31 Day Wrap-Up

Phew, that was a wild month of all Disney manis on your all Disney station, all the Disney time. DisneyDisneyDisney! Disney.

Now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, I thought it would be a fun and useful exercise to look back over the Disney-centric manicures I entered in the now-completed 31 Day Nail Art Challenge to see what worked, what didn’t and how I can make life easier on myself the next time I enter one of these month-long nail art challenges (and here’s hoping I learn any lessons quickly, because I’m taking part in two in October on Instagram. No one ever said I like to make things easy on myself.)

The main lesson I’m taking away from this experience is that unlike the last month-long challenge I participated in, I was actually able to keep pace with this one. I credit that with a blessed reprieve from some of the personal silliness that has dominated my life for the past six months, to say nothing of the fact that I didn’t have to travel during this challenge. Because do you know what really doesn’t work very well as a portable hobby? Nail art. Creative nail art. And nail art challenges that call for a mani a day. And so I was perpetually behind and always playing catch-up. So I guess what I’m saying is don’t let pesky things like life get in the way of your nail art challenges? No, I’m kidding – but really, don’t try to travel and keep up with your nail art. Plan ahead and sock a few manis away for a rainy day.

In hindsight, I also think I was able to more easily keep pace with this challenge because I set a fun sub-challenge for myself (31 days of Disney-influenced manicures) that kept me inspired and entertained and gave me a constrained, but still pretty vast, framework within which to mess around. As a result, I tackled all sorts of manicures I’ve toyed around with trying, only to put off until my skill improved. Well, my skill wasn’t going to improve without me actively putting brush to nail, and so with this challenge as my excuse, I finally did, ultimately creating two of my favourite manicures to date (I’ll let you guess, but given my propensity for creepy theme park rides, you already know it’s this one and this one) and surprising myself with some improved detail work I’m not the least bit ashamed of.

I also really loved the opportunity to think outside the Disney box and find challenge-appropriate sub-themes, be they book, movie, character, ride or attraction, that weren’t the most obvious of choices. Sure, there’s nails inspired by Elsa’s gotta-be-everywhere-by-now coronation dress, but there’s also a manicure inspired by a 1954 storybook and a geodesic sphere and an in-the-dark roller coaster! Simply aiming for the unexpected opened up a whole new world of fun possibilities, and kept me coming back with a new manicure every day with pleasure, instead of viewing it as a bit of a creative burden.

I’ll wrap up this wrap-up (in the publishing biz they call it a post-mortem) by taking a look back at a gallery of nine of my favourite designs from the past 31 days. But for a couple of duds (Frankenweenie), I loved nearly every mani I did over the past 31 days, with these nine emerging as my most favouritest. I hope you like them, too. 🙂

Disney Eats (31DC2014)

Disney EatsSo here we are, friends, at the very bitter – or should I say sweet? – end of the 31 Day Nail Art Challenge. I’m proud to say that unlike my last stint at the month-long challenge rodeo, I actually kept pace with the daily themes, falling behind only for a couple of days right at the very end (“inspired by a pattern” made me very grumpy, and I wasn’t too fond of the fashion prompt either, although I really like the manicures they eventually inspired.)

For the final day’s theme of nails inspired by the work of another nail artist, I decided to put the candy back in Finger Candy with a frosted and sprinkled manicure that I admired just yesterday on Instagram from Karen G. Nails. I love the fresh, candy-coated look of her manicure, although I chose to mix it up with some black touches myself and, of course, a sticky, drippy Mickey head ice cream bar.

Just Thought I’d Drop By (31DC2014)

Tower of TerrorLike any good theme park nerd drawn to the darker side of Disney, my second favourite ride behind the Haunted Mansion is, of course, the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. The Tower of Terror is a drop-style ride and the type of attraction that typically doesn’t set my bells a-chiming (you go up, you go down, boring, boring, boring), but what I love about the Tower is its exquisitely creepy set design and theming. As the story goes, on the evening of October 31st, 1939 “five people stepped through the door of an elevator and into a nightmare,” mysteriously disappearing from the Hollywood Tower Hotel without a trace…but for those persistently frequent corridor hauntings. The hotel, long since abandoned, has reopened its doors – elevator doors included – and “that door is opening once again, and this time, it’s opening for you.” Rod Serling then creeps you out a bit and you stand in a hopefully not-too-long line in a boiler room and then you board a freight elevator straight to the Twilight Zone, and it’s all awesome. The ride itself is actually pretty cool – it’s randomized, so every ride is a little bit different than the one that came before it – but the attention to detail (dusty room keys hanging behind the check-in desk, letters that have fallen off the event board that spell out “EVIL TOWER U R DOOMED,” ultra eerie jazz music drifting throughout the lobby) is what really sets the Tower of Terror apart from other thrill rides of its ilk. As always, it’s the journey, not the destination.

