moodboard: warm neutrals

On April 17, 2016 by theseventhsphinx

Last week I was shopping for a few shades to customize a large Z-palette (top right palette below), occasioned by MAC’s $6 pro pan sale. How do you build a palette? That is, how do you build your ideal palette? I pulled out some of my favorite palettes to study, determine what I like about them. See how they tick.

They display a distinct trend…

warm neutrals - theseventhsphinx

L-R, as if reading: Kat Von D Monarch palette, Z palette (ft. Mac and Makeup Geek shadows), MAC shadows in custom Japonesque palette, Viseart 01 Neutral Matte, Louise Young Essential Eye Palette, Makuep Geek shadows in custom Japonesque palette, Viseart 05 Sultry Muse, Colourpop shadows, Tom Ford cream shadow, MAC singles, NARS single, Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess, Marc Jacobs 212 The Dreamer, Clinique 03 Morning Java

It’s not so easy, in a sea of shades, to create a compelling combination. Easy to make something nice, hard to make something I like even more than my favorites. I’m not finished, actually, though the Z-palette (the blush there is MAC Peaches, if you’re wondering) is full for now. Need to pull in a few more matte shades, something very dark and something to be a great transition shade for my skin tone (read: a tiny bit darker without being too dark). It’s an engrossing color exercise, feels much like a puzzle. I keep shuffling the shades around, deciding not only what shades to include but in what arrangement. Feeling satisfyingly territorial about it.

It seems revealing, to see what colors a person would choose, like it would reinforce something you already knew, or show you something you hadn’t realized about them (about yourself).

[I’m working on the 2 little 4-pan Japonesque (Japonesque makes the shell) palettes as well, simultaneously, as related but independent puzzles.]

I want something that is effectively a Viseart Neutral Matte palette that incorporates shimmers and metallics. Once I’ve added a few things and rearranged to my heart’s content I’ll let you know which shadows made the cut. Have you ever built a custom palette? How did it go? Favorite shades?

x

mirror, mirror

On August 23, 2015 by theseventhsphinx

“Staring and staring into the mirror, it sees many faces within its face – the face of the child, the boy, the young man, the not-so-young man – all present still, preserved like fossils on superimposed layers, and, like fossils, dead. Their message to this live dying creature is: Look at us – we have died – what is there to be afraid of?

It answers them: But that happened so gradually, so easily. I’m afraid of being rushed.”
― Christopher Isherwood,  A Single Man

“Whatever may be their use in civilized societies, mirrors are essential to all violent and heroic action.”
― Virginia Woolf,  A Room of One’s Own

“Gussie, a glutton for punishment, stared at himself in the mirror.”
― P.G. Wodehouse,  Right Ho, Jeeves

reflection

Mirrors are undoubtedly strange. Common, so we get used to having them everywhere, at least in privileged areas of the world, but for me they never lose their strangeness.

There is the strangeness of the mirror-image itself, the version of the self most familiar to the self, yet bizarrely wonky when compared to a photograph (or reality), the version of the self most familiar to others. Like the discrepancy between your voice as you hear it and your voice on a recording. I have a staunch loyalty to my versions, feeling a shame that the world only gets these diluted, misshapen versions of me.

There is the strangeness of knowing what one looks like at all, the technology for mirrors—and especially accurate, clear mirrors—being relatively recent in human history. There’s a bit in the mockumentary What We Do In the Shadows wherein the vampires, who cannot see their reflections, ask one another to draw their likenesses so they can see what they look like. The drawings are comically bad, which is the bit, but it rings true that they would want to know, and take any scraps of information they could. I want to know. I want every scrap of information.

Then the strangeness of making eye contact with oneself, and seeing (almost seeing) what other people see. And the strangeness of knowing that, because you can only be yourself, you aren’t necessarily seeing what other people see at all, not noticing what they might notice. And so, in a way, you are not able to see yourself at all. I often have this thought with clothing, when I can’t quite decide how it fits. Sometimes I’ll take a photo, and look at that, but what I really want is to see a body identical to mine but not mine wearing the same thing. Then, it seems, on some other being/mannequin/stand-in, I would be able to judge it properly.

I have a suspicion that I spend more time than the average person in front of the mirror. Likely due to some combination of having a lot of mirrors around, giving my skin a lot of careful attention, doing a fair amount of making up, wanting to check on things generally, not trusting my hair to be where I last put it, and liking the act of looking at myself.

This last reason is not, it is important to clarify, because I think I look so great.* I am equally or perhaps even more interested in looking at myself when I look awful, or just unremarkable, which I mean in a matter-of-fact way, sans negativity.** I mainly look unremarkable (that is, normal). Still, I don’t seem to tire of inspecting my reflection, as if it might tell me something.

