckily the rink is just like a giant refrigerator,
so that’s not so much of an issue. Becs: That’s in your favor, but… Kat: But in terms of practicality and transportation,
it is not practical at all. We started just buying florists wire from
the craft store and then literally we took a trip to a dollar store in Canada, in Laval,
and picked up some fake flowers and had a crafting session and started making flower
crowns in our Airbnb. It doesn’t have to be expensive, Becs and
I have gone a little bit crazy going to Michaels’ three times a week. Becs: We’re savvy! We’re crazy but savvy, in terms of deals. Some basic tips, generally if you want to
make a slightly higher-end crown, I’m not sure for Kat, but it usually takes me between
20 to 30 minutes to select the color palette, select the flowers, cut everything, and go
over it. But a couple of quick tips would be that your
basic materials are going to be a heavier gauge, like a 12-gauge, standard wire that
you can find at any craft store – even the dollar store sells this, actually, but the
craft store can be just as cheap with coupons. And then florists tape, fake flowers and then
a really thin, 26-gauge wire. Things you want to check with the flowers
basically for sturdiness, Kat and I learned to make flower crowns through trial and error
which I’m sure we can talk about. In terms of them falling apart after we transported
them across the continent and then them bleeding all over the rink and the photographers are
judging us as we try to pass them off to skaters. [laughter] Kat: Trial and error, friends. Becs: Truly it was. So benefit from our experience and don’t make
our mistakes. One thing you might want to do, whether it’s
a dollar store flower or more of a higher-end one, is doing what I would call a tug test
– which is an absurd metric – but basically, gently tug on the flowers because some flowers
pop off [the stem] super easily and are likely to fall off in transit or if you’re moving
them around, and then others will have super secure flower heads where there’s not going
to be bits that fall off. Also in general, make sure you can cut them
to a length that you can wrap around a base. Some flowers are beautiful but because of
the way that they’re created, you can maybe only get like half an inch which isn’t quite
always enough to wrap. Kat: Yeah, that’s the problem that I had when
I bought the giant garlands with the shiny flowers, is that those flowers were really
weird because they were on a chain-type thing and so it was really hard to get a stem. I had to cut of three-quarters of the chain
off so I just had a little piece and then I could wrap it because otherwise, you would
just have this gigantic round chain thing which was really hard to work with. Becs: We figured out a way to get around it,
especially when I once tried to make an ode to [Yuzuru Hanyu’s] Origin crown, which wasn’t
actually a flower crown, it was like a feather and glitter crown. I had to work with feathers and that was extremely
difficult because they’re a lot more finicky than flower stems. I recommend feathers for being fun, but also
excruciating. But one thing we kind of figured out is that
you can work with a shorter stem for some of the flowers if you take a fine gauge wire
and then take all the stems and cut all my flowers in advance for the crown, both Kat
and I do this, and you take flower tape and wrap it and construct the crown, and then
take that thin gauge wire and go over everything and bind the floral tape to the wire and wrap
really finely around it. That will make it super sturdy and travellable. Kat: And don’t be afraid of smooshing down
your flower crowns if you have to travel with them, like flying. We literally just stuff crowns into our carry-ons
and just put stuff all over it and they perk up once you take them out. Becs: Yeah, you can vacuum seal them, you
can smash them – honestly, they’ll be fine. They’ll still be ready for photography, it’s
fine. Kat: I went to Four Continents just vacuum
sealing everything like plushies – I brought like 17 flower crowns and I just vacuum sealed
them and they saved so much room. So they can travel pretty well if you just
vacuum seal them. Becs: So yes, extra wire and vacuum seal and
you’ll be fine. Honestly, just have fun with color palettes. And also, one small recommendation is that
flowers tend to look more ridiculous – like flowers that don’t look that big in a store
might look more ridiculous or headdress-y than you’d expect on a flower crown – so smaller
is kind of better, as we’ve learned through trial and error. Kat: Yeah, or try to balance it, at least. Just be creative with it, there’s no right
