Mega Magpie

Shiny Things Bottle

As in I’m hoping you will make like one and be thoroughly dazzled by the shiny, sparkly things – here Color Club’s mad rainbow-throwing holo wonder, Crystal Baller – so you won’t notice how hopelessly lopsided these chevrons really are.  Yee-ikes!  I don’t know what to tell you, geometry has never been my strong suit, not even in nail art. 😉

Shiny Things Fingers

Just the Two of Us

Peaceful Valentines

Yes, I do wish you a most lovely and peaceful Valentine’s Day, friends, but there’s a far less warm and fuzzy reason for the two-finger V-Day salute – chiefly that the three-year-old nail strips I had intended to use in this manicure, Incoco’s Love is in the Air, were completely dried out and I was lucky to get the two fingers’ worth of mani that I did.  So what’s the lesson we’ve learned this Valentine’s Day, class?  That most beauty products have some wiggle room in terms of their best-by dates, just not years of wiggle.  Use it when you got it, folks – hoarding (or simply forgetting a thing exists) never pays!

Style Over Substance: A MoYou Stamping Plates Review

4MoYouPlates

I purchased these four MoYou London stamping plates from Daily Charme a few months back in a fit of summertime pique – I had been on a tear of complicated, free-handed nail art, and I imagined my first real foray into stamping would lighten the lazy load a bit. I was also looking forward to stretching my stamping legs – it’s a nail art technique I don’t attempt very often. And when the plates are as beautiful as these four, the results are just bound to be gorgeous, right?

Wrong. Allll the wrongs. It began with the Festive Collection plate. It would not transfer any of the designs to two different stampers, with a multitude of polishes. In between frustrated attempts, I tried my gear out with a previously-used stamping plate from another manufacturer and had no problems getting the design to adhere. After taking a closer look at the plate, it appeared as though the engraved design (an absolutely gorgeous allover one, so intricate in its festive detailing) was simply too shallow to allow for proper design transfer.

Festive Plate

I contacted Daily Charme with my concerns, and they were really wonderful – offered me a full refund if I chose, despite the fact that I had already peeled the protective film off two of the plates. But I really didn’t want to choose – I very much wanted to keep the plates, even in a non-functional capacity (I was initially going to frame the Fairytale and Festive Collection plates, a plan it appears I am going to have to once again revisit.) Daily Charme also offered up a number of helpful tips on the technique of stamping itself, which I put into immediate good use, eeking out three whole nails’ worth of designs from three different plates. Already tired of the fuss, that seemed good enough for me.

Earlier this week, though, I got the idea for a kind of decorative tin roof-type manicure, one I thought would be made appreciably easier by stamping on one of the stained glass designs from the Gothic plate. I think you can guess how it went. As in it didn’t. I couldn’t get a single design to adhere to either of my stampers, using four different polishes. It took me half an hour of messy, acetone-splashed frustration to net absolutely nothing. I could have free-handed the design in that amount of time.

Gothic Plate

I don’t know what the ultimate problem is with these MoYou plates – Did Daily Charme receive a terrible, poorly-etched batch? Is that even possible across four different collections? – or even if the problem is indeed the plates. I mean, I suppose it’s possible my stamping skills are completely deficient – other nail artists seem to think MoYou’s offerings are pretty awesome. But at the risk of sounding full of it, I’m not half bad at this nail art stuff, and I’ve had pretty great results with other stamping plates.

And so with Daily Charme’s generously-offered refund surely no longer on the table all these months later, I’m going to have to press these plates into action as decorative items instead. And they’ll look fantastic, of course (gosh, the unicorn-drawn carriage on the Fairytale plate is stupendous) but that’s somewhat besides the point. Ultimately, it’s tremendously irksome to have paid for something that could not carry out its most basic function. I’m lucky in that I’ve found a good secondary use for these plates, but really, why did I need to find a silver lining in the first place? A regrettable experience with style over substance.

Fairytale Plate

Children of the Huh?

Tree Corn Straight

Right, so these nails are…well, I don’t know what these nails are, actually! This manicure started off life as depicting a shrouded path meandering through the woods as the night sky twinkles prettily above – that’s that business going on on my middle two fingers. But owing to my amazingly inexpert tree work, those jagged black silhouettes look more like sinister, broken-off cornstalks, and now we’re back in Stephen King territory again.

Anyhow, I had just finished this wuh? of a manicure and was disappointed that it had turned out nothing like I had intended. And I was actually just about to remove it and start again when I remembered that in one of nail blogging’s weirder little ironies, the manicures I dislike are nearly always the ones that get the biggest, most positive response, so go figure. We’ll see how this one plays out then!

Tree Corn Angled

Whale of a Tale

Stupid Whales

Gather round the old timer, friends, and listen to her spin a yarn as old as the seas themselves about ruined, nautical-themed nail art, misbehaving topcoat and, just to add abject insult to injury, a publishing platform that wishes to do no such thing.

