How cool is this…polymer clay nail art! Have you seen any of it yet? It’s not a brand new technique by the way…It had a trend going on in Japan for some time but it’s made its way over here chanting manicurists and clayers alike. Depending on your level of skill you could start from scratch and build the nails and the clay decorations yourself or you could locate some premade clay decorations.
The nail decorations are teeny-tiny for the obvious reason…they are formed from clay canes which are several degrees smaller than the typical size you seen in canes. The canes are sliced very thin to create the little adornments. That’s it in a nutshell, of course there’s more to it than that. Some basic knowledge of various projects like working with resin, acrylic coating and UV light is also essential.
As far as the shapes go, take your pick! You can find or make fruit, candy, sport symbols, holiday symbols like Christmas or Halloween, cute animals, what have you. Etsy has a great selection of these already made and pre-sliced and ready to go.
In my experience tiny things are always harder to work with because anything little is delicate, you have to pick objects up with tweezers So be sure to have some on hand.
If you’re unfamiliar with the makings of acrylic nails, one thing you could do is look for some of those nail forms…almost every beauty supply place has these, you could use these for practice when applying the clay shapes.
This subjects take me back because long time ago….I was taking classes in all this stuff, and I vaguely had recollections of building acrylic nails. Long story short you had these 2 ingredients you’d combine together and using a brush, you’d start rolling a little “ball” of the substance onto the base of the nail, and using the flat side of the brush near the ferrule (metal casing), you’d flatten the ball and spread it around the other parts of the nail. It would take a length of time to dry, but that is how a fully formed acrylic nail gets made.
Other things to know about, is using alcohol and a buffing tool, one of those emery boards or the sponge style that looks square would work. Don’t forget about sanitary procedures and roughing up the surface first gently, of the nail bed, using an emery board, then dab on a little alcohol.
We were using a fake “mannikin” form to do all this in the class by the way. We had a small container of powder and a bottle of acrylic liquid, when combined they will formulate the acrylic nail. After the nail formed there was this task of removing the foil form, and then sanding and buffing the nail to refine its appearance and remove raggedy edges. As a disclaimer: No, I never did work as a manicurist. As far as the classes I took that’s a story for another time. But looking back to then it reminded of of the experience all over again.
As far as the nails for the polymer clay art goes, the best approach is to use a gel inlay structure instead of building acrylic nails, because acrylic nails tend to be opaque looking somewhat – usually a white or light pink color, which can make it harder to see those cute little shapes of clay, so we want to use this approach instead. You would still need things like the fake finger form and the foil forms if you want to get some practice before doing this for yourself, a friend if you don’t have experience with this artform.
You’d need some gel that is UV receptive, a UV light for curing, and some nail lacquers in colors of your choosing.
Not too different from our approach for working with resin.
Start with application of the gel layer and dry . Using a manicure brush, apply another layer of the gel, you can choose a different color. Use the brush to pick up the tiny clay shapes and arrange them on the nail, it make take a little maneuvering to get them in the right place. Also don’t forget to apply some little accents like nail bling and glitter, try to choose a color that complement s the clay pieces.
Apply another layer of the gel, this will serve to embed the little clay slices,. Dry again under the UV lamp.
Once dry apply a layer of top coat sealant.
Now you are ready to wow your friends and family with your beautiful clay adorned nails!