Friday, September 30, 2011

31 Day Challenge, Day 30: Inspired by a Tutorial

Hey everyone! I liked today's challenge theme, because I got to try out a mani I've been wanting to do for a while now... a super cute OWL MANI!

ChG Street Chic, OPI Sparrow Me the Drama, OPI Do You Lilac It?, OPI Mermaids Tears, ChG Sky High Top
Eyes: ChG Happy Go Lucky, Beaks: Sally Hansen Sun Kissed

I found the original inspiration image on Pinterest, and followed the source to the original blog, Cindy Blogs Nails. Here's the image that was pinned on Pinterest, it's a pretty compact little tutorial!

Owl mani tutorial from Cindy Blogs Nails

It looks like Cindy freehanded the owl 'horns' and that's why ours look a little different. I decided to use the half moon paper reinforcement stickers to do mine, so my owls' 'horns' are smoother. It's just a different look. We also have different nail shapes, so I didn't think it would look good for me to include the owl feet on my mani. I do like them on her example though.

I've included the colors used in the caption on the first photo, if you're interested. To make the bellies, I just mixed the base color with some white and painted it on with a nail art brush. The eyes were done with a dotting tool, and the beaks and belly dots were done with a nail art brush.

I'm just super excited about how cute this turned out. I can't stop looking down at my adorable little owl family. The brown thumb owl is the mom, of course, and the little colored ones are the babies. I love the tiny blue pinky owl the most!

Only one more challenge day! The theme is officially "recreate your favorite mani from the challenge," but those of us that are doing this decided we didn't like that theme. So we changed it to "recreate your favorite mani by someone else from the challenge!" Stay tuned for that one! :)


Thursday, September 29, 2011

31 Day Challenge, Day 29: Inspired by the Supernatural

If you follow along with Chalkboard Nails on Facebook, you may know that I was toying with the idea of doing something angel wing related for today's theme, inspired by the supernatural. I tried it out and it wasn't translating well, so I decided to scrap that idea and come up with something new. I went with cute little chubby ghosts! Here's the best part, I made them glow in the dark, like the creepy ghouls that they are!

I started with a base of China Glaze Recycle. Then I freehanded some chunky little ghosts on in China Glaze White On White with the large and small ends of a dotting tool. I let that dry for a bit, and painted on a thick layer of China Glaze Ghoulish Glow with a nail art brush, which is a glow in the dark topcoat.

Aren't they just so cute? They remind me of fat little marshmallows and I just want to squeeze them!

I put the eyes and mouths on with the small end of a dotting tool, and used my go-to black of the moment, Wet N Wild Ink Well. I let that dry for a bit and then, of course, finished off the mani with Seche Vite.

Let's all hug the ghosties together!

Two more days until this challenge is over... can you believe it?? I have some exciting stuff planned for October, though, so stay tuned for that! :)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

31 Day Challenge, Day 28: Inspired by a Flag

Inspired by a flag, huh? I felt like whoever wrote this challenge was stretching for ideas towards the end here. I don't like this theme day much and was a little grumpy about doing it. I like what I did, though!

I chose to be inspired by a checkered flag like they use at racing events.

China Glaze White On White, Wet N Wild Ink Well

I've feel like I've been using these colors a lot lately, but I went and looked, and I really haven't. Am I losing my mind? Has the challenge made me insane?

So yeah, this was a tape mani a la Nailside. I painted the base white, then taped off two squares touching in the middle, painted the black, and removed the tape. I had some trouble with the edges of my black, but, cest la vie, right?

I dunno. There's not a whole lot to say about today's mani, unfortunately. I say unfortunately because I like to talk.

I had grand ambitions of doing an Arizona flag, but it has all of these alternating colored rays coming out of a star, and I just ran out of time last night. That would have been cool and I put the mani on my mani "to-do" list, so maybe someday you guys will see it here.

We're so close to the end of the challenge! I can't believe it!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

31 Day Challenge, Day 27: Inspired by Artwork

Inspired by artwork! I had to take many many art history classes in college, and there were a lot of artists that I really wanted to emulate on this one! However, I didn't think that my skills were at a high enough level to be able to do them justice and translate the style well to the nail.

