Thursday, 31 May 2012

A First Attempt With The Gelish Soak-Off Gel Polish System

A few weeks ago, when I was in the midst of my 31 Day Challenge, I got all the supplies necessary to do Gelish soak-off gel (SOG) manicures. Seeing as I was changing my nails every day, it was not very practical to try out a manicure system intended to last about two weeks. I finally got to play with the stuff a couple days ago!

After the jump there will be photos and detailed comments on my experience!

Monday, 28 May 2012

Moar Polka Dots!

My love for polka dots should be highly apparent by now. So when my friend Taylor was visiting the other day, I was more than happy to oblige when she requested some on top of OPI Mermaid's Tears.

 

I talked her into an accent nails of Illamasqua Jo'Mina to make it a bit more exciting, and then added simple polka dots with Konad Special White.



Simple and easy to achieve, but pretty - basically why I love polka dots.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Mistakes Were Made...

In the spirit of the classic "non-apology" phrase - in which no one admits to being at fault, but it is acknowledged that there was maybe some fault by someone somewhere - I have a couple manis from the archives that weren't complete fails, but are far from perfect. I took the plunge today and finally tried out my Gelish stuff, so I'll have photos and thoughts on that process for you soon. But for now, a few results that just weren't quite right.

I've mentioned before my love for the green and pink as a combo - it's just so fun in that throwback-preppy way. Like ribbon belts and polo shirts and that ill-advised period in my youth when I tried to rock that look... Anyway, when I got Julep Leah in the mail, I was definitely intrigued to try out such a springy-green polish. On the nail, however, I was not thrilled with it, and thought it needed more (I'm my mother's daughter... haha. Love you, mom!). I had a bright pink striper, and hadn't made much use of freehand stripes. Well, there's a reason:


... I kind of suck at freehanding stripes. Also, the pink on top of the green came out RED. And while Christmas in the spring is, er, festive... not really what I was going for.

  Essie Sexy Divide and Essie Trophy Wife are both gorgeous and shimmery in the bottle. I really like Trophy Wife on, too, and purple and green is another colour combination I am fond of. So of course, I couldn't just leave Trophy Wife, I decided it needed chevron-French tips in Sexy Divide, which turned out to just be too dark and depressing together. My solution was adding rhinestones - if all else fails, add bling, right?


But that just kind of made the tips look wonky. Oops!

I adore basically everything that Nailside does, especially her tape manis. So when this vampy red wasn't thrilling me, I taped off some triangle-tips and added Revlon Silver Screen.

Hot pink and black. Another great combo, right? And a throwback to the more punk-rock period of my youth. China Glaze Laced Up with an Wet 'n' Wild Black Creme accent nail unfortunately came out looking sort of mismatched. So rhinestones, right? Yeah, that didn't really help, either.


Is the moral here not to add more when your nails are boring? Definitely not. I will always advocate for a reasonable level of overcompensating. But restraint doesn't hurt, sometimes... and if you just keep trying, odds are you'll eventually add something that will make it look right! Right?! ... I hope.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Warhol-Floral

I set out to create a floral design, possibly for Kayla Shevonne's nail art contest, but I wanted something bold and graphic rather than, well, flowery. To that end, I chose this set of Marilyn Monroes by Andy Warhol as my colour-palette inspiration.

 

In nail form:



The colours I used for the flowers themselves are mostly blends of multiple polishes, but the background colours are Orly Lucky Duck, OPI Mermaid's Tears, China Glaze Laced Up, and Julep Niecy. I think I would try a different flower style next time, perhaps one with petals made up just of many brushstrokes, but I really like the colour combinations.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Guest Blogging at Lace & Lacquers

Hey everyone! Lacey from Lace & Lacquers is currently on vacation, and I was extremely excited when she asked me to do a guest post for her. You should go check out my first guest blog here for some manicure-disaster-saving tips and techniques!

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Polka-Dots Through Time

Today I have some oldies - from the archives, back in the B.B.E. (Before Blog Era). Some of my first forays into nail art were due to my love for polka dots, and they have been a recurring theme for me. Good polka dots are a key tool in a nail artist's arsenal. I'll have some new things for you soon, but hopefully these will amuse you and give you an idea of the progress I've made in many areas since I started The Blog.

 

I'm not quite sure what red this is, I believe it is an OPI, but look at those baby nails! And I hadn't yet figured out how that the dots should follow a pattern, let alone how to make them the same size lol.



I believe the base colour here is that Essie dark blue that no longer has its name-sticker. But progress! The dots are in an approximate pattern, and mostly of a uniform size.

