Friday, December 18, 2009

A Great Event and a Sigh

Last night, I painted at a holiday party for The Valerie Fund, in Livingston, NJ.

It was a terrific event. There was another face painter there as well, Hug-a-Me the Clown, and it was so much fun to work with her! There were four more clowns doing balloons and playing with the kids and their parents, a DJ, and some games for the kids.

They had a small but tasty buffet, and I think I drank three bottles of apple juice - I had no idea I was so in need of hydration!

Everyone was wonderful, the volunteers, the kids, the parents, everyone. We did a ton of face painting, and I was having a great painting night - very on the mark, great designs, and everything came out exactly like I wanted it to. We painted a large family of kids who were then going to take photos for their Christmas cards! I did one girl with a really pretty holly princess design, her little brother with an adorable snowman, and some others.

There was one absolutely adorable little boy who wanted to be a lion. Not a tiger, mind you, most definitively a lion. He was sure of it. Now... my lions... are varied. I've yet to pinpoint exactly the lion design I want and love, so every time I do them, they're a little different. This one was so cute that he was making people giggle, including me. He took some offense, telling me, "they're laughing at me!" I explained to him, "No, they're laughing because you're too cute! You know how sometimes you see a puppy that's so incredibly cute it makes you laugh, you can't help it?" He nodded yes. I said, "It's the same thing. You're so cute they can't help it!" He understood.

Why the sigh, then? I couldn't take photos because of HIPAA regulations. It makes complete sense, and I'm not railing against the regulations by any means, but it just figures that the best painting I've done in months is at the one event where I can't get a record of it. So... sigh. And a chuckle, too.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Tree Lighting

I painted on Sunday for the... geez, I don't even remember how many years I've been painting at the Ho-Ho-Kus tree lighting! It's quite a few at this point.

I love this event, despite the cold. We get a heated tent that makes us even more popular than we always are as face painters. I had my new repertoire of holiday designs ready to go, but the line was so long and the crowd so... crowded... that I didn't have time for many photos. I did get two cute ones, though the secong isn't a technically good photo. The rush and the close quarters made it tough; I was trying to snap photos very quickly so I didn't make the rest of the line wait too long.

Friday, December 4, 2009

My Time in Connecticut

On Monday and Tuesday of this week, I attended a two-day seminar in Connecticut, hosted by my friend Z, and taught by another friend, world-renowned body painter Pashur. It was absolutely amazing.

We spent two full days learning technique and design from Pashur, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., eating great food provided by (and some of it cooked by) Z, devouring carrot cake and fudge made by one of our classmates, and generally having a good time. In the evenings, we just painted as the mood struck, watched each other paint, tried out each others' supplies, and got some great critiques.

Every time I do something like this, my painting improves, so I can't wait until Sunday when I'm painting at Ho-Ho-Kus' tree lighting to see how this experience has affected me.

The first day's class was themed in designs inspired by insects and flowers, and this is some of my work:

I love this drop-shadow technique too! My spiders will never be the same.

During the jam that night, I tried a couple things, just to get Pashur's critiques. They were invaluable, but this is what I did:

The second day of class was all about holiday designs, and in addition to an AMAZING and scary Jack Frost design I hope to use this Sunday, and some great ornament and snowflake ideas, I picked up the CUTEST Rudolph and penguin that I absolutely KNOW I'll be using!

Plus, during the jam, I knocked this out, loosely based on a holly butterfly Pashur showed us:

Sunday, November 29, 2009

A Cleaner Endeavor

Yes, I'm still face painting, although I've been slacking with the posts. In fact, next Sunday I'll be at the Ho-Ho-Kus tree lighting, painting holiday designs!

However... in my quest to keep creating, and now that I've got a husband who also loves to make anything and everything from scratch, we've opened a new business! Eric and I are now the proud proprietors of Reef Botanicals.

At the site, we're selling our handmade hot-process soaps! We've got four recipe varieties so far:

Fudge Chunk contains Ghirardelli cocoa powder and has a subtle chocolate scent.

The Oatmeal Honey is made with precisely those ingredients, and smells amazing! We have it in both bath bar and hand soap size.

