My place to share lots of photographs of my random crafty, makery, bakery and cookery projects, as well as random thoughts that might strike me and are too long for Twitter...

Sunday, 1 February 2015

This Is NOT The Mould You're Looking For...

One thing you need when you're making things to sell or give to other people, is confidence in your tools and materials. I haven't had too many issues with fake or sub-standard items fortunately, though I know plenty of people who have. Recently though, I landed on something that I thought I would use to illustrate some of the shadier things available out there!

I was looking for a Han Solo mould, for resin crafting. I'd seen them at collector fairs, etc, and they were always sold out of the smaller size (though if anyone wants to pay me to make a cake-pan-sized Han Solo in carbonate for an iPad cover or something...I'm there). So I found one on eBay instead. Looked the same (ironically, the listing proudly proclaimed "Please inspect pictures carefully"), and a quick search on Amazon revealed the exact same image but with more expensive postage, so eBay won out.

Screen grab from the listing
(seller ID covered, to be fair he had very little negative feedback and this could have been a one-off iffy listing).
What arrived was NOT the item in the image I had so carefully inspected at the seller's request, which was blatantly a stock image poached from the internet. I will not use the word "fake" because frankly I don't know where I stand legally doing that. But see for yourself below and make your own decision.

The mould was so thin in places that light shone through it. The "carbonite" area of the mould was practically smooth, compared to the highly textured example in the photograph. The face looked like a smooth, almost featureless "Scream" mask. The hands were just ridiculous.

Immediately I emailed the seller to complain and request a refund. I pointed out that I had, in fact, studied the image very carefully (unlike whoever made the mould), and had been sent a different, much lower-quality, item. I also pointed out the lack of definition on the clothes and carbonite, the lack of facial features, the oddly-shaped "shoe spaces" that look nothing like the image, the Muppet hands and the fact that certain areas let light through. I was thorough.

Spot the difference between the Amazon listing image and the one used on the listing I purchased.
Besides the eBay listing having their ID Photoshopped across the bottom of the image...

In fairness I did get a reply within a couple of hours, and of course my returns request was accepted. But not before it was pointed out to me (and I quote) "Just checked my picture with my mould and i honestly don't see any difference whatsoever." As if I was just being overly pedantic by calling them out on their shoddy item. If you click the stock images above to get the full-size version, just compare it to the lower items in the pairs below, and feel good that you are better at spotting differences than that guy.

So, I thought I would do a quick comparison. To the one I bought (bottom), and the real one I replaced the initial purchase with (top) which came from Great Gear Store via eBay (the above image with the ice cube also features in their listing photograph as well, so I am going to presume that it is the same item as also featured on Amazon, and supposedly the item in the original listing). All of the detail photographs are of the inside of the moulds. The lighting makes some of the top pics look "inside out", but it's just me trying to get the hang of my new lights!

You can't tell from that picture, but the top packaging also has a hanging strip to display in store. The bottom one does not.


No contest really, is it? But supposedly, the bottom one is no less detailed than the top one. 
10/10 for a blind guy managing to use eBay though...That would explain not noticing that the bottom Han Solo has NO EYES.

A friend and I decided that the closest description we could find to the hands from the original mould was "Muppet Fingers". Now, I know Disney own both Star Wars and The Muppets, but really, this is not a cross-over I wanted.

Are you a maaaaaaaan...Or are you a Muppet? Going on those bottom hands, Muppet! So undefined.
You can also see how abysmal/absent the texture is on the clothing.

Replacement (L) vs Original (R). you can see how crisp the edges are on the replacement.

Carbonite Texture

Again, supposedly this was exactly the same as the one pictured...


It looks like the bottom picture is blurry. I've come to the conclusion that is because the whole mould appears to have been made in soft focus. You can see that the top has double lines, whereas the bottom just has a rough single edge. Also in the top image, Han looks like Voldemort. I assure you he DOES have a nose. It's just the angle.

Small Moulds

Yup. No difference at all... </sarcasm>

Obviously I wouldn't use the mould that I wanted to return, but the quality difference is visible. Especially when held up to the light...

