Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Event: Art Murmur

This is a re-post of my article from Road Journals at The next Art Murmur event will be Friday, April 6.


Gourmet food trucks, runway models, ceramic aliens, bourbon balls, handmade jewelry, street performers, vintage autos, and watercolor prints of Freddy Krueger and Jaws. See all this and a cacophony of more more more at Oakland Art Murmur, a first-Friday art walk. Two dozen local galleries—most between 22nd and 26th streets on the Broadway/Telegraph corridor—throw open their studios to the public from 6 to 9 p.m., while art, craft, and food vendors set up along 23rd Street, which is closed to traffic between Telegraph and Valley.


I like to start my night with a little something to eat. Among my favorite mobile meals are the Doc’s Classic Burger with spicy Cajun green beans from Doc’s of the Bay, a citrus pork sandwich with fennel slaw from Vesta Flatbread, and liqueur-soaked chocolate treats from the Bourbon Ball Guy.

Once I’ve had my fill, a stroll through the latticework of exhibition spaces offers a more aesthetic fulfillment. Open galleries range in size from the intimate warmth of The Moon—hawking indie fashion designs and party moustaches handmade from vintage drawer pulls and porcupine quills—to the grand bazaar at the 25th Street Collective—selling geometric felt handbags from Actual SF and percussion instruments made from salvaged wood by Windmill Corner.


In addition to offering avant-garde art and one-of-a-kind gifts, many Art Murmur venues emphasize sustainability, philanthropy, and cooperative values. At the Rock Paper Scissors Collective on Telegraph, volunteers offer free and low-cost classes in zine printing, clothing design, and jewelry making. The Creative Growth Art Center on 24th Street gives adults with disabilities an outlet to create, display, and sell their paintings, woodcarvings, ceramics, textiles, and photographs. In 2009, Creative Growth artists even teamed up with the legendary Marc Jacobs to fashion a limited edition line of totes, tees, and clutches.

From a 1961 Corvette at Classic Cars West to wild pen-and-ink cartoons at Smshbx Gallery to stop-motion projections on the Great Wall of Oakland, the first Friday of the month is a whirlwind walk through the beating heart of East Bay imagination.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Issues: Gulliver’s Travels


I’m very lucky to have traveled abroad extensively—to Central America, Western and Central Europe, and the Middle East. I’m struck every time I leave the U.S. by how unusual I am as an exceptionally tall woman—not just by U.S. standards, but also by the standards of countries with much lower average heights.

I studied abroad in Spain for a semester in college and my host mother’s apartment was beautiful, but I felt like I was living in Lilliput. My bed (with a head and foot board) was too short, the kitchen chairs were too narrow, and my little mamá only came up to my shoulder. I had a wonderful time in Madrid, but I was simply living in a world not built for someone my size.

The story was much the same in Turkey and Jordan, though I felt singled out more often because I was not only tall, but also a Western girl. This photo of a young woman, taken in Istanbul by the incredible Scott Schuman—the man behind The Sartorialist—pretty much sums it up:


There was some occasional awkwardness, but by and large the Turks were friendly and accommodating and tried hard to project an image of progress and open-mindedness. In Jordan, however, I was catcalled and sometimes felt threatened on the street. I think that I was considered an outsider because of my nationality, gender, and style of dress, not so much because of my height, but being tall made it much more difficult to blend in in public.

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love to travel and a few tense moments won’t stop me. Nor do I regret being who I am (a tall American woman) when I’m out of the country. Don’t shy away from the opportunity to explore the world because you might stand out or have to face some physical or cultural discomfort. But I do think it’s important to start a dialogue about the obstacles that women travelers (and all travelers) face abroad.

What are your thoughts?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Fashion: Anchors Away!


Remember my epic quest for the perfect pair of jeans? Well, I discovered one more style worth noting. They’re from Anchor Blue—not a place I would normally look for large sizes and long inseams—but this style, “Iris,” fits me like a glove. (The waist is a little lower than I tend to like, but a belt solves the problem). I got the “super-skinny” cut, but the legs are closer to straight or even boot cut than drainpipe and they expertly hug every curve.


