Monotonous Monochrome

Holo HandSo it seems there’s a reason I don’t do this type of monochrome colouring very often, and that’s because it’s a look I don’t really like! Holographic polishes in particular (the type of finish specified by the Instagram challenge for which I did these nails) fare rather poorly, their beautiful little rainbows blending together and muddling an otherwise lovely design. Plus I’ve just realized I don’t particularly like one of the polishes I used here, Glam Polish’s dusky flamingo pink, Hey Mama (the other being Cirque’s cherry pink Powwow) – it’s not the most flattering of shades against my pale pink hide. Did I also mention I’m super sick at the moment and feeling quite contrary? No?! WELL, I AM! Okay, no, sorry, I didn’t mean that – it’s the non-stop coughing and sore ribs talking.

But I still don’t like this mani. Mono, D’OH!Holo Bottle

Get Sprunged

Lullaby HandThat would be a directive I’m sending out to yesterday’s first day of Spring: You’ve sprunged. Or you were supposed to have sprung. Yesterday. You know, yesterday when it was crapping icy precipitation all over my city in frighteningly frosty minus temperatures? Yeah, that Spring. The same one that also failed to materialize today (-20?!) So it’d be super swell, Spring, if you could work some magic and just do your thing already, because I’m well and truly done with this winter nonsense.

To hasten along the springing, I came up with this sweet pastel mani that features two of my favourite polishes, Pure Ice’s grape soda-hued Playful Purple and CND’s Vinylux holo shimmer in Dazzling Dance, and a not-so-favourite, Cirque’s pastel glitter topper in Lullaby. I say “not-so-favourite,” because for everything that Lullaby has going for it – a perfectly pale mix of hexes, squares and stars in a fine eggshell finish, and all of it in that flawless Cirque formulation – it somehow looks good next to absolutely NOTHING. I’ve layered Lullaby over quite a few different colours (black, turquoise, cherry pink, lilac, green and now purple), but no matter the pairing, the soft, delicate little bits of glitter almost seem to absorb the base colour, blending into the background in a way that runs at complete cross purposes to its function as a glitter topper. Layered over white it pretty well disappears altogether.

I think Lullaby has fared pretty well here over a mid-toned purple, particularly one boosted by a bit of pink shimmer (Dazzling Dance working its purpley-blue magic, which reads as hot pink when you layer it over purple!) That should buy it a bit of a reprieve from being sent off to a better, more loving (or at least less judgmental) home.Lullaby Bottle

Clover Candy

Clover Candy HandI’m coming at you with multiple posts today (bandaged such as they are) because as it turns out, while I may not be down for a big, rowdy evening of debautched Irishing, I *am* rather fond of St. Patrick’s Day-themed nail art. That combined with the fact that I own approximately 20 green polishes (a rather surprising discovery; I’d never call green my favourite anything) means I’m more than equipped to handle multiple manis in honour of, and inspired by, St. Paddy’s Day.

For this manicure, I went with a Lucky Charms-type look by pairing Cirque’s clover-hued holo, Panacea, with Candy Lacquer’s pastel matte glitter bomb, Carnival Games. I’ve often referred to one of Carnival Games’ sisters, Fairyland, as “Lucky Charms in a bottle,” but with its super summery mix of matte glitters in every shape, size and colour (no hearts and clovers, but there are stars and circles, donuts and triangles) Carnival Games is pure, crusty marshmallow goodness in a bottle. 🙂Clover Candy Collage

And just look at this combination in gigantic, macro-sized close-up! Beautiful (plus I’m finally getting the hang of the macro lenses my husband gave me for Christmas, huzzah!)Clover Candy Macro

Da Blob

Blobby HandThis is a nail art animal called a blobbicure. As you might expect, I hate the stupid name, love the cute effect. My thumb looks like it’s sporting jellybeans!

Like its cousin the dotticure (also ugh), the blobbicure is ultra easy, perhaps more so, because you don’t need any special equipment such as a dotting tool, only the brush that comes with your bottle of polish. Simply lay down a couple of coats of a base polish and then, choosing a different colour (or colours), wipe off most of the polish on the brush and then dab it onto your nails in random bits and bobs (or blobs), making sure each blob has its own space and isn’t touching its neighbour. This is a real anything-goes kind of technique – your blobs can be large or small, perfectly round or imperfectly irregular, and any combination of colours. I’m afraid I can’t be any more precise than that, because this just isn’t that precise a technique! The only tip I’d offer is to really wipe the polish off your brush before getting blobby with it. You’re aiming for blobs here, not bumps.

I did this manicure at the behest of an Instagram challenge that called for a blobbicure in a holographic finish. Here I chose to layer four Cirque holos – green Panacea, blue Sky Woman, pink Powwow and gold Chyrsopoeia – over two coats of KB Shimmer’s ultra pale nude, In Bare Form. The blobs themselves give these nails a kind of pebbled footpath-type look, although the mix of rainbow shades, particularly on my thumb, is pure jellybean (although when’s the last time I looked at a manicure and didn’t see some type of food?)

