Friday, November 29, 2013

Review: MoYou-London Christmas 01 (and how to use collage-style plates)


Have you heard of MoYou-London's stamping plates?

I'm pretty sure you have, because they've been getting a bit of exposure lately, and they're awesome. I was just able to place my first order of MoYou-London plates, and I wiped out my Christmas present money doing so, before I even got it.

But I don't regret it. I love the style of so many of the images, but more than that, I adore the innovative direction they're taking with their plates--by creating a wide variety of what I'm calling 'collage-style' plates.

Before I say more, here is the video I made of Christmas 01, from their Festive collection; I talk more in the video about the ways I think these plates can be used and why I love them so much:

Okay, so, now back to why I think the collage-style plates are the next new direction in stamping. When you first look at them, especially if you're fairly new to stamping, I think they can be wildly intimidating, so I want to walk you through some reasons why you should love them and pet them and kiss them and hug them. Wait, that's kittens. But you get my point.

Here is what the plate looks like:

And a little closer up:

Scary, right? It's okay, I know what you're thinking. Yeah, that's cute and all, but it's not like I can get the collage onto my fingertips. That gingerbread house wouldn't fit on my whole hand! How could that possibly be useful??

I would like to convince you that not only is this just as useable as a regular plate, it actually offers you a bunch more possibilities than a regular plate. The main skill you need to use this style of plate effectively, other than just the basic scrape-and-stamp skill,  is the ability to isolate images. I have a tutorial on how to isolate images that you can find here. I have that tutorial condensed into a single image here. And if you'd like to see my tips on aligning stamps you can find them by clicking here.

So what can you do with them? Among other things you can:

1) Isolate images, for example, those cute little presents up there, or that adorable little gingerbread guy.

2) Build scenes that are in perfect proportion, for example, have Santa and his reindeer flying across your nails, or have a snowman at the north pole scene.

3) Select areas of the collage for full-nail patterns, for example, the stars in the sky or the trees on the gingerbread house.

4) Select areas of the plate to stamp that have two images and create a patchwork look in a single easy stamp; for example, you could stamp the area of the house that has the snowflakes and the chevrons for one nail, the trees and the chevrons for another, etc.

5) In the case of this plate, you can use the border to make candy-cane stripes across your nails (how cute would that be for French tips?!):

Different collage plates have different opportunities for play, but you get the idea. And I'm sure there are tons more besides these.

What's that you say? That it sounds good in theory, but you don't believe it can actually happen? Well, let's take a look at two looks I threw together quickly for you. I literally threw some stamping over the polish I was wearing (Shirley Ann Nail Lacquer Not Your Mama's Cranberry Sauce) in a few minutes, so imagine what you could do if you were being careful, lol... :)

For the first look I did a simple stamp with China Glaze Passion (a gold polish), using the image from the center of the Christmas tree. This one took under a minute to stamp, no lie:

As you can see, in my hurry, I actually picked up my image too closely to the edge of the tree--there was plenty of room for me to have avoided that--and I got tree edge on my nails. However, as you can also see, it really didn't make too much of a difference, and next time I'll just be a bit more careful. :)

For the next look, I first used the snowflake images (the ones above the reindeer on the plate), and then stamped Santa and his reindeer over them. Notice that there isn't enough area where the snowflakes are to get a single image of them that will cover the whole nail; so I had to stamp each nail twice to cover them. Too much work, you say? It still took me only about 3 minutes to do the entire manicure:

(As you can tell from the index finger, I initially tried stamping Santa and his deers in gold, but it didn't show up very well...grrr...)

So there you go, two fun, cute manicures in no time flat!

The moral of the story is, don't let these collage-style plates frighten you away. If you can do even just basic stamping and you can use my technique for isolating an image, you can do tremendously cool things with these plates. And of course, if there are any questions you have about them or any tutorials you want me to do with them, let me know. :)

I hope you've enjoyed this, and that I've taken at least a little fear out of these sorts of images for you. :)

Hugs and love,

(The plate in this review was purchased with my own money.)

