Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween Nails: Candy Corn Inspired Water Marble

I don't actually celebrate Halloween so I wasn't originally going to do anything special for my nails or the blog. However, after the last week or so it has been very clear that some kind of nail art is expected, LOL. I kept it light and fun though and based a water marble on the colors of my favorite Halloween candy: Candy Corn.

As usual, I began with a basecoat to protect my natural nails and finished with a quick-drying top coat. The second picture is the colors I used. I started with a base color of Sinful Colors 101 'Snow Me White'. Once that dried, I tape up my fingers with masking tape to make clean up easier and filled a 3oz Dixie cup with room temperature distilled water.

I built my bulls-eye with Sally Hansen Hard as Nail 430 'Die-Hard Fan', Sinful Colors 1442 'Yellow Spotted', and the same white as the base coat. I chose one finger on each hand to leave free of the marble as an accent nail. One hand I painted the accent nail orange and yellow on the other hand. Below is the pattern chart for the flower petal-like design I used.
The smiley face in the center indicates a dip. I actually dipped my drawing tool after every two lines I drew in the polish just to keep the center neat and free of polish globs as I worked. I chose to dip one nail at a time and try to get at least 2 petal shapes on each nail. Remember to clean the surface of the water with a q-tip before SLOWLY removing your finger from the water. You can remove the tape after each nail or take it off all at once when you're done. Wait for your nails to dry and then add your top coat. Use a q-tip or angled eyeliner brush dipped in acetone to clean around your cuticles.
Here are my finished results. I thought I was done when I took the pictures, but I went back later and cleaned up a bit more :-)

Thanks for reading and have a great day! See you next time!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Rainbow Non-Linear Gradient with Black Swirls

Hello everyone! My inspiration for today's manicure was kinda of a hodge-podge of a couple different designs I came across. First I came across this video tutorial by MySimpleLittlePleasures. Then a few days later I came across this Chalkboard Nails design with the non-linear gradient and leopard print. So, I put my own spin on it by combining the two ideas.

These are the supplies I used in creating this design: a 3oz. cup of room temperature distilled water, scotch tape, a makeup sponge, precision tip q-tips, acetone or nail polish remover, and not pictured was a drawing tool for the marbling. I used a small gauge knitting needle, but you could also use either a toothpick, dotting tool, pin, or orange stick.
 As always, I started with a basecoat to protect my natural nails and finished everything with a quick dry top coat to seal the design and extend the wearing time of the manicure.
 The colors used in the non-linear (not in a vertical or horizontal pattern) are pictured on the right. I used Sinful Colors 944 Innocent (green), Sally Hansen Xtreme Wear 320 Fuchsia Power (pink), and Sinful Colors 978 Amethyst (purple).
Last but least, here are the colors used in the marbling, plus the white I used as a base color before applying the gradient. The white is PureICE 611 CP Platinum. The black is Sally Hansen Xtreme Wear 370 Black Out and then Sinful Colors 1064 Clear Coat.

After applying my basecoat and 1 coat of white polish I let them dry completely and then taped each finger. There is a video of how to do this on my tip and tricks post earlier this month. Then I applied the applied the polish for the circle gradient directly to the sponge. I dampened the sponge and rung it out well first, which makes it absorb less of the polish so you don't waste so much. Danielle from rocknpolish has a good photo tutorial on this, if you are a visual learner like me. You will probably need to sponge on to or three layers to get the polish opaque. Also, rotate the sponge a bit between nails so that the colors appear in different patterns. 
This is after the 1 coat of white. The polish isn't fully opaque, but it was enough coverage for what I wanted. Also, you can see that is a shimmer polish. You could also use a creme if you prefer.
The second picture is after sponging on the gradient. I did one hand at a time from start to finish, because that's just easier for me, but I did notice that doing it this way required me to use a new sponge on my second hand. If you are trying to minimize product usage and waste, then you should probably do each step for both hands before moving on.

