What I’ve Been Making Late April/Early May 2016

It’s been a gray and rainy few days and I’m ready for hot weather. The sky looked like winter today-if it had started snowing, I wouldn’t have been surprised.

I’m waiting for my ship to come in- literally! The shipment of my nail goods and personal effects from Singapore should be delivered any day now. From there, it’s full steam ahead. I just brought 1 suitcase full of the most essential nail goodies with me, but it’s been a good challenge to work with less. I am definitely guilty of overpurchasing. I’m trying to be more careful now with what I buy, especially given that this move will not be the last for me and Mr. NTMG. I have to chuck/give away tons of stuff every time we move. Not sure where life will take us, but I imagine NYC will just be a pit stop. I like the city enough, but I sure don’t want to retire here!

Nail Art May 2016.jpg

Got some pink goth nails (wanted to challenge myself with something other than the usual black!), some longer Sugar Skull nails (on my mind because I’m planning a trip to Mexico), some lava lamps since they were out of stock for ages in my shop, and some paved bejeweled nails with roses and skulls, since I was reading about Anne Bonny, the fierce female pirate. That led somehow to glitter gradation goldfish. Strange bits from my consciousness kind of creep into my art, I suppose.

The silver glitter gradation nails were an attempt to cheer myself after I broke a nail and filed them all down. I can’t stand it when one is longer than the others, so when one goes, they all do! My poor stubbies needed a bit of jazz, so silver glitter gradation it is.😉

All of these nails are available in my Etsy shop, so fret not if you’ve been dying for an instant lava lamp manicure!

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Daily Dose of Inspiration- Rajasthani Blanket

It’s no secret that I love colorful things and jewels, so of course I’m a big fan of Indian art! They love color and sparkles almost as much as I do, especially in the Rajasthan region where the textiles and art are particularly beautiful. I was lucky enough to travel extensively in the region and bought lots of textiles while I was there.

Here’s one of my favorite pieces:

It’s about 4 feet long and 2.5 feet wide, and covered in all manner of shiny things.:) It’s a bit too small for my bed, and I’d hate to use it as a tablecloth and get it stained, so I think it will become a wall hanging.

Of course, before then, it’s an inspiration for some nail art.

Indian Textile Collage

I handpainted these with acrylic paint and gouache, and added a few jewels and metal studs here and there. Not as bling as the real thing, but I’m enjoying the look. I might do this as my first pedi of the year, since we’re finally getting some decent warm weather here. I’m not putting away my winter coat just yet, but I think spring is really here. Seems strange that one day can be coat-worthy and the next is suitable for shorts and a t-shirt, but I guess that’s NYC for ya.



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Color Challenge- Pantone Fiesta and Tigerlily

Today’s color challenge is a nice, zippy shade called Pantone Fiesta 17-1564. It’s a warm-leaning slightly dusty red which reminds me of the American Southwest. It’s not a vivid, clean color, but more a sunwashed desert red. It is a bit darker than it actually photographs.


This one needed a red and a slightly dusty colored yellow. A vivid yellow would yield a brighter shade of orange which would not capture the faded quality of Fiesta.

Here’s what I mixed, half and half:


Let me say a couple of things about these shades before I show you the result. The Ruby Wing red is actually a solar color-changing polish,  as all Ruby Wings are. They have a color change in direct sunlight and shade. They’re a lot of fun, but after time, UV color changing polishes stop changing. I have had it happen across several different brands. For whatever reason, the pigment that allows for the color change breaks down over time. This Ruby Wing was one of them. It stayed a lovely, well-formulated red though.

Second note: Although I used OPI for this franken, OPI is no longer cruelty-free as they sold the brand to Coty (tests on animals) several years back. I have lots of pre-Coty OPI, that I am planning to use up, but the brand is no longer cruelty-free.