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Review: Shirley Ann Nail Lacquers


I promised I'd be back late tonight (early today?) with an Indie review, and here I be. :)

Once upon a time, I attended an event designed to raise awareness of local, independent polish makers. It was a beautiful, almost mystical day, filled with lovely surprises...and Shirley Ann Nail Lacquers was one of them. I snapped up at least 4 of her polishes, and I've already shown you one or two of them. Today I will show you two others that I bought that day, plus two that I've been lucky enough to receive for review.

Let's start with the understated elegance of Wedded Bliss, a glitter topper that Cherish made to celebrate her (then) upcoming wedding, and filled with her wedding colors. This is an ethereal blend of soft yellow, white, and gray glitters in a variety of shapes and sizes, with a little iridescence to give off a touch of light:

Shirly Ann Nail Lacquers Wedded Bliss over Barielle No Not Now

When I saw this polish, it looked to me like someone had taken a dandelion and blown it into the wind just as someone else was tossing he-loves-me-he-loves-me-not daisy petals into the air. It's soft, it's romantic, it's sweet without being cloying. I see little girls in white dresses on a bright spring day. Because it's fall, I layered this over a nude; when spring and summer come, I'll be putting it over blues and greens and oranges.

The formula on the polish is excellent. This is brushed on, no dabbing needed to get a pretty, even effect. However, if I had wanted more of the circles, say, I would have used a bit of fishing to make sure that was even.

Next up is one of the non-glitter polishes in her line, Candy-Coated Poison. This is a blue-silver metallic with a touch of gold-green color shift to it:

Shirley Ann Nail Lacquers Candy-Coated Poison

The formula on this was again wonderful--it went on beautifully and evened perfectly over the two coats I show here with no effort. I love the unique color here, and I think it's a beautiful polish for winter--it has a magical snow-scape feel to it that is lovely on its own or would work very well as a base for winter nail art. I think it would be a beautiful Hanukkah color, as well. Plus...I love that she let her little nephew name it. How cool is that?

Back in the realm of her glitter toppers, we have Knot-Knot, a vibrant mix of pinky-purple and blue-purple glitters in a variety of shapes and sizes, all floating in a sea of teeny holographic glitter:

Shirley Ann Nail Lacquers Knot-Knot over Julep Lola

This polish was so frustrating to photograph, because it's so hard to capture the dance of the holographic glitter in a still picture; so please forgive the large number of pictures here. I've tried to give you a feel for the different colors and the light that they throw in the blurred pictures; when my indoor light played with this polish over the blue base, it looked like a brilliant night sky. Even when the light doesn't make this shine, the colors in it are vibrant and eye-catching.

The formula on this was excellent; it bushed on well, but I did do some dabbing so that I could get a nice mix of colors and shapes on each nail. Nothing out of the ordinary for a glitter topper, however; it was forgiving and easy to work with. :)

I have purposefully left my favorite for last; I give you an instant addition to my favorite-holiday-polishes list--Not Your Mama's Cranberry Sauce:

Shirley Ann Nail Lacquer Not Your Mama's Cranberry Sauce


NYMCS is a blood-cranberry red jelly with gold holographic hexes in a variety of small sizes. I tend to have issues with jellies, but I had absolutely no problems with this. It applied beautifully, evened well, and the glitter laid out evenly with no stress. I have three coats here, but you likely won't need three--when I took pictures of it, it showed a little more translucent than it really is, and that white ding spot on my middle finger showed up, so I put on three coats to show you what it really looks like. On my other hand, I'm still wearing only two coats, and it looks beautiful. Three coats does make the red a little darker, and I like it that way, so I'll add another coat before I sit down to Thanksgiving dinner. Yes, I had intended to wear a different mani, but once I put this on, I knew it had to stay on.

This is another polish where the holographic effect to the glitter is hard to capture--especially with indoor lighting, lights from the holographic glitter dance across your nails. In any holiday gathering this is going to glimmer and catch the eye, like the flicker of little flames. The blurred picture gives you a bit of a sense, but still can't capture the beauty of this polish when the light plays with it. I adore this polish, and I intend to buy a full bottle of it at the first opportunity. Maybe even a back-up.

