Friday, February 24, 2012

Rustic Mugs

Here in Atlanta we have been blessed with a very mild winter but we have had a lot of bleak, rainy days that make a warm mug of tea or coffee a great comfort.  Thus, while spring is just around the corner your dolls might be grateful for some some mugs to hold their favorite hot drinks.  Here is a tutorial on making rustic mugs for your dolls from salt dough:

Caution:  Acrylic paints and sealers may waterproof your mugs but be aware that hot liquids will dissolve raw salt dough.

À Bientôt

Monday, February 20, 2012

Playscale Crafting – Episode 1

The first episode of “Playscale Crafting with Limbé Dolls” is slated to air on People TV (Comcast channel 24 in the Atlanta metro region) this evening at 8pm.  Since I don’t have cable, however, I won’t be able to watch it on TV and I know that many of you live outside the Atlanta area and won’t be able to receive the broadcast either.  Fortunately, You Tube now accepts videos longer than 15 minutes and thanks to the miracle of a high speed broadband connection, I was able to upload the half hour show in about 40 minutes.

The show is a compilation of tutorials that have appeared on this blog before interspersed with introductory comments from the host (your truly).  In television we refer to anyone who appears in front of the camera as “talent” whether they have any or not.  There is often a certain amount of tension between the production crew and the talent and I found this to be so even when I served as both talent and crew!  Unlike some divas, I showed up for the shoot on schedule and did my best to cooperate with the director, but getting my hair, make-up, and wardrobe to look right was a major effort.  I also tried the director’s patience a few times by fluffing my lines.

Producing the show was great fun nevertheless!  I have already taped the next two episodes and plan to air them in March and April.  Meanwhile I have new tutorials lined up for my weekly blog posts so stay tuned!  I hope you will enjoy episode 1:

À Bientôt

Friday, February 10, 2012

Celebrating Free Speech

  Thanks to our democratic tradition of promoting free speech, at 8pm on Monday February 20th, the first episode of “Playscale Crafting with Limbé Dolls” will air on People TV (Fulton County channel 24) as a half hour special. 

    People TV is the cable access station supported by franchise fees that cable providers pay to the City of Atlanta.  Cable access stations were originally created to enable members of the public to access television broadcasting facilities so that they could air their views before a mass audience.  Before the days of You Tube, most private citizens could never hope to purchase airtime on a commercial broadcast network.  Local broadcast news could not cover all the issues that were relevant to local communities, so cable access provided a way for individuals and non-profit organizations to communicate with a general audience.

    Cable access stations typically make recording and editing equipment available to residents of the local community.  They allow local producers to broadcast original content by assigning airtime on a first come, first serve basis, and they frequently provide free or low cost training for residents of the municipality that has contracted with the cable television provider.  People TV has trained many Fulton County residents who went on to pursue professional careers in the television and film industry.  Ru Paul started his career as a television personality on People TV.

    In recent years, cable access stations have faced challenges from many directions.  Cable companies do not like giving up channels that they could use to increase their profits.  They have mounted legal opposition to legislation intended to mandate funding for Public, Educational, and Government channels as part of cable franchising agreements.  The low cost of digital video equipment and the increasing capacity to stream video over broadband internet connections has influenced many aspiring producers to distribute their content on-line rather than through traditional broadcast media.  Thus, some of the most innovative programming is now streaming from You Tube, Vimeo, or other web-streaming sites rather than appearing on local cable access stations, which have a harder time sustaining and increasing their audience base as a result.

    Now that anyone can shoot a video with a cell phone and upload it to You Tube, the arguments for supporting cable access stations as free speech zones seems less compelling.  Under the current economic crunch, many municipalities like the City of Atlanta stopped setting aside the franchising fees they received from cable providers to support cable access and incorporated those funds into the general revenue pool instead.  People TV in Atlanta was on the brink of shutting down at the end of 2011, but strong citizen support for the station persuaded city council members to allocate funds to continue operations at least through 2012.

    After taking a series of classes which cost less than one three credit course in a television production degree program would have cost me, I received my producer certification from People TV in 2008.  One of my teachers, Jae Foster was an especially inspiring mentor.  His advice helped me complete “When A House Is Not A Home,” a half hour documentary on mortgage fraud in Atlanta’s historic West End district.  In July 2008, a seven-minute excerpt from this documentary was screened in federal court at the sentencing of Kevin Wiggins, a felon convicted on over 80 counts of mortgage fraud.  The prosecutor used the documentary to show how Wiggins’ crimes had impacted the community as well as the banks.  Thus I was able to put my training in producing community television to good use.

    I am deeply thankful that People TV will remain open through 2012 as I work to develop a full season (thirteen episodes) of educational programming.  The fact that I have no sponsors for “Playscale Crafting” actually allows me a greater opportunity to exercise my right to free speech.  I write, shoot, edit, and perform in each show with no-one to tell me what I can or can’t say for fear of alienating sponsors or the viewers they want to reach.  Even if no-one watches, the experience of creating shows that meet the technical standards of broadcast television will be an invaluable learning experience.  This tutorial on making “Salt Dough Fruit” will appear in the first show:

À Bientôt

Friday, February 3, 2012

Homage to Léon G. Damas

   Search engine optimization gurus always counsel you to choose a name for your blog or website that is easy for people to remember and clearly indicates what the site is about.  I knew when I chose the name “Limbé Dolls” that I was violating this rule and that readers would be wondering “What on earth does Limbé mean and how the heck do you pronounce it?”  Google wouldn’t even let me put the accent over the final “e.”  Still, I wanted to pay homage to one of my favorite poets, Léon G. Damas and the refrain of his poem, “Limbé,” does clearly indicate what this blog is about – “give me back my black dolls.” 

    Damas was born into a middle class mulatto family in French Guyana in 1912.  After he went to Paris to pursue university studies, Damas became a founding member of the négritude movement.  I discovered this French-speaking analogue of the Harlem Renaissance while studying for the French AP exam when I was in high school.  Sister Dymphna had to make a special trip to the Library of Congress to find the négritude writers’ poems that were on the syllabus! 

    Even though Sister couldn’t tell me much about Damas or his friends, Aimé Césaire and Léopold Sédar Senghor, I was thrilled to learn that there were whole countries full of black people who spoke French.  I didn’t understand until later that “La Grande France” imposed French language and culture on its colonial subjects by force.  The négritude writers expressed the discomfort they felt with the pressure to “assimilate” and become “black Frenchmen” and I could relate to poems like Damas’ “Hoquet” because I had experienced similar pressure to speak “proper” English instead of the black dialect that my grandparents and cousins spoke in rural Virginia.

    This video was supposed to be part of my first blog post back in April, but it took a lot longer to edit than I had anticipated.  I am glad to have it ready in time for Black History month and I hope it will effectively illustrate why I chose the name “Limbé Dolls.”

À Bientôt