I was very pleased with this one- it’s a dead on match! Like most red-based shades,  it does not photograph its true color well, so I’ll show you the colors in a few different lights below. The darkest colors are the best match for the actual Fiesta, but you can see the polish matches it perfectly in all lights.😀

Fiesta Collage

A color like Fiesta needs to have some nail art. It’s not a party with plain nails! A few decals and a couple Jet Swarovski rhinestones, and we have a true fiesta on our hands. Literally. Hey-yo!


I had a bit of the Fiesta mix leftover after I finished the mani, so I decided to see if I could match another Pantone shade. I added some white to Fiesta to yield another Pantone shade, Tigerlily. I added Color Club White Tip drop by drop until I got Tigerlily. Here are the two shades side by side for a comparison:


Here’s what the nails looked like:


These are nice shades for summer if you want something a little different than the usual reds or pinks. A little yellow, and you can transform your classic reds into fresh corals.

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Challenging Myself With Color- Pantone Striking Purple

For those of you guys who have been with me from the start, you know I began with color.

I was in living in a shoebox of an apartment in Tokyo. I had a fine arts background, but the apartment was too small to do any real art or store supplies. Nail art was already crazy in Japan then, and I took up painting on nails as sort of a design challenge. It was 2006-2007. Nail polish was around a whopping $20USD per bottle, so I figured I’d try mixing up my own colors. That’s where I got my start in the nail world.

I eventually moved into art, sculpture and other forms of decoration, but color was always a driving force behind the art. I’m ready to go back to my roots a bit and focus on color.

While some people might think these are the most boring postcards in the world, they are right up my alley. For those of you who are not color junkies, Pantone is a design firm specializing in color. Each of their gazillion shades are named/numbered and used for interior design, fashion, industrial applications- basically any application where a precise color is needed. They also designate a “Color Of The Year” and put out seasonal palettes of shades.

I’ve got 100 Pantone postcards. I don’t know if I’ll get to all 100 in this lifetime, but I’m going to pick one at random and try to mix up a matching polish shade, then show the results. Besides nail polish, I use pigments, nail polish, glitter and all kinds of other materials to get the perfect shade. I may or may not top off my color creations with nail art, but if a shade speaks to me, there’s no telling what will happen.

As we might remember from those early school days, primary colors (red, yellow, blue) can’t be mixed. I can tweak some shades of primaries to get a match, but if I get a straight red color, there’s not much I can do with that, except try to match an existing polish shade to it. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves just yet…

Let’s get it started with Pantone 18-305, Striking Purple.


This is what I’d call a mid-tone cool purple because it leans more blue than red. It’s pretty close to neutral but just eeking into that cool territory.

What colors can I use to make this shade? Glad you asked.😉


I chose these three colors. The Warhol will warm up the Grape Pop, which is a bit too dark and cool for this color. The Bottoms Up will lighten it a bit without making it too warm, since it’s a cool pink. I guess we could rename the resulting franken Pop Grapes Up Warhol Bottoms, but let’s not. Though he might have approved, since apparently all manner of interesting things went on in the Silver Factory. Erm. Back to the polish.

I used roughly 70% Grape Pop, and 15% each of Warhol and Bottoms Up. I drop the polish color by color into my trusty silicone baking cup. It looked something like this:


Since my bottle of Grape Pop was close to empty, I used the brush from that to mix up the colors. If you don’t want to adulterate your bottle of polish, use a brush from a clear bottle of polish that’s dedicated to your color mixing. Just clean the brush with a paper towel or lint-free wipe between colors.

Here’s what I came up with. I’m sorry- I got so carried away with purple that I Konaded it and forgot to take the photo of the nails without the art. But you can get the general idea.


It’s a wee bit darker than the Striking Purple, but overall not a bad match.

I’m glad to be back where I started- mixing up colors! I will still be featuring art, but we’ll be seeing a lot more colors in upcoming posts. What are some colors you’d like to see? Let me know in the comments!

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Daily Dose of Inspiration- Turkish Trivet

I’m settled into American life- still waiting for my ship to come in (literally!) with my last few supplies, but mostly got everything I need: glitter, rhinestones and a few hundred nail polishes.

