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FEATURES|Interviews|Archean interview

HOW WAS IT FOR YOU? Archean gathers user experience data for Kink Engineering’s new inflatable toilet

Archean: latex blogger, kink engineer and bondage model

Heidi Patterson interviews Canadian engineer and popular latex blogger Archean about her fetish scene activities, and finds her answers inspiring. She may be Miss Rubber World, says Heidi, but as her writing and advocacy reveal, she is no mere figurehead

Archean is the latest Miss Rubber World, and she's doing her best to represent the title in great style.

Interviewing the Canadian engineer for The Fetishistas, I found her answers very inspiring. As her writing and advocacy reveal, she is much more than just a figurehead.

Miss Rubber World is a yearly competition, held in New York City in the dead of winter during the NY Rubber Ball. Normally presided over by The Baroness, the competition has, as its goal, to foster greater acceptance and awareness of rubberism.

Each year the prize packages become a little more fabulous, and the most recent competition was no exception. Archean has shared some of her more notable prizes with us in the gallery, and a full list of the latex treasures is available on Miss Rubber World's site.

Here’s how our conversation went…

Heidi: Congratulations on your Miss Rubber World title! What was it that made you want to enter?

Archean: I first heard about the competition a few years ago from my friends (and fellow sponsors) at Ego Assassin. I won’t lie — the prizes were the initial draw!

But after talking to [2010 winner] Dawnamatrix about the title, I figured I had a lot to offer to the latex community.  At the very least, it seemed like a fun project, and a good excuse to go down to New York.

H: There's a lot of goodies being awarded, and the amount seems to increase each year. Tell us about some of your favourite stuff so far.

A: There were so many amazing prizes. They ranged from incredibly elaborate custom pieces (my steampunk kimono from Dawnamatrix) to lots of fun basics (like some great leggings I got from Essential Latex, a motorcycle jacket from Kriszta’s, a bikini from Ego Assassin, hoods from Latex Nemesis) to some gorgeous and elaborate stock items (like my cantina jacquette from Vex and Valentina gown from HMS). 

They fit into so many different categories that it’s tough to pick a favourite.  I will say that I get the most mileage out of the basics, but the most compliments for the more elaborate stuff. Overall, I think I now have more latex than events to wear them to! And I didn’t think that was possible!

H: You have become rather knowledgeable on the subjects of fetishes and relationships, especially through your blog and your posts in the FetLife community. Was it tough for you when you were just starting out in fetish? And if so, what do you think would make it easier for other young women to jump in?

A: I got into latex because I’m dating a latex fetishist (Matt, or Mad Scientist, of Kink Engineering). When he came out to me early in our relationship, I was pretty excited about it. 

He hadn’t really had a chance to explore his kink all that much, so it was a journey that we took together. What he did absolutely right was buying me a made-to-measure catsuit right off the bat. It did wonders for my figure, and I was hooked.

I think it’s a little different for someone who has spent a good amount of time exploring their sexuality. They may not be as patient when introducing their partner.

Ultimately, no woman wants to feel like the fate of their relationship is conditional on their wearing one garment or another. So on the male side, it’s important to approach the issue with a bit of subtlety. 

As for ladies getting into latex, it’s a lot of fun!  A latex fetish doesn’t always mean full enclosure; it can mean dressing in fun and sexy gear, or sliding around on latex sheets. So I guess the key is not to be intimidated or make assumptions about what a rubberist wants from you.

H: One of the duties that comes with being crowned Miss Rubber World is being an advocate for latex clothing and its manufacturers — a role that you seem to take very seriously indeed.

I know we share concerns about the rise of knock-offs in the industry, and your writing for Knock-Off Knock-Down has really helped bring the information to others. It's frustrating for me, I know, when buyers refuse to see what I perceive as the bigger picture in this phenomenon. Are there any points you could make about this?

A: It’s a matter or expertise. I’m trained as an engineer, and understand and appreciate the value of expertise. Most knock-off companies will look at a product and try to copy it without understanding its form and function, so you wind up with shoddy copies of the original. 

Actual designers have a great understanding of how patterns work — how to fit something to the body, where to place seams, and where to take garments in or let them out.  Simply copying a design from a photo will always lead to an inferior product. 

Factor that in with a lack of understanding of the fetish that is driving the industry and you wind up with poor imitations of the originals every time.

