Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Day 16 (tribal print), Day 17 (glitter), Day 18 (half-moon) of 31 Day Nail Polish Challenge

So for my own peace of mind I will disclaim here that I've been stressed and "blah" and whatever, so I'm not as  satisfied with these manis as I'd hoped to be. But I did them, and here they are. On the plus side, I'm posting more often, so at least I haven't fallen off the face of the earth (aka I'm actually keeping up with something I'm supposed to be doing).

Day 16 challenge: Tribal Print

(right hand - daylight)

(left hand - daylight)

I started with a base of China Glaze "trendsetter", which I had never used as a solid color up until this point. Although it remained a simple one-color mani for a short time while drying, I wish I had gotten a picture of it alone. I was surprised that I liked this color on because it kind of reminds me a pea soup in the bottle - I had ordered in online on a whim and was kind of disappointed once it arrived. But having now seen it alone, I think it's kind of great on it's own since I can't really say I've seen any other color like it before. I'm not sure how well it would go with olive-toned skin, but on dark/African skin and very pale light skin I imagine it  looking great. I "winged it" with some nail art polishes in different colors. Sure, I looked up a bunch of wonderful photo references of beautiful tribal manis, but... I was tired and had no energy. So while I like when each nail is different in these sort of manis, mine is just an odd happening of random whatevers. And kinda sloppy. Ironically I got a couple of compliments on these nails for the day I had them on - go figure!

Day 17 challenge: Glitter

(window natural light)

(with bonus cat!)

I used a base of WetNWild Megalast "Sugar-coated", and a pink glitter polish by Butter London called "Rosie Lee". I used my dotting tools for the dots (that's a bit redundant huh?) but, while I had french tip sticky guides that I'd just bought sitting right in front of me I was much too impatient for the polish to dry completely enough so the base wouldn't peel up... so these tips are freehanded. They aren't perfect, but I don't think they're all that bad. Especially since glitter polish can lump together and make straight lines harder to achieve. That's my defense anyways. 

Day 18 challenge: Half-moon

(indoor light)

(window natural light)

So as I just mentioned, I bought some french tip sticker guides. I couldn't find page hole reinforcer thingies, which is what "everyone" says to use for half-moon manis. I could have looked in another store, but I didn't. And as you may have guessed, I learned the hard way about the base coat peeling off with the sticker guide if you aren't patient enough for your polish to dry. Not only do french guides not really provide enough curve for a good half-moon shape, but I had to use a teal-y nail art polish to cover up damage from my impatience the sticker guides. I wasn't unhappy with it, probably because I love the bright colors I used for this - but I wasn't happy. The colors I used were Orly's "Truly Tangerine" and "Purple Crush" (note: the purple looks more pink here because it was put on over the orange, so this isn't what the color truly looks like on its own).

Till next time!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Day 13 (animal print), Day 14 (flowers), and Day 15 (delicate print) of 31 day nail polish challenge

So I'm going to post some old manis that fit the theme to show some progression, and just to share more in general. Plus, I think it will help me see if I've gotten any better *fingers crossed*

Day 13 challenge - Animal Print

This was my very first attempt at a leopard print mani... and it was not that successful haha. It was sloppy and I didn't pay great attention to the spacing of my spots. My cat Peanut is in the picture, a strategic move on my part to distract from the poor mani quality ;-P

This is the leopard print mani I'd done in February for Day 3 (Green) of the nail polish challenge, and it is significantly better than the first. I was actually very happy with it, especially because I had not practiced at all. This was my second time ever doing a leopard mani, so I'm happy I got the hang of it on the second try!

This picture has to be from like, two years ago. Literally, the first thing I had ever done that was not a single plain color. I was happy with it then, and I'm happy with it now - even if some lines are thicker or longer than others. I think in general it'd be pretty darn hard to mess it up actually... as long as you can steady your hand enough, the lines don't need to be perfect. Actually, I had gone on new medications around when I did this mani and had hand tremors, so even if your hand is shaky this mani is easy to give a stab.

Finally, the mani I specifically did for this challenge. I kept it simple with the same easy cat-striped pattern. I used Nicole by OPI "Follow Me on Glitter" (a present from the boy) for the base and some black artist polish for the stripes. In the bottle you could see all different colored circular glitter flecks floating around in the black and silver glitter base. But when I applied it to the nail all the colored glitter kinda got lost and buried. The light just did not catch it the same on the nail as it did through the glass bottle. You can definitely find just as good black-base silver-glitter polish for cheaper. 

