Sunday, September 25, 2011

OPI Spookettes Halloween 2011 and Jack o'lantern nail art!

Hello lovelies! I finally got around to trying the OPI Spookettes mini collection for Halloween 2011. It is almost identical to the 2009 collection. There is a glow in the dark polish as well as 3 cremes - black, white and orange. I was inspired and came up with Jack o'lanterns:

I googled jack o'lanterns for facial expressions whilst watching the Japanese version of The Ring Friday night. So this halloween theme seemed appropriate :-D More on the nail art later, first let's see swatches!

I have skeletons! I went to the Chemist the other day and they had a little stand of quite frankly, junk, and then I saw this collection of skeletons and at $2.95 I could not resist :-) They were my inspiration for the jack o'lanterns! Anyway, left to right we have He's My Boo, Mummy Knows Best, I Only Date Werewolves and lastly Zom-Body To Love (glow in the dark). Oh and they come with FREE spooky nail decals:

The white didn't photograph well but you can see on the box above there's also webs and little 'trick or treat' decals.

Onto the swatches! Above is He's My Boo and while I thought it was identical to the 2009 version Tattoo You Want Candy? it looks a little lighter:

He's My Boo is on the right. So in comparing 2009 with 2011 the blacks looks black and the whites looks white however I would say this orange slightly different. But not much :-P

Above is Mummy Knows Best. Appears to be just like Alpine Snow and the 2009 I Love Mummy. I did not like this formula though. But I think mine were a little gloopy :-(

I Only Date Werewolves above. Not much to say here. I think it was 2-3 coats (as was everything due to the gloopiness of my particular batch).

Above is Zom-Body To Love in I don't know how many coats as I lost count. Clearly this is used for layering over the top of another polish. But at least it's green (unlike the blue-purple polish that was 2009's glow in the dark). Very Halloweeny!

About 3-4 coats over Mummy Knows Best.

Weee it glows in the dark! This only took half an hour for me to play with camera settings and timers and light switches (sigh). Anyway, back to the nail art!

I started with the black polish as a base, then drew pumpkin shapes (which also look like apples now that I think about it) in white. This makes the orange below nice and opaque:

I could have used just the orange but the black would have shown through. A white base is good because you can decide on your shape then fill for colouring in later.

Now I know pumpkins typically have darker lines to mark the sections but I didn't have one and I thought this China Glaze would do nicely. This is Sun Worshiper from the 2010 summer collection I believe. It is very neon. I did not think I would find a use for this ever again. Imagine my delight Friday night as I was painting over my pumpkins :-D

Now after the China Glaze I decided to continue watching the Ring whilst playing Heroes of Newerth and finishing my pumpkins. In my multitasking madness I forgot to take progress swatches of the faces :-( Basically I painted the stems of the pumpkin green with Essie Pretty Edgy then painted the faces in black/I Only Date Werewolves.

Grrr! Arrrgh! My skeleton inspiration :-P

Then came the hard part. I wanted my faces to glow so I went over the facial expressions with the glow in the dark polish. Sadly, I did not go to enough effort to try and capture it nice and glowy like the Zom-Body To Love swatch above :-(

But you get the idea! hehe!

Bad photo :-| Boo. I will try better next time... if there is one :-P Anyway, in all this glowing and photo taking I noticed that my bath and body works pocket bac antibacterials were GLOWING. I did not know that when I picked up this stash during my USA holiday:

Fricken LOVE bath and body works. I would have bought more if my suitcase could fit it :-( We went to the one on South Street Seaport:

This little shopping mall has a wonderful view of the Brooklyn Bridge (excuse the dodgy iPhone shots, I'm still going through our camera photos!)

This is the view from the South Street Seaport mall on one of the levels. Lovely.

For some reason I had always imagined Bath & Body Works to be so much bigger? It was this tiny little store!

Anyway where was I? These are the Halloween hand sanitisers they had for 2011. And when I turned off the lights, looky here!

3 of them glow in the dark @_@ I did not know that! How cool is that? Anyway, I have rambled and posted way too many pictures again so I better go and do some chores or my tax or something haha. I hope you enjoyed the post, the nail art and are having an absolutely lovely weekend. The weather has been cold windy and rainy here, not very spring at all! I eagerly await the long weekend next weekend. Until next time...

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Nail Art: Nail care, tools, tips, tricks, setup, photography and more!

