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This Orphan Black fan bracelet maker has gone big time

Contributed by
Jul 3, 2018

It's not every fan whose work appears as a plot point on their favorite show.

But New York City-based Miriam Salzman, whose love of Orphan Black inspired her to design, make, and sell friendship bracelets on her Etsy site Summer of String, is not every fan.

Yes, Salzman is vocal about her love of Sarah and her sisters (and brother) and has even hosted a popular online Orphan Black-themed Cards Against Humanity game. But it's her outreach that put her bracelets on the wrists of star Tatiana Maslany and Skyler Wexler in Season 5.

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While many fans prefer to engage with the casts of their favorite shows, Salzman is equally interested in the crew.

"I like giving to the creators," Salzman says. "The show wouldn't exist without them." As a production assistant on Broadway shows Finding Neverland and Waitress, as well as a freelance stage manager for other theatrical productions, she recognizes just how much effort is put into a series behind the camera, rather than in front.

In fact, she fell in love with Orphan Black at the end of Season 2, with the Felix/All-Clone dance party. She was captivated by a behind-the-scenes image, "followed by the extended behind-the-scenes video of how they composited four clones and Felix into a dance," she says.

When Orphan Black podcast "CloneCast" asked for fan art submissions, Salzman knew what to do: She tweeted her imaginative designs of the characters' names —based on the handwriting created by Maslany for each character — to the podcast. The co-host of CloneCast just happened to be Orphan Black's co-producer Mackenzie Donaldson, which opened the door to a collaboration.

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Salzman said, "She liked my work, so I began sending bracelets to her, and then she gave one to [co-creator] Graeme [Manson]."

Between 2015 and 2017, Salzman created and gifted over 30 bracelets for the cast and crew… particularly the writers' room. Her most popular design? A DNA helix, based on Cosima's desktop pattern, only writ small and in string.

The producers "reached out to me in 2017 and asked for a simple bracelet that a child could create," Salzman says, "and then they commissioned four different ones. In Episode 5.07, Kira gives my bracelet to Rachel, and Rachel wears it for the rest of the season."

"It's really hard to describe that feeling," she says about seeing her work appear on her favorite show. "It makes me giddy."

The same is true when her work appears outside of the show. "Graeme Manson, one of the co-creators of Orphan Black, wears my bracelets, and Tatiana Maslany wore my Swan Song bracelet at PaleyFest in L.A.," Salzman says.

But it's not just Orphan Black creators who sport her bracelets. Salzman has made wristwear for the writers' room for Supergirl and has given bracelets to the cast, including star Melissa Benoist.

Salzman says, "[Hannah Levien], who plays Victoria on The Magicians, helped me design a bracelet via social media." When Salzman couldn't find a clear screenshot of a Traveler's tattoo, Levien directed her to one on the actress' Instagram. They wound up discussing potential pieces. "We went back and forth on the design, and I sent her one. She wore it to a convention."

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Salzman doesn't just create bracelets for the glory (although she's had that) or for the money (although she earns between $10 and $45 a bracelet — a tiny sum, considering the hours each project requires). "I call it compulsive crafting," she says. "I do it because I can't sit still." On the subway or even at conventions, she finds herself with string in hand. "I made part of a Cyberman bracelet at a Doctor Who panel. The stripes are in order of the colors of Bill Potts' T-shirt."

Of course, when she finished, she gave it to actress Pearl Mackie.

Although she's sad Orphan Black is no longer on the air, Salzman still feels the show's impact on her life. She says, "I met my closest friends because of Clone Club." She even met her roommate through Orphan Black fandom.

At least they'll never argue about what to watch.

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