The Honey Chocolate is similar, but made with premium crushed cacao nibs, giving it a slight chocolate smell and exfoliating properties.

And our Lemongrass & Sage soap is made with lemongrass essential oil and dried sage. It has a great lather and an amazing citrus scent that wakes me up in the morning.

All of the soaps are made with all natural ingredients, nothing synthetic. At this time, all of our soaps are also vegetarian or vegan-friendly. Those are noted in the descriptions.

Today, we're planning a coffee soap with fresh-brewed coffee and coffee grinds for exfoliation.

Each bar comes packaged in a beautiful organza bag, tied with a ribbon. They're perfect for gifts or to spoil yourself.

We're having a blast! Feel free to visit the site, email us with questions, and place an order.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

North Jersey Face & Body Art Guild

I'm a member!

In joining this guild, I've pledged my commitment to the maintenance of hygiene and safety in the profession, as well as a desire to improve my general face painting skills.

Tonight was fun, with about fifteen of us gathering at our very first meeting to discuss some basic housekeeping issues and get some demonstrations of rainbow/split cakes of face paint and some one-stroke instruction.

I got to try out my new Snazaroo rainbows, that I made.

I also used my Wolfe Brothers rainbow to paint this butterfly on my friend Ricki.

And I got painted up as a rainbow kitty.

I now have lots of ideas for more rainbow cakes, so I'll be making a bunch in the near future. This is great news for you, because you as my clients will reap the benefits of my cakes, and the wonderful designs for which I can use them. At fairs, they'll save a ton of time. At parties, they'll let me add some serious wow to my face painting. Just wait and see!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Witches' Ball (aka Halloween - Part 3)

Last night was the Witches' Ball in Montclair, NJ, co-hosted by Mystic Spirit Metaphysical Shop and Everything Akasha. I'd never been to it before, because it usually conflicts with my own Halloween party, but this year they held it a week later, and so I was able to go.

Me, miss a costume party? Not if I can help it!

My friend came over earlier in the evening, to be painted as The Morrigan, and Irish goddess. This was the picture from which I was working:

Kerry didn't have the head circlet or armbands, so here's what I did:

For myself, I saw this as another opportunity to wear my new pirate garb, so I went as a dead pirate:

Simply because I didn't feel right going to a costume party unpainted!

It was hilarious how many people apologized for saying it was creepy, when that's exactly what I was going for!

After the party, my husband and I stopped at the Wendy's drive-through because he was hungry. I was driving, and scared the bejeezus out of the two women at the window, who then proceeded to call over other employees to look at me.

All in all, a good night!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Halloween - Part 2

My morning clients from Friday liked their paintings so much that they asked to come back Saturday and get painted again! They came over in the afternoon, and this time the husband (who'd been a Jack O' Lantern) requested a face from the Insane Clown Posse. This one:

His wife, who had to be convinced to get painted on Friday, requested this geisha on Saturday:

And this time, they brought a referral with them! The husband's manager at work loved the Jack O' Lantern so much that he wanted to get painted too. He saw the skull face I'd done on Friday and wanted something like that. Doing it again gave me the opportunity to change some details and improve on the design a bit.

He was apparently heading out to the Halloween Parade in NYC to scare some of the city folk.

Later, I was able to do my own face before my Halloween party. I was a vampire.

Unfortunately, because of all the party prep, I was not able to do my husband's face as intended. I'm planning to give another go this Friday when we attend the Witches' Ball in Montclair, so check back after that to see if I accomplished it!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Halloween Appointments

This morning, a great couple came over to get painted before going to work. The husband wanted to be a full-headed scary Jack O' Lantern, and the wife just wanted purple streaks in her hair.

They came with their own orange, green, and purple hair spray, all prepared to go.

So I got to work on the husband, and this is what we achieved:

He and his wife absolutely LOVED it! After I finished this, I did the purple streaks in his wife's very dark hair. Subtle, but cool. Well, he was so excited, and she was so impressed, that he convinced her to get painted too. She just wanted a cool eye mask, something with tribal.

Then, this afternoon, I had another husband/wife team come by for paintings for a party tonight. They contacted me after seeing me paint their granddaughter at the Cabbage Night Festival on Saturday. The wife has a gold and black webby and gauzy dress, and a gold crown with various colored stones. She wanted to be a Butterfly Queen. This is she...

