Monday, May 26, 2014

A Handmade Ceramic Brush Cleanser

Secret Life of a Bio Nerd's YouTube video on crafting a brush cleaning slate, her brilliant DIY take on the Sigma Spa Brush Cleaning Glove, has been floating around beauty blogs and vlogs for a while now. Both concepts are fundamentally the same as any ol' washboard: a textured surface replete with bumps and ridges that facilitate a thorough rubbing and, therefore, cleansing. 

I couldn't find any out-of-commission plastic clipboards around, so I used material at my immediate disposal  clay! I don't have any photos of the process unfortunately, but it's fairly simple in its tedium.

Step 1: Roll a small ball of San Jose White clay 
Step 2: Smoosh 
Step 3: Firmly press a pretty fan design from a roulette to create texture 
Step 4: Roll even smaller balls and dot them around the dish (scoring them, of course) 
Step 5: Glaze a couple thin layers of Western Ceramics' 'Black Pingo', a bubbly black luster that creates a "lava" effect 
Step 6: Let it dry completely; twiddle thumbs
Step 7: Fire in a kiln
Fig. 1 Image from personal collection, 2014

Ta-da! It fits comfortably in the palm of my hand, a firm grip achieved by cradling it as Fig. 3 demonstrates. Fig. 1 shows the dish after a quick splash of tepid water and a pea-sized amount of Bobbi Brown's Conditioning Brush Cleanser.

Fig. 2 Image from personal collection, 2014

My Tom Ford's 'Cheek Brush 06' after a week's worth of heavily dusting Illamasqua's Powder Blusher in 'Tremble'. I looked like this everyday for that week just for the sake of this post. I swear.

Fig. 3 Image from personal collection, 2014

The first swirl! If you squint hard, you'll notice that the foam is lightly tinted pink, a result of the blush pigments loosening up. SQUINT HARD.

Fig. 4 Image from personal collection, 2014

A few gentle rotations of the brush can clean even the densest of bristles because the bumpy texture of the dish does most of the work. After swatting the brush under the faucet a couple times, the wash is complete!
Fig. 5 Image from personal collection, 2014
Some of my other makeup brushes after cleansing with the dish, drying overnight on a rolled up hand towel. Not a very exciting photo, huh?

Fig. 6 Image from personal collection, 2014
I made another ceramic brush cleansing dish, topping it with flowers (or sunny side up eggs?) that I etched freehand and glazed in fun, bright colors; this one, however, doesn't work as well as the Black Pingo'd one, but only marginally so. I've concluded that this is because 1) it's too shiny and 2) its textures aren't varied enough, whereas the naturally cobbled, roughened finish of the Black Pingo glaze deeply scrubs beyond the surface of the makeup brush.

In any case, I didn't want to waste the flower/egg dish, so it's now holds soap in the bathroom, and the Black Pingo'd dish sits nicely in my bathroom cabinet. I love it so much, it's now the only method I subscribe to for cleaning my makeup brushes! 

Julie Abra Fischer

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A Haphazard Post

...with a bent on nails. Life has been busy-good with tutoring and writing1, and I've discovered fumbling through manicures2 in front of Parks and Recreation or Sherlock marathons as a fantastic way to decompress in the evening. 

Fig. 1 Image from personal collection, 2013
And especially fantastic when  thanks to daily hand cream and nightly cuticle cream  my nails have maintained their strength and length! Success! First, a caveat: I'm no photographer, and my photos are quite varied in their lighting. Nevertheless, in keeping with spring and all its pastel lightness, here are some nail polishes I've recently enjoyed and can't help but continually revisit every week or so: 
Fig. 2 Image from personal collection, 2013
Butter London's 'Knackered'

Fig. 3 Image from personal collection, 2013
Fig. 4 Image from personal collection, 2013
With subsequent coats, the polish gradually turns a more iridescent purple and aqua in the light, but I preferred a single, thin wash with an exposed lunula. The texture has minor grit, but nothing a top coat couldn't smooth over. I love the tiny rainbow sparkles set against the light gray.

Fig. 5 Image from personal collection, 2013
Orly's 'Bon Bon'

Fig. 6 Image from personal collection, 2013
Fig. 7 Image from personal collection, 2013
A surprising favorite, this pale lavender leaves a translucent jelly finish. I've noticed this and similar colors everywhere lately (Sabrina from The Beauty Look Book recently posted a lovely lilac). My nail tips still show in the light with two coats, but I don't mind  it's a sweet, subtle take on the French manicure.

