Transcribed by Evie (@doubleflutz)
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 inthelopodcast.com, 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,
Becs: and Becs. Bye!