31DC2016 Favourites


The 31 Day Nail Art Challenge wrapped up early last week, and while I remained stubbornly off the pace by a day or two right through to the very end, that lag time never stretched – as it has in years past – beyond that, a fact I’m more proud of than 31 straight days of nail art (which is actually sort of business as usual around these parts.)  Writing out the prompts in my journal certainly helped; accountability and all that, even if the person I’m making that accounting to is “just” myself.  And then just a whole lot of kicking myself in the arse to get the old girl up and running on a consistent basis.  Wait, am I talking about myself or some dirty old Chev up on blocks in a field?

No mind!  Because no matter where I finished along the challenge timeline, as always, there are a handful of manicures I’m really quite proud of, and I probably would not have gotten around to them had it not been for the 31 Day Challenge.  And so here are my favourites (in no particular order, although I think you can all guess which one is my actual number one!)  I hope you like them, too. 🙂

The Impression That I Get (Theme: Artwork)


Beetlejuice! (Theme: A movie)


Exit Music (for a Horror Film) (Theme: Gradient)


Stranger Barb (Theme: A colour)


Madame Leota (Theme: The supernatural)


Moons Over Tatooine (Theme: Half moons)


Dressed Up, Ready to Roll (Theme: Geometrics)


Fashionably Striped (Theme: Stripes)


Very Violetta (31DC2016)


Well, here we are, at the very final prompt of the 31 Day Nail Art Challenge, and despite my better efforts, I’m finishing up three days late!  Just like I do every year!  Except this year I didn’t have some insane final push where I had to complete seven manicures in two days – just the slow and steady certainty of being a day or two off the pace (owing to some unforeseen difficulties in the WiFi department.)

But I finished, just like I always do, and the final day’s theme – and for those of you keeping score at home, yes, there are 31 days of challenge prompts in a month with only 30 days – was to complete a manicure inspired by someone else’s work you admire.  For me, that’s nail artist and Instagram blogger Violetta Ter-Akopova. Violetta’s work is impeccable – tons of tiny dots in intricate patterns, and so, so precise.  Her manicures look like the beaded tops of tiny, stone-encrusted jewelry boxes.  And here’s my interpretation – a pastel jewelry box, fit for tiny treasures. 🙂

Dry-Brushing: A Tutorial (31DC2016)


The second-to-last daily theme in the 31 Day Nail Art Challenge (holy cats, we’re almost there!) is a tutorial.  In the three years that I’ve been participating in this challenge, I’ve never fully understood whether the prompt calls for you to follow another nail artist’s tutorial or create one of your own.  But seeing as I really don’t do that many tutorials to begin with (pretty well every second one would have to start with “Step 1: Develop an unhealthy obsession with the movie Beetlejuice”) I thought I’d try my hand (and nails) at a little how-to.

I received a lot of positive comments on these Suicide Squad nails I posted some months back, with a few folks asking how I did the punky-looking streaked bits on my index and pinkie fingers.  Well, here’s exactly how (with allowances for a different colour palette. You, of course, can choose any darn colour combination you’d like, though if you’re partial to the sort of metallic graffiti-type look of this particular manicure, you’ll need to include a foil-type metallic and a basic black.)

1. Begin by rounding up your rogues’ gallery of polishes and brushes.  For this manicure I used a single, small, flat-headed brush and six different polishes, OPI’s Sailing & Nail-ing, a pale turquoise creme, OPI’s My Signature is “DC”, a shimmery silver foil, A England’s Crown of Thistles, a plummy holo, A England’s Whispering Waves, a turquoise holo, Polish Me Silly’s Paradise, a turquoise-to-green-to-purple multi-chrome, and a basic black creme (not shown.)


2. Lay down three coats of a pale base polish, or however many it takes to reach full opacity.  Here I used OPI’s Sailing & Nail-ing, a pale, robin’s egg blue.

3. Once dry, take your brush and gently dip it into the small blob of polish you’ve daubed out onto your artist’s palette.  Or, if you’re me, you use the back of an old DVD case.  Here I started with the purple holo, A England’s Crown of Thistles.

Take a quick peek at the polish on your brush; if it seems like you maybe picked up a bit too much, simply dab it up and down on your palette a few times to remove the excess. Much like salting your food, dry-brushing is one of those areas where it’s better to start small and work your way up; you can always add more, but you can’t subtract.

