Chessmen Nails

Ever since I painted this design, people have been asking me if I play chess.  The short answer is no, although I vaguely remember the basic rules from when I was taught them a long time ago.  The last time I did any sort of chess game was online with a friend in the late 90s.  My claim to fame was beating my brother, who is nine years older than me, shortly after he taught me how to play the game at the age of 7.  I know he didn’t let me win because he wasn’t too happy about that one!

The inspiration for my chess themed nails comes from the checkerboard pattern on plate Qgirl-046 from Ya Qin An.

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I used the checkerboard print at the top of the plate for this manicure.

In retrospect, I would have painted the checkerboard by hand to get the lines more exact and consistent, but I didn’t have a lot of time to paint that night.  More about that in a bit.

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I started out by painting my nails with Silver Holo from UO Nail Lacquer. Honestly, who doesn’t like a good holographic polish?

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I used Konad Special Nail Polish in Flash Black to do the stamping. Of course, I bumped my nail against something and was too lazy to fix it, so I left the damage there. After all, I knew I was going to paint over it anyway.

I want to also point out that it’s super hard to get a checkerboard pattern like this one all even and precise if you use a squishy stamper.  The softer head makes it easy to stamp over curvy nail beds, but it also distorts the pattern as it transfers.  So you can see the difference, I used my Konad stamper on my ring finger, but I didn’t scrape the plate very well so it picked up everything.  It’s funny because I’m so used to other stampers being more forgiving in that sense.

In any case, I know I did a hack job of the stamping, but it’s only the background so…

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I took a small brush and used craft smart acrylic paint in White to paint the basic shapes of the chess pieces. I decided on painting two pawns, a king, a queen, and a knight, which sounds like the beginning of a bad joke.

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To make the pieces stand out, I outlined each piece with a detail brush and craft smart acrylic paint in Black. I also used the black paint to fill in any weird spots in the checkerboard print.

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I finished by applying Seche Vite Top Coat.

I was going to use Dazzle Dry Top Coat, but it started smudging my stamping with the first stroke, so I quickly changed plans.  Just remember that not every top coat will work with every manicure!

Hope you enjoyed reading about how to hide a bad stamping job.  😉  Happy polishing!

Chevron Holographic Mani

Ever since I finished my last manicure, I’ve been eyeing my bottle of Meet Me at the Disco from Sephora by OPI.  Technically the bottle says it’s a top coat, but I wanted to slather it all over my nails because of its beautiful holo glitter.

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Silvery holographic goodness from Meet Me At the Disco by Sephora by OPI.

Because Meet Me At the Disco is supposed to be a top coat, the density of glitter in the polish is a little on the thin side in order to let a base color show through.  In order to not have 10 layers of polish on my nails, I applied it with a makeup sponge so that the excess fluid would get absorbed by the sponge.  Pretty crafty, eh?  Glitter can get chunky in places with that kind of application, so I did end up brushing on an extra two coats of polish straight from the bottle to even out the texture.

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Obligatory out of focus picture to photograph the holographic effect. It’s hard to take pictures of holo polish!

For an accent nail, I stamped a chevron pattern onto my ring finger with Konad Special Nail Polish in Flash Black and plate BM-423 from Bundle Monster.

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Easy chevron nail art accomplished!

Hope you’re having a great summer so far!  Happy polishing!

 

 

Coral and White Striped Mani

Welcome to the hot days of summer!  One of my favorite warm weather color combos is coral and white, so I wanted to do a fun little manicure with that palette.

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Polishes used from left to right: Sweet Daisy by Nicole by OPI, Born Pretty Stamping Nail Polish in #4 and #8, Planks A Lot from OPI, and Meet Me At the Disco by Sephora by OPI.

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I began by painting all my nails with Sweet Daisy.

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Using plate Qgirl-046 from Ya Qin An and white stamping polish, I applied the striped pattern pictured on the right side of the plate to my nails. For the horizontal stripes, I only used the bottom half of the striped pattern and tilted my stamper accordingly.

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I did some reverse stamping using the flowers from Qgirl-046 and some purple polishes. To make it look more sparkly, I applied Meet Me At the Disco to the image first before coloring it in with lavender polish.

