Thursday, January 22, 2015

Graceful Griffons - Powder Perfect review

Second in my ongoing series about the Powder Perfect Mysterium Magnum series is this burgundy beauty, Griffon.

This polish features a deep, metallic burgundy base that reminds me a bit of OCC Black Dahlia metallic lip tar. The base is filled with a generous dose of holographic dust, as well some beautiful green flakies that are sadly a bit camera shy.

Two easy coats are all you need of this for total coverage, and I had no issues with the glitter leaving a gritty texture, as sometimes happens. You'd think the green would perhaps clash with the burgundy, but these unlikely elements actually come together really nicely.

The inspiration for this polish, the Griffon, is also a combination of unlikely elements. There have been depiction of griffons (or griffins, or gryphons) in art as far back as 3000BC, but they're most prominent in Ancient Greek mythology. Because they're used by so many different groups across history, there are lots of different visual interpretations, but generally a griffin is made up of a lion's hindquarters, an eagle's talons, wings, and head, and sometimes a horse or a lion's ears.

Check this dude out! Regal as all get out.
Herodotus describes a group of griffins that guarded vast hoards of gold, that apparently the Scythians would raid regularly. You should remember when thinking about this that Herodotus is also considered a serious primary source for a lot of Greek and Roman history - but I guess you take what you can get when there are so few sources around.

"Minneteppich KGM" by Anonymous - Own work User:FA2010 2009. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.
As well as being very popular subjects in medieval art like the tapestry above, griffons were also a huge deal in the art of medieval heraldry. I'm sure you've all seen a coat of arms before, but you might not know every aspect of a coat of arms created under the classical European rules of heraldry has a very specific, official terminology, placement, and meaning.

Diagram from
The choice of what "supporter" (the figure that held up the shield in your coat of arms) was an important part of medieval family marketing - very often people wanted something that symbolised strength, bravery, skill in battle, all that good stuff. Because a griffon is part eagle and part lion, it was thought to symbolise boldness and courage, and the eagle head denoted intelligence and military acumen.

This is a heraldic griffin passant
(passant means walking toward dexter (the viewer's left), with the right forepaw
raised and all others on the ground. I told you heraldry was srs bsns.)

This beautiful polish is available from Powder Perfect now, and more pretty pictures of griffons, griffins, and gryphons are available all over the internet. 

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Frightening Faeries - Powder Perfect Review

Just before Christmas, Powder Perfect released a collection of indie polish just about tailor made to appeal to me - glittery, heavy on the purple, and all inspired by folktales!

Mysterium Magnum  is a gorgeous collection, even if you don't care about the folktales that inspired it. There's something here for just about everyone, from muted flakies to balls out glitterbombs.

From left to right we have - Lycanthrope, Melusina, Griffon, Leviathan, Faerie, and Lorelei.

I couldn't possibly pass up such a perfect opportunity to ramble about folklore as well as show you pretty things, so I'll be doing a separate post for just about all these polishes. Today I'm going to get the ball rolling with the spectacular Faerie.

Faerie is a real glitterfest, right on the edge of pink and purple. It leans a bit more purple under artificial light, but under natural light it shines almost alarmingly pink.

There's a veritable cornucopia of glitter in this one - pinks and purples and silvers, with a smattering of holo glitter just to take it right over the top. You won't need anything under this to get full coverage in two coats, but you will want to use a nice gooey topcoat to smooth it out.

When you think of faeries, you probably get an image in your head of kind, sweet, flitting creatures in metres of organza.

But personally, I've never really liked those kinds of faeries. They're too...well, nice. If you know where to look, there are just as many stories in folklore where faeries are cruel, spiteful, and sometimes downright dangerous. What I love about this polish is that it's glittery and pink, but almost aggressively so. It's SO FUCKING shiny, and SO PINK, that it's got a bit of ferocity to it, which is the kind of faerie I like best.

These are the kind of faeries that drive the story of Tamlane, an English fairytale I recently read in Fearless Girls, a collection edited by Kathleen Ragan.