Bits and Pieces, Blood and Guts

Halloween Collage WatermarkedOh, it’s the MOST won-der-ful time of the year! Lots of fun stuff going on in the world of nail polish this month as the indies and commercials alike get their spook on and flood the market with their Halloween-themed collections. I have somehow remained immune (some of the indie collections I like are only available from overseas stocklists with exorbitant shipping rates, and there’s only so many years you can buy the same glow-in-the-dark topper, so the decision was not a difficult one) but these two polishes from China Glaze’s Apocalypse of Color collection spoke to me, because they’re ever so purty and just a tiny bit different from the usual Halloween offerings, with lots of usefulness beyond the upcoming ghosting season.

First we have the glitter topper of the collection, Rest in Pieces. It’s a fun, festive assortment of copper, black and holographic hex and bar glitter. You will not like this polish one bit if you’re not a fan of bar glitter (like visible nail lines, bar glitter is a divisive topic in certain well manicured circles), although I really love the visual interest it adds to this mix-and-match mani. Here I layered two light coats of Rest in Pieces over Cirque’s grass green Panacea and OPI’s frosted brown Warm Me Up for a pretty and glittery fall design.Rest in Pieces

The other polish that looked like something a little out of the box (in the spirit of Halloween and all things creepy, I can’t let this opportunity go without making an “Awwwww, what’s in the box?!?” joke) is Don’t Let the Dead Bite, a sheer pink polish studded with dark rose glitter. I’ve seen this polish described on other blogs as red glitter in a sheer nude base, and one blogger said the overall effect was like blood spatter (ew), but I’m getting a definite red rose and entrails vibe off Don’t Let the Dead Bite (bigger ew.) Not to say I don’t like the entrailey effect – I actually like it quite a bit. It’s super soft and pretty and extremely flattering on paler skin tones like mine, and it does that thing I love where it looks as though the hex and teeny tiny bar glitter is hanging suspended in the polish. Here I simply painted on three coats of Don’t Let the Dead Bite for a delicate, jelly sandwich-type effect.Don't Let the Dead Bite

Pink Frosted Donut: A Then and Now Post

Pink Sprinkled DonutOne of my earliest nail art designs was Cirque’s rainbow-hued Kaleidoscope glitter topper over one coat of Nails Inc.’s Notting Hill Gate, a sheer, hot pink jelly polish (see below.) It made for a super cute mani, like those yummy-looking pink frosted donuts that only exist on The Simpsons, but my execution was ever so slightly off – the base polish was too sheer (oh, the horrors of visible nail lines!) and my nail care game was still pretty well non-existent (here’s a nail art truth for you, gang – taking care of your mini canvasses makes everything that comes after it about a million times easier. It’s very much like having a clean desk or a tidy workspace in that you can concentrate on your work because you’re not being distracted by all the mess heaped about your feet. Plus it just looks better!)

So with those lessons in mind, I decided to dip my fingers into the frosting once again and recreate that fun, sprinkled donut design, only this time with the benefit of hindsight and some appreciably improved skills. The end result? A manicure that’s really not so different from its predecessor in terms of design, but noticeably different in the important areas of execution and overall effect. Gone are the dreaded visible nail lines that came about as a result of using but one coat of the jelly polish (I actually don’t have a problem with them, but some lacqueristas RAGE when confronted with VNLs, as they’re sometimes called), the result of swapping out Notting Hill Gate for Fingers Paints’ Louvre This Pink, a sheer-ish, yet still opaque, raspberry creme that offers great coverage and frosting-like shine in two coats. Gone as well is the poor lighting and the inexplicably skewed framing, although those are issues I’d file under photography skills – not the best, but also getting encouragingly better – as opposed to nail art technique. Most importantly, though, this slightly updated manicure shows off the clean simplicity of tidy, nicely polished nails (even if those nails are sprinkled with an inch of rainbow glitter), a skill – yes, here in the nail art world it’s a skill – that has proven its worth time and time again.

One ought not judge a book by its cover, but in so many facets of life – nail art included – presentation is key. So try to keep your work clean, tidy up after yourself and look for those simple, easily achievable little ways you can update old manis to create new favourites that highlight your improved skills and breathe fresh life into designs whose only sins were being created at a time when your nail art game weren’t all that. To experience and progress – and those are sentiments I think we can all raise our pink-sprinkled donuts to.Jelly Donut

Grass Clippings

Panacea BottleThis polish is totally lawn in a bottle, right?! I purchased this shimmer-flecked holo, Cirque’s Panacea, after admiring a number of swatches that showed it as a bright, citrusy, rainbow-throwing beauty. But when I got my bottle, the colour seemed far too golden to be flattering against my pink paleness, and the holo effect was virtually non-existent. More like bummer in a bottle.

