Monday, February 25, 2013

Spooky basket: The Essence of Oil

My momma has always said that if you're going to spend money on something, better make it good.

I'm afraid I haven't closely followed my momma's advice, and only last year did I reconsider my perfunctory spending. Desperate was I, to find the product which would aid me to achieve vibrant skin and hair...
Beauty products have been a consistent source of bad spending for my wallet, buying products indiscriminately because I was led to believe that one product alone would not suffice-- I needed an arsenal. If you'd have asked me a couple years ago that essential oils served more of a purpose alone than processed into creams and potions, then I'd think you were simply riffing.

I have used essential and fragrance oils for perfume making as a hobby for many years; the impact of scent alone and how it excites the memory and senses, is quite alluring...
But for reasons beyond my comprehension, it never dawned on me that they could be used for your skin and for your hair. I knew that minute amounts were used in many products; I've had this misconception that in their purest state, essential oils would be too strong for direct usage.
Indeed certain essential oils are too strong, but they can be complimented with equally potent but gentle carriers.
And that was the missing link! The carrier oils. I've also harbored this notion that a carrier oil serves only to dilute the potency of those stronger oils without affecting the scent. Little did I realize that the carrier oil can also be an integral part of the effectiveness of a final product.

The answer lies in plain sight, yet I feel that much like my previous thought path, many believe it is better to buy the store bought products because they would lack the savvy to create their own. In a nutshell, waste money on trial and error; sound familiar?
The very thing that sets us apart from other species on this planet is the ability to learn and adapt; there is an abundance of information on each product on the market (especially essential oils) handed to us by a myriad of authors; it's very difficult to make harmful mistakes. It just takes time, which considering the topic, shouldn't be much of an issue. If one has time to ruminate and spend money in matters of beauty, then one has time to do the research.

And so, my dear readers, I will briefly go over ways in which oils can be utilized:

Oils for your skin: I have already discussed cleansing with oils briefly in this post. Paraphrasing from the link inside the link-- the oil cleansing method (OCM) is a method in which certain plant oils are collected for their effective properties over certain skin ailments, such as acne, and mixed together to create a concoction which is then massaged into the face, then removed with a damp hot towel. A concise exposition behind the OCM is simply "dissolving with like"; you strip the filthy and used, then replenish with new. Oils, such as sweet almond and jojoba, can also serve as a moisturizer for your skin with repairing effects.

Oils for your hair: oils, such as olive and coconut oil, are used for deep conditioning treatments, or simple yet effective hair repair and growth stimulation. This is because they are effective at penetrating deep into the scalp and roots to nourish the hair. But be wary of fillers or cheap quality oils, as this can hinder the effectiveness and yield little to no results. This is especially true with olive oil.

Oils as perfumes: oil perfumes are proven to last 3 times longer than an alcohol based one. This is fact. The reason it is not so widely used is because it's expensive to manufacture in large quantities. Oils as perfumes benefit the wearer in more ways than just scent however, as aforementioned certain types of carrier oils will offer moisturizing properties.

Oils for aromatherapy: Scent therapy is one of the longest standing practices in nearly all civilizations. Scent has the power to encourage healing of the body and the mind. Aromatherapy can be as simple as opening up a bottle of oil and taking a whiff and relishing the emotions in which it evokes, or as complex as creating sessions with certain scents to guide the user into harmony.

When you make an investment into essential oils, you're not just purchasing one practical use, you're buying a versatile product with limitless amounts of room to perfect a product that truly fits you I have purchased my collection one by one as I wanted to expand the combination of applications; you don't by any means need to purchase a bundle to begin to find the uses.

There is a controversial topic about cats and dogs, and the use of essential oils around them. Some people say it's cruel and inhuman to use essential oils around them, but I found that all animals I've owned; a couple dogs, several cats (including Poe), and a hamster; have never ever reacted badly with the smell or shown annoyance-- even when I wear them. The only thing I wouldn't dare risk is putting the oils on them, so I make sure I wash my hands thoroughly after I've been concocting when it's cuddle time.

Always test the oil on a small section of your skin before practical usage. Essential oils should not be used during pregnancy or by women attempting pregnancy! Essential oils should not be ingested unless the label clearly states otherwise. Avoid application on broken skin or open sores. If an allergic reaction occurs discontinue usage, and seek medical attention. Some essential oils may be highly toxic to pets and can cause fatal reactions if they come in direct contact. Please make sure you thoroughly do your research before you buy!

Links to help you get started:

I will keep updating this as much as possible!

Bonus good buy!

My mother purchased these for me late last year, but I found out about and used them since roughly two years ago. I was waiting for the perfect time to post about them.