Speaking of opportunities to buy...I wanted to get this posted today, in time to notify you about the amazing Black Friday sale Cherish is having. This line is extremely affordable to start with--full-sized bottles go for only $6--but during the Black Friday weekend (through Cyber Monday), Cherish is having a buy-one-get-one free sale! Translation: THREE dollars per bottle (with a limit of three free bottles). Plus, if you buy more than $15, you get free shipping. That is by far the best deal on indie polish I've heard of, ever, in all my time blogging. To get the BOGO deal, purchase your polish, and tell her in the comment section which polish(es) you'd like for free. She hasn't announced the code for the shipping yet, so make sure you get that before you checkout.

So, come Friday, run--do not walk--over to the Shirley Ann Nail Lacquer Etsy Shop and take advantage of these deals. She says she will also be having other flash sales, so watch her Facebook page for more information on that.

I don't often tell you that things are a 'must have' or 'you can't miss this!'. But come on, passing up beautiful indie polishes that are on sale for $3 per bottle just doesn't make sense. You can bet I'll be there getting my full bottle of NYMCS, and more. :)

Now go have a great Thanksgiving dinner, so you can have the energy you need to grab that polish!

Wishing all of us a beautiful Thanksgiving day filled with true gratitude for all the blessings in our lives,


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Before & After: How much is that cutie in the window?


Today I'm posting my final 'Your Favorite Color' manicure for the Nail Challenge Collaborative, and it's one I'm pretty fond of. :)

I started with Barielle Dinner At 8, one of my favorite reds:

Barielle Dinner At 8

Then, on three of the fingers, I added a coat of Me.Lissa Nail Lacquer QR Code, a very fun black-and-white glitter in squares, rectangles, and bars of various sizes.

For the accent nail, I stamped the QR Code image from Mash-51 in Wet N Wild White Creme, and then painted it in with the same polish to create a white background. When it dried, I stamped over it again with Konad Black:

Me.Lissa QR Code
Wet N Wild; Konad; Mash

I love how this came out! I did get a little smudgle at the bottom, and this is one of the reasons why I'm excited to try the new rectangular stamper I just got. :)

Thanks for stopping by, and check back later tonight (meaning probably very early tomorrow, lol)--I have an indie review that includes one of my new favorite holiday polishes to share with you. :)

Giving thanks for all of you that take time to support me and my blog,

Monday, November 25, 2013

Dupe Or No Dupe: Julep Ciara vs. Orly Galaxy Girl (Featuring Nubby The Problem-child Nail)


A few days back, I showed you Julep Ciara, which I love, and mentioned that it reminded me of Orly Galaxy Girl...and I promised you a dupe post about it. The only problem is...I broke the middle finger nail on my dupe hand, and I'm still in that denial phase of nubbin-ness where you only file down your other nails so much because you can't accept that they have to go yet again because this darn nail constantly breaks on you...and so you have those uneven nails while you come to grips with it all...or maybe that's just me, and these pictures will be a sad, tragic tribute to my own neuroses. ::sigh::

What were we talking about? Oh yes. Dupes.

Here are the two polishes in the bottle:

Julep Ciara vs. Orly Galaxy Girl

The shapes of these bottles make this a little hard to interpret. There does seem to be less of the purple edge on the Ciara, but that might just be because of the rectangular shape...So on to the swatches, says I!

Here are the two polishes next to one another:

Julep Ciara vs. Orly Galaxy Girl

I have two coats each of Julep Ciara on my index and ring fingers, and Orly Galaxy Girl on Nubby and my pinkie. What's the verdict? Welllll.....I'm gonna go with No Dupe. You can tell a clear difference between the two--Ciara is darker and has more of the blue shimmer. Galaxy Girl is has more of the raisin color showing, and a bit less of the blue showing directly. I qualify it with that crazy 'well' because I think the colors would be a bit closer if Galaxy Girl had three coats...But regardless, that makes them not complete dupes.

Are they similar enough that you don't need both? Sure. You can create similar-enough looks with the two of these, so if you want to avoid things that are too close, you can definitely just grab one of these. Are they different enough to justify buying both? Sure. If you're looking for a justification, I officially just gave it to you. ::wink, wink::

I hope this helps anyone who was wondering about these two, and I apologize for Nubby's cameo appearance!

Hugs and loves,