There’s also the effect that knock-offs have on designers — it’s disheartening to release new items only to have someone immediately undercut your prices.

‘Most buyers of knock-offs wouldn’t buy the original. So it might not hurt the industry financially, but copying is a drain on an artist’s creativity and enthusiasm’

I agree with the argument that most clients who would buy a knock-off likely wouldn’t buy the original. So it might not be hurting the industry financially, but knock-offs are a drain on an artist’s creativity and enthusiasm.

H: With your increased profile, I imagine there are more opportunities for you to collaborate with photographers and video makers. What's been the most challenging shoot to date? What would be your dream photo shoot/goal?

A: Working with House of Gord was pretty challenging! It was certainly the most extreme bondage that I’ve done to date, but a nice change to our usual pace. I typically spend a large amount of time making items for our Kink Engineering shoots, so it was great to have everything pretty much ready to go.

Jeff Gord is really knowledgeable and a great guy to work with... and I have to say that watching him and Matt scheme over me was flattering, sexy and a little scary!

Apart from the bondage, I’ve found more and more I’m moving away from conventionally pretty fashion shoots. I really enjoy the taboo, and shooting at crazy offbeat locations. Some of the most fun I’ve had shooting has been on top of bus shelters, in cemeteries and in filthy attics.

I’ve got a few steampunk shoots lined up, and some post-apocalyptic stuff that I’m really excited about!

H: In your sponsor spotlight posts, you often mention your “challenging” proportions and the difficulty in finding well-fitting items. Has that problem lessened any since you first got involved in latex? What advice can you give for other latex wearers with similar concerns?

A: It’s definitely become easier to find well-fitting items. I’ve developed a knack for clothing — I know what items I can wear off the rack (like corsets and tank tops) and I’ve got a good idea of what I need custom-made.

I’ve got a challenging hip-to-waist ratio (a 26in waist and 44in hips!), so custom bottoms, catsuits and dresses are always going to be the case for me.

There’s so much to tell someone with body image issues or strange proportions. The most important thing is that almost everyone can rock some kind of latex garment. It’s not just for supermodels.

It must be properly sized and fit well. Purchase tailored items instead of moulded, as they will give the body more shape. I think I’ve got more tips than time to write them all up!

But I’ve just launched a new blog — The Latex Closet (www.latexcloset.com) — that deals with exactly those issues. It’s a bi-weekly blog that deals with an individual body part (fatty thighs is my first installment) and outlines what works and what doesn’t. 

It will also cover purchasing tips like how to spot a garment that will work for you online. It’s really tough when you can’t try things on!

Q: How’s the Toronto fetish scene doing these days?

A: The Toronto fetish scene is pretty up and coming.  We’ve got some outstanding designers — Ego Assassin and House of Etiquette who both work in latex, Northbound Leather, Plastic Wrap and Artifice Clothing who work in PVC — and some great event organisers. 

Torture Garden Toronto is going into its fourth year now and we’ve got themed parties almost every weekend. There’s definitely a lot that the city has to offer.

The latex scene isn’t as well established at Montreal’s, but having a latex sheeting wholesaler in town is doing a lot to promote new companies and hobbyists. In a few years, I think we’ll be giving Montreal’s latex scene a run for its money!

Q: What advice can you offer to aspiring Miss Rubber Worlds?

A:  Take the competition seriously, but have as much fun as possible with it! The judges like to see participants who put in lots of effort, in terms of their outfits and their fantasy performance, and they want someone who is passionate about rubber, without pandering too much to the crowd.

The competition is in three parts — an introduction/ catwalk strutting time, a question/answer period and a latex “fantasy” performance. Designers or models working closely with a designer have a definite leg up as your score includes points for great outfits in each portion.

It also helps to be really passionate about some aspect of the latex scene. For me, it’s making latex accessible to everyone — that means informing the community about knock-offs and helping everyone find a garment that they’ll really rock!

H: And finally, what's the rest of your reign looking like?

A: After a big trip to FetishCon (in Tampa) and House of Gord (in Seattle), Matt and I are taking a bit of time to focus on growing the business and promote our new laser-cut latex.

I’ve just launched my new blog, and I’m keen to start shooting some personal and fun stuff with all of my great prizes — especially with the fall colours fast approaching.

We’re also planning on throwing our second annual all-latex party this winter (location and date TBA). Last year we had a really great turnout, so much so that we’re currently looking for a bigger location!