There was one artist, though, that I thought would be perfect for nail art: Jackson Pollock. Here's the mani that I ended up with, with the inspiration painting inset.

The painting is called One: Number 31. It lives at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC. Here's a larger view of the painting alone.

Jackson Pollock, One: Number 31

My colors weren't perfect, but I did what I could with what I had and I think it still captures the spirit of the piece. I started with a base of China Glaze Recycle (which got completely covered). Then, using multiple straws, I splattered on different layers of China Glaze White On White, OPI A-Taupe the Space Needle, and Wet N Wild Ink Well.

The splatter technique is done by dipping a straw into your polish bottle, and then blowing the polish on to your nail from a distance. COVER YOUR WORKSPACE WITH WAX PAPER!! This is a messy technique, and I don't want you to ruin your table trying it! I learned that the best way to get a real splatter instead of just blobs of polish on your nails is to use short and hard breaths when blowing the polish on to your nails.

Also, word to the wise: use tape to block off your finger skin before you start blowing polish everywhere. I just jumped right in without thinking about it on my first hand (not smart), and I had polish everywhere. Clean up was a nightmare. Then I taped off my fingers for my second hand. Clean up was still not fun but was definitely more tolerable...

First try (lol):
After I got smarter:

Monday, September 26, 2011

31 Day Challenge, Day 26: Inspired by a Pattern

I was sort of in a polish funk last night and wasn't happy with any of the things I was coming up with for today's theme. I started with a sponged green look with a pattern on top that I hoped would come out looking quilted. It instead turned out look like jade with a weird grid on top of it. Then I did an orange and pink tape mani that I hated. Then as a last attempt I tried doing some dotting in a pattern on top of a Zoya matte. I was thrilled to see it turn out successfully and I love the look that I got.

For this look I used Zoya Dovima as the base. It is a charcoal grey matte and it applies very nicely. I read on All Lacquered Up that you should not use a base coat with a matte polish, so I skipped it this time.

Then I alternated dots in China Glaze Sky High Top, OPI Do You Lilac It?, and China Glaze Re-Fresh Mint. I used the small end of a dotting tool to accomplish this.

I was very nervous about letting this dry because I wasn't using a quick dry topcoat on top (it would ruin the matte effect, obviously). But I just went to bed and tried to fall asleep with my hands flat and it turned out just fine!

I like this look because it feels very modern with the two polish finishes and yet very retro with the dots and the dot colors I chose. I was glad that I kept trying until I ended up with a mani that I absolutely *loved* instead of just settling for one that I was okay with.

For fun, here's the "jade grid" mani that I mentioned in my opening paragraph. It looked cool but I didn't think it applied to "inspired by a pattern" well enough. :]


Sunday, September 25, 2011

31 Day Challenge, Day 25: Inspired by Fashion

I don't really follow runway fashion, but if I had more time it is certainly intriguing! To find an image that I wanted to use for today's challenge day, I just googled "Spring 2012 Fashion," and I came upon this page, which had some photos from Max Azria's recent show.

I selected one of the images that I liked and went from there.

I talk a lot about how having a nail blog really demands perfection because the photos of the nails are much closer than how someone would view the manicure in real life. Check it out - here's a pic of the mani from further away than I normally show it.

Looks neat, right? My thumb looks a little broken but the mani looks great!

Here's the mani from my regular distance. You can see the flaws a lot more easily, but I'm still happy with the way this one turned out.

The base is China Glaze Peachy Keen, then the frosty blue is NYC Cashmere Creme, the top grey is OPI Skull and Glossbones, and the gray piping is China Glaze Recycle.

I did the stripes with a nail art brush, and the piping with a striper brush. As you can see, I still have a lot of practicing to do with the striper brush, but that's okay! We're about learning over here at Chalkboard Nails.

Side story, I went to go take my pics of today's mani and found this little guy sitting in my photo spot:

Yep, I use my bedsheets as the background for my photos. No joke.