 




And by now I even had my first dotting tool! I painted my sister's friend Erin's nails with OPI You Don't Know Jacques, dotting with Essie Eternal Optimist, and the reverse on the accent nail. My technique was better, but my photo quality wasn't quite there - though to be fair, we were in a bar...



Much denser polka dot! I believe the green was OPI Mermaid Tears and the purple China Glaze Spontaneous, but I might be mistaken. By this point I was experimenting a bit beyond the basic polka dot pattern!

Just a brief trip down memory lane - I still have some "archived" nail art to show you all, so this may be a recurring feature. But I have NEW things to create tomorrow!

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Nail-Venturous Floam Swatch & Review

Floam. Not just that weirdly-textured stuff that I associate with a more Spice Girl-y time in my life, but one of the most sought-after indie polishes out there. With the amazing technical assistance of the ever-awesome JPow, I finally managed to get my hands on some at Ninja Polish's restock last month, even though I was on a long car trip and couldn't get the site to agree with me on my iPhone. I ended up with three bottles, as I knew this was one that I would need a backup of, and I wanted to give one away.

When I finally got a chance to try the stuff out after the 31 Day Challenge ended, I wanted to do something more exciting than just put it over a nice green base. Note to self: Don't try to be more exciting. Green is a standard base colour for Floam because it. looks. good. But no, I thought that since pink and green go well together in real life, that I should put Floam on top of Kleancolor Neon Pink. It definitely had its pros and cons as a combo.


Pro: cool bits of pink peeking through; that the undersides looked pink and then all of a sudden FLOAM. Con: the bloody-cuticles effect as I couldn't get the rather-thick Floam to line up exactly with the base colour.


Floam, just like the other two Nail-Venturous polishes I own, is amazingly cool and unique and easy to work with. It is thick but smooth and gets awesome coverage. I don't even understand how all that glitter remains perfectly and evenly suspended in the clear base, but whatever; maybe it is matte-glitter-magic. I just know I like it. Next time, though, I'll probably try it over Orly Lucky Duck, or Julep Leah, like I was planning.

Look at all those tiny tiny glitters!
I've noticed people often noting that as Floam is pure glitter, it takes a looot of top coat. As a counterpoint, I wore it with just one coat of Seche Vite - yeah, it isn't perfectly smooth, but the awesome particle-y texture is part of why this stuff is so bizarre and gorgeous. You can run your other fingers over it, and the glitters are so small that they lay flat, but you still feel something. I think it's neat, and I don't even like "traditional glitter". But I love Floam! And it has given me an opportunity to practice removing with the Foil Method, I suppose! lol.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Versatile Blogger Award

I was so shocked and pleased a few days ago when I saw that I'd been nominated for this! It's a lovely surprise to feel appreciated by strangers! lol. The lovely Polish and Such nominated me; she has gorgeous nails, great taste in colours, and very finished looking photographs; I'm so glad I found her blog because of this!

She was kind enough, also, to explain the rules of the award. I am to do the following:
1.  Nominate 12 fellow bloggers that are relatively new to blogging.
2.  Let them know you have nominated them.
3.  Share 7 random facts about yourself.
4.  Thank the blogger(s) who nominated you by linking their blog.
5.  Add the Versatile Blogger Aware picture to your post.



The rest is after the break!

Forthcoming Giveaway: Floam and More

Hey everybody! So, having just finished my epic challenge, and having had this planned for a bit, I'd really like to have my first giveaway soon. But I'm hoping to hit 50 followers here, and 50 Likes on Facebook first. Hopefully that will happen soon, and I can give away these lovely things! The giveaway will be open to followers from Canada and the US - this will cover most of my readership, I think, but sorry to anyone else! I just don't think I can afford to ship to you.

Check out what the winner will get:


From left: Essence Modern Romance, Essence Where's The Party?, Oh My Gosh Cobalt Blue, the infamous Nail-venturous Floam, Oh My Gosh Apple Green, and Essence Lime Up!

I picked up an extra Floam at the last Ninja Polish restock for this express purpose, and have been waiting for the right time! It didn't seem right to send it out on its own without some colours that might go well with it, thus the two OMGs and Lime Up, but the other two were so pretty and so cheap and usually the Essence display is empty whenever I see one, so I got you those, too! This is what happens when I'm not allowed to buy polish for myself...

Since the only one of these I have myself is Floam, I found some swatches of the others for you to see: here's one of Essence Where's The Party?, one of Lime Up at Lacquerized, some Modern Romance from Sincerely Stephanie, a Tweeted swatch of Oh My Gosh Apple Green, and a Vettelicious swatch of Oh My Gosh Cobalt Blue.

