An insight on back door advertising in beauty blogging


Update Edit: 22/10/14

I am glad to say that the issue of nail and beauty bloggers receiving unsolicited e-mails from Reflect Digital trying to push new product links into existing review content has now, hopefully, been resolved. Thanks to commendable attentiveness by B Public Relations, acting on Ciaté’s behalf, I received a personal apology and an assurance that Reflect Digital have been told to cease their web link, ‘advert’, management activities.

As Ciaté are obviously now very aware of the damage to blogger relationships and public perceptions of a brand this kind of campaign causes; I very much hope that other companies will take note of this point, which should be a very basic Marketing 101 lesson:

You do not get positive coverage for spamming people asking them to edit, manipulate or otherwise alter their reviews or content to wring out that little bit extra of free publicity, advertising or SEO building. 

I will let the post stand as an example of what not to do if you actively want to engage with bloggers and potential customers for positive publicity.


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A kind of comic book life: Gary Spencer Millidge on the return of Strangehaven


Way back in December last year I posted a snippet of news that one of my all-time favourite comics, Strangehaven, was due to make a comeback in May 2014 in the pages of ‘Meanwhile…’ a comics anthology published by Soaring Penguin Press.

Although that original date slipped; the official date for its appearance in comic book shops (for the U.K and the rest of mainland Europe) is 17th October.

I’m delighted that Gary Spencer Millidge generously agreed to return to Imagination is spicy to answer a few questions I put to him on this long-awaited continuation of the series.

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Embroidery, fan art and Tumblr

Hand embroidery of Warlock insignia from Bungie's Destiny

Hand embroidery of Warlock insignia from Bungie’s Destiny

As featured back in July; I started up a Tumblr blog, Imagination is sewing, for posts on embroidery that don’t really need long-form posts on this blog.

I wanted to write something longer on why, if you are an arts and crafts interested person, using Tumblr can be both a thoroughly encouraging experience but also one where it’s good to be aware of some of the limitations and issues that it has (especially if you’re considering using it without having previous experience of the platform).

One of the things about my enjoyment of, and passion for, goldwork, embroidery and various textile arts is just how adaptable and expressive they can be for creating works of fan art. I’ve recently completed one project and started on two others that have been inspired by my love for computer and console games. In a similar vein, there are the Part One and Part Two posts on this blog of how I came to create a goldwork piece from a symbol used in Gary Spencer Millidge’s comic Strangehaven.

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Writer’s Wibble

Writer's Wibble

If anyone were to ask; “Do you consider yourself a writer?” I’d say no. Not that it’s a question which happens all that much.

I’m a blogger, reviewer and sometimes prone to hitting full critique mode but I don’t set out to write stories, be they fiction or non-fiction. However, I do enjoy reading many kinds of writing and about the process of writing itself. Which is by way of introducing a WordPress blog that I want to give a shout out to; Writer’s Wibble by the most excellent sloopjonb. From an ongoing series of essays on historical events and personages, a look at the process of writing (particularly about fantasy writing), reviews, some poetry and even a rather excellent recipe for a chilli. Do drop by!


(Full disclosure: Jon is a personal friend and I enjoy his writing very much indeed. I rather hope lots of other people will too)

Review: Lush – Million Dollar Moisturiser

Lush Million dollar pot

The summer is seemingly rushing past, so it seemed a good time to post up a review of a new (to me) moisturiser with high SPF that I’ve been trying out: Lush’s Million Dollar Moisturiser.

As many people with rosacea know; the summer is usually the hardest time of the year to avoid experiencing flare-ups as exposure to UV light increases. Having some form of sun protection, whether under make-up or not, is very necessary. Depending on skin type this can also be a really tricky balance as sun protection formulas can contain chemicals that react badly on sensitive skin. The other main issue is the level of greasiness that creams and lotions leave behind.

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Imagination is…now on Tumblr

Imagination is sewing

As quite a few of my posts have become sewing-related recently; I’ve started a new Tumblr blog called Imagination is sewing.

