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Saturday, May 31, 2014

CTA Blue Line Bus Substitution

I ride the train to work.  It's a smart business.  Costs me $5 per day, round trip, let's me unwind or gear up, depending on if I'm going or coming from my job, and so long as I'm commuting at certain times of the day, I don't deal with too much craziness.  I can plan accurate time projections of my commute and don't have to deal with traffic hazards and a general collection of human stupidity.

However, this has all changed since the CTA started repairing the Blue Line.  Nearly every weekend they have certain stations completely shut down and buses to take you between them.  In theory it seems like a fabulous idea, but in practice, it is a massive supercell of shit storm.  It already takes me roughly 2 hours to get to work, but with CTA's fabulous planning, lazy employees, and the veritable hell that is Chicago's Northside traffic, my commute gives me night terrors.  Why?

It would seem that you would just hop off the train and hop on a bus and it drops you at the next operating trains station, only 10 or 20 minutes behind schedule.  But no.  All those pros for commuting with public transit go flying out the window when you add a dash of Northside traffic insanity.  There is no feasible detour to circumvent the delays caused by walnut-brained morons who somehow got driver's licenses.  Furthermore, the actual CTA employees who are placed there for the sole purpose of directing commuters to the location of the shuttle do so in the most blase, unconcerned manner possible- which is to say, NOT AT ALL.

So, not only do you have to deal with stupid, ridiculous Northside traffic, but you also have to deal with sidewalk traffic jams because there's no clear signage and the employees who should be helping things run smoothly have their thumbs jammed up their butts.  Oh, and there's tons of folks in cars jamming up the traffic even worse because they're so stupid that every time they see more than 5 people standing on a corner, they have to stop driving and stare at you.

The shit frosting on the crap cake is CTA's greed during peak hours.  They require passengers, who have already had a frustrating journey from one train station to the next, to go fishing through their bags to find a damn transit card so they can swipe it AGAIN to get back on a train that under normal circumstances they would have never left.  Nice Job.

I wouldn't be so upset if CTA was never able to do this successfully before.  But they were, last summer, between the SAME EXACT TRAIN STATIONS.  Last year, there were tons of CTA employees directing you where you need to go, there was appropriately and smartly placed signage to direct passengers, we were not charged a second time to reboard the Blue Line, AND we had to navigate through the busiest and narrowest of Wicker Park's streets.  This was done so efficiently that there was only a 10 minute delay.

This year, CTA seems to have forgotten everything that went right last year as they restarted repairs.
I end up spending 45 minutes to an hour in traffic traveling between train stations.  A good 50% of the delay is from commuter confusion, another 25% of it is due to the completely STUPID policy of having people swipe their transit card AGAIN to REBOARD the train, and the final 25% is the only bit that's actually associated with the detour- including passengers boarding the shuttle, getting themselves seated and helping the inevitable handicapped person or luggage toting family get themselves situated.  RIDICULOUS.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Trying to be Manly

I don't make men's jewelry.  It tends to be quite boring.  You either have to stick to a simple, repeating pattern, work with huge, bulky elements that are expensive and difficult to come by, or submit to a completely monotone, unexciting design that would probably be better off not existing for all the attention it draws.  
It's hard to get men's jewelry right.  On one hand, you want to create something to adore, amplify and embellish.  On the other, our culture seems to believe that that sort of thing and men is mutually exclusive...unless they are drag queens.  There's almost no examples of men's jewelry that I can duplicate or expand from.  I had to find inspiration from something else.

I took a look at manly men's bags to get ideas.  What I saw was interesting.  Plain, dull colors (like I expected), boxy minimalist designs (also, like I expected), and something odd.  Quirky things, usually focusing on one major element.  There was the bag that looked like clipart...

It's real!  It just looks like that
It looked like something that it wasn't, such as an envelop, turtle shell, or that Simon game from the 90s.

Courtesy of Zazzle

Courtesy of Style Magazine

Or it was festooned with motifs from cartoons, games and comic books.  It made sense that these recurring themes in men's bags could be applied to jewelry.  I tried.  Let me know what you think?