So, there's something to look forward to! I hope these choices will appeal to my readers, and that this will happen soon!

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

31 Day Challenge Day 31: Recreate Your Favourite Challenge - Inspired by the Artwork of Hokusai

I can't believe this challenge is over! It seems like just yesterday... I was doing my (or someone else's) nails for the 30th time in 30 days! Too many manicures! Well, there can never be too many... but my nails and my creativity are looking forward to a bit of a break!

Now that it is time to "recreate" my favourite challenge, I chose one that is incredibly open-ended and also in keeping with what I study - "Inspired by Artwork"!

In contrast to the geometric design I created for this challenge's original day, today I chose something a bit older and more intricate. Hokusai's The Great Wave is the first print in his series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji. Last year, I created a "shadow box" of this piece in my design class, for which I cut out the basic layers of the work on white cardstock and arranged them depthwise in a box - kind of hard to explain, but my point is that I like and have worked with this piece before.

Here it is:


And in nail form:


I really like these! They were very time-consuming, but I enjoyed the process. I took some photos during that I could post at a later time if anyone is interested.


I laid a base of two coats of CND Brilliant White to begin, and most of the rest is blends involving a number of colours. I used my Essie dark blue that I cannot identify, China Glaze Secret Peri-wink-le, and Joe Fresh Navy for the waves.


I hope that you all enjoyed seeing this challenge as much as I did participating in it! It will be strange, but also a relief, not to have to do this every day anymore! I'll be seeing you soon, though. Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

31 Day Challenge Day 30: Inspired by a Tutorial

When I realized that several things that I'd been wanting to do were related to the same theme, it seemed like an excellent opportunity to multi-task! I watched a bunch of My Simple Little Pleasures' YouTube tutorials the other day and felt very motivated to branch out in the world of water marbling to something more than the basic random-design-hope-for-the-best method I've employed thus far. In particular, I liked her bumble bee inspired water marble:


But I wasn't going to stop there! When I got Sunny Floam at the last Nail-Venturous Etsy opening, I also snagged Humble Bee and had been waiting to try it! See, bumble bee water marble? Humble Bee nail polish? Totally related. And to tie it together, I did a thumb-accent of a simple little cartoon bee.


On my fingers, I used a base of two coats of American Apparel Sunshine State, and my thumb got two coats of H&M Deep Sea. The bee I painted in with Sunshine State and black acrylic... unfortunately, I somehow forgot that bees have wings. Which is maybe a pretty large oversight. But he's so cute without 'em! He's survived some horrible things, okay? Wing-pulling is no joke!


I'm really glad I had decided to only do the water marble on two nails, because it was just. not. cooperating with me today! It took dozens (!) of tries to get the bullseye and design right. I used AA Sunshine State and Wet 'n' Wild Black Creme for that.



On the pinkie and ring finger I applied two lovely coats of Nail-Venturous Humble Bee on top of my base yellow, although in another coat I think it would have been fine on its own! Another lovely matte glitter assemblage from NVL - dense but smooth, and so easy to apply. Tiny neon yellow and black glitters with some larger black glitters mixed in, and it just ends up looking really neat and textured. I love these things! Not looking forward to removal for the final day of the challenge tomorrow, though...

Any thoughts on which day I should recreate for tomorrow's challenge?

Monday, 14 May 2012

31 Day Challenge Day 29: Inspired by the Supernatural - Rocky Horror!

I realize this may seem a bit of a stretch, but aliens - especially those in the Rocky Horror Picture Show - definitely seem supernatural to me. I mean, there's something weird going on there, right? Must be supernatural!

I modeled today's nail art mostly after key costume pieces from this "cult classic" movie.

Rocky's tiny golden shorts and Brad's dorky tighty-whiteys:

 Dr. Frank-N-Furter's corset top and fishnets:


 As well as the Mouth from the opening sequence and poster:



Click through for the nail pictures!

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Layla Flash Black Swatch and Review (and Harlow & Co. Review)

Herein I will tell you a lengthy tail, one of lemmings, holos, and Canadian e-tailers, a joyous story that ends in a self-imposed no-buy and lots of pretty pictures...

Being fairly new to the nail blogging world, I am also fairly new to the experience of the "lemming". "Lemming," for the uninitiated among you, refers to the consuming, desperate desire to own and have and wear a particular nail polish. You are both "lemming" the polish, and the polish is a "lemming" of yours. Maybe silly, but it is much simpler than explaining how baaaadly you want the pretty thing.