If you're looking for a collection of women-centred folktales, I highly recommend this. Just skip the woo-woo heavy commentary at the end of each story, it's a bit painful.
The story starts out pretty simple – Tamlane is a fearless knight, promised to a beautiful maid named Janet. According to the story, they were deeply in love, which seems kind of unlikely given that romantic love in a marital setting is actually quite a modern concept, but hey, that's how the story goes. But one day, Tamlane rides out to hunt and doesn't come back. BUMMER. After some time, Janet is out in a field doing some sort of maidenly duties probably tending the field) and Tamlane rocks up, all decked out in fancy armour and riding a fantastic white horse. Janet asks where the fuck he's been, which seems pretty reasonable. Tamlane says he was kidnapped by the Queen of the Fae, to be her most beloved escort – although he's also pretty sure she's planning on sacrificing him to the Devil, because he's so handsome. Suuuuuuure, you might say. Queen of the Fae, riiiiight. But Janet believes him, and asks what she can do to help him come home, because she's a way more trusting and kind person than I am.

Tamlane tells her that it so happens the Fae Court will be travelling through the forest that night, and if she sneaks up on them she might be able to literally snatch him away from the faeries. He tells her once she snatches him, she'll have to hold him tight no matter what spells the faeries try, then throw him in a lake to cast off the spells. Why he can't just run away and jump in a lake on his own is never addressed – instead Janet agrees to meet him that night, and help him escape.

Later that night, Janet hides in the woods and watches the whole eldritch court march past her. Turns out Tamlane was right and the Queen was absolutely going to sacrifice him, so she'd gotten everyone out to witness her deliciously handsome tithe. When Janet sees her beloved Tamlane go past, she leaps out of the woods and knocks him to the ground. As Tamlane had predicted, the faeries get pretty fucking pissed that she's just snatched their prize sacrifice, and start throwing spells to turn him into something Janet couldn't hold on to. First they turned him into a chunk of ice, then a searing pillar of flame, then a snake, then a dove and a swan. I'm not really clear how the dove and the swan were supposed to be hard to hold on to, but I guess the faeries were just trying anything they thought of. Finally they turned Tamlane into a white hot sword, at which point Janet decided it was time to throw this sucker in the lake already. He emerged, manly as ever, and the faeries were thwarted. When the faerie Queen rode away though, she tossed off this charming verse by way of goodbye;

“Had I but known Tamlane, Tamlane,
a lady would borrow thee,
I'd ha ta'en out they two grey eyes,
and put in two eyes of tree”

How delightfully gory is that image? “I wish I'd cut your eyes out and shoved bits of wood in there instead.” AWESOME. The Queen of the Fey is so badass. 

Okay, so this is technically supposed to be Wrath, but it also fits pretty perfectly how I imagine the Queen of the Fae looking after Janet snatched Tamerlane back. This is by the enormously talented Dahlig over at Deviantart.
It wasn't just the Queen of the Fae that was badass though - on the Isle of Man there are stories of the Leanhaum-Shee, a breed of literally maneating vampire faeries*. They would apparently attempt to seduce young men wandering in the woods alone, and if they failed they'd straight up tear you to pieces. If they succeeded, they'd suck your blood while boning your brains out, and store your stolen blood in a big cauldron.

The Leanhaum-Shee would use the stolen blood to keep themselves young and beautiful, but also feed a little bit of it back to their victims every now and then to inspire the young men to write them love poetry. Of course, eventually the young man in question would run out of both blood and satisfactory poetry, at which point he'd wither and die and the Leanhaum-Shee would go find another toy.

While this story (and many, MANY others) are a pretty obvious misogynistic metaphor for how women allegedly suck the life out of you, from a modern viewpoint the life of a Leanhaum-Shee doesn't sound so bad. Seducing young men and discarding them when they no longer amuse you? Isn't that the overarching storyline of Sex in the City?

Those are my two favourite gory, scary, bad faerie stories - do you know any? Do you prefer the kind, fluttery kind of faerie?

*I got my information on the Leanhaum-Shee from Encyclopedia of Fairies, by Theresa Bane. You can see the Ebook here on Google Books.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Infinite Fance - Fancy Lady Industries Review

I've been a fan of Fancy Lady Industries since I first saw their delightful plastic necklaces that said simply "Fat" in the frilliest, fanciest lettering.

The brainchild of Natalie Perkins, Fancy Lady Industries is all about combining hard femme with unashamedly fat, and that's an aesthetic I'm totally happy to get behind. While the "fat" necklaces are sadly no longer available, there is still plenty at Fancy Lady Industries to catch a wandering eye.

They recently had a start of year sale, so I couldn't resist making a wee purchase. I've largely stopped buying jewellery since I started making my own, but something about the crystal rock pendants just called to me.

It arrived beautifully packaged, but since it arrived just as I was going out for my birthday I tore all the packaging off in my hurry to add it to my birthday outfit.

Aside from punk rock crystal powa necklaces, Fancy Lady Industries have a wide variety of constantly changing accessories.

