This Month – February

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It was short, it was sweet: this month marked the absolute highlight of my zine carreer. An interview with me was posted on the blog of the London College of Fashion Library’s Special Collections, which you can read here. More about my zines and other creative work can be found on my LP in progress site.

Like always, the books I’ve read this month can be found on my Goodreads. Spoiler: no books were finished this month, mostly because the books I’m currently reading are both large and heavy to carry, and I tend to do most of my reading on the train. I’ll do better next month.

Read – Online

The Search for Jackie Wallace. An arcticle I just bumped into while reading something else completely, that keeps haunting me. About talent, fame, and what happens after. Not a happy read, but excellently written.

Tina Sosna blog. Mostly pictures, sometimes accompanied by text. An atmospheric blog.

The Great Discontent, for anyone who enjoys long read interviews with artists about their lives, their development and their process. Also has great pictures.

Today is not over yet by Alexandra Franzen. THE blogpost for those days (weeks, months, years) where you feel that you just want to give up, because it doesn’t matter anyway, it’s already [insert time], it’s not going to happen. For those wanting more inspiration, Alexandra has bundled a couple of her posts into a “Today is not over yet” mini audiobook, that you can listen to here on Soundcloud.

Listened to – Music

Vanilla – Origin. The description says: “‘Origin’ is a collection of seventeen instrumentals made over the past year built around a range of soul, jazz, funk and electronic samples” and I have nothing to add to that.

Listened to – Podcasts

Reply All podcast, the episode about Livejournal. Truth is stranger than fiction. No, but really.

Watched – Films and Documentaries

Verlaten. Dutch documentary about what being left by your (long term) partner can do to people’s lives and their sense of self. Intimate though nuanced and subdued documentary.

We Margiela. From the beginning to the “end”: the history of the Martin Margiela fashion house, as told by all the people who lived it. Except for Martin Margiela himself of course. Great documentary that shows how, despite everybody doing their best and having the company’s best interest at heart, things can still go awry.

Buying the Band. The absolute, undisputed best documentary of this month. Dutch documentary (English is spoken though) about a businessman with a childhood dream: he wants to be the drummer of The Wild Romance, the backing band of the late Dutch rockstar Herman Brood, and build up a long lasting European career with them. It’s about childhood dreams, business minded thinking, being in a band (that Hard Times article titled “I Missed Being in a Band, So I Started Dating Five People Who Hate Each Other” comes to mind), Nina Hagen and owning 44 cars. Just watch this documentary.

Watched – TV and Youtube

Lucy Moon, more specifically this video.

Conan Gray makes music and videos about his life.

Cat Creature studies at the Rhode Island School of Design and makes diary-like videos about her life.

DREAL “Respiration”. An ancient video I still dream about regularly. Such a brilliant dancer.

Ink Master – Meesters van de Lage Landen seizoen 2. Where in the US version they tend to yell at each other (scripted of course), in Dutch version they’re just all super nice to each other. Fun drama free reality tv: it’s possible.

Miscellaneous awesomeness

The new V&A museum in Dundee. It opens in September 2018 and IT’S A BOAT! I mean, it looks like one. I’m not much of a boat person, but this is kinda epic. Here’s a drone video of the building in progress.

Google feud! For all those long hours spent bored in the waiting room when you forgot your book.

Rachel Burke makes clothes out of tinsel. This is her instagram and this is her shop.

Next week there’ll be a new post up here on Featured Mag! See you on Wednesday!

Soap making workshop at Werfzeep

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It was a cold Saturday morning, I had slept about 90 minutes that night but that didn’t stop me from enthusiastically boarding the 8:55 am train to Utrecht: I was going to attend a soap making workshop! The last time I made soap had been about 8 years ago, so I was more than ready.

The workshop was organised by the artisanal organic soap makers “Werfzeep” in their workplace in Utrecht. The class started off with soap theory: instructor Laurens explained what soap is, how it is made, what ingredients can (and cannot) be used, and how you can use essential oils to perfume your soap. After all this, it was going to be our turn to make soap from scratch.

I really liked that the instructor paid thorough attention to theory. Not only does it explain what you are going to be doing and why (and in what order) during the workshop, it also gives you enough knowledge to make your own soap at home. And I also just enjoy listening to people talk about things they know and care a lot about.

After a short tea break, we were split into teams of two and got to work. Since Werfzeep only works with vegetable oils and fats, we started on a recipe containing coconut oil and olive oil.

Of course only after we put on an apron.

The measuring of the ingredients had to be precise, and getting all the oils to melt and have the right temperature without overcooking them took some effort. Then it was time to add the lye, during which we of course wore safety glasses.

Once everything was mixed together, the fun – or the frustration – started: for your soap to become, well, soap, you have to stir and stir and stir and stir until both your arms hurt and you feel like crying because – and I quote myself from 8 years ago: – “That trace will never happen!”

This time however, we were allowed to finish it off with a hand blender. As soon as trace appeared, we added our customised essential oil mix, hand blendered a bit more and then poured the soap into the mould. Those who felt like it had the option to add lavender or calendula to their soap, but since the perfume my soap partner and I had concocted was already uh, kinda intense, we decided not to.

This was the end result:

And now we wait, because cold process soap needs to cure for about a month before it’s ready. As soon as it is, it will be sent to me and I can hardly wait! I will of course post a picture on Instagram as soon as it arrives, and will “edit to add” this post then too.

ETA: you can see the pictures here!

I for one had a great Saturday morning and would definitely recommend this workshop! It’s held (almost) every month, on this page you can see on which dates there are still spots available and how you can register.