My first was Nail-Venturous Floam, which I just recently acquired, as well as some other NVL polishes. But then all the Layla Hologram Effect swatches started to hit the interwebs, and I just. about. died. I've never even had a holo before, and then there were these... apparitions? ... and I could figure out how I could get them in Canada. And then, some ridiculous blind spot in my brain lifted, and I looked into this "Harlow & Co." everyone was talking about, and discovered they were a Canadian company! If I were the praying sort, then I might say someone had been answering them. And shipping was reasonable, or free if you spent $50! (First hint at the aforementioned no-buy that resulted...)

So, I mean, I had to support a fellow Canadian and buy all the things, right? Right? And being in my very same province, Harlow & Co.'s nail mail came just days later. Observe: (cont. after the break, pic HEAVY)

31 Day Challenge Day 28: Inspired by a Flag - The Jolly Roger

I might be slightly disturbed, because when I read "flag" I immediately though of the Jolly Roger, also known as a skull & crossbones. The flag of swashbuckling, murderous pirates is definitely badass, and appeals to my lingering teenage punk-rock sensibilities. Also, anything which can remind one of Johnny Depp is automatically worthwhile.

And this manicure is in honour of my mother who, among countless other things, passed on to me her sick sense of humour and fondness for somewhat morbid things. Love you, Mom! Happy Mother's Day, and can't wait to paint tiny pirates (or whatever you want!) on your nails the next time we're in the same town!


You'll be getting two posts today, partly so this post doesn't just turn into a giant picture-fest, but also just so I can give the gorgeous Layla polish on my other nails the attention it deserves. But here are the photos meant to showcase the design:


 As usual for me, I tried out two slightly different approaches to see what I liked best. Above we have the freehanded version of my skull and crossbones accent nail. The other nails are Layla Hologram Effect Flash Black which, as I mentioned, you'll see more of a bit later. On the accent, I used two coats of Orly Le Chateau (my favourite almost-black) as the base, then drew in the shape of the bones with Konad Special White. After that, I went in with some black acrylic paint for the detail, and put the teeth back in with the white at the end.


On the other hand, on the same base, I stamped the skull with plate BM-211, then freehanded the bones - also with Konad Special White - before doing some touch-ups with black acrylic.

I like both, but I love how the freehanded skull turned out. Terrifying!

Saturday, 12 May 2012

31 Day Challenge Day 27: Inspired by Artwork - Mondrian

As the creator of some of my favourite things to look at, Piet Mondrian definitely merits a place on my nails. This whole De Stilj thing is very aesthetically appealing to me, and fairly easy to translate into nail art!
For a general idea of his style. (Ha... style? De Stijl? Get it? ...)

 This manicure was painted on a base of OPI Alpine Snow, and then the lines were freehanded with a small nail art brush and Wet 'n' Wild Black Creme. I wasn't satisfied with the primary-ness of my yellows, blues, and reds, so I mixed them from blends of my polishes of each colour.
Definitely something I'll try to recreate and improve upon in the future!

Friday, 11 May 2012

31 Day Challenge Day 26: Inspired by a Pattern

This was one of those that was totally obvious to me as soon as I read it. I have one favourite pattern, and you may recognize it from the background on this very blog! Now, I'm pretty sure that "damask" technically refers to a wider range of patterns than this, but I don't know what else to call it - that is what I google to find it! This particular nail art is modeled after my computer's desktop wallpaper:


I'd planned on using this pattern, but I recently saw some nail art that used this as inspiration as well, and from that I got the idea to only do parts of the pattern on most nails, and only fill the accent nail with it. Unfortunately, I can't find that source now, so if anyone knows what I'm talking about, feel free to let me know.

 

This was surprisingly difficult - I just could not get the white polish to sit where I wanted it to. I switched midway from OPI Alpine Snow to CND Brilliant White, but then it just came out less defined. I think in future I would definitely want something like a Sally Hansen nail art pen to do something this precise! It was painted on a base of OPI Mermaid's Tears, to reverse the pattern from the inspiration image.


Thursday, 10 May 2012

31 Day Challenge Day 25: Inspired by Fashion

This one was difficult, seeing as I'm not really attentive to "fashion" - at all. Years ago, when I was young... I used to read fashion magazines, but that became both expensive and irrelevant as my life became busier and more grown-up-like. I only really care about shoes, bags, and nail polish at this point, so I thought about attempting a Chanel-style quilting, and had some vague idea about various gem-encrusted shoes, but when I went searching for concrete inspiration nothing jumped out at me.

