This month – July

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Read – Online

Middle children are going extinct, and apparently that’s an issue.

Also an issue: trolls. And exactly like “If you just don’t respond, they’ll stop bullying you” never worked in grade school (protip: forcefully punching bullies in the face once however did work – in my case at least), “don’t feed the trolls” doesn’t work either. But what does?

The history of the Nijmeegse Vierdaagse, a world famous four day walking event in the city of Nijmegen.

Think you’re too old to start a start up? Think again! New data shows that successful start ups often have slightly older founders.

“For fun” DNA tests to figure out your heritage are relatively cheap and easily acquired through the internet. But what if the test shows that your parent is not your parent?

In 2018, Burberry destroyed 38 millioen dollars of their unsold goods to ensure their products stay scarce and luxurious. #nocomment

Media geared towards women, and the, oftentimes hidden, #spon it contains. Food for thought.

Great article by Mara Wilson about Allison Mack and the horrific NXIVM case.

‘What a star he would be today’: the extraordinary musical legacy of Sylvester.

THERE IS A WORD FOR IT! “Tsundoku“: buying books you end up not reading.

The world’s best power move ever: “I don’t know her“.

Listened to – Music

Def Leppard covers Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus”.

Moon Hooch play their cave music in an actual cave: Stalactites, Stalagmites, Water Drops and Minerals. Also available to listen to and/or purchase (featuring an extra track) on their Bandcamp.

Listened to – Podcasts

I hate it but I love it on The Bodyguard.

The Sound Podcast, in which Moon Hooch member Mike Wilbur gives insight into their (live) musical process.

And of course the podcast suggestions given by Niki at the end of her interview.

Watched – Films and Documentaries

I only watched Dutch documentaries this month, if you want to know what they were, check out the Dutch version of this post.

Watched – TV and Youtube

Jamie Nyx of Sea Green Zines fame created an amazingly detailed YouTube series on selling your zines online. She talks about the big changes at Etsy, compares virtually all other selling platforms available and even calculates how much selling your zines on each of those platform costs.

Sarah Swan’s bullet journal videos.

Miscellaneous awesomeness

The Mus bullet journal sticker book.

The Flow Holiday Box.

See All This magazine on 99 genius women in art. Tipped by Mariëlle Kleynjan.

Like DaphneThomas Elshuis inherited A Lot of slide frames. He’s been using those 20.000 slide frames to create new work.

Handlettering workshop at CREA

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Every summer the university cultural center  CREA organises more than 70 one week summer courses. At the end of the week all the participants show their work during the Friday night performance/exhibit xtravaganza. A couple of years ago, I did a writing workshop and a screen printing course, this year I decided to do try my hand (ha!) at hand lettering. The course was taught by Safia of Studio Saf, who is not only an amazing handletterer herself, but also a super encouraging and supportive instructor. Because of this, even I (a beginner with not much natural talent for hand lettering ) eventually managed to finish a complete work. A photo impression of the week:

The tools of the trade

Today’s lightboxes are LED powered, super thin and bright!

My first attempts at a serif font

On the top left the original, on the bottom left the copied version (using the lightbox) in colour, and on the right a freehand “zeehond” (“seal”) – I just liked the flow of the word

India ink close up

On the left some tests for the poster I ended up making and on the right a commissioned “P.” for one of the writing group participants who had written a story about, exactly, somebody named “P.”

Our exhibit! \o/

Top right: the mock up of my poster, bottom right and left: tests leading to the mock up and on the top right my poster, which combined everything we had learned this week (serif, sans serif, fonts that combine shape and meaning, and freehand).

I will continue hand lettering (and yes, I have already bought a light box!) in the year to come and will then recreate this poster, to see if I have made any technical progress. As far as I’m aware, this course will be taught again next year at CREA, if you have the chance to attend: please do! Safia also teaches a number of workshops and longer courses throughout the year.

Links:
Studio Saf
CREA

Note: Like all my posts in the “Get out of the house!” series, this activity was booked and paid for by me, after which I got stoked and decided to write about it all by myself. #nospon

Interview with Niki

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Who are you and why?

I am Niki Schoondergang, 34 years old, and I live with my partner Boudewijn, our two daughters and our cat Sjaak. Boudewijn and I co-own a company, Studio Hamerhaai, where we recycle trash into Dutch Design. Looking at things and making things makes me happy. I’m a little shy when it comes to people, but I manage to hide it well. Why I am the way I am? I quit trying to be somebody else and this is who I turned out to be. And I’m quite happy with that.

On Instagram you regularly post hand made clothing and you also have a sewing related blog. When and how did you start making your own clothes? What does sewing mean to you?

I started sewing in 2015. It was a horrible year, in which I found myself at my wits’ end. I had a todler, a one year old baby, a job that didn’t suit me, and my partner had health problems: I tried to keep everything together, but at some point I just couldn’t do it anymore. It felt like total chaos in my head. Then I saw a announcement for a sewing workshop from the two ladies of House of Dots (which unfortunately doesn’t exist anymore) where you could learn how to sew an A-line skirt in one afternoon. HOW COOL IS THAT? That’s where my enthusiasm for sewing began, and soon after I started taking sewing classes.