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I stamped the flowers directly onto my nails, and after applying Seche Vite top coat, I applied a drop of Kiss Nail Art Glue and added a rhinestone to the center of each flower.

It’s a very simple manicure, but it screams summertime!  If you don’t have the plate, you can opt to handpaint the lines with a striping brush or use some striping tape.  I’m sure the results will look just as fabulous.

Happy polishing!

Clown Nail Art

Let me start out by saying that I hate clowns, and I would never normally want to paint this subject, but I was playing in the orchestra for a production of Pagliacci by Ruggero Leoncavallo recently and was briefly obsessed with clowns because of the all the rehearsals and performances.  How could I resist the opportunity to face my fear?

I wanted to use primary colors for this design because they remind me of the circus.

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From left to right: craft smart Acrylic Paint in Black, Brigitte by Julep, and Sephora Nail Lacquer 5 day shine in Pole dance, Banana split, and Happy hour!

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I started with a white base color.

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Using different sized dotting tools, I applied dots of red, yellow, and blue nail polish which made my nails look like the packaging for Wonder Bread. I left the middle finger nail for the clown, and yes, that was for a reason. The nose was done with a large dotting tool, and I managed to use the brush from the bottle to swipe on a large red mouth for him.

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I painted eyes, eyebrows, and a mouth with a detail brush and black acrylic paint to finish off the look.

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My clown and my piccolo at rehearsal. The smiling face doesn’t really fit the opera if you know what the story is about, but I wasn’t about to paint him looking sad because clowns are already creepy to me.

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I think he goes best with a handful of confetti.

I could have painted more detail, but to be honest, I didn’t want to spend more time looking at him than I had to!  I had every intention of changing my polish soon after the opera, but things have been busier than anticipated, so my little friend has been tagging along for a week longer than originally planned.  Better tell him that the circus is moving out now!

Happy polishing!

Geometric MTA Inspired Nail Art

The MTA has been renovating the stations on the A train line here in NYC for quite some time now.  I haven’t had to take the train into the city for months, so I only recently saw the beautiful new panels they installed in the Rockaway Blvd. station.

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Morning light looks gorgeous through the little stained glass circles.

I wanted to capture the design in some nail art, so I thought the Infinite Ombré kit from Formula X would be perfect for this.

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The Infinite Ombré set from Formula X consists of the following colors (pictured clockwise from left side): Platinum Prime, Timeless Teal, Infinite Indigo, Limitless Lemon, and Boundless Berry.

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I started by painting all my nails with Platinum Prime.

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Using a striping brush and white acrylic paint by craft smart, I painted lines at various angles across my nails. The only thing I made sure to do was to make triangular shapes.

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I made little circles at each point of a triangle with a dotting tool and the various gel tints from the Infinite Ombré kit.

I have to confess that I work in a rather poorly lit area when I paint my nails, so there is a single green dot on my index finger in the above picture because I layered the yellow and blue tints over each other.  In dark lighting, it looked like it turned out to be the same teal color as the blue tint, so I didn’t bother trying to make green dots again.  It wasn’t until after I looked at the pictures on my camera that I realized the layering effect worked, so if you try this at home, you can add a few more colors into your mani by layering the gel tints over each other.

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A nice top coat smooths things over.

Let this be a lesson that you can find beauty and inspiration anywhere if you open your mind to it.  Happy polishing!

Aruban Flag Nails

My orchestra was asked to re-record the Aruban National Anthem for the first time in 40 years.  What an honor it was to participate in this event and make music with the choir full of gifted singers from Aruba!

Because of the significance of the occasion, we were warned that in addition to making an audio recording, the sessions would also be filmed and photographed.  I wanted to respect Aruba and show my support for the project by painting the country’s flag on my nails.  Thankfully it wasn’t a very complicated design.

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By http://www.vexilla-mundi.com/aruba.htm, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=375101
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I used Snowcone by Orly for the base color.

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With a striping brush and yellow acrylic paint, I marked two straight lines along the side of my thumbnail and across the tips of my other nails.

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To make the red star in the corner, I started by painting a small cross with a detail brush and red acrylic paint.

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I gently filled in the star by painting small lines over the cross shape done in the previous step.