*Though I do sometimes think this, or something like this. It is more that I now and then have a glad feeling toward my face, like I might toward at anything that pleased me in the moment.  Not necessarily because it is ‘pretty’^ in that moment (not because it’s been made to look so-called pretty), but because I just like it, for whatever reason.

^Pretty is a problematic term, no? I use it but as a commercio-cultural construct it’s difficult.

**Negativity is aimed directly at various blemishes and scars to maintain a good relationship with the face as a whole.

reflection

My face and body, though in a sense random, genetically random, don’t feel random. They feel integrated. Not significant, exactly, not as if they mean anything, but influential, yes. Perhaps this is only my attachment to the material world.

 

switching it up

On April 9, 2015 by theseventhsphinx

I am currently browsing wigs like it is my favorite extra-curricular activity. I can trace the current jones directly to RuPaul’s Drag Race, as I watched several episodes (in an abbreviated way, skipping to the main runway event) and was totally inspired by the looks and, especiallyespecially, the wigs. It occurred to me that I had never explicitly searched ‘drag wigs’ in any previous wig investigations, and I was right in thinking this would yield excellent results.

I love my hair,* but the desire to be something new, something other, isn’t about liking or not liking my genetics, it’s about creation and play. And hair is a major player, make a drastic change and people will have a hard time recognizing you, meaning it is not only influential but influential in an easy, straightforward way. What I’m getting at is: I enjoy wigs. [Haven’t worn them recently, which I realize I need to remedy.]

*my hair:

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So, going to show you the wigs I’m considering at the moment (you know when you leave a tab open with a cart that you occasionally fiddle with and just think about for a while?).

But first! A brief history of wigs wrt this site (images link to original posts):

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slightly tacky ponytail

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An excellent Halloween

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Bangs! This is the wig that made me want more, still darker wigs. They provide this incredible contrast.

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Asymmetrical bob

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Classic fro. [Gotta love these RayBans.]

OK, so I’m all about variety.

AND, now thinking about (images link to vendor pages):

2dea01c8da3175b68fe2fde33612d639Long, luscious curls. A little looser than my own curls but still riotous. Loved this one right away, definitely at the head of the pack.

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Glossy layers with hint of wave, polished and healthy but not otherwise dramatic (unless you know what my hair is supposed to look like) dark strawberry blonde shade. Really, really want to see what this shade would look like.

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Same model as above but in a dark brown shade with a few lighter shades blended in. I’m curious about the lighter shade but this one is singing to me. The color looks so lovely, and more natural as well.

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I didn’t realize what a booming business there is for Kim Kardashian-inspired wigs. It’s no surprise, of course, because Kim’s hair looks phenomenal and always has. Love this voluminous style, though something a little shorter with more layers (that is, a slightly different Kim K style wig) appeals as well. This is in second place after the dark curly queen at the top of the list, or I think it is, though I keep turning back to

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More body. Curls still loose but uniform rather than clustered at the ends. I hope you can see that this is totally, completely, so, so different from the wig above. There is a seemingly endless variety of curl types, and for me they genuinely have different effects, call to mind different kinds of characters. This isn’t what I was looking for (isn’t what I thought I was looking for) but I liked it immediately. The SassySecret wigs look especially natural [and SassySecret is just a hilarious name].

And then, the wild card.

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I love this shape, full and not too slick with loose curls gathered at the tips. Actually I looked for the same style in darker shades for a while but only found some with streaky highlights. Alas. This is the if-only entry. I don’t think this ginger, Jessica Rabbit color would be any good on me, really, but it would be fun to try out anyway. And maybe it would be weirdly cool? You never know until you try, and I like wigs that represent hair styles I couldn’t have with my own hair, at least not realistically, not without major outlay, damage, and upkeep. Seems like I should have at least one red wig…

So what do you think? Tough decision, right?

Would you wear a wig?

[All of this thinking about change makes me want to at least cut my hair.]

x

great find: Loyal Supply Co.

On March 24, 2015 by theseventhsphinx

I was returning from the Korean market in Union Square [too late to get donuts, sadly], preparing for a long Sunday wait for the bus back to Harvard, when I spied a door marked Loyal Supply Co., and next to it a window full of such miscellany as I cannot resist: small Farmhouse Pottery (which love, met their team recently at a design show and was so impressed) pieces, balsa wood airplanes, mysterious contraptions of leather and brass (keyrings? something cooler?), rustic soaps, beautiful scissors and rulers, fine pens and pencils and erasers and sharpeners, all spread out like jewels for the discerning craftsman.

