My Top 16 Nail Art Designs of 2016

best-16-of-2016-collage

Closing out another year of intensely fussy nail art with a look back at the 16 designs that ruled my 2016. Highlights this year include a growing mastery of the water marbling technique (if not the ability to get any two of my nails to look the same), a begrudging acceptance of once-hated charms, studs and other dangly bits, a more than passing acquaintance with tiny, free-handed designs and an absolute ton of lettering, both on my nails and on the page, one of many fun little tangential offshoots of this nail art business.

In nearly all respects, 2016 has been a miserable year, more like a deeply unpleasant dream than actual reality. But that warm, tiny little fissure of joy I get from a nail art job well done?  That’s real, and cherished – a bright spot amidst the gloom, and one I’d like to share with you.  I hope you enjoy this look back at some of my better efforts. 🙂

Miss Argentina, the droll, seen-it-all receptionist who mans the check-in desk in the Waiting Room of the Dead in the movie Beetlejuice.

Miss Argentina Hand

Custard Waffle Cone, With Sprinkles.  Yummy.

Dollish Polish's Get Your Sprinkle On!: Funfetti Frozen Custard

Beetlejuice.  This manicure is my favourite of the year; I think I really nailed the lettering. A more than fitting tribute for a beloved movie.

beetlejuice-fingers

Suicide Squad, a movie that had a lot of (Hot Topic-infused) style and not much substance.

Suicide Squad 1 Hand

Sandra’s Midnight Garden, because sometimes you just want pretty, pretty nails.

Secret Midnight Garden Fingers

Butterfly Garden, for when you’re in the mood to infuriate yourself with glitter placement.  Also, see above re: pretty.

Butterflies in the Sun

Sandra’s Fabrics.  Here’s another post with my name in the title, this time a play on the name of textile purveyor Jo-Ann’s Fabrics.

sandras-fabrics-side

Saturberries.  Because this is a strawberry manicure and I did it on a Saturday.  Sometimes it’s really just that silly!

Succulent Strawberries Shade

Super Mario Bros.  Boing, boing!

Super Mario 1

Floral Fingers.  The absolute height of 3D embellishment madness.

Floral Fingers 1

Fruity Fingers.  Although there is an awful lot of stuff on these nails, is there not?

Fruity Fingers Shade

What a Gem.  Although these nails are nothing BUT gorgeous little gemstone nail charms atop a smokin’ hot polish, so clearly I have no idea what I’m talking about!

What a Gem 1

The Division.  For my gamer husband, who is approaching 1,000 hours of playable game time.  It’s a sickness.

The Division Hand

Blurryface.  Twenty One Pilots was the non-stop soundtrack to my 2016.

twenty one pilots hand

Saturday Night Sushi.  Another lotsa-stuff-on-my-nails mani painted on a Saturday night.  Those microbeads were a nightmare to corral.

Sushi Hand

Dory.  I like this nail art more than I liked the actual movie.  Pixar, you be slacking lately.

Dory Hand

In the Year 2015

Best Nail Art of the Year Collage

If 2015 was the year my nail polish collection went from manageable to the edge of some TLC special, it was also the year my nail art abilities went from pretty good to damn, girl, I’m impressed!  Somewhere around the mid-point of the year things just sort of clicked with me – outlining, shadowing and other bits of arty realism started creeping in, taking my work, I thought, from your standard nail art to something a little more special. But then again, I’m obviously totally biased, so grain of salt and all that, yeah?

I had initially thought to limit my 2015 best-ofs to a standard 12 or even 20, but what with being so impressed with myself and all, I thought I’d aim for a solid 25.  Also, 25 photos look nicer in a collage than 20.  Should you wish to check out the original posts that went along with these manicures, simply click on the highlighted title of each post.  Enjoy, and thank you, as always, for your interest in this blog and your even kinder words of encouragement – it is a delight to nail-art with you. 🙂

Best Collage Row 1

Cranberry Jelly: Cranberry sauce just ain’t cranberry sauce without the can ring indentations, even on your nails. This is my favourite manicure of the year.