Once the polish was complete dry, I added a protective top coat before I started the marbling. I used a 3oz Dixie cup with room temperature distilled water. I started by dropping 2 or 3 drops of black because I wanted it to be opaque. But I noticed that when I added the clear polish, it darkened the black, so I started over and only used one drop of black. I did a sequence of black, clear, black, clear, black and clear for a total of 6 rings to my bulls-eye. Then I drew from the center in all four directions: up, down, left, and right. Then I drew one big swirl starting at the inside of the cup and ending at the center. You can just do the swirl if you want, but keep in mind that the more lines you draw before the swirl, the more intricate your finished design will look. The I dipped my nail. I did one nail at a time as is my personal preference, but you can dip as many as you can comfortably fit into the cup with smudging any designs. Then use a q-tip to clean the excess polish from the surface of the water. Once the water is as clean as you can make it, slowly remove your finger. Tapping it gently on a paper towel will help prevent any pesky bubbles. Once all you nails have been dipped, you can remove the tape, wait for them to dry and then finish with your favorite quick-dry top coat. Below are picture of my finished results.
Left hand

Left hand

Right hand

Right hand

The final step is to use a q-tip and/or angled eye-liner brush dipped in acetone/remover to clean up any polish on your finger and around your cuticles. And you're finished! Enjoy your manicure and don't forget to leave comments! If you duplicate this manicure (or any part of it), post them to my facebook page cuz' I would love to see them!

Monday, October 27, 2014

'Grunge' nails with the Dry Brush Technique

Today's nail design is what I like to call a 'grunge' effect, but it is also known as 'distressed'. This is not my own original design. I first came across it here by Chalkboard Nails and there are a lot of 'distressed' nail designs that you can find online, especially at Youtube.

These are the colors I used. As always, I started with a base coat to protect my natural nails and then used the NYC French White Tip as a base or primer color.
The other colors pictured here from left to right are Sinful Colors 947 'Mint Apple', Sinful Colors 5164 'Starfish', Sinful Colors 1184 'Tempest', and NYC Black Lace Creme. Creating this design takes several layers and I did not, unfortunately, stop to take a picture after every layer. However, each layer is the same technique in a different color. I used a pastel palette, but you can use whatever colors you choose.

The dry brush technique really is what it sounds like. Use the neck of the bottle to remove all the excess polish from your brush, even more than usual. You can even wipe it on a paper towel or tissue. When the brush is practically dry of polish, swipe it over your prepped nails to get very thin layers of color. You will see the brush strokes, and that is okay. You don't want to cover the whole nail, leave room for your other colors. I did my layers in teal, pink, and finally purple.
Since the polish is applied so thinly, it will dry almost instantly so you don't have to wait between layers.

The final layer will be the black, and this is what really gives that 'grunge/punk' effect. If you opened that link to Chalkboard Nails original design, you will notice that I used more black on my nails than she did. This really will be about your own personal preference. Use the same dry brush technique and apply as much or as little black as you want. Finish everything off by applying your favorite quick dry top coat to blend everything together, add some shine, and increase the life of your manicure. Then use an eyeliner brush or q-tip dipped in remover or acetone to clean up around your cuticles. Voila! You just created the perfect punky 'grunge' nail art! My final results are shown below. I had trouble getting a good picture, but I really love the way these turned out and I hope you do too. As always, thanks for reading, feel free to leave comments or questions, and don't forget to follow my blog!
Left hand

Up close look

Right hand

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Green Gradient Nails for Nation Depression Awareness Month + Knitting Project Update!

Happy Saturday! I hope everyone is having a relaxing weekend. As promised, I have a quick knitting update. The first thigh high is already 25 inches long. Once again my wonderful hubby James is modeling it for me on his arm. It is very loose on his arm. Also, the ribbing makes it very stretchy so it should fit snugly around the leg. I have about 6 more repeats of the 13-row pattern and then the bottom cuff to finish off. Maybe another 2 weeks or so of knitting, depending on how quickly I move.

I have a bonus today as well. It occurred to me, why wait until next year to post a nail design for some of the other causes mentioned in my last blog post? There was still enough time left this October to squeeze in another design or two. So I decided to do a green gradient nail in recognition of National Depression Awareness Month. I used Sinful Colors Basecoat to start. The polish goes on slightly white, but dries clear.  

I chose three shades of green, all Sinful Colors. The lightest shade on the left is 'Innocent' (it looks a little yellowish in the picture, but it is more of a lime green), middle is 'Happy Ending' and the darkest color is 'Pine Away'. 

