Let's Get Messy

The last couple of weeks I've been working on turning an unused room in our home into a playroom for our soon to be one year old daughter. I have wrecked one manicure after another, my fingers poor and cuticles are torn up.  The playroom is finally done though! While I'm getting my house back in order, and my life as well as my fingers I've decided to do a tutorial for you guys.

Inspired by my daughters new playroom and the process of painting it I've decided to do a tutorial on splatter nail art using straws. I've seen this on many blogs but this is the first time I've done it myself. So, let's get started, shall we?
The Stuff

Base coat
Base color
Accent color(s) for splattering
Clean up supplies (i.e. remover, cotton balls, q-tips, etc.)
Paper towels (recommended)
Scotch tape (optional)

Nabi Brand Polish: 8 White and 9 Black
I started as always with applying my base coat.  I then applied two coats of my base color. For this design I decided to use white on three of my fingers and I used black on my thumb and ring finger as an accent.  As you can see I do not have a steady hand (it doesn't help that I drank two cups of coffee before I started this) and I hit the cuticle in more then one place. I am hoping with practice I'll be able to at least paint my nails like a pro but for the time being I'll go back with a q-tip, and some acetone, and clean up around the cuticle.
What a mess!
After doing a quick clean up I used scotch tape and taped around my finger nails. This is not necessary but helps to limit the amount of clean up after I do the splattering. I intended to tape all my fingers on both hands but while I was taping my left hand I smudged the polish on my right hand. I'll proceed with just my left hand for now, and we'll discuss fixing the right hand later on.

Be careful not to lay the tape on your polish.
Awwww! Come on, not again!

For my splatters I'm using four colors from my Nabi collection that are very similar to the colors used in my daughters playroom.

Nabi Brand Polishes: 88 Covalt Blue, 194 Lime Light, 65 Lavender, and 92 Fruit Green
Itsy bitsy straws, too small.
For the splatter portion of this design I'm using small coffee stirring straws. I only have two that I took from a local coffee shop. Trying to be frugal, as always I was hoping to do this design with one straw and save the other for later. I took one straw and cut it into four somewhat equal pieces for my four colors. This turned out to be a bad idea because the straws are too short. I cannot dip them into the polish bottles and still have enough straw to put my mouth to. So much for being frugal. What I ended up doing was using my longer straw, dipping it as shallowly as possible in the bottle and then wiping the straw off, clipping the dirty end, and reusing for my next color. I would not recommend using your straw in this manner because you take a risk of mix colors in your bottles. If I was smart I would have just used both straws cut in half for the four colors.

Anyways, I cleaned off the applicator brush as best I could by scrapping of the excess polish on the mouth of the bottle like one normally would (to keep from making even more of a mess) and set it aside. These Nabi polishes have a fat applicator handle so it was easy to just set it upside down out of the way. I then placed one end of the straw in the polish bottle, just enough to get some polish on it. Then placing the clean end of the straw in my mouth I aimed the polish end of the straw at my nail and blew. Seems really easy right?

Left Hand

This is what I discovered:
Too little.
- If I didn't get polish in the straw I didn't get a spatter. I think if I had used a thicker straw this process would have been a little easier for me.
- If I got too much polish in the straw it just made a big blob and not really a splatter.
Too much.

- Also, repeatedly dipping the straw into the polish will build up a layer of polish on the outside of the straw and create a problem with polish getting into the straw. I recommend wiping the end of the straw off occasionally to keep this from happening.
Poor pic, but the polish is building up
and getting to thick on the end of the
- This is not a controlled nail art, it is not precise. It is meant to look messy, in fact the messier the better. There is limited control, you can determine how much color to some degree you spatter, you can also control the direction, and you can guide the spatters by blowing them in certain directions once they are on the nails.

Uh oh, the little one is starting to wake up from her nap.  I'm going to finish up my left hand with a quick drying top coat and some drying drops to speed up the process. I'm going to take a brief intermission and I'll be back to show you the fix for my right hand and the finished result with the complete splatter.