Her husband, on the other hand, went the opposite route. A man after my own heart, he got himself a black hooded robe and was looking for a skull face.

His wife sat behind him on a chair as I painted, and then he turned around. She literally jumped, she was so startled by what I'd done. They decided they couldn't go visit his mother today, because it might do her in!

Meanwhile, my pumpkin head emailed me, to tell me that the people at work were very surprised, and that security wouldn't let him in. He told them, " You know me man!! I've been coming here for years!!" A few of his co-workers got scared, and on the NYC bus it was hilarious. A few people spotted him on the bus and didn't want to get on! The bus driver was laughing so hard. He's been getting lots of stares and most people say, "Great job, who did it?" According to my client, "It's been so much fun man I haven't had this much fun in Halloween since 1998."

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Truth About Face Paint Safety: A Follow Up

I've received some new pieces of information regarding face paint safety.

The first is the most recent MSDS sheet (dated 2008), from Snazaroo UK, the company that makes Snazaroo face painting products. It's located here.

The second is a statement released by Ben Nye Company. Ben Nye is a professional theater makeup company whose products were "tested" by the CSC. Here's what they have to say:

Ben Nye Makeup has been committed to the highest standards of product quality and safety for over 42 years. We adhere to responsible manufacturing procedures to meet the rigorous safety standards set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Several reputable organizations and experts have issued opinions regarding lead in cosmetics. As the CTFA states below, lead is unavoidable. It is present in our environment, in foods that we eat and even in water that we drink. There is no conclusive evidence to confirm how much lead is actually absorbed through contact with cosmetics. Further, there is not one single recorded case in U.S. medical literature substantiating lead poisoning through cosmetic use

CTFA Statement regarding Lead and Cosmetics (from the CTFA Website):

It is impossible to live in a lead-free world. Lead is ubiquitous in the environment. It is in the air, water, soil, in short, it is unavoidable. However, compared to the amount of lead a person would ingest from eating and drinking ordinary foods, the amount expected from the use of cosmetics would be extremely small.

Under the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has the responsibility to take action if it finds a product to be unsafe and has abundant legal authority to do so.

Cosmetics are safe products that millions of consumers use and enjoy every day. It is alarmist and irresponsible to suggest otherwise.

Below are links to websites with useful information that specifically address and invalidate the concern that lead content in responsibly manufactured cosmetics are at hazardous levels.
U.S. Food & Drug Administration

In addition to the statements from the face paint companies the Chief Scientist of an independent group, the Personal Care Products Council has the following to say, in part:

... parents can enjoy Halloween festivities with their children without unnecessary worry about the safety of these novelty products.

Although CSC is recommending to parents that they should mix up their own children's face paints, parents should note that since heavy metals are ubiquitous in food, water, air and other consumer products, there is no guarantee that homemade face paints are safer or as safe as those that may be purchased in stores.

You can read the full text of his statement, which has even more information, here.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Face Paint Safety

You may have seen an article published by an alarmist activist group, "The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics," which has been cited at MSN Health & Fitness and even on NBC-2 News in Chicago. If you have seen this article, I'm sure it's raised questions for you, as well it should. It certainly raised questions for the face and body art community!

Well, we're lucky. Snazaroo, one of the leaders in face paint production and the mainstay of my own body art kit, and one of the companies named by CSC, is produced in the U.K. but distributed in the United States by Gary Cole, owner of Snazaroo U.S.A, Inc. Mr. Cole, a face painter, body art instructor, and competition judge himself, who has had many years in the cosmetics industry before his ownership of Snazaroo U.S.A., Inc., makes himself accessible to body artists around the world and to the public itself via his Snazaroo-hosted Google discussion group, FacePaintHQ.

When we as body artists got wind of this alarmist article, we went right to the source, and questioned Mr. Cole.

Mr. Cole notes that the group from which the article comes is "The Daily Green - The Consumer's Guide to the Green Revolution," a group that has a political and financial stake in producing work such as this.

