Monday, July 30, 2012

Polish Ninja's 1-Year-Blogoversary Giveaway!

Polish Ninja has been around for a year, can you believe it? I can easily believe it, since I haven't been in the nail art community for a year yet. Everybody's blog is older than mine. :) Seriously, though, Rhonni's one of my go-to blogs for nail art, swatching, and reviews. The lady does it all! She's one of maybe 10 or 20 blogs that I'd actually remember to go looking for if my Google Reader suddenly lost all its subscriptions. AND she's having an awesome giveaway to celebrate, so check it out!

Red Black and Matte

I picked up the most gorgeous suit at the thrift store not too long ago. Wait, wait, I know this isn't a fashion blog! And it never will be, because I care less than jack what's "in" and what's not. I like my clothes to be pretty, I like them to be flattering to both my coloring and my figure, and I like my work clothes to convey a certain level of professionalism, albeit occasionally a quirky professionalism. My co-workers who like my nail art do occasionally tease me for choosing my clothes to wear on any particular day to match my manicure, instead of the other way around as normal women do it. :) But today's post is about one of those very rare times that I actually created a manicure to match my clothes! So of course, we have to start with the suit.

The suit is a simple black dress, with a bright, bold red jacket. The jacket has adorable black embroidery around both cuffs and the collar. Now, I only wear suits for meetings or presentations, but since I have at least one meeting a month and about a half-dozen presentations a year, it gives me enough opportunity to wear them that I enjoy having a few, and this one? This one was a $10 thrift store bargain and beautiful to boot!

I started, of course, with holding up swatch sticks of all my reds...not too many to choose from, actually, since I rarely wear red nail polish...against the jacket, to decide which would go best with it. I ended up with China Glaze Go Crazy Red. After two coats of that for my base color, I added a single coat of Avon Ruby Slippers. I used China Glaze Smoke and Ashes for the black french tips and dots, and then I pulled out my NYC Matte Me Crazy topcoat. The matted sparkle of Ruby Slippers was just the right match for the slight shine of the light on the red jacket, don't you think?

Friday, July 27, 2012

Week 30: Water Marble

Obviously, I need to pay attention to the Year's Challenge Schedule a few weeks ahead of time, since I just did a water marble a few weeks ago. :) Ah, the sacrifices we make for our art! Seriously, though, I've been having a lot of fun with water marble lately. I did the blue/purple/pink one not too long ago, which I would label my first "success" with the technique, and then I did water marble on V's nails last weekend. Regrettably (both for you AND me) I developed a migraine during the process, and had absolutely no interest in taking pictures by the end of it. They were pretty, though! ^.^ It was completely a Monkey See, Monkey Do Mani, because she saw my pin of a manicure and she wanted the exact same thing. The manicure in question? A water marble by Colores de Carol, using the new China Glaze On Safari collection:

Since I don't own the On Safari collection (yet!!), we hit our handy-dandy Sally Beauty store. Regrettably, they didn't have any Kalahari Kiss left (the bottle in the picture above), but we got our grubby little hands on both Call of the Wild and Desert Sun, which are really the two polishes that make this mani look like someone poured chocolate and caramel all over your nails. :) Oddly enough? Tan is apparently not that common of a color in nail polish stocked in the stores, let alone a yellow-shaded tan. Harrumph. Don't they know that brown is my favorite color? Why were there so few to choose from?

Since we didn't have the picture with us to compare colors to, and V really wanted *that* manicure, we bought a couple of different polishes, to decide which looked best in the actual water marble. We picked up China Glaze Sunset Sail (which turned out to be a significantly pinker tone than Kalahari Kiss), Finger Paints Don't Make a Scene and Putty in My Hands. (Of course, since the Finger Paints were on sale, buy two, get one free, we also grabbed Hue Are You? even though it's far too dark of a taupe to work in this manicure, but I was fairly sure it was a brown shade that wasn't in my polish palette yet. :)

We ended up going with Don't Make a Scene for V's mani, and it came out gorgeous, but for my water marble, I chose to use China Glaze Sunset Sail to go with Call of the Wild and Desert Sun. It's a lot less of a MSMD mani, but I really love the way it came out:

My favorite turned out to be the thumb on my right hand. My daughter's favorite (and my tie for second-fav) is the index finger on my left hand. (The other tie for me is my left thumb.) Still, I'm really happy with the entire manicure, though I'll admit to having re-dipped three fingers on my right hand (the three that look less orange, the index, middle, and ring fingers). They were done with all the same polishes, but due to some water issues, they came out very, very muddy. I changed out the water and then the thumb and pinky fingers came out fine. So I re-dropped, swirled, and dipped those three, which meant they look more brown and less caramel-colored than all the rest. (If you blow up the pictures, you can see the faint swirls under the light colored stripes, because I didn't bother to take off my polish or even put another layer of the base color on first. Sue me, it was nearly midnight! ;)

I'm also not sure what happened on the middle finger of my left hand to cause that large peachy blob. I like the way it fortuitously came out, but I have no idea *how* it came out like that, since it looked fairly symmetrical when I dipped my finger into it! :)

I tried multiple different swirling designs to come up with different looks. One of these days I'll try a water marble mani where I actually use the same swirl pattern in each one. Until then, I'm enjoying all the differences far too much to try and make them match up. :)

What are your opinions on water marble patterns? Which are your favorites, your least favorites? Are there any you don't like at all? Do you think it looks better when all the nail swirls go well together or do you like it better when they're all very different?

