Tokyo Nail Expo Art Tip Award- Part 3

And coming into the next 30ish entries…

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35. I am not sure what is going on here. The middle part reminds me of a striped Laffy Taffy I once accidentally left in the car in summertime. Luckily no one sat on it. I don’t even like Laffy Taffy. Wait, I feel a haiku coming on.

Oh Laffy Taffy

I forgot all about you

You got your revenge

36. A pretty combo of a castle at sunset and some flowers on the bottom. I think I would have preferred the top half being expanded. But I’m on an anti-flower campaign, so maybe that’s just me.

37. Kind of India vibes going on, but I think the orange is more coralish than mandarinish. Pretty work but needs a little something else.

38. Goldfish everywhere! These even feature the same wire around the nails…were people copying off each other? Is it the hive mind at work? We may never know…

39. Some geometry and a bird. I may be missing the theme here, but at least there’s some orange going on.

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40. These dogs faces are cracking me up and I don’t know why. The one in the middle kind of looks like a Wookie dog. Perhaps these animals are a three way hybrid of cats, dogs and Wookies.  A cute entry no matter what the critters are, though.

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41. Serene autumn scene featuring…mostly yellow leaves. Nice layout and idea but needs more orange.

42. This one is like a whole Mardi Gras parade on five nails. Whoa! Not getting an orange vibe but it doesn’t matter because my eyes are dazzled by this many rhinestones in one place.  Very nice work that shows how nails can be mini sculptural works of art.

43. I like the colors but the abstract work obscures the bride and…no orange.

44. I’m a big fan of ombre, so these appeal. Gorgeously detailed cormorant, some orange maple leaves, and a teeny bridge. I am a bit overdosed on Traditional Japan, but these have a good pop of orange color.

45. Fantastic entry here, the amber looks like kirikko cut glass and the 3D work is top notch. These are not as complex as some other entries, but have great balance, color combination, and all around very neat work that stands out from the crowd.

46. Butterflies. Flowers. Sickly orange.

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47. An interesting entry, clear flowers encapsulated. I’m getting potpurri vibes from this…or maybe it was a soap dispenser I’m thinking of? I like things encased in resin, even if they are flowers, so this one caught my eye.

48. The first year of the Reiwa era started as the new emperor took the throne earlier this year, so that’s what the kanji says. It’s a big deal in Japan to start a new era and it seems this New Year will be especially festive. With these nails, you’d be all set to party, but give us a little more juicy orange, willya?

49. Zoom in on this and look at the detail work. The outline of tiny squares that make up the circle outline of these nails is amazingly well done. Someone has an extremely steady hand. The detail work is one of the best I’ve seen in this competition.

50. This one says, “Retro Drops,” and it is indeed retro. I like it because the color scheme really does give me mandarin orange vibes, plus it lives up to its own tiny sign.  It seems like there should be a groovy mushroom in here somewhere.

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51. Goldfish, this time on a clear/whitish base. I do prefer the darker base but these have a nice summery feeling to them. There’s a pop of orange with the flowers and mountain, too.

52.  I see yellow and brown barely any orange.  This is a person who either delights in breaking the rules or didn’t get the theme.

53. These nails have their own doors. I wish they swung back and forth like saloon doors in the old cartoons, but they appear stationary.  Probably too much going on here but I do like my nails to have doors.

54. Something a little different, a jolly yet slightly pensive looking sun and some orange yellow gradations.

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55. All hail Emperor Orangehead! That part’s a bit odd, but the kimono work is exquisite. The details, the folds…a real work of art. I hope there will be no clashes between Emperor Orangehead and his various fruity nemeses. It’d be a shame to ruin that kimono.

56. This reminds me of another entry we saw earlier, with the bold black lines over a vaguely tie-dyed base. Hive mind again? Are the artists all friends?

57. I don’t know if it was intended, but these look downright threatening. Killer Dragonflies are coming to your town! Well rendered, but the background just gives me an ominous feeling. Perfect for Halloween!

58. Did anyone have a grandma who had a little cloisonne jewelry box that sat on a lace doily? This is the nail version of that. Whoever wears these also has on ruffly underwear.  Very skillful work, plus a cute fox as a bonus.

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59. I’m going to forgive the flowers, the detail work is so good. The fish looks a bit mutated, but those flowers.  Fabulous. Please do something else next time for us and show us your skills.

60. An uncluttered view of Mt. Fuji, a bit simple but a good layout and solid color choices.

61. Amber cut glass pattern with a somewhat superflous clear bloobala and lonely rhinestone, but I like the the white geometric details against the amber.