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You know those shops you enter and think, what do I not want from this shop? Or, similarly, I must be a patron of this shop. Loyal Supply Co., for me, is one such place.

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Here is their description of themselves:

LOYAL SUPPLY CO. IS A DESIGN FIRM, RETAILER, AND DISTRIBUTOR OF HOME, OFFICE, AND STUDIO SUPPLIES. WE BELIEVE USEFUL, THOUGHTFULLY DESIGNED PRODUCTS MAKE LIFE MORE ENJOYABLE AND PRODUCTIVE. OUR SPACE, A MODERN TAKE ON A TRADITIONAL PEGBOARD WORKSHOP, DISPLAYS FINISHED PRODUCTS AMONG THE TOOLS THAT MAKE THEM. OUR HOPE IS TO INSPIRE AND ENABLE EVERYONE WHO WALKS THROUGH THE DOOR.

Well said, no?

Especially this: useful, thoughtfully designed products make life more enjoyable and productive. Just so.

It was not easy, as my personal stock of supplies is superb and I had already spent my monthly supply budget (and then some), but I was determined to walk away with something. I settled on this lovely pencil set from The Pencil Company.

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They had me at “one carpenter, one bridge, one white wax,  one no.2, one jumbo hex, and one jumbo round pencil”

Pencil names!

A bridge pencil I did not know! [For designing bridges? Does anyone know? Pencil aficionados?] Jumbo hex!

To think I’ve been missing out on such delights for so many years. I want a life the requires such pencils as these, with their warm, old-fashioned charm and modern, artisan-revolution aesthetic. Do you not?

It comes down to these details, in questions of style. The hair, the clothes, the bag, they are pieces in a larger—and, I hope, more grand—design. To live down to your bones, down to your pencils (and your plants, and the way you walk, the way you plan and execute, the way you turn your head), in your style. Not because you had to think about it, to decide on it (though you may have had to realize it) but precisely because you did not have to think about it. Not because it has been premeditated (though that can be the case, must this be then less authentic?) but because style is instinctive. Inevitable.

Yet, I believe, inevitable in a malleable sense, though perhaps what seems like malleability is only that peculiar kind of change which is not actually change, not most accurately change, but the sloughing off of extraneous possibilities to reveal an increasingly clear identity. And style born out of instinct (unquashed, not covered up or overcorrected) cannot help but be, at least in some sense of that slippery word, good.

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Stamped in gold foil! My spirit pencils. And white. Yes. White always and forever.

x

reading: cookbooks

On February 9, 2015 by theseventhsphinx

IMG_9606I am a frequent reader of cookbooks, some for practicality, some for fantasy, some for inspiration. Being a better cook is important to me (is part of my aspirational identity, part of my style, is non-negotiable), as is trying new foods and learning about other cultures through food. Here’s the stack I’m browsing currently:

The New Persian Kitchen, Louisa Shafia — I often like, in the case of cookbooks that focus on a particular culture, the section of the book that outlines specialty ingredients, describing their peculiarities and uses, and where you might find them, what they might be substitutes for, or what you might substitute for them. Expanding the culinary glossary. Immediately I imagine my own uses for them, how they might add interest to my existing repertoire. Immediately I want to go find them, if I don’t already have them. Immediately I want to use them if I do already have them. So far this is a great cookbook in that I want to make many of the dishes and I’m interested to read the small details, which seem well done here, about preparation. Not only preparation of the dish itself, but lots of good information about preparation of the ingredients. Ex. After reading this, I will be soaking some grains before cooking.

Simple Thai Food, Leela Punyaratabandhu — Also quite good, more the kind of cookbook I graze, skimming for what I want to read in more detail and absorbing the broad concepts, basic formulas, for later application rather than intending to cook a specific recipe (partly because many of the dishes are so flexible). Lots of explanation again, useful and clear, a little bit of bio mixed in, anecdotal evidence, all to the point. I love Thai food.

momofuku milk bar, Christina Tosi — The book born of the famous bakery, this is a fantasy read. These dishes are over-the-top, beautiful, innovative…complicated. Time-intensive. Gadget-intensive, stuff-intensive. I don’t really want to make them, but they are cool. Well, I might try a few of the easier ones…

Plenty More, Yotam Ottolenghi — I’ve enjoyed all of Ottolenghi’s books, interesting and uncomplicated (that is, often not many ingredients, though certain ingredients are complicated in themselves) combinations. Again I mostly skim here for concepts. You don’t need the recipe, you just need to remember the concept of the combination that is the key to the interesting flavor profile, and store it away, let it join the mix of the other flavor profiles in your flavor bank. His combinations inspire your own, which inspire still more, and so on. The kind of book that makes me hungry.

 

 

 

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