For these nails inspired by the Tower and day 29’s theme of supernatural in the 31 Day Nail Art Challenge, I very carefully painted a version of the hotel’s flickering sign over top of its lightning-blasted facade, an effect I achieved by using the cling wrap technique and painting on a few ultra fine “cracked stucco” lines. Much like the Haunted Mansion portrait nails I did yesterday, I’m hella proud of the detail work I did on this manicure, even if my teeny nails couldn’t quite accommodate the whole of the hotel’s sign (which is based on the Tower’s Florida facade, a far superior building to its sister rides in California, Tokyo and Paris. Just my totally biased opinion!)

Disney Girl Challenge: Foolish Mortals (31DC2014)

Foolish Mortals 2When hinges creak in doorless chambers and strange and frightening sounds echo through the halls…you’re probably in the Haunted Mansion, because normal houses just shouldn’t do that.

I’ve talked a lot – some may say excessively – about the Haunted Mansion on this blog. It’s my favouritest place in the world, and when I’m feeling all crappy and burnt out on life, I listen to the Mansion’s score or watch on-Doom Buggy YouTube videos and I suddenly don’t feel so bad. And yes, I understand what an odd reaction that is to a theme park ride, but in the parlance of another Disney character, it’s my happy place, my happy thought. One of these days my husband and I will actually get off our butts and take that anniversary holiday we’ve been putting off for no good reason at all and we’ll ride the Haunted Mansion 13 times in a row, because I have ALWAYS wanted to do that. I’m convinced that something magical is going to happen on the 13th run (most likely I’ll pass out from having spent the day inhaling particulate ghost dust.)

Anyhow, when I saw that yesterday’s prompt in the 31 Day Nail Art Challenge called for a manicure inspired by artwork, I immediately thought of the portraits in the Haunted Mansion’s Stretching Room, an idea I have been meaning to put into lacquered action for ages now, but for the fact that I’m really quite crap at teeny tiny detail work. But I got some new detail brushes recently, and they’ve made detail work, even in my clumsy hands, a great deal easier, and so it was finally time to tackle at least one of the Haunted Mansion’s portrait people.

This manicure is inspired by the painting of a beautiful young woman in a purple flowered dress clutching a parasol that lines one wall of the room. When you enter the room, she looks down on you with calm eyes from the shade of her parasol, but then as the room “stretches” and the bottom half of the painting comes into view, you see our lovely young lady is actually in quite a precarious position, balancing on a frayed, slim tightrope while a hungry alligator snaps at her from below. And yet somehow she maintains her cool, which is remarkable given that she and her Stretching Room compatriots have been doing their thing at the Magic Kingdom since 1971.

One small administrative note: This manicure counts towards my ongoing (and casual) Disney Girl Challenge in which I’m attempting to capture in tiny polished form all the ladies of the Disneyverse, be they good, bad, animated or, in this case, inanimate. Parasol Gator Girl meets my highly precise criteria in that she’s both a Disney creation and a girl, and so this mani stays!Foolish Mortals 1

Sunset Over Disney (31DC2014)

Sunset Over DisneyToday’s theme in the 31 Day Nail Art Challenge is all about flags. I don’t actually know if Disney has an official flag (surely Lake Buena Vista, the Disney-created municipal entity in central Florida, has a flag, but I’d like to keep it a little closer to the parks than that. Although – trivia alert! – Lake Buena Vista was incorporated pretty much solely to facilitate the creation of Disney World, and so if anything is related to the theme parks themselves, it would be Lake Buena Vista’s flag. The things you learn in a day, right?!)

But wanting to keep it a little less bureaucratic than that, I chose instead to draw inspiration from a favourite Disney scene, namely the gorgeous sight of the sun slipping below the horizon as the silhouette of Cinderella’s Castle stands in the foreground, its rooftop flags fluttering gently in the breeze. Heavens, that was overly poetic. Can you tell that someone – as in me-one – could really use a Disney holiday?

A small note: My top coat has begun bubbling like a cauldron. Time to replace the sticky old fella (ooh, how dirty!)