I'm willing to bet it wouldn't take too many uses/cleanings before that super-thin facial area split.

I cannot recommend the awesome The Great Gear Store highly enough, the item arrived the next day so my error didn't cost me anything time-wise, it was well packaged, and obviously as you can see is the real genuine article. I've since looked at their website, which is bound to cost me a fortune in the future as I seem to need pretty much everything they sell. Great gear, great service. 

Thanks Great Gear Store! :)

January Favourites

Remember when I was going to do these every month? Yeah, me too. Ironically, I found the June '14 post, congratulating myself for managing a "Favourites Of The Month" post for two months in a row...Languishing in the "Drafts" section still un-posted. So...that went well.

Start as I mean to go on, on with January Favourites!

Photo: Holland & Barrett

Dr Organic deodorant (£5.49, Holland & Barrett). This was originally on the June '14 post, but I can now tell you that it did survive the summer, and it does really work! For a while when I was younger I used a crystal deodorant (literally, a rock crystal that you wet). They work surprisingly well, for a rock, but some do still contain some of the nasties I was trying to avoid getting all up in my glands and stuff. Yuck! My favourite Dr Organics scent so far has to be the pomegranate one, though the tea tree one is lovely and cooling, an added benefit for the summer! After many sniff tests (sorry husband/sniffing guinea pig...Needs must!), I think they work just as well if not better than the one I was using before (Dove roll-on), and without all the nasty chemicals! Of course it's only seen a few scattered scorching days since I started using it, but that's a pretty accurate test period for England!

Photo: blog.pne.ca

Miracle Shammy Synthetic chamois cloth. I found this at Autosport International, which I go to every year with my Dad. The cheesy (sorry dude) salesman was doing his shopping channel spiel demo (you can see the US version here), and part of it was showing how these cloths soak up a 2l bottle of pop (or something similar...Maybe not the full 2l, it was really cheesy and I may not have paid 100% attention), and would dry a car in two swipes, or some such advertising, blah blah blah. However I saw it soak up all that liquid and thought "Hey! Microfiber hair towel!" I was eyeing wonder-towels on the internet before Christmas at around £20ish each. So I figured at £10 for four (plus two polish cloths, which are very good for glasses/watches, etc) I'd give these a shot instead. I told the guy he was missing a trick by not selling them as hair towels, and he laughed in my face. So, your loss my arrogant friend. They are AWESOME hair towels. I can cut my drying time by 50-75% by squeezing out my hair with one of these things first and they have no loops to snag and drag at the hair cuticles so it seems to dry smoother too.

Photo: Lush.co.uk

While we're on hair care, item #3 for January is the "New" shampoo bar from Lush (£5.75). I'd tried shampoo bars in the past and to be honest I wasn't that impressed. Turns out I just tried the wrong ones! New is full of cinnamon, clove and peppermint so it smells divine (and more than a little Christmassy), and supposedly boosts blood flow to stimulate the scalp. The shampoo bars last 60-80 washes, which for me is almost a year's worth of shampoo, for £5.75.

Read my full review here on my nail art blog.

OPI Sheer Tint top coats. Oh myyyyyy. I am in LOVE with these polishes. There are four in the range, all transparent, in pink, yellow, blue and purple. They are amazing. I can't wait to try out more manis with these!

I've also spent January busying away behind the scenes on another little project I've had running. If you have a moment to spare, please head over to my new Facebook group and Etsy shop, where I will be sharing my crafts and selling my wares. 

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Happy New Year!

No, I am not sat on the internet at midnight on NYE blogging (thank you, post scheduling!). I am probably actually asleep somewhere. Such is life.

This seems like an appropriate time to let you know that I am still alive, apologise for the lack of blog posts this year, and promise to try harder next year. Life and work took over slightly this year, and I haven't spent nearly as much time crafting as I have in previous years. I have (hopefully!) big-ish things lined up for 2015, including finally getting my act together and my Etsy shop stocked and open for business.

May 2015 bring us all health, wealth, happiness, and the hover boards we were promised in 1989.

Happy New Year!

Thursday, 5 June 2014

May Favourites!

