Saturday, October 1, 2011

DIY Nail Art Stencils

I've been dying to get my hands on some nail art stickers for Halloween.  Of course, I've looked everywhere for the ones I want and haven't found them anywhere.  The other day, some friends and I were craft shopping at Michael's and came across some cute $1 mini craft punches.  My friends and I got to thinking... why couldn't we just punch out some shapes from paper and make our own stickers?  So I picked up a few shapes I liked, including a cat silhouette, and I took them home to experiment.  After punching out a shape from paper, I realized that I could use the craft punches to make my own nail art stencils!  So I got to work with some painter's tape.  Here's what you do.

At a craft store or online, buy some mini craft punch shapes.  I found these, along with dozens of other shapes (frog, butterfly, baby chick, dragonfly, star, heart, circle, snowflake, foot, hand, music note, kitty cat, animal foot print, curlicue, cupid and maple leaf, just to name a few!) at Michael's for $1.00 each.  (They have to be the mini size to fit on most sizes of fingernail.)

Using painter's tape, rip off a piece about two inches square.  Painter's tape works well because it generally peels off without taking off the rest of your polish.  I think something like address labels or blank stickers might also work well, but I don't have any handy right now.  I suggest sticking the painter's tape to wax paper before punching it.  This creates your own sticker back that will peel off.  The wax paper also prevents the tape from sticking to the actual craft punch.  Then use the craft punch to stamp the shape into your tape/wax paper sticker.  You'll end up with something that looks like this:

Then trim the stencil to a user-friendly size and press it onto the nail you want to stencil.  Your nails should already be painted with a base coat, unless you want a bare nail look under your stencil.  Paint the nail with one or two thin layers of nail polish.  Allow to dry for no more than five minutes.  I found that when I let the polish dry too long, the stencils didn't turn out very well because the tape begins to stick too much from the heat of your hands.
I used a base coat of Wet N Wild Fast Dry in How I Met Your Magenta.  This is actually a manicure from Wednesday and today is Saturday so it was peeling and chipping and there was a good bit of tip wear.  I really just wanted to experiment, so ignore the crummy worn off manicure.  I also used a top coat of Essie Matte About You, which accounts for the lack of shine.

Also, I found that this was a good opportunity to water marble some of the shapes.  Because there is tape on your nail, it makes it easy to tape off the rest of your nail and only water marble the stencil area!

From L-R, a water marbled butterfly, frog, heart, and curlicue design.

A water marbled heart and my dry cuticles.

A matte curlicue on my other thumb.
I know that together this manicure looks like a busy nightmare but I was just experimenting with the idea of making these stencils.

My favorite design is the black cat on two coats of Sinful Colors Cloud 9.  So Halloween!!

Has anyone ever tried this before?  I've never heard of this idea but I'm sure I didn't invent it.


  1. Hello there! I sort of figured our the same method just yesterday. However, I was a bit disappointed with the result, as the edges of the stencil were not sharp and clean. Now thinking about possible ways to fix the situations. May be using different brush?

  2. @Evg. Enko. I tried it again and it seemed to work better if you peel the tape off right away after filling in the stencil. I hope that helps!

  3. Ive used punched hearts and stars on my nails straight on top of a colour then covered with a top coat of clear varnish to seal it. Ive tried different papers as some are better than others, you can also clolour white paper anyway you like as long as use coloured pencils or pens that dont run when you put the top coat on :)