I applied a single coat of the 'Innocent' as a primer coat and then let it dry completely. I applied the gradient with a sponge technique. I used regular cosmetic sponges like you can find at any drugstore. I applied the polish directly to the sponge so that the colors overlapped just slightly but were still distinct. Then I pressed the sponge to the nail. I applied more polish to the sponge as needed and did three coats of the stamped polish to each nail. 

Once they had dried completely, I applied my top coat and then used a q-tip soaked in acetone to clean up around my cuticles. This process is a little bit messier than a normal manicure so if you really don't like having to clean up as much, you could tape off your fingers or Vaseline/cuticle oil like you would for a water marble. It's really not that much extra work though, so whichever you prefer. Below are the pictures of my finished look. As always, thanks for reading and have a great weekend!
Left hand

Right hand

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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Breast Cancer Awareness Month Water Marble: Shades of Pink

As promised, today's post is a water marble I designed for Breast Cancer Awareness month. My mother is a breast cancer survivor so this has a special meaning for me. However, I would like to take a moment to point out that although Breast Cancer may arguably get the most attention there are a number of other noteworthy causes that also deserve attention in the month of October.
For example, did you know October is also National Bullying Prevention Month, Depression Awareness Month, Healthy Lung Month, SIDS Awareness Month, and National Domestic Violence Awareness Month among others? Perhaps next October I will try to do some water marbles for those causes as well!

Anyway, I started a few days ago looking through my pink polish, combining colors and trying out designs. I had it narrowed down to three, pictured below. I decided the one on the left didn't have enough color contrast. The middle nail was my favorite, but I didn't really have enough of the pale pink polish to make every nail that way. So, I went with the design on the right on eight fingers and then used the middle design as an accent nail on my two middle fingers. The designs are drawn the same, the difference is the amount and order of the polishes used. I will explain a little later.
First, I did a base coat and a primer coat. The primer was in Pure ICE 'Splash'. This color didn't really spread well in the water, but I still wanted to incorporate it in the design so I did that by using it as the primer color. The bottle of the right is my shiny top coat from NYC which is the last step of the manicure. 

The colors I used in the actual water marble design are shown on the right. From left to right the colors are 'Fuchsia Power', 'Hot Magenta', 'Pink Punk' and 'Hard Core Party'. I built my bulls-eye for most of the nails by using one drop of each color in this order, then repeating that same sequence, which you can see below. 

I drew the pattern by drawing out from the center in four directions: up, down, right, and left. Then I drew in-between those lines from the outside in. I made a pattern chart to try to show what I did. Keep in mind, you don't have to use the same design I did, you don't even have to use the same design on each nail! I am just showing what I did to get the effect shown. The #9 smiley face shows I dipped my drawing tool in the center to draw it together and clean up the design a bit at the end. The picture below the chart is what the design should look like if you are doing the same thing. 

I had my nails taped before building the bulls-eye, that way the polish isn't drying in the water while you're busy taping up your nails. I dipped my nails one at a time so I could capture the pale pink leaf-like petal on the center of each nail. The only thing I did different on the 'accent' middle fingers, was vary the order of the drops when building the concentric circles. I added a drop of the 'Hard Core Party' every other drop. So it went, 'Fuchsia Power', 'Hard Core Party', 'Hot Magenta', 'Hard Core Party', Pink Punk' 'Hard Core Party', 'Fuchsia Power' (this is because the first ring of 'Fuchsia Power' will probably be dry by the time you start drawing the design and therefore not usable, but I still wanted the color in the final product) and finally 'Hard Core Party'. Then draw the pattern the same as before and dip down in the same place. 

While your nail is in the water you will carefully use a q-tip to clean the excess paint from the surface of the water. This is to allow you to remove your finger from the water without pulling it through the extra polish, which would smudge your design. Removing your finger slowly and tapping the tip of it on some paper towers gently will help prevent those pesky bubbles I mentioned in an earlier posting. 

These are my final results. The upper picture is my right hand and the picture to the left is my left hand. When the polish is completely dry, you can add your top coat and use a q-tip or flat brush dipped in nail polish remover to clean up around your cuticles. Enjoy your manicure! 