Just Desserts: A 1950s colour palette meets polka dots and Jadeite in this manicure that makes excellent use of those little Fimo pieces I can’t ever think of a use for.

Disney Girl Challenge: Ariel (Again): An update to an earlier Little Mermaid design, I love this fun and playful Disney mani.

A Little Bit of This, a Little Bit of That: Gold, turquoise, black, nude and purple combine in this posh, every-nail-for-itself-type manicure.

A Rip in the Very Fabric of Time: Supernatural nails inspired by the novella The Langoliers by one Mr. Stephen King.

Best Collage Row 2

Indelible Love: Wear your love right on your fingertips with this tattoo-style manicure.

Mumu Memories: When I was a kid my aunt brought a turquoise, hibiscus-printed mumu back from Hawaii for me as a gift. I wore it as pyjamas until I graduated from university, at which point it sort of just disintegrated. This lush, tropical mani bears nearly the exact same print as my beloved PJs.

Drop on In: The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror was the inspiration for this dark and Disney-fied mani.

Let’s Turn on the Juice and See What Shakes Loose: Because there can NEVER be too much Beetlejuice.

Pudgicorn!: Unicorns are always presented as these sleek, slim and endlessly regal creatures. But what about the unicorn with a weight problem, like chubby little Trevor here? Doesn’t he deserve his own nail art? Well, of course he does!

Best Collage Row 3

Kitten Belly!: Whimsical Ideas by Pam’s brown glitter, Just Add Milk, makes its first of two appearances on this list in this manicure inspired by my cat Weegie’s fluffy belly.

Halloween Town: Another second-attempt mani, this time a highly detailed matte design inspired by Halloween Town from The Nightmare Before Christmas.

One Enchanted Dragon: A simple dotticure made stunning through the use of three different, but co-ordinating, colour-shifting Enchanted polishes.

Home of the World’s Happiest Fish!: Come marvel at Duff Gardens’ fabulous belching fish in the Beerquarium in these Simpsons-inspired nails.

Cookie Party!: Just Add Milk steals the show again in this Cookie Monster-inspired manicure. Coooooo-kiiiiiieeeeee!!!

Best Collage Row 4

Marathon Mani: An unexpected colour combination (glow-in-the-dark baby blue, neon green and peach?) gives this easy dotticure a little hit of something extra special.

The Resourceful Gamer: Mr. Finger Candy asked me to do these nails, inspired by his one-time gaming obsession, Clash of Clans. I chose this manicure as one of my best-ofs because it represents a real turning point in my work; after this, outlining and shading my designs became a MUST.

Attack the Block: I love this manicure so much! Inspired by the aliens from Brit creature feature Attack the Block, who are stark black and featureless save for their gigantic, neon blue fangs, the blue jaws on these nails actually GLOW IN THE DARK. I am the queen of all meta nails, bow down before me!

Cocktail Hour!: Before it became the beauty name we shall not speak, Mentality Polish’s glazes represented some of my most frequently used lacquers, particularly in cocktail-type concoctions like this Blue Lagoon-ish one.

I Shoes You!: Nails inspired by a favourite pair of glittery heels, right down to the texture.

Best Collage Row 5

Nail Sushi: A super detailed, all-over sushi design.

Fashionably Floral: These nails, inspired by a dress from designer Monique Lhuillier, were some of my most popular with you, dear readers.

Disney Girl Challenge: Mabel Pines: Little Miss Mabel has the flyest all-turtleneck wardrobe in all of Gravity Falls.

Adventure Time: The All Princess Edition!: There are over 50 princesses that appear on the cartoon Adventure Time. These are five of the more delicious-sounding ones!

Cinderelly, Cinderelly!: A pimped-out pumpkin, fit for a Disney princess.

