Retroreflective Manicure

2 09 2012

You  know those moments when you think of something so awesome but also so obvious and wonder “how did I not think of this before?” I had one of those last week – retroreflective nail polish!

Retroreflective means that a material reflects light directly back at its source. For night time cyclists, this means that the light from a car’s headlights is reflected back at the driver, making you look far brighter and more visible from a longer distance. Retroreflective materials are used in things like street signs and markings, high visibility safety wear, and to improve visibility of trailers & train cars.

Last year, I procured some traffic grade retroreflective glass spheres (spheres so small they’re almost a powder). I used them to turn bracelets and silk flowers high-vis in Retroreflective Goodness and to make the magnets in Bike Art Galore. The technique is easy: pour the glass powder over wet paint, let it dry & shake off the excess so there’s a single layer of glass spheres on the surface.

To apply to nails, simply embed the spheres in the final coat of wet nail polish! I did a blue stripe over a purple base coat and then just gently laid my nail down in the powder.

I only did the pinky and ring finger with the retroreflective material because this is still an experiment. The camera flash replicates the effect of headlights.

Hand signals just got way more awesome! Like with paint, the lighter the colour, the brighter it will be, and metallic colours look amazing.

So far, the retroreflective nails have worn better than just the regular polish, leaving me with another problem: how to remove it. I usually rub polish off with an acetone soaked rag but I don’t dare rub the retroreflective glass. Remember the Mohs hardness scale – glass scratches fingernail. I figure I’m going to have to invest in the type of nail polish remover where you dip the whole finger in if I’m going to have any chance of getting it off without damaging my nails. Another issue I’m having is keeping it clean. If I do up my whole left hand I’ll have to start wearing a glove (which I’m not a fan of) while I’m wrenching to prevent any bike grease from taking up permanent residence. At least one thing that I was worried about, the glass spheres detaching and getting into everything, hasn’t happened though.





The Femme Bike Mechanic

29 06 2012

Bike shop culture is changing (though not fast enough if you ask me)! No longer a boys club, women are stepping up and fixing bikes, and doing it our style.

How to spot a femme bike mechanic:

  • Purse is super heavy because it’s full of tools and tubes, you know, just in case.
  • Wardrobe is chosen on the basis of how well the clothes will hide bike grease. Skirts are chosen on the basis of how easy it would be to test ride an oversized diamond frame while wearing it.
  • When teaching people how to mount a tire, uses an analogy about pulling on tights or pantyhose if they get frustrated.

When this happens, it’s not a bother, not even a little.

  • Has a personal nail brush stashed at the shop.
  • When getting ready for a BikeWorks dance party, nail polish is chosen on the basis of how well it will camouflage the dirt under the nails.
  • Speaking of nail polish, possesses colours that were chosen to match bikes to touch up paint first, and go all matchy-matchy second.
  • Despite the above, still knows which hand cleaner’s the best.
  • Can recommend a saddle that’s actually comfortable for a woman.
  • At the salon, requests a haircut that will look good after being windblown on a bike – “My bicycle is my blow-dryer.”
  • Never scoffs at the idea of putting a chain guard, fenders, kickstand, etc. on any bike.
  • Bike shorts under skirt.
  • Gets a little irate every time someone walks into the bike shop and asks for advice from the dude she’s helping and ignores her.
  • Gets slightly more irate when greasy-handed, apron-clad, and the sole person in the shop, someone walks in and asks her where the mechanic is.
  • Knows every trick for increasing leverage but never strips a bolt.
  • Talks about spoke nipples, lube, and male and female parts without blinking.
  • Like gender pioneers in other male dominated fields, has to be twice as competent to get half the respect.

So, to all the dudely dudes out there turning wrenches, get ready, because the ladies are coming to shake up the bike shop backrooms!