Hi everyone, I had a request earlier from the lovely Vita to do a tutorial on nail art tools and how I use them to do my blog posts. I have been meaning to do something like this for a while (e.g. a video or more specific 'action' type shots but dang I'm lazy :-) I might start with my setup which is pretty basic:

Yup, I do my nails in my computer room, right at my desk :-) Nail art is time consuming so being infront of the computer is the best place for me. I can google image things I want to draw, play games or watch videos. I *try* to keep it clean and clear but many times it is cluttered with new polishes to swatch, notes and scribbles of planned art on paper. I am a messy person.

I keep my nail art brushes (and a few files) in these IKEA stationery baskets filled with Pyssla Beads. I have 3 Orly nail art tools (2 brushes and one double ended dotter) and these other cheap nail art brushes that don't last very long. For example, the handles are wooden and painted white. Two dips in nail polish remover and the paint comes off and the brush falls off. I've had to wrap my go-to nail art brush in scotch tape to rectify this. Or you could splurge on the Orly brushes which are all metal and are much higher quality ;-) Or even better, more professional ones. But these do the job fine! The basket idea was taken from my makeup organisation area which has 3 of these baskets already for makeup brushes and mascaras:

Ah yes. My obsession with makeup shown above. Luckily for me, I've moved onto nail polish and am less obsessed with makeup. But in case you are interested, those drawers are really kitchen drawers from IKEA. I can't remember what they are called but I think you are meant to mount them to walls. I found them useful for makeup :-)

This is a close up of my desk setup. I keep a lot of minis (cremes usually) and other useful full size creme colours close by. It gets dusty but I can't stand having to get up mid nail art and open drawers or cupboards to retrieve colours or tools. So they sit there. A bit of everything is in that basket - base coat, top coats, cuticle pens, cuticle oil and even some nail art stickers on the side :-P

I always begin nail art with a cuticle treatment of some sort and my favourite is this Sally Hansen Massaging Cuticle pen. A quick cuticle brush is ideal for me as I'm already going to be spending so much time on the nail art.

I find this also works better than brushing and massaging cuticle oil due to those little prongs on the end of the pen. I really go to town and brush the hell out of my nails. I don't know if that is a good thing, but it's what works for me :-D

Next I *always* use a base coat. You never know when a blue or green polish is going to stain your nails blue or yellow and you end up kicking yourself for being so lazy. 30 seconds of quick base coating never hurts! I use the Sally Hansen Double Duty as a base coat only.

So to demonstrate some nail art, I'm going to attempt to recreate my African Sunrise Nail Art that I posted earlier. After I paint my nails with the base colour, I try to (sometimes I am too lazy) use a nail art brush to clean around the edges with nail polish remover. I am currently using Acetone free removers. They don't work as well but sometimes I just don't want to sniff nasty fumes all the time. I don't think these are much better though. The brush shown above is a fairly stiff flat brush but you could use a soft one if you work with wet nails and go over the edges repeatedly. I alternate between this brush and my small tipped 'does everything' nail art brush :-)

Alternatively you could use corrector pens. I own both Essie and Sally Hansen ones. As you can see the Essie one is of much higher quality as the tip keeps its sharp shape and remains useful for tiny corrections. The Sally Hansen pen feathers out with repeated use and eventually becomes unusable and you go through you spare tips more quickly than your corrector fluid. The Essie one is much more expensive in Australia though - I think it is close to $30 if not that! But I must point out the formulas are slightly different - the Sally Hansen one does say it is conditioning and it is and if you don't need precise corrections, the Sally Hansen one is fine.

Back to the nail art! While I normally use a fan shaped brush (see basket of brushes above) to do gradients, I thought I'd go buy some make up sponges from Priceline and get into this sponging business. The effect is slightly different and quite pretty.

For the African Sunrise sponge effect, I painted the rounded corner of the sponge with my orange OPI Flit A Bit then stamped the excess paint on the tissue below. If you don't remove the excess, the spongey look doesn't happen.

I found it best if you work from the base and move up towards the top of the nail. The spongey gradient look becomes more apparent that way.

Shown above is the look after one colour used with a sponge. You could get different sponges with bigger holes (e.g. washing sponges!) and the look would be different - hmm note to self: must try that!

Final look (pre-clean up!) with the yellow added over the orange.

So for the black tips I started with a long flat brush (shown above) to get the base down but I didn't get good coverage so I filled using the actual polish brush.