Together with a fair amount of therapy and getting rid of my Mirena IUD, sewing has helped me tremendously to get out of my funk. Sewing is a combination of taking time for youself, getting out of your head, making something with your hands, gifting yourself new clothes and being creative. Sewing became a kind of therapy; there were times that I spend every evening behind my sewing machine. And even nowadays, when I don’t sew enough, my mind starts to act up. It preoccupies me in a good way: I’m either sewing, fantasising about new sewing projects, thinking about how I’m going to tackle the difficult parts of a particular sewing project, or scrolling through my Instagram feed.

I mostly make clothes for me, and sometimes for my children or my partner. But only if they’re super grateful of course. I put a lot of time and love in it, it makes me sweat and sometimes curse, so I’m really going for those pats on the back. Thankfully, they’re more than willing to give them to me.

Sewing has also made me a lot happier with my body. I used to think that I was a freak of nature and fat, but I have now discovered that Ready To Wear is made for an average person – that doesn’t exist. This means that it’s completely normal to have to make adjustments for a good fit.

Niki (on the right) in her first self made skirt

Could you talk a bit about the sewing community on Instagram?

The sewing community is large, English speaking and so loving. It’s amazing to see that everybody lives by the motto “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”. They’re always willing to give you constructive criticism, but only if you ask them to. And they’re very helpful. The sewist are mostly based in English speaking countries. There are a lot of young women, often in their twenties, who create the most wonderful garments. Apart from that, there are also a lot of indie designers who create the most fashion forward patterns.

There are a lot challenges and awesome hashtags on the internet, and I try to follow them all. I mostly follow people, predominantly women, who make their own clothing. I also follow people who make their own shoes and bags.

Through other sewists, I have discovered “visible mending”: a way of mending clothes where you show what was torn. It originates from Japan, it’s called Sashiko and it’s SO BEAUTIFUL! I am now fixing all my jeans with holes in them using this techique. It’s like meditation.

Sometimes I also screen print my fabric. I do this using the BobbinHood kit, a screen printing kit with eco friendly dyes.

Lots of sewists also have blogs and vlogs, and the amount of podcasts about sewing is growing steadily. It’s wonderful to listen to podcasts while sewing, it’s something a lot of sewists do. There are so many amazing things to listen to, I feel like I’m feeding my brain.

Niki in her pattern matched dress shirt that she is extremely proud of (and rightfully so! – ed.)

How does sewing your own clothes fit in the way you think about the world and the future? I remember you being part of the Schone Kleren Campagne (Clean Clothes Campaign, a civil society campaign that focuses on the improvement of working conditions in the garment and sportswear industries?

Can you believe that I never used to think about how every garment had to be made by people? It was only when I realised how much time it cost me to sew a simple t-shirt, that I realised this. If this t-shirt is sold in stores for 5 euros, something is really really wrong with our system. Because those 5 euros need to cover the design of the t-shirt, the making and printing of the fabric, the fabric has to be cut and sewn together, it has to be shipped all over the wold and then there’s the store that needs to make some profit. It’s absolutely impossible for this to happen in a fair way!

A long time ago, I was a part of Stoere Vrouwen (“Tough Women”), their goal is to inspire people to shop sustainably. Stoere Vrouwen also promoted fair fashion and worked together with Rank a Brand, who have an app on which you can check how certain brands are doing regarding fair fashion. It was interesting to see that Zeeman (a store in the lower price segment) was doing better than HEMA (a store in the middle price segment). I then helped getting brands to be more open about their production process. I also organised a clothes swap and was part of one of their marches. But for some reason it all didn’t stick yet. Strange how that works, huh?

Nowadays, I either make my own clothes or try to buy them second hand, with the exception of shoes and underwear. That way I don’t contribute to the creation of yet more clothing. On top of that I give old clothing a second life and I save money. The last time I bought anything new, was a pair of jeans about a year ago. This year, I want to also start making pants, so hopefully this is the last Ready To Wear pair of jeans I bought new at a store.

You know, I’m far from perfect in this regard, but I’m trying my best. If everybody tries their best and helps others, the world will be a better place. I try to lead by example, also for my two daughters that I would like to raise to be aware people.

Niki in her version of the Moneta Frankenstein dress

What do you want to achieve in your life?

World peace of course, haha! I don’t have any big goals: a good life for me and my close ones, without making the world a worse place, but – if in any way possible – while making the world a better place. Ecologically, but also in the way people treat each other. I try to achieve this by leading by example and by speaking up when I don’t agree with something. Speaking up is something that’s way out of my comfort zone, but I’m getting better at it. Maybe because I’m getting older, or maybe because I believe in myself more. Or maybe just because I’m right, ha!

(Photo credit: Niki Schoondergang)

Links:

Instagram Niki
Blog

Podcast tips:

Death, Sex & Money, Reply All, This American Life, Ear Hustle, The Guilty Feminist, Unladylike, Dear Sugars, Modern Love, Criminal, This is Love, Dirty John

Sewing podcasts:

Love to Sew Podcast, Stitcher’s Brew Podcast.