Happy New Year, all!  I hope it finds you healthy and happy.  I rang in the New Year with my family and some of their friends... we played cards and had an appetizer buffet (rather tasty, if I do say so myself) to while away the hours before midnight.  I haven't made any resolutions.  I figure I'm busy enough with the things I've been working on (sing daily, exercise daily if possible, redo manicures regularly, don't bite/pick nails or cuticles, take pictures, blog regularly, get a job, prepare a kick-ass Junior Recital, cook meals, etc.) that I really don't see the point in resolving to do much more. 
For New Year's Eve, I decided to do a blingtastic french/gradient manicure.  Since I have only received my Konad stamping plate so far, and I couldn't wait to try out something, I decided to give stamped french tips a go.  I think I saw a tutorial for something like this on YouTube a year or two ago... I'll link it if I can refind it.

 I was completely impressed with how easy the process was.  I've been looking at reviews while waiting for my products to arrive, and the general consensus was that the french tips and anything with straight lines are the hardest patterns to stamp.  I, obviously, completely obscured the edges with glitter and forgot to take any progress pictures, but I didn't redo any of the nails I stamped.  Only two of them- my left thumb, the very first nail I stamped, and my right index finger- were at all wobbly.  I did, however, have to go over the stamping on my thumbs twice because the free edge side of my nail bed (is there a technical term for it?) is very strongly curved and my thumbnails are much pointier in shape than my other fingernails are.

Cast of Characters:
  • Sinful Colors Basecoat (or another pink or flesh-color tinted basecoat... I prefer them to clear basecoats for French manicures.)
  • Jesse's Girl North Star (or metallic silver of your choice. This isn't the most opaque silver ever.)
  • Sally Hansen Diamond Strength "Diamonds" (or another tiny glitter.  I think China Glaze Fairy Dust would work well here too.)
  • Sinful Colors Queen of Beauty (or another big silver glitter.)
  • Seche Vite topcoat
  • Konad Stamper (Ignore that piece of whatever-it-is on mine)
  • Konad Image Plate M19 (French tips)
  • Cotton balls, Q-Tip, acetone, wooden clothespin, paper towels, old gift card/other scraper (not pictured)

(Close-Up to show how glittery this is. No sunlight when I took these pictures.)
  • Start with clean, dry nails and a well-ventilated space.
  • Prep all nails with a coat of basecoat and let dry completely before continuing.  Stamping can bump and smudge polishes that are still wet.
  • For accent nails, paint the two ring fingers with one coat of North Star.  Top them with 2 or 3 coats of Queen of Beauty for added sparkle.
  • For the French manicure, find the image on the plate that most closely matches the size of your nail.
  • Paint the image with North Star, covering it completely.
  • Scrape firmly and evenly across the image with the edge of an old gift card or credit card.  You could use the scraper that Konad sells with the stamper, but I've seen reviews saying that it scratches up the image plate after a while, so rather than chance it I just used an old card. It works fine for me.
  • Firmly press the stamper down on the image, rolling once from one side to the other.
  • Starting at one edge of the nail, line up the edge of the tip with the smile line of your nail.  Roll the stamper across your nail, or your nail across the stamper, firmly and quickly.  Tada!  The image should now be on your nail.  Make sure to only roll the stamp side-to-side, not from cuticle to free edge at all. If you roll it vertically, the line of your french manicure will likely come out wavy.
  • Repeat the process on the rest of the nails.  You will have to work relatively quickly once you scrape the excess nail polish off the plate.  The rest of the steps must be done fast enough that the polish does not dry before you get it on your nail.  Remember, if it doesn't look absolutely perfect, don't fret.  We'll be covering it up pretty thoroughly with glitter. NOTE: If you don't have Konad plates, don't worry.  Just freehand a french tip and continue... glitter conceals a multitude of sins (and smudges.)
  • Once the tips are dry, apply a coat of Diamonds.  Try to "float" the brush lightly over the nail, with a layer of fresh polish between the nail and the brush.  This will help you avoid smudging the design.
  • Starting about halfway up the nail, apply a thin coat of Queen of Beauty.  Apply 2 or 3 more coats, covering a smaller portion of the nail each time. Let dry.
  • Cover all nails with a coat of Seche Vite or your favorite quick-dry topcoat.
  • Go out and blind people with your amazingly glittery nails!