They even have embroidery patterns, for those of you who like to get your embroider on!


I'll definitely be heading back to Fancy Lady Industries once I have a bit more spare cash, to pick up one of these bad boys!


Saturday, January 3, 2015

New Year, New Habits

Goodness me, it's been a while since I've updated. I talk a big game about You Can Blog It, but unfortunately when it comes to taking my own advice I've been more than a little slack. So let's ring in the new year with something quick and simple shall we?

I only got one nail polish for Christmas, probably because I already have several hundred and people get a little...intimidated trying to figure out what to get me. My amazing Mr. Reluctant Femme still managed to pull something super exciting out of the hat for my lone polish present though - one of the beautiful multichromes from US indie Polish Me Silly!

This one is called Vixen, and in the bottle you can see quite a dramatic shift from purple, to mauve, to red, to gold.

With some duo or multichromes you can see the shift on each nail, but unfortunately this wasn't the case with Vixen. If you move your hand around under different light though, the shift is quite apparent.

These swatches are all two coats over black, and the formula was delightfully pigmented. Some older multichromes like the ones from Ludurana tend to be on the thin side, so it was great to get one with such an obvious shift that didn't require a million coats.

How was your Christmas/Hannukah/Festive Season? Did you get any exciting polishes?

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Moonstone Polish Review

You might remember Moonstone Polish from an introductory review I did many moons ago, but unfortunately given the exponentially increasing indie polish market in Australia and my slowly shrinking polish budget I haven't had much of a chance to explore their range since then.

I was delighted to hear they were having a big sale for the creator's birthday, since this gave me the perfect opportunity to go back and scout out just what I'd been missing!

Another reason I couldn't resist the Moonstone birthday sale is because the creator added a special limited edition polish to the tempting array of goods. This stunning purple flakey is called Birthday Girl, and surprising no one, I'm absolutely in love with it.

While this was a limited edition for the sale, I'm pretty sure there are still a few bottles available if you get in quick. If you're a purple lover, you'd be a fool to let this one get away!

This delicious red jelly glitter is Bacon/Strawberry Jam, part of a Berties Every Flavour Beans collaboration with Shades of Phoenix. Both labels released polishes that each had two names, and which one you get is entirely up to chance. As with the Beans, one "flavour" is theoretically good and one is bad, but in this case, I was pretty delighted to get a bottle labelled Bacon.

Everything should be bacon.

This next polish is from a set of five - a rainbow of microglitter and holo dust called the Unintended Collection. This blue beauty is called Starlight, and I love it almost as much as I love Birthday Girl.

It doesn't have as much complexity as Birthday Girl, but oh man, SO MUCH SHINY.

And finally, we have Malachite - I spotted this one a while ago twinkling away on the Aussie Indie Polish Appreciation Society Facebook page, and have been lusting after it ever since.

This one wasn't quite as jewel toned as I was hoping for, but it's still a wonderfully unique colour. The formula is also superb - actually, the formula for all of these was great. I didn't need to use a base colour for any of them, and two coats was plenty for full, glittery coverage.

All of these and plenty more are available currently from the Moonstone Polish site. If you want to make sure you don't miss out on the next Moonstone sale, be sure to swing past their Facebook page for regular updates!

Friday, November 28, 2014

Can You Blog It? Yes You Can!

Someone asked me about starting their own blog this morning, and asked specifically, "But isn't starting a blog cliche?" To save that poor person from having to read a barrage of Facebook messsages, this post is my response. 

Short version: No, it's not. If you want to do it, do it. It doesn't matter if a million other people are blogging, or none. If blogging means something to you, if you have things to say that you need to say, then just say them. Damn the man, damn the haters, and blog it anyway.

Long version: I feel like the question "Isn't it cliche?" is actually a couple of other questions in disguise. What you're really asking when you ask this is, "Isn't wanting to force my opinions on other people obnoxious?" and "Do I really have anything worth saying, when so many other people are talking already?"

The first question is easy to answer. No, it's not obnoxious to start a blog. It's just opening a Blogger or Wordpress account, typing in some words, and hitting publish. There's nothing inherently obnoxious about it, it's a neutral action. There are obnoxious ways to go about it - insisting everyone refer to you as "Blogger Extraordinaire", or refusing to talk about anything else with anyone for months at a time, for example. But the act of starting a blog, of carving out a little space for your voice, is not obnoxious. This fear of being obnoxious applies to men as well, but I've noticed it's particularly prevalent in women. Women are specifically taught by the patriarchal society we live in that their voices are less important, that their thoughts are less worthwhile, and that they should take up as little space as possible. 