2015’s Most Valuable Polishes

Best Polishes of 2015 Collage

** I believe this goes without saying in a year-end round-up post, but this is a picture-heavy post. **

Personally, 2015 was about as distressing a year for me as one could (not) ask for. I shall not be sad to see it go. But in terms of quality nail polish acquisition, well, THAT I had in spades.  Priorities, yeah?  In fact, I began the year by sinking every last cent of my holiday gotten gains into nothing but nail polish and nail polish-related accessories.  Still with the priorities.  Along the way I ran across a couple of “meh”s and one or two outright duds, but the majority of this year’s purchases have proven to be eye-catchingly gorgeous, wonderfully unique and beautifully made.  Could you ask for more?  Well, yes, how about great customer service from the predominately indie manufacturers and stocklists that carry these polishes?  Because they certainly had THAT in spades – friendly, professional and helpful, all.

I had initially thought to limit this list to 12 polishes, but that proved to be an impossibility because…well, just because!  Besides, 16 (plus one dark horse entry right in the last three weeks of the year) look so much nicer all laid out in a pretty collage.  Should you wish to check out the original posts where I swatched these polishes, talked up their lovely attributes and undoubtedly yakked on about my cats and/or The Lost Boys, simply click on the name of the polish below.  All right, let’s get into this thing!

Enchanted Polish’s Entwined.

Entwined

I Love Nail Polish’s Supernova.

Supernova

KB Shimmer’s Rust No One.

Rust No One Bottle

Enchanted Polish’s Magical Mystery Tour.

Magical Mystery

KB Shimmer’s Such a Vlad-Ass.

Vlad Bottle

Candy Lacquer’s Butterfly Candy.

Butterfly Candy Bottle

Dollish Polish’s Get Your Sprinkle On!

Charming

Liquid Sky Lacquer’s Dream.

Dream Bottle

A England’s Crown of Thistles.

A England

Whimsical Ideas by Pam’s Just Add Milk.

Cookie Crop

Candy Lacquer’s Ring Pops.

Ring Pops Bottle

KB Shimmer’s Leaf of Faith.

Be-Leaf Bottle

Enchanted Polish’s Dope Jam.

Dope Jam Bottle Sun

KB Shimmer’s Soul Deep.

SoulDeepBottle

I Love Nail Polish’s Electric Carnival.

Electric Circus

Enchanted Polish’s Freeze Machine.

Freeze Machine Bottle

And one to grow on, that last minute entry, Color Club’s Crystal Baller.

Crystal baller.jpg

Favourites of 2014

Faves of the Year Collage WatermarkedPersonal struggles aside (2014 shall hereafter always be known as The No Good, Very Bad, Super Stupid, So Relentlessly-Difficult-it-Practically-Burns Year), 2014 was a pretty fabulous year for nail art. Here, of course, I’m talking about the hundreds of amazing designs I’ve encountered over the past 365 days (the creativity displayed by the larger nail art community is simply staggering), but also my own work, which has seen an appreciable boost in quality, particularly in recent months. I’m wicked proud of about, say, 87 percent of the nail art designs I did this year – the other 13 percent being of the “Whuuuu?” variety – and I’ve really enjoyed the super rewarding experience of watching my technique improve with each and every lacquered brushstroke.

And so on that horn-blowin’ note, I thought I’d share this collage of my nine favourite designs from the past year in the hopes that you also think I’m as cool as I clearly think I am! 😉 But to bring it down all serious styles for a second, really, my most sincere thank you to everyone who has popped by to visit my little lacquered-up corner of the Intersky this year. Your interest, support and kind comments have spurred me on to what I think are bigger and better things, and I look forward to continuing to bore you with endless stories about Disney World, my cats and “the good old days” in 2015. Happy New Year!

If you are interested in checking out the original posts for these manis, please click the links below.