Fig. 8 Image from personal collection, 2013
From left to right: a england's 'She Walks in Beauty' and Zoya's 'Loretta'

Fig. 9 Image from personal collection, 2013
Fig. 10 Image from personal collection, 2013
When Amy Grace from the Polished Perfectionist showcased a england's 'She Walks in Beauty', I audibly gasped to myself, instantly determined to own it. It's a slight departure from my usual staid neutrals and sheers, but I couldn't resist such a refined, pretty combination of green and pink! Like Amy Grace, I dabbed 'She Walks in Beauty' on the tips, pairing it here with two generous coats of Zoya's 'Loretta', a sheer ballet pink. I found it challenging to capture the lime green shimmer and bright pink hex glitter, so unfortunately, 'She Walks in Beauty' registers more white gold in my photographs. :/

Fig. 11 Image from personal collection, 2013
Butter London's 'Cuppa'

Fig. 12 Image from personal collection, 2013
Fig. 13 Image from personal collection, 2013
'Cuppa' is a creamy canvas with a strong, grayish cast. It's opaque in two coats, but for good measure, I applied three. 'Cuppa' reads a little like mannequin hands, but I like it? It's an elegant neutral. 

Fig. 14 Image from personal collection, 2013
 Dior's 'Nail Glow'

Fig. 15 Image from personal collection, 2013
Fig. 16 Image from personal collection, 2013
Fig. 15 is a photo of my bare nails, and Fig. 16 is the effect of brushing on Dior's 'Nail Glow' twice. This polish promises to pinken nail beds and whiten tips with one to two coats. Overall, I'm quite pleased; the fat brush made it a breeze to apply, and though the finish felt more plastic-y than other formulas, it's a no-fuss natural look, and the two coats dried quickly. I'm definitely stowing this in my travel makeup bag.


Fig. 17 Image from personal collection, 2013
Fig. 18 Image from personal collection, 2013
As a neat side project, I made the least puzzling puzzle ever! I stretched a slab of San Jose White Clay with a rolling pin, then cut out a smallish square with a ruler and a pointy wooden stick. With the same stick, I outlined random, organic lines to create the pieces, carefully and gradually cutting through the clay. 
I painted a vintage Barbie-inspired redhead with ceramic underglaze after the initial firing in the kiln, which Fig. 17 and 18 show.

Fig. 19 Image from personal collection, 2013
Result after the second firing. The underglaze pigments settled and subsequently darkened at this point. 

Fig. 20 Image from personal collection, 2013
For the last step, I brushed on a thick coat of super shiny glaze. It's a minty opaque at first, but the glaze melts into a glassy layer on the surface of the ceramic as it "bakes" in the kiln.

Fig. 21 Image from personal collection, 2013
Fig. 22 Image from personal collection, 2013
Fig. 23 Image from personal collection, 2013
And here is the finished puzzle, complete with a slightly haughty visage! As it sits on my desk, its sole utility has amounted to judging me with a side-eye glare. Yeah.


Fellow be-freckled Kate from Drivel about Frivol created an impressive, beautiful series on Fyrinnae's loose eye shadows following her easy-to-follow pressing tutorial. Inspired, I set out on creating my own palette of this indie beauty company's iconic shimmers and sparkles. They're a modest start, but here are the results in the pan and on my inner forearm so far:

Fig. 24 Image from personal collection, 2013
Fyrinnae's 'Arcane Magic: Velvet Vampire', a rich, burnished copper with glints of dark pink peeking though.

Fig. 25 Image from personal collection, 2013
Fyrinnae's 'When I Grow Up', a soft and sheer amethyst that translates brilliantly on skin.

Fig. 26 Image from personal collection, 2013
Fyrinnae's 'Chaotic Evil', a hot pink with micro silver glitter.

Mixing the pigments was surprisingly simple, but achieving consistency in each press? Not so much, as one can discern from the slight dents and crumbly bits lining the perimeter of the 26mm aluminum pans. So far, I've used all three colors as accents, swiping little lines or dotting them around the corners of my eyes.

Fig. 27 Image from personal collection, 2013
I recovered from a hellish cold recently, and practically inhaling this slurpy, comforting bowl of natto udon was a balm to my phlegmy soul. I added bok choy, enoki mushroom, and spinach, garnishing it with grated yamaimo root and green onions. 

Fig. 28 Image from personal collection, 2013
I realize I tend to speak/write in superlatives/hyperbole, but these are LITERALLY the BEST flats in the WORLD.

Fig. 29 Image from personal collection, 2013
I expected a blistery breaking-in period or heel slips with Earthies' 'Bindi Flat', but nope  only the complete and total absence of pain and the sweet, sweet welcome of cushy bliss. The scalloped lining complements the lacy design so well, and the teal color is eye-catching but not distracting. I was worried that daily wear would dull its brightness, but with occasional brushing, the nubuck has retained its straight-from-the-box appearance.

Julie Abra Fischer

1So proud of my UC and Ivy-bound tutees!
2Grateful for tapered brushes and pure acetone.