Swab in one direction, in this case
I swabbed down toward the tip.
Now back to the nail art...before the intermission I had smudged my thumb, pointer, and middle finger on my right hand. I tried the lick it and fix it method but this didn't work. Since, this is a base color that would be mostly covered I didn't feel it necessary to redo them completely. So this is what I decided to do, I took a q-tip dipped in some acetone and smoothed out the ridge around the smudge. Make sure not to use a really fuzzy q-tip when doing this otherwise you make get fuzzes in your finish. I also found it worked best to swipe in one direction. Once the ridge was mostly smoothed out, I went back with my polish and voila, a nice base color to splatter on.
Little touch up

Right Hand (Sorry the lighting is crumby, its no longer daylight out.)
I then repeated all the steps I performed on my left hand on my right hand. I taped off my fingers, I spattered my colors, I removed the tape, did a thorough clean up, and topped off with a quick drying top coat.

Here is the finished manicure.
Please ignore the horrifying cuticles.
My final thoughts:
- This is a unique type of nail art, no two splatters are the same.
- More time consuming then I expected.
- Funky, fun nail art. Good for casual wear but not very glamorous.
- Incredibly messy project, not a good project for a neat freak.
- The straw technique has limited control, not good for a control freak.
- Perfect project for a newbie nail artist. Its easy to cover up mistakes and you don't have to worry about any little details.
Even with papertowels down I managed
to get polish all over my counter.

The messy aftermath. Thats why I
recommend the papertowels.  
I hope you found this tut informative, fun, and inspirational. Go on and make a mess of your own.

I Went Shopping!

I'd like to start off by saying I am frugal. Okay that may be putting it nicely, I'm down right cheap. Why spend $20 on one polish when you can spend the same $20 and get four or five polishes?  I'm sure you've heard the saying, "you get what you pay for."  Well I've been curious if that theory holds true when it comes to polishes.

Most of the existing polishes that I own are ones that I picked up at the drugstore, department store, grocery store, or bought wholesale online. I probably bought them because they were on sale, or they really caught my eye and I couldn't live without them. They are mostly brands you've never heard of or generic cosmetic brand like Sally Hansen, Revelon, and such.

So, while I was out shopping last night I picked up some new polishes in a variety of price ranges. Some of these polishes are very popular brands and others you may have never heard of before. My intention is to test these polishes in a variety of ways and give you a full review.  The purpose of these tests will be to determine if these polishes are really worth their price tags. I will also be using some of my existing polishes in these tests.

Here is a quick overview of what I picked up last night:

Marc Jacobs
Price Range: $18 - $35
Color: 146 Stone Jungle
Price Range: $10 - $14
Color: Valerie - Bombshell
Sephora's Formula X
Price Range: $10 - $14
Colors: Voltage, Atom + Eve
Price Range: $5 - $10
Colors: 731 Sew Psyched, 843 For the Twill of It
Price Range: $5 - $12
Colors: ZP448 Annie, ZP637 Dual
Price Range: $4 - $15
Colors: NL F25 I Juggle...Men, NL Z12 From A to Z-urich, NL Z20 Yodel Me on My Cell, NL S63 Chicago Champagne Toast
China Glaze
Price Range: $3 - $12
Colors: 934 Swing Baby, 1146 Keep Calm, Paint On, 877 Towel Boy Toy, 137 Rainbow, 1155 Passion for Petals, 1085 Beach Cruise-r, 556 Seduce Me
Color Club
Price Range: $2 - $8
Colors: 836 Feel the Beat, 928 Antiquated, 843 Magic Attraction
In addition to these colors I also purchased some nail art polishes which I have never used. I don't have a steady hand so using them will be a challenge for me. I also purchased some makeup sponges to try some sponge techniques with. I'm really excited about trying out some of these polishes and putting them through the rigors of my crazy life.

I know there are a great deal of brands that I missed. Please let me know what brands are your favorites or ones that you would like to see tested. I'll post my testing methods and grading system soon and if you'd like me to try out any of these brands let me know. I'm having a hard time deciding which one to start with. 

Polka Polka Polka Dots

I love nail art that has polka dots and today I received some dotting tools that I had ordered.  Of course, you don't necessarily need dotting tools to make dots.  Since I've never done dotting I decided to try a toothpick, and a bobby pin in addition to the dotting tools to see which gives the best results.

