Saturday, February 21, 2015

Words Caught In My Throat

If you're a long time reader of this blog, you might have noticed it's changed quite a lot over the last year or so. I've taken a lot of my more intellectual blogging elsewhere, and saved this space for all the shinies, with the idea that this would make me less self concious about writing things that might upset people. Sadly, it didn't really work. I find myself hardly writing at all anymore.

Instead, I've been crafting for my Etsy. This project has taken up a lot of my time partially because I'm attempting to really get it going, and as anyone who has started a small business can tell you that takes all your time and then some. But it's also partially because I find it so much more relaxing than writing. I make things that I think are pretty, and people either buy them or they don't. It's all very...straightforward. Whereas speaking online has become something I've learned to fear rather than enjoy.

It's not any one thing that's given me this deep seated trepidation about opening my mouth in a public forum.

Part of it's years of watching amazing women, women that are undoubtedly smarter, wittier, and tougher than I am being driven into social media breaks or offline entirely that has made me wary. There are some topics I know will rustle some jimmies, and I can be prepared for that when I step into the conversation. I know that if I bring up feminism in all but the most general way, someone won't like what I have to say and won't hesitate to tell me. That's cool, I can predict and prepare for that. But sometimes I step into a conversation, thinking I know how serious it's going to get, and I am so, so wrong.

For example, a friend has recently been driven offline because she made a downloadable mod for the game Dragon Age that changed the romance options for one of the characters, meaning you could have a gay romance with them. People called her a rapist - a RAPIST - for making a game mod. An OPTIONAL game mod, that you would have to specifically download, or that you're free to entirely ignore. I wouldn't be shocked if some of you thought I was making this up, because it's so absolutely outrageous. Who gets that upset over an optional mod? Who decides to devote hours and hours to abusing someone for making something they thought would be fun?

I see this sort of thing happening all the time, and natually, it makes me afraid. I'm not even surprised anymore when I see prominent women taking a break from social media - I'm honestly more surprised by the ones who manage to get by without having to burn it all down periodically. But it's not just the fear of external hostility that's kept me so quiet lately, it's also the fear of irrelevancy.

When I started this blog, I was one of a small group attempting to blend feminism, intellectual discourse, and pretty things. The more I look around at the blogosphere, the more I see people joining this little group. For some people it's just a little mention of feminism here and there - for others it's addressing questions of intersectionality as they apply to cosmetics advertising. As someone who started writing this way because I wanted to read more of it, I'm thrilled. But I also wonder what more I have to add to the conversation. I wonder if I've said all there is to say about how anything coded as femme is considered less, and how much that bothers me. I wonder if the world really needs my hot take on...well, anything. I wonder if I have anything to add to the ongoing discussion between white and black feminism, and whether I would ever have anything worth adding to such a huge, complex, and important conversation. I wonder if it's worth speaking at all, or if I should just stick to my trinkets. 

My weird little corner of the blog world has gotten so much bigger, and it's hard to convince myself that I have anything to say that hasn't already been said by someone wittier, better educated, and more influential than I am. When this concern is already whispering discouragement in my ear, watching yet another woman be driven out of the online space for speaking, for doing, for just being, my fear becomes paralysing. Why would I take the risk of being attacked for wrestling out words that no one else will read anyway?

I know that I'm rusty, and my words are clumsy. I have to kind of choke them out, like when you've got something stuck in your throat. My hands freeze, my mind wanders, and it's just easier to go do something safe, practical, something quantifiable. I can hold my jewellery in my hand, and say to myself, "I did that." I can judge whether it's how I imagined it would be or not. Words are so much harder. Even at the best of times, as a writer you never really know what people have taken away from your words. I fret that my point doesn't even come across, let alone my worries that people might or might not like what I've said. When my fear gets the best of me, and I forget any self confidence I had, writing can feel like I'm spilling nonsense into a giant void, that occasionally spews a wave of monsters - and who in their right mind would want to do that?

As my psych will testify, I'm not in my right mind though. I'll keep choking the words out when I can, spilling them before I can take it back, and hoping someone will see value in them.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Grace-full Polish - Summer Nights Collection

Apologies for my absence, dear readers! I suffered some catastrophic nail breaks right after I started swatching this collection, and have been frankly far too self conscious about my nubby stubs to show them anywhere. But at last my nails are back in a condition where they're fit to be seen, if not quite at their former glory, so I have a TON of fresh swatches for you!

Grace-full are yet another newcomer to the Australian indie polish scene, but they have swept in on a wave of glitter, colour, and fun! Summer Nights is a collection inspired by the founders friends, and it's a doozy for anyone who loves glittery, gooey colour.

The formula on all of these was great, especially considering how new Grace-full is as a brand. Pretty much every polish only needed two coats for full coverage, and while a couple could probably benefit from an colour underneath, none of them really NEED it. The micro glitter polishes are especially dense - glitter fiends should definitely pick these up at the very least.

First up we have Erin, a luscious navy blue jelly filled with big holo dots, and a delightful assortment of various sized hexagonal glitters. Excitingly, this is a deep blue that doesn't stain(!!), so feel free to skip the undercoat with this one to take full advantage of the squishy jelly base.

Next up is Katie, a rich burgundy microglitter. While the base is quite dark, it's so choc full of holographic glitter it ends up looking a little bit lighter overall due to the ambient refraction.

This was two thin coats, and while you could put a burgundy under it if you're really fussy about crisp edges, it covers nicely alone.

This delightful flakie packed blue is Mandy, and I think it's possibly my favourite out of the whole collection. I know, I know, usually I'm all about the eye burning amounts of glitter, but there's a dense complexity to this one I really like.

One note on Mandy - I did need three coats of this, because the base is a teeny bit transparent. You could either do three thin coats to capture the full effect of the flakies, or one coat over a base colour if you're short of time.

This one is Nicki, and is a perfect example of the eyeball burning microglitter I'm normally all about. And don't get me wrong, I still really like this polish. The colour reminds me a lot of Powder Perfect's Delight, but with a slightly larger size of glitter so the holo effect really jumps right out.

 This next polish is Ali, and it's the only one out of the whole collection I was a little disappointed with. The colour scheme is a bit like confetti, which I'm sure would appeal to some people, but I thought it looked a little disjointed.

As you can see from the swatches, the base is also a little too transparent to wear alone. I used two coats here, and could have gone for three, but I don't think it would have really addressed the problem. Having said that, over a deep fuschia base colour this would look pretty rocking.

Speaking of fuschia, check Billie out! This is possibly the pinkest polish I've ever had on my nails, and I'm a little shocked by how much I didn't hate it.

Unfortunately they didn't really pop in my photos, but there is a rich vein of blue micro flakies through this polish, that give it a delightful complexity in person.

And finally, we have Eboni, a stunningly sparkly purple jelly filled with stars, hexes, squares, and holo microglitter as well.

If you're in a hurry, there's more than enough glitter in this to use is as one coat over an inky purple base coat. I used two coats for these swatches, so you can see the awesomely glittery effect of all the spangles floating in the jelly base.

One final note on this collection - it's actually on sale until Monday at the Grace-full Polish Etsy store! Just use the discount code SUMMER25 for 25% off - but only for the weekend, so get moving!

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!