To be honest, I’m not really feeling NYC. I need to have more fun and get out more- it’s been a blur of assembling furniture, looking endlessly at boring grown-up things like dish sets, waiting for Time Warner and couch delivery and more trips to IKEA than I care to admit. I gave away most of the furniture when we left Singapore, since it’s more expensive to ship than buy. So we basically started with an empty apartment (and a stash of glitter I packed in my suitcase, of course.) So it’s not fair to judge NY life, since I’m just finishing up the boring bits. The never-ending winter and unusual cold snap is not helping matters either. I am in desperate need of leaves, trees and sunshine! Blue water and palm trees would also be welcome. If anyone in the Maldives has a spare room, let me know.😉

When I get in these blue moods, I have to look hard to find beautiful things for artistic inspiration. I aim for one a day- sort of like vitamins but more colorful. Here’s what I came up with- my multicolored Turkish hot plate/trivet thingy.

I love Turkish design- full of color, blooms, geometrics…just gorgeous. I haven’t been yet, but I’m hoping to make a trip there when things settle down a bit. Since Turkish design is so bold, this look required some bold nails!

For handpainted designs, I paint the base with a semi glossy base (Orly Bonder or Color Club Milky White), then follow up with a polish. Be careful- a very pigmented nail polish shade can leach onto your overpainting. Dark blues and vampy purples seem to be the worst culprits. You *can* seal the nail polish with a topcoat like Seche Vite, but then you’ll have to file off the shine with a very high grit buffer so the acrylic paint can stick better. Just don’t file off your topcoat!

Turkish Trivet Nail Collage

Last step: go crazy with your paints! I use mainly Holbein, Turner and a couple other Japanese brands. Do not add a lot of water to your paints, as it will just bead up on the nail surface and be impossible to control. Add just enough to get your paints to spread, then go for it! I generally paint freehand without sketching out designs first, but many people find it helpful to plan the design on paper first.

Last, you will need to seal the design with topcoat because paints that can be thinned with water will dissolve in water. I use a high gloss quick dry like Seche Vite, HK Girl or a UV gel topcoat, depending on how much wear the design will get. If it’s just for a party or photoshoot, Seche will do. If it’s got to wear for a week for a bridal beach wedding, UV gel it is. Dab it on gently and do not drag, or your hard painting work will be for naught. A light hand is crucial here.

It is also possible to paint with nail polish, and I do frequently. You will probably require smaller paint brushes as those from the bottles are too big. Beware- it will beat up your brushes something fierce as they need to be cleaned in acetone. Don’t buy the very expensive ones as they’ll be ruined, but don’t get super cheapies either. I always use synthetic brushes because I refuse to use animal hair ones, but I get pretty good results from mid-range synthetics. Brushes for acrylic paint or gouache will be able to be used longer since they can be cleaned with water vs acetone. Splurge here and get some good quality, since they are your nail art weapon of choice.😉


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Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

This will be the first St. Patty’s Day I’ve celebrated in a while! Somehow, all things Irish just don’t translate that well in Asia. I might go and try to check out the parade and see what it’s all about, and perhaps even drink something unnaturally green. Kale shakes don’t count.😉

And, of course and, of course with every celebration comes nail art! Here’s the latest:


There’s some classic green and orange plaid, rainbow French tips, Irish flag French tip with some gold coins, a rainbow clover, and of course a teeny pot o’ gold with gold bullion. I know green nails are not the most appealing color for many people, but one accent now would be cute for the day. If green is not going to fly at your workplace, well…there’s always pedicures.

And some oldies from years past, in case none of the above grabs you:


May your day be filled with sparkly gold things and green beverages that do not involve kale.

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The Glitter Ship Has Landed

Hello NYC! I’ve been here for a couple of weeks, and most of my time so far has been spent looking for apartments while Mr. NTMG goes to work. So far it’s been pretty busy! Here’s the latest lowdown.