That aside, however, he read the article, and had the following response, in pertinent part:

Snazaroo offers you "The World's Safest and Easiest to Use Face Paint Brand." We still do. Our safety page ... goes well into the safety policies of Snazaroo.... If you go online ... you will find an MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) from Snazaroo in the UK. It is from testing of the face paints sent out to an independent lab called SGS. In the report, you will see that Snazaroo face paints are fully compliant with the cosmetic laws of the E.U. and the U.S. FDA. This particular test was done in 1995.

You will also see that the metals levels are WELL BELOW the FDA requirements and found acceptable for use on the skin. In fact, the metals content reported could be sixty times its current level and still be within the cosmetic standards of the U.S.A. and E.U. It is safe as a cosmetic product.

One might scoff that none of these ingredients are listed in the formulation. Well they are not included as ingredients in Snazaroo and therefore not listed. So where do they come from? They come as trace ingredients in the other ingredients formally listed. Most of the metals are coming from two specific colored pigments, black iron oxide and yellow iron oxide. These are natural ingredients used widely in the cosmetic industry.

Because these come from natural ingredients, by nature, they have these minerals in very minor quantities.

In the Snazaroo MSDS, you will see that the metals content from these trace elements are also compliant with the ASTM F963-95 which is the Standard Consumer Safety Standard that is specific to meet the Child Toy Safety rating.

The bottom line here is ... Snazaroo has and still does lead the world in its quality and safety. No other brand can beat the safety of the Snazaroo brand. It remains the standard despite skeptics and their reports.

He also spoke to a news reporter from NBC news in Chicago, who responded to his email regarding her comments about this story. She said she spoke to an officer at the FDA with regard to cosmetics regulations and they confirmed that the metal levels in Snazaroo were WELL WITHIN THE LEGAL REQUIREMENTS FOR THE U.S. COSMETIC INDUSTRY. She confirmed that Mr. Cole's email was very consistent with what they received from the FDA. She agreed the “Daily Green” report was "a lot to say about nothing."

Snazaroo in the UK is also expected to issue a press release in response to the article in question, so expect a follow-up post from me detailing their statements.

For some of my other supplies, also cited in the article, you can find the Mehron MSDS here and the Wolfe FX MSDS here.

A fellow body artist had the following to say regarding the issue:

I am a scientist. Specifically, I am a physicist. I have taken many graduate classes in statistical analysis and can state that the sampling methodology [described in the article] is seriously deficient. This is not the first time I have seen poor analysis and sampling and it (unfortunately) will not be the last. I am grateful that some of us use common sense when considering reports like this. To say that the face paint contains lead is as informative as stating that it contains hydrogen and oxygen. So what?


If you reread the article by CSC, please note that the group's real gripe seems to be with the FDA. They're not actually claiming that the face paints in question don't meet FDA standards; they're claiming that the FDA doesn't go far enough to regulate the cosmetics industry as a whole. Well, you can take that up with the FDA if you like, but the bottom line, very simply, is that professional cosmetic-grade face paints are perfectly safe for use on you and your kids.

Halloween Season

It's begun!

My husband and I went to a haunt in NYC, Blood Manor. It's a popular event, with a line on which we waited nearly two and a half hours. In the drizzle. And chill.

The event planners, sponsored by Club Planet, tried to keep us entertained, with wandering actors and some fairly sick entertainment. Some of the creatures were very well done,

Some, not so much so.

There were also some rather truly gruesome "attractions" happening in the street, photos of which I will not post. Suffice it to say, the men who were having dollar bills stapled to their skin were not the worst of it. This event is not for kids.

Inside, the walls were covered in UV-reactive paintings on black canvas, with blacklights lighting the way. The paintings were terrific.

All of the elements of the haunt inside were great - the actors, the costumes, the makeup, the props (I want those props for my house!), the various room themes, the use of UV-reactive paint and 3D glasses, the inventiveness of some of the themes. It was all the more odd to me, then, that I wasn't scared. I'm an easy audience, too. I'm very easily startled, and I do scare. I'll be afraid of a dark street or driving alone after watching The Grudge. So the lack of fright with this event was disappointing. My husband thinks it's based on the speed at which we were herded through, though I understand that the tour couldn't be too long or the line outside would be even less bearable.