Monday, July 23, 2012

Brownstone & Beetle Lace + Bonus Mani

Hello fellow hobbyists and other nail art aficionados! Today you get to look at everybody's hands but mine! :) Well, the first mani is on my BFF V's hands, which are regular guest stars here. The bonus mani, however, is from a first-time guest on my blog, but I'll tell you more about that when we get down there. (Why yes, it is my evil plan to leave you in suspense, why do you ask?)

So, while browsing at Hancock's the other day (though honestly, I was just being a chaffeur for the actual shopper) I decided that I wanted to try doing lace on nails. I've seen others do it, and it looks awesome...but you know what? It's kind of hard to find lace that has small enough details to be worth trying on nails. And I wanted some black, but the black ones were either not tiny enough detail, or too expensive for my post-vacation, pre-payday finances. :P So I found a couple of white choices.

I'll admit to not being terribly happy about this manicure, and not being able to topcoat over the lace (which is why the accent nails got painted over, by the way, because the topcoat soaked in too much and we didn't like the result) meant that they weren't as secure as I would have liked. I thought it would be okay, since when we did a cotton floss manicure (behold, the way waay back machine!) it actually stood up to office work for several days without problems. Alas, this manicure was not so sturdy...though it might have lasted more than half a day if V hadn't accidentally soaked her nails in a kitchen cleaner with ammonia in it while cleaning her office break room...

Well, it looked pretty before then, anyway! We started with two coats of China Glaze Brownstone, and I added a coat of Hard Candy Beetle on the thumb and ring fingers. Then I cut a few little pieces of lace, laid down a layer of topcoat, and stuck them on there. Voila, manicure! Okay, okay, we also managed to get too much topcoat on the ring finger when I was trying to stick down the edges, and it made it look bad, so we painted over the lace with another coat of Beetle. I don't care for the way it looks, personally, and wanted to remove that nail and start over, but V liked it, and since it's her hands...

And now for our bonus manicure! As I said, this is a first-time guest on our blog, and it's likely to be her last time appearance, as well, as it's G, my oldest daughter, and she lives in Kentucky with her dad and other-mom (okay, legally step-mom, but she's been a great mom, no prefix, for my older three kids and she deserves the title.) She was visiting us for a month between her graduation from high school and heading off to the University of Kentucky this fall (with a full ride National Merit Honors scholarship - obligatory proud parent bragging, you know.)  While she enjoyed playing with my nail polish stash while she was here, she limited her manicures to french tips and occasional accent nails...until just before she left! I managed to get the nail art bug to bite her!

I was doing a taped manicure, and she thought the method looked interesting, so she took some and did a basic X-pattern with the tape on her already pink nails, and added purple in two of the four sections resulting. When she was done, she declared it looked like a hazard symbol...and less than an hour later, she was removing her polish, because she'd decided to try a real hazard symbol! She started with a nice coat of Primark Beauty neon yellow, some slightly more complicated taping than her original X, and added a layer of China Glaze Liquid Leather in half the taped sections. She wasn't sure how to go about doing the center of the symbol, so I took a look at what she was going for...

radiation warning symbol

...and pulled out two different sizes of dotting tools. So a large dot of yellow topped with a smaller dot of black later, and she had the following manicure:

Isn't that just awesome for a very first nail art manicure?? It was also the first manicure she sported here that she didn't chip off over the course of the next day. :P She even went so far as to touch it up a bit the next day! And she was looking over various other geeky symbols that she could possibly do on her nails in the future. I showed her the nail art blog,, and she officially declared me to be the Evil!Mom. She was still browsing that blog a half-hour later...and that evening she discussed with me what she could use for dotting tools, or if she needed to buy some! ::giggle:: I love corrupting the youth of society!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Week 29: "Rock Star" Nails

Doing a google search on rock star nails leads to a lot of different manicures, but glitter bombs tend to be in the majority.

I started with a basic shimmery green that's new to my stash: Avon Nailwear Pro+ in Absinthe. Then I layered three different flakies over it - Nubar 2010, Sinful Colors Green Ocean, and Zoya Opal, in that order. For accent nails, on my ring finger and thumb, I used glitters instead of flakies: CND Gold Shimmer, follow by Windestine Rainforest and Sinful Colors Call You Later. Then I topped all the nails with a thin coat of Sinful Colors San Francisco.

A few days later, I added some taping with China Glaze Smoke and Ashes.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Water Marble Success! Well, mostly...