‘There’s so much to tell someone with body image issues or strange proportions. The most important thing is almost everyone can rock some kind of latex garment’

Friday, 23 September 2011

 




Archean interview: all about
Kink Engineering

Kink Engineering, Archean’s venture with partner Matt (aka Mad Scientist), is growing at a fast clip.

We asked her to tell us something about the company’s activities, which include making products such as vacbeds, but also wholesaling latex for clothing manufacture through subsidiary Sheetlatex.com.

Kink Engineering is in its fourth year of business, but we’ve only been fulltime for about a year and a half now. The company started as Matt and I, and has grown to include Droidsy, our party-time employee.

Both Matt and I are engineers, and we saw so many easily-solvable problems with fetish gear.  We initially started making our own vacbeds as a hobby, and sold a couple to some local dommes and rubberists. It just took off from there.

I think there was a real niche in the community for our particular brand of geeky latex goods, and people have just latched on to that. We try to show a lot of our personality with the company — we’re both big nerds and big latex fans, and our passion really comes out in our work.

You’ve expanded your studio space, as well as adding sheet latex to your company’s services. Sourcing decent latex seems like a daunting task, to say the least. What motivated you to try?

Unlike Radical and 4D in the UK, there are scant few latex suppliers in North America. We had been dealing with one supplier in particular who had terrible customer service and very poor quality control.

Our friends at Ego Assassin (also Toronto-based) had been previously contacted by a foreign manufacturer, and while the minimum orders didn’t make sense for a clothing labelr, it worked with our business model.

We started off very small and have now grown to having over 45 different options, two different suppliers and a great new studio space!

Can you explain a bit about how things work when you’re the North American wholesaler for a foreign latex manufacturer?

Kink Engineering does all its own products (ie vacbeds, hoods, etc), but our Sheetlatex brand imports latex from Malaysia and Sri Lanka. It's very much the same model that Libidex/Radical Rubber has (and for the record, we're on very good terms with Nigel from Radical, having featured them in Knockoff Knockdown a few times). 

We have full control over the colours, thicknesses and quality of the latex, which is a total nightmare sometimes, but really the only way to get clothing-quality latex. 

With our Malaysian supplier, we've gone a step further and have been able to specify the level of vulcanisation in the sheeting to develop a formula that holds glue really well and has two smooth sides.

Not sure how technical you want to get here, as I've got a background in Material Science... so I could ramble for a while!

But the short version is: all of our latex is made to our exact colour and thickness specifications, we do a pretty intensive QA when it arrives on premise, and we do tweak the formula to make it better for bonding while maintaining its shine.

We work with companies that specifically produce for the medical industry and have worked with them over the past two years to get the quality up to fashion standards. So everything we sell is medical grade.

We don't typically say that we get it from Malaysia and Sri Lanka because, unlike Radical, we don't have exclusivity deals with our suppliers. But it's not a closely-guarded secret. 

We have two suppliers for redundancy purposes (civil turmoil, weather and market stability all play a role in the availability of raw material) and for speciality purposes as well — one manufacturer will supply wide sheeting, and another will supply trim.

Supplying sheeting wasn’t something that we had originally thought to do, but it just seemed to make sense. It’s great to always have latex on hand for Kink Engineering, and it’s helped smaller designers in North America really grow.

Are you working on any other technical innovations at Kink Engineering?

We’ve just added a laser cutter to our repertoire of goodies! We’re having a great time developing standard overlays to sell (we also do custom work), and doing appliqué work really feeds my OCD.

I have spent days doing appliqués on some of our vacbeds and cubes — they’re just so easy and fun with the laser, I can’t quite help myself!







Archean interview:
Principal links

The links below are divided into three groups.

The first link is for this article’s author Heidi Patterson at Essential Latex.

The next five links relate to Archean’s numerous fetish scene activities — from Kink Engineering to Sheet Latex.

The remaining links, starting with Art With Latex, are for other companies mentioned in the article or depicted in the gallery.


Heidi Patterson/Essential Latex
kinkengineering.com
latexcloset.com
msrubberworld.tumblr.com
nyrubberball.com/mrw.php
sheetlatex.com
artwithlatex.com
collectivechaosdesign.com
dawnamatrix.com
ego-assassin.com
hmslatex.com
krisztalatex/etsy.com
latexnemesis.com
libidex.com
vexclothing.com
 
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