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I finished it off by painting a white outline around the star with acrylic paint.

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The thumbnail shows the flag in its entirety.

I think the recording went well, and I’m anxious to hear the final cuts of the versions of the anthem that we did!  And who knows, maybe my nails will make it into one of the video cuts as well.

Happy polishing!

 

 

Stained Glass Suncatcher Manicure

I recently played for a small production of Puccini’s Suor Angelica, a lovely yet heartbreaking one act opera whose cast consists mostly of nuns.  Appropriate to the libretto, the performance took place inside a church, so my inspiration for the week were the stained glass windows there.

If I had more time, I would have hand painted the framework for the glass panels, but I was already going to be sleep deprived doing the stamping for this design.  The two plates I used for this manicure were BM-402 from Bundle Monster and BPL-005 from Born Pretty Store.

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BM-402 from Bundle Monster assisted me for one of the stained glass patterns. I used the design at the topmost position for two of my nails.

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BPL-005 from Born Pretty Store has an assortment of patterns, but I chose the one on the bottom row, 2nd from the left to put on my thumbnail.

The Infinite Ombré set from Formula X was perfect to color in the patterns because the gel tints have the ability to be layered over each other to create other colors.  Because I wanted to keep things as simple as possible, I chose to put stained glass patterns on 3 out of 5 nails on each hand and paint the other two nails black.

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Colors for this manicure include the following: Konad Special Nail Polish in Black, Platinum Prime by Formula X, Black lace by Sephora Nail Lacquer 5 Day Shine, Kiss Nail Art Paint in Black, and Formula X gel tint colors in Boundless Berry, Limitless Lemon, and Timeless Teal.

I planned to turn the design from plate BM-402 into a mirror image so that it would fill two nails, so I allotted space for this on my middle and ring fingers.

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Prepping the canvas with Black lace and Platinum Prime.

The idea was to make the circular part of the pattern from BM-402 look as if it were the sun casting out rays of light, so I stamped one nail with the circular part facing the nail that will picture the inversion of the same design.

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One part stamped, one more to go.

To make the mirror image, I couldn’t just turn the design upside down because there is a slight variance between the top and bottom halves of the pattern.  Instead, I chose to make a nail decal with a form of reverse stamping.  After stamping the image, I brushed clear coat over the design, waited for it to dry, and then I removed the dry polish from the stamper with tweezers and cut the piece down to the approximate size of my nail.

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Do it yourself nail decals are easy to make once you brush top coat over a stamped image. I used Seche Vite top coat for this and then cut the decal down to size.

The mirror image is the side of the decal that the topcoat was placed on, just in case this isn’t apparent.  I slightly confused myself when I was doing this as well.  Note that if you turn the decal over so that the side that was on the stamper is now facing up, you will end up with the same image as if you directly stamped onto your nail, so that would defeat the purpose of making a decal.

To apply the decal, simply apply clear topcoat over the desired nail and smooth the decal over the nail while it is still wet.

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The mirror image is complete.

All that remained was to color in the empty spaces with the Formula X gel tints.  I made things a little easier for myself by applying a little color theory so that I could layer colors with other colors to get different shades.  Yellow and red make orange and yellow and blue make green, so I was able to paint Limitless Lemon over quite a few areas before overlapping the yellow tint with Boundless Berry and Timeless Teal.  I used the brush from the bottle because I wanted to get things done faster, but you can opt to use a detail brush or dotting tool if you want more precision.

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A delightful suncatcher look made with gel tint colors from Formula X.

I still had a thumb to stamp and color.  Unfortunately, the images on BPL-005 are a bit on the small side compared to Born Pretty Store’s other plates, so it was tricky to get the placement right on the first try.  I used a marshmallow stamper so I could push it down completely over my nail, and I put a dot of black polish on the center of my thumb first so I could line up the dot from the center of the pattern with the dot on my thumb.

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A successfully centered stamped thumbnail which was not very easy to accomplish when the design on the plate was almost the same size as my nail. You can see the raised dot of polish I applied to the middle of the nail so I could position the stamper correctly over it.

