Recently, I created a pair of painted heels for About.com. These started out as a simple sunset, but it didn’t take long for me to start flailing and making ridiculous claims about two suns being better than one. This is how most of my projects start… good idea, followed by bigger idea, followed by impossible idea. Luckily, I could tackle this one.
Recently, I created a pair of nail polish strip sunglasses using just six adhesive nail polish strips. This is a great makeover for your sunnies that takes just minutes to finish. I published the full tutorial at diyfashion.about.com…
Inspiration When you Least Expect it
I recently stumbled across the What I Wore site, where Jessica Quirk created a pair of decoupaged sunglasses using colorful striped tissue paper. I fell in love with this idea, but I am sadly short on attractive tissue papers.
At the time of my web browsing, I happened to be doing my nails, having recently purchased a pack of nail strips. These strips come in creative patterns that can be quickly applied to your nails. Nail strips are perfect for ladies like me who never seem to have time to put together the beautiful nail art that the internet keeps insisting on.
Sitting there, tissue-paperless and inspired, I had an idea… apply nail strips to sunglasses! What a quick way to apply an intricate design to any plastic surface.
I found these Sally Hansen nail strips half-off at Kroger. It’s a good day when you can grab dented cans of green beans and craft supplies off of the same shelf! They had a few animal prints, too, but I am a totally 80’s girl, and these nail polish strips certainly fit the bill. My sunglasses are a pair that I’ve had for a long time, but I don’t wear them that often because plastic sunglasses tend to pinch my temples and give me a headache. Does this happen to anyone else or am I just a total wuss??
Here are the steps:
I’d love to see your interpretations of this fast DIY!
I’m really happy with my nail polish strip sunglasses. I’ll have to circle back to the tissue paper decoupage project after another child’s birthday party. After I completed my sunglasses, I looked online and discovered the my fellow DIYer, Kirsten Nunez, created some variations on this same idea:
Nail polish enamel is a great way to add a shining finish to costume jewelry. I started the project out of necessity, a the original necklace had script that was small and hard to read. Here it is before the paint job:
The middle of the necklace is painted in OPI’s liquid sand, but the rest is just whatever decorative polish I had lying around:
I added sequins from one of the bottles of confetti polish to dress up the stars on the necklace:
The brushes on the polish bottles will likely be too large for your project, so I suggest using a toothpick for painting.
Just remember to be patient and apply a thing coat, beefing it up with additional coats only after the polish is completely dry.
So, I read that lip plumper is made of either cinnamon or a cayenne pepper/ginger mix. These ingredients aggravate your lips to the point of reddening and swelling. Well, why the hell would I pay $15.00 a tube for that? I’m perfectly capable of aggravating myself.
I bought some Vaseline jelly, the Coco Butter kind. I mixed it accordingly:
Like, 5 shakes of cayenne pepper
Maybe a 1/4 teaspoon of ginger powder. It looked like a lot.
A bunch of cinnamon
Basically, I added the pepper until the Vaseline changed color some. Then I added some ginger to that until it smelled kind of gingery. Then I added enough cinnamon to give it some more color and I guess the cinnamon gives it a more pleasant flavor/smell. I’d say just mix stuff until it looks right. I’m not liable, so do whatever the hell you want.
I had an old Clinique sample jar that I had recently scraped all of the magical night-cream goodness out of. I rinsed it out and did all my mixing right in the pot with a toothpick. Mine has a nice bronze color to it. It tingles a lot, but not unbearably.
I’m a tough broad, though, and these measurements aren’t exact, so your experience will most definitely vary. Before I put it on, I tested it on Mr. T. He survived, so I know it’s safe for the rest of humanity. Enjoy!~
I wouldn’t have been so pumped if I had realized that working with Rotovision would be my worst nightmare. Not only that, but writing a craft book in general is tough. The writing is the easy part!
You don’t have to make one. You have to make five.
When I started out with a craft book, I hadn’t thought photography sessions through. At the session, you have the models there all ready to dress up. In the same session, I needed the models to both make and wear the items. That means I had to make ‘dummy’ pieces for each step of the project.
Mostly, I had to make at least five of everything. And buy five of everything. But for some projects, the only piece of clothing I had was a single article from Goodwill.. no duplicates. For these, I could get away with using the back of the same article of clothing for close-up steps, or do parts of the project myself in between shot setups.