Day 14 challenge - Flowers

This is my first real stab at "nail art" from last summer, my first (and I just realized my only) go at cherry blossom nails. Of course it could be better, everything could always be better. But I was so proud of myself! I also had no dotting tools or paint brushes when I did this. I really don't know why I haven't done cherry blossoms again.

This was my first go at a french manicure. It's a horrible picture, but I still think it shows my ability to freehand a french (I've done taping twice in my life). The little dotted flower accents were done with the pointy end of a wooden barbeque skewer haha.

My freehand attempt last year at vines, just using one of those green nail art polishes from the dollar store. I like the idea, and it looked unique. But the design came out thicker than I had hoped. Eventually I'll try again.

This flower mani was from Day 3 (yellow) of the nail polish challenge. It was my first time using dotting tools, and I was really happy with this. It felt very springy =).

I did this mani this week (I'm so sorry for the horrible picture) and was trying to go for a color combination I wouldnt normally gravitate towards. I wasn't really happy with this, but I didn't hate it either - not just because I felt like the colors didn't quite pop together, but because I had shaky hands and just felt like I hadn't been consistent in the dotting. I used Essie "Jamaica Me Crazy" for the base, China Glaze "Trendsetter", and some generic black and red art polishes.

I decided to give dandelion nails a try, but I had very unfortunate timing. Not only did I not bother checking a photo for reference, but I hadn't slept properly for three nights in a row. When I decided to try this on the fourth night... well, could it have ended in any other way but failure? It looks nothing like a dandelion... or a flower at all. It kinda just looks like scattered matchsticks. I wasn't going to post this, but then I decided it'd be funnier to document the failures when I happen to have pictures of them. May as well laugh at it, right? It kind of makes me sad that I wasted some of my beautiful (and expensive!) Butter London "Victoriana" for the base. 

Day 15 challenge - Delicate Print

I wasn't sure what qualified as a "delicate" print. When googled, a lot of delicate flowery konad manicures came up. I really must admit, I have Mash and BundleMonster plates I've yet to get the hang of. I just can't seem to get stamping. I can never seem to get the polish to stick, and instead the stamped image is blotchy with empty spots. I've tried different kinds of polish, with no different results. Also, the stamp images just aren't big enough to cover the entire nail, which I guess seems to be common for the non-Konad-brand plates (as well as the problem of the stamp engravings not being deep enough to hold enough polish to sufficiently transfer onto the stamper). I read from one person that they just couldn't get it and in her frustration splurged on the "real" thing, konad plates and stamping polish - lo and behold, she was successful! I might splurge on Konad stuff... one day. I'll stick to freehanding for now. 
Speaking of freehanding... google search also turned up a lot of lace manicures, so I decided to try it freehand. Well, not totally freehand I guess. This was my first time ever using a nail polish pen! I can definitely see the usefulness of one, especially if you intend to write script on the nails or find you can keep your hand more steady in that position. I found that while it in some ways was convenient and a little faster, it wasn't exactly neater. I used Sally Hansen Gem Crush "Big Money" for the base, and the tip of the nail pen kept snagging on the bumpiness of the glitter. I tried putting a topcoat before using the pen and just found that it was much like trying to write on a plastic bottle with gel pen - streaky, and having to go over lines many times to even see it. I think I could do a better job using art polishes and/or a paint brush, but I'll give it a go another day. For my very first attempt at a freehand lace design, I don't think it's all that shabby. 

K thanx bai, till next time!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

After a LONG hiatus, a very LONG update! Day 9 (rainbow), Day 10 (gradient), Day 11 (polkadots), and Day 12 (stripes) of the 31 Day Nail Polish Challenge

I have been even more terrible than usual at updating... but I have excuses! Sort of. Kinda. 

(If you do not wish to read this ramble of my recent adventures, just skip down to the manis!)
I went to Pax East in Boston, a gaming convention hosted by Penny Arcade. This was my second year going and it was a super fun nerdy weekend. I even shaved my hair into a mohawk. Long story short, there was a game promotion for Far Cry 3 where you get the game for free if you shave your hair into a mohawk to look like Vos (I'm guessing he's the main character, a terribly ugly guy IMO). Well, I saw it as an opportunity to get a free haircut - I was going to cut my hair short anyway, so what the hell right? Well, it didn't really come free. I got interviewed by this horrible interviewer who didn't know how to operate a mic, it was incredibly awkward. To be fair, I was being honest about not knowing anything about the game and just wanting the haircut, so I'm sure I made her job harder haha. Then, I was forced into playing a tournament of the game where all the players were mohawk receivers... and of course they kept panning back to me because I was the only girl playing that round. Which I think was a bad move on their part because I am HORRIBLE at shooters, so I was shooting the people on my team. It was pretty damn embarrassing. At least my friends had no interest, so they didn't watch the disaster. 