I chose the skull design because I had plenty of them lying around and because it's a common inclusion in men's casual bags.  Somehow skulls + dark colors = manly, so that's what we went with.  Honestly, I feel that it's unisex, well besides the length of the bracelet.  It's a great deal longer than I usually make because men tend to have larger wrists.  I'm satisfied with how it turned out.  Why don't you guys give it a try.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Experimental Wire-Wrapping

I didn't do a lot of wire wrapping before it became hard to hang on to my tools, but I've been trying it a little bit recently because of my aunt's fabulous work.  I really wish I had photos to show you, but her pieces are intricate and inspiring.  My wire-wrapping isn't nearly so well put together, but I did try.  Here you are.

I did two projects.  One with a marble- very VERY simple...and something a bit more adventurous. 

I wish I was better at terminating the wires there...

How do you guys think I did?  Leave a comment!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Limited Supplies: A bracelet's story

There comes a time in a crafter's life when they don't have enough supplies to finish a project and the supplies they initially used are no where to be found in the market.  What do you do in those situations?  Do you let the creative energy for the project die out while waiting and searching for the perfect beads?  Or do you make due with what you have?

As a person with a tendency to completely forget things the longer they're out of sight or out of practice, I usually do the latter.  Waiting is a good way for you to accidentally use up the supplies you designated for the original design.  However, I'm not stupid.  I know that sometimes rushing into finishing a project can cause it to suffer in quality or versatility as well.  That's when you carve out a niche for your design to fit into or alter the design so that it better fits a different category.

That's what I did with this particular bracelet.

It only comes to a little over 6 inches, which perfect if you have a tiny wrist... not so much if you have a larger one.  I might very well be left holding on to this particular design because I skimped on materials.  We'll see. 

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Lyrical Analysis: Too Close by Alex Clare

Some people have been asking for rants, my feelings on certain topics, and reviews of more than just the odd movie or makeup product.  Since, I'm fairly open to suggestions that won't cause me bodily, emotional, financial, or psychological harm, I decided to give it shot.  Get ready for some Snark on the Snarktopus. 

First off, I'm going to jump straight into this mess, because, it's always fun to analyze, theorize, and rip something to shreds.  It's one of the things I'm really, really good at.  So, here's my review and honest feelings about Alex Clare's song "Too Close". 

Now, according to Pandora, this song has classic rock structures, electronic influences, and some other stuff that I don't feel like typing out.  It's all true, though.  It's actually pretty nice to listen to, if you don't pay close attention to the lyrics.  Some lovelorn fellow is singing about a relationship gone sour.  He doesn't want to end things, but he just has to be true to himself!  How tragic!  How noble! 

BULL.  SHIT.  This guy is full of it.

"But wait, Snarktopus!  That song's just about a guy who loves his girlfriend, but he just feels so pressured about their relationship that he just HAS to break up with her!"

You, voice of the misinformed and desperate female, are as dumb as mud.  This isn't about that at all.  Let's break down the lyrics.

"You know I'm not one to break promises
I don't want to hurt you but I need to breathe
At the end of it all, you're still my best friend
But there's something inside that I need to release
Which way is right, which way is wrong
How do I say that I need to move on
You know we're heading separate ways"

In the first verse, this guy claims that he doesn't break promises, that he doesn't want to hurt this person, and that he needs to 'breathe'.  He also throws a carefully worded 'Let's just be friends' out there and has the audacity to claim that his partner knows that they're headed separate ways.   HA!  Shenanigans.  What sort of commitment causes a person who needs to be 'true to himself,' as he claims in the chorus, to break things off?  ENGAGEMENTS.   The statement about being friends is the icing on the cake.  Anyone besides me recognize these very excuses as common to the sort of frightened, self-centered, and guilt-riddled manchild who's been cheating on his fiancee? 

Okay.  Okay.  Maybe I'm wrong.  Let's just look at the chorus in detail.