On the beaded sweater project, we shot backwards, Taking the final photo of the model, then stripping away the beads to show how to make it. I still have this beaded sweater and wear it, but there are only beads on one side. There are a few holes on the other side where I hastily ripped out the beads to set up the previous steps, but I wear pins to cover those holes. 🙂
Rotovision Wants You, But Not Really YOU, per Say
Rotovision had hired me for my expertise, but then repeatedly wanted to veto my completed projects. I’m talking already designed, already made, already made in-progress dummies for photographing, and already photographed. Projects had gone from concept to the model’s back. I had included a full table of contents and chapter descriptions to let them know exactly what I would be doing, and then they switched it up.
Example 1: At one point, I had gotten permission from Conan O’Brien’s people to use his logo on a shirt. The logo was not the lesson, it was just an aside. The lesson was in cutting a t-shirt to create side panels on the shirt. After the concept, creation, and photography was done, Rotovision thought that young people wouldn’t get the Conan reference. The logo was not essential to the project… it was a wink at the young demographic I was writing for (yep, young people would get that reference, Rotovision).
But since everything was already made and photographed, it all had to be done again. Instead, appearing in the book is a sweater turned into a wrap. Still a good project, but it taught the same principles as the first project, and was simply redone on the whim of the art directer at Rotovision. I let Conan’s people know what we wouldn’t need the logo, after all.
The art director at Rotovision argued that ‘Steampunk is mostly black.’
Example 2: I presented a steampunk project that would teach readers how to distress leather with shoe polish, then attach jewelry pieces to create cogs and such. Designed, created, photographed on the model. It was in the can- done. The art director at Rotovision argued that ‘Steampunk is mostly black.’ Now, for you steampunk fans out there, let me say that again. She said that steampunk is NOT predominantly BROWN leathers, it is all black leathers. This was what I was dealing with.
I rewrote/designed/made/made dummies/photographed the whole thing. The project that made it into the book:
I ended up with a black purse and nixed that whole leather-distressing educational part of the project. The project appearing in the book still teaches you how to sew jewelry pieces on, but it could have been much more informative, had they listened to me, who they had hired for expertise.
Example 3: Yes, this happened a third time. I was given an example of an artist that they wanted to emulate in the book. Rotovision was ALL ABOUT me ripping off other artists work, and it was tricky for me to get around this. They sent me various blog links to projects that they wanted me to rip off, and I had to be very careful in how I suggested something different, as not to bite that hand that feeds. At that point, I had already signed the contract, so it was tricky, indeed.
This is the Bobsmade work that Rotovision wanted me to do:
So, I came up with a different kind of design. It was my own style, but still cartoonish. The idea of making a ‘tutorial’ that just told you how to apply a Sharpie to fabric did not appeal to me. Saying ‘draw on this’ is not very educational… or interesting, for that matter. So, I instead talked about how to remove the finish from a leather opera wallet before applying the Sharpie. Then, how to refinish the surface. This idea was approved in the book outline.
Here is mine:
It’s a cartoon. It’s Sharpie. It’s an accessory (an opera wallet). I thought I had filled all of their criteria, and I was damn proud of this cute design!
They didn’t like it.
Their simple explanation was that it wasn’t what the art director had in mind. And they called it childish, even though their example was a hat with cartoons on it. It was a very insulting email, way past ‘business mean’. Nevermind that they gave me no other instructions and the photo they provided was of cartoons on a hat!
Instead of going on a rampage, I suggested using Sharpie on a dress, telling my readers how to treat the fabric before & after to make it last. They liked this. The trouble is, not many clothes are made of a kind of fabric that will take Sharpie permanently. I had to use a cotton fabric that would take the ink well.
I could not find a black & white dress made up of cotton fabric that would properly take Sharpie dye without bleeding or fading. Think about it… when is the last time you saw an all-cotton dress at all, much less one that is just black and white? I had to draft the pattern and make this dress by hand out of a black and white fabric.
In reality, there is no color on the back of this dress. We instead used that side for the ‘before’ and step-by-step photos. I still have this dress hanging in my closet, because, well, I made it from scratch and then spent DAYS coloring in the circles on the front for the final product shots.
The wallet also would have taught how to remove a leather finish; I scrambled with what to teach in the dress tutorial and eventually added some cross-hatch techniques. The result is cool, but so much less practical than my original tutorial. The wallet was a small-scale accessory, which is what most readers are going to want to color… not a whole dress made from cotton, which is so incredibly hard to find that you’ll have to make one yourself!