Fortunately, though, Panacea is one of those polishes that’s a bit of a Monet, as the great Cher Horowitz might remark – at a distance it’s all right, but up close it’s a big old mess. I can’t explain the kind of beauty-dampening effect that takes place with this polish when it’s in the bottle, but paint on a few coats and give it a bit of space to play in the sun, and suddenly it’s a gorgeous grass green holo packed with light-reflecting golden shimmer. Now that’s the Panacea I love, and yet another lesson in not judging a book by its cover.Panacea FullPanacea Lights

400th Post Retrospective

400th PostIn about a month this blog will be celebrating its first year of existence. At the same time I’ll be marking a personal milestone, pouring one out for myself in celebration of one year of close-to-daily writing, blogging and nail art pursuits. I danced recreationally for close to 20 years, half of that time with the same company, so I understand what it means to stick with something for the long haul. But I’m still sort of amazed and, quite frankly, impressed when I contemplate the 400 some-odd manis I’ve done over the past 365 days, to say nothing of the written words that have flowed there from. Where did I find the inspiration to do that many manicures? Or more accurately, where did I find the time to paint my nails that many times? And how could I possibly have had that much to say about nail art?

While providing no real answers to those questions, this post, my 400th, bears out my obsessive/casual approach to writing, blogging and nail art and how the three have come together to form a most enjoyable pursuit that’s just structured enough to keep me engaged and on task, while still allowing me the freedom to float around in more creative spheres. I’m lucky enough to have found that perfect mix of “I should do this” and “I want to do this” that has brought me to this 400th post, so maybe I shouldn’t question it so much and just go with the (nail polish) flow? Sounds like a non-plan. Here’s to the next 400!

For these festive nails celebrating my blog’s quadricentennial post, I topped two coats of Cirque’s marigold-hued Chyrsopoeia with one coat of Nails Inc.’s Graffiti in Old Street.

If At First You Don’t Succeed

Matte Lullaby…try it four more times! That’s what I call determination in making a nail polish work, friends.

A bit of back story. I bought the glitter polish I used in this matte gradient manicure, Cirque’s Lullaby, after lusting after it for the better part of a year. I never purchased it because I questioned how much utility I’d get out of such a pale polish. And as it turns out, my fears were indeed nearly entirely founded, because swatching Lullaby has been something of a satin pastel nightmare.

First I tried it over white. So pretty and delicate in real life, uncaptureable on camera. The problem with standard white as a base (actually, not so standard; for this mani I used one coat of Lullaby over a blue-on-white gradient using a couple of Model’s Own scented polishes, although you’d never know it) is the polish’s little white stars get lost against the background. And with its satin finish glitter, Lullaby tends to almost sink into the base polish, the soft glitter colours blending into one another.White Lullaby

Then I tried it over holographic pink. That was also a big ol’ negative, as the pink blindingly outshone the glitter, and Lullaby once again seemingly merged with its background polish.Pink Lullaby

Then, thinking that this was absolutely the last time I was going to be swatching this polish, I tried it over a pale, ethereal lilac. That effort was so positively ugly and useless, I didn’t even bother taking a photo. Finally, as a last ditch effort, I thought that maybe the problem was the polishes I was choosing were too pale and the top coat too shiny, and so I tried one coat of Lullaby over a watery blue-on-violet gradient, topping the whole thing off with a light-dulling top coat, Essie’s Matte About You. The result was my best effort involving Lullaby, with a just dark and smooth enough background to really let the glitter shine. A bit of a laboured effort for one polish that unfortunately didn’t quite live up to the myth I had created for it in my head, as pretty as it looks bubbling along on my nails. 😦Matte Lullaby Full

Holiday Road

Holiday Road 1My favourite National Lampoon’s Vacation movie is Christmas Vacation, but I have fond memories of watching the Griswold family navigate their giant, wood-panelled station wagon across the California desert in the original movie on their way to vacation hotspot Walley World, which is, regrettably for the Griswolds – spoiler alert! – closed. Clark has a not-too-surprising breakdown and storms the gates of the theme park, taking a random maintenance worker hostage and pressing him into not-totally-unwilling action in getting the dormant rides up and running. The family is very nearly arrested (when are they not?), and there’s a fantastic scene somewhere in there where Clark and his son, Rusty, run in delirious slo-mo towards the gates of the park as Chariots of Fire plays in the background. In the end they all learn the value of love and family and return to Chicago with surprisingly few criminal convictions.

I always thought the cherry on the crap sundae was the colour of the Griswold family station wagon, which Clark describes as “Electric Pea” (“Electric Pee” would also be quite apt.) That’s the first thought I had upon swiping on a few coats of this new green Cirque polish, Panacea, which looks every bit like the detailing work on the Griswold family boat. For these nails, I attempted to capture some of the highlights of the Electric Peamobile, including its decorative wooden side panels and square, no nonsense profile. You’ve got the right nails now, so jump on in and hit that Holiday Road! Just remember to check the Walley World schedule before you leave.Holiday Road 2