62. Another entry with doors. That lattice work is very well done but I think it obscures too much of the nails.

63. Hmm, got a case of the randoms. Cute chonky unicorn, baby bottle, heart, key…?

64. These fish are crazy. The angle and perspective of the shadows are wonderfully done, plus the little rocks, lily pads and translucent base underneath are perfection.

65. Jewels galore! The expression is a bit hard to place but the stones are just right.

66. I’ve been a bit down on Traditional Japan themes, but this one is exquisite. These are true miniature paintings done on nails instead of canvas. Probably the best detail work in the show so far. I don’t even mind that they sort of missed the orange boat here.

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For all you 12 people out there reading this, thank you! It feels good to be blogging again, at least for now. I just don’t have as much fun writing Instagram captions, and I’m perpetually frustrated by the platform itself. I just don’t like it. I’ve tried but I just can’t get anywhere with it, but instead of being frustrated, I’m just going to use it how I want to instead of worrying about Content and Likes and Engagement and all that. That took all the fun out of it and nails should be fun, right?

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Tokyo Nail Expo 2019 Nail Art Tip Award- Part 2

And, without further ado, the next entries:

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13. Richly detailed cormorant nails. I really like the texture, design and balance of these. Beautifully done.

14. Cute rising sun nails done in orange vs the traditional red. I’d like to have seen a bit more detail but it’s a good solid start.

15. Stunning traditional pattern in white- think it’s supposed to look like kirikko cut glass-topped off with orange maple leaves and a 3D kanzashi (traditional hair ornament). This work is top notch from the painting to the sculpting. I wish there was a wee bit more originality here since we’ve seen this type of design over and over, but I can’t fault the work.

16. Deer, shrine gates and a sunset, plus a few orange flowers for the deer to nibble on if he gets hungry. Animals, even really familiar ones, are surprisingly hard to render and the deer is done well. Don’t believe me? Try drawing Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck without looking at them first. The results are usually hilarious.

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17. And here’s an example of animals being hard to render. I do love the rabbit’s hopeful expression, though.

18. Am interesting retro-ish take on the theme, but it’s a little hard to see what’s going on here. It reminds me of those wacky print leggings everyone seemed to be wearing when I first moved back to America. Hopefully these nails won’t rip in the wrong places like those seemed to.

19. Fantastic faux metal bronze detailing, but the flowers. Nooo! Please apply your prodigious talent to another theme, you could do magic.

20. Slightly creepy yet also cute caterpillars transform into well done butterflies. It’s a garden theme, not a straight floral, so it gets the thumbs up from me! Nicely balanced colors too.

21. Cmon, let’s not start our projects the night before!

22. This is the sum of all the fall decor at TJ Maxx, miniaturized and put into nails. Reminds me of a potpourri bowl, but in a good way, not as in, “He gave me a potpourri bowl for our anniversary.”

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23. Another set of nails with a gray background and orange fish. Is there a famous reference here I’m missing? Seems odd to have two sets with black water and orange goldfish, but still nicely done. I’m surprised the artists didn’t choose blue water and both went with black, but a nice set.

24. I love me some iridescent Mylar flakes, but this one is a bit hard to sort out. A mandala? Also, no orange.

25. Heartbreakingly detailed kimono pattern with…no orange. Another very skilled artist who didn’t really go with the theme. I think we’ve got one group of artists who do flowers no matter what, and another emerging group who do Traditional Japan Stuff no matter what. Shame since the work is gorgeous, but has no Juicy Mandarin Orange going on.

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27. Look at this detail! The black details on the gradated base are just stunning, plus thr orange bird makes for a very strong entry.

28. I’m not sure who the figure is (anyone into manga?) but it’s a very well rendered set with nicely done details. I’m just not feeling enough orange, but I like the way the dress flows across the nails.

29. A very astonished girl and two hungry cats take center stage in this set. I would feel the same way if I saw random flying goldfish and swirly marbles flying in the air. Unique, nicely done and does not include any flowers. Phew.

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31. This is my favorite so far: it sticks with the theme, is very weird, and shows incredibly talent. We’ve got a scantily clad girl, a cat licking an orange, extremely detailed orange sections (and one orange with a scarily realistic eyeball), a teeny butterfly and a goblet of mandarin orange juice. A+!

32. Pretty beta fish…these almost remind me of teacups, or dinnerware. The border around the “pond” is a nice touch, but after the Eyeball Orange of #31, I must say my heart is elsewhere.

33. Kimono pattern. Kanzashi hair ornament. Bloobalas. Pretty, shows talent and used the orange, but I’m getting Traditional Japan fatigue.

34. Orange Buddha (not sure which incarnation since I’m not really up on the subject), beautifully rendered but I always feel odd about religious figures on nails. These would probably get you beat up in certain parts of Thailand.

