I’m Canadian, and so I suppose I should be concentrating my nail art activities on tomorrow’s Canada Day (also known as “Sweating Your Ass Off at a Cottage with a 2-4 Day”), but I thought I’d jump ahead and highlight a manicure I did in honour of the other national holiday taking place this week, Independence Day. The American flag in particular, with its bold colour palette, whimsical stars and precise, horizontal lines is a design dream come true, and whether you stick to the basics or take a few liberties with the overall design, you’ll still wind up with perfectly patriotic polished paws to see you through every party this July 4th long weekend.
For these nails, I layered a handful of holographic polishes in subdued, slightly dusky hues (Cirque’s Luminous Owl and Sky Woman and KB Shimmer’s In Bare Form) over striping tape to create a soft, almost vintage-looking deconstructed American flag design, minus the stars!
What’s black is white is red (all over?) in this simple, glitter-based manicure that flips between the dark and the light (with just a touch of peppermint-scented red, because hey, just like your nails, life’s not always black and white…nor does it always smell all that great!)
This Disneyfied manicure, inspired by of-the-moment bad gal Maleficent, pays tribute to the animated version of the dark fairy and not so much Angelina Jolie’s more recent diamond-hard cheekbones of inner turmoil. In the spirit of total disclosure, it should be noted that I don’t believe I have ever seen Sleeping Beauty. I’ve seen enough bits and pieces over the years to patch together a rough idea of what happens, but I can’t ever remember sitting down and watching the whole movie end to end. So if it appears as though my heart was not 100 percent devoted to this project, well, you’d be right. I mean, I’m the one who came up with the design, and yet I can’t make head nor tail of what those purple bits are supposed to be. Her cape? And I KNOW I intended for that twisted green mass on my thumbnail to be Maleficent’s hocus pocus bad fairy fire, but I think it looks more like I forgot I was doing Maleficent nails and veered straight into Poison Ivy territory. Which I suppose is never a bad place to be (unless you’re Batman or the Joker on a very, very bad day) although in this case, ever so slightly besides the point!
Here’s another new polish from the second half of KB Shimmer’s glitter-packed summer collection, Look High and Holo. It’s an absolute stunner in the bottle, as you can see – all gorgeous rainbow holographic glitter in a rich raspberry jelly. And I wanted to like this polish so very, very much, because pretty well without exception, KB Shimmer has become my jam. And yet…
The formula on this one is tricky. KB’s glitter-in-jelly offerings are usually rock solid, but this polish, perhaps owing to the sheer quantity of base-devouring glitter in each bottle, is kind of dry and the glitter desperately wants to clump together. I also found the dark pink base to be a touch dulling, masking all that beautiful multicoloured glitter you so admired in the bottle.
I haven’t been a KB customer for that long, but with this now being the only exception, I have loved every single polish of theirs completely, so it’s quite weird that this one is falling a bit flat, especially when its specs sound so awesome. Still, a very pretty polish in a fabulous colour with tons of fun visual interest – and what about that sentence sounds bad again?
This nail polish, KB Shimmer’s Peak My Interest, reminds me of a lot of things – flamingos, bubblegum, the carpet in a Palm Springs retirement home. But mostly its little triangle-shaped glitter (something new in the polish world, actually) reminds me of a favourite old Weezer song called Pink Triangle in which a young man (underweight, bespectacled and most likely bearing the name Rivers Cuomo) falls in love with a super cool girl, only to discover that she actually prefers the company of other ladies. He berates himself for a while before finally conceding that yeah, maybe before he planned out their wedding, he should have taken a closer look at that pink triangle patch on her sleeve that “let (him) know the truth.” It’s an awesome song off one of my all time favourite albums, 1996’s criminally under-appreciated Pinkerton, way back when Weezer weren’t quite as cheesy as they are now. If you can lay your mitts on a copy, physical or digital, I highly recommend picking one up. In the words of Ferris Bueller, “It is SO choice.”
Know what else is choice? This nail polish! As always, another pretty, glittery pick from KB Shimmer’s massive, two-part summer collection, this time a coral jelly polish studded with periwinkle, blue and white hex glitter and tiny white triangles. It’s a fun, summery polish that applies just as well as KB’s other fabulous offerings, although be warned that there is a bit of disparity between the way the colour appears in the bottle (a bright, almost dusky pink) and on the nail (a clear pinky-coral.) Still, a minor quibble with an otherwise great product that looks pretty fantastic no matter what shade of pink it’s blushing. 🙂
File this one under “A Pretty Waste of Polish” or, alternatively, “Ideas That Were Never Going to Work, but Good on You for Trying Anyways!” As you can see, I got it in my head that I could take a true glitter topper – tiny rainbow glitters suspended in a clear base – and layer it enough times that it would eventually become opaque. Spoiler alert: It didn’t! What you’re seeing here are a record seven coats of Ozotic’s sadly discontinued 528, a peacock-hued holographic glitter topper that I now know beyond a shadow of a doubt looks and behaves best when layered over a dark polish, if only so you don’t use up one-quarter of the bottle in your attempts to fully cover your nails. Darker bases also really let the holo glitter pop and enhance all of that fun, rainbow-throwing prettiness in a way that simply spackling your nails with the stuff cannot achieve. But it’s still so, so lovely, and goof notwithstanding, I think we can still enjoy its colour-shifting beauty, right? Now to go find a tiny blunt instrument and chisel this (pretty) junk off my nails!