A word of caution: size up. I have a 31” waist (usually a size 12), but in the world of Anchor Blue that makes me a 15.  I say, who cares what number’s on the tag, so long as you look and feel fabulous.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Beauty: Curly Sue


My natural color!

Tall women can pull off extra-long locks or a dramatic mane of curls. But how do you keep big hair from becoming a big problem?

I’ve been fighting with my curls for years—a daily sparring match with frizz, humidity, and ultra-high-volume. I’ve tried dozens of hair products and styling techniques along the way, and I’m happy to say that I’ve found a few I can solidly recommend.

After washing my hair, I apply leave-in conditioner to moisturize and minimize damage when I brush my hair out. I love Infusium 23, but I recently found Neutrogena Triple Moisture Leave-In Conditioner (about $7 at Walgreens), which is creamier, but doesn’t make my hair sticky or weight it down.

After I brush my hair out, I wait 15 minutes until it’s started to air-dry. Then, if I’m going out or just want really defined curls, I apply one pump of TIGI Catwalk Curl Amplifier ($11-14 online). The downside to this product is that it can get sticky and because it acts more like a gel than a cream, it’s not so easy to revive your curls the next morning. The softer (and cheaper) alternative is Garnier Fructis Curl Sculpting Cream-Gel (about $3 at Target). This is an all-day, everyday product and I love it. Plus, like all things Garnier, it smells really good.


My natural curl – and not-so-natural hue

Speaking of next-day hair, my usual routine is to mist my hair with water and then braid it—either in one big braid or two pigtail braids—before I go to bed. In the morning, I spray my hair with water and scrunch the curls back to life with a little more of either the Neutrogena leave-in conditioner or Garnier cream-gel.

I should mention that there are a couple of “scientific” frizz-fighting products out there, including Curl Keeper by Curly Hair Solutions and Living Proof’s No Frizz, available at Sephora. I haven’t tried these out because they’re fairly expensive and (in the case of Curl Keeper) they must be special-ordered. That said, I’ve read some very positive reviews and if you’ve tried them—or any other curly hair products—please let me know what you think.

For additional tips and tricks, check out the forum—for all you twisted ladies out there.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Street Style: Megan, 5'8"

My good friend and fellow writer Megan McCrea, sporting a set of lovely handmade scarves from her mother, Karen. Read about Megan's adventures in her hometown (the "cowtown") of Denver on VIA magazine's Road Journals blog, and look out for guest posts from Megan right here on Femme Fatall.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Do it Yourself: Put a Ring On It

Jewelry making is a hobby of mine, as is collecting vintage buttons. So, when it came time to make my friends something for Christmas, I found the Holy Grail at Curry Designs Handmade. Jessica Curry has created an easy, detailed tutorial (with photos!) on how to make wire-wrapped button rings.


I borrowed a pair of needle-nosed pliers and small wire cutters from my dad, found a large jar of miss-matched buttons at an antiques store, and picked up artistic wire at a crafts store at $5 for 10 yards (enough to make at least 8 rings). I decided not to invest $25+ in a mandrel, and instead I used a marker that tapered a little at the end to wrap the rings for size.

I experimented with a variety of wire gauges and materials, and I found that although the 18-gauge wire she recommends looks cute and professional, slightly smaller and more pliable 20-gauge wire is easier to work with. The downside of course is that I needed to wrap the wire more times around my mandrel/marker in order to make the rings sturdy, so I used the wire up more quickly. As for the composition of the wire, brass was more pliable and held up better than colored copper. My friends loved their rings and I’m hoping to sell some of the (zillions) of extras I made at a local crafts fair.


Jessica also has a tutorial on her blog for making fabric covered button rings (scroll down past the wire-wrapped rings) and she sells many of her original jewelry designs on Etsy.