I'm not sorry we went, though. I did enjoy the various pieces of it all, and appreciated the work and expense that obviously went into it.

On Sunday, I painted with my friend Emilie at the Bergen County Cabbage Night Festival at the McFaul Environmental Center, in Wyckoff. If you were there, I was the chick with the colorful hair streaks.

We had a beautiful day for it, the first real weekend day in October with no rain and a reasonable temperature. The colors of the autumn leaves made for a terrific backdrop. We were working like speed demons, so I had time for very few photos. I managed a few, though.

This young man was getting in gear for Saturday, with a request for a vampire. He was very happy with my rendition...

And this one loved the result of his request for "just webs and spiders on his cheeks."

I had to get a photo of this next girl. I've done many rainbow butterflies in my day, but when I showed her the mirror, she looked and exclaimed, "Oh, I'm beautiful!" I told her, of course, that she already had been.

This cutie let me be the first person ever to paint her, and let me match the colors of her outfit. I love when I get to do that.

And I thought this pumpkin face was a cute request from this little girl.

I love this event. The county hosts it every year, free to the public. In addition to our face painting, there's pumpkin painting, hot dogs & cider, music at a bandstand, colonial reenactment, and pony and hayrides. If you didn't make it this year, bring the kids on over next year, for sure!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

When is face paint not face paint?

When it's craft paint!

When is it dangerous even if it's not craft paint? When it's not FDA-compliant or used improperly!

There's a good article in Monday's USA Today, that you can read here. It explains the allergic reactions - red rashes, etc. - that can result from using craft paint or face paint that's not the good stuff.

Face paint, after all, is not all created equal. That stuff you get at most Halloween stores is usually from China. Remember all those issues we had a while back with products from China? The pet food? The paint used on children's toys? Yeah, same country, similar issues.

The products I use are all labeled as makeup, not paint. So that's a start. If you're looking for face paints, look for makeup. Something to note: Face paint (as other cosmetics) are not FDA-approved. Under the law, the FDA does not approve cosmetics. What they approve is the pigments used in the cosmetics. This makes the makeup FDA-compliant, if one is being accurate. If someone tells you that the face paint he or she is using is FDA-approved, s/he's wrong.

Now, I'm going to assume that anyone reading this is bright enough to never, never, never use craft paint on his face or the face of his child. That means no acrylics, no temperas, no watercolors, no markers, no Sharpies. Non-toxic doesn't cut it. As a good friend of mine in Minnesota likes to say, habanero peppers are non-toxic, but you wouldn't want to rub them all over your face!

So... what about those Halloween kits you see at the stores this time of year?

They're... potentially OK. But pay attention.

If you buy a great-looking kit to do your son up as Darth Maul, and there's an awesome photo of just such a face on the packaging - read the entire package before you buy. If the label or packaging says to avoid the eye area with certain colors (like red or black, which is very common), listen to the packaging, no matter what the photo shows. The packaging and labeling trump the photography every time. Take it seriously.

If the makeup smells funny, ditch it. Do not try to use it, since it could be infected with bacteria or simply old and past its shelf life.

Your best bet? Hire a professional. Even if it's not me (there, now you know I'm not biased). Ask him or her what's being used. If you hear Snazaroo, Grimas, Paradise, Mehron, Fantasy WorldWide, or several other brands (do your research if you hear something unfamiliar), you're OK. If it's craft products, run. Run like the wind. Run like they're trying to give you the Swine Flu.

And the same goes for face painters who won't tell you what they use. If they won't tell you, it's because they have something to hide.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Halloween is upon us!

Yesterday was the middle school craft fair. It was... um... fun? Actually, it was slow. There wasn't a lot of traffic, and most of the kids were either on their way to soccer games or had just come from them. Apparently, soccer's a hot sport at this school.

I do a great flaming soccer ball, but none of these kids came over to find out.

I did paint this beautiful little girl, who later came back for a glitter tattoo as well.

That tiger was my only painting of the day; the rest of my few customers wanted glitter tattoos. She was so happy, though, and should've been a great advertisement!