"And it feels like I am just too close to love you
There is nothing I can really say
I can't lie no more, I can't hide no more
Got to be true to myself
And it feels like I am just too close to love you
So I'll be on my way"

Alright.  It feels like he's too close to love this person? ...What kind of statement is that?!  How are you 'too close' to love someone??  Did they have a bout of violently explosive diarrhea that blew him into a concrete wall and now he has PTSD?  Did this person reveal that they're a serial killer?  Are they dying of a horrible, disgusting illness that he can't handle watching them go through?  Because honestly, none of those are good reasons to just break up with someone.  Okay, I'll admit, having your bones shattered by violent diarrhea could cause enough emotional trauma to be a plausible reason for a breakup, but not the others.  Breaking up with someone for being a serial killer is...kinda dumb, because you're the next victim, for sure.  And breaking up with someone who's terminally ill is just a dick move and the person guilty of it should have their nethers coated with honey and suspended near a fire ant nest.

Now, for the second verse.

"You've given me more than I can return
Yet there's also much that you deserve
Nothing to say, nothing to do,
I've nothing to give
I must leave without you
You know that we're heading separate ways"

...Okay, this guy's a colossal... there are so many words I could call him.  Essentially, he's claiming that his former partner has been nothing be GREAT.  This person's been the best significant other possible and he is running out on him or her like a back-stabbing little ingrate, and probably to bone someone else.  A good friend of mine would call him a 'Rat Bastard!' and she'd be totally right.

It's obvious that the guy in this song is just a selfish, spineless jerk, who's either cheated on, is cheating on, and/or is so afraid of losing childish things that he holds more dear than the person who's given him their everything that he's going to just up and leave, without a good explanation.  Nothing to do here.  Too close to love you.  Bye.  Really?  Take a long walk off a short pier, buddy.   I sincerely hope that the person he's walked out on didn't cry, because that's a waste of energy and resources.

Now, if anyone tries to come after me with a load of butthurt over this song analysis, I will happily recommend that they just listen to it on repeat, add a heaping cup of sarcasm and picture me not giving a flying tree squirrel about their opinion.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Centipede: Bracelet

Remember that post I did that talked about taking inspiration from Nature?  Well, right now, I'm really inspired by something a little unexpected:  Bugs.  Not just any bug, but the creepiest, most leg-havingest BAMFs of the bug world.  The Centipede and the Millipede.

So cute!  So sexy.

With interlocking armored plates, vibrant colors and their sinuous movements on their multitude of tiny little legs, these beasts are practically made to inspire jewelry.  Here's my take on the milipede above.
Crawling to an arm near you!

Lots of tiny bicones...

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Etude House: Baby Choux Peach

When I first heard of Etude House, it was from a video by CutiePieMarzia, on Youtube.  Since Marzia has become synonymous with 'adorable adult' in many people's minds, you can already tell that this product line was brain-meltingly cute.  With her invitation to her 'Marzipans' to check out the product, I went on the hunt for more information.
Marzia and other beauty bloggers and Youtubers had featured various Etude House cleansers, primers, lip colors and foundations.  The products were all adorably packaged, reported to have a light fragrance, and seemed to give the users a smooth finish.  Unfortunately, there was a shortage of reviews from People of Color, particularly from those with a skin tone darker than Becca's 'Buttercup' shade.
About this color

After hours of searching, I finally found a review from a girl a few shades darker than myself.  She loved the way the Etude House: Sweet Recipe Baby Choux primer felt, nourished her skin, wicked away oil, and prevented breakouts with her usual foundation.  After a bit more research, I learned that the primer came in three colors: Berry, Mint and Peach.  Peach was recommended for those with dark skintones.  I went to eBay to find some of Etude House's primer for cheap.  They have it on Amazon for $15+ shipping, but some eBay sellers offer it for $9.99- shipping included.  I'll take waiting ten days over spending $15 more to try a new product. 

Now, to give you a bit of comparison, I took photos of my usual makeup results.  Forgive the darkness of the photo.  It was taken in the bathroom with a cellphone.
There I am. 

