Monday, March 23, 2015

Smell is a word, perfume is literature.

"Smell is a word, perfume is literature".
-Hermes Perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena
I need a new signature scent.

I've been using the same perfume pretty exclusively for about three years now and I can't smell it at all anymore. I can't even smell it when I put it on, never mind throughout the day. That's no fun because I wear it because I like how it smells and also that's when you start putting on too much and asphyxiating people in elevators.

As much as I don't wanna, it's clearly time to diversify my scent portfolio.

PepĂ© Le Pew - Warner Bros
My signature scent is the Tam Dao which is a woody fragrance by the French perfumer Diptique I currently wear the Eau de Toilette version. They describe the notes as Sandalwood, Rosewood, Cypress, and Ambergris and it is widely considered to be the "holy grail" scent for sandalwood lovers. 

Tam Dao works for all seasons and situations, and other people tell me I smell good on a regular enough basis that I suspect they're probably not *all* making it up for the sake of pleasantry.  I actually feel kind of weird when I don't wear it. 

Added bonus: I *never* put on perfume when I know I will be visiting my father, he has has life threatening breathing problems due to COPD/Emphysema and perfume is an asthma trigger for him. However if I happen to drop by at random Tam Dao does not so far cause him any issues. 
(Obligatory PSA: Quit smoking now folks.)

I have always been fairly sensitive to smells, so of course one of my random superpowers is MAKE PERFUME SMELL REALLY STRONG. My chemistry is pretty weird too and I cannot wear most florals or musks or anything powdery. I turn pleasant florals into walking weaponized botanical gardens, musks become Play-Doh, and even slightly powdery things turn into an olfactory sensation akin to being socked in the face with a giant bottle of baby powder. Whenever possible I spray my perfume on my torso under my clothes so that you have to be very close to me to smell it. Even perfumes I really like can overwhelm me if I apply them to the classic pulse points at the wrists and neck.

So many times, though typically by "too much" I mean "any".
On the up side I can wear patchouli and even die-hard patchouli haters say it smells nice. *shrugs*

It's pretty hard to find a feminine scent which is based on wood or herbal notes and excludes the no-no ingredients so I am not looking forward to the search to find a new one. I did go pretty heavy into the whole Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab experience for a while because they were so good about listing notes, but ultimately I found her tastes a bit too sweet and musk centered for me. 

My previous go-tos were either BPAL's Cathdral (a church incense inspired blend) or layering a very well aged patchouli and a very not-ambery amber (I'd say it was more of a spicy honey scent). On special occasions I would layer the same patchouli with BPAL's LE scent The Candy Butcher (Dark chocolate with a heavy cream undertone) and while these all smell nice and I would still wear them if the whim took me I don't think they fit me as well anymore.

I am going to start with the other non-floral scents in Diptyque's catalog and branch out from there but I'm not expecting this to be easy. It's hard enough to find one scent that is so perfectly you that you feel vaguely incomplete without it, now I'm going to try to find a second?

Do you have a signature scent? How did you find it?

Friday, March 20, 2015

Spindle and Rod and Tablet and Thread

I've figured out the central theme in the clothing I've been drawn to lately.

I follow a designer on Facebook called David's Road and I found I was VERY drawn to a dress they recently posted on their Facebook so I clicked through to their page to look at their s/s 2015 women's collection.
Screenshot from

When I started looking through the collection it hit me:
I want to look like a figure from Greek or Roman mythology living in the modern world.

Most specifically, I want to look like one of the Fates (aka the MoiraiParcaeSudice or Norns, depending on where you're asking): the figures standing outside of the world who controlled the metaphorical thread of life of every mortal and immortal from birth to death.

There's an aloofness and an understanding that these are creatures of dreadful power wielded to great purpose. I dig it. I think it'd be pretty boring if everyone had the same flavor of inner goddess.
Listen Fates, who sit nearest of gods to the throne of Zeus, and weave with shuttles of adamant, inescapable devices for councels of every kind beyond counting,  
Aisa, Clotho and Lachesis, fine-armed daughters of Night, hearken to our prayers, all-terrible goddesses, of sky and earth. 
[from Pindar's Hymn to the Fates]
I have no idea why it took so long to work out because it's something I've been talking about a lot for the last few years, but I guess much like magic eye puzzles: you see it when you see it.

I made an Arachne costume for a Gods and Goddesses party a few years ago and fell in love with the simple drape of the chiton. That costume was made of flat sheets of 45" wide raw silk that draped from my shoulders to my feet and from elbow to elbow. The design is *basically* a giant tube with a few tweaks at each hem for fit, and yet it captured every curve of my body.

Simple, regal, incredibly sexy.

My husband saw this shot over my shoulder and without any knowledge of the post context he said he remembered thinking that the costume was exceedingly hot, even though the only part of me you saw was my shoulders, and added that it'd be cool if I wore stuff like this more often.
I have noticed a lot of elongated draped clothing around and about in the fashion world lately but something always seemed to be missing for me and I couldn't put my finger on what. This David's Road collection provided the missing key. It hits the silhouettes I seek perfectly and I would buy their stuff in a second if it were available in the US or (presumably) anything in a price range I could even hope to afford.

Last summer was fairly cool and I wore jeans a lot and generally felt like a schlump. I'm hoping this summer will be hot enough to switch back to dresses. Due to my height I typically look for knee length empire style dresses but I always feel they look very cutesey.

