Saturday, January 14, 2012

Tutorial: Matte Gradient with Dots

So, my friend Moonzy asked me to do a tutorial on a manicure she saw online and liked a lot. It was a really pretty purple/pink gradient with a matte topcoat and shiny topcoat dots on it. I did it and took pictures for her so she can try and do it at home. Please excuse the quality of the photos -- my regular camera is out of commission at the moment, so I had to use my phone.

To start off (after you've done your base coats and whatever care you normally do), pick a color you like (I chose Finger Paints' 'Be a Pal-ette', which is a gorgeous holiday purple that I adore) and do two to three coats, whatever it takes to get full coverage.

Next, draw on tips in your second color (mine is Color Club's 'Warhol'), thick at the tips and thinner as you go down. Don't worry about it being neat -- you just want full coverage at the tips.  Your next step is to take a makeup sponge (I like the triangles, but you can use whatever makes you happiest or makes you feel like you get the best results) and paint on some of your color on a corner. Take the sponge and dab from the tips downwards (going from side to side down towards the bottom of the nail) so you get a gradient going. Do that on all your nails until you get the kinds of results you want. If you want an example of someone doing this in real life, go watch some videos on Bob Ross. He does it the best and it'll make you laugh, too. Happy trees, happy trees...

So, you see what I did there? Of course you do, because you went and watched a dozen Bob Ross videos. Right? Right.

Your next step is to do your clean up. You can do it however you like. I take a little makeup brush that I keep specifically for nail clean up and use some acetone to get rid of the excess polish.

All nice and neat. Next step: put two coats of the matte topcoat of your choice (I use Essie's Matte About You) and let it dry. And dry. And dry.

Then, take a brush or a dotting tool (I don't have a dotting tool yet, so I used a brush) dipped into a regular topcoat and put dots down in the corners going out until you get the effect you want. Mine turned out looking like this:

Not too bad for a first try! If you do this yourself, make sure you come back and post pictures so I can see!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Aliens! And Sunflowers.

I went to Sally on Monday and FINALLY picked up a teeny tiny sable brush so I could do more detail work on nails. Since my younger sister also happens to play the role of guinea pig for all of my attempts at beautician practice, I used her nails to play with my new brush.

First, I did some sunflowers and a ladybug on the thumb of her right hand:

Which she liked. Then I asked her what she wanted, and she thought for a little bit. "Can you do opposite sunflowers?" So, I painted negatives of the sunflowers on her left hand. She looked at them and said, "They look like flames. Like aliens are attacking."

And so we ended up with this:

You can't really see it, but in the left corner of her pinkie, I painted a little green alien. She loves them, and I'm pretty happy with them too.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Crazy Nail Lady

So, I'm a legitimately crazy person. Have meds, will travel. One of my (many) crafty therapies is sitting down and doing my nails with whatever I can get my hands on to make them look pretty or wild or whatever I feel like that day. It only takes me about an hour (and when you consider how detailed some of my manicures are, that's actually not that bad) and then I have three or four days worth of amazing nails that I get checkers in the grocery store complimenting me on because holy crap that chick has leopard print nails! It's like someone saying you're pretty but has absolutely nothing to do with how you actually look. I can go out in pajamas and bunny slippers and people are still amazed by the stuff on my nails. They don't even pay attention to the fact that I haven't washed my hair in three days and yes that actually is dog vomit on my shoe.

Now that you're sufficiently disgusted by me, let me show you why people don't notice!

This one is called a water marble. I LOVE this kind of manicure. It's fiddly and takes forever and is a huge waste of polish but it looks SO COOL. You basically drip different colors of polish into a little cup of water so they make a bull's eye, then draw an orange stick (or bitty knitting needle, as is often the case in my house) through it so it makes a neat design. Your nails are painted white or whatever you want your base color to be, then you just dip your nails into the water (kind of angling your finger so that the tip of your finger goes into the water at an angle -- I'm explaining this badly but here is a link to the blog of this woman that does and she is AMAZING. I love her.) and let the polish set a minute. Then you take your orange stick and draw off the excess polish from around your finger and pull your finger out! You can use acetone or nail polish remover to get the excess off from around your nail, your preference, and then put on a top coat and you're done! It's a great way to combine the funky nail polishes you've got that you don't get to wear all that often.

The rest of my nail stuff is done with stamps (Konad is the brand name most people know, when they start looking into doing this) and it is a blast. It looks like you're an ultra skilled nail artist but you're not. You don't have to be and that's the best part of it. If you can blob, swipe, smush, and stamp, you can do stuff like this:

or this:

or this:

(seriously, the zebra stripes are my favorite. EVER.)

or this:

I'm not super awesome yet, but I'm slowly improving and I am really excited for when I can afford to get another batch of plates in (if you're looking it up, check out Bundle Monster before you invest in Konad -- they're a LOT cheaper and just as nice) so I can get crazy with my designs.

Geeking out aside, this has been a habit I've gotten into that's helped me turn from other, more destructive habits. Nothing so harmful as drugs, but just things I was doing to myself that weren't healthy. I'm not all the way better, but it's definitely been an improvement. I got started polishing my nails and trying to keep up on them after a really, really rough break-up that I thought was going to kill me. I didn't want to be hurting and unlovable forever, so I started doing little things to prove to myself that I was worth loving, worth putting time into, worth the sort of insane devotion that I wanted (and still very much desire) in a relationship.

I had to start with learning to love myself. So, in the end, my polish addiction and stupid amounts of time I put into my hands has helped me learn to be a better person. I get a couple steps closer to sane and I get to be pretty while I do it. Nothing better than that.