Then, taking your nearly-dry brush, drag it straight down your nails from the cuticles to the tips.  Or start in the middle of your nails and drag it downwards.  Or start at the top and draw it down only halfway.  This manicure is designed to look a lot undone, so there are no precise how-tos.  And if you do accidentally stumble into a boo-boo, just remember that layered techniques like this one are super forgiving, and mistakes are easily rectified and covered up.


4. – 6. Repeat that exact same random, dry-dragging brushstroke with the remaining polishes, here silver My Signature is “DC” (4.), turquoise Whispering Waves (5.) and multi-chromatic Paradise (6.)

7. Add the black streaks, using an ultra light touch.  Again, you can always add, but you can’t subtract.  It’s important to keep that in mind when using black as an accent colour in your nail art.

Once dry, it’s time to assess your work.  The goal here is not necessarily total coverage – it’s fine if the base polish is still peeking through a bit – but if that’s what you’re going for, repeat steps 3. to 7. as you see fit.  Need more purple in that corner?  Put more purple in that corner.  Whoops, put too much purple in that corner? Cover it up with a bit of silver.  In these two photos, you can really see where I added more of everything after layering on my first black bits.


8. Continue the random layering of your polishes until your masterpiece is complete. And if you’re anything like me, you’ll know you’ve reached that perfect level when you proceed to hurtle directly over it, add way too much polish and have to redo one nail entirely from scratch.

But once that’s dry, all that’s left to do is to seal in your work with a quick dry topcoat (I always use Seche Vite) and clean up any polish overage.  Et voila, dry-brushed nails!


I hope you found this not-so-little tutorial instructive – are you feeling duly tutored? Because I’m feeling quite teacherly (not a word, I know.)  As always, if you try this manicure yourself, I’d love to see your results!  Happy nail art-ing (also not a word.)

Disney Girl Challenge: Madame Leota (31DC2016)


For non-Disneyphiles, Madame Leota is the spirit of a deceased clairvoyant who lives in the Haunted Mansion.  She’s remarkably chatty, dramatically intoning all sorts of wisdom from beyond the corporeal realm, although she don’t get around much – Madame Leota is naught but a head in a crystal ball.  Which made these nails for day 29’s theme of the supernatural in the 31 Day Nail Art Challenge sort of difficult; how do you create a design around a character who’s really a supernatural paperweight resting on a fringed, velvet tablecloth?  Well, you start by painting an adorable, smirking Madame Leota on your thumb, as she’s not much for smiling.  Then you add her velvet-flocked tablecloth (one does want a hint of colour, after all) and the musical instruments that dance across the walls of her seance room.

Once when I was a kid the ride stopped for about 10 minutes right in front of Madame Leota’s crystal ball, and I started conjuring up all sorts of delightful fantasies about how my parents and I – and just the three of us – would be forced to live out the remainder of our days in the Haunted Mansion.  I was, of course, totally okay with that plan – it was like my greatest dream was actually coming true!  No doubt my parents, who had been sitting there for 10 long, dark minutes listening to Madame Leota drone on and on about “regions beyond” were less enamored.  So it’s just as well that the ride started back up again and we moved on (only to disembark, and then immediately line up for another go-round; my parents let me be a weird kid sometimes.)

Party Bunting (31DC2016)


Every year ’round about day 28 of the 31 Day Nail Art Challenge, my motivation seriously begins to wane.  You know how it goes – the finish line is right there, directly in your sights, but you can’t be arsed to finish because day 28’s theme is always flags, and flags make for the most uninspired prompt ever, and you can’t think of three years’ worth of cool flag manicures, and who comes up with these things anyways?!  Or something like that (and just in case you’re curious, no one really knows the origin story of the 31 Day Nail Art Challenge; it doesn’t seem to have one single creator anyone can point to.)

Anyhow, it seems this is a pattern with me – shame, could have used it for my pattern nails yesterday – because last year I also whiffed day 28’s theme and painted my nails with bunting, which I suppose IS a type of flag.  A party flag, run up the flagpole when the end-of-day disco work whistle sounds. 😉

The Impression That I Get (31DC2016)


Day 27’s always-daunting theme in the 31 Day Nail Art Challenge was artwork, and so I thought I’d simply whip up these very Impressionistic nails – you know, just dash off my interpretation of one of the Masters hard at work (in this case Monet.)  Nuthin’ to it!

