We have so much talent in the Supernatural fandom! Fans draw works of art, edit photos and make videos, write fanfics, create costumes or props, craft jewelry, and much more. It’s time to showcase some of the #SPNFamily’s talent and ask the people behind the creations some questions!
Today I'd like you to meet Rianna Melton. We started talking about the"road map" project but soon found out more interesting things! Of course, I will share them with you. A little hint: it's about a car from Supernatural and duct tape art!
Like always, my first questions are about Supernatural. How and when did you become a fan of Supernatural?
I joined this crazy road trip about mid-season 9. I had heard about the show for years and seen an episode here or there but never took the time to dive into it. But when I did, you could say I dove off the deep end!
What does the Supernatural fandom mean to you?
That’s the big question everyone asks, and has had asked of them. It’s interesting to me to hear their answers because it is almost always personal, but often similar to everyone else’s - that is Family. The two brothers at odds with the world, and sometimes with each other, always find their way back to one another. They need each other, and so do we. For whatever reason we all started watching this show—the guys, the car, the music, or the epic storylines of often biblical proportions, I think we have all found something much deeper, and I think it all comes back to family. Even if we may not have blood relatives of our own, or even if we do, I think we’ve all found something in this show—and in this fandom—that we can relate to and that is each other. As a wise man once said, “Family don’t end with blood.”
Why and when did you start the road map?
The Road So Far map project came about because I was curious how about many miles the boys have actually driven in Baby over the course of the show. I found a couple places online where people have recorded everywhere the guys have been to, but no one who had tracked everywhere they’ve driven to. Obviously, there is no way to know how many miles Sal or John put on Baby before Dean inherited her, so I started at “Woman in White” (episode 1.01).
How does it work? Where do you get the information about the places? Can you explain the procedure in detail?
Most of the episodes will list the city/state that they are in, but sometimes it took a bit of creativity to come up with a location. For example, sometimes they may just say that “there is a case in Wisconsin” and jump in the car and take off. So I look for other clues in the episode that give a more definitive location. Sometimes it’s a piece of mail that’s visible on someone’s desk that lists a city, or it may be notes about a case from John’s journal, or coordinates written on a map, etc. But there are episodes where they visit a fictional city or location and I will have to come up with an educated guess. Harvelle’s Roadhouse is one example. At one point, it was stated that it was in Nebraska, but no definite location has ever been revealed. But since it is a frequent stop for hunters, it makes sense to me that it is fairly easily accessible for so many to stop by. For my tracking project, I assumed its location to be about halfway down the main I-80 interstate thoroughfare, outside of Grand Island. Others may come to different conclusions, but I needed some kind of map point for the project.
My numbers also don’t take into account any “around town” driving that they may do because there is no way to calculate that. I only tracked the cities/states and average drive time it would take between locations.I recorded the drive time between locations because that is another funny thing I’ve noticed about the show; sometimes they will arrive at their destination in a matter of hours when it would realistically take much longer. So that’s for anyone else who wants to know how much time they’ve actually spent on the road!
I have all of this recorded in a simple Excel spreadsheet [examples later in this interview].
I have a large US map where I’ve added pins to all the places they’ve driven to. I then connect them with different colored strings for the different seasons. It’s fun to see their entire path over the course of the show!
Did you track anything else?
A few of the things I tried to keep track of include how many people have died or how many times they’ve said certain catchphrases like “Son of a bitch” or “So get this.” For my death tally, I tried to keep track of final human deaths. Monster victims, angel/demon meat suits, etc. were included in my numbers, but not resurrected people. If Sam, Dean, or anyone else died but it was reversed, I did not include that in my count.
I´m curious. What are the Top 10 most-visited places on your list?
The Men of Letters bunker in Lebanon, Kansas is obviously the most visited location since they have been based there for almost 6 years now. Sioux Falls (Bobby and Jody’s houses) is next on the list, followed by Whitefish, Montana (where Rufus’s cabin is located), Harvelle’s Roadhouse, and a couple of cities in Indiana when Dean was to and from Lisa’s home.
You started with episode “Woman in White” (1.01). What´s the last episode you added to the Excel sheet and the US map?
The map is current through season 13. I have not added anything from season 14 yet because I like to watch the episodes first, then go back and start tracking the details.
Is there a chance that we can see the whole list? Do you share it anywhere?
