Inventors often combine unrelated ideas and materials to create something new. Like Anna’s recent story of cassette tape woven into wearable fiber or Steve’s car prototypes made out of pasta, invention ‘mashups’ are awesome.
Case in point: the current Spring 2013 nail art phenomenon of the ‘caviar manicure’. Unlike a normal manicure, which consists of one or several colors of nail polish, a caviar manicure uses a base coat of nail polish combined with a top sprinkling of tiny pearlescent beads. The result is a 3-D effect that adds attention-grabbing, high fashion texture to everyday looks.
While the caviar manicure wasn’t invented this season, it’s become a big deal through major celebrities like Anne Hathaway and Jessica Biel. Considering that I’m not always the world’s most inspiring fashion plate, I thought I’d take a risk and try it myself. However, the brand name kit to create this nail art is pretty expensive, so I started searching for a more affordable DIY alternative.
Some of the materials I found around our office included model toy paint, aluminum foil, cake sprinkles, and clay. I also had a brand new bottle of pretty lilac nail polish I’d purchased, so I thought about what colors would look good, what combinations would be fresh and interesting, and what I could live with for a few days.
The result: I used a base coat of Essie “lilacism” polish with a top sprinkling of clay on just one finger. To be honest, I don’t think it’ll become the next fashion trend, but I’m proud of my foray into haute nail couture. And although I think I’ll be sticking to plain polish in the future, I’m glad I invented my own unique combination.
Have you tried the caviar nail trend, or come up with your own inventive nail art? Share with us and your friends! Tweet it at @SI_Invention using #BrightNails.
Call me a hipster – I love microbrews, locally roasted coffee, and knitting. While I discovered the first two of these while living in Portland, Oregon, the last I’ve started only since moving to DC. While I would say that I’ve mastered the basics of knitting, I have a very long way to go until I can create a garment or knit 200+ stitches in the round. And, it’s amazed me that beautiful and intricate textiles can be created using some very basic inventions and a combination of just two stitches (the knit and purl). Here are some of the inventions that I use to knit.
In order to make sure that all knitted pieces are accurate in terms of length and width, I use a gauge to check the number of stitches per inch the piece has. Otherwise, I might end up making a very tiny scarf on accident!
This is by far the knitting invention that is most valuable to me. Every time I finish a row, I use this tool to keep count. Especially with lace knitting, this helps me keep track of where I am in a pattern. Otherwise, a beautiful pattern can come out looking like a garbled mess.
When I first started knitting, I never used place markers. I stubbornly (and wrongly) believed that I would be able to remember where certain pattern segments were. As I graduated to harder patterns that incorporated more intricate designs, I started finding them more and more of a necessity. They’re so simple—really just glorified safety pins—but I can’t knit in the round without them.
So if you’re a knitter, next time you pick up your needles, take a moment to appreciate the inventions that exist in this craft. I know I’ll be raising a tasty microbrew in toast to all the inventors that have made my knitting easier, better, and more pleasing to the eye.
My most recent project: a multi-colored cowl.
I grew up on a busy street in a suburb of Chicago. On hot days, you could smell the pavement melting – sulfurous, tarry, goopy. Being that power lines intersected on our corner, the hum and rattle of construction equipment was ever-present in my summers. The perfect opportunity for a child to bask in air conditioning or run through the sprinklers, right?
Not for me. When other kids were swiping Fla-Vor-Ice from the freezer and vegging out in front of cartoons, I was opening a lemonade stand with my sister. We saw a business opportunity – close to 100 degree heat + thirsty construction workers – and sold our lemonade for 25¢. We eventually made enough (I think it was about $10, a big amount for a kid) to buy a Velcro ball toss toy.
From left to right: My sister, my mom, and me. My mom made our pumpkin costumes for Halloween. Gotta love her hair.
That entrepreneurial spirit has fueled a lot of what I have done in life. The thrill I get of creating something from nothing, of doing a lot with a little: this is what makes me perfect for my work at the Lemelson Center. Most recently, I invented a pop-up museum model by thinking through what resources I had at hand and what I wanted to do: a bus pass, scratch paper, and free space at a local library + create conversation and build community. Now other museums, nationally and internationally, are picking up my technique and creating their own pop-up museums.
Here I am taking a break from facilitating my “Something or Someone You Love” pop-up at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History.
Personally, I aspire to make a substantial contribution to the global community through invention and innovation. As the new Spark!Lab National Network Coordinator, I am excited about having the opportunity to support young people in their own inventive exploration. Check back to see the Spark!Lab National Network grow; hopefully we’ll be coming to your neck of the woods soon.