Ever since the vendor I purchased them from at a Flea Market went away, I could not find a decent place to buy them. The search only became harder when I moved down. These are Song of India oil perfumes.

Song of India: Patchouli, Sandalwood, Frankincense, and Night Queen

One day, my mother and younger brother collaborated on a care package and I was happily surprised to see these in my box. I don't usually like to have mixed/signature label perfumes because I love to make my own on the whim of my moods; these are perfect because the scent is ultra concentrated, super long lasting and very true to the herb or flower they're supposed to be. I typically use these for deodorant; I completely cut out store brands right out of my medicine cabinet. These actually work ten times better than even Tom's or any health food store/organic brand I've ever bought, AND no marks on my black delicate clothing! I can smell them even after a hard work out. Applying it to my palms and then running my fingers through my hair, well, the scent stays straight into the next day-- and they're not pungent which is really great when I'm around sensitive noses. I've received many comments on the way I smell when I wear these.
These are the roll on bottles, and carry the most oils from their line, but they can be purchased in really pretty hand blown glass perfume bottles (which I have in the past), or in solids. I really really enjoy the boxes Song of India packs them in, too! They're such a treat!

Do you use oils for any part of your daily regime?

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Fashioning My Cyber Microcosm: Musing (unrelated imagery for viewing pleasure)

I've been feeling indisposed these past couple days; I feel like I'm on the cusp of an illness, and I'm fighting in vain to stop the inevitable.
Snuggling on the couch to watch Star Trek, or cocooning myself in front of my computer have been the jist of what my body and mind are willing to do.
I've found myself with a bit of will to think about other things today, however...

Mostly about what I desire the topics for my next posts to be about. There are three that stand out at the forefront of my thoughts; make up tips for the person of color who also wears glasses (mouthful), participating in a goth blog challenge, and creating a creepy crafty challenge of my own.

The creepy crafty challenge would likely only happen monthly or perhaps bi-monthly. What I had in mind is fairly simple; create a tutorial for something crafty, and then challenge you, my readers, to recreate it in your own creepy ways and post back about it. I'll pick my two favorites to showcase in full (that number is totally dependent on the amount of participants)-- I may even ask you some questions so that I may write about it here. The challenge won't necessarily be about something like sewing; I could make a post about recreating a vintage look with make up or clothes and things that you have in your wardrobe already.

I guess my question then would be, is there any interest in that at all? How extensive/challenging would you all prefer this to be; the way I see it, it's a way to break the status quo for those of you who do not create something very often, and it's definitely different than many challenges out there in the blogosphere. Who know's, it may even reveal hidden talents!


I don't really consider myself an expert in the things I do, which is why I very rarely discuss topics such as style guides and tutorials... but who knows, maybe someone out there believes I do indeed have something to offer than what I already do.
I thought that since there is a lack of make up tips for the neutral skin toned goth of color, that it might be interesting to do; as one who also wears glasses, this topic is particularly challenging, but would hopefully yield some use to someone. Assuming I don't completely botch it...

My dear readers, your feedback is a gift I do enjoy receiving-- please feel free to give me your two cents.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Skeleton Closet: Day Out-Of-This-World

Two left to go!
I am very grateful that my bad luck is yielding a quick turn around this year-- karma must be taking care of me.
I got to working on the skirt after mulling over my rant. The next day, I was invited by my friend and neighbor to head into the city. I was not only able to buy the remaining supplies I needed to continue the purse, but I was also able to spread the gospel of Five Guys burgers. She never had them before-- we were too busy enjoying our burgers and day out to take any pictures of the day, heh...

Well! I finished the skirt in time for the day out; being able to wear an entirely self made outfit filled me with profound gratification and pride, especially when I could say I made the entire outfit-- including the necklace and purse! I very rarely get a chance to do that.
While working on it, I decided to change the way I designed it originally because I just wasn't in love enough with the trim I was to use for the side seams. So I used some venetian lace that was purchased some time ago from an Etsy shop that closed its doors; I waited for the right project to use it with, and so I trimmed the front horizontal seam with it. To add a little more detail to the front I also adorned the vertical seams with satin rosettes that I crafted. I also ended up using some scalloped lace to create an overlay to the side flounces.

I'm still deciding if I should use the remainder of the venetian lace on to the back. I didn't add it yet because if I did it would remove all the stretch and allowance it has for movement-- and since there is no vent, I would literally hobble as I walked.