Me after the shave, with FC3 badly spray painted onto my head. I swear I did not intentionally smugly pose for this photo. I had just gotten a new cell phone, and my tiny hands are not used to these new fancy big-screened devices, so I had trouble aiming the camera!

However, this IS me being a bit of a camera whore. I needed to play around with the camera as a sort of therapy. Going from long curly locks to a shaved and hawked head is a big leap and takes getting used to, even if you like it for the most part (and especially if you have body image issues). Also, a big spiky mohawk isn't really me. My hair is curly, it hates and fights against being anything but curly (it immediately starting curling even when they spiked it), and spiking glue doesn't make it curl any less than it normally would. So privately camwhoring allowed me to see my curly-hawk from different angles. 

The man getting hawked next to me had long dread down to his butt. He was getting the game for his friend. I don't think he realized the leap he was making in shaving off all the dreads from the sides of his head. He had a really hard time and actually looked like he was trying with all his might not to cry in front of everyone. During the tournament he was puffing one of those electronic cigarettes furiously and turned completely silent, as oppossed to his happy talkative demeanor prior. If you're a female, or are used to long hair, or are in any way connected to your hair in a way that you feel it is an actual part of you... really, don't do this. I went and got a boycut and buzzed off all my hair the night before the last day of school senior year in high school. On a whim, because I was so unhappy with myself i just did something drastic. I remember the pain the rashness of that decision brought. Even knowing what I was getting into this time I've had some crying bouts and such, and although I know it isn't really the hair (i like having short hair) but rather underlying feelings just being triggered by something visual in front of me, there's no denying that we all identify ourselves by our appearance to varying degrees. That, and knowing that other identify us by our appearances to varying degrees as well, can make any drastic change very hard to cope with. That man really did look awesome with long dreads where the mohawk would be, sides shaved. I can only hope he came to be comfortable with it, and that he stuck with the electronic cig if he was trying to quit lol. 

The trip was great... ya know, aside from the concussion. Concussion you say? Yep. The night before the opening day of the convention, fellow PaxEast-ers hold what is known as the PokeCrawl - A pokemon themed, challenge based bar crawl. Well, between the alcohol and a nightmare that turned into me waking up half-dreaming and having an anxiety attack, I hit my head in the hotel bathroom. My companions were drunk and don't remember me hitting my head, but the pain of it is one glimpse of conciousness I do remember. It was hard enough to give me a pretty shitty concussion and PCS - which is what Jane McGonagal (game designer and author of Reality is Better) suffered from and prompted her invention of SuperBetter - although hers was very serious due to not healing correctly. 

In the ER getting checked out. Between anxiety (I hate hospitals) and feeling horrible, Steve was making me laugh with CAT scan jokes. We decided that they put you in a room and throw cats at you, and if they stick to you like magnets you've failed the test and are declared crazy. And that I would fail. Sadly, there were no cats. But he did help me pee in a cup, and even carried my pee cup for me while a dizzily stumbled back to the bed. What a good guy I've got.

So I had to keep resting and taking naps on corridor floors of the convention center throughout, but I still had a great time. I'm finally feeling better, the symptoms come-and-go now, mostly when I'm not resting properly or stressed. On a side note, depression/anxiety brought on from a head injury feels so foreign and weird to my "normal" depression/anxiety, and came on in such odd and physically exhausting/painful bouts... I was really at a loss when it would happen, and I actually found myself actively grateful for knowing as much as I do about my own shit and having a pretty great knack for personal insight.

On another side note, Johann Sebastian Joust is the most incredibly fun thing I've come across since forts. I was lucky enough to play - and be yet one of the players to fling a shoe at someone's head (unfortunately, it came correening towards my own head haha). You should take a look at some of the gameplay videos on youtube for a laugh. They play anywhere - from the halls of pax, with gaming professionals, in the outdoors, and even in subway train cars with unsuspecting riders playing as audience.

Day 9 challenge - Rainbow

So, I had done a mani for St. Patrick's day with literal rainbow accent nails, but it is on my old and now dead cell phone. So in my PaxEast mani decision I opted to go for Pacman themed nails which I thought also befitted the rainbow themed challenge. This one was surprisingly simple and very fun to wear. The stylist who cut/shaved my head noticed them and made a big deal about them (which makes sense, because I think someone in the beauty business would be more interested in nail polish more than the gamers who were there to play actual games haha). I used an array of WetNWild Megalast colors including (from left to right) "I Red a Good Book", "I Need a Refresh-mint", "On a Trip" and "Candy-licious" . I used NK nail enamel in Yellow for the thumb, and black and white nail art polishes for details. 

