Boredom and Water Glasses

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I have a little unintentional collection of water glasses in my room. I was incredibly bored, so I started taking pictures of the shadows that they cast. It reminds me of the 70s…

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Jewelry Knock-Offs

I’m a pretty enthusiastic fashion watcher. I enjoy admiring the high fashion lines and noticing how the ideas/concepts trickle down into everyday wear. One thing I have noticed, however, is that sometimes it’s less of a trickle-down and more of a blatant rip-off. Why? Because under existing U.S. copyright law, fashion and accessories just aren’t that well protected.

I decided to compare some similar high-end and low-end jewelry to see just how blatant the copying can be:

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Left: Shourouk ($850). Right: Hautelook (about $80).

So this isn’t too blatant. The piece on the right is more inspired by the piece on the left than it is copying it. I’ve been seeing a lot of jewelry featuring rhinestones and brightly colored opaque jewels. It’s a fun trend.

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Left: JCrew ($150). Right: Ebay or literally anywhere on the internet ($5-20).

Everyone and their mother was wearing this necklace in the summer of 2012. As you can see, an exact replica can be found pretty much anywhere in any color you can possibly imagine.

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Left: Ryan Storer ($630). Right: Baublebar ($32).

So ear cuffs are pretty big these days…I wouldn’t call this a rip-off so much as an inspiration.

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Left: Elizabeth Cole ($342). Right: Melody Eshani ($122).

It’s not really clear who copied who from cursory googling, but clearly someone was copied. Relatedly, Elizabeth Cole seems to get copied quite frequently. You can find a (much less attractive) version of its fishbone earrings on Amazon. Forever 21 has also copied Elizabeth Cole more than once, doing an exact replica of its mohawk earrings and its chain earrings in black.

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Left: Percossi Papi (about 950 €). Right: Hautelook ($15).

This is so blatant that there’s really nothing to say about it….other than of course I own those knock-offs because I adore Percossi Papi but don’t have a spare thousand dollars lying around.

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Left: Lizzie Fortunato ($189). Right: Hautelook (about $20) and Baublebar (about $25).

I actually own the ones on the left! I was super surprised to visit Baublebar one day and find a green version of them staring back at me. Blatant knock-off not even attempting to hide it! ….Well, I love green so I bought them too. So I guess I own the ones on the right as well. No judgment.

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Left: Lanvin ($2,295). Right: Hautelook ($15).

This is also pretty blatant. The pricey bird on the left has been seen on Beyoncé and several magazine covers. The one on the right can be seen around my wrist because I totally want a knock-off of something fashion queen Beyoncé has worn.

So this has barely scratched the surface of the many jewelry knock-offs that occur. I just thought it was an interesting subject to consider. Is it fair? Should fashion and jewelry designers be given more protection under the law? Or is this article correct in arguing that it’s good for the industry? Are designers who sell products for thousands of dollars really being cheated by knock-offs that cost $20? Something to consider.

Surprise snowfall

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I had no idea it was going to snow today! So I strapped on my boots, quickly lost feeling in my hands, and took pictures of the aftermath: the snowy world reflected in melting snow, leaves that remain from autumn, and the frenetic hopping of birds.

Bonus photo:

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The blue sky reflected in a water droplet clinging to a berry of some kind.

Making Alchemy Earrings Using Lost-Wax Casting

So, I made a pair of huge asymmetrical earrings:

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Clearly they go well with bright red lipstick. 

Okay, so I’m not going to go into the whole blow-by-blow of how to make something using lost-wax casting again. If you want to read about that, go here.

I did, however, chronicle making these earrings, so I’m just going to picture dump BECAUSE I CAN!

DESIGN PHASE

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Initial rough drawing.

I had the idea to make something with alchemy symbols for a while. I was going to somehow do a ring of it, but it was impractical. So here is the fruition of my alchemy idea! I first chose my symbols based on meaning and design appeal. I didn’t want them to be just random symbols with no connection to anything, so I chose the symbols for silver, silver spirit, the torrefaction of silver, and wax. I’m So Meta Even This Acroynm (thank you, XKCD). I had to redesign the alchemy symbol for silver spirit just slightly as you can see by adding a top part for the post/symmetrical reasons. I also added arrows to it so that it would better connect to the other earring and not look totally unrelated.

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Final to-scale drawings. 

Straight lines are not my friends. I am terrible at drawing straight lines, as evidenced above. I was also super careful to make sure that the earrings were of the same length. Asymmetrical is one thing, but different lengths is annoying (at least to me).

WAX PHASE

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I used wax sheets (seen above).  Using the master drawings of the earrings, I traced copies and then laid the drawing over the wax sheet. I used a knife to cut the outline of the symbol in wax.

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Taken with my phone, hence the weird color.

This was a good deal more difficult than it sounds. I initially tried to use an x-acto knife, but the shape of the blade resulted in strange pressure issues on the sheet of wax and instead of cutting cleanly, it more or less tore it. The curved blade (above) was perfect (although in a moment of idiocy, I cut my thumb open with it…).

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Here we see a bunch of paper cut-outs and a reject silver spirit made of wax. Oddly, it was the less-complicated silver spirit symbol that gave me the most trouble.

CASTING IN METAL PHASE 

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By some miracle, I managed to cast all the pieces together in one cylinder. As you can see in this picture, I ran out of time (as usual) and didn’t fully clean off the investment from casting. I also hadn’t dipped it in the acid, so that’s why it’s not white. I made the holes for the jump rings (the ring that holds the two pieces together) in wax using the tip of a jewelry blade because it was much easier than drilling into metal.

FINISHING PHASE

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Here are the pieces detached from the sprues, dipped in acid, but before being filed down.

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Here are the sprues. I used a pair of shears to cut some of them off because, as mentioned in another post, it’s less accurate but much faster. I did use a saw for a few of the sprues, though, because they were attached the back of the piece and filing down the nubs left over from the shears would have taken me forevvveeerr.

So after filing down the pieces (which took a while), I polished them up using a polishing machine. Let me just say, you need to have a very firm grasp on your piece while polishing it or it will fly out of your hands. That obviously happened to me…and those moon points and arrows are sharp. Needless to say, I gave myself a few stab marks trying to polish the pieces.

Finding jump rings that fit the small holes I made was a bit tricky but after some trial and error at AC Moore and Michaels, I managed to find some that fit (it also involved using a jewelry saw blade to widen the holes slightly). And in my most controversial decision– it made every jewelry-maker I talked to make a very judgy, disgusted face– I glued (yes, glued) the posts to the back of the earrings. (Shhh, don’t tell.) I basically ran out of time and soldering is not my strong point. In my defense, the posts are holding very well.

And finally, in what was the most distasteful part of the process, I slapped on bright red lipstick and took about 500 selfies of myself wearing the earrings. Taking close ups of my face/skin is definitely not on my Favorite Things list (it’s just after talking about feelings and eating glass), but I don’t have a model available.

BONUS PICTURES:

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THEY ARE SO SHINY. No really, they are super shiny and catch the light when you move your head. And I adore them.

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I felt like the shininess didn’t show as well in the picture with a black background.

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Mugshot wearing them to prove I have a top-half of a face.

All in all, I really, really, really like them a lot and will actually probably wear them in public. Which is progress, considering I almost never wear anything I make. They are huge and shiny, and that is all I want in anything (but especially earrings).