OK...When I first did a "Favourites" post (wayyyyyyy back in September) I did clarify that I would forget to do them every month. So, here we are. This is the next in the series of things that are making me a happier little bunny this month...

This Pura Vida bracelet:

You will probably notice a slight theme this month. I'm slowly being over-taken by the coral trend (is that still a trend? I'm not trendy). This bracelet is the perfect match for May favourite number two. A friend and I have recently started importing these bracelets (first in the UK! We think...) and selling them at work after we fell in love with them when she found them on a trip to California. If you fancy stocking up on some for yourself, check us out on Facebook. Each bracelet helps to make life better for people in Costa Rica (and makes you look super awesome...I'm just sayin'...). I would advise you to get in on this trend before everyone else! ;)

This Accessorize nail polish:

I'd taken it off by this point...So the bottle is modeled here by my toy bichon frise.

If you follow my nail blog (and if you don't, where have you been?!) you will have seen me use the sequins that come with this colour last month to create a really cool scaly manicure for Play-off Weekend at the start of April. I just realised how gross "scaly manicure" sounds. Sorry. It wasn't gross at all actually, it reminded me of awesome dragons and Pudge the fish. Anyway...I digress. I used to just lump coral in with all the other reds that were a bit bright and I didn't like wearing. Then I wore this colour. I secretly judge my nails by how many comments they get. Working in a shop, hundreds of people see each manicure, so it's a pretty good way to judge, I think. This colour gets compliments from MEN. Straight men. Men don't notice nails. They even say they never notice nails. I don't remember the last manicure I did that a guy actually noticed (apart from that guy who said French manicures always made him think of porn...But we'll gloss over that one). Sadly this "Sandstone" colour is only available as part of a set (polish and pot of chunky glitter sequins) for £5. I see a lot of spare sequins in my future, because I need to stock up on this before it goes!!

Benefit Cha Cha Tint:

Image copyright Benefit Cosmetics.
I mentioned the coral theme before, right? Cha Cha tint is a lovely orangey-coral colour for lips and (though I haven't been brave enough to try it there) cheeks. I'm too much of a smeary klutz to wear lipstick, so lip stains are a perfect un-smudgeable solution and when I found some 99p samples on eBay I snapped one up.

This hair bow:

Actually, all these hair bows...

I don't usually wear hair accessories. My hair is huge and eats any decoration that goes near it. But I went to a vintage fair the day before Star Wars Day, and saw the Darth Vader one, and then they were six for a fiver, and there was Disney...And...Well...the inevitable happened ("The Inevitable" being I muttered something like "My nieces will love these!" as I flung a fiver at the woman and squirrelled away my Disney kiddie hair bow purchase for me, me and only me). I have to apologise as I've lost her business card so I can't give her the plug she deserves! If I find it I will definitely edit her details in later.

My go-to summer perfume...
JLo Glow apparently is aimed at "late teens/early 20s", but I don't care. The blurb says it smells of neroli, pink grapefruit, rose, sandalwood, amber, musk, jasmine, iris, and vanilla, but to me it smells like summer and I love it! I'm also apparently running low, looking at the picture! It is actually nicely complimented by the lovely Lustre dust in the background from Lush, which also smells of jasmine and has the added benefit of being jam-packed with SPARKLES!!!

If I remember, there will be a few June favourites to come next month (or, as it took me sooo long to do this, later this month!).

Monday, 24 March 2014

Raising Awareness...

Right now, wherever you are, raise your hand nice and high if you are NOT aware of cancer. No-one? Thought so.

So can we please stop the stupid Facebook games to "raise awareness of cancer"? For one, they are genuinely stupid. They tend to spread through women, so for the guys out there, here is what usually happens...

You get a mass PM. Followed by several further PMs from people in the group who didn't understand the game, or "I don't want to play publicly but mine is blue." (Stop. Just stop now. Don't do that). The original PM usually goes something like:

"LADIES! Let's play a game and raise awareness of cancer at the same time! This is ladies only so don't tell the guys! lol! All you have to do is post the colour of your bra (NOTHING ELSE, just the colour of your bra) as your Facebook status.  If a woman asks what you are doing, clue her in by forwarding this message! If a man asks...DON'T TELL THEM!! Haha!"

