Nail Stamping Tutorial

Last week I posted a nail stamping teaser that left you all breathless in anticipation.  Or maybe that was a result of the nail polish fumes.  Anyway, as promised, here’s a how-to for creating patterns on your nails using the stamping method.

Base Color

Start with the background color polish of your choice.  Here I have one coat of clear and two coats of A-England St. George.  Make sure the base color is completely dry before stamping.

Prepare Plate

Stamping plates are round discs that come etched with multiple designs–some cover the whole nail, some are small images that would cover only a quarter of the nail.  There are several big names out there for plates: Bundle Monster and Konad are the biggest that come to mind.  Plates come as single discs, or in bundles of as many as 25, with multiple designs on each plate.  (Here I used the 2012 collection from Bundle Monster.) Apply a nail polish suited for stamping (more on that in a moment) over the top of the design.  I used China Glaze Passionfor stamping.

Scrape the Excess

When you apply the nail polish to the plate, it will seep into the etched area (where you want it to go), as well as covering the  negative area (where you don’t want it to go).  You can use an old credit card to scrape away the polish, or you can buy a scraper (which is always packaged with a stamper, which you’ll need in the next step).  Scrape away the extra polish using a single motion from the top of the image to the bottom.  Wipe the scraper on a piece of tissue.

Transfer Design to Stamper

Using a single motion, roll stamper from one side of the plate image to the other side.  Don’t press too hard or the image won’t transfer well.  This may take a couple tries to get it right.  If the image is splotchy or doesn’t transfer well, simply wipe with a cotton ball dipped in polish remover and try again.

Apply Design to Nail

Positioning the stamper at the side of the nail, roll onto the nail in the same way you transferred the image to the stamper. It is helpful to brace the finger receiving the stamp on a counter or table.

So the picture at left shows what an unsuccessful try looks like.  Here the polish didn’t transfer well to the nail, and I also lifted the stamper up before rolling it all the way to the edge of the nail.  So you can see the bottom left of the nail is abruptly cut off, and the upper right of the nail is blotchy.  No big deal!  Paint another coat of the base and try again.  At right you can see the progress of one hand nearly all stamped.  If you prefer to see video of this process, here’s a tutorial by my favorite blogger.

A final word…

As a rule, you can’t use most regular nail polishes for the stamping color.  The polish needs to have a specific consistency that allows it to be transferred several times without losing opacity.  You can buy polishes specifically for stamping, but they come in limited colors, and it’s something extra to buy.  Polishes that have a thick and/or metallic finish are most likely to work for stamping.  Reading nail blogs will also give you a good idea of what regular polishes work well for stamping.  Finally, I have been finding that I like using designs that show more base color than stamping color.  For instance, the final result above is not my favorite–the gold looks a bit gaudy for my taste.  I prefer the paisley design from last week, or even the houndstooth, which at least showed equal measures of base and stamping colors.  That’s all for now!  Feel free to leave questions in the comments section.

One Response to “Nail Stamping Tutorial”
  1. Amber Dillon says:

    I’ve never been a fingernail-painting-gal, but this really makes me want to start!