Sunday, April 22, 2012

Blast from the past: my fake-nail-painting setup!

Here's another flashback for ya... years ago I was asked about the setup I used to create the sets of artificial nails I would make. I wrote this post in 2010 to demonstrate it. Oddly enough, it hasn't changed much since then!


First off, let me say hello to all the new people following and visiting the blog. It makes me so happy to see new followers! I feel like I'm not talking to myself here, which is always a good thing!

So, I was talking to KellieGonzo about my setup for painting nail tips over Twitter. (I'm not all that interesting, but yes, you too can follow me- I'm MsLaynie on there.) I realized earlier tonight that my setup may be slightly different than most people. She wanted pictures, and that started me thinking it might be good to share with you folks.

See, I've got fibromyalgia, so I end up having to change positions a lot. Really a lot. Like, sitting in a chair makes me feel really icky, so I tend to work in places where I can sprawl and shift- the floor, my bed, etc. But this means I have to come up with creative ways to do things. I'm good at that, though!

So, without further ado, let me share with you my uber-high-tech, super expensive nail painting setup. Take a deep breath, guys, it's pretty spectacular.

1. Box o' paints & polishes
2. Notebook/sketchbook
3. Cotton rounds
4. Paint
5. Scissors
6. Mixing/measuring device
7. Suspension device
8. Rinse water for brush
9. Brush pad
10. Paint conservation system
11. Brush
12. A single cotton round
13. Masking tape
14. Drying/manipulation sticks

1. My box of paints and nail polishes. (I have a couple of other boxes filled with various bits, but they're smaller. They're also not in this pic.) I use everything from artists' acrylics to the 97 cent Folk Art bottles you can get at the big box stores. Most of them (especially the polishes) I've had for absolute ages, picked up a piece at a time, because I am both cheap and poor.

2. My notebook/sketchbook/life on paper. I keep it nearby me at all times, no matter where I am. Usually it's either in my purse or on my lap. You can see some sketches on it if you squint. It basically contains the part of my life that isn't in my planner. I end up filling about a notebook every couple of months with everything from to-do lists to sketches and dreams. Occasionally I photograph the sketches. If you're interested, I might share!

3. My cotton rounds. I love these so much more than cotton balls, and I'm not even sure why. I use them for a billion little things, from cleaning my face to taking off my nail polish to ... well, various craft projects. Don't ask, it's safer that way.

4. This is one of the acrylic paints I work with. I absolutely love to mix my own colors, and since acrylics dry slower than nail polishes, I like using them for nails. Plus, I can easily do all sorts of funky things, like gradients and funky rainbows. Plus they're inexpensive!

5. Scissors. I do very esoteric things with them, like cut things. It's all very technical.

6. Ahhh, my trusty mixing/measuring device. Mere mortals call it a plastic spoon, but it's really versatile. Both ends can be used for scooping, measuring, burnishing... many things in life can be made more pleasant with a plastic spoon. Plus, those of us with chronic illnesses can appreciate always having an extra spoon around...

7. I love this one. I believe in recycling, so when I realized I needed something to hold my nails with while they dried, I grabbed a piece of Styrofoam. (I have a stash of things like Styrofoam, flattened boxes, and packing peanuts in my closet. Packrat? No, not me!)

It was much too large to use as it was, so I broke it into several smaller pieces, just perfect for holding a batch or nails or two. Unfortunately, the pieces were now too small and lightweight to actually hold the skewers (14) and keep them from tipping over. So, I reached for my masking tape and taped one down to a plastic tray I had on hand. Et voila, we have a stable (if ugly) contraption.

8. Another recycling effort. Clearly, anyone painting with acrylic paints needs a container of water to rinse their brushes in. Usually I'd use a plastic tub from something like butter or yogurt for my water. But since I work in such an unorthodox fashion, I need something that won't spill.

That's when I decided to pull out a large prescription bottle from my stash of odd recyclables. Again with the chronic illness, I have a LOT of these. I use them for lots of things, from organizing different types of hairpins (I have hair to my hips, I need pins to wrangle it with!) to beads and buttons. I figured it was worth a try...