A Pattern of Behaviour (31DC2014)

Mickey PatternDay 26’s theme in the 31 Day Nail Art Challenge called for nails inspired by a pattern. There are a near-limitless number of patterns in the Disneyverse, 6,527 of them belonging to Elsa and Anna’s winter wardrobes alone, so where to start? Well, like most good things, at home. In my case, it was as easy as reaching into my bedside table and pulling out my journal, a matte black leather bound book covered in embossed Mickey heads. The interlocking Mickeys certainly qualify as a pattern, and one fairly easily achieved through a few freehanded Mickey heads in a black textured polish, Nails Inc.’s Leather Effect in Noho, over top of a simple matte black base. The tone-on-tone colour scheme can obscure the fun details in this mani at some angles and in certain kinds of light (usually only when I’m trying to take a photo to share on this blog, but isn’t that always the case?), but the switch-up in textures shines through, flashing glimpses of nearly hidden Mickeys in this more-sophisticated-than-usual Disney nail art design.Mickey Pattern Book

Disneybound (31DC2014)

032A couple of busy days has led to this Disney-fried blogger neglecting her 31 Day Nail Art Challenge duties (and also doing creepy things like speaking about herself in the third person.) Going into this challenge and my why-exactly-did-I-do-this Disney sub-challenge, I thought there was no way I’d ever run out of ideas inspired by the House of Mouse. And I haven’t, although I’m starting to feel ever so slightly burnt out on Disney-centric manicures. I want to be where the people are! There must be more than this provincial life! Oh, crap…

But then, seeking help with the 31 Day Challenge’s theme of inspired-by-fashion, I popped over to Tumblr blog Disneybound and saw that there’s still so much inspirational Disney out there, from theme park rides to animated characters to iconic food items, that I could keep doing this until Clarabelle the Cow and all of her friends come home. And best of all, I found the subject of my fashionable manicure in Disneybound itself.

Have you heard of Disneybound? If not, get prepared to lose the next two hours of your life. Disneybound is a blog that focuses on DIY, everyday Disney fashion for the lady or gentleman who likes a dash of faith, trust and pixie dust in their theme park wear. With the exception of a few days around Halloween when the parks roll out their pumpkin-coloured carpets, Disney has a strict policy forbidding costumes in the parks (little kids are exempt, if all of the wee Elsas and Annas running around are any indication.) So Disneybound provides a nice little workaround for the fashionista who would like to spend her day at the Magic Kingdom garbed like The Little Mermaid, but doesn’t necessarily want to do it in a floor length fishtail gown or run afoul of Disney’s no-costumes policy. So maybe our Little Mermaid wears a pair of mint green skinny jeans and a purple tank top, a crab-shaped purse slung across her body and a fish-shaped pendant hanging from her neck. THAT’S Disneybounding – easily achievable, everyday-and-more outfits touched with Disney whimsy.

So for the theme of fashion in the 31 Day Nail Art Challenge, I drew inspiration from Disneybound, both its logo AND its fashion philosophy, creating a Snow White-inspired look out of a number of disparate elements. I don’t own a red, white and blue glitter topper, so I widgeted one together out of a couple of different polishes I already own, layering that over a sunny yellow befitting Snow’s gorgeous dress (girlfriend really gets the best colour palette – but that’s what happens when you’re the first princess.) Then I added a small acrylic bow to my ring finger, which started out life neon orange until, in the very best Disneybound tradition, I painted over it to look like Snow’s iconic red bow. Et voila, Disney-tinged, not-too-obvious nails for the fashion-forward Disneyphile who wants to keep it Disneybound fashionable and fun.

Chipmunk Painters (31DC2014)

Chipmunk PaintersDay 25’s theme in the 31 Day Nail Art Challenge called for nails that draw inspiration from a book. A favourite Disney book, my husband actually had to remind me, and one that always seemed to be kicking around my grandparents’ house was 1954’s Donald Duck and Chip ‘n’ Dale, in which Donald hires Chip and Dale to paint his house, which goes about as well as you’d expect given that they’re chipmunks. They paint with their tails and splash colours around like it’s a CSI crime scene, and when Donald gets home he predictably goes mental, which isn’t really fair since, dude, I cannot be emphatic enough on the point that you hired chipmunks to repaint your house. You get what you pay for is what I’m saying.