I’ve griped about how my squishy head stamper doesn’t transfer images as nicely as my Konad stamper, so you can see that the entire design didn’t make it onto my thumbnail near my cuticle.  I fixed this with Kiss Nail Art Paint in Black.

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With a little help from a striping brush and black polish, you can’t tell that the image didn’t fully transfer the first time around.

After coloring in the sections with the same technique as before, the manicure is done!

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A stained glass inspired suncatcher manicure.

I guess this wasn’t the best choice for a quick manicure, but it looked pretty!  Now to finally get some rest…  I’ve still got rehearsals to attend, but I won’t have a performance until the beginning of next month.  In the meantime, happy polishing!

Adrianna Papell Black and Blue Striped Dress Nails

I played in a small recital tonight, so naturally I wanted my manicure to match my dress.  I just bought a gorgeous black and blue striped gown from Adrianna Papell, and the graphic print looked so nice that I decided to put it on my nails.

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The fabric print of the dress… and no, it’s not white and gold!

The colors are obviously blue and black, so I tried to use a similar blue that wasn’t too dark and could show the black stripe contrast against it.  Because I wanted to hand paint the lines, I knew I was going to use black acrylic paint for the most part, and I used a sparkly black polish for accent stripes.

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The materials from left to right: craft smart acrylic paint in black, Sally Hansen Hard As Nails Xtreme Wear in Blue It, and Ulta Professional Nail Lacquer in Rhinestone Rocker.

After applying a base coat, I painted Blue It on all my nails.

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Blue It by Sally Hansen. It’s also great for a September birthstone (sapphire) manicure.

I used a striping brush along with black acrylic paint to form stripes of varying thicknesses.  I made the thumbnail a chevron pattern and made a giant chevron out of the other four nails.  I tried to make everything as symmetrical as possible, so my index and middle finger nails are mirror images of my ring and pinky finger nails.

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Stripes painted with acrylic paint. It looks like I made blueberry candy cane nail art.

Some of the stripes on the dress have a glittery hue on one side, so I painted Rhinestone Rocker on a few of the sections with a striping brush.

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A hint of shimmer gets added to a few stripes with Rhinestone Rocker by Ulta Professional.

After adding a topcoat, everything looks shiny, and the contrast between the black stripes and the glittery ones is less noticeable although still pretty.

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All done! Black and blue striped goodness.

It should be mentioned that I didn’t try to exactly copy the striped pattern of the dress.  I just painted the different thicknesses and spaced the lines out in a way that I thought might look nice.

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Side by side comparison of the Adrianna Papell dress to my nails. I guess I put the shimmery stripe on the wrong side of the line, but I didn’t try to exactly copy the pattern.

The manicure was a small touch that I’m sure the audience didn’t notice, but it was a nice concert regardless.  Happy polishing!

Q*bert Nail Art

After feeling so unsatisfied about my Matrix nails, I decided to look through my plate collection once again to try to find new inspiration.  This time I focused on the cube design on Cheeky Jumbo Plate 10 because it reminded me of Q*bert, a game I really sucked at because my age was in the single digits when I first saw my brothers playing it.  Q*bert was also featured in Wreck It Ralph and more recently in Pixels.

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Cheeky Jumbo Plate 10. I used the cube design 2 rows from the bottom and 3 columns from the right.

Obviously I wanted to paint Q*bert, so I planned to put him on my thumbnail so that I could make him big enough to stand out.  I also decided to paint Coily, the snake who is out to get Q*bert on the board during game play, so I planned to put him on my ring finger.  To make the characters stand out, I used a plain black polish as a backdrop.  I wanted to put the cubes on the other nails, so for a base, I used yellow polish, decided to stamp with a blue one, and colored in the other squares with a red polish.

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The color line up from left to right: b.m.c. nail lacquer- royal blue, Sephora by OPI- What’s a Tire Jack?, Sephora by OPI- Cab Fare, Sephora by OPI- And A Cherry On Top.

I painted the base colors first.

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Buzzing around with yellow and black polish.

Cab Fare takes 3 coats of polish to look opaque, so I needed to wait for that to dry before I could do any stamping.  I used the time to paint Q*bert and Coily instead.

For the characters, I used acrylic paint by Craft Smart and various sized detail brushes.  You can follow the painting process in the photos below.