Sure enough, they're waterproof! So, I fill one 2/3 full of water, and it's a nice, safe container I can keep closed while I don't need it, and can open easily when I do. It works out like a dream for me, even if it is a bit... odd.

9. My brush pad. I know, I know, it looks like a panty liner. But don't be so quick to judge, it could be lots of things... it could be... umm...

Ok. It's a panty liner. But hear me out on this! Again, if you're painting, you need something to dry your brushes on, something to dab your brush on to take off a bit of paint, etc. I get so tired of using a paper towel or a rag, because I always end up getting water and paint on my hands, and it just bothers me. Plus, I set my rag down and then I've lost it, even though I haven't moved.

Then I started thinking. I need something absorbent... something I won't lose all the time. Something that won't stay wet and bother me... I remembered a pack of panty liners I had stashed in the bathroom cabinet. Why not, I thought. So I stuck one on my box of rhinestones and WOW, it works like a DREAM! Seriously, if you paint, you should try this. They're super absorbent, they stay in one place, and they dry your brushes really nicely. It's even good for wiping off your nail polish brushes, if you're mixing glitter into clear polish or something (see the flakies). I'm really happy with this, even though it is kind of embarrassing.

10. My paint conservation system. Have I mentioned I'm cheap? Because I am. I hate wasting paint, even though I know that paint layers work better when those layers have time to dry. But if the layers have time to dry, so does the paint, especially the blob of paint I've mixed up specifically for this set of nails.

I started using the disposable paper cups when I was doing a set of glitter nails. The glitter went EVERYWHERE, and made a huge mess. Then I realized I could put it into a paper cup and then toss it once I was done. I've been using the cups since then. (All two days, WOO!)

So, I'm using my glitter paint again tonight, except that this time, it's mixed with acrylic medium. And uhoh, there's that drying issue I mentioned. Then it hit me- maybe if I stuffed the dosing cup from a bottle of cough syrup into the top of the paper cup, it would keep the paint from drying out. It took a bit of fiddling to get the dosing cup in, since the top of the paper cup was just a smidgen smaller than the dosing cup.

But would you believe it worked? The odd little contraption kept my paint nice and moist for a good three hours, plenty of time for me to finish the nails and make me VERY happy! So hey, it might be weird, but it works!

11. One of my brushes. Note the price tag still on the brush. I've only had this one for about 6 years. I think I paid about $3 for it. It was a splurge, what can I say?

I've got about 15 brushes ranging in age from a year and a half or so to maybe 13 years old. I've also got some paints (and nail polishes, would you believe!) that date back to when I was an art major in college. Wow, that's a long time.

12. A single cotton round. I don't know why it was there.

13. Masking tape. I use this for everything from taping down Styrofoam to picking up stray glitter to cleaning off my plastic palette when the paint remnants get too thick. It's pretty cool stuff!

14. Finally, we get to the end. I've tried several ways of holding the nail tips to paint them. Double stick tape sort of works, but I end up missing the sides. Don't even THINK about holding them in your fingers! After much head-scratching, I decided to try this, and for now it works better than anything else I can come up with. If I can figure out something better, I'm all for it.

For some reason, I keep a vase of bamboo skewers on my bedside table. I use them for all sorts of crafty things, and this is the latest. I take a tiny blob of poster putty, smoosh (technical term) it into a little tube shape, and stick the nail onto the skewer with it. I do 3-4 nails per skewer, and I'm OCD enough to put them in size order from smallest to largest. Then I can hold the skewer and paint the nail however I like.

Once they're dry, I stick them into the Styrofoam and let them dry. No issues with holding your hands super still to keep your manicure neat. I tell you, nails are SO much easier to paint when they aren't attached to fingers!

And if you're still reading this (wow, thank you!!) then I have a sneak preview for you... These are the nails coming up. Deep turquoise glitter, hopefully with a glassy shine that makes me think of deep water. I did a test nail with this combination and fell in love!!

So, basically, I'm using quite a mix of recycled and just-plain-weird items. What about you? What's your setup like for when you do your nails, or if you paint other things? I'd love to hear how other people manage their setup!
Never let it be said that I'm not creative...
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