Supplies, Photography, and Models Ain’t Cheap
In addition to designing, making, and writing about each project, I had to do the footwork on every other aspect. I could afford to pay one model, but all of the other models in the book are my sister, daughter, and my friend.
Even I make a single appearance in the book… my legs! They didn’t put a photo of me in the About the Author section, even though I provided a few choices taken by the photographer. Lookit them gams, though (on the left).
Driving to get photos taken every weekend was exhausting. Especially when Rotovision wanted to throw away weeks of work on occasion, and we had to take pictures of the same projects again.
Along with everything else, Rotovision asked me to find artists to highlight for every chapter. I did all of the legwork for this, not only interviewing the artists, but securing the rights for their photos, then passing those rights forms to Rotovision. It certainly didn’t seem like the job of the writer to do this, but hey… book deal, right?
Rotovision Doesn’t Like to Pay
Getting my payments was like pulling teeth. Rotovision would promise payment, then ask for another 25% of the text without paying. Payments were always late, and several times, my contract was sent to my neighbors house. I can understand a few miscommunications, but this was overkill.
Payments were months late. This while I’m driving an hour and a half away from home every weekend to work with the photographer. There was a lot of money to be put up by me for materials, work hours, and gas… all of which I had figured into the pay schedule that they had provided and not kept to. But that’s an old writer’s gripe, right? Haha, publishers don’t pay on time. Oh, that’s such a fun cliche until you’re trying to pay the mortgage.
No Publicity for You!
Rotovision sold my book to Running Press. As we approached the release date, I started looking around online for any news of the release. I was checking my emails every day for any word from Running Press. But no one from Running Press ever contacted me. I even sent them an email, but nothing back. My book was sent into the abyss.
I received a few copies in the mail and was told that I could buy copies of my own book to hand out for people to review. And that was it. There would be no book signings, no interviews, no features on other sites. I gave the free copies to my gracious models, and waited for correspondence that wasn’t coming.
My book was sent into the abyss.
The book ‘release’ was anti climactic, to say the least. It quietly went on sale at Amazon.com, and I found it in my local Books & Co. The only press it got was me telling my mom on Facebook. I couldn’t be more disappointed. I didn’t have the money or resources to market the book myself. I had just assumed that they would be interested in selling what they’d paid to make. I don’t make royalties from the sales, so I couldn’t justify putting even more time and money into this book.
I added my own ‘customer images’ to the Amazon.com listing, because Running Press wouldn’t add any ‘Look Inside’ kind of images to the listing. I did what I could. But now, Amazon.com removed the customer image program altogether, so now I put those images here on my site.
It’s Not My Book
Since writing this book, I have learned to not be so critical of the work of other authors. I did not have a say in which photos were used in the book, how it was laid out, even which parts got cut. I had to argue with the creative director at Rotovision to change the embroidery stitch photos to close-ups. They wanted to use a full shot of the model working at the table. Yeah, you can’t tell how to make a stitch that way, guys.
The next time I see a craft book that has bad photos of a tutorial step, I’ll consider the fact that the author may just be grinding his/her teeth about that page.
At one point, I suggested that they hire an excellent proofreader that I know, Stet_, since I was hiring the photographer, models, and feature artists for them, anyway. But they turned him down in favor of an in-house proofreader. I then had the pleasure of correcting mistakes throughout each draft returned to me. Mistakes their editors had added to my copy.
The longer I worked on this book, the more I just felt like a hired gun. I was a writing monkey that was dumb enough to negotiate photographers, models, and feature artists for the publisher. But I knew that if I left these tasks to them, they would pick something that made as much sense as ‘steampunk is only black leather’.
I also wanted to credit my models in the front of the book, but Rotovision wouldn’t have it.
But I Am Starting to Like It
I’m still not happy with this book, but I am proud of it. Hell, it was a lot of work.
I’m a fighter, if anything, and I think I pushed back against Rotovision just enough to make sure that I put out a book that has a lot of value. The projects are all informative, and I hope they are inspiring. I maintained my integrity by refusing to rip-off other designers, and hopefully gave some exposure to the artists that I featured in the book.
If I did it again, I’d read the contract a little better to make sure that they couldn’t back out of projects that had already been approved. I’d consider my supply budget more carefully, and work with a photographer that is closer to where I live (though, Dorn Byg is incredible and fun to work with).