Coming up on the blog next time will be a knitting project update! As always, thanks for reading and feel free to leave comments!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Tips & Tricks of Water Marbling

I mentioned in my first blog post that I had read several blogs and articles and watched dozens of video tutorials on water marbling before I tried it for the first time. I thought that today, I would share some of the 'tips n tricks' that I've learned along the way, both from the videos I've watched and from personal experience in trying this for myself.

What do I need?
Chances are  good that you already have everything you need to do a good water marble. As you learn new techniques, you might decide certain things work better for your personal preference and then shop for those things. But you can begin practicing right away as long as you have these basics on hand:
           * distilled or filtered water
           * tape (scotch, masking, painters, medical, any will do)
           * nail polish
           * toothpick OR some type of pin (t-pin, safety, straight...) OR a needle,                                            * small 3-7 oz cup or bowl
           * nail polish remover

Now, there are alternatives even to these basics. No tape on hand? That's okay. You could use either vaseline, chapstick, or cuticle oil. Rub it on your skin around but not on your nail and about halfway down all sides of your finger. Now when you dip your finger into the nail polish and it coats your finger, all you have to do is use a nail wipe or paper towel and just wipe it off! It's that simple. CAUTION: You know that old saying "oil and water don't mix"? Well, it happens to be true. If you use any of these petroleum or oil-based products, you will have to change the water after each dip because the lubricant will float on the surface of the water and keep the nail polish from spreading.

If you don't have any toothpicks, pins, or needles handy, you could alternatively use either an orange stick, or a dotting tool, even a thin gauge knitting needle! The size of your bowl will affect how much nail polish you have to use to create your bulls-eye and how many nails you can dip at once. The small Dixie cup I use allows me to use less nail polish, 6-9 drops. But I can only comfortably dip 2 nails at a time (which is fine with me since my preference is only 1 nail at a time). Just experiment with different sizes and find what works best for you.

Your water must be room temperature. The reason for this is that water that is either too warm or too cold will both make the polish dry more quickly. The longer the polish takes to dry in the water, the longer you have to draw your design and play around with it. This is not a process where you can take your time. Even moving quickly, it is likely that by the time you start drawing in the bulls-eye the outer circles will already be dried. To avoid messing up the design, just avoid those and start drawing your pattern at the third ring in or so.
Using filtered or distilled water will ensure that there are no hard minerals in the water that could adversely affect the polish as well.

Now what happens if your polish doesn't spread well in the water? Well, there could be a couple reasons for this. First, make sure you are dropping the polish as close to the surface of the water as possible without actually touching the water. The higher you drop it, the more gravity and therefore the more speed. So, the polish is more likely to drop into the water instead of being suspended on the surface of it. Second, adjust the temperature of the water a few degrees in either directions and see if that helps. Third, is the polish too thick? In order for this to work best, the polish needs to flow well. Even if you're using the same brand, even the same color as someone else did, it doesn't mean it will work the same. Polish that has been sitting in a shoe box for a year will behave differently than a brand new bottle, since polish gets thicker as it ages. Try using nail polish thinner, which you can find at Sally's Beauty Supply or any other beauty supply shop. You may even find it at drugstores. Never use nail polish remover to thin out your polish. While it will work at first, over time the nail polish remover will ruin the consistency and opacity of the nail polish. If all of these other factors are NOT the problem, then a fix could be as simple as taping the cup or table to 'shake' open your circle of polish, or run your drawing tool around the inside rim of the cup, which will make the polish 'bleed' toward the edge of the cup.

And the last frequently asked question, do I really need a base coat and a primer coat? I would say 'yes' and here is why. The base coat will help protect your natural nails from staining. I use a base coat every time I paint my nails, whether I water marble or not. The 'primer' coat is what I call a coat of either white or the lightest color in your marble design. You can test this for yourself, but I find that without that primer coat, the colors of the final design are flat and dull. A light color underneath will help the colors stand up and will make them much more vibrant. Just try it both ways one time and I think you will be convinced. The reason I use the lightest color in the design is because sometimes a few little bubbles are unavoidable. When they pop, you will be able to see the base coat. If you did a design in brown, orange, and yellow (the harvest colors I'm wearing from my last blog post), then little white spots where the bubbles popped would be out of place if I had used a white primer coat. But since I used the same yellow that I marbled with, you can't even notice the popped bubbles.

