On paper, stamping seems like a really excellent nail art technique. It involves little more than spreading some nail polish on a design-embossed plate, using a small rubber stamper to pick up the (often very intricate) design created by the polish, and then pressing the stamper onto the nail to transfer the design.
Sounds simple, non?
Well, a couple of weeks ago I ordered some Konad and fauxnad* bits and pieces online from OC Nail Art (Konad stockists) and Bundle Monster (who sell good quality fauxnad plates quite cheaply) to take them for a spin and see if using them really is as easy in practise as it in theory.
In addition to a few design plates, I got a plate holder (stops the plate sliding around and provides a surface to scrape excess polish on to), a short handled stamper (I thought the long handled versions looked unwieldy) and a plastic scraper (the metal-edged ones are said to leave scratches on the plates; you can also use a credit card or similar for the job.)
Excited as I was to try nail stamping, I have to say that my early Konadicure efforts were not exactly stellar. I had problems scraping excess polish off the design on the plate, I had problems getting the design onto the stamp, and then I had problems getting the design off the stamp and onto my nails.
You name a part of the process; I had problems with it.
As with so many things, though, practise makes perfect (or in my case, practise makes not so horrifically crap.) Through a bit of trial and (lots of) error, I've discovered what we'll loosely call a technique that seems to work well.
Paint nails with base colour and allow to dry completely (you can use a fast dry top coat to speed up the process.)
1. Apply a daub of polish along the top of the design and scrape it down across the design to fill the embossing, rather than applying polish all over the design. This makes it easier to get clean lines (I think) since there isn't so much excess polish to deal with, and of course you're wasting using less polish into the bargain.
2. Immediately remove the excess polish using the scraper. Hold the scraper at about a 45° angle to the plate and use a firm, even pressure to pull the polish over the design in a single motion. Start above the line of polish you've put on the plate, and continue dragging past the bottom of the design.
3 & 4. Immediately use the stamper to pick up the polish using a soft rolling motion, rolling the pad of the stamper across the design from either left to right or top to bottom.
5. Immediately (are you sensing a pattern here?) press the stamp onto maths paper/nails to transfer the design. Again, I find a rolling motion works best, probably because I have quite a prominent curve to my nail beds. I roughly line up the centre of the design on the stamp with the middle of my nail and very firmly push the design onto the nail, rolling the stamp across the nail in a single motion (i.e. not rocking it backwards and forwards.)
This should all be done in literally seconds to prevent the polish beginning to dry and becoming unworkable.
I can get away with doing three or four nails before cleaning the metal stamping plate with nail polish remover, after which I dry it with a clean cotton pad. I find that cleaning the stamper with remover between each use means it can't pick up polish as effectively, even if it's dried afterwards, so I just flake off the remnants of previous designs with my thumbnail.
If any bits of the Konad design are sticking up and not adhering to the nail, I just use the pad of my index finger to gently push them back down onto the nail plate.
To finish, I use Seche Vite as a top coat to avoid smudging the design, and then use a small brush dipped in nail polish remover to clean up excess from the skin around my nails.
Here's my latest attempt. We'll get the gammy thumb out of the way first:
"D'oh" is right. Moving swiftly along, let's take a looksee at how the rest of the nails panned out:
Not too shabby, eh?
All things considered, and despite how pretty I think this mani is overall, I can't say that I'm a komplete konvert to Konad. It's fun, certainly, but I just found it all a bit fiddly. But then, I'm in the fortunate position of being fairly good at creating intricate designs freehand. For anyone who wishes that they could DIY deadly patterned nails and doesn't mind spending a bit of time on them, someone who maybe likes playing with their nails while watching telly and has patience for all the applying paint and scraping and stamping and cleaning, I think it would definitely be worth a punt.
Anyone else tried stamping and loved (or hated) it? Do you have any tips of your own to add?
*the generic name given to non-Konad stamping stuff in the polish blogging community. So now you know.
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