I do, though, love geometric prints, in dresses and more, and rarely convince myself to buy them. So I went looking for one to put on my nails, and found the adorable Joia dress from Igigi. It seems that they no longer carry it, but they have lots of other pretty things that I aim to buy one day.


And here it is in nail art form:
 On a base of OPI Alpine Snow, I painted some random lines - in the style of those on the dress - with black acrylic paint, then filled some of the spaces in with Joe Fresh Fog, as well as two of the colours from this month's Julep Maven "It Girl" box, Nessa and Ashley. The two Julep polishes have a cool sort-of shimmery/metallic finish, that I look forward to playing with further. Unfortunately, the brushes on these two are kind of screwy, and look like they will be difficult to work with, but I can't say for sure as I haven't actually used them yet.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

31 Day Challenge Day 24: Inspired by a Book - Descartes Nail Art

Soo this was a stunning opportunity to out-geek even myself. Descartes' Meditations on First Philosophy: totally reasonable thing to embody in nail art, right? ... Right? Well, it seemed especially appropriate since I started my French class tonight!

So this design focuses on the ball of wax example from the second Meditation. It features little René snug in his bed, a candle (mostly to indicate what colour the ball of wax is), "SUM" from the famed Cogito Ergo Sum (on its own, "sum" is simply the first person singular of the verb "to be," so, just "I am"), and the ball of wax itself.


All were painted on a base of Joe Fresh Fog, with a number of other shades and blends painted on top of the outlines I sketched in with OPI Alpine Snow.



Tuesday, 8 May 2012

31 Day Challenge Day 23: Inspired by a Movie - The Avengers

 Having seen the awesomeness that was the Avengers this past weekend, I felt the need to express my love for Joss Whedon (and Robert Downey Jr. ... and Chris Hemsworth... and so on) on Inspired by a Movie day. The problem was, there have been a number of really cool Avengers manis going around the past few days, and I didn't want to copy them. So I decided to focus on the "symbols" of some of the Avengers, rather than the characters.
Hawkeye's bow, a Black Widow, Thor's hammer, and Captain America's shield were painted on a base of CND Brilliant White, with American Apparel Raccoon (brown), Revlon Silver Screen, Joe Fresh Apple & Navy, and black acrylic paint.
I'm not totally in love with these - it isn't horrible, but I don't like it as much as many of the things I've created through this challenge. But, that's the great thing - I get to try something new tomorrow!

Monday, 7 May 2012

31 Day Challenge Day 22: Inspired By A Song - Tiny Dancer

This song has been coming up a lot lately - it is one I associate with good friends that I miss dearly, and a pretty fun time in our lives. My friend Emma was what I would call, in all fairness, obsessed with this song and, in particular, it's appearance in Almost Famous. She sang and made us listen to Elton John's "Tiny Dancer" constantly - which aside from being a wonderful song, has some great images in the lyrics which lend themselves to nail art!


 I chose the "ballerina," "blue jean baby," and "piano man" lines to depict on my nails.


My index and middle fingers became ballet slippers with Essie Eternal Optimist, the curve guided by hole reinforcement stickers and the straps freehanded. My ring finger was the front pocket on a pair of jeans, accomplished with Essie unidentified-dark-blue painted on the taped off portion, then sponged with a combination of it and Essie Borrowed & Blue. I outlined the seams with those two polishes, then used a yellow-brown blend to make the studs and some stitching. Finally, I painted a
piano keyboard with black acrylic paint on a base of CND Brilliant White.


Sunday, 6 May 2012

31 Day Challenge Day 21: Inspired By A Colour - "Ocean" Blue

In my quest to be inspired by a colour, my mind kept returning to the "texture" of water (former design classmates may have shared flashbacks at that...), and wanted to evoke something of an "ocean" blue, and the ocean itself. The 3D, oil-paint effect of this also kind of reminds me of my grandmother's oil paintings of the ocean and beaches back home. While it didn't turn out exactly how I'd envisioned it, I quite like it. For my general inspiration, see this Google image search.

 To start, I did two coats of China Glaze Secret Peri-wink-le, one of my favourite shades, and let it dry with topcoat. When I was ready to do the texture, I added another thin coat of this polish one nail at a time.
 Without allowing that to dry, I started in with my dotting tool with Essie (unidentified dark blue), Julep Jessica, and the original shade. I worked in the various colours to create a sense of the motion and texture of a large body of water, then added some highlights of light glinting off of it with Revlon Silver Screen.
Close-up to show raised texture.