Perhaps it's time to get the sewing machine out to play-test a few long columnar draped pieces and let out my inner incarnation of destiny and life.

[post title from "The Fates" by Jane Yolen]

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Stampy McStamperson

finally started poking at nail stamping and haven't posted my last two manicures so I figured I should let you know what I've been up to.

I got a Konad Coraline type B stamping set on a whim a few years ago along with a couple of random Konad plates (M28 and M60) and later received the Pueen 2013 plate set for a holiday gift. They have been very safely tucked away in a little decorative box and shoved in the back of my nail polish tools ever since.

I follow some AMAZING artists on FB and Instagram so I've been researching stamping on and off for a while, but have been too chicken to try until this past Valentine's day when I did the manicure just below. I wasn't terribly unhappy with the final result but it was immediately apparent that I was going to need a few more tools to get the effects I wanted. 

Well, not to mention of course practice. A LOT of practice.

Valentine's mani in a berry coloured creme with sheer stamped hearts on the ring finger and rose gold glitter on the pinky. 

I kind of wish I had left off the rose gold as it was so much higher visual impact than the stamping. I know this pic isn't the greatest but it was VERY hard to get a shot where glare did not wash out the hearts.

The sheer, faintly holo pink is very pretty, but wasn't really the effect I was looking for. I assumed that since it was a Konad polish it would be more opaque, but that's what I get for assuming. I lined this finger up pretty well but the left was a few degrees off.

This was also the absolute limit of nail length I could stamp with those Pueen plates, as I confirmed doing my next mani. The 2013 Pueen plates have a concave curve-in at the bottom of each design which frankly makes NO sense since it cuts a good couple of millimeters off of the usable length of the designs. It does look like this has been fixed with later plates but that doesn't help me much with the ones I already have.

My next attempt at stamping was a crocodile mani inspired by a really deep leathery green Sally Hansen Insta Dri polish I had just picked up.

Deep forest green creme mani with croc skin stamping over a pale green with a glassfleck finish.

This design doesn't look half bad from normal viewing distance but up close it is NOT the effect I was going for. The dark green reads more black than I had hoped and it turns out that at that scale a croc skin pattern just looks... kind of messy.  I feel like I should have put some kind of lizard stamp on another nail as a "this is what you are looking at" key.

Again I expected the green to stamp more opaque. I did try out the polish on paper a few times both for colour and to make sure my stamper was primed properly, and it looked okay there but the glassfleck just overpowered the dark green. The level of contrast here just did not do anything justice. Even though the stamping is the same polish as the rest of my hand it looks completely different and doesn't look tied together at all. I think I would try this again with closer coloured base under the stamping, or possibly even with shiny stamping over a matte base.  Also the Insta Dri nail polish dried really fast all right, but I don't think that was so helpful in this particular design.

The pattern was definitely too short for my nails. It barely covered my ring and middle fingers and would not have covered my thumb. Because it was kind of abstract I was able to restamp in a couple of places to fill holes, but obviously this would not work with a more regular design.

So what now?
This is going to be a limited technique for me until I get a few more tools. Luckily(?) I'm tired of winter and am engaging in lots of retail therapy so a few of those tools are already on their way. In the last two weeks I bought three stampers and six plates. All of the plates were either larger scale designs or all over etched plates.

The main issue I have is due to the shape of my nails. I have a wicked double convex curve to my nails and for a firm stamper like the Konad one to work I have to either squish it so hard I will distort the design (also that's really uncomfortable), or roll the stamper around in a spiral pattern (yeah, that's not going to get messed up) to cover top to bottom and edge to edge.
I love the way my talons look most of the time, but this makes nail art SUCH a pain in the butt!
I have similar problems with all stencils, tapes, wraps, and charms... pretty much any thing which requires a flat surface of any sort to work is a no-go for me. Also really annoying for touch screens because when my nails get long as I have to use odd parts of my finger.

Based on the issues I had with the firm Konad stamper I decided I wanted a supersoft XL stamper. I'm also really interested in trying the reverse stamping (kind of DIY wrap) technique I first saw via this video from Instagram user Sveta_sanders so I want a really large stamping surface.

For a really fantastic video of this process I highly recommend this video from blogger / youtuber / instagrammer Cassis Peach.

The first purchase was a large round silicone Creative Shop stamper from Beautrometry. Since this is currently back ordered pending a restock shipment from the Ukraine I also ordered from AU retailer Messy Mansion and got two XL rectangular stampers on the squishy side (one purple, one white) and three plates  (MessyMansion22, MessyMansion44 and Leadlight Lacquer05). According to the tracking site these are currently in Georgia so I should have them within a few days. I like that all of those stampers have deep curves to them so I think it will be easier to get reverse stamps to sit well on my nails.

A couple of days after that I saw a Facebook post from Lacquer or Leave Her on MoYou London's duochrome stamping polishes and found out that they have a David Bowie themed stamping plate (Rockstar09), so I finally bit the bullet and bought it along with two more plates (Festive15 and Fashionista11).

Yeah, like I wasn't going to buy this.
I had wanted to buy some of their duochrome stamping polishes but fiscal responsibility finally prevailed. Polish texture obviously makes a difference so I do want to pick up some stamping specific polishes. Cassis Peach apparently swears by a Mexican stamping polish called Mundo de Unas so that's going to be the next on the shopping list. It's very reasonably priced, but I've declared wallet truce until all of the stuff above (and a polish order form Lucky13 Lacquor) comes in.