Flaming Manicure

Not too long ago, I played the opera Die Walküre by Richard Wagner, the 2nd of 4 [very long] operas that make up Wagner’s Ring cycle. Everyone was expecting some appropriate nail art from me, so I chose to do a fire design based on the last scene of the opera. It’s the only place where I had to play the piccolo in my part, so it just made sense to me.

Because it’s a fiery scene, I started by painting my nails with a red based black polish called chelsea from nails inc. It’s perfectly opaque in 2 coats, although you can see more of a red tint if you only use one coat.

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Easter Bunny Manicure

I know I’m posting this tutorial a little late, but at least it will be a reference for future Easters to come! After seeing the Easter bunny around town a few times, I decided to make some Easter bunny nails that didn’t look as creepy as the ones that I saw! Seriously, some of those bunnies are terrifying!

To start, I painted 3 coats of LV010 from Ünt. This company is best known for their legendary peel off base coat, a product that I use in combination with a lot of my gel manicures to make them easy to remove seeing as I change my polish quite often, but they also have a full range of colors and cosmetics. This beautiful light pink polish dried with a vinyl finish, but it also took forever to set and was streaky for the first 2 coats. If you have a lot of free time to do nothing, this is a good polish, but it definitely does not dry in a New York minute. It was disappointing considering how well loved their Ready for Takeoff base coat is.

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This beautiful swatch of LV010 from Unt needed a lot of time to dry, and it still wasn’t fully set when I started doing the rest of the nail art. Oops.

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Irish Unicorn Nails

If you blog, you’re almost always expected to come up with nails for every holiday. While I never used to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day all that much, my nails certainly have been on board for the past few years! This year’s inspiration came from a student of mine who dressed up as an Irish unicorn for her lesson. I became obsessed with her headband, so she gave me a homework assignment to create some nail art based on it.

My first step was to paint all my nails green. I used Paper Chasing from China Glaze.

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The perfect kelly green- Paper Chasing from China Glaze. Be warned, though- this stuff will stain your nails a shade that Elphaba would find normal!

For more impact and sparkle, I used Emerald City holographic glitter from Dimension Nails over the polish. To apply it, I painted a coat of Paper Chasing over a nail, dipped it into the pot of glitter while the polish was still wet, then used a fan brush to sweep away the excess. This process was repeated for each nail.

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Welcome to the Emerald Isle!

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Squirrel Themed Nail Art

Anyone who knows me also knows that I love squirrels!  I might even be considered something of a squirrel whisperer.  Here’s a video of me interacting with a very tame squirrel at the park a few years ago.

And here’s another one of me getting the opportunity to pet this wild squirrel!

But whether or not you have a fondness for squirrels, these cute little furry rodents also happen to be quintessentially associated with fall, the time when you can see them gathering and burying nuts all over the place.  Squirrel themed nail art has been a long time coming for me, but I’m glad that I waited until my skills improved some more so that I could do the animal some justice.

Let’s start with the nail polish palette:

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Left to right: I’ll Take the Cake! by OPI, I Think I Cayenne by Sephora by OPI, Espresso Your Style! by OPI, and Rich Gold by Sephora + Pantone Universe Jewel Dust Nail Lacquer.

For the acorns and the squirrel, I used acrylic paint by craft smart.

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Acrylic paint by craft smart in Black, Dark Grey, White, Golden Brown, and Brown.

I almost never use sheer polishes, but I wanted a neutral looking background for everything.  I’ll Take the Cake! has a nice shimmer to it while providing a hint of color to smooth things out.

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You can get a gorgeous nude shimmery mani from I’ll Take the Cake! by OPI.

I planned to paint a squirrel head on my ring finger, but I wanted a fall colored gradient on the tips of my other nails.  Using a sponge, I applied one color at a time.

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In order for the acorns to show up clearly, I had to start with my darkest color first. This rich brown is Espresso Your Style! from OPI.

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I continued to sponge on I Think I Cayenne from Sephora by OPI, a beautiful russet color, over the dark brown.

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The last layer of the gradient was Rich Gold from Sephora + Pantone Universe. The glitter is holographic when it catches the light, so the picture really doesn’t do it justice.

The gradient on its own makes for a lovely fall manicure, as it looks like piles of autumn leaves swirling in the wind.  I was tempted to leave it alone, but I wanted my squirrel to have some nuts!

