Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Adventures in Stamping Post #1: New Year, New Strategies

One of my major nail art goals for the new year is to get better at stamping. I adore how a well done stamping job looks, and I've accumulated some amazing image plates since I started getting into nail art, but the truth is, I'm pretty terrible at the actual stamping. I don't know what it is—my long, curvy nail beds, or a technique issue, or (most likely) a little bit of both—but I can't tell you how many times I've psyched myself up to do a stamping manicure, only to have it end in a frustrated tirade and nails that have to be completely redone. It makes me a little nuts!

I'm determined to beat this, however, so I've come up with some steps/guidelines for myself to get more practice with stamping and find what works best for me. And since I know other people also struggle with stamping sometimes, I thought I'd share my process here and go into some more detail than usual about what is/isn't working for me. I hope that in a few months, I'll be writing a post about my improved stamping skills!

Anyway, here are the strategies I'll be using to practice my skills while trying to preserve my sanity:

  1. Use polishes that I know are stamping-friendly.
  2. Only stamp a few nails at one time.
  3. Try new stamps/tools.
  4. Study and experiment with new stamping techniques.
  5. Don't give up!

These all probably seem like common sense on some level, but it always helps me to have a game plan written down! I know it definitely helped me when planning the purple & teal manicure I'm sharing here today.

For this look, I focused on strategies 1 and 2. First, I chose a stamping polish that I knew would work well: a-england Lady of the Lake. Holos and metallic polishes just seem to work best for me—even better than the actual Konad stamping polishes I have, for whatever reason—so I went right for the holos when I started this manicure. (I think the holographic particles just sit well in the grooves of the stamping plate, and they seem less prone to smearing or squashing when you're doing the actual stamping? I'm not sure why—if anyone knows the scientific reason, I'd love to hear it!)

After choosing my stamping polish and getting the base color & stamping plate ready to go (Serum No. 5 A Cup of Teal and Vivid Lacquer's VL022 plate, respectively), I gave myself permission to only stamp two nails on each hand. Even further, I made a deal with myself and decided if I could at least get two nails stamped on the hand I'd be photographing, I could live with that! This seemed to take some of the pressure off (because at most, I'd just be redoing two nails if things went haywire), and all the stamps on both hands turned out really well the first time. I was so excited that I immediately tracked down my husband and made him admire my work!

Once the stamping and victory dancing were both out of the way, I applied two coats of Lady of the Lake on my remaining three nails. I also added one coat of ILNP A Nice Chianti to my pinky and thumb to warm the whole look up a bit and add some depth.

Overall, I'm really pleased with how this looked turned out and how well my stamping strategies served me. Expect to see more stamping manicures here in the near future! If you have any additional tips or tricks I should be considering, I'd love to hear them. Thanks for looking!

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