All in all, some strong showings so far, plus a few folks who need to be banned from flowers and/or Traditional Japan themes. So far, #31 is my favorite, but I’m drawn to weird things, which is how I got into nail art in the first place anyway. What are your favorites? Tell us in the comments!

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Tokyo Nail Expo 2019 Nail Art Tip Award-Part 1

A highlight of the Tokyo Nail Expo is the Nail Art Tip Award, where artists make a set of five nails according to a predetermined theme. Previous themes have included “Adult Punk,” “Traditons of Japan,”  and this year’s theme, though hard to translate, is something along the lines of “Japanese Orange: Fresh Mandarin Orange-Like Impression.” I assure you, it sounds better in Japanese.

Anyway, let’s take a look at some of the entrance. The artist can choose any shape or size nail they want as long as it fits in the regulation size box, and some of the nails are truly works of art while others are…not.

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1. Nice work here, But I’m not getting any mandarin orange like freshness impressions. Nope.

2. A cute idea, and they did incorporate  the orange, but you need to bring more to something to a competition this fierce.

3. I really like the striking colors on this one, they’re very Japanese retro. Picture every hospital waiting room in the northern countryside, and this would pretty much be those color selections. I personally happen to like these types of colors, and the design is eye-catching, but I need something else. Maybe I’m just too extra when it comes to nails?
4. Beautifully rendered intricate bird design, this must have taken hours to do. Top quality work but I wish the orange had a little more punch to it.

5. Pale orange kimono pattern. Nice but uninspired. Has the artist not seen the entries in the past? You got to really push yourself to the limit and do something crazy! At least give us a 3D bloobala or something…

6.  A pleasant beach/mountain scene? These feature some very well-done tiny adorable oranges, and an orange blossom. Thumbs up for sticking with the theme, but the nails are a little visually confusing.  They could’ve given a couple of their 3D bloobalas to number five and I think everyone would’ve been better for it.

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Now we’re getting into some more intricate entries.

7. Somehow, this artist managed to pull off smoky gray and orange in the same nail. I really like this design-somehow it manages to avoid looking too Halloween-y But is also kind of dark and mysterious. Check out the intricate geometric pattern-My hands will never be that steady.

8. Got some ombre citrus colored swirlies going on here. The sculpture work on the top is simply fantastic, but I wish there could’ve been a little teeny orange in there somewhere. I don’t know if they assembled the parts separately and added it on or did it in place, but this is some top level work.

10. A very kawaii pastel entry here with some actual citrus fruits, which I’m glad to see. It appears these citrus fruits are having some kind of adorable baby shower? Maybe they don’t know if your having a boy Mandarin or a girl Mandarin, so they covered all the bases. Nice work and the colors go very well together.

11. Traditional figures from Japanese history in various shades of orange. Well rendered, but aside from the color, we need a little more citrus action in here.

12. The ever present flower and/or butterfly entry. You all know how I feel about these butterfly:flower nails, so I won’t reiterate my dislike. They did use orange so some effort was made, but this one is not gonna make it into the finals.

That’s the first 12, we’ve got a bunch more to go! I’m on my way to go chill out a Japanese hot spring, so I’ll update if I feel ambitious, but it’s equally likely I will crash after a delicious dinner and a hot bath. Unfortunately, due to the timing of the nail show this year and my other work, as soon as I’m used to Japan time it will be time to turn around and go back to New York City. The 14 hour jet leg is the worst!

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Tokyo Nail Expo 2019 Day 1

The Tokyo Nail Expo kicked off on November 24th, a bit later than previous years, which means no Thanksgiving for me this year. I’m OK with that since me and the Mr. will be sitting in a hot spring in the mountains instead. My favorite Thanksgiving food is actually the jellied cranberry sauce- not the homemade kind, but the canned one that comes out with the can marks still on it.

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Anyway, onto the good stuff! It was pretty mobbed, as usual, but they had better organization this year and it was easier to get inside the venue.

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The show was split on two floors this year, which was different, and instead of smaller individual vendors, the bigger companies and nail shops had more of a presence. TAT is a major nail art supply store in Japan, and they had a humongous booth representing a lot of brands with an equally humongous line for the cashier. In the past, each company would have had a booth, so it was sort of consolidated into one area. Red Nails, a supply shop/nails school I attended, had almost no presence this year. I hope they’re not going out of business- it was a good solid school and I had a lot of happy memories there.

Of course, we’ve got glitter! I live up to my name and have more than enough to carry me through several lifetimes, but I can’t stop picking up more every time I’m in Japan.

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There were a lot more demonstrations this year, usually with a brand rep using the company products to show off some techniques. Nothing particularly new, but it’s fun to watch for a bit. If you want good Japanese nail art lessons, there is a online school called Neiru that features step by step video lessons.  It’s pretty good and I’ve seen the videos in the past, but found myself too busy to really take advantage of it.