The rest of this manicure was done with acrylic paint so I could clean my brushes easily.

The acorns were pretty simple to do.  I used Brown to create the bottom half of the acorn, swiped Golden Brown across the top and added a stem to the hat of the nut, lightly applied a cross hatch pattern across the top with Brown, and finished by outlining the major sections of the image with Black.

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How to paint an acorn.

I couldn’t afford to take so many pictures while painting the squirrel because I was blending colors together to get different shades and had limited time to use the paint before it dried.  To get the general shape, I painted an outline of the head with Dark Grey and tweaked the shading from there.

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Looks like an locked item from a video game! The squirrel is but a shade of itself.

Blend different amounts of brown and grey, brown and black, and white and grey to get the shading right on the face and ears.  I outlined the head with a combination of grey and black to give my guy a softer look.

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I get super happy whenever I see that cute face on my nail!

Operation Squirrel Manicure accomplished!  Hope you have all your nuts gathered and accounted for over the upcoming holidays!  Happy polishing!

Musical “Cornucopia” Nail Art

It’s been a busy week, but I still managed to force myself to stay up to paint my nails last Thursday night!

For this week, I was thinking that it would be nice to have the themes of fall and music combined.  I’ve been playing for a lot of orchestra services lately leading up to having concerts last Friday and Saturday, so I figured it would be fitting to have musical nails for the performances.  Add to this that my French horn playing friend was sitting right behind me, and voilà, I decided to go with a musical cornucopia theme with endless notes coming out of a horn.

The colors for this mani are few, but they do the job.

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Left to right: craft smart Acrylic Paint in Black, Born Pretty Holo Polish in Color 5, and Finger Paints Nail Color in Wrapped in Ribbon.

After applying a base coat, I applied the holographic polish from Born Pretty Store to all my nails.  It doesn’t look overly holographic, but I liked that it had a nice pumpkin spice color to it.

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Born Pretty Holo Polish in Color 5.

For the next part, I painted music notes and rests all over my nails and painted the French horn on my thumb with black acrylic paint and a detail brush.

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The black horn will be filled in with gold glitter polish, so this was just to get the basic shape.

Using a dotting tool, I dabbed Wrapped in Ribbon within the black outline of the horn.  I approached it this way because it’s a lot easier to fill gold in between black lines rather than paint the black outline around the inner and outer section of a gold base.  Plus, if I was sloppy with dotting on the gold glitter polish, I could simply go back and paint the black outline to touch it up.

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The horn that keeps on giving! A true musical cornucopia.

It’s not exactly one of my hardest designs so it was pretty easy to put together, even though I was half asleep when I painted this.  I’m still busy with rehearsals and things this week, so forgive me if I don’t get the chance to post anything for awhile.  I will have to switch up my polish soon enough, though!  😉

Happy polishing!

Hannibal Lecter Nail Art

Every once in awhile, I’ll have a friend request that I do specific nail art.  At the beginning of October, I was approached by Sung Jin Hong, the conductor of One World Symphony, with the idea of doing some Hannibal Lecter themed nail art to commemorate the October 25 world premiere of his Hannibal opera.  You can find the details of the upcoming concert here if you are interested in attending.  I kind of love the challenge of coming up with a look to fit the theme as it always gets my creative juices flowing, so I agreed to it even though I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to pull off a good looking mani.

The first order of business was to watch Silence of the LambsHannibal, and Red Dragon to see what would inspire me and what I could paint to represent Hannibal Lecter.  The only thing that really made sense to me was to paint his face in the mask, which appears in the first two movies.  I could have painted some of the finer things that he adores, but I felt like nothing would stand out as distinctly Hannibal unless I painted the man himself.  That’s when I knew I was going to be working for a long time on this manicure.

The plan was to paint Hannibal’s face in the mask across both hands because my nails are too short and small to be able to give him enough detail on one hand alone.  I’ve never considered myself a real artist, and I’ve definitely never had to paint a realistic looking face before, so I wanted to give myself some room.  I figured 3 nails would be sufficient for the width, so I put him in the center and planned to do a bloody splatter on the surrounding nails.

But first, I had to pick some colors.  Nothing is worse than digging through your nail polish collection when you haven’t finished a design, so I always try to plan ahead.

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Left to right: White Hot, Give Peach a Chance, and Caught with my Khakis Down by Sephora by OPI, and Janae by Julep.