Day 10 challenge - Gradient

I still need to work on this and try out different techniques. I'll fully admit here that I tried doing a gradient with two cream colors and failed. I find glitter gradients to be much more forgiving when you're still learning. I did a pinky glitter gradient by hand (aka sans sponging or any other tool) using three different polishes: Essie "Peach Daquiri", Orly "Berry Blast", and Butter London "Rosie Lee". Also, my favorite coffee mug haha.

Day 11 challenge - Polka Dots

I knew I wanted to use a grey and yellow combo, and I new I wanted to give my Zoya "Luna" an honest try as I hadn't actually done anything but play with it until this point. So out came this random mani, which I fell in love with once it was done. I used Essie "Cocktail Bling" and Zoya Luna for the base, and used some yellow and purple for the dots. The dotting tools I use are *these*, which Steve gave me last christmas. Not only are they pretty and swirly, but they've stood up to my demon cat's teeth and shinanigans. 

I loved this one... while it lasted. I had purchased Sally Hansen Diamond Strength Diamond Flash Fast Dry Top Coat in the hope that I would find something cheaper (even if just a dollar cheaper at my drugstore) than Seche Vite that worked just as well for me. But this topcoat chips SO easily! The fast dry quality is amazing, and I would argue that it dries even faster than Seche Vite. But if the "diamond strength" is going to make it chip the same day because it offers no flexibility with the nail (no matter how well you wrap the tips), than screw it!

Day 12 challenge - Stripes

I kept is simple for both of these manis, which seemed to work just fine since I recieved compliments on both. For the first one I tested out half-lines for the first time. I've seen "half-lines" used in some beautiful manicures, but I must say that it was late and these were not the most uniform or evenly spaced lines in the world. But I liked it. For the based I used Essence "Choose Me!" and for the stripes just some metallic gold nail art polish.

For the second, please excuse the polish on my skin, I didn't completely clean up before taking this bad quality photo. A camera app picture frame can't hide terrible contrast glare. I was already very frustrated about having broken two nails and thus having to cut them all, so I just didn't want to possibly frustrate myself further with something complicated (my head had been swimming with im/possible feats of intricate artistry prior). I was also hoping the bold-colored vertical stripes would make my nails appear less stubby. For the base I used Essie "Go Overboard". For the stripes I used nail art polishes in neon pink, neon yellow, and bright lime green.

Phew, long post! I have a bit more, but I'll save it for a separate post - which I really hope to post this week ! I am definitely a blogging slacker, but I want to get better, I swear. I may even post the few simple bits of jewelry I've made... maybe. =P

Monday, March 12, 2012

Days 6 (Violet), 7 (black & white) and 8 (Metallic) of Nail Polish Challenge

So as usual, I am late posting to this blog. This seems to be becoming the trend -_-. Anyways, on to the manis.

Day #6's theme was Violet. I used WetNWild's Megalast"On a Trip" as the violet base, and various colored nail art polishes to freehand this tribal mani. I winged it with this one, doing whatever popped in my head for each nail when I got to it, so every nail is different. By the time I took these pictures it had some wear on the tips and the shine was lacking, so just ignore those little details. I tend to love tribal inspired nail designs, and while I get plenty compliments every time I do one I never seem to reach that "oh my god this is a perfect tribal" point, even when I really like the outcome of what I do. On this one there are nails that look more geometrical than tribal, but oh well. Guess I'll just need to keep doing tribals and practice till I get there!

Right hand

Left hand

Day #7's theme was Black & White. I used Essie's "Au Natural " as a nude base, and nail art polishes to freehand the black and white stripe design. I actually really liked this calm subdued mani. I don't do subdued manis very often, it felt very "grown-up" and sophisticated.

Day #8's theme was Metallic. I see a lot of people use very pretty metallic and chrome colors for this theme but unfortunately I don't own any super metallics or chromes. I figured metallic glitters would do just fine, and indeed I think it did. For this mani I used Butter London's "West End Wonderland", a beautiful gold glitter that actually has very subtle tiny flecks of silver and copper in there, as a base. I layered Essie Lux Effects "Set In Stones" over it, a shiny silver hex glitter in a clear base. I wasn't sure about it but once it was on I fell in love with the gold and silver combo. It catches the light so prettily and feels so feminine without being pink and in your face "blingy".

Indoors, no flash

Daylight back light, to show more of that shine!

Until next time, which will hopefully not be so long from now! Grr.