This is my dog, Chowder! A few of you might know about him already. He's a bichon poodle mix. I've been calling him Beep Boop lately, though I'm not totally sure why. He gets a new nickname every few weeks. I've also called him Potato recently. That evolved out of calling him sweet potato. That little strip of fur is missing on his leg because he had to get an IV put in for his teeth scaling and cleaning a month ago.

So, that's the story of my fashion mani! Today's challenge really got me looking into something that I normally know nothing about. Pretty cool!


Saturday, September 24, 2011

31 Day Challenge, Day 24: Inspired by a Book

As soon as I saw the theme "inspired by a book" I had a million ideas running through my head. I eventually settled on doing a Chuck Palahniuk book, as he is my favorite author, but which one to choose?! I like so many of them, so much.

I was looking at the covers of some of them that I have in my home library, and I came across Invisible Monsters. I love that book. So here is the mani that I came up with.

Here's a quick synopsis:
Meet the protagonist of this high stakes tale of a high fashion model. She’s got everything: a great career, a boyfriend, a loyal best friend. But a terrible accident leaves this beauty a hideous monster with only half a face! In fact, no one will even acknowledge she’s alive until she meets Brandy Alexander, Queen Supreme, who’s one operation away from being a woman. She teaches her how to reinvent herself into something better and how to get revenge on her two-timing ex-boyfriend and back-stabbing best friend in Chuck Palahniuk’s Invisible Monsters.
Palahniuk's books are not like other books you've probably read. They are written in a gritty, fast, detailed style, with biting wit and bitter cultural criticism. They are often graphic and explicit in their descriptions, and definitely do not appeal to everyone.

Anyway, so I was looking at the cover, and it's one of my favorite covers of his books. The image on the cover of a beauty queen turns into the face of a hag when you turn the book upside down. The pink splatter over her mouth is in reference to the fact that the main character goes through a terrible ordeal that leaves her jaw blown off. Check it out:

right side up: beauty queen

upside down: hag

I tried to recreate the image on the book cover on my accent (fourth) nail by freehanding it on with a needle. I think I did a pretty good job, but I don't think the old hag translates very well when you flip it upside down. CMON, I'm not a miracle worker, haha! :D

I also added pink french tips, pink splatter, and black "splatter." I did the black splatter by hand and then sort of fiddled with it to get that effect. I may have overdone the effects on this mani a little bit. ;)

The white is ChG White On White, the black is Wet N Wild Ink Well, and the pink is Sinful Colors 24/7.


Friday, September 23, 2011

31 Day Challenge, Day 23: Inspired by a Movie

Hey everyone! Sorry for the late post today, I had my wisdom teeth out this morning for the second time in my life (with just nitrous oxide, not full anesthesia), so I've been taking it easy and doing some napping today. Did you know its possible for a person to have 5 or 6 wisdom teeth in their lifetime? Weird stuff.

So, on to inspired by a movie!

I was brainstorming with my boyfriend and telling him how I had some movies in mind that I liked but that I didn't know how I would translate into a mani. His mind immediately went to Star Wars like I'm sure many a boyfriend's mind would, but I loved the suggestion because I love the movies too.

Originally I had plans to do four R2D2s and then an accent nail C3PO, but my boyfriend was also involved in the planning and he wasn't going to let this opportunity pass by without taking full advantage of it. He decided that he wanted to do one hand themed around the Galactic Empire (the bad guys) and one hand themed around the Rebel Alliance (the good guys). I liked the idea but told him I didn't think it would work because I can't do complex nail art on my right hand with my non-dominant hand doing the painting.

I don't know if you will believe it, but he suggested that I let him do the work on my right hand. I said, "Uh, YEAH," and we made plans to get together to knock this out.

I did my left hand on my own, because that is the hand that allows me to paint with my dominant hand. Here's the one that I did myself:

Rebel Alliance insignia, C3PO, Chewbacca, R2D2, green lightsaber
(ask me if you want to know colors used - there are just a lot so I'm leaving them out for now)

This was one of my most time consuming and intricate manis to date, but it's totally worth it as I love the results. However, I am super bummed that it has to come off so soon already!