I haven’t shared more than summary snapshots, but I will send you images of the full spreadsheets.
Examples from Season 1 & 13
Duct Tape Art
I have never heard of art made out of duct tape. Where did that idea come from?
Lots of spare time and no social life? Haha, but more seriously, I needed a hobby! I started playing around with the idea 10 years ago in college. I was bored and needed something to fill my extra time. I don’t party and didn’t really relate to anyone very well. But I had a literal epiphany moment one night. I was sitting in my dorm staring at my wall (again) when my eyes landed on the stack of colored duct tape that I had used for a recent project. A thought popped in my head that set it all in motion. “Art” is created with infinite mediums, why can’t I use duct tape? And I picked up my X-ACTO knife and went to work. Everyone has seen the duct tape wallets, purses, flowers, etc. but I wanted to create something new.
How do you create your incredible pictures? What kind of duct tape do you use? Do you work on layers? Can you explain how it works?
I start every piece by creating a template. If someone has an image they would like recreated that works well. Or they’ll describe what they want and I do a simple mock-up on the computer to get an idea in my head of how it needs to look. I’ll print it out and spend time drawing over that and making final decisions on where I would need to cut, what colors would need to go where, etc. Once that’s decided, I’ll layer the needed colors of duct tape on the art board and lay the template I’ve drawn over the top. I’ll lightly score through the paper onto the tape but not cut anything yet. After that, I’ll discard the template and then go back over the full piece, actually cutting through it down to the color layer for a particular spot, then carefully peel away the extra—being careful not to remove what needs to stay for the artwork. It’s tedious, but produces a unique artwork!
Recreation vs. Original
Can you explain how you choose the pictures to create with the tape?
This kind of style means working with definite lines between the colors. It is almost a “comic book” style, which means I can’t blur or fade colors like paint or charcoal. That is about the only limitation though! But I do have to keep that in mind when I am planning how to create a piece. I have to consider the limited color options and how it will look after.
How long do you need for a duct tape picture? What was the longest you worked on a picture and what was it?
The longest I ever spent on a single duct tape art piece was a 16 x 20” re-creation of the stained-glass window from the end of Beauty and the Beast. I spent around 20 hours on that one piece. I admit I stopped counting after a certain point, I just knew it was several weeks’ worth of work because I can only work an hour or two every evening when I get home from my job.
Some artists are open for commissions. What about you? Is your art available to buy?
Absolutely! I only work on commissions. I do have a full-time job so I can only work a couple hours in the evenings, which means each piece can take a week or more to make. Because of that, I do not have a full website where people can place big orders. Each piece is custom created. They are not prints that I can fire off. I discuss exactly what the person would like and try to bring their dream to life. I can be contacted via my page on Facebook, Twitter, or regular email works fine too.
You own an AMC that Felicia Day used in the show (Episodes 8.15, 8.20, and 10.11). Did you buy the car after the episode aired, or did you own it before?
The Gremlin was owned by the Picture Car Coordinator for Supernatural, Jeff Budnick. He works for various studio companies in Vancouver, Canada, and oversees many different vehicles for TV shows and movies that film around the area. The Gremlin has been used in Supernatural, Legends of Tomorrow, Riverdale, A Series of Unfortunate Events, and the Daniel Radcliffe movie Horns (and very likely other productions that Jeff admits he can’t remember).
Yertle in the Movie Horns
He used it at least three times in Supernatural. In 8.15 “Man’s Best Friend with Benefits” it was driven by Drexel. This episode filmed shortly after the vehicle returned from Horns, so it was still red at the time. They repainted the car yellow for Charlie to drive in 8.20 “Pac-Man Fever” and 10.11 “There’s No Place Like Home.”
Yertle in Episode 08.15 “Man’s Best Friend with Benefits” (before Yertle was yellow)
At first, I thought it was a replica. It’s unbelievable that you own the car that was actually used in the show! Felicia Day, and maybe others, sat in the car. Awesome (yes, read that in Dean’s voice)! Do you know Jeff Budnick (Picture Car Coordinator for Supernatural)?
Yes, I do know Jeff Budnick. However, I did not get the vehicle directly from him.
Now I’m so curious. How did you get the car?
Jeff sold the Gremlin to a mutual friend in Washington who owned it for the past year. Then I bought the car from him back in October, 2018 and brought it down to my home in Kansas.
What condition was the car in when you got it?