First, this nail art is adorable, right? I am a huge sucker for horizontal stripes, particularly of the blue and navy variety, which match the pyjama pants that I am absolutely not wearing right now at four in the afternoon. I’ve also had these little whale-shaped nail vinyls for a while now, and I wanted to use them before the whale watching season is well and truly finished for the year. Owing to the striping tape and nail vinyls I used to achieve this look, these nails required a longer than usual drying period (polish tends to build up along the edges of tape and vinyls, which promptly gets swept down your nails if you go after it too quickly with your topcoat.) So I sat here all dainty-like for well over half an hour, my fingers fluttering gently off the edge of the coffee table for maximum drying power. Aaaannnnnnd it all went to shit the second I layered on my Seche Vite, which, when it’s working properly, is a nail artist’s greatest friend, sealing in, protecting and enhancing even the most basic of manicures. But mine wasn’t working today, and indeed, I believe I may have a bum bottle, because it really hasn’t been working ANY of the days, smudging, smearing and going the full goop a mere quarter of the way through the bottle. It’s a wicked pisser, nail art friends, as you are no doubt aware, to spend a good chunk of time on a manicure, only to have it ruined by the very thing you put on top of it to protect it! The expensive thing, I might add, which makes this whole smudgy debacle that much more infuriating. It’s also why there’s no thumbnail to this manicure – the Seche literally pulled the polish straight off my nails, even after half an hour of drying time. I’m actually quite baffled as to what happened here.

Then WordPress decided to be a dick. Sorry, got no other term for it – WP’s a dick. “Beep beep boop,” you say, as you hang there, refusing to publish? Holy cripes, could we BE more juvenile? It’s never bothered me before, mostly because I’ve never had to sit here for half an hour while WordPress vapour locks, but it’s seriously childish and unprofessional. I’d respect WP more if they displayed a simple error screen when problems crop up as opposed to the “Beep beep boop” not-a-progress-bar progress bar.

Thankfully Mr. Finger Candy is the next best thing to a technological wizard, and so he put his raging wife on the path of lowered blood pressure by forwarding me some very helpful links that had me up and publishing this post in next to no time. Still, I’m giving this win to Finger Candy Industries’ hard working IT department (said department consisting of one bemused husband and a half-asleep cat, both of whom are willing to work for Panera takeout) because WordPress itself was not much help.

Okay, done griping. Thanks for listening, and as always, feel free to chime in with your own (beauty) blogging issues. Misery loves company and all that jazz. 😉

Another Go at the Flaming Moe (OMD3)

Flaming Moe's Collage

No, you’re not imagining things – this really is the second time I’ve done this exact design in as many days.

Perfectionist types, no matter the creative medium they dabble in, may be familiar with that nagging feeling to DO BETTER that accompanies perceived mis-steps, like crappy nail art that you really wish you hadn’t published to your blog before embarking on a serious do-over. Because the first Simpsons manicure that I did just two days ago has been DRIVING ME BANANAS, and I’ve been plotting its re-boot ever since I hit the “Publish” button. So when a bit of poor weather-related downtime presented itself this weekend, I decided to do precisely that, and I’m so much happier with the results! Behold, Flaming Moe’s 2.0!

So what was driving me so first world nail polish bonkers about my first attempt? For starters, and probably most vexing of all, I painted the first version quite late at night and took my photos in my insufficiently lit bathroom. Every other manicure I’ve done for the Oh Mon Dieu Nail Art Challenge – indeed, every manicure I’ve done for months, period – has had its photos taken outdoors, which when it comes to nail art photography at least is very nearly always preferable to an artificial light source. Painting my nails in the dim evening light also presented its own set of problems, namely that I didn’t notice any until it was far too late to do anything about them, because I couldn’t clearly see my own work. And to that end, I found the gradient I attempted (which was supposed to look like a multi-layered Flaming Moe) muddy, washed out and ill defined.

I also didn’t care for the way I went about the lettering in “Flaming Moe’s” the first time around. For Moe’s V. 1.0, I painted on the yellow lettering and then outlined each letter in orange, which went about as well as you can imagine. Things got quite messy and I basically wound up painting over the yellow lettering with the orange and then filling it back in with the yellow. Very counter-intuitive and a big waste of time and materials.

So for Version 2.0, I went with a completely different approach, starting with a lighter, simpler gradient in basic creme polishes and ending with the easier lettering technique I eventually adopted during my first go-round. MUCH better, and proof positive that with nail art – and so, so many other things in life – you really can learn from your mistakes, even if it’s a couple of days later. 🙂

Flaming Moe's Hand

The Evil Red

You've Got Red On You CollageThat’s a bit of a play on words (when is it not?) but also how I feel about this polish, one of those looks-can-be-deceiving troublemakers that simply does not play well with others. This is You’ve Got Red On You, a Shaun of the Dead-themed lacquer from Dollish Polish’s recently released Cult Movie Classics Collection. I want to love this polish SO MUCH, because I’m nothing if not a devoted Shaun of the Dead fan (not to mention a lover of glittery red nailstuffs) but it’s being needlessly cavalier with my affections. Formula-wise, it’s problematic, gooping up thickly on the brush and spreading out on my nails about as well as pie filling. Amazingly enough, neither one of those is a total deal breaker with me (high gloss topcoats eradicate nearly all nail sins; these nails are sporting one thick coat of Seche Vite to even out the bumpies) but in combination with its appearance on the nail – dark at my tips, light at my cuticles and lacking in any true visual depth – I’m unsold. Except for that part where I bought it, so actually, that would make it really rather sold! A miss, and a waste of a perfectly droll Shaun of the Dead quote.

There might also be a small lesson in here on why you shouldn’t buy polishes based on their cutesie names, but since I’m currently eyeing up a lime green holo that goes by the moniker Holiday Road, that’s obviously a lesson I’ve yet to learn! Um, do as I say, not as I do, friends? 😉