The day out turned out to be crazy fun-- I don't remember the last time I spent an entire day with a friend (friend that I made the unicorn hood for). It felt really great. To top the night, as we were heading home we were discussing the meteorite strike that happened in Russia and how she loved it when she had a job studying meteorite debris. Admittedly, we were being a little facetious of the events in Russia; commenting that if a premature death were to occur to us that a meteorite strike was the best. To our shock and astonishment, we witnessed a burn out! Ahead of us! We sat with our jaws wide opened, unable to fathom the coincidence of such an occurrence...
We knew it was a meteorite because of the trajectory; it was coming down and burning out, rather than up and fizzling (like that of a firework or flare). It was bright and flaming and just... pure magic!


We discovered a hidden gem in town; a thrift store that offers some wonderfully vintage and second hand finery for unbelievable prices. We found a super sexy long dress jacket by Newport News that was made from a purple and black printed rayon polyester material detailed with a velvet collar... among other equally delicious items.

I didn't have money for anything I found, so she purchased the jacket for me in an arrangement we decided upon.

In the next skeleton closet post, I will have an outfit given entirely by another friend I made here in town. I feel so blessed to have such wonderful people around me-- it's a wonderful and redeeming factor to this town; the people who work for the National Park service that reside in and nearby.

What I am wearing:

  • Blouse: self made
  • Skirt: Selfmade
  • Belt: Fairweather Co.
  • Jacket: Gift from friend
  • Necklace: self made

Closer look at necklace

Friday, February 15, 2013

Fashioning My Cyber Microcosm: The Batmobile Lost a Wheel

I've deviated from my list these past couple of days because a late arrival finally did arrive, and I was able to work on a very overdue commission which was requested from me.

So here I am cruising along this request, when suddenly my needle snapped. Well, I come to realize that, that was my last denim needle! To top it all off, it had slipped my mind to purchase double fold bias tape and some connector rings... which to be able to continue further, I can't do without (still kicking myself ). I can't make any bias tape because I have no spare matching cloth to make it from...
Unwilling to lose hope, I decided to take my chances with the next town over hoping that they would have what I need; even though it was just a wal-mart I was going to (waaay more than my town can boast)... alas, my hopes were for naught. Everything was there... just not in black like I needed (least I got a pack of needles); gas money right down the damn drain...

How aggravating it is to live so far from everything! It costs too damn much money and time to get the simplest things! UGH.

Wrenching myself out of this road block was no easy task, and forcing myself to look into my sketch/note books and begin preparations for the skirt to blouse project on my list was no picnic either. I usually take the time to reflect on the project pending, and refuse to think about anything else. Not this time; this month I made it a mission to waste no time waiting.
I chose to sew over something a little more humble (like drawing)-- well sewing is my humble craft. I don't practice any other craft more than I do sewing, so I don't need to use much of my creative problem solving if the project isn't too ambitious. The skirt is a variation of another skirt I designed and drafted a pattern for previously (seen completed here), so technically it should be a breeze. I just really don't like the fact I have to postpone the purse further... but I have only the faintest idea of when I could go to Flagstaff and buy the rest of my supply, rendering planning to be a flimsy affair.

I think, therefore I...can?
Still, I just can't seem to shake the feeling that this isn't something I should be working on, and it's likely because it's something for myself... damn this guilt! Sometimes I even end up selling/giving things that were intended for myself...

*sigh* It's things like this that remind me why it would be best not to take requests from anyone at this time-- even from friends.
I have such a hard time saying 'no' to the people I care about; it's not necessarily a bad thing, until something like this happens, and I begin stressing over it.

Probably redundant to repeat it since it's at the very bottom of my page, but I have a few new readers (always good to see new ones! Welcome!). My designs are my own, please do not copy without my explicit consent-- I mention it on this particular post because I am sharing a new design straight from my books.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Mortem's Tricks or Treats: A Little Black Flower Tutorial

Since Valentines is just tomorrow, and many of you lovelies are planning to make themselves up pretty; I thought that I would give you the option of making your own pretty little black flowers. Although, if you aren't into black, then by all means use a different color fabric! You can put them anywhere-- sew or glue them onto headbands, clips, bags... whatever!

You'll need:

  • A piece of scrap cloth
  • Sewing implements: either your sewing machine, or hand sewing needle and thread
  • Any miscellaneous items you plan on putting it on: a head band, a clip... etc.
To begin:

Cut your scrap cloth into strips.

I only cut one layer for this tutorial, but you may layer it with other fabrics like tulle, or lace. Cut the width of strip as tall as you'd like the petals to be. The length dictates the volume of the blossom; the longer it is, the bigger the flower will be; the shorter, the smaller it will be.

Next, cut a scalloped edge. These will be your petals.