Which leads to Facebook being full of:

Woman A: "BLUE!"
Guy A: "What?"
Guy B: "Blue what?"
Woman A: "I can't tell you....lolz!!"

Great job lady! You just raised awareness of BLUE. Excellent job. And where exactly does clogging my FB feed with colours and the ensuing debates raise awareness of cancer? Anyone? No-one? There you go then. Awareness-raising FAIL. The "Where do you put your handbag?" one is basically the same, but with places rather than colours.

The latest one is make-up free selfies. You know what? I complained bitterly about the make-up free selfies when they first appeared. I even took some criticism for it. But on the surface it did appear to be just another stupid FB idea, because no-one mentioned in public that they were also texting to donate at the same time (IF they were...The campaign certainly didn't start off that way until it was criticised for doing no good). Again, unless you were clued in, from the outside it tended to just turn FB into an endless stream of this (snippets from various posts on my timeline):

Woman A: [terribly-lit mobile phone quality selfie of woman with no make-up on, accompanied by blurb about tagging friends and "raising awareness of cancer". Bonus points for actually mentioning "cancer" in the status this time though *thumbs up*, MASSIVE minus points for mentioning nothing about also making a donation]
Friend A: "Twit-twoooooooo!"
Friend B: "Hawt"
Friend C: "You're so pretty!"
Woman A: "Noooooooooooooooooo! I look awful!"
Friend D: "Stop it babz, your gorgeous!"
Woman A: "No! stop lyin! I look sooooooooo rough!"
Friend E: "GAwwwww-jussss!"*
Friend F: "Pretteh gurl is prettehhhhhhh!"**
Woman A: "Stop it!! I look horrible!"

So I'm thinking "If you want to fish for compliments, just do it. Don't hide it as doing good and "raising awareness". Because you're not really raising any awareness there at all. You're fishing for compliments or feeling "brave" because your friends, who have seen you in a far worse state if they are really your friends, are seeing you with no make-up on." because no-one was also mentioning if they were donating. Then a couple of days of indignant screen-cap posts of donation texts after media criticism.

If you can't afford to text and donate, that's OK!! We've all been there. But PLEASE share a link to Cancer Research UK (CRUK), or Macmillan Cancer with your selfie. Share a poster of how to check yourself for breast or testicular cancer. Share the adverts on TV at the moment about prostate cancer. That will all help raise awareness and save lives, if that's what you really want to do. You might not get as many likes but you might save someone's life.

If you just want someone to tell you that you look pretty with no make-up on, just post a picture of yourself with no make-up on. Chances are people will tell you that anyway, because you probably ARE genuinely pretty without make-up on, you just never give yourself the chance to find out. (Natural light is your friend, don't take them in the bathroom).

From the looks of it the campaign is actually now raising money and sharing some useful self-checking posters too (and in some cases adopting polar bears...), so good on you if you took part properly.

*If you've ever spelled that word that way, slap yourself in the face for me. Thanks. Now NEVER do it again. It's not a hard word to spell properly. Post from your phone if you get stuck. Auto-correct is your friend.

*If you've ever used that ("[adjective] [noun] is [same adjective]") sentence structure, slap yourself super-hard in the face. It's idiotic and annoying.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Really, Internet? Really?! "Brow Arch March"?!

Today many (FB, Twitter, a blog site) internet places informed me that I should be readying myself for "Brow Arch March". Quite how a person does that, I'm not sure. None of the sites clarified. Am I supposed to grow them out, in preparation for all the brow arching to come? Am I supposed to have them arched and ready for March, so I can spend March basking in eyebrowy glory?

I have no idea. I do know that it sounds like a stupid marketing ploy by someone or other to sell more...Whatever you use when you care about your eyebrow architecture.

But it did get me thinking, we could have an entire year of personal grooming themed months (*side note* who doesn't personally groom in some way every day?! OK, I take that back. Maybe it's just from working in retail, but I can think of a few people who definitely don't groom every day/week/month/year).