Jeff first sold the car to a mutual friend of ours who did a bit of work on it himself. The floorboards were rusted out, so he repaired those and replaced a few worn-out parts in the engine, but besides that, he did not do anything else with it. It had been sitting in his storage for the past year.
He was toying with the idea of selling it, but wanted to keep it in the Supernatural Family if possible, instead of selling it publicly.
He graciously sold it to me, and I intend to keep it in its screen-used condition and will likely be taking it to conventions and public events for others to enjoy too. It is a forty-year-old car, however, and needed a bit of love to get up and running. My father and I love tinkering on cars together and we’ve replaced/repaired a few more worn-out parts and cleaned it up. She’s got bumps and dings from being used as a movie car for years, but those will stay as is to keep her in original condition. It’s the blemishes that make her beautiful, after all.
What year is the Gremlin?
It is a 1976 AMC Gremlin.
What parts are original and what is restored?
Almost everything is still original. The only parts we’ve replaced are a few mechanical and electrical components, and the floorboards and carpets have been repaired. But it has the original straight-line, six-cylinder engine, transmission, and the rest of the interior and seats. It also still has the seat covers that were on it in Charlie’s episodes.
How long did you work on the car to get it in its current condition?
My father and I have put in a couple months of work to improve the safety and driveabily of the car. There are numerous worn parts and pieces that need to be repaired or replaced. Overall she’s been well taken care of, but she’s definitely needed some love!
Does the AMC have a name? When and why did you choose this name?
Felicia Day affectionately nicknamed the Gremlin “Yertle” because it looks like a little yellow turtle. I will keep the name in honor of her character.
Yertle in Episode 08.20 "Pac-Man Fever"
You use it as your daily car, right?
I don’t use it as a daily driver because of it's screen-used and literally one-of-a-kind status. I have taken it out on a few short trips so far.
How does it feel to drive the car that Felicia Day sat in?
It makes me very happy to consider that Felicia drove this exact car. As a huge Supernatural fan, I’m honored to help preserve this piece of Charlie’s history.
Yertle in Episode 10.11 "There's No Place Like Home"
I know you found some leftovers in the car. What exactly was left in it?
There was still a bunch of stuff in the car left over from filming on Supernatural! Jared left his script for “There’s No Place Like Home” (episode 10.10) under the passenger seat, which has a few scenes they ended up cutting. There were a couple other call sheets and pieces of fake glass under the seats and in the back too. In addition to Jared’s call sheet, there was a crew placard that serves as the parking pass for the show vehicles.
Is there anything else you want to tell us about Yertle?
I have a photo of Felicia that she signed, and she wrote “Yertle, you are unsafe! Love Felicia.” She was referencing the rusted-through floorboards it had when she drove it. She said you could actually see the road through the floor!
Where can the people find information about the conventions you will attend with the car?
I don’t have a social media page set up for it just yet. I hope to do a few appearances with it here and there, but my main problem is that I work at so many of these conventions and rarely have a chance to just attend, much less have a booth of my own. It will likely just be small fan events that I’ll have it at in the meantime.
Do you have other creative hobbies besides the ones listed above?
I’m always busy with something! In my other spare time, I work at Comic-Cons and Sci-Fi conventions all over the US, or if I get the chance to just attend, I enjoy cosplay. I am not a professional by any means. It is just something I like to do on the weekends!
Now it’s time for the question I ask everyone. If you could change only one thing in the world right now, what would it be?
What one thing would I change? Well, “world peace” is a bit cliché and seemingly unobtainable, but what's not out of grasp is simple human kindness. Look out for one another, help each other when you can. You don't have to set out to change the world. But what you may find is that it's the simple acts of kindness that mean the world to someone else. If we all took just an extra moment out of our day to improve someone else's, I think we would all be better for it.
Thanks for taking the time to do this interview with me!
Please share your comments, questions, and reactions below! If you want to follow Rianna, the links are below:
Facebook: duct tape art page https://www.facebook.com/RiannasDuctTapeDesigns
Thanks for reading.
-Using Words, Telling Stories, The Writer Business-
Read More Stories of Fans who have been "Inspired by Supernatural"!
Sam and Dean Action Figures,
Bettina's own Supernatural photography editing,
Outstanding Supernatural Sketches by Janie,
and other creations can all be found in WFB's "Lighter Side" articles!