I didn’t see any really crazy nails (except for the Art Tip Award- more on that later!) but the usual standbys were all there: lots of textural nails, like marble, plaid, etc. topped off with bits of bling here and there.

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Muted colors are pretty in at the moment, saw a lot of mustards, grays and burgundys.  Mustard anything looks awful on me, so I’m waiting for this color to go away, but it hangs on. I actually like it as a shade, it just makes me look kinda diseased.

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Must have…maximum cuteness! Pink is an ever-present thing in Japan.

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Manga nails are another theme in Japan, though I’m way too old and out of touch to know all the characters.

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A little bit of bling, but mostly the nails are going in a more understated direction. Pfft!

When I first got into nails in Japan around 2007, they were insane 3″ long neon bejeweled beasts roaming the streets of Shibuya. Now that nail art has become more mainstream, it’s toned down a lot. Still a lot of nice, subdued nails out there that are very skillfully done, but sometimes I miss those wild nail days!

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And for everybody’s favorite thing…the Nail Art Tip Award! Every year, artists submit a set of 5 handmade nails following a set theme. The nails are done in advance by selected artists in Japan. Now, as you long-term readers know, at least one person does flower/butterfly nails regardless of the theme. I mean, a couple of years ago the theme was “Adult Punk” and yep…still flower nails. Maybe they were being punks and breaking all the rules?

So, here’s this year:

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The theme is….well, hard to translate exactly but here goes: “Japanese Orange Color: Fresh Like A Mandarin Orange.” For fellow Japanese language nerds out there, this is the first time I have seen “mikan” written in kanji, had to double check that one!

I’m going to need a little time to sort out the contest entries and also go back later to finish emptying my wallet, so check back for the entries in the next day or two!

I also got to meet a long-term reader who came to the show from the US as well, which was loads of fun! Thanks for taking the time to meet- it’s always so much fun to catch up with fellow nail art aficionados.

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On My Way to Japan

The Tokyo Nail Expo kicks off on November 24 and I’m at the airport waiting to board my flight to Tokyo!

I did stop over in Hawaii on my way to Japan, so I soaked up a lot of sun and tropical breezes which I’m going to have store up through the miserable winters of the northeastern US.

More varieties of Spam than I ever knew existed! I ate in reasonably large portions of delicious food, did some snorkeling, drove around the island and just hung out in beautiful tropical Paradise.

I’d love to come back to Hawaii to live, but it is really expensive and the jobs that are available are very low salary. I was broke just about the entire time I lived here, and while I’d love to come back, I have kind of enjoyed not having to choose which bill to pay at the end of the month. The other bummer is, it’s hard to watch people dropping tons of money when you’re living hand to mouth. I don’t consider myself materialistic person, but watching people pay thosuands of dollars for a handbag when you’re struggling to scrape together rent is a tough thing. Unfortunately, there does not seem to be a high demand for rhinestone appliers in Hawaii.😅

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Motorcycles.

I’ve done a few fall nails- leaves and some flannel-inspired ones are underway, but for some reason, I was just feeling Motorcycle-y!

I really enjoyed riding a motorcycle when I lived in Asia, but there are a lot of bikes on the road there, so drivers are more aware and used to sharing the road. Here in America, bikes seems like more of a rarity and a lot more people are on the phone when they drive. I don’t want to be riding along merrily and then get smooshed by someone who just had to check their Facebook comments. I mean, we’ve all gotta go sometime, but I don’t want it to be that way. I want to fall into a grain silo of Swarovski crystals or something.

So, being motorcycle-less but still longing to vroom away, it came out on nails:

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For a  more traditional take on autumnal nails:

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I’m getting myself ready for the Tokyo Nail Expo at the end of this month, so that’s something to look forward to. Not sure what this year’s nail theme will be, but there are sure to be a few standouts and some nailists who will do flowers no matter what the theme, but we’ll have to wait until the 24th to see what’s what.

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Fall Feelings

Fall is my favorite season, and now that I’m back living in a place that has seasons, I’ve been doing my best to enjoy it. Not many trees here, but fall foliage can always sneak onto my nails. Christmas stuff is all up here already (since before Halloween, actually) but poor old Thanksgiving gets seriously neglected. My nail goals this week include making some designs that aren’t Christmassy but festive for the in-between mashup Hallowmas season. I can’t go straight from Halloween to red and green glitter. Difficulty: no turkey designs. I am a big fan of turkeys as wild animals and wouldn’t eat em, but if you are going to, do you really want to see cute cartoon ones? Or worse- the cute cartoon ones looking scared? Kinda grisly, if you ask me.

So I’ll put my thoughts on festive in-between season designs, as well as a couple custom sets that are in the works.

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