Beauty products used: Derma E Tea tree oil moisturizer, Ambi Even and Clear Daily moisturizer with SPF 30, American Beauty liquid foundation in shade 11, Covergirl Professional Powder in shade 120.  Avon Glimmersticks eyeliner in black, Maybelline Collosal Volume mascara.  L'occitane Pivione Flora No. 4 lipstick (Just a dab to help even out my lips), Vaseline to smooth out the subtle application of the lipcolor.. There you go.   That's my usual routine

Since I knew that Baby Choux is Etude House's BB cream/primer base, I understood that it was supposed to be your SPF protection, moisturizer and primer all in one.  So I skipped the Dema E, Ambi SPF moisturizer and jumped straight into my foundation right after I applied it.

I look 20 times brighter.
Beauty Products Used: Etude House Baby Choux in peach, American Beauty liquid foundation in shade 11, Covergirl Professional Powder in shade 120.  Avon Glimmersticks eyeliner in black, Maybelline Collosal Volume mascara.  L'occitane Pivione Flora No. 4 lipstick, and Vaseline.

Things I noticed:
This primer didn't make me feel like I was wearing a mask.  It's smooth and creamy, like you'd expect.  Although it initially looks chalky when applying, once it's rubbed in, your skin appears smoother, acne scars seem faded, and pores smaller.  I noticed that I used less foundation after applying this product.  It provided better coverage and looked more natural.  My lip color and eyeliner seemed to glide onto my face.  Since I applied Baby Choux to my lips as well, they looked more pouty.  Since they are already big, I decided not to do that again.

The results you see above were successfully duplicated on subsequent applications of the Baby Choux primer.  I look more natural in my makeup and was frequently complimented on having 'cleared up my skin'.  HA!  Another unexpected, added benefit is that my skin seems smoother and better hydrated overall after using the product a few times per week.  My acne break outs are also less severe. The fact that the product includes pore clarifying extracts could have something to do with that.  Other, more expensive anti-acne primers I've purchased don't yield equal results and often make me feel like I'm wearing a mask. 

I recommend Baby Choux to anyone willing to try it.  As a BB cream or just a primer, it works beautifully.  Just work out the optimal amount for your skin-tone.  In the future, I'm going to try some other products by Etude House.  I was so pleased with their primer; maybe their lip colors, stains and cleansers would work for me as well.

Stay Beautiful!

Monday, May 19, 2014

More Jack

Another little Jack Skellington charm bracelet I made.  This is the first time I've done a design with just black and a neutral color.  In my charm bracelets, I've always combined black with a bright or rich color like red, green, or purple.  Sometimes blue.  You don't want the bracelet to look too dark, you know?  

Anyway, here are the photos. 

Friday, May 16, 2014

An Art Trade

I've always been suspicious of art trades.  They just seem like a good way to get ripped off, taken advantage of, and to sell out.  Call me cynical, but an early life full of fair-weather friends, bullies, and people willing to peddle their friendship for the day for your lunch cookie leeches the excitement out of 'trading' for art.

Some of you might think me hypocritical because you remember my involvement in a pay-it-forward project.  I assure, I am not.  Paying it forward expects NOTHING in return.  You can't be cheated if you weren't expecting anything back.  That model is more palatable to me than trading.

A trade requires you to receive something in return.  It opens the door for people to scam and extort (I've experienced the latter and I wasn't even involved in an art trade.).  An equivalent exchange is not guaranteed.  You MUST negotiate the trade.  Negotiations require you to be analytical, critical and in some cases, a little mean.  I don't like that sort of activity.  So for the longest, I avoided art trades.

Until recently.

A young artist contacted me through deviantart.  She wanted to trade for one of my Jack Skellington bracelets.  Previously, people who offered me trades were met with a, "Sorry, I don't do art trades." and proceeded to call me 'stingy' for not jumping at the opportunity to trade with them.  However, this artist was more polite and persistent than the others.  She offered 'anything from her gallery', 'the best thing she's ever made', and 'anything at all'.  It was earnest, so I decided to do a trade with her.

However, since she lives in the UK, shipping costs are high, and the Etsy-listed item she requested was expensive to make, I decided to, instead, make something special and a little more postage friendly just for her.  I will never, ever, ever make another one like it.  Here are the photos.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Disapppointed again

Well..  I tried again and ruined another set of filigree... I guess I'll have a red necklace too. 