or wrong way to design a flower crown, play around with colors. And, obviously, our crowns looked better once
we made a lot of them and also started investing in better quality flowers not from the dollar
store, but they don’t have to be. No one can tell. Becs: People were very happy or seemed to
like the sketchier ones that we whipped out of the blue at Grand Prix Final and then we
went all out for World Team Trophy because we knew we could probably get them to Team
Japan pretty easily and that was all set up, so it was like “Well, they’re going to be
using them for a couple of days repeatedly, we should actually not snake them on this.” But yeah, just have fun with it. Nicole also asked if we had any tips for getting
gifts and flower crowns to skaters and sort of handing them off and if that’s actually
feasible without having a front-row seat. So Kat, as the sort of fabulous person of
pulling things off in terms of getting things done, might have some insight into that! Kat: Well no, you don’t necessarily have to
get a front-row seat. I only had a front-row seat at Four Continents,
that was the only one. But generally, you do have to find a way to
hop to the front pretty quickly, obviously, if you want to be able to interact with skaters. But honestly, figure skating fans are pretty
nice everywhere you go and if you have a gift that you really want to give to someone, I’m
sure people will move out of the way if you’re nice about it. I remember when we were handing out flower
crowns at Grand Prix Final, Garrett just ran across the rink, basically, and was able to
join us because he had a crown for Alina [Zagitova]. Becs: Oh yeah, he had a crown that he really
wanted us to give Alina and we were lucky enough to have front-row seats. Yogeeta and I had front-row seats at Grand
Prix Final, it was pretty much right opposite the winner’s podium for the medal ceremony
so when they hopped off they kind of skated down towards us when they were doing their
victory lap. So things like that can make it easier, but
one thing you could consider too is that fans, generally, like to collaborate or help people
pull off projects so you could even try to ask around on Twitter or a forum or something
like “I have a gift or I made something that I’d like to try to hand off during the victory
ceremony if it’s appropriate. Is anyone going to be in position?” So that could be something you could try if
you’re way up in the nosebleeds or don’t think it’s quite feasible to dash down. Kat: Yeah, someone messaged me during Four
Continents right in the middle of the Ladies event saying that, from where she was sitting,
she wasn’t allowed to toss plushies. So she just literally handed me a bag full
of plushies to toss at the skaters she wanted me to toss them at and I was like “Okay! Sure!” Becs: Don’t be shy about asking for help,
basically. People will generally try to group together
to pull off fun feats or to show to support or appreciation. It’s worth a shot! Kat: And in terms of where you want to be
sitting, obviously, if you want to get more skater interaction then you have to sit on
the side of the Kiss and Cry, which is where we sat at Grand Prix Final when we tossed
the Soohorang at Jun [Hwan Cha]. And that’s also basically where I sat for
Four Continents. Becs: You were right by the skater’s entrance,
yeah. Kat: I did happen to get really lucky for
that instance. If you can try to get a seat in that area
then, yeah. Obviously, some competitions are more chill
about having skaters interact with audience members during competitions and stuff like
that so be aware of that as well. Lae: Well, I think that pretty much sums up
our entire episode So I think we just want to thank you, first of all, for listening,
and a special thanks to Gina and Clara from the ITL team for their additional advice,
our entire transcribing and quality control team, Evie for editing, and Gabb for graphic
design. Kat: If you want to get in touch with us,
you can contact us via our website, or our Twitter or Instagram. And you can also find our episodes on Youtube,
iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, or Spotify. Becs: If you enjoyed the show and want to
help support the team, please consider making a donation to us on our Ko-Fi page. We’d like to give a huge thank you to all
the listeners who have contributed to our team thus far. You can find all the links to our social media
pages and our Ko-Fi on our website. Gabb: And if you’re listening on iTunes please
consider leaving us a rating and a review if you enjoyed the show. Thanks for listening, this has been Gabb, Kat: Kat, Lae: Lae, Becs: and Becs. Bye!

Antonio Breitenberg

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