You may make them as spaced apart or as frequent as you'd like. Doing this also affects the volume of your flower; more petals, more bloom! Don't throw away that scrap that comes from it just yet...
You can incorporate it as a layer into your flower as well, just to limit the amount of waste.

Pin your layers together, and sew using a wide stitch. 

Don't tie off the last stitch, this is crucial for the next step.

Next you're going to begin scrunching.

Make sure that the bottom edge stays in one direction. If you face it up, you will have a center to your flower, but for this example the edge will be facing down.

Now, you'll sew the bottom together.

Slip stitch the opposite ended petals together so there isn't a gap. You may do this on your sewing machine, but it's more effort than simply doing it by hand. Keeping sewing into the base till it feels snug.

And now you're done, and ready to apply to whatever!

I didn't tie off my needle and thread because I planned to sew it onto something...

Two small flowers beside a larger one.
If you know what this is, well I'm sorry-- this is going to a special client and friend. Perhaps in the future I will be inclined to make yet another one. If you don't know what it is I'm working on, well... have a looksie here and here.

Happy crafting, my Valentines!

Fashioning My Cyber Microcosm: For The Love Of...

I really wanted to participate in both the Professor's (date night) and Trystan's (love of what you do) monthly themes, because they're topics I really wanted to discuss as Valentines draws closer. However, I thought that since I also wanted to make a personal piece aside (what I think about Valentines), I figured why not combine them all into one since this will likely be the only time I will talk about it on my blog... well, aside from outfit posts regarding future Valentines.

If you were to dissect me and my love of things and people, you'll find that my heart looks something like this:

And it's probably because I eat too many skittles...

Gaming, movies and art also fits in there... but it seemed too redundant to squish that in with crafting and books. It gets the point across.

I'm fairly certain that if I was told I could not live without any of these, I would perish slowly in a blur of lamentable anguish. I love everything I bring into my life; I cherish it deeply like it's literally a part of me. And further yet, I'm very sentimental about those that I invited into my life but for some reason or another failed to make it in-- it doesn't come easy, because I have this fierce propensity to distance myself personally from new situations.

Despite being a block of ice in the past, I somehow managed to marry the only man I've ever met who saw my oddities as lovable assets, and after roughly 8 years together (including a "gap"), we still have as much fun as the day we met; which by the way, was on the mmorpg World of Warcraft. And so, what better way for two weirdos to marry than with Elvis and in Vegas? 

We married in June, and my only regret is that neither of our family came; just his best friend. My family was hindered by financial restrictions, so it was very difficult for them to attend-- and let's face it, we weren't any better off... so who was I to judge? We couldn't even afford card invitations; I thrifted and altered my dress, and made my own jewelry from what I already had in my supply ($15 for the dress-- a little steep for a dress at the thrift store but I loved it so much!). This was the minimum we wanted to do, if only to make it a fond memory. Just signing papers at city hall seemed dull and somewhat depressing to me.

Completely unflattering, but totally accurate
This valentines we won't be doing anything "special", we decided to hit our debt hard; staying at home and spend as little as possible. So my date night outfit? Comfy clothes, of course! We plan on the usual: gaming together, then perhaps watch something (while I work on a project).

Which brings me to another part of me I hold dearly;
Crafting. There are very little words in the English language that would convey the sheer joy that it brings me on a daily basis. For as long as I can remember, I have been doing something with my hands and exercising my creativity. In my small and young life, I have endeavored into many hobbies; learning at the very least the rudimentary skills of photography, cooking, gardening, painting, drawing, ceramics, sewing, knitting, embroidery, tatting, perfume making, wood working, millinery, music composing... and much more. I catch things very easily, and thanks to that, I have this insatiable hunger for more knowledge. Up to this point, I've considered myself a jack-of-all-trades... unfortunately, I also fit the latter part of that idiom; master of none. So for all my knowledge, I can really only apply myself to each at a basic to intermediate level, go figure.
A sample of what else goes on in the creative laboratory: some of my wood work
Once upon a time, I had opened up a shop... but because of my savage lack of business knowledge, coupled with the ferocious propensity to wall up, it met very little success to the point where I just closed it down; this was a couple years ago now. I feel that I have matured in my knowledge, and gain a bit of what I never had in the past: confidence! And yet, I still harbor some trepidation... attempting to retake those steps is quite momentous, at least for my new found confidence-- I don't know that I am completely ready, yet every cell in me jitters with anticipation.
And a sample of my pyrography...
Thanks to my family and close friends, the encouragement they offer keeps me uplifted, even when there are plenty more out there who would rather encourage my failure. I would offer them nothing less than the largest part of my heart and gratitude; those that have stuck by me know exactly how grateful I sincerely am. I regret that I don't have photos of them with me-- I only have one of my mother and myself, and she has it. I am not sure why I have so little; perhaps it's time I rectify that in my next visit back home!