Here is the hand that my boyfriend helped me on. He did Darth Vader, the stormtrooper, and part of the insignia. He was pretty nervous about "messing up" but I think he did an amazing job. These are the first nails he has ever painted on, can you believe it? I was so proud.

Red lighstaber, stormtrooper, Boba Fett, Darth Vader, Galactic Empire insignia
(again, ask me if you want to know colors used)

Also, it's important that you know that I have been making the lightsabers fight each other. I bash my pinkies together and make the lightsaber woosh/smash noises as I do it. Super mature. Can you blame me!?

I hope you all like this as much as I do! I will be so upset to take it off tonight or tomorrow morning! :(

Thursday, September 22, 2011

31 Day Challenge, Day 22: Inspired by a Song

I've had my song picked for this day for a LOOONG time. I thought it would make a really awesome mani, if I could capture both the spirit of the song and the singer in an accurate way. The song I picked was...


Tik Tok by Ke$ha!

Now, this mani has a lot going on, so I'm gonna do a breakdown of each nail for you.

My thumb was inspired by Ke$ha's crazy eye makeup. I did the pattern by putting some black polish at the top of the nail, and then putting some clear polish on a nail art brush and then pulling the black down along with the clear. 

China Glaze - For Audrey and Liquid Leather

This photo in particular was what gave me the idea to do this nail:


My pointer was sort of just inspired by Ke$ha herself. Glitter everywhere, sort of dark and dirty, just having a fun time and partying all day and all night! The nail art glitter came in a set that I ordered on eBay for a few bucks. I stuck it on with some clear polish and then put topcoat over it.

Sally Hansen Xtreme Wear - Gunmetal + nail art glitter

My middle finger is... a GRUNGY JACK DANIELS LABEL! How cool is that? This was the genius idea of Rebecca's from Rebecca Likes Nails. I wasn't sure I could do it but her faith in me was inspiring! I know it's not perfect but it does actually look like it to me, especially from arms length. This was obviously inspired by the line in the song, "Before I leave brush my teeth with a bottle of Jack." I freehanded this with a sewing needle.

China Glaze Liquid Leather and White On White

My fourth finger was inspired by the title of the song - Tik Tok. As you can see, it's a pair of clock hands over a sponged gradient. I freehanded the hands with a square end nail art brush. The sponging was done with a triangle makeup sponge.

China Glaze Happy Go Lucky
China Glaze High Hopes
Sally Hansen Insta-Dry Instant Iris
China Glaze Liquid Leather

My pinky is my favorite nail of all of these! I did a splatter mani for the first time, which involves dipping a straw into some polish and then dramatically blowing it on to the nail (which I prepped with a few coats of white). Then I topped it with Lynnderella Connect the Dots, a super special franken beauty that I got my hands on recently.

China Glaze Sky High Top
Sinful Colors 24/7
China Glaze Turned Up Turquoise
Lynnderella Connect the Dots

PHEW! That was a lot of imagery and explanation! What do you guys think? Did I capture all of the sides of Ke$ha and this awesome party song? I had so much fun making this mani and the craziness of this nail mix is just so appealing to me!


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

31 Day Challenge, Day 21: Inspired by a Color

Inspired by a color? What does that even mean? Make a mani in all one color? Do a mani of something that is a particular color that you are inspired by? Who knows.

I decided to go a different direction with it, and be inspired by a particular POLISH color! As many of you may be aware, I am completely and totally obsessed with OPI Skull and Glossbones. It's inexplicable. I just love the color so much and want to paint my room and my floors and my sheets in it.

So I started with a base of that! Just divine.

Then I added on some skulls and some glossbones in China Glaze Heli-Yum. The Heli-Yum is... the color of lip gloss...? Okay, I might have stretched the limits of today's theme. Whatever, it counts though! Don't judge me!

I did the bones with a dotting tool and the skull with a nail art brush with a flat square end.

