February 24, 2015

DIY: Gold Spike Necklace Tutorial

Sometimes projects are born from unprecedented levels of snowed-in boredom. Well, maybe not boredom, per se, because I rarely get truly bored (my mind would need to stop racing for that to ever happen - thanks brain!), but after four days without so much as opening your front door, you learn that there are only so many Netflix documentaries, internet k-holes and weird drink concoctions available to occupy the mind.

When in need of an activity, I often turn to jewelry making, and since I couldn't drive out of my parking spot, let alone to a store, I was left with just my own craft stash to make this little guy. I would've maybe done some things differently if given the option, but I think my little golden Frankenstein necklace, made from random bits and beads, is charming in its own thrown-together way. Here's how I made it, and may you never have another snowed in weekend in which to try this.

Gold Stud or Spike Beads (these are from Joann's)
Gold Tube Beads
Gold Round Beads
Beading Wire
Jewelry Pliers
Wire Cutter
Jump Rings & Clasp
Crimping Beads & Crimping Tool {not pictured}
Small Length of Chain {optional}

First, cut a length of beading wire (I like to cut it WAY too long just in case, because I'm paranoid). Start stringing the spike beads on the wire, placing a round bead in between each spike. Don't skip the round bead - it adds just enough space to allow the spikes to fit flush next to each other (otherwise the spikes with splay up and down, like in the supplies photo above).

Continue stringing in this pattern until you're pleased (with the length of the necklace, not just pleased in general...we've already established this is a snowed-in project so that is not possible).

Use the gold tube beads to fill in the space on either side of the spikes along the beading wire. If you use gold wire (which you should if you have it, I was just working with odds and ends in my supplies) you could skip this step and let the wire show for a more minimal look.

To finish off the ends of the wire, I created some loops that can attach right to jump rings. To do this, I trimmed the wire, looped it back over itself so that the end tucked into the last gold tube bead in the row [below top]. Then I slid on a crimp bead over the loop, which I first squished a little to make the bead fit [below middle]. Then I reopened the squished loop [below bottom].   

Next, use a bead crimping tool to secure the crimp bead. Repeat this process on the other end of the necklace. {If you're new to crimp beads, read this post where I talk more about them}

I finished my necklace by attaching a small length of chain with a jump ring to those newly formed loops, before adding more jump rings and a clasp to the free ends of the chain. This is all optional, and you can simply attach jump rings and a clasp right to the wire loops.
You can wear this spiked necklace in a neat and orderly way (above) or jostle it for a wilder look (I mean, it is a metal spike necklace, right?). Just don't let it poke you in the throat. Not that I did that or anything. You know what? Maybe make yours longer than mine.

I typed 'the wire' so many times here that now I want to watch The Wire. You're in my head, Omar!

Are you into spiked and studded jewelry? How many days has the snow kept you inside against your will? Or are you into all this snow?

February 17, 2015

BEAUTY: Ulta Birthday Gift 2015

In case you missed it, I recently shared my joy over the 2015 Sephora birthday gift (NARS lip pencils!) and I thought you might also like to see my free birthday gift from Ulta. Much like Sephora, once you're signed up with Ulta Rewards (a free service which gets you points for dollars spent and fun coupons) you will receive a coupon for a free birthday gift during your birthday month. The gift for those with birthdays in January, February and March 2015 is the Ulta Complete Eye Palette in Indie:
Oh, why thank you, Ulta!
Last year, Ulta gave out a free full size CK One mascara for every birthday, so this year is a bit of a departure in that they seem to be changing the gift up quarterly. Not sure what the idea behind this thinking is, or if they'll actually follow through with it, but every source I've seen has specifically listed this gift as intended for those with birthdays in January-March.
The good news is that if you like this eye palette and happen to have a birthday outside of those months, you can purchase it outright for $12.00 here. {Side note: last year's mascara gift was valued at $18.00 for those counting at home.}
This palette has a mix of 4 shimmer and 1 matte shades (only the medium brown is matte). The texture is smooth and blend-able, and pigmentation is very nice. None of these shades is patchy or sheer, and there are enough colors to create a nice brown smoky eye situation. Overall, this was a nice, albeit kinda boring, gift. But, hey - free eyeshadow is free eyeshadow, right?
This palette reminds me of one of my drugstore favorites, Wet n Wild's Silent Treatment, which I swatched here a million years ago.
SWATCHES: Ulta Complete Eye Palette in Indie
ON MY EYES: Ulta Complete Eye Palette in Indie
To get this gift from Ulta you WILL need a coupon they send via email (unlike Sephora, where you can just walk in and ask). I got mine on my birthday, so expect it on or around the big day. For those of you with birthdays later in the year, make sure to sign up for Ulta Rewards now and wait to see what your gift will be...I hope I'm not jealous of it!

Do you get free birthday gifts from Ulta? What other awesome free birthday finds have you scored?

February 9, 2015

BEAUTY: Sephora Birthday Gift 2015

Ahhhhh, the new year. Rebirth, fresh starts, lofty goals...and the new Sephora Beauty Insider birthday gift! In case you've been living under a beauty rock (sounds glamorous btw), each year Sephora gives out a free (uh huh, free) birthday gift to Beauty Insiders during their birthday month. Every year there's a new item and, while there have been some dream gifts in the past (my Benefit Watt's Up mini is a treasured friend), I think this year tops them ALL. Allow me to introduce the...
NARS Mini Lip Pencil Duo!
Okay, I know, I know, but we need to keep it together so that we can learn more. Ready?
 In this duo, you will receive:
NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Cruella
NARS Satin Lip Pencil in Rikugien

 Cruella is .06 oz, compared to the full size version of .086 oz.
Rikugien is .05 oz, compared to the full size version of .07 oz.
 Cruella is a deep blue-based scarlet red with a perfectly matte finish.
Rikugien is a dusty rose pink with a somewhat shimmery satin finish.
With flash, so you can really see the shimmer on Rikugien
 These are not twist-up, so you'll need a wide sharpener when they dull down. NARS sells one for $6 which I might pick up because I don't want to ruin my nice pencils with a cheap-o sharpener.
Swatches: NARS Satin Lip Pencil in Rikugien (top) and NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Cruella (bottom)
 These pencils are incredibly easy to apply. They glide on SMOOTHLY and give full opaque color in one swipe. The staying power is impressive and they never feel heavy or drying on the lips. Since they give you a neutral nude shade and a bright red, you can get a ton of use out of this duo.
On my lips: NARS Satin Lip Pencil in Rikugien (top) and NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Cruella (bottom)
NARS Satin Lip Pencil in Rikugien
NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Cruella
It maybe goes without saying, but these products are impeccable. NARS doesn't play around with quality, which is probably why the full size of these pencils go for $26 apiece (excuse me while I cry into my Maybelline coupons). Scoring these for free is a victory, and it's super easy to do so:
  • If you're not already, sign up to be a Sephora Beauty Insider. It's free, and just means they'll give you a card that will track what you buy and how much you spend, so you can earn points to get other free stuff throughout the year.
  • During your birthday month, either go to a Sephora store and ask for your free birthday gift (you DON'T need to buy anything) or make an online purchase from their website and ask that they send the birthday gift too (you DO need to buy something).

Do you usually get the free Sephora birthday gifts? Have you ever tried a NARS lip pencil? Do you have a December birthday and are now crying that you have to wait almost a year to get these? (p.s. sorry from all January babies)

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