On with the marketing for a Year of Beauty (marketing experts, please give credit when you inevitably use my genius marketing schemes...):

Jelly-Bits January: Time to tone up everything that escaped your attention at Christmas. Gym attendance already soars during the Post-Christmas Shame Period, why not cash in a bit more?

Philtrum February: Tone that Cupid's Bow! Pucker up for Valentine's Day! Work that infransal depression, girl!

Brow Arch March: Whatever.

Armpit April: It's Spring! We're gearing up to vests, and the like (or, wishing we were as we stare out at the rain). Alternatively, raincoats make you sweat, focus on deodorant sales.

Moustache May: Bleach it! Wax it! Work it! It's your choice!

Joints June: Get your knees and elbows all smooth for summer! Alternatively, get ready to flash those ankles in a fit of Victorian flooziness.

Jawline July: Get defining, ready for your holidays! Sunglasses need to be balanced out by a perfect jawline...Or something... (there are VERY few body parts beginning with a "J", OK?!).

Ass-Crack August: Bikini season isn't all about the chest cleavage, you know. Let's get #ButtCleavage trending for Ass-Crack August.

Septum September: No-one notices the septum until you don't have one, eh Daniella Westbrook? But with cold and flu season upon us, it's time to take care of the most neglected part of the nose.

Obliques October: We can have "The 30 Day Squat Challenge", so let's have "The 31 Day Awkward Twisty Sit-Up Things Challenge".

Nails November: Obviously there has to be a whole month for nails, and what better month than the one leading up to Party Season?

Decolletage December: Quite. We all know how December goes. Party on!

Monday, 27 January 2014

Something Different...Graphics.

I was saying the other day that I hadn't done a craft post for a while (seeing as this was meant to be a craft blog and is sadly lacking in that aspect lately!). Truth is, I haven't really done many actual crafts. November and December are always hellishly busy for me, working in retail, and January is usually spent putting myself and the house back together and doing all those things that get neglected during the festive period!

So, whilst not strictly a craft, I thought I'd post a few creative things I've been doing, as suggested by the friend I have done  most of them for!

I love playing with Photoshop, whether that's touching up and editing photographs or making graphics from scratch. Lately I have been making graphics for a good friend's wrestling efed, and the people who play there. I won't explain the whole thing, basically they create characters, those characters have "pic-bases" who are (usually) celebrities, and have banners to go with it for use on forums, etc. So yes, I know the celebrities in the pictures have the wrong names. Creative licence. Just enjoy the pictures. :)

*HEADS UP* Some of them aren't wearing very much. Make your own NSFW/PG13 decisions please. I trust your judgement.

This is the first one I did, for one of my husband's characters. I think he was a little doubting over whether or not I could actually work to the graphics standard he was used to. Given his face I surpassed it. 

That was the first style background I learned to do, and is still one of my favourites. I possibly over-use it slightly. ;)

Backgrounds are easily the most fun bit.

This one is one of my favourites, I'll not go into how to do it, basically google is your friend...If there's an effect you want, someone will have already put a lesson up on how to do it!

Here it is in use. Sad thing is a lot of the awesome backgrounds get covered up!

Spot the difference! There were actual details given for the character's outfit for this one. I love the crumpled lettering...Never done that before.

The finished product.

My favourite effect is DEFINITELY metallics...

Before and after. The font makes a lot of difference...

This wasn't for the efeds, it was a design I submitted for a friend's company logo.

This logo is NOT my original design, I just edited it and added effects.

This one is my original, and one of my favourites. :)

This is one of my all-time favourites. The font is altered/added to, which caused massive problems when I wanted to use it again, because I couldn't recognise it! Free font sites are my downfall. I LOVE fonts. I try to have a different font for each character, though obviously I have my favourites!

Obviously I didn't make this image (or the "R"), just the rest of the text!

One of my other favourite fonts.

So there you go. Sorry for the whorey display of boobs and asses. It seems to go with the territory.

If you are interested in commissioning some graphics of your own, drop me an email or leave a comment below. :)

If you are interested in joining the efeds (and you can fill out an application form correctly, eh Mark?), you can find the best ones here and here.

I don't have characters...I just wanted a pretty graphic! ;)