Hello, fellow hobbyists! I had an unusual desire to do water marble the other day, something I've never fully succeeded at, though I've done water marbling using the transfer method - putting plastic down in the marble and then cutting out nail-sized designs from that once it's dry. This was a spur-of-the-moment urge, though, and I asked on my Facebook what colors I should use. Pink, purple, and turquoise were suggested...well, I had a brand-new purple polish, since I had stopped by Walgreen's and picked up the new Sinful Colors Leap Flog, along with a re-released Winterberry, and while I don't really have turquoise in my stash palette, I did have several nice pastel blues to choose from that would go well with the purple and pink idea.

After putting base coat and my base color of Sinful Colors Snow Me White, I taped off all the fingers on my left (non-dominant) hand, and then used Sinful Colors Winterberry, Cinderella, and China Glaze Innocence in my water bowl. I was so excited that I was literally squealing out loud when the first finger came out of the dip looking beautiful. The second (my middle finger) was a bit muddled due to bubbling, but it still wasn't bad looking, so I soldiered on. I absolutely LOVED the way my ring finger came out. After they dried for a while, I decided to try some dotting on them, as I've seen other people do dots on their water marble and it looks so perfect. Well, I'm not terribly creative (I'm a good technician, but not so good at figuring out which colors look good together, arranging them artistically, or any of the design elements that put good nail art over the top to great art work) so I really wasn't happy with the dot work I did on my pinky finger, but my index nail? NAILED IT! My thumb came out pretty darned awesome, too, and I couldn't bear to add dots to my ring finger. The index finger on my left hand, though, became everyone's favorite:


 Then, of course, there was the taping and dipping of the right hand. Not surprisingly, my swirling of the polish in the water was a little less defined using a hand with tape over every finger. Heh. They still came out okay, though, which is saying something! When I dipped my index finger, though, the design looked perfectly normal on the top of the water. However, one of the reasons water marbling can go fatally wrong is because the design you see becomes the bottom layer on your nail. What actually shows on your nail is whatever's on the underside of the layer of polish in the water. Which, apparently, was more than a little blobby for that nail.

 It wasn't so bad that I wanted to re-do it, but it's definitely different to the rest of the nails. Though, one of my co-workers decided it was her favorite!



Wednesday, July 18, 2012

China Glaze On Safari Giveaway!

Kayla Shevonne, of Nails by Kayla Shevonne, is giving away the entire China Glaze On Safari Collection to one very lucky winner! I've definitely got this collection on my list of must-gets, though it's currently more of a Christmas-gift-to-myself plan than anything else.

As always, I don't follow blogs just to enter giveaways. I'll go check out a blog if I see a giveaway, sure, but I'll only follow them if I actually like what they have on their blog. Good pictures, good nail art, good humor, or the perfect trifecta of all three, but there's always a reason why I follow a blog. Kayla has at least two out of the three - GREAT pictures, pretty nail art that is frequently inspirational for my own, and the added bonus of great swatching (though I don't really follow a blog if it's only swatching, I do appreciate seeing swatch posts in a blog that already has the other stuff I'm looking for) - and I was already following her blog before she posted this giveaway. I'm happy to send nail blog readers her way!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Phoenix Fire

Good morning, fellow hobbyists! My friend V emailed me a ton of phoenix and dragon pictures the other day, hoping to have them appear on a nail (possibly hers ;) sometime in the future. While I was originally thinking making decals, I got quickly uninspired when I started to make them. One of those days, le sigh. But when V came over for our weekly dose of So You Think You Can Dance (which I will admit to watching nearly religiously, but it is the only reality/contest show that I watch.) Anyway, she came by as usual, and also as usual, we started brainstorming what to put on her nails. And the phoenix pictures got pulled out again. Within minutes, I had fixated on this one:

And lo, a manicure was born! I did a few trial nails on my nail wheel, and they came out...less clear and crisp than the original picture, but still awesome to look at. We started with a base of Avon Lucky Penny across all the nails except the ring finger, on which we used NYC Black Lace Creme. I used the Lucky Penny to do the base drawing of the phoenix on the ring fingers, and then added some accent strokes with Sinful Colors All About You and Sally Hansen Celeb City.

After the base color, I added a coat of Seche Vite and then dabbed on loose glitter - a bronze solidly across the tips, like a glitter french tip, and then I gradiated red and gold back from the tip, to make an overall feeling of fire. But honestly, the phoenix was the pièce de résistance! (Why, yes, I did have to look up how to spell that, why do you ask? :)

Now realize, when I drew this on her fingernail, it was all very very teeny-tiny! It was a gorgeous, but abstract, phoenix. Imagine our surprise when, after we took pictures, we looked at these and thought - wow, it looks like I planned for that to look like it's got an eye and a beak and everything! When actually, I just did an outline and then added dabs of gold and silver wherever it looked like it wouldn't overwhelm it! ::giggle::

I also made V stop by my office the next day so we could get some picture in the sunshine. We had a bit more difficulty with positioning, of course, since we had to angle for the sun instead of my bathroom with the three light sources set up, but just look at that glitter sparkle and the phoenix is on fire! Totally worth the effort. :)