I’m not abandoning WordPress! Some of the pieces I work on don’t require full long-form posts but I’d like a place to share my work, so that’s what the new Tumblr blog is for. It also has some really great, vibrant sewing, embroidery and textile arts blogs to view too.

There’s only a couple of pics up but I will be adding more with time. If you’re already on there, please do drop by!

Goldwork brooch kits

Jenny A-C Rose & Button brooches

The idea of working from pre-made kits can sometimes be a bit of divisive thing in sewing; some people enjoy them for learning new techniques or for a way to try out different designs without creating the whole thing from scratch. Others find them restrictive or have tried kits that weren’t really what they hoped they would be in terms of supplies or the completed design.

I fall firmly into the first category; I’ve written previously about how I first tried out some of Carolyn Gayton’s goldwork kits last year and, as a beginner, I’ve found that the ones I have tried have increased my confidence and knowledge of the techniques. They can also prove to be a relaxing project to do after having worked on more intensive designs.

I was fortunate to come across these Millefiore and Rose Brooches available to buy online. Created as kits by Jenny Adin-Christie, a specialist professional embroiderer, I decided to try these as I loved the look of these wearable jewellery pieces.

Having sewn the Millefiore ones first I can say that these make delightful kits for a beginner to working with metal threads and chipwork (the cutting of wires into small 2-3mm pieces which are then stitched down). The equally colourful Rose brooch is probably better for those who have had some experience before, as the central design made from rough purl could be a little fiddly for a first-timer, but for those with previous experience this would be somewhat easier. The instructions and supplies were both well laid out, clearly labelled and presented with quite sufficient materials to complete the designs.

As I really enjoyed making these, I thought I would share the finished brooches. If you’re interested in goldwork or metallic thread hand sewing these are a good place to start and I recommend these as they make lovely gifts too, if you can bear to part with them!

Review: Talika Nail Regenerator Serum

Talika Nail Serum 1

I’ve always had rather weak nails that are ridged and prone to splitting and breakage. Aside from a monthly massage of cuticle oil for a home manicure; their condition is not something that I’ve given any specific treatment to before. After last December’s intensive bout of nail polish application and removal my nails were suffering more than usual and that wasn’t much helped by the winter months either.

I’d been avoiding using polishes but that wasn’t quite enough as my nails were getting more splits than ever. I decided to try out one of the many available nail treatments with Talika’s Nail Regenerator Serum. I’ve been using this since early May, as noted in My nail and hand care basics post.

The serum is composed of three plant oils and the instruction leaflet say that it ‘hydrates, softens cuticles and stimulates growth for brittle, split and uneven nails’.

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Don’t Give Up: One Cat’s Story of Chronic Kidney Disease

CKD cat

We all rely on doctors, nurses and many other medical staff who work in human-based medicine to help care and assist in what are often the most difficult of times. In the same way; we rely on the professional skills of veterinarians for the care of our non-human family. We hope that their expertise is combined with an understanding of the animal they are seeing, compassion towards them and clarity in explaining a diagnosis and treatment.

Unfortunately just like the terrible, shocking stories we read or hear relating to medical care of people that goes tragically wrong, this can also apply to animal medicine.

It doesn’t need to be a case of gross negligence or incompetence or a deliberate malicious act. A certain mindset or attitude that to a distressed, bewildered human trying to make a decision about an ill and highly stressed animal can do the greatest damage of all: the irrevocable decision to euthanise.

This story is about our cat, Bod, a British shorthair who, until a sudden, seemingly trivial urinary infection seemed healthy and happy.

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Goldwork Embroidery: Logo Project – Part Two

Completed Abiogenesis sewn design

Completed Abiogenesis sewn design

I’ve been much delayed in doing the follow up to Part One of the goldwork project but here it is. This post looks at the next sewing test and final version of Gary Spencer Millidge’s Abiogenesis Press logo I made with some new equipment: a 30cm x 30cm Elbesee hand rotating (roller) frame and an Elbesee Posilock stand.

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