As Chimananda Ngozi Adichie put it, "We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls, 'You can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to be successful, but not too successful. Otherwise you will threaten the man." Putting our thoughts in a blog is audacious, and in direct opposition to this idea that we should be small. That's why it feels uncomfortable - but also why you should give it a shot.

Which brings me to the second question -"Do I really have anything worth saying, when so many other people are talking already?" Honestly, I don't know. Maybe you don't. Maybe everything you want to say is already being said in exactly the same way you would say it, by someone else. But somehow, given the variety of humanity, I doubt that.

You don't have to be an expert in whatever you want to write about - oftentimes writing about the journey of learning how to do what you want to do can be just as interesting as a flawless How To. You want to write a baking blog, but you can't bake? That's okay, write about your baking disasters! People love cake wrecks, they really do.

Maybe no one will read it. I can't promise you massive readership, or popularity, or huge mainstream success. But if you're blogging about what you want to see, expressing the things you feel you need to say, then I can promise you one thing: satisfaction.

If you're wanting to start a blog because it seems like the thing to do, but you don't have anything you really want to say, then my advice is don't. If you don't bring anything of yourself to your blog, then it will be boring, and it will be obnoxious. But if there's something you need to say, that you want to say, something you want to see in the world that you can't see out there yet, then go ahead and do it. Are you a plus sized person of colour with a physical disability who wishes there were more beauty blogs from your point of view? (Hell, considering how whitewashed beauty blogging is, you might feel this way just for being a person of colour) Then do it yourself! Start that thing, make what you want to see real. 

Can You Blog it? Yes You Can!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Shades of Phoenix Blogger Collection - featuring me!

That's right, I've been lucky enough to have another polish shade named after me! Well, specifically "inspired by" and named by me, but still absolutely thrilling. There are polishes for a bunch of other really talented and lovely bloggers as well, so we best get started!'

This black and teal bombshell is Bats in a Blender, inspired by the original black and teal haired bombshell herself, Kierra from Look What the Bats Dragged In.

I used two thick coats alone to get maximum sparkle, but if you're not especially patient I would recommend using this one over a base colour so you don't have to fiddle with getting it to sit evenly.

This deep red, star filled jelly is Impossible Planet, inspired by Bettina from Bettina Nails. The inspiration for this one is pretty obviously the fantastic Doctor Who episode of the same name.

This swatch is three coats alone, just so I could get a sense of how squishy the jelly base is, but I would probably wear it over a base colour next time.

You'll be shocked to hear this iridescent purple beauty is my second favourite of the collection. This one is called Iridescent Adolescent, and is inspired by Caitlin over at Muggle Manicures, who also runs the delightful indie polish brand Moonstone Polish.

The formula for this one is as delightful as the colour - the base leans more crelly than jelly, which means you won't need a base colour. These swatches are three coats alone.

I wasn't sure about this polish, because putting gold glitter in a grey base isn't a choice I would have thought of right away. But it comes together surprisingly well! The mixture of gold, bronze, and black glitters mesh well with the grey base and makes for a really lovely, unique polish. It's called Medusa in the Morning, and is inspired by Relle from Lazy Lacquerista - who is allegedly a lot like Medusa before her morning coffee.

As with Iridescent Adolescent, the formula for this one is A+. Shades of Phoenix seem to do really good crellies, and Medusa in the Morning is no exception.

Next up we have the contribution from Kaz, the unbelievably stylish blogger from Pretty Random and founder of indie polish label Pretty Serious. This dark, vampy delight is called Secret of the Ooze.

This polish is a bit of a chameleon - in the bottle and in sunlight it shines quite olive, which makes it probably the only olive polish I own. In artificial or dimmer light though, it appears as an inky black, full of shimmering iridescent flakies in a rainbow of colours. I swatched this as three coats alone, and you can see taking the time to build it up lets the flakies really shine.

And finally, drumroll please, for MY POLISH!

Obviously I went for something sparkly, because when given the choice, as if I wouldn't. Mine is called Paint Me Blue, and is a light blue crelly packed full of as many holo glitters as would fit.

I know some people have been wondering why I chose to call this Paint Me Blue, and it's actually pretty simple. I've been listening to a band called Something Corporate a lot lately, and their song "She Paints Me Blue" really speaks to me for a lot of reasons - I can really relate to the kind of love described in it.

The Bloggers Who Inspire collection is open for presale right now, and should be open for regular orders shortly, from the Shades of Phoenix website.