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Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Spotlight on ...........Koshari Mahana

Looking around Mayfair I noticed a lady fitting out her new shop (called Four Winds), it’s not just any old shop, but an extravaganza of wonderful Victorian furniture, houses and mansions and many more interesting objects. I introduced myself to the lady, whose name is Koshari Mahana and I asked her if she would tell me her story, to which she kindly agreed.

Koshari is in fact very famous across the SL grid and has a thriving business making and selling furniture, houses and other items. Koshari is the designer/owner of Four Winds and now has her own blog, Virtual Mitote. She told me that she was actually in the process of giving up her real life work to concentrate on her SL business. Asking about when she was going to do this, she said “I've already done it. I worked at an elementary school for many years and in the spring I turned in my resignation. I had been thinking about it for a few months, thinking, "have I done what I dreamed of doing as a child?" I decided that in order to live my dreams I needed to take the plunge into the unknown. You see, since I was little it was always my wish to make a living selling my art, to be creative. In reality I kept taking the safe path, working for a sure paycheck. That's great for paying the bills but left me very little time to pursue my real dreams. I did love working at the school though, I love children. Currently I'm going in there 2 days a week for just an hour a day on a volunteer basis to assist a 6 year old boy who has autism in his art and gym classes. It's nice to be around the children again but I still have many hours left to pursue my Second Life business.”

I asked Koshari how long ago she had started in SL and if she had always been interested in making Victorian items, she told me “I joined SL in 2006 and my husband Loki, our friend Oriolus Oliva and I built an eastern European village together, some of it had a Victorian influence as it spanned a couple of centuries, just as old villages do. I started making Victorian houses after that, I think in 2007. The reason I did is because all of the Victorian houses I saw in SL, imo, lacked the feel of a real Victorian home, they weren't dark enough and didn't have enough patterns going on, simply not 'busy' enough and too clean and light. I grew up in Victorian homes in rl and also restored one that I lived in as an adult. I started making Victorian furniture after the houses. I really don't make castles in the medieval sense, but I do make some very large Victorian mansions.”

Koshari further explained “My husband Loki, who is my real life fiancé, brought me into Second Life. I wanted a Minoan building and he built it for me. I wanted changes and he told me to try doing it. So I learned on that. It was a bit frightening because I didn't want to mess up his work, he didn't care though, and I think he had fun watching me learn. After that I built a tent. I still sell that tent actually. Then we started on the eastern European village that I mentioned earlier.”

Tell me about your first shop and what you sold, I asked, Koshari said “The Minoan building I just mentioned was the first place I had anything for sale. I think the first items I actually sold were some rugs, then I made some alters, then a cauldron. After that I built a lot of stores in the village that we created.”

I had first seen the Victorian items that Koshari was displaying in her shop, but she told me “Although I do a lot of Victorian, and my Victorian homes and stores are the items that seem to get the most attention, I do also have several sims of different themes. Four Directions Tribal has items from many nomadic cultures including Native American and African. Four Directions World Bazaar has stores representing many world cultures, Asian, Greek, Egyptian, Moroccan etc... as well as my spiritual and metaphysical items. Four Winds Fantasy has Hobbit, Fae and Mermaid and other fantasy themed items. Four Winds CastleWorks I share with Loki and it has Medieval, Pagan, Celtic and Rustic buildings, house and merchandise.”

“One thing that I really appreciate about Second Life is that it does not discriminate. Anyone can be a creator here, one doesn't need any prior knowledge to do so. I respect that what we see here is created by its users. There are no other virtual worlds like it, even new ones that are on the horizon don't have some of the qualities that make Second Life special. I love that it's 'by the people, for the people'.”

I asked her if she had always been artistic in real life, Koshari told me “Oh, ever since I was a tiny child I wanted to be an artist. I majored in art in college too and have a Bachelors of Fine Arts Degree. I've done a bit if everything, painting, drawing, jewellery, ceramics, antique painting and frame restoration, gilding etc... I think it’s important to ones creativity to keep things fresh and new. I love trying new things and Second Life building was so different than anything I've done before. I'm trying to learn 3D modelling in other programs now however I haven't really spent enough time on it yet, I plan to though.”

And what about the real Victorian times? I wanted to know, had Koshari an opinion about them. She said “I think Victorian times ushered in the 20th century with all of its inventions and progress. If not for the Victorians and the inventors of that era we would not have most of what we take for granted now. It's funny because in some ways Victorians were conservative but in other ways it was quite the contrary. If you go into a traditional Victorian home you will see items of every different pattern from many different eras and cultures all thrown together in a way that works well together. It was not unusual to have a bear skin rug alongside an Asian vase. They were really into the idea of travelling the world, because they could. As a consequence, they were very interested in art and world cultures. I think Steampunk is so popular because it emphasizes the 'whacky inventor' that defined the Victorian era. The movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was perfect at getting that feeling across of the flying machines and interesting inventions. Also consider Jules Verne’s work, think of the novel Around the World in Eighty Days, to me this truly defines that of the Victorian mind that was adventurous and inventive. It was the Victorians that came up with the horseless carriage, where would we be today had they not thought of that? So many inventors from the Victorian era paved the way for the 20th century.”

I asked Koshari how she created her designs, did she study Victorian memorabilia to create authentic furniture etc? She told me “Sometimes I do research, sometimes I just take inspiration from real life objects and sometimes I just make them up out of my imagination. I rarely do exact reproductions as that puts too many limitations on my creativity. I'm very big on what they call, "artistic license". LOL...” And how long does it take to create a piece of your beautiful furniture? I asked “Oh I think it depends on the piece, some I create relatively quickly, others take me a whole day or even 2 because most of the work is in the textures.” Koshari replied. I also wanted to know if she had ever made SL clothing, she continued “No, I've never made clothing in Second Life, which is odd as I've made a lot of clothes, particularly costumes, in real life. I used to have a song and dance troupe of 20 elementary aged girls and I made all of their costumes every year. One would think that I would make clothing in SL but it hasn't caught my interest yet.”

Finally I wanted to know what Koshari thought of Virtual London, as she had chosen to open a shop there, she said “Oh, I think it's lovely! I don't remember where I first heard of it though. One day I just decided to explore there and thought it would be nice to have a shop there.”
Well Virtual Mayfair is certainly graced by your presence Koshari, your shop and the wonderful things you make certainly add class and style to the area, and we are pleased that you found Virtual London. I would like to thank you very much for this interview.




Janey Bracken






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