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Pleasure Practices with Sami Schalk: Put some glitter on it

A recipe for creating aesthetic pleasure.

Illustration by Rodney Lambright II.

Sometimes when I’m feeling down, I like to bring a little extra color and sparkle to my world. It’s simple but delightful. My house is full of things I’ve glittered and/or painted, particularly since lockdown. I love bright, colorful, glittery, iridescent, holographic, metallic, and shiny things. 

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Recently, I revamped a previously sun-faded yellow planter into a pink and purple glittery unicorn dream planter full of flowers. Every time I look at it on my balcony, it brings me joy. Similarly, I love seeing the light reflect off of one of my many glitter plant pots or my freshly painted glitter fingernails. By placing these small aesthetic delights all around my home or on my body, I guarantee myself a little pleasure every day without much effort. I’m not particularly gifted artistically, but I can paint something a solid coat and cover it with glitter. 

Making art, in whatever ways work for you, especially making your life into art, is a way of centering pleasure in your life outside the confines of capitalism. My glitter shit is for me. It’s not something I try to turn into a side hustle or do for others, I just enjoy turning something drab into something visually appealing to me and looking at it. It’s a dual satisfaction of both appreciating how it looks and appreciating that past me did something for present me.

Now I know not everyone is into bright and glittery things, so if dark and creepy shit or weird and kitschy is what makes you happy, then just mentally replace that aesthetic with what I’m saying here. The point is not that glitter = joy (although for me, it does), but finding small ways to bring yourself regular sustained pleasure. So here’s a recipe for creating some aesthetic pleasure in your life.

 

 

 


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Now I know not everyone is into bright and glittery things, so if dark and creepy shit or weird and kitschy is what makes you happy, then just mentally replace that aesthetic with what I’m saying here. The point is not that glitter = joy (although for me, it does), but finding small ways to bring yourself regular sustained pleasure. So here’s a recipe for creating some aesthetic pleasure in your life.

First, decide what you want to glitter/paint. Bonus karma points if you re-vamp something you already own or get something used online, at a thrift store (I recommend Habitat for Humanity ReStore), a garage sale, your grandma’s house, the curb, or the Madison Really Really Free Market on the last Sunday of the month at James Madison Park (noon to 4 p.m.). Consider giving new aesthetic life to:

 

  • Plant pots

  • Wooden furniture

  • Earrings or necklaces

  • Picture frames

  • Shelves

  • Your fingernails or toenails

  • Your face

  • A mug you no longer drink out of and want to use to hold pens or something

  • A vase

  • Your walls

  • A walker or cane

  • Notebook covers

Once you’ve chosen your object, choose your paint. For bigger projects, get house paint (a “sample size” covers like 20 square feet). For smaller projects, get some acrylic paint or spray paint. For your nails or face, buy nail polish or body glitter. To glitter with house paint, buy a glitter additive made to mix in paint or buy a paint that’s already glittery. For spray paint and acrylic paint, several brands make glitter versions that can stand on their own or go over an existing color. They also make metallic and glow-in-the-dark spray paint as well as iridescent acrylic paints if that’s more your jam. Make sure to get a clear topcoat or sealant for glitter if your chosen object will be outside, exposed to water, or frequently touched or handled.

Next, get the right tools: paintbrushes of appropriate size, drop cloth for bigger projects, a mask if you’re working with spray paint, and an appropriate workspace (enough space and ventilation).

Now, glitter/paint! Let objects dry between coats (length depends on the type of paint). Turn on your favorite music or podcast. Take progress pictures (or at least before and after ones). Hell, tag me on Twitter with some beautiful shit you make. I definitely want to see it. Place your object in a place you’ll see regularly. Use it as a reminder that your pleasure and joy matter, that YOU matter and are worth the time and effort to care for and delight. Go get your glitter on, babes!

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