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!

Back to School: Crayon Nail Art

It’s almost time for kids and teachers to go back to school (at least in NYC- I know some people are already back), so I wanted to do some fun nail art to celebrate mark the change of season.  School supply shopping was always one of my favorite activities, and trying to convince my parents to get me the biggest box of crayons was high on the list.  I’ll settle for mostly primary colors for this mani, though.  😉

First off, the color selection:

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My mini rainbow, left to right: Sephora by OPI- What’s a Tire Jack?, Nicka K- NY139, Sephora Nail Lacquer 5 Day Shine- Banana split, Essie- Pretty Edgy, Formula X for Sephora- Omni, Formula X for Sephora- Haphazard.

I started off by painting each of my nails a different color.  I went in backwards rainbow order.  Don’t ask why- I think I had a sixth sense about something…

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Taste the rainbow!

The toughest part about this mani was having to do the squiggly line detail.  Trying to paint over black polish with a lighter color would be near impossible, and I hate having to clean nail polish off my nail art brushes.  My approach was to take black acrylic paint and draw around the squiggle so that the original base color showed through.

Step 1- Use a striping brush to paint the outline of the area where the squiggle will appear.

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Painting the outlines of the black section of the crayon wrapper will allow you to space your squiggles out more consistently in the next step.

For the next two steps, please refer to the photo below Step 3.

Step 2 (on green nail): Using a detail brush, paint in hills along one line. If you like more of a uniform look, put the highest peak of the hill in the center of your nail and then finish off the sides with an upward curve.

Step 3 (on yellow nail): repeat the process of painting hills along the other line to coincide with the opposing curve.

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The various stages of painting in the squiggle shape within the black lines.

For an easier mani, you can simply topcoat the result and say that you painted the bottom half of the crayon, but I like to go the distance.  😉

In order to make the wrapper look different from the actual crayon, I used matte top coat over the bottom half of my nails.

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Mattifying the squiggle section of the nail mimics the paper wrapper and gives the look more texture. I used a matte top coat from Sephora by OPI.

To draw the tip, I used a striping brush and black polish to first notch the beginning of the tapered section of the point.

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Adding notches to show the start of the tip of the crayon.

From there I painted in an angled section with the striper so that the tip of the crayon would be tapered.

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Crayon madness!

Add some topcoat to the top half of the nail, and you’re done!  It’s a very cute look and makes people nostalgic for their youth.  Now where did I put that coloring book?  😉

If you were wondering about that sixth sense that I mentioned before…  It’s because the purple color ended up being a lot darker than I thought it would be, so the black detail did not show up very well at all.  😦  I’m glad I didn’t have to photograph my thumb to get a good picture!  If you decide to recreate this, definitely choose lighter colors over darker ones.

Happy polishing!

Minions: the Nail Art

I had some friends request that I do Minions on my nails.  Before I was willing to do them, I watched Despicable Me, Despicable Me 2, and ultimately finished with Minions the Movie so I could really find out what they were about.  Most fun research experience ever.  🙂

I had a few different ideas for how to recreate these adorable characters on my nails, but what I ultimately decided to do was paint Kevin, Stuart, and Bob along with some bananas.

Because I was going to paint specific minions, I needed to figure out what makes each one look different.  The most obvious difference with Kevin, Stuart, and Bob is that they’re different heights, and each one has a different hairstyle.  With that in mind, I already realized that I wasn’t going to have enough room to paint their overalls because I have relatively short fingernails.  That worked for me because I didn’t want to have to paint more details than I had to do.  😉

Here is the material line up:

OPI- Alpine Snow
Formula X for Sephora- Zing
Sephora Nail Lacquer 5 Day Shine- Banana split
Konad Special Nail Polish- Black
Formula X- Need for Speed
Sephora by OPI- Casanova Is So Into Me
craft smart Acrylic paint in White and Black
Cheeky- Jumbo Plate 7 (Home Sweet Home)
Googly (wiggle) eyes
Kiss Nail Art Glue
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Clockwise from top left: Alpine Snow by OPI, Need for Speed by Formula X, Zing by Formula X for Sephora, black acrylic paint from craft smart, white acrylic paint from craft smart, Konad Special Nail Polish in Black, Casanova Is So Into Me from Sephora by OPI, and Banana split from Sephora.