That's about all the tips and tricks I can think of for now. I'm sure it's not exhaustive though, so if you can think of anything you have questions about, then please comment and I will be happy to answer them. Ahead on the blog this week is a new water marble design for Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Shades of Pink, so stay tuned!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Harvest Flower Water Marble

So Fall is here and the air is beginning to get crisp (at least in other places in the country, LOL). Although I love Texas I kinda miss the East Coast at this time of the year, specifically the leaves changing colors. With that it mind, I put together some colors that remind me of Fall, changing leaves and harvest festivals.
The brown is #949 'Nirvana', the yellow is #1197 'Anchors Away' and the orange is
 #1214 'Feel the Vibe'

I use the Nutra Nail Strengthener as a base coat and the one on the right is NYC's Extra Shiny Top Coat

I prepped my nails with one coat of base coat and 2 coats of the Anchors Away, since it is the lightest of the colors in the pattern. You could also use a coat of white, but I like to use a color already in the pattern in case of air bubbles. 

I made a bulls-eye pattern going either lightest to darkest color like the picture above or darkest to lightest. Then I drew a basic flower pattern like the picture on the right.  You can also see in the flower picture how I anchored the design to the walls of the cup. I am using a small dixie cup with room temperature distilled water. 
These two pictures on the right were my first attempt. The top picture is the right hand and the bottom picture is the left hand. I was having trouble getting the brown polish to spread as well in the water since it was a little thicker than the other two colors. Because of that I was getting a big clump of polish in the center of my bulls-eye, which messed up my flower pattern on a few fingers.

So, I waited overnight and then took the polish off of just the fingers that I wasn't happy with and then redid them. This time I only did the polish from darkest to lightest when I made my concentric rings. This way the lighter polishes over the brown helped it to spread and I didn't end with a clump of brown in the center that didn't spread. The pictures below are my final results and I would say this is the first water marble I've done that I'm completely satisfied with. It came out exactly as I had envisioned. 

The top pic is the left hand and bottom pic is the right hand. I drew little arrows to the nails that I did over. 

And that is my latest water marble design! I do have video function on my camera, but I don't really have any kind of set-up to let me video tape myself doing the marbling so I can upload a tutorial. So, explaining with pictures is as close as I get for now. But feel free to leave comments and ask questions if you want to. 
Just for the cute factor, I posted a picture of my 2 1/2 year old puppy Rusty here at the bottom! He is a border collie mix and his name comes from little patches of rust-colored fur on his paws between his toes. He is a total mama's boy! Thanks for reading, everyone and see you next time!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Knitting Project!

So, I thought today I would share my current knitting project. My little sister, Mandie, loves leggings and other things to keep her legs warm. So, I found this great pattern for free at Lion Brand's website for Thigh Highs!

Originally, Mandie and I started working on this together. The plan was that I would knit one leg while she did the other and we'd have a knit-along. But, real life intervened and we had barely gotten started when she had to move away. But I wasn't ready to give up on this project yet so I have revived it.

This is a picture of what the finished product 'should' look like from Lion Brand's website and a link to the free pattern download:

The yarn they are using to get that shimmer effect is Lion Brand Vanna's Glamour. I am using a Chenille Glitz yarn from Ice Yarns in the same weight class. If you go to your local craft store like Michaels or Hobby Lobby, 90 percent of the yarn on the shelves will be worsted weight or #4. This is the most common used in scarves and afghans. The other 10 percent will be either a cotton blend or a #1, which is also known as sock weight yarn and is used for (you guessed it!) socks. When I am shopping for anything in between I usually shop yarn specialty shops. You can probably find a couple stores in your area, or just shop online! I can usually find what I want at a good price by shopping in lots at  

The pattern is very simple and other than the sheer volume of work is easy enough for a beginning knitter. An easy way to not get overwhelmed is to take it in smaller steps instead of looking at the big picture and don't give yourself an unreasonable deadline. For example, these thigh highs are worked in a 13-row repeat pattern. So when I sit down to knit I make sure I at least have time to work a full repeat sequence: 13 rows, even if that's all I have time for. It will add up quickly. One thigh high will measure about 36 inches long. I am about 11 inches in already and I've only been working on it a few hours a day for 4 days. My husband is modeling my current progress on his arm in the following picture.

And that's where I am right now! Stay tuned and I'll show pictures of my continuing progress in about a week or so. Thanks for reading!