Ani DiFranco Song Inspired Stamping Manicure

The challenge this week in the Facebook Adventures in Stamping group was "Inspired by your Favorite Song." It's nearly impossible for me to choose a favorite song, but one of my fave singers of all time is Ani DiFranco, so I started looking through her song lists for something that would translate well to stamping. I came up with "Little Plastic Castle." 

I chose the song because of these lyrics*: 
people talk
about my image
like i come in two dimensions
like lipstick is a sign of my declining mind
like what i happen to be wearing
the day that someone takes a picture

is my new statement for all of womankind

Ani DiFranco was kind of a 90's folk-music feminist poster child, but when you're a poster child you are expected to follow a certain image, and she was always chafing against that image and just doing her own thing. Over the years she has put out dozens of albums, all produced by her own label, and including all different types of music: some political, some not; some folk, some not. A true iconoclast, she didn't want to be owned by the alternative culture that adored her any more than the mainstream culture she rejected.

I kind of relate to that feeling right now. I have a Master's degree in American Literature, and if you search this blog you'll find book reviews and thoughts on women's studies and other smart stuff. Professionally, I work in IT and insurance. But I'm not an intellectual, and I am not into typical nerd culture either. I love social media and do a lot of more "girly" stuff like shopping, beauty, and nail art. I often post my nail art on Facebook, and recently I was expressing my opinion to a "friend" who had posted something I thought was super insensitive about older people and dementia, and he dismissed me by saying "Go paint your nails!" 

Hey, just because I like to paint my nails doesn't mean I don't have brains and something to say. In other words, lipstick doesn't cause the "declining mind" you think it does.

So... on to the manicure.

I specifically chose to use a fish image because another lyric* is:
they say goldfish have no memory
i guess their lives are much like mine
and the little plastic castle
is a surprise every time
A historical artifact from the 1990s and some goldfish
I chose the MoYou UK Sailor Collection plate 04. I just jumped on the MoYou UK bandwagon along with a lot of people in the stamping group, and I am loving the plates. My only complaint is the full-nail images are a bit on the smaller side, so I have to be super careful because I have kind of wide nails. They don't fit my thumb either, but I can fix that by stretching my squishy stamper. I heard they are coming out with some XL images, so I might try those next time.

MoYou UK Sailor Collection plate 04
You start a stamped mani like any other, by cleaning, filing, doing your cuticles or whatever you like to do, and applying a base coat. Then when thinking about your stamping, you want to carefully think through your color base and the color you will stamp with.

For the color base of my mani, I chose China Glaze Riveting, one of my favorite orange shimmers. I wanted to use a shimmer for the fish and shimmers don't stamp that well, which is why I chose this and a reverse image plate. The orange ultimately showed through the image as the fish.
China Glaze Riveting
For the stamping, it's good to practice with a couple colors if you aren't sure which one to use. Once you stamp it on your nails, if you don't like the look and try to wipe it off, it's likely you will ruin the whole manicure on that nail and have to start over. You can use special stamping polish, but any polish that is on the thicker, more opaque side will do.

To test, I painted the Riveting on a swatch wheel and then tried a black, Sally Hansen Xtreme Black Out, and a navy blue, Julep Gunta. I chose the Julep because it stamped so much better. I've stamped with Sally Hansen Xtreme colors before, so I was surprised this didn't work as well. Maybe I'll try it some other time on a more delicate design. The design is very crisp, but I wanted a little more opacity.
Try out your stamping polish before you commit
People have been asking me how you do the stamping, so I took a few photos to show the process. It's good if you are a newbie to check YouTube for some tutorials too- some of the steps are hard to explain just through photos. These instructions are repeated per nail.

Check the captions of the photos for instructions.
First, dab the stamping polish on the design you want. Don't worry about making a mess.
Next, scrape off the excess. Stampers often come with metal scrapers, but most people use an old credit or gift card. Here's my Group Health insurance card from last year being put to use. I cut it in half because it's easier to manage that way, but make sure to use a straight side and not the cut side when scraping.
Put your stamper in the image and pick it up carefully.
Stamp your nails one at a time. 
When you are done with one hand, clean off the excess with a Q-tip soaked in polish remover. You can also use one of those cleanup sticks you can get in the nail section of the store, but those are extra $ to me that I would rather spend on polish. Be careful not to mess up your nails when doing cleanup. As you can see in my finished mani photo, I prefer to leave a little mess on my cuticles -- which will easily come off with handwashing -- than to mess up my mani by cleaning too close to the nail.

I attach a loop of packing tape to my countertop to clean off the excess from the stamp before stamping again. 
You have quite a mess when you are done. You need to have your stamping plate on top of something like a paper towel or napkin. This napkin was kind of thin and some polish soaked through to the countertop. Probably good that my powder room countertop stands up well to acetone. :)
The stamps will dry relatively quickly because they are so thin. So you want to wait about 5-10 mins or so and then top with a top coat. If you apply the top coat right away, you run the risk of smearing the stamps.

This was a fun evening for me because I hadn't looked up Ani DiFranco for a while, and she's got lots of new videos and music out there that I hadn't seen. Stamping can be a little bit time-consuming, so typically I sit in the powder room and have my phone there with YouTube or Hulu going, and tonight it was all Ani!

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