I wanted the minions to be on the center nails and surrounded by bananas, so I started by painting the backdrop colors.  I figured that the blue I was going to use for their overalls would contrast nicely with the yellow of the bananas, so I painted my thumb and pinky with Zing.  Because I didn’t want to end up with too many layers of polish for the minions, I only painted half of my nail beds with Alpine Snow.  If you want to be super anal about painting the white background, you can use reinforcement stickers to create the curve of the minion heads, but I’m far too lazy to do that.  😛

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Painting the backdrop for the design with Zing and Alpine Snow.

Next I started painting the yellow minion heads onto the white backdrops.  Kevin is the tallest followed by Stuart and Bob, so I varied the placement of the heads accordingly, leaving room to paint their hair on later.

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Eggs about to hatch- Kevin will be on my middle finger with Stuart to his left and Bob to his right.

I wanted to allow time for the polish to dry, so I focused on doing the banana portion of the design next.  I have a cute plate from Cheeky with bananas on it, so that eliminated the need for me to have to paint them by hand.

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Cheeky Jumbo Plate 7.

What I liked about using this plate is how I still had the ability to color in the design using the reverse stamping technique.

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Stamping with black Konad polish and a Konad stamper.

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Coloring in the peeled bananas with Alpine Snow and a dotting tool.

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Coloring in the rest of the design with Banana split. How appropriate.

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The transfer of the stamped pattern is complete!

I repeated this process for my pinky and applied topcoat to the stamped nails before going back to the minion portion of the design.

Because I was going to use googly eyes, I wanted to paint the silver outline of the goggles first.  In retrospect, I could have glued the eyes on first and then painted the silver outline around the eyes, but I wanted to avoid having the clean nail polish off my detail brush.  Have you ever done that before?  It’s kind of a pain.  Plus in the past I’ve had the eyes pop off randomly leaving the design looking a bit creepy, so I figured it would look less creepy if they had silver lenses on their goggles rather than empty yellow sockets [very creepy!].  The other reason for not adding the outline afterward was because I didn’t want to apply topcoat over the wiggle eyes.  I used Need for Speed with a large dotting tool and approximated how big the goggles had to be for an outline to show up around the wiggle eyes.

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Starting to paint goggles to make creepy looking alien minions.

Next I used black acrylic paint with a very fine nail art detail brush to paint hair and the goggle straps.

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Painting the hair and goggle straps.

The fun part was trying to decide what their expressions would be.  The easiest one to paint was the smile, which I gave to Stuart, who is the cool minion.  I gave Kevin an open mouth to express awe at the bananas in his midst.  I felt that Bob was the silly one, so I wanted to have him sticking out his tongue blowing a raspberry.

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The bases for the facial expressions.

The tongue obviously didn’t look like a tongue in that state, so I had to paint on some detail, and to keep Kevin’s mouth from looking like a nose, I painted in some teeth.  At this point, I had only enough room to draw a sliver of their overalls onto the tips of my nails.  I wish I had longer nails so I could make them look more like the movie characters, but c’est la vie!

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Almost complete!

I applied topcoat to the minion nails and then used Kiss Nail Art Glue to apply the wiggle eyes for the finishing touch.

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Minion nail art!

I love how cute this design turned out!  The googly eyes give them so much character and have been quite the source of amusement for me.  The only thing I regret is not being able to choose different colors for Bob’s eyes, but I’m sure a lot of people don’t mind that that detail is missing.

And in case you’re wondering, the new movie is super cute and entertaining!  😉

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Double the minions, double the fun! I kind of cheated on my right hand by making them all have smiles, but as is always the case, I tend to rush more through my right hand because I tend to photograph only the left hand. 😉

Super Mario Brothers Power Up Nail Art

With me not working lately, I haven’t felt the need to cut my nails.  I’m a professional flutist and work with my hands a lot, so long nails get in the way of my speedy fingers.

