One of my friends went to London for the month, so naturally she put in a request for London themed nail art. I joked that I could simply paint my nails all gray and say that it was London fog, but I didn’t think that was what she had in mind.
I could have opted to paint some of the landmarks- Big Ben and London Bridge came to mind, but I feel like my ability with acrylic paint couldn’t do justice to the structures. In the end, I decided to make the fuzzy texture of the hats of the royal guard flanking the British flag. If I had long nails, I would have included a face with the hats, but with my current length, I felt like the heads wouldn’t have the right proportion if I went that route.
I really wanted the flag to look nice, so I decided to use striping tape to keep the lines super straight. I hate using striping tape because it involves lots of drying time, patience to apply many pieces of tape correctly, and the possibility of messing up your nails when removing the tape, but my friend deserved the best.
Flag colors: White Hot by Sephora by OPI, Blue It by Sally Hansen Hard as Nails Xtreme Wear, and And A Cherry On Top by Sephora by OPI.
Because your nails have to be complete dry before applying any kind of tape, I painted my thumb, middle and ring fingers with White Hot to start the drying process as soon as possible.
Please excuse the nail discoloration- the red glitter from my last mani somewhat stained my nails.
While the white polish was drying, I decided to do the fuzzy hats.
The “hats” are done with What’s a Tire Jack? by Sephora by OPI and Recollections Signature Glitter in Ebony.
To apply the glitter, I first painted my nail with black polish.
While the polish was still wet, I sprinkled on the glitter. Keep a piece of paper on your table to catch the excess so you can pour it back into the container when you’re done.
I used a fan brush to dust away the excess. I cleaned up the extra pieces of glitter by running an orange stick along the borders of the polish on my nail.
After patting down the glitter a little, the resulting manicure looks rather chic and interesting. Lovers of texture polish will love this look.
I waited a few hours for the white polish to fully dry before attempting to apply the striping tape. Be sure to test a small area of your nail with the tape to see if you will ruin your base color before proceeding.
This was the layout for the striping tape. You can see that it already resembles the British flag.
When working with striping tape, it is best to use thin coats of polish so that the color you are painting doesn’t bleed into other areas when you remove the tape. Also, try to remove the tape as soon as possible so that the polish doesn’t start stretching and/or blending with the base color as you pull each piece off. Because of this, I don’t have pictures of every single step, but suffice it to say that I colored in the blue areas first and the red stripe down the middle of the flag as shown below.
You can see that even though I tried to follow my own tips, some of the blue polish leaked into the white area. You can fix this later by going over these spots with a dotting tool and some white nail polish.
Of course, I totally forgot to color in the horizontal red stripe, so I had to reapply the tape to fill in that area, and I left it on to paint the red diagonal stripes as well.
I reapplied striping tape to fill in the horizontal red stripes. I used a striping brush to draw in the diagonal stripes by hand.
Incidentally, painting the flag by hand is a ton faster. Start with a blue base color, use white acrylic paint and a striping brush to paint large stripes, and then add red polish over the white paint. You will save yourself hours of drying time and not be super frustrated with placing all those pieces of striping tape.
My finished Union Jack done with striping tape.
But wait, what did I do with my thumb, you ask? I painted another flag of course… because it’s so clear that I loooooove using striping tape. The steps are pretty much the same as for the bigger flag, but I took more pictures this time.
Lots of striping tape.
I painted the red stripes first with the assumption that if I bled into a blue area, the blue polish would cover up any red mistakes more easily.
I used the brush from the bottle to paint the blue sections, so that’s why it’s a bit messy.
After removing the striping tape, I still had to use red polish to finish the cross in the center, but you can also see what happens when you leave striping tape on for too long. Because the polish set more during the time that I used taking extra photos, the colors pulled up with the tape and created a bleeding effect along some of the edges.
I wish my thumb looked cleaner, but it’s not bad.
The guards are at attention!
My friend loved the nails, thankfully, and now another friend has put in a request to do a South African theme in honor of her homeland. I better start doing some research on the area!
Incidentally, I didn’t apply top coat to the glitter for the photos, and most of the glitter will flake off if you don’t. The texture doesn’t look as nice once you apply top coat, but it’s a real pain feeling like you’re shedding glitter on everything, so I had to change those nails. But that’s for the next blog post…