Lucky Charms

Lucky Charm Fingers

Sort of.  At least the all important marshmallow part.

Speaking of, you know you’re getting up there in age when everybody’s favourite Saturday morning cartoon fuel is riddled with shapes of marshmallows that you’ve never laid eyes on before.  Yellow hourglasses?  Red balloons?  Multi-coloured shooting stars?  I half expect a petrified turquoise marshmallow shaped like a cell phone to fall out of the box next.

I love these nails.  They’re so fun and vibrant.  One note, though – trying to nail art over top of deep, saturated colours (like electric jade, here China Glaze’s Four Leaf Clover) is an exercise in futility.  Whatever you layer over top of it will take on a vaguely green tinge, and you’ll find yourself going over and over the same details time and time again in an attempt to hold on to the vibrancy of the polishes.  Don’t do this.  The easiest approach is to rough-in the details first – here the marshmallows – in basic white, and then fill in the coloured details after the fact.  Well, I suppose the easiest approach is to stick to pastel base colours, but where’s the fun in that?  And for the love of all that’s holy, don’t forget the base coat – greens tend to stain like a beast.

Bad Fairy Fire: A Tutorial

Fairy Fire Tutorial Collage

I had a terrific response to these flame-licked nails I posted the other day – really, so many sweet compliments. And seeing as they were ultra easy in addition to popular, I thought I’d share the love AND my technique for how to achieve these fiery nails, this time with a Halloween-leaning bent. I suppose this glittery green fire could be Maleficent’s evil-conjuring fire, but really, one green, bad fairy spell is just like the other, is it not? Let’s get into this!

1. To begin, brush on two coats of a dark, opaque polish. For the more traditional fire nails I did the other day, I used a deep, blood red as the background polish. For these more supernaturally-minded nails, I used OPI’s Do You Have This Color in Stock-holm?, a dark, royal purple.

2.-4. Working quickly and going one nail at a time, brush on a thick coat of your base polish. Then, taking the three polishes you’re going to blend together for the fire effect (the other day it was orange, yellow and a glittery red, whereas here it’s Finger Paints’ neon green Silkscreen Green, Smitten Polish’s glittery green Not Your Mama’s Easter Grass and a basic white creme) dab one atop the other, starting with the neon green, then the white, and finally the glittery green, right at the tips of your nails.

5. While all of the above is still wet, take the fine point of a dotting tool and lightly drag it through the polish from the tips of your nails up towards your cuticles, “licking” out the flames as you go. The beauty of a fire-type design is that there’s really no wrong way to do it – fires are abstract and diffuse by design, so even if you fudge up a little bit, who’s going to know? 🙂

6.-8. Continuing to work one nail at a time, repeat with your remaining nails. I varied up the design a bit on my middle and ring fingers, swirling the flames up towards the centre of my hand, but you can make your flames bend and dance however you wish.

Not shown: Topcoat application and clean-up, but you already do that always, right? Right! 😉 Then in the final analysis you’re left with something like this. Flame on!

Bad Fairy Fire Nails

Frosted Circus Animal Cookies! (31DC2015)

Circus Crackers Hand

Although I still have two more prompts to tackle in the 31 Day Nail Art Challenge, I thought I’d jump ahead to the final day’s theme of honouring nails you love. Well, actually, it’s honOring nails you *heart*, but I’m Canadian, so it’s O-U, and also, I don’t speak emoticon.

The manicure that I love and chose to honour is a simple, but adorable and delicious-looking, sprinkled animal cracker design by Sarah Waite of Chalkboard Nails. It was one of those manicures that when I saw it, I just about whacked myself in the forehead in annoyance – “Oh cripes, why didn’t I think of that?!” I mean, I have painted foodstuffs on my nails hundreds of times now – how did I miss super cute frosted animal crackers? And Sarah did such a fabulous job on them, too – while they may *just* be random dots in a clutch of rainbow brights over a base of frosty pink and white, the dotting work is excellent; very random and natural-looking. I have the aggravating habit in my nail art of wanting things to be perfectly symmetrical, which is just not how things like sprinkles work! So I really admire her “little bit of this, little bit of that” approach to an otherwise pretty basic dotticure – let the sprinkles lie where they may and all that. 🙂

I admire her approach so much, in fact, that eagle-eyed readers may notice that my interpretation of her manicure is no such thing – it’s actually a dot-by-dot recreation of her animal cracker design! I wanted to get a feel for a more randomized approach to dotting work, and the only way to do that was to “trace” her design, a practice I used to employ quite frequently in the early days of my nail art obsession, but less and less over the past two years as I’ve developed my own eye for design.

A quick word about that “tracing”, however. It’s fine to draw major inspiration from another nail artist, or even to just flat out copy somebody else’s design, right down to the colours used – sometimes that’s how people learn how to do something, like me! When I first started nail arting, I’d often find a design I liked on Pinterest or, yes, Chalkboard Nails, call it up on my tablet and then get down to work, copying it brushstroke for brushstroke to the best of my ability. Simply DOING it was the only way I was going to learn, and I wasn’t yet confident enough in my skills to just strike out on my own all willy nilly.