For the skull, put on the full solid skull first, and then add on the eye sockets and the nose ...sockets (?) with more of your base color on top. So for example, I painted in the whole skull in Heli-Yum and then added more S&G on top for the holes in the skull.

For the bones, put two touching dots on one side of your nail. Do the same on the other side. Then connect the bone ends with a straight line of polish. This connection step would probably be easier to do with a striper brush or even any other kind of nail art brush, but I just went with the dotting tool cause it was already in my hand.

Hope you like! If I can pull off tomorrow's mani like I have envisioned it... you are in for some serious craziness.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Chalkboard Nails on Facebook!

Hi everyone! I can't believe that I reached 300 followers today! I'm so thankful to have all of you along for the ups and downs of my nail polish (mis)adventures. :)

If anyone is interested in Liking CN on Facebook, I've set up a page! I'm hoping that it will be a great way for you to interact with me directly. It should also make it easier for me to answer any questions that you may have about a particular mani, style, technique, color, etc.

I'm still in the process of getting everything squared away over there, so expect more content in the next few days, but I'd love it if you'd pop on over and see if you'd like to give CN your support!

Thank you so much everyone,


31 Day Challenge, Day 20: Water Marble

Hello everyone! Today I've got a rant for you. Don't bother reading the text unless you want to hear me complain about water marbling.

EDIT: This is not meant to discourage anyone from trying out a marble! Some people have no trouble at all with getting this technique to work, and they don't mind the clean up as much as I do. If you want to try this technique, please do not let my dissatisfaction with the experience stop you!

I've liked this challenge up until today. I've thought it was great! It was wonderful! It was challenging! It made me think outside the box!

Today is water marble day. For those of you that aren't aware, water marbling involves dropping polish onto the surface of some water, swirling it around, dipping your nail in, removing the excess polish from the surface of the water, and pulling it back out. I've seen a bunch of tutorials on this technique, most of which make it look so easy. The results are truly beautiful. I was excited to try my hand at it (pun intended).

Left hand

I. Dislike. Water. Marbling.

I got my station all set up and my nails painted a good base white color. I started dropping polish on the surface of the water. The first few drops would spread out correctly, but once I got to the third drop or so, the polish would get too dry and stop spreading. This would not only prevent me from adding more polish, but would also make swirling the drops around to make the cool patterns impossible.

I tried drinking water instead of tap. I warmed it up. I thinned my polish. I tried different brands. I tried different color combinations. I got a plethora of suggestions from my nail polish ladies but none of them seemed to work. (I later learned on a tutorial video that it takes a lot of experimenting to find a polish that will work correctly, which takes patience that I do not have for this certain technique.)

Finally I got it to a point where I could get it to work well enough... I started dropping the polish (China Glaze For Audrey and Turned Up Turquoise) from a little bit higher. Don't do it too high though, or the polish will sink. UGH.

It has been suggested that using a neon for this was part of my problem - maybe so. But I did try about a million other colors before this (cremes, shimmers, glitters, different brands, etc), and stuck with this because I could at least get it to marble a little bit.

THEN, you get to clean up! Even if you use tape to block off most of your fingers or Vaseline to help you just wipe off the excess, your cuticles will still be MASSIVELY flooded with polish. Or, mine were at least. I had to spend pretty much equal amounts of time cleaning up as I did marbling! Even after spending all that time cleaning, you can still see that the neatness of my mani left a lot to be desired.

Right hand

I had to come up with something to complete this day of the challenge. But I was massively frustrated by this technique. Props to those of you that can make it work and enjoy it - you get to reap the benefits of a beautiful mani. Don't get me wrong - even my frustrated results are quite beautiful (from afar) and they have a huge wow factor. I just do not have the patience for it, and everything that it entails.

Monday, September 19, 2011

31 Day Challenge, Day 19: Galaxy Nails

Oh boy you guys, this one was a doozy.

I dunno if you've seen them but there are a gajillion beautiful variations of galaxy nails floating around on the interwebZ. And everyone that posts them goes, "Oh, they're so easy!" Well, I'm here to tell you that my experience was a little less smooth. (But still, coulda been worse I suppose.)