Patrick Star, SpongeBob SquarePants’ starfish best friend, provided the inspiration for these nails, which highlight Patrick’s cute and dorky board shorts and nubby, pink-hued skin (the key there being Nicole by OPI’s Rock the Look from this spring’s Roughles collection, a matte textured polish that looks just like pink, bumpy Patrick.)
Today’s weather has been an unpleasant thing – cold, downpourey, dark – so this manicure, a summery, ultra juicy-looking jelly sandwich, feels like just the thing to let the light – any light! – in. And I’m one of those weird people who like it when it’s overcast and sort of drizzly, but this? Actual cats and dogs are pouring from the heavens. Total anarchy. Time to turn off the tap, Mother Nature.
Still, as bummy as this day has turned out to be weather-wise, I smile when I look at these cheerful nails. Here I sandwiched a favourite glitter topper, OPI’s red, white and hot pink Minnie Style, between a couple of coats of a polish I simply don’t show enough love, Nfu Oh’s syrupy raspberry, JS24, to create a manicure that reminds me a lot of juicy, seed-flecked strawberry jam. Fun nails to brighten up an otherwise crappy day.
One day when I was a kid, I very grandly announced to my parents that when I grew up, I was going to become a marine biologist. No doubt this surprised the heck out of my parents, as I had never shown any appreciable talent or interest in the biological sciences (my parents still speak in disbelieving, vaguely awed terms about the Sunday evening in grade 2 when I commented rather nonchalantly that I had a leaf project due the next morning. Cue my mother frantically running around our not-insubstantial front lawn scooping up handfuls of wet, moldy leaves whilst yelping, “Maple! I’ve got a Maple! And, um…oh crap, what is this?! Oh, Poplar! Okay, next show momma an Oak!”)
They were probably also a bit surprised by my exclamation on account of the fact that for as long as I can remember, I have been terrified of large bodies of water and the critters that dwell beneath them. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a phobia in the traditional sense of the word. I don’t break out into hives or shriek at the mere sight of a river (good thing, too, since I live right beside one.) I’m also not so weird about it that I won’t boat or even, say, swim with sharks in a highly sanitized experience at Walt Disney World. But honestly, the mere thought of even wading into the ocean up to my mid-calves fills me with a kind of dread I just don’t need in my life. It’s mostly the not knowing that creeps me out – like, what is down there going about its business while my legs dangle enticingly above? I think I’d be okay scuba diving (in a group, please – safety in numbers!) because at least I’d be down there with the things that want to eat me, you know? Because it’s better to see the things that are going to shock, sting, squeeze and bite me to death, I guess?
Anyhow, I think it goes without saying my future plans did not pan out. But don’t worry, I’m not too broken up about it (neither are my parents; imagine them trying to fix my neglected shark project two hours before deadline!) Turns out I’d far prefer to paint pretty coral reefs on my nails than actually be underwater with them. 😉
Given the rash of Alice: Madness Returns-inspired nails I did last year and a couple of other Alice-centric designs kicking around my archives, you might reasonably assume that I love Alice in Wonderland. And yet, I don’t. For me it’s the literary equivalent of fresh marshmallows and things involving roasted garlic – I far prefer the idea of it as opposed to, you know, IT. And while there have been innumerable interpretations of Lewis Carroll’s acid trip of a master work, ensuring that fans of the concept can always find a Wonderland to suit their tastes, the source material from which they derive is so distractingly scattershot and unformed, I have a hard time wading through the crazy. It’s like listening to a pervy junkie reminisce about the good old days when you could keep the private company of seven-year-old girls without their parents getting all uptight about it (until, you know, their parents get all uptight about it; as I learned in a children’s lit class I took in university, Carroll’s friendship with a very young Alice Liddell, the real life inspiration for our heroine in Wonderland, ended rather abruptly after her parents became concerned that his intentions towards their daughter were not entirely honourable. And if you’re thinking, “Well, yeah, nothing about this situation sounds remotely honourable or on the level,” keep in mind that at the time – the mid-1860s – grown men keeping the company of children as friends was not entirely uncommon, nor was it regarded as all that weird. Until, like I said, someone went and made it weird.)
It has been left to literary history to decide whether Carroll behaved inappropriately with Alice, but what can’t be debated is the final outcome after her parents removed her from his life, which is of course the book itself, a kind of fever dream ode to one man’s descent into drug-induced insanity after his favourite playmate was taken away. It’s not even particularly well written. But giant, hookah-smoking caterpillars! And, um, backwards-talking drug addicts all hopped up on caffeine and hat glue. It’s, like, seriously, dude, PUT. DOWN. THE. OPIUM.
All that to say these nails are based on yet another interpretation of Alice in Wonderland, this time the animated Disney movie of 1951 and its decapitation-loving Queen of Hearts.