But! I never, ever published those early, copycat manicures in any form, and if I was ever asked, all due credit for the design went to the nail artist in question. It’s just good form. And if you’re going to publish inspired-by or copycat manis to your blog or vlog or Instagram, like these circus cookie nails, it’s best form to link back to the original post and creation. Okay, class, lecture on proper attribution done. 😉

Circus Crackers Fingers

Dripping in Diamonds (31DC2015)

Dripping in Diamonds Sun

Although I created these gorgeous, shimmery nails for day 17’s theme of glitter in the 31 Day Nail Art Challenge, I suppose they’d just as easily work for the upcoming theme of inspired by a song – or two songs, specifically Britney Spears’ I’m a Slave 4 U and Toxic. Remember those glittery nude bodysuits she wore? And the insane round of pearl-clutching her videos set off? WON’T SOMEONE THINK OF THE CHILDREN?! Britney wasn’t ever my favourite, but still, to go back to a simpler time when pop stars would just hint at nudity and not, you know, actually get naked (yes, I’m a total fuddy duddy about that kind of stuff – if you have even an ounce of musical talent, you shouldn’t feel the need to get your tits – and other stuff – out at all hours of the day.) Hmm, although now that I think about it, Britney wore both of those diamond-encrusted nude suits in service of two iconic performances (one stage, one video) – neither was tied to the content of those songs (which, if I recall my Britney correctly, is mostly just a lot of panting, moaning and Auto-Tune.) So I guess we’ll stick with the generic glitter day 17 initially contemplated and leave the music for another day.

These nails were super duper easy, although the glitzy, finished product looks like one of those manis that would cause you to rip out all your hair in frustration. I started by laying down two light coats of Picture Polish’s Cherish, a pale nude creme speckled with holographic shimmer. I then dabbed on a couple of coats of Finger Paints’ Colorful Collage, a silver holographic glitter, right at the base of my cuticles, extending it down ever so slightly in a brushed-on gradient. Then, dolloping out a few dabs of Colorful Collage onto a clean paper towel (you need to get rid of the excess clear base), I picked up the slightly tacky bits of glitter, one at a time, with the pointed end of an orangewood stick before depositing them onto my nails in random, trailing lines. Et voila, dripping diamonds – supposedly a girl’s best friend. 😉

Dripping in Diamonds Bottle

Double Rainbow (31DC2015)

Double Rainbow Bottle

I’m skipping over day eight’s theme of metallics in the 31 Day Nail Art Challenge and heading straight for day nine’s cheery rainbow money shot. I’ve got a bit of nail mail out for delivery that will help me make the most of my metallics next week, but until then, I’m content dabbling in, under or over the rainbow with these fun, sparkly nails instead.

To create this manicure, I brushed on a rainbow’s worth of sheer polishes, one colour after another, blending the edges as I went. I didn’t use any special brush for this, simply the ones that come with the polish and a bit of even-handed patience. Once dry, I applied a second coat of polishes across the rainbow spectrum. Once that was dry, I brushed on two coats of Finger Paints’ super versatile holographic glitter topper, Colorful Collage, before sandwiching it in with a final layer of rainbow jellies. Rainbow on rainbow (or IN rainbow, to be more accurate!)

Double Rainbow Hand

Leadlighting Hello Kitty

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Or at least Kitty’s iconic bow and glasses. Wait, does Kitty even wear glasses? No, I’ve seen her wear glasses. So does her boyfriend, Daniel. And I *may* have just spent a bit too long contemplating the eye wear choices of two cartoon cats!

Leadlighting is the new-to-me nail art technique I tried with these nails. Leadlighting, a relative of stamping, is meant to look like stained glass windows – vibrant, slightly diffuse colours trapped within a decorative “lead” frame. Sheer jelly polishes really prove their worth in leadlighting, too, enhancing and brightening up an overall design without obscuring the stamping work. For these nails, I stamped a bows-and-glasses design from my Hello Kitty image plate (Fab Ur Nails FUN number 9) over top of a basic white creme. After giving that plenty of time to dry (I’ve found that unless you give your stamped design ample dry time, it will smudge and smear, destroying the effect AND your mani) I then filled in the bows with a detail brush dipped in an assortment of rainbow-hued jellies. If you’re at all familiar with cookie flooding or, more simply, colouring in a colouring book, leadlighting works exactly the same way – you create a border of sorts out of the stamped design and then fill it in with your coloured polishes. Really super easy, and very cool.

BS

Sew What?