1. How’s That For a Slice of Fried Gold?! – Shaun of the Dead-inspired nails.

2. Diet Coke – nails honouring a friend’s fun aspartame addiction.

3. 999 Happy Haunts – my favourite design of the year, inspired by the damask-style wallpaper that lines the halls of Disney’s Haunted Mansion.

4. Zombie Kitty – Hello Kitty goes walking with the dead in these fun Halloween nails.

5. A Personal Choice – a sweet, creamy-looking gradient topped with my favourite homemade polish, Hawaiian Ham.

6. You Can’t Close the Beaches! – let’s just say the Mayor of Amity really should have closed the beaches.

7. Coral Reef – a super pretty mani featuring every colour and shape of the underwater universe I could squeeze onto my nails!

8. This Split is Bananas – tiny little banana splits with sprinkles! Plus I got to make a B-A-N-A-N-A-S joke.

9. Brrrraaaaaaiiiiinnnnnsssss – pastel zombie nails for the softer side of Halloween.

The A-Team

Without getting too nihilistic on you, friends who come here to see nail art but instead get lured into 1,200-word diatribes on my cats and/or The Lost Boys, 2014 was a bad, bad year. To be sure, there were some lovely, wonderful moments – new babies! an unexpectedly fun road trip! the discovery of Misfits! – but for my family at least, and a distressingly large number of my friends and acquaintances, 2014 was a year defined by loss, grief and hardships great and small. I won’t be sorry to see it go.

Okay, so 2014 sucked. But do you know what didn’t? These nail polishes! Which seems like the ultimate in ridiculous non sequiturs, but really, in a year that’s been as unpleasant as the past one, why shouldn’t we take a moment to appreciate the things that gave us a bit of joy, even those as immaterially material as silly old nail polish? No good reason that I can think of! And so I present to you this photo gallery of the polishes that rocked my world this year, a motley assortment of holos and flakies and industrially chunky glitters that prove that good things – and sometimes good, don’t-hate-the-world feelings – truly do come in small packages. 😉

Sitting atop the heap and not included in this gallery is my pick for polish of the year, Candy Lacquer’s everything-and-the-kitchen-sink glitter, Candy Cane Fiesta. I’ve expounded on its loveliness – some may say at length! – so I’ll say no more before it develops a swelled head.Blue and Green Christmas

The following nine are presented in no particular order or ranking – they’re across-the-board beautiful and so well made, I’ve found uses for them in multiple manis this year, and will continue to well into the new year. Here’s to the little lacquered things!

1. Polish Me Silly’s pink, white and blue glitter topper, Mr. Bubble.Mr. Bubble

2. Smitten Polish’s red shimmer-infused purple jelly, You Saucy Minx.You Saucy Minx

3. KB Shimmer’s Hawaiian Punch-in-a-bottle, Belle of the Mall.Sparkling Strawberry

4. KB Shimmer’s grass green glitter jelly, Get Clover It.Get Clover It

5. Orly’s silver holo of the year, Mirrorball.Mirrorball

6. Dance Legend’s cobalt blue jelly flakie, Sun Still Sleeps.Sun Still Sleeps

7. Candy Lacquer’s super fruity matte glitter, Citrus Smoothie.Citrus Smoothie

8. KB Shimmer’s Frozen-in-a-bottle, Snow Much Fun.Snow Much Fun

9. Polish Me Silly’s pink-to-gold-to-green chrome flakie, Stop Flaking on Me.Stop Flaking on Me

Polish Me Silly’s polishes are available through their Etsy shop. You can find KB Shimmer’s wares through their own site if you’re an American customer, or through Harlow & Co.’s site if you’re an international customer. Smitten Polish’s goods are available through their Big Cartel site, as are Candy Lacquer‘s. Orly polishes are available at brick and mortar Sally Beauty Supply shops, as well as their website. Finally, Dance Legend polishes are best and most reliably acquired through international stocklist Llarowe’s website.