When Orphan Black producers contacted tapestry weaver and bracelet crafter Miriam Salzman in 2017, she had no idea why they were suddenly so interested in her work. The producers wanted Salzman, who had already been sending friendship bracelets to the cast, crew, and writer's room of the show as gifts, to give them several examples of bracelet designs that a child could have made.
"I received an email from Mackenzie Donaldson asking and I immediately sent her a photo of four different types of friendship bracelets I could make when I was eight," Salzman tells SYFY WIRE. "I had no idea what capacity they were to be used in."
Orphan Black's producers commissioned four designs, and three of them were featured as plot points in the show's final four episodes. "As a fan, [it meant] the absolute world to me," Salzman says. Her process of crafting the designs was a deft blend of technology and sketching. "When I'm designing a piece, whether it's a bracelet, bookmark, patch, or tapestry, I'll work out the design digitally and/or on graph paper," she explains.
Since her "big break," Salzman has expanded her sci-fi inspired bracelet business into new mediums and new franchises including The Magicians and Doctor Who. "I've made a small tapestry that was 13,000+ knots for a poster contest BBC America did for Season 4 of Orphan Black," she says, "and that took me about 2 months to make. I've also done some experimenting with patches — I made a TARDIS-shaped patch earlier this year that says 'Nevertheless she regenerated' for a friend's backpack."
She's also begun a career in cosplaying, crafting her own broom for a Harry Potter costume and experimenting with the make-up design while cosplaying as the Eleventh Doctor/Mr. Clever. Salzman's enduring appreciation for the tactile work that goes into sci-fi TV production makes her a unique fan creator; she understands and adores that world-building is often achieved through prop work and tiny set details.
That appreciation also informs her day job — Salzman works as stage manager in New York City when she's not producing geeky art.
As for future goals, Salzman says she's allowing herself to enjoy new franchises before diving into her next big art project. "I'm currently watching Star Trek for the first time," she admits, adding that her friend, actress Mary Chieffo, plays L'Rell on Discovery. Salzman has her promoting her sci-fi weaving as well; Chieffo wears three different Salzman-designed friendship bracelets to fan conventions. The fandom community, in addition to being potential clients for Salzman, have made her feel included and valued for years.
"My first fandom experience was during the early Season 2 hiatus of Orphan Black," she says," and everyone in Clone Club was really friendly. It was an online community that I needed at that time. I found lifelong friends who live around the world who I'd never have met otherwise."