SewWhat Hand

These sort of geometric, sort of craft fair nails remind me of the pillow I made in seventh grade home ec. At the time I remember being quite proud of my sewing machine-enabled stitching skills, to say nothing of the pink and green colour-blocking design I had chosen, but really, by any objective standards, that pillow was SAD. Sad and ugly and flat. Also pink and green, which is a lovely colour combination in any combination BUT the two hues I chose, which were electric neon kelly green and hot salmon pink. I’m not sure how to explain this lapse in my otherwise generally spot-on colour sense except to say that I was using a lot of hairspray at the time to keep my waterfall bangs in place, so I had probably, you know, poisoned myself.

For these geometric nails with rick rack-type stitch detailing, I painted a rainbow’s worth of pastel hues on each one of my fingers. I then blocked off a random third on each one of my nails first with a co-ordinating creme, and then with a close-to-matching holo (all of the holographic polishes I used here are from Enchanted Polish.) If you’re not confident in your ability to draw a straight line, you can do this part with tape, but don’t be afraid to free-hand it – this is the type of design that looks fine a bit undone. After allowing that to dry for a bit, I then marked on some white stitch-type detailing, covering up the lines of intersection as best I could, and then topped the whole thing with one smoothing coat of Seche Vite. Sew easy!

The Big Flake-Out

Electric Carnival CollageThis simple manicure features one of my favourite high impact, low effort nail art techniques, with a bit of a flakie twist. Here I brushed on two coats of a super high shine black polish before topping it with two coats of ILNP’s chromatic flakie, Electric Carnival, in one strip directly down the centre of each nail. I then topped the whole works with one coat of Seche Vite to enrich the shine and deepen all that gorgeous, colour-shifting flakie goodness. Aaaannnndddd that was it, the end! Dead easy, right? I wish I had more to add, but that’s the beauty of this kind of manicure, so let’s not question it too much, okay?!

I will add that ILNP’s flakies provide full coverage in two coats all on their own, although I prefer pairing them with a dark base in this elongating, less-is-more approach. I also like the way darker polishes offset the colour-shifting flakies, throwing off beautiful chromatic rainbows without being ridiculously over the top. Remember, a good manicure means never having to say, “I’m sorry I blinded you with my nails.”Electric Carnival Fingers

Gilded Peacock Gradient

Gilded Peacock HandYou won’t find any traditional feathers in this peacock-inspired manicure, just blended jelly layers in shades of vibrant aqua, blue and purple, tipped in glittering, gilded gold.

For these deceptively difficult looking nails, I used three shades from Mentality’s Glazing Art Set, aqua, blue and purple, and Orly’s glimmering gold Bling. Starting with the aqua glaze (or jelly, or sheer) I brushed on three thin coats and let them dry. Then, taking the blue glaze and starting just a smidge down into the aqua polish, I brushed on one light coat and let it dry. Taking the blue glaze once again, I then brushed on another light coat, this time starting a smidge down from the last blue layer. I then repeated the last two steps with the purple glaze, working my way down my nails, before edging them with a light, brushed-on coat of Bling. You’re building up a type of gradient here by layering and blending the polishes. When you’re finished, you’ll have one layer of aqua, two layers of blue, two layers of purple and the glittery gold cherry on top. Neat, vibrant and super simple – the very best kind of nail art!Gilded Peacock Fingers

Just Bead It

RaindropsFor week two’s theme of April showers in this month’s N.A.I.L. challenge, I went with a fun little design I’ve been meaning to try for ages now, a super simple dab-on technique I call a “Topcoat raindrops beaded up on the hood of a custom painted Charger”-icure. Yes, that is a VERY specific term, and I don’t expect it to catch on at all, but a nail girl can hope. 🙂 It goes a little something like this:

1. Paint your nails to opacity in any colour you’d like. Finish-wise, I think super high shine, colour-shifting multichromes work best, and really drive (eh?!) home the custom paint job effect we’re going for here. For these nails I used three coats of Polish Me Silly’s indigo-to-plum Holy Shift.

2. Once dry, top with one thin coat of a quick dry, high gloss topcoat like Seche Vite.

3. Once it’s dry, take that same bottle of topcoat and, brushing off almost the fluid, dab it onto your nails in a random raindrop pattern. There needs to be enough topcoat on your brush so that it flows smoothly off the brush and onto your nail, but not so much that it swamps your manicure. You’re looking for beads of water here; it’s a bit of a delicate dance. Thankfully, this is such an easy technique, do-overs are not quite the hair-rending prospect they might be with any other type of manicure.

4. Lay your hands down flat and let dry. And try not to pick! Which you totally will, because I did, even though the little beaded up bits of topcoat are not that intrusive. It’s just second nature to want to eradicate any nail art lumps and bumps. It’s the manicure equivalent of tonguing that little cut on the roof of your mouth – you know you should just leave it alone, let it heal, BUT. YOU. CAN’T!!!

Still, a super fun, lightning fast and mega easy technique that’s sure to impress your more vehicularly-minded friends and requires nothing more than two basic nail art items you undoubtedly already have in your stash. Sweet!Raindrops Bottle