But actually, aside from a bit of a time and a lot of patience in wrangling about 15 different bottles of nail polish, these nails were not that difficult.  Best of all, I think they’re full-on Monets – all right at a distance, but a big old mess up close.  And considering the source on that bit of wisdom (Cher Horowitz of Clueless) I’m feeling quite positive about my first attempt at art forgery. 😉

Everybody Polka! (31DC2016)


Patterns recently came up to bat as day 26’s theme in the 31 Day Nail Art Challenge.  I always have a bit of trouble with this prompt, as can’t anything be a pattern if you repeat it enough times?  So how does that make it any different than any of the other floral, striped, dotted and dashed designs I do every other day?  Am I overthinking this?  Pretty sure I’m overthinking this.

At first I thought about attempting a repeating pattern type of design, programmer-styles. You know, a pick-the-red-pill-pick-the-blue-pill-and-hop-on-in-to-the-Matrix sort of thing.  Then I thought about the aneurysm my husband would laugh himself into once he saw whatever horrendous code I had cobbled together on my nails, and I thought maybe I’d just do some polka dots instead (tightly packed polka dots, no less, and my index and pinkie fingers both beginning and ending with a holographic pink polish, so very nearly a repeating pattern!)

Actually, I’m not giving Mr. Finger Candy enough credit.  He’d undoubtedly be completely amused by my efforts, but also quite supportive – if I suddenly decided I wanted to start screwing around with his Raspberry Pi bidness, he’d be…seriously so turned on, probably! And if I could find a way to work some pigtails into there…but I’ve already said too much. 😉

Designer Unknown (31DC2016)


Day 25’s theme in the 31 Day Nail Art Challenge was fashion, and the outfit I chose as inspiration was a dress recently worn by singer Rita Ora to a taping of America’s Next Top Model (I thought that show ended a few years ago.  I…guess not?)  I saw the striped, diaphanous dress on Ora in this Go Fug Yourself article, and I was immediately smitten – it’s very 1970s, updated with a more modern colour palette in shades of shimmering black, silver, turquoise and purple.  Very groovy, baby.

Except I have no bloody clue who designed this dress.  Neither does Go Fug Yourself.  And the Internet seems just as oblivious, if my half hour of unsuccessful keyword searches are any indication.  I have no idea what gives; why all the mystery?  This is a beautiful dress, and whoever designed it should be celebrated!  So if you happen to know who’s responsible for this very pretty gown, please do let me know.  For now, though, I’ll have to be content with this inspired-by manicure.  I think I can manage that. 😉

Poinsettia Pig (31DC2016)


Books were day 24’s theme in the 31 Day Nail Art Challenge, which had me casting back to one of my childhood favourites, Poinsettia and Her Family.  Written and illustrated by Felicia Bond, the 1981 children’s book, coloured nearly entirely in shades of pink, black and grey, tells the story of Poinsettia Pig, a temperamental little piglet with family issues – as in there’s too freaking many of them!

One of seven piglet siblings, Poinsettia attempts to find a secluded spot in her too-cramped house in which to curl up with a great book – really, any one of the buttery warm window seat, the cool Pachysandra, the bliss-inducing tub or the sun-warmed rock in the front yard will suffice.  But everywhere increasingly-pissy Poinsettia goes, she finds one of her lazy siblings loafing about instead, and after she explodes at her parents about their critical lack of personal space, she’s sent to bed early for general misbehaviour (pinching her brothers figures prominently.)

Poinsettia’s parents do concede, however, that the family has outgrown its much-loved home, and when they haul their possessions out of there the very next morning (pig-powered moves are apparently bonkers efficient!), Poinsettia opts to just…stay behind. Stay behind and finally enjoy the house the way it was meant to be enjoyed – by her and her alone!

But after a delightful afternoon spent lounging in the window seat, splayed out on the sun-warmed rock, hiding in the cool shade of the bushes and floating in the tub, lonely Poinsettia realizes that a home is no such thing without a family to fill it, even if sometimes you really, really, really want to pinch them.  Then her family returns, and they decide to stay, cramped quarters and all.  It’s basically Home Alone with pigs, nine years before Home Alone was released.

Here I’ve got sassy Poinsettia blissfully soaking away in her claw-footed bathtub, joyously pinkening her skin and enjoying some tubby time for one. 🙂


Beetlejuice! (31DC2016)


My favourite movie, and a fun little exercise in lettering for day 23’s theme of a movie in the 31 Day Nail Art Challenge.  Tooting my own horn here – and if you don’t toot your own, who will? – but I think this manicure turned out beautifully.  Come to think of it, I always take extra special care to make sure my Beetlejuice manicures are spickety span – it’s the difference watching a movie approximately 500 times will do to a person’s work. 😉