So why is Valentines important to me? In retrospect, that story is for another time... ;)

Friday, February 8, 2013

Mortem's Tricks or Treats: Topsy Turvy

Two Down! 

Alright, I'll be the first to admit it; I am horrible with following lists systematically...
At least I am completing it, and really, that's all the counts.

So the... uh, "next" thing on my list was to sew the skirt to my blouse-- but my topsy turvy nature decided I rather felt like making the mini top hat (Top hats, Topsy Turvy? Get it? Get it??... ho ho!).

I really would've preferred to have one of those neat felt premade mini top hats, but I didn't have the budget for one (the really awesome well made ones-- not the ones at the local craft store). With a little bit of imagination; some fabric and ribbon; a whole lot of glue and cardboard... resulting in a huge mess on the kitchen table...

I wanted to watch Star Trek while doing it!
I give you top hat the second.
The first one didn't turn out as great, but luckily it is still very much salvageable. It occurred to me while constructing them that I completely forgot to add the lining of felt to the brim-- so they're a little too malleable for my taste, but nevertheless wearable and make really great photo props!

I had a few tattered feathers and some acrylic pearl beads roaming about in my craft bin that made their way happily onto the hat. I love dyed/bleached peacock feathers; there once was a time when I was into millinery; I had such a bountiful craft room, with so many trims and things to pick from... hum.

I'm thoroughly happy today! My mother sent me a skirt she didn't want anymore; I took it in and discovered it was the perfect pair up to my thrifted victorian mourning blouse (which was only 50 cents!). I accessorized with my top hat and a thrifted waist belt. Feelin' gooood.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Mortem's Tricks or Treats: Shun The Non-believer Edition

One down!
I am making good headway with my small but time consuming "to-do list" for February! Woo hoo!
It's really a Bat-fit kind of triumph, I'd say. It's an exhilarating feeling ticking off something on a to-do list. I feel like that simple act has begun a centralization that I so needed and have failed to find in the past; problems with over analyzing things.... anyways, enough of that!

The magical Liopluerodon has indeed shown me the way....

I find this situation so completely ironic, because I had made this for a friend (and also neighbor) who is a fossil preparator for the Petrified Forest National Park (where my hubby works, as well). I wanted to make something special for her, because our friendship clicked almost immediately. We have been going on hikes, going out to town together, and just chilling out.

I made this from super soft and cuddly "baby blanket" yarn, in super thick. The horn and hooves are made from a gradient yarn that shifts with colors of blue, purple, green and magenta. You can't see it very well, but within it there are threads of glitter yarn which only adds to the magical nature of the horn.

Consequently, she has introduced me to the magical world of unicorns, and has unveiled the possibilities. In production currently, is a lip balm I am creating inspired by her influence-- which in time I will unveil.
For now, I feel this bubblegum frenzy building within my core... it'll burst, I can feel it-- hopefully it doesn't stain my black clothes.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Mortem's Tricks or Treats: Camisole Blouse

As promised, I will showcase for you today the blouse I never got around to uploading after I had completed it.

The silhouette is fairly simple, it's just a large rectangular piece that has two drawstrings to cinch up for the ruffle-poof effect.

 The drawstrings also contribute to the overall piece as well, adding a large bow on the bottom hem, and a small one around the top.

Instead of buttonholes with buttons, I opted for a more eye-pleasing approach and used loop closures.
I picked a set of pretty buttons, and suddenly there was a nice focal point!

I was really toying with the idea of using the tattered flower trim for straps, but in the end I decided it would've made it look more like an under garment piece than something you'd wear out.

I also took this as an opportunity to attempt something I haven't done on an actual garment before: pintucks!
They seem easy, but when it comes to applying them on a garment... eh... it wasn't as easy as I first thought, hehe.

Despite the slight complications with the pintucks, what frustrated me most were the straps. Maybe it was the night I was working on it and the mood I was in, but I had to unstitch and reattach them three times before I finally had them the way I wanted, which was criss crossed on the back.

And that's that... the tribulations of a seamstress without a dressform!

It's very difficult to really tailor my tops until I am either sent the one I had in Canada, or save up enough to purchase another one... whichever comes first, I suppose. In the meantime time, I ache for a the myriad of fitted blouse ideas which sit in my sketch books!

Hopefully throughout the month I can complete the outfit which I constructed this blouse for: I still need to make the skirt and the over-top!

Necklace is self-made.

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