Monday, May 12, 2014


I hate when something I've spent a lot of time on doesn't come out the way I wanted it to.  I put a lot of time, effort and supplies into making these pendants.  I was feeling super inspired and energetic.  I vowed that I'd do it correctly and it'd be awesome and beautiful!


It's CROOKED.  Not woefully so... just a tiny bit.  You can barely even notice it if you're looking at it in person.  But in the photos at a ridiculous magnification like THIS.... you can see it.  I know I'll never be able to sell anything I make from this pendant.

You see, as a person who hand-makes things, I get a great deal more scrutiny than a department store.  It's expected that anything I offer will be PERFECT, even if I offer it cheaper than you could get it from a big box retailer.  Top that off with the high standards that I hold for myself and you've got a recipe for a hissy fit.  Still.  This is fine.  I can still use it to make something...for myself.  It's too junky to try selling.  Maybe next time.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Simple Necklace: Y-Styled again

This necklace was created with some findings from Art-i-Cake as well as a bunch of beads from those mixed lot auctions I won from eBay. 

All in all, this simple necklace was a good exercise and a great experience.  The details are consistent, it flows well with the pendant link I chose and the bluish-gray crystal at the bottom makes the piece stand out.

 Again, this is a simple necklace with some length and versatility without being overpowering. 

It's inspired me to try my hand at some more steampunk pieces.  We'll see how that goes. 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Chibi Jack Skellington Charm Bracelet

These charms were cute and on sale and in the same lot as the charms for the last Jack Skellington Bracelet.  One great thing about Disneyana (any and all Disney related and licensed merchandise) is that related objects share common dimensions.  The Jack Skellington charms, for example are all about 3-4 cm long and 2-3 cm wide.  So are most of the charms for other characters.

Chibi Jacks

This sort of consistency makes it easy to create patterns and design maps that would fit a wide variety of charms without too much alteration in execution or pattern.  It's a reliable model.  You see, there's a bit of science in every jewelry project.  Physics, geometry, and a host of scientific units of measure come into play.  Jewelry making is architecture. 

It's a charm bracelet.

So the reliable Disneyana metrics have allowed me to design an equally reliable metric for gauging how easily I can take on a new project when I'm suffering from shaky hands.  If I can complete a Jack Skellington or Disneyana charm bracelet in close to my usual time frame, it's good idea for me to start on a more intensive, strenuous project.  It also serves as a good warm up.

I'm sure I'll make more.  I have a ton of charms to burn through. 

Beads in the top right of the picture...  Clearly, there's more to come..

Monday, May 5, 2014

Simple Necklace 2: Y Style

Many times, Y-styled necklaces are over looked.  It's not exactly the fashion right now.  However, Y-style necklaces provide some of the same benefits as a simple, long necklace, while keeping the majority of the details high up on your collarbone.  It can help balance out a round, rectangular, and heart shaped faces depending on the length.  This Y-style necklace I made isn't very long, so it actually works with most face types while still elongating the torso and helping you look sleek.

I went for something a bit less 'dressy' though...and added bows for cute.

I don't have many photos for it, but I did make earrings as well. 

Friday, May 2, 2014

A Simple Necklace

Often times we overlook the benefits of simple pendants and necklaces, especially today with the rise in the popularity of loud, statement necklaces.  Your necklace of charms and shiny dangles isn't always appropriate with your outfits.  Take drape neck tops for example.  You can't wear statement necklaces with those...  Lace stuff.  No statement necklaces with that.  It's too much.  You need simple things with a focus on one or two elements.  Like this necklace for example.

The devil is in the details of the pendant!

 I kept it simple.  There isn't even a whole lot of beaded chain.  Another good thing about this necklace is the long chain. That way if you have an embellished neckline, this will draw the attention evenly down your body and help to elongate your torso.  Long necklaces make you look slender.  Grab a long necklace with a detail rich focal to make yourself look sleek and sophisticated.