The experience wasn’t the glamorous ‘OH, golly, book deal!’ scenario that I had always envisioned. I’m sure that not all craft book deals are like this… probably not even all that happen via Rotovision. But make no mistake… writing a book is not easy, nor glamorous.
Sometimes, I’ll find my book at the bookstore and we’ll look at each other like two lovers that had a complicated relationship in another dimension. My book makes me sad and proud. But it has my name on it, and that’s something, right?
Amazon got rid of their customer image system altogether, and my uploaded images with it. I didn’t know what else to do to reach readers aside from writing a ‘review’ that tells them where to find images from in the book.
Now, I don’t make any royalties from the sale of the book. I just spent a lot of time on it and want people to know what’s there.
Hello! I’m the author of Customize Your Clothes. Writing a book is difficult. Especially when your publishers are non-communicative and even refuse to pay you at times. They also decided not to publicize this book at all whatsoever… including the addition of images to this Amazon listing. That’s why you can’t ‘look inside’ my book, here.
I’d really like my readers to know that the tutorials and photos inside this book are very helpful. I worked to design fashions that are not only fun to make, but that look awesome, too. I still wear many of these! But that’s hard to convey when there are no images to show, and the cover is less-than-informative.
I had added images via Amazon’s customer image platform, but they’ve since done away with that. To see images of my book, please visit my site, rainblanken[dot]com. I’ve put up the customer images there so that you can see what is inside the book. No pressure. I just don’t know how else to show the inside of this damn thing.
Amazon.com removed my review. I have no idea how else to show photos of the inside of my book on there, since the publisher will not. :/
Tonight on the Oscars, a beautiful tribute to The Wizard of Oz reminded me that movie magic can inspire in audiences of all ages.
And Whoopie’s high-heeled salute to Dorothy’s ruby slippers reminded me that wearing a piece of the action can bring the silver screen adventure to life. When you make a pair of ruby slippers, you’ve got a piece of movie inspiration to take with you. Dorothy needed confidence, tenacity, and faith to get through Oz, and sometimes a day at the office needs some of the spirit of Dorothy Gale to back you up.
Project DIY will send a box straight to your door that contains all of the jewels, chains, notions and even tools to make beautiful jewelry projects. Not only that, but they come with a theme. From hardcore punk cuffs to glittering baroque-inspired earrings, each box is a different world for you to explore in the best way… through jewelry!
Actually, what I love best about the themes and materials is what you guys are out there doing with them. Not only can I build a Joan of Arc bracelet, but I get to see, through the Project DIY community, how everyone else interpreted the project.
Dark City-Inspired Jewelry
The January box was Film Noir themed, dripping with all the mystery of classic crime drama.
But mine was a very specific crime drama; one that is probably vintage now, but a lot younger than it’s hard-boiled counterparts. I like a little sci-fi with my detective stories.
My Film Noir character was all about hushed whispers in the corner of the lounge. She was Jennifer Connelly caressing an old ribbon-style microphone, crooning in Dark City,
Like a lazy ocean hugs the shore. Hold me close, sway me more…
The Dark Romance charm bracelet remains my favorite piece from the set. I was able to use the Film Noir packaging to decoupage an ominous ‘knock’ to the flat heart charm provided.
The ribbon and chain belt project was easy, but it took me a long time, as I got picky with how my gray and black ribbons were twisting through the links. Can you see the Dark City inspiration in this one? There’s no way out!
Which way to Shell Beach? Take the express. I highly recommend the Project DIY Film Noir set as a platform to create your own Dark City-inspired jewelry.
Above: Me pretending I can afford this bag at the Vogue Runway Retreat during Fashion Week, February 2014.
When I found out I would be in NYC for Fashion Week, I experienced a phenomenon that I wasn’t really used to… when I vacation, I usually choose my most comfortable shirts, a few pieces of fun jewelry, and a nice sweater. Okay, I usually vacation at Walt Disney World, so there are some fairly ridiculous hats in there, too. I’d never been on a trip that centered completely around fashion before.
Above: Coat #1 that I packed just in case., good enough for both sightseeing and arriving at Gordon Ramsay’s London Bar in Manhattan.
Above: Coat #2, Awesome 70’s Jacket. Great for subway trips with my awesome friend Aaron Gold and my mom, as we accidentally sought out one of the best places I’ve eaten, Jeepney. But that’s another adventure.