Emily Dickinson’s Hope Personified, Complete With DIY Feather Lashes

Emily Dickinson loved a good extended metaphor, so I'm interpreting one of her metaphors pretty literally. On my face.

Originally, my senior quote read: You don’t
have to watch Dynasty/To have an attitude.

In a fit of panic, I decided that a
Prince quote might make me seem so-not-serious when people read the yearbook
15, 20, 30 years later. (Hint: no one cares, ever.) At the last
minute, I ran to the yearbook advisor to have it changed to a line from Emily

Then, in what I can only describe as fate howling in laughter at me,
the advisor spelled her name “Dickerson.” Emily Dickerson. Not only have I
robbed myself of having a kicky Prince quote that TOTALLY SUITS ME (I was the
class clown, for goshsakes), I will be forever remembered as the English major
who cannot spell Dickinson.

But like I said, no one cares. And if we
really get down to it, Emily is a great gal. How many of us have lifted her
signature punctuation style in our own angst-y teen poems? She’s known for
being eccentric, secluded and private, but looking back at her style, she was
also powerful and innovative.

Ms. Dickinson most definitely did her own thing,
and I like to think that if she were tooting around today, she’d be a proudly
single, feminist, sometimes moody, thirty-flirty-and-thriving, modern woman. Perhaps
she’d write for an XO site?

Emily Dickinson also loved a good extended
metaphor, and in today’s tutorial, we are interpreting one of her metaphors
pretty literally. Ah, a twist! When our lovely xoVain reader Brooklynbee mentioned
her favorite poem
in the comments of my last article, I thought that it would
be perfect for a mid-winter pick-me-up.

is the thing with feathers

perches in the soul,

sings the tune without the words, 

never stops at all,

sweetest in the gale is heard; 

sore must be the storm 

could abash the little bird

kept so many warm.

heard it in the chillest land,

And on
the strangest sea; 

never, in extremity,

asked a crumb of me.

While we’ve been freezing our bottoms off all
winter, that little bird, Hope, has kept the promise of spring warm in our

Obviously, I am not a poet, and I’m no professional makeup artist,
either. But that doesn’t stop me from playing with either medium. We’ve all
seen feather eyelashes, and both Hannah and Mari have
shown us higher blush placement and blush as eye shadow. Today, however, we
combine that fresh-yet-modern blush with a stoic Dickinson hairdo and DIY
feather eyelashes to create a poem personified. That’s not something you do
every day, right?

I began by evening out my skin, which usually
has some redness, with Clinique Even Better Makeup SPF 15 in Ivory; it has a
bit of a dewy finish and will roll with our fresh-faced theme.

Since we will be
playing with blush placement, we want to make sure it looks deliberate and not
like an extension of my rosacea. I applied Revlon Luxurious Color Matte Eye
Shadow in Peach Sorbet to my lid and just into the crease, and then I smudged a
bit of Maybelline Dream Bouncy Blush in Plum Pink to the outer corner of my
lid. This product has an almost Playdoh-like texture, and though the color
didn’t work on my cheeks, I have found that it makes for an interesting primer
of sorts under pink eye shadow.

The blush makes this entire look. I wanted to
create a fresh look as an homage to spring and rebirth, but I wanted to avoid
something too cutesy or baby-doll. A higher-placed blush looks more modern and
editorial to me.

I applied Bobbi Brown Blush in Poppy to my temples and at the
peak of my cheekbones. When you suck in your cheeks like you would for, say,
bronzer placement, fluff your brush at the widest point. I also applied the
blush to the outer corners of my eyelids, and then I blended until the edges
were soft and cuddly.

I finished my eyes by lining my lower
waterline with Rimmel ScandalEyes Waterproof Kohl in Nude. I used Stila Stay
All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner in Dark Brown to thicken up my top lash
line. This does not have to be anything super
precise--just a line to anchor your lashes in a later step.

Using NYX Eyebrow
Cake Powder in Taupe, I lightly filled in my brows, which I may or may not have
over-trimmed earlier in the day.

To achieve a 19th-century
introvert’s hairstyle, I simply parted my hair from side to side just behind my
ears. I pulled the back into a low bun.
After parting the front down the middle, I made Dutch braids along each side of
my head and pinned them into the bun. I
am currently growing out bangs, and they didn’t quite want to be tamed into braids,
but I gave them a good, stern talking-to.

With a swipe of original Chapstick
from the classic black tube, you have the beginnings of a look.

To take the look from modern-recluse to literally-there’s-a-feather-perched-on-you,
we turn to feather eyelashes. Now, you could easily buy pre-made feather
eyelashes if you want to. You might also buy feathers and glue them to a set of
falsies. I skipped all that, mostly because I didn’t want to spend extra money
on multiple supplies. I found a way to make a lash out of the feather itself!

You’ll need:

• Two feathers of similar shape and size

• Scissors

•Eyelash glue (I used Duo Dark-Tone Eyelash

• Eyebrow comb (optional)

• Hairspray (optional)

You can find feathers at your local craft
supply store. From what I can tell by looking at the packaging, I can’t tell
you much about them. I know that they have been cleaned and sterilized, but I’m
willing to bet that they are not ethically sourced.

You can find suppliers
online, like crueltyfreefeathers.com, that collect feathers only after they
have naturally fallen from the birds. These are cleaned and sterilized as well.
In the US, it is illegal to use found feathers from endangered or migratory
birds, but these might not be clean enough to use on your face anyway. This
also goes for pet birds. You may be able to collect feathers, but I’m not
sure how you would sterilize them. Steam, perhaps? (Also, if you have
allergies, don’t do any of this.)

I chose two large guinea hen feathers
because, aren’t polka dots fun? Once you’ve chosen your feathers, you’ll want
to trim them to eyelash size and also remove the fluffy after-feathers.

Then, gently tear the barbs, or little
individual feathers, on one side of the feather away from the rachis (that’s a
fancy word for the "quill" in the middle of the feather). You’ll want to remove
the opposite side from your second feather so you end up with a right and left

Begin to work the feather into a lash-like
curve. You might also want to use a nail file to soften the tip of the rachis
that will be closest to the inner corner of your eye.

You can use your fingernail to shape the band
by running it along the rachis gently. Think
of curling ribbon.

The barbs can be easily reshaped by pressing
them with your fingers. You might also use a brow comb to shape the ends of the
feather to look more like hair. A spritz of hairspray will hold your chosen shape.

For this look, I left the lashes natural, and
the effect is slightly irregular. Apply at the lash line using an adhesive of
your choice. I chose a dark adhesive since my feather is dark and my hand is
shaky. If you’ve applied your eyeliner as directed above, your feather lash
should sit pretty seamlessly on your lid.

The resulting look is clean and fresh, and
maybe a bit playful. Emily D. goes mod, perhaps?

Without the lashes, you could
easily get away with this for a daytime look. I think feather lashes push it
into special-event territory.

I added a touch of Revlon Just Bitten
Kissable Balm Stain in Sweetheart to my Chapstick to kick up the punch of pink
in the overall look.

It’s definitely out of my usual tomboy realm, but it’s
easily achievable using very few products that are probably already sitting in
your makeup case.

Thoughts? Feelings? Concerns? Questions?
Someone told me that this hair makes me look like either a sister-wife or Kelly
McGillis in Witness. I can dig that.