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Left to right: Sweet Daisy by Nicole by OPI, Tip Your Hat by China Glaze, and Blue-Mmmm by Piggy Polish.

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Clockwise from top left: acrylic paints by craft smart in White, Dark Grey, Black, Bright Red, Golden Brown, and Brown.

With this design involving two hands with differing elements, there are twice the number of photos.  Let the slideshow begin!

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The left hand starts out with White Hot on my thumb and pinky while the other nails get Give Peach a Chance. This will become the top half of Hannibal’s face.

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The right hand gets White Hot on the thumb and pinky again, Caught with my Khakis Down on the middle finger, and Give Peach a Chance on the outside 3/4 of nails. This will be the bottom part of the mask, so the peach color is supposedly the skin of his neck.

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After allowing the peach color to dry for a little bit, I finished off the shape of the bottom of the mask by painting Caught with my Khakis down.

A few notes about the mask.  I realize that in the movie, the mask is more of a flesh color, which is what makes it look that much more terrifying.  I don’t own many polishes in that color family, and I didn’t want to have to paint an entire nail with acrylic paint, so I went with the khaki color.

Also, were I to do this again, I would have made the shape of the mask less chunky.  Anthony Hopkins’ face looks much slimmer through the jawline.  But as I said before, I haven’t had to paint a realistic looking face… on my nails…  with my left hand (I’m right handed, FYI).  So I think I’m allowed a few concessions.  😉

I wanted some time to gather the courage to finish the rest of the face, so I went on to do the blood spatter (or splatter) portion of the design next with Tip Your Hat by China Glaze.  You can read the tutorial on how to create this murder scene look on my previous post.

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Left hand with the splatter added.

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Right hand blood splatter.

With that much done, I decided to try to finish the right hand details.  I always like to paint with my non-dominant hand first whenever I’m not sure if I can pull off a design or not.  The theory is that if I can get my right hand painted, then my left hand will look even better.  🙂

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Start by using a detail brush and Golden Brown acrylic paint. The dots are the ventilation holes in the mask, and the rectangular sections are where the nose and mouth openings are. Sounds creepy already!

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The lower lip is the only one you can see through the mask, so I applied Sweet Daisy with a dotting tool. I wonder if Hannibal would approve of the shade- it’s from the Carrie Underwood collection from Nicole by OPI. 😉 The only reason I didn’t use acrylic paint here is because I don’t own a pre-made pink color and was too lazy to mix one. 😛

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Some nostrils and the opening of his mouth are added with black acrylic paint. I also fixed the shape of the nose holes by adding a dab of Caught with my Khakis Down.

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Hannibal gets some pearly whites with some acrylic paint. I used a dotting motion with a detail brush to give a more realistic look to the teeth without having to outline each one.

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The metal bars are painted over the mouth area and between the nostrils with Dark Grey paint.

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Some contouring of the sides of the face and nose is done with a sponge and Janae by Julep to try to give some depth to the image. I also changed the color of the metal bar between the nostrils to black. In hindsight, I should have also painted the metal bars over his mouth black as well because the grey color blended into the khaki color once topcoat was added.

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The finished right hand! Hey, that wasn’t too hard…

One hand down, one more to go.

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Using a striping brush, I painted the outlines of the mask with Caught with my Khakis Down. For the middle section, I used the brush from the bottle.

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I filled in the outlined area using the brush from the bottle.

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Where did all this detail come from? Almost everything new in this photo is done with acrylic paint and a detail brush except for the blue eyes, which are painted on with a dotting tool and Blue-Mmmm by Piggy Polish. It’s a shimmer polish, so it gives the eyes more dimension.

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The last few steps were to add the hair, ears, and eye detail with acrylic paint.

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A little more contouring done on the mask with Janae and a sponge, and the left hand is done! Yay!

I love how I can use my left hand alone to add some creepiness to everything.

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This photo was taken a week after painting Hannibal, but I had to keep him around for at least the first rehearsal for the opera!

The finished look is just as disturbing.

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Hannibal the Cannibal.

This was an amazing thing to paint, at least for me.  I know it looks cartoony, but considering that I have no experience with portraiture, I’m impressed that I got some of the resemblance down!  It was nice to have the challenge, and now all that’s left is to premiere the opera on Sunday.  Wish me luck!

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!