After applying my base coat I applied three coats of my base color to give myself a nice palette to work with.  I started with the toothpick.  I didn't care for this as a dotting tool, it was inconsistent and hard to create clean dots with.  With practice and care this could be a useful dotting tool but I did not get good results on this try. I have read that if you let the polish build up on the tip you can achieve better and cleaner dots, unfortunately I am not that patient.

Toothpick dots

Next I tried the bobby pin.  I found this to be a better tool than the toothpick. The small bead on the end of the pin is very much like the dotting tools I purchased.  It created a cleaner and more consistent dots.  The only downside is there only one size. 
Bobby pin dots

Here is a tip that I found very helpful: put your polish on aluminium foil instead of paper.  The polish will dry quicker on the paper and there is a chance it will leak through.  The polish will also dry on the foil but not as quickly.

Lastly, I tried the dotting tools and I honestly likes these the best.  The dotting tools create a clean dot with little effort.  I ordered my set off eBay for a very reasonable price.  I got a set of five with two ends, that gives me ten different dotting sizes.  These tools are well worth the .99 cents investment that I made. My final vote goes to the dotting tools for their ease of use, variety of sizes, not to mention they're kind of pretty.

While I was playing with my dotting tools, I accidentally knocked my finger on the edge of the counter.  This is not the first time I've done this and it is so infuriating. In an attempt to fix it I used my finger to fill it back in, I then licked it to smooth out the finger print.  It didn't fix it completely but did improve it, I would only recommend this if you are in a major rush and don't have time to redo it completely.

I enjoyed dotting so much I ended up doing an entire design with my dotting tools.  I removed the dotting experiments I did previously and started fresh. I used three colors from my Nabi Collection.  After applying my base coat I applied three coats of Pastel Misty.

Pastel Misty, Fuschia, Sky Blue
Then using a medium size dotting tool and my Fuschia color.  I started with three dots down the middle of my nail. I then added two more dots on either side of that row. I did this on all my fingers.

After I finished with my Fuschia I went back with a slightly smaller dotting tool and Baby Blue. I completed the design with a top coat to keep it sealed.  I really like the end result.  It came out kind of good, the colors are bright and funky.  These colors are definitely more of a spring palette but I thought it would be nice to brighten things up a bit. 

As you can see from my end result that I am not great at this, not even close.  This process was fun and easy though, and I recommend anyone try it.  I imagine with a little practice and a steadier hand this could make a really fantastic mani.

I hope you enjoyed this post and find it useful.  I apologize for the poor pictures, I will make an effort to make future pictures clearer and brighter.

Another Polish Blog?

Okay, I can image what your thinking. Aren't there enough polish blogs out there. Yes there are quit a few, there are some really great ones in fact. So, why create yet another one?  Well I have a few reasons for creating this blog.

To begin let me give you a little insight about myself. I am not a girly girl, I'm what you might call a plain Jane. If you know me, you know I hate shopping, I only wear makeup for special occasions, and my wardrobe primarily consists of jeans and t-shirts. Well as part of my News Years resolution I decided to reinvent my image. This is something I'll be working on throughout this year but at the beginning of this journey of reinvention I discovered nail art. To say the least I am quickly becoming obsessed. Obsessed with nail care, polish, and nail art designs.  Alright, obsession is not a great reason to start a blog but its one reason.

Back to the question, why create another blog about all things nail related?  Well, I have been reviewing a great many blogs that share beautiful designs, however, when I try to recreate these designs or try the techniques it's not always a success. So I've decide to create a blog that keeps it real, I'll give you good, the bad, and even the ugly. Other than simply painting my nails and trying a few nail art techniques this is all new to me.

Many of you might find this to be just another old hat, some of you might be like me and new to this nail thing. For those of you who have experience I hope I'll be able to inspire you to recreate some of your favorite designs. For those of you who are newbies like myself, I hope I inspire you to keep trying and hopefully be able to give you some tips to keep you from getting too frustrated.

I'd love to hear from you, what designs or techniques would you like to see?

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