Why I decided on the Super Mario theme for this week came as an afterthought.  Whenever my nails get on the long side, I try to think of doing some sort of French tip manicure because I’ll have the surface area to make it look nice.  This time, I thought to myself, “Oh, doing mushroom tips and an invincible star as an accent nail would be cute, and it will be easy to do.”  Famous last words.

The first step was to gather my colors together.  These are the ones that ended up in the mani:

Sephora by OPI- Give Peach A Chance (How perfect is that name for this mani?!)
Sephora Nail Lacquer 5 Day Shine- Happy hour!
Sephora Nail Lacquer 5 Day Shine- Banana split
Nicka K- NY 139
Essie- Pretty Edgy
Sephora by OPI- White Hot
Acrylic paint

I started out by painting what turned out to be 3 coats of Give Peach a Chance on all my nails except the ring fingers, on which I painted 2 coats of Banana split.  The intention was to later paint Happy hour! onto Banana split to outline the star because it’s always easier to paint a darker color over a lighter color.

Next came the French tip portion.  I originally set out to do only the topmost parts of the my nails with NY 139 and Pretty Edgy in the manner of a regular French manicure.  I wasn’t planning to paint the eyes on the mushroom nails but rather  wanted to just give the impression of having the mushroom heads there.  But then I put the tips on and realized how awful they looked with so much of the peach color on the nail bed.  FAIL.

At this point, I decide to make the peach part more of a half-moon to get the ratio looking right, and it occurs to me that I can maybe cheat with this step and use reinforcement stickers as templates rather than have to paint the curve manually.  But for this, I’ll need to let the peach polish dry.  So let’s try doing the star…

I took a flat brush and started painting the blue color over the yellow one.  Oh, no, no, no…  The blue didn’t have enough coverage in one coat to look good, and because I suck at painting star outlines, the whole thing looked like a streaky mess beyond repair.  FAIL.  A few swipes of acetone over the accent nail, and it was good to start over again, this time with Happy hour! as the base.  I figured that maybe if I painted some of the yellow polish onto a plastic bag, I could let it dry and then punch out the star shape with a craft punch.  Clever, right?  So while that was drying, I went back to the mushrooms…

I have a love/hate relationship with using pre-cut stickers/tape as stencils because I don’t have the patience to let everything dry to the extent that it needs to be dry to not damage the base coat of polish.  I tested my right hand with the reinforcement stickers first because I almost always end up photographing my left hand for my Instagram and Tumblr feeds.

The stickers took a tiny bit of polish off in almost every case.  FAIL.  I was so happy I didn’t at least mess up my left hand!  I managed to patch up the weird looking spots and then manually drew in the colored tips on my left hand.

At this point, I tried checking my yellow polish to see if it was dry yet…  Nope.  So onto the eyes of my mushrooms.

I used my smallest dotting tool to put the eyes on with black acrylic paint.  If you happen to see modern images of the power up, you’ll notice that it has white dots at the top:

Mushroom Power Up

I tried to paint white dots at the top to replicate the look, but it didn’t look right.  Then I realized that the eyes have a gradient effect, so I tried to add gray underneath the white…  at which point it looked like a hot mess.  FAIL.  I ended up painting the eyes with black again.  Thankfully it covered up all the other atrocities!

At this point, I realized that the yellow polish for my star was never going to dry in time for this manicure.  I have little patience when it comes to drying time!  I took some yellow acrylic paint and painted the star by hand with a tiny brush.

While that dried, I had to go back to add the white dots on the mushroom heads.  Silly me tried to use a dotting tool with white polish at first, but I pushed too hard, and the white looked like a mess combined with the green polish underneath it.  FAIL.  So my trick: paint the light colors with acrylic paint and a brush, then paint over the acrylic paint with the color of polish that you like so that the texture evens out.  It’s twice the work, but it looks much nicer in the end.  I did this with all the spots and the star, at which point the only thing I had to do was apply a topcoat.  And voilà!

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Finally done!  With only 5 fails!

But then I ended up smudging my 1-up guy with a bra hook.  😦

GAME OVER