The Fox and the H-H-Hound (31DC2014)

The Fox and the HoundFor day 23’s theme of nails inspired by a movie in the 31 Day Nail Art Challenge, I quite inexplicably decided to tackle a manicure honouring Disney’s 1981 animated movie, The Fox and the Hound. I say inexplicably because with the exception of one aborted viewing at the theatre when I was three years old, I’ve never seen it. Because it is the worst movie ever made, a too-soon lesson in the everyday cruelties this world has to offer, steeped in the soul crushing heartbreak that is the hallmark of Disney’s earliest animated efforts (Bambi, Dumbo, Old Yeller – you know, the whole “ALL THE MOMS AND BELOVED PETS MUST DIE!” thing.) It is family legend, actually, the afternoon my parents took me to see The Fox and the Hound, only to quickly take me out of The Fox and the Hound, little chest hitching, tears streaming down my freckled face as I bellowed “Wuh-wuh-WHY CAN’T THEY BE FRIENDS?!?” at the top of my lungs. It is such an un-favourite, actually, that years later in high school when my baby-sitting charges asked if we could watch a VHS copy of the movie, I had to find an immediate and super creative reason why we couldn’t (“Oh look, all the tape has inexplicably fallen out and puddled all over the floor – weird”) lest they use my inevitable tears as leverage against me.

So you may be asking yourself why I would create such a manicure given my overwhelmingly negative feelings about the movie. It’s an excellent question, actually, one I’ve asked myself on more than a few occasions this evening, but the basic answer is DISNEY. I’m up to my eyeballs in allllll the Disney as I paint my way through this September’s 31 Day Nail Art Challenge, and sobby feelings aside, it’s a Disney movie AND one I’ve got some legendary stories about, so it stays! But you can’t make me watch The Fox and the Hound ever again – YOU CAN’T. MAKE. ME! I’ll just get exceptionally weepy, and nobody needs that. 🙂

My, What a Guy! (31DC2014)

Gaston!I’m still neck-deep in Disney manicures as the 31 Day Nail Art Challenge enters its fourth and final week. Yesterday’s theme was “inspired by a song,” which posed a bit of a conundrum for yours truly, as there’s a long list of songs in the Disney canon, from classic musical numbers to movie scores to the steel drum-tinged tunes that play in and around the parks, that set my feet a tappin’.

But I do have a favourite Disney ditty, and I suspect it’s one a lot of people like, because no matter the form – stage, screen, blasting through your headphones – it’s a real showstopper and a true Disney classic. So what song am I speaking of? Why, the Gaston song, of course (simply and creatively titled “Gaston”), that drunken, rollicking ode to the Beauty and the Beast villain and some of his more Neanderthal-esque qualities. Gaston’s a real nasty piece of work, the town bully and an abusive, misogynistic ass whose behaviour is only just barely tolerated because he’s got purty, purty blue eyes and a swell cleft in his chin. He’s doted on by his toadie, a snivelling little jerk named LeFou, and lusted after by three of the local tavern wenches, star-eyed girls with heaving bosoms who collapse at his feet when he deigns to throw them a glance, yet positively reviled by Belle, the adventurous bookworm who turns his grotesque proposal down FLAT (good girl.) That, of course, irks him to no end, so when Belle ventures off and falls in love with the Beast, as one is wont to do, he does the thing any heartbroken guy would and has her father committed to an insane asylum before declaring war on the Beast’s castle and its occupants. That plan actually doesn’t work out so well for Gaston, a man who freely admits to difficulties with thinking, and – SPOILER ALERT! – after a rain-soaked battle with the Beast, during which he plays cheap and stabs the Beast in the back when he isn’t looking, he falls into a gorge and presumably dies. I mean, we can hope. Because nobody needs a direct-to-video “Beauty and the Beast 2: Gaston’s Revenge: The Body Hair and Antlers Edition.” They just don’t.

So Gaston might be an epic jerk, but his song is a delight. In the film and stage versions of Beauty and the Beast, Gaston’s ditty is performed by a tavern-full of drunken villagers who quite literally sing his praises, either because they really like him (LeFou) or because they’re too afraid not to like him (pretty well everybody else.) In between chugging sudsy steins of brew and leaping around the tavern, Gaston’s mates enumerate all of the ways they admire and are in awe of him, from his tree trunk-sized neck, to the dozens of eggs he consumes every morning to maintain his barge-like stature, to the antlers he uses in all of his DE-CO-RATING! It’s such a fun song befitting a much nicer, kinder, less douchey character, but we take what we can get, right?

For these nails I tried to capture some of the “qualities” that make Gaston the primeval jerk we all know and hate, from his red and yellow tunic, to the dandy little bow he wears while wooing Belle, to – my favourite – his ultra plentiful, super crispy chest hair. Gotta love a dude with hairy man-cleave, right? My, what a guy, Gaston.