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Q*bert step-by-step photo tutorial.

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Coily step-by-step photo tutorial.

A note on Coily- I know he’s supposed to have more coils, but I don’t have long enough fingernails to paint the extra loops!  I think you get the picture, though.

All that was left to be done was the stamping.  I tried using all 3 of the stampers that I own to save time, but I have to say that the Konad stamper still works the best.  In any case, after stamping the pattern, I filled in the striped boxes with And A Cherry On Top.  I used the mini bottle of polish for this because I turned the brush for this bottle into a striping brush awhile ago (just cut off 3/4 of the bristles from the original brush).  If you do this yourself, you can use a dotting tool or a detail brush to fill in the red boxes.

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Coloring in red boxes on a Konad stamper.

After transferring the pattern to my nails, here is the finished look:

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Q*bert and Coily amidst their cubes.

For those keeping track of which stampers work the best, the Konad stamper was used for the pointer finger, a large and squishy stamper from Amazon was used for the middle finger, and a stamper from Born Pretty Store was used on the pinky.  You can see that the Konad stamper picked up every detail without a problem.  You can read the original review of these stampers here.

This is maybe not the cutest mani that I’ve done, but it certainly evokes a lot of nostalgia for the 80s and arcade games!  I might decide to revisit Q*bert again because I’ve decided that an all hand-painted design is more preferable to a half hand painted and half stamped one- at least for me.  But if you love gaming and don’t want to let Pac Man steal all the 80s thunder, Q*bert is a great option.  Have fun!

Shonen Knife Nail Art

Last Tuesday, my fiancé took me to see Shonen Knife perform with CJ Ramone at The Outer Space in Hamden, CT.  I’m still suffering from a lot of back pain and muscle spasms from my recent car accident, so it was no small feat for me to sit in the car for a road trip and then have to stand for 2 sets while trying to rock out to some awesome music, but it was a fun night.  Shonen Knife’s music always puts me into a happy mood!

If you’re not familiar with the band, here is a video of them in action performing “Buttercup,” otherwise known as the Powerpuff Girls theme song.

Equally as catchy as their music are their coordinated tunics, designed by original band member Atsuko Yamano.

Ritsuko, Naoko, and Emi

Ritsuko, Naoko, and Emi

I love her clean and poppy style, and I wanted to use her color block technique in a manicure.  There are 3 band members and 2 letters for the initials of the band, and what better way to showcase each element while giving the sign of the horns? \m/

Materials used:

Zoya- Dot
Nicole by OPI- City-Pretty Rose
China Glaze- Tip Your Hat
Sephora by OPI- What’s a Tire Jack?
Acrylic paint

I began by painting my index finger and pinky with What’s a Tire Jack? and the remaining fingers with Dot.  I anticipated using striping tape to help with the color block pattern, so while I waited for Dot to dry fully, I started trying to paint the S and K of the band’s logo onto my nails with white acrylic paint and a detail brush.  In order to make it easier for me to paint the letters, I needed to rotate the logo graphic.

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By the way, the graphic lists Naoko, Ritsuko, and Etsuko as the band members.  It’s because the graphic is taken from a DVD from 2009.  Naoko, Atsuko, and Emi played for the 2015 North America tour.

In any case, this was the design before the color blocking was added.  I like it a lot in its most simplistic form.  🙂

Shonen Knife rocks!

Shonen Knife rocks!

Just as an aside, I’ve never been good at making bubble letters even with pencil and paper, so I was kind of impressed that I was able to paint this upside down on my nails!  😛

In the meantime, I decided that I was too impatient to use striping tape to outline the color blocked parts, so I decided to add in the different colored sections freehand.

City-Pretty Rose added to start the color block pattern.

City-Pretty Rose added to start the color block pattern.

Starting to add Tip Your Hat and What's a Tire Jack?

Starting to add Tip Your Hat and What’s a Tire Jack?

Finished color blocking and tunic details

Finished color blocking and tunic details

Too bad I didn’t prepare this in advance of the show!  It would have been awesome to grab a pic of my mani with the band, but I’ll see them again soon enough.  🙂

Rock on!  \m/

Rock on! \m/