Today, after rehearsal for the community theater show I'll be in in November, I rushed to a birthday party in Cedar Grove, NJ to paint. The mom originally wanted a clown, but I wouldn't have had time to get into clown between the two obligations. Instead, I suggested a Hogwarts student, wherein I do my best Hermione Granger impersonation, completely with really bad fake British accent. Heck, I've got the hair for it. And the cloak, tie, scarf, and wand as well.

The party was a first birthday for a boy with a huge family, and it was Halloween-themed.

I was a hit, though I did feel bad that two boys thought I was a magician when I first arrived, one volunteering to let me saw him in half.

I'm definitely going to start studying my magic books.

This party was phenomenal. The food smelled amazing, the DJ had the party rocking, and halfway through my two hours a Uruguayan drum and dance troupe arrived to really liven the place up. I've never seen anything like it, certainly not at a first birthday.

Most of the kids were in costume for the Halloween theme, as were some of the adults, but I was surprised most didn't want me to paint to match their costumes. They got all different faces. I did finally convince one wonderful little boy, who was very happy with the result, as was his mom.

Young as he was, I have to say, he's the least squirmy canvas I've had in months! He was so good, and so patient, letting me work my "magic."

(Shameless plug: This is what I can do for you on Halloween if you make an appointment!)

One other boy had a funny idea: he wanted a syringe on his arm, with green fluid in it, labeled "Swine Flu." Funny. Well, once I heard that, I asked him to let me take some liberties, and asked if it was OK to use pink (since pigs are pink, after all). This very bright boy said, "Pink's fine. There really are no 'boy colors' and 'girl colors' anyway. They're just colors." Brilliant!

And the result:


Friday, October 16, 2009

Three Years in a Row

I've been AWOL because a storm ten days ago sent a surge through our house. Luckily, my adapter sacrificed itself to save my laptop's life, so the whole machine wasn't fried. It has, though, made me realize I really, really need to back up my files. Really.

Ever since, though, I've been waiting for a new adapter from Dell. It came at 7 p.m. tonight, much to my delight. And so I can finally tell you about last weekend.

On Saturday, I painted at the church fair I mentioned in my last post. It was very nice, and the people there really were wonderful. I met some interesting characters, like a really sweet vendor, Francesca, who is a nurse and massage therapist, and for fairs makes knitted scarves and hats, as well as gazing balls, and chimes. Oh, and she also reads tarot. I'm not quite sure what she doesn't do!

There was also an airbrush artist, from whom I plan to commission company shirts. I can't wait!

But the fair was very, very small. It was, to be honest, the kind of venue I took on years ago when I first started painting. I took it this time to help out a friend, a fellow painter who took the space and then realized it was scheduled at the same time as a seminar she was attending.

Business was slow. A woman selling her handmaid jewelry across from me took pity and got a glitter tattoo on her ankle, then rolled up her jeans to advertise it. Other vendors sent their kids over, sometimes more than once. So I did get to do some work.

This girl, a kid after my own heart and not very girly, got this Halloween-appropriate face painting

and then came back for this glitter tattoo...

Her friend was also into pirates, and got this cheek art...

Then there was a very wriggly little boy, who was a complete sweetheart. He couldn't decide between a dolphin that was one of my examples and a portrait of his dog, a Maltese. So I did one on each of his very mobile little hands...

and he was ecstatic, running around showing everyone.

On Sunday, I did painting and temporary tattoos at a 9th birthday party. This is my third year doing this young lady's birthday party! She's an awesome kid, and always has a great party with lots of family and friends, lots of activities planned, me, a bounce house, and a DJ. Come to think of it, I recognized the DJ from last year too. It's great to see a family with such vendor loyalty!

I seriously feel like I should email my contact and ask if I should pencil them in for next year already. I love it when I hear from her each year.

The theme this year was "Rock Star," and so the birthday girl got a pretty eye mask.

Several of her friends went with a Halloweenish face...

And of course I had one request for a KISS-like star...

All in all, a fun weekend.

Now this weekend, I'm painting on Saturday at the George G. White Middle School Craft Show, in Hillsdale, NJ. I'll be there from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., so be sure to come visit!

And on Sunday, I'm painting at a birthday party. I was contacted fairly last minute because the clown they'd hired bailed on them. So I'm dressing as Hermione Granger and stepping in as face painter extraordinaire.


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