Links:

Website Werfzeep
Instagram

Note, just so that things are clear: nothing I write about on Featured Mag is sponsored or “a collab” or whatever the euphemisms are nowadays. I found out about this workshop through Anne-Fleur Kan’s Instagram, enrolled, paid, got stoked and decided to write about it all by myself.

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Next week it’s time for the monthly round up! See you on Wednesday!

Interview with Samantha

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Who are you and why?

I am Samantha, also known as ChronicVillainy. I am what people would call a nerd or a geek, with my interests spanning books, games and anime/manga (“the Japanese stuff”). I have always been interested in stories and characters and read/watch material in different genres, depending on my mood. The same goes for games: they’re basically interactive narratives where you as the player are in charge of the progress of the story. You have the ability to influence the story not only by beating Monster A (or not beating it), but also by doing side quests. I mainly play games with a strong focus on narrative and characters. I really enjoy a game with a good story line, interesting world building, character development, and characters with depth and gray morality.

In my daily life I work in a book store. Every retail job cliché you’ve ever heard is true, although there are also really fun customers: I’ve had several interesting conversations about Stephen King’s writings, exchanged titles of good fantasy books with a customer, and of course discussed books I’ve read that customers are buying.

Another thing that brings me lots of joy in my life, is my dog Tali. I’m a big lover of animals – and dragons.

Where and when did your interest in stories start? In what way do stories play a part in your life?

I have loved stories from childhood on. My parents weren’t big readers, but they did encourage me to read and would regularly take me to the library to lend books. I absolutely adored stepping into a different world. For the longest time, my parents wouldn’t allow me to have a game console, but at 12 years old I finally got a PlayStation 1 so I could play the Spyro the (purple!) Dragon games. Then, during the Pokémon hype, I got a Nintendo 64 and on that console played my first Zelda game. That’s when I started appreciating games as a way of conveying good stories. I got into anime and manga a couple of years after that.

My hobbies are also related to my interest in stories: I write articles for AniWay, a Dutch magazine about Japanese pop culture.

It’s a volunteer position, and I really enjoy it. I started off as a proof reader and then got my first shot as a writer when they needed an article at the last minute. I usually write reviews of anime/manga-series and games, but I have also written reviews of events. If somebody, even if it’s just one person, becomes interested in a series/game by reading my review, I will have reached my goal. And it’s also a great opportunity to discuss my favorite series at length – or to “responsibly” critique series that I’m not so fond of. On top of that, I am also an editor for the magazine. Since language and writing make me happy, I also keep a book review blog called Bookish Villainy.

I have also been known to draw, mostly fan art.

For me, it’s a way to show my appreciation for a series/character. My former hobbies (cosplay, role playing and figurine collecting) were also ways of doing that, but with drawing I have the most freedom, as I can focus on the parts of a series/game/character that interest me. It is, however, a thing that takes time and, despite having lots of ideas, daily life gets in the way sometimes. Sharing my art online (on DeviantArt for example) has led to interesting interactions with fellow fans with my art giving them a new perspective not previously considered within the fandom.

The origin of stories (like mythology or folklore) is also something that interests me, as does the ability to get a point of view completely different from your own. I think that’s very valuable.

Creativity plays a big role in your life. How did that start?

I’ve been drawing and writing since I was little. I used to make up stories and draw corresponding images. I always wanted to be an artist or a writer (or a vet) when I grew up, none of which really happened. It’s a very gratifying hobby though. My drawing became more “serious” when Dragon Ball Z started being broadcast here in The Netherlands. I drew pages and pages of fan art, and while these drawings weren’t really good, they were the beginning of me wanting to show my appreciation for something and using art to do it.

Could you tell us more about the topics of your BA and MA theses, and how you came to write about these topics?

My BA thesis is called “Revisiting Wonderland: Neo-Victorianism and Female Empowerment in American McGee’s Video Game Adaptations of Alice in Wonderland”. It deals with two video games by American McGee: “Alice” and “Alice: Madness Returns”. Both are dark and “gothic” adaptations of the Alice in Wonderland story, but while playing the latter game I particularly noticed the Victorian symbolism in Wonderland. This symbolism however is very much the cliché that we have of what the Victorian era was like, that we often see in adaptations of Victorian works. I was curious of these clichés were put in the game just for “darkness’sake” or that there was more to it. In my thesis I analysed the symbolism and compared it to well known neo-Victorian tropes, and I concluded that the games cleverly used the symbolism to convey a message of Female Empowerment.

My MA thesis is called “Someone had Vomited Over the Round Table: The Shift from Malory and Bakhtin’s Grotesque Realism in Bernard Cornwell’s The Warlord Chronicles”. Yes, I am very proud of the title. During my English studies I became interested in the King Arthur legend, especially in the fascinating ways that different writers have interpreted the legend. “The Warlord Chronicles” by van Bernard Cornwell is one of my favorite books, despite it being a very free (and gritty) adaptation.

I really wanted to write my MA thesis about this book, and ended up comparing Cornwell’s work to “Le Morte D’Arthur” by Sir Thomas Malory. In the old days, knights and nobles were seen as ideal, and “the physical” was considered something of the masses. In Malory’s work there’s graphic descriptions of bloody fights, but there’s few passages in which knights take a bath or eat. This in contrast with Cornwell’s work, which has the knights (refered to as warriors) belching, having sex, eating, sweating and smelling each other’s breaths. Let’s just say that I quoted some… interesting passages in my thesis.

What do you want to achieve in life?

I would like to keep developing myself and adding something to the world, to create things and share them with others, both in my hobbies and in other areas of life.

(Photo credit: Samantha)

Links:

Bookish Villainy book blog
Instagram
Aniway

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Next week’s “Get out of the house!” will be about soap and how to make it. See you then!