Now for the tricky part! And tricky to photograph :-) Through my own experience I have found that I can do most art with just one brush - this one shown above (with the aforementioned scotch tape repair job). I use nail polish remover to clean it and my fingertips to squeeze it so that it dries to a fine point. Then I very lightly dip the end of the brush into nail polish colour. For really fine details like the trees in the sunrise nail art, this is a must.

I think I've mentioned this before but the trick to getting fine detail is to not press the brush onto the nail. The brush must not touch! Only the paint as you lightly drag it down/across/wherever. I am doing a very light stroke downwards above. It takes a steady hand and a lot of cleaning/reshaping/reapplying paint but that is it! And practice :-)

My apologies for the angle. I busted out the tripod and timer for these action shots (instead of balancing on my knee for the early shots LOL). Honestly if my bf had taken a photo of me... sigh. I simply repeated the steps above and continued painfully with one tree.

And there we have it! African Sunrise take 2! Boo! I just realised I forgot the sun. OK, presenting African Sunset take 1? Sigh. That wasn't the whole point of this post anyway :-)

Moving onto the Photography of nail art! I am currently using a Nikon D90 DSLR with a Prime Lens in Aperture Priority mode. I was previously using the standard 18-55 lens that comes with the camera however it was increasingly frustrating to bring everything into focus at once. The Prime lens fixes that for me and while I have only just started using it (we picked it up in August in the USA) I am already loving it. It is inexpensive as far as lenses go (200 USD) and is very lightweight. Great for portraits also. I'm no photography expert so I'll leave the googling to you but I found Aperture priority works best. If your camera has that setting, have a read of your manual and play with the f numbers to bring more into focus.

And of course when close up nail shots are being taken - a tripod is crucial. Unless you're lazy like me and end up balancing a camera on your knee :-) I use it and sometimes I don't.

So this is my latest photo light box/light tent. I received a much bigger one for my brithday this year and it was just too big so we bought another overseas from a great camera store in LA. Calumet Photographic in Hollywood. Oh they are on twitter, lol! Anyway, I use this for taking shots of the bottles themselves, or in the box if they are in one. For quite a LONG time I was using this self made light box (now don't laugh...):

Heeey I said no laughing! The lens cap of the SLR is partially in there to give you an idea of size. It's basically good for a few bottles of polish. I had no lights so the sides are pointless but oh well! I made do with this for over a year! Weeee.

Well that is everything I think? WOW I think this wins longest nail art post ever? Well from me! I really hope you enjoyed this post and found it useful, whatever your interest in nail art/polish is :-) This post has been long due and I'm glad I finally did it. Thanks again to Vita for motivating me. There was no dotting for this look so I will try to go into more detail the next time I do it. Hope you are all having a wonderful weekend and I'll see you next time!

Monday, September 12, 2011

African Sunrise Nail Art

Hi everyone, I was feeling the need to bring out the firey colours again after my firey autumn leaves nail art post. I switched reds this time and came up with an African Sunrise:

This came about because I was *trying* to do a cute sunshine post for an upcoming award post but it just didn't turn out how I wanted. I went with a rising sun instead, which reminded me of Africa. So I googled African Sunrise and found some inspiring images! Such gorgeous pictures.

It's hard to tell but I drew a tree on the left and a zebra on the right.

Amazingly enough, for such a time consuming look only four colours were required. Left to right we have Illamasqua Boosh, OPI Guy Meets Gal-veston, OPI Flit A Bit and OPI Fiercely Fiona.

I started the nails with two coats of Guy Meets Gal-veston - a jelly finish polish from the OPI Texas collection. This colour is so fabulous on its own, I was sad to cover it up!

Next I took a spare makeup sponge and covered it in OPI Flit A Bit and dabbed it all over the nails. This was VERY messy. I spent the majority of my time cleaning my fingers but it was good because it gave the nails time to dry for the next coat :-)

Using OPI Fiercely Fiona I tried sponging again. Ahh this is when my sponging went bad and I made a mess everywhere. It's not as nice as my thumb but hopefully by the end of it you won't notice :P

Next I added a black tip to each nail to represent the ground.

I then took the yellow again and drew a half circle to represent the rising sun.

Finally I drew some trees on the right very carefully and we're all done! I really wanted to draw an outline of a giraffe where the sun was but I was overcome with a painful migraine and had to go lie down :-( I hate migraines! The bf really liked what I had so far so I thought I would share with you all :-) Anyway I better go, I hope you're all having a wonderful day and I'll see you all next time!

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