First step: apartment hunting. After a fruitless search, we finally managed to snag a place that was passable. I actually found NYC apartment hunting is actually easier than Tokyo. It’s totally legal and usual to discriminate against foreigners in Japanese real estate, so that made it more miserable. But NYC has that extra exciting element of “Can I walk here at night?” whereas that does not exist in Tokyo or Singapore.

In the end, we found an expensive place we like (close to subway, biggish) but in a boring neighborhood with an ugly street view. Ya just can’t get it all. I’ll have to use my design skills to make it workable, since I don’t want to be looking out over a graffitti’d alley everyday. We’ll be moving in later this month- it will be nice to get in my own digs where I can really relax!

Step 2: Furniture shopping. We have barely any, and what we do have is on a slow boat from Singapore and will not be here for a while. Need to get beds, desks and all the electronics. It’s our first chance to really get some non-cardboard throwaway furniture and maybe even buy a vacuum cleaner for the first time in my adult life. (To be fair, we had hardwood/marble/tatami floors in Asia, so vacuums weren’t really a thing. So my house never looked Hoarders-worthy.)

Step 3: Find studio space. This may prove tricky, but I’m willing to get creative. I’ve got a bit of time, since most of my nail art goodies are on a ship somewhere in the Pacific Ocean. I’m going to really try to curate my nail supplies and buy carefully- it’s easy to get carried away! I didn’t realize how much stuff I had until I had to pack it all up.

Step 3A: Get New York State nail tech license. Should be easy and hoping I just need to do the written test. If all goes well, I’ll be doing some part-time art work in some salons downtown as a roving nail artist. Probably a weekend project for customers who want crazy art. I’ll keep everyone posted on the when and where after it’s underway.

Step 4: ?? Profit?

First impressions: New York is dirty and kind of gray, and my first impression was that it looks like a zombie movie set. Getting dumped from tropical Singapore to wintry New York is not exactly ideal timing. I am keeping my fingers crossed for spring and seeing some green.

NYC has its charms, but the graffiti and trash is very jarring if you have been living in a place where it’s minimal. After a couple weeks in, it’s less visually slamming, but seems to be everywhere. It’s also weird to see repurposed buildings, like grand old stone banks that now house a CVS drugstore, or gyms in a church. Interesting uses of space here! Even though Tokyo is a much bigger city, NY feels much more urban. The streets are emptier here. In Tokyo, it’s crowded all the time, but here I went out for lunch and hardly saw any other people on the street. It was a bit creepy, actually. Maybe that’s where I get the zombie-movie impression.

Other things I’ve noticed as a Returning American:

Dogs. Dogs are everywhere. People bring their dogs in shops, in elevators, in offices…I like dogs but it’s a bit much. It’s all good until the dogs start arguing in the coffee shop. Not cool.

Yoga pants/tights. This is a thing. They are everywhere, from little kiddos to grandmas. I’m no fashion guru, but take a piece of advise: Check to see if they’re translucent before you go out. Your undies are showing. Unless that’s the point. Is it? Can anyone fill me in?

Phone headsets. People are walking along the street talking to themselves via headset. You can no longer assume that people having conversations with imaginary friends are crazy. These headsets are not popular in Asia, particularly Japan. I think it’s kind of alpha-male aggro and would not go over well in the Far East. But it seems everyone here is using them.

True crime shows: there are channels that show them all day long. I watched a bunch of them while totally jet lagged at 4AM. It makes me feel rather paranoid. It can’t be good for long-term mental health. But for now, I’m keeping an eye on Mr. NTMG and making sure he doesn’t secretly buy any life insurance on me.

Facial tattoos. Yigads! Do those teardrop tattoos really mean the wearer has killed someone? If so, there are a few murderers on the loose in my neighborhood, most recently Folding Guy at the Laundromat. Is he on the run from Interpol? Could there be a reward for his arrest? Can I collect it without getting killed? (Note: stop watching True Crime shows).

Just some random observations from a unique time in my life. I don’t think NYC will be the final stop and I actually anticipate another move to Asia in the future, but it’s good to be back.

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