First of all, for all you impatient folks, let's get to the pic of what I ended up with.

Oh yeah, you love the vertical pic action.

Okay, here's my long and sordid tale about trying to make a realistic looking space mani.

The first attempt I made on this, I started out with a base of OPI Ink, which is a deep dark purple (lesson: use a black base if you want it to look realistic). Then I went CRAZY adding on colors. Rally Pretty Pink, Space Cadet, Sugar Plums... the list goes on. I ended up covering the black too much and it just looked like a regular old glitter mani. I pouted for a hot second and then took the whole thing off.

The second attempt (the successful attempt) I started with a base of China Glaze Liquid Leather. Then I sponged on a very faint coating of China Glaze Happy Go Lucky, which turned out looking green after it had been applied. Remember, I use torn up bits of the triangle makeup sponges for my sponging. You don't wanna cover the whole nail with the spongings you are gonna do. Leave part of it black!

Landscape view

Then on top of the Happy Go Lucky, I sponged on some Sinful Colors Dream On. It was starting to take shape! I added some China Glaze Skyscraper and a TINY BIT of Zoya Tanzy. BOO, I had wrecked it again. I had gone over the first two colors too much and you couldn't see them well enough.

SO, I did another round of Happy Go Lucky and Dream On. Then I finished it off by adding in China Glaze Fairy Dust in the black spaces where I hadn't sponged anything. I found it looked better if you didn't put any Fairy Dust on top of the sponged areas. Let those shine through on their own.

Then I topped with two coats of SV! And there you have it. Galaxy nails!

Here's what my workspace looked like after everything was finished. The stamps all over the wax paper are an attempt to get the extra polish off of the sponge before I sponged on the nail.

See my little Grip and Tip in the back? The pink bottle clamp holder thingy? Before you ask about it, I got it on Amazon. It's super flimsy plastic and feels quite cheap. But you can finagle it and it works pretty well for tipping the bottle. Great for that last half of the bottle of SV! Just be aware of what you're getting yourself into - it does NOT feel well made! :)

Have you tried galaxy nails before? Was your experience smoother than mine?


Sunday, September 18, 2011

31 Day Challenge, Day 18: Half Moons

Half moons! It's when a bottom arc of your nail is a different color than the top. Not my most articulate moment, but you get the picture. I really like this look and wanted to jazz it up a bit. I was inspired by a mani that I saw once on GorjessNails.

OPI Sparrow Me the Drama, China Glaze Sea Spray

I started with 2 coats of OPI Sparrow Me the Drama. It's my go-to pink. ;) Then I put a coat of Seche Vite on it and let it dry.

Then I used paper reinforcements like I would for a tape mani. Stick em on, paint your second color from the top of the reinforcer to the tip of the nail, and then slowly peel it off! My second color was China Glaze Sea Spray.


Then, I let that dry a bit and added some leopard spots in Sparrow Me the Drama again. I decided to not top with a second layer of topcoat because I liked the texture that the spots had. You, of course, could choose to topcoat or not.

What do you think? Are you guys fans of the half moon look? Have you ever jazzed up a half moon before?

Saturday, September 17, 2011

31 Day Challenge, Day 17: Glitter

Not gonna lie to y'all, I was pretty excited to see the theme of today's nails: glitter. It's simple and easy. I got to take a nail art break for today, while still checking out some polish that was very exciting to me.

So, here it is, China Glaze Recycle with two coats of Wet N Wild Correction Tape from the new On the Prowl Collection. (Side note: are you entered in my giveaway to win the entire OTP Collection?)

But, I have some other things to show you, today!

First of all, check out Recycle by itself. I LOVE CREME POLISHES!!

Second of all, here's the lineup for today's mani (in order, too)!

CND Stickey, ChG Recycle, WnW Correction Tape, Seche Vite

Third, here are some little rascals that were helping me out/distracting me while I was doing my mani. The little one in the middle is my dog Chowder, the retriever is Bella and the poodle is Molly, and they are both family dogs that I am babysitting for the weekend!

And here are a couple more shots of today's mani.

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