Thursday, October 02, 2008

Botched Buttonry (but at least I'm not Sarah P.)

Late last night, after hours and hours of retrieving stuff from AOL and uploading bits of it elsewhere, I watched a little Doctor Who, worked on Chapter Six of Heirs of Mâvarin, and suddenly, around 4 AM, remembered that my Obama buttons weren't quite ready for primetime. This was a problem, because I emailed the "final" version of them Tuesday afternoon, to be made into buttons today.

So I pulled an all-nighter. That's not unprecedented behavior for me, far from it. But this time I really pushed it, going to bed around 7:20 AM.

What had happened was this. I had been asked to add the following disclaimer to the button designs: "Made in-house by volunteers." Since that would look kind of terrible blazoned across the front of the button, I wanted to write it in a circle at the edge, so it would show up along the crimp at the edge of the button. That's the standard place for trademark and copyright notices on buttons. I should know, because I used to sell rock and roll buttons (among other things) for a living.

Only my free-with-this-computer photo editing software has no tools to make text go in a circle. Microsoft Word does, sort of, but I struggled with Word Art for an hour and the results were far from adequate.

About the time I reached this conclusion, perhaps 5:30 AM, John was up. At my request, and with much frustration expressed by each of us, he eventually managed to produce the needed text and add it to the button designs. I placed them back onto the master Word doc for printing out, emailed it to the person in charge of buttons for the local campaign office, and went to bed. I intended to be there when the buttons were made 2 1/2 hours later, but when I awoke from 90 minutes of sleep I knew that wasn't gonna happen.

When I awoke again, I had email that they'd already added the text in some less elegant way and printed out. And besides, my correspondent said, my text disappeared off the front of the button into the crimp area when the button was made. Well, yeah. it was supposed to.

So late this afternoon, dogs in tow, I stopped by the campaign HQ en route to the dog park. I was told my buttons are very popular, a fact that was demonstrated moments later when I tried to buy a Barkers for Barack button. They were out of them.

I had brought a page of printout with my version of the disclaimer on several versions of the Barkers button, partly to see where the disclaimer would end up on the finished button, and partly to make one with Pepper, who didn't get onto the semi-official designs. So I set out to make them myself. A volunteer set up the other button maker, which looks like the one I loaned the campaign but doesn't operate quite the same way. I tried it, and promptly ruined my Pepper for Obama button.

After a second attempt also went south, I switched to my old button maker. Although it's been over a decade since I last made buttons, I remembered how to work that one. But remembering how and doing it competently on thirty-year-old equipment are two different things. I could not get the plastic piece to crimp around the back, and promptly ruined my remaining "crimbles" (the term John and I coined for the circles of printed paper) as well as more metal badge parts. I could not enlist help, as there was a meeting going on a few feet away, which included the person who printed the other crimbles. I was borderline disruptive (although I didn't mean to be) before I gave up and left, anxious dogs, defective buttons and all. I wore the bad buttons (one of Pepper and one of Cayenne) anyway at the dog park, which led to a pleasant conversation with a journalism student there.

Defective buttons! And it's my fault!

Tomorrow I'm hoping to consult with someone at St. Michael's about the church web site, and of course tomorrow night is the VP debate, with speculation running high about how the combination of experience, intelligence and foot-in-mouth disease fares against ignorant, incoherent, witless charm. Thursday night is also when I roll out the button designs readers suggested for this week's Weekend Assignment. Remember, I'll actually be making and mailing the buttons you write about, even if I need help with my own buttonmaker! So please get your entry in by Thursday evening if at all interested. They don't need to be political, much less something I agree with, just something you think would make a cool button.

Then Friday I'll go back down to the campaign office and buy some buttons for myself, and anyone else who wants one. (One per person, please.)


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