This month's writeup is sponsored by Rose of Battle.

May 2021 Writeup: April/May Nail Sets

This month's nail sets aren't connected by theme, although I realized the last thing I wore at Fanimecon 2019 (the last in-person one) was Velvet's yukata. I wanted to have nice nails for my weekend-long panel excursion and tried to bling it up in honor of DanceSport and that inspired the second set.

But you get a BONUS third set! That's right, I've been practicing on Ali's nails as well and she agreed to share her H'aanit set. It features a technique I still haven't tried on myself yet.

H'aanit (Octopath Traveler)

Ali got Octopath Traveler for Christmas and although there are some problematic elements (all the protagonists are white, there's some very anti-sex work talk, correlating dancers with sex workers without exception), she's been enjoying it immensely. It reminds her of Chrono Trigger, which was her first favorite video game.

For those who don't know, there are eight protagonists and you can choose who you start off with. Ali knew she wanted to start off with a female character; although she'd eventually appreciate them, the men seemed boring at first (to me, too). She dismissed Ophilia and Primrose after doing some research and finding out they wouldn't start off with fighting stats to support her need to tank (always my Rokurou!). Tressa seemed interesting, but H'annit had a cat, a snow leopard named Linde who can be summoned to fight in battle. So really, there was no choice but H'annit!

Even once she had completed H'annit's four chapters and no longer had to keep her in the party, even as she worked through the other characters's stories and learned to appreciate those she had dismissed as "boring," H'annit stayed.

H'annit's story involves traveling the world to rescue her mentor from a fearsome beast. He had raised her from a young age, after the death of her parents, and a year before the story starts, he left to hunt and kill Redeye, a monster who was terrorizing towns. She eventually succeeds and is able to save her mentor by slaying the beast—a victory that takes a bittersweet turn as you get into the endgame.

She is a fierce hunter who says she can sense the heart of every beast, but seems oblivious to some aspects of human interaction, to the point where Primrose says she would love to travel with H'annit further to protect her from scoundrels. (Although Primrose privately admits she just wants the company.) When Primrose's nemesis cruelly taunts her, H'annit shows compassion; when a beats appears to be killing for sport instead of survival, she rages. She excels in every secondary job, although Ali thinks she truly shines as a Warmaster.

Also, she has a cat.

Ali's H'aanit nails were done specifically for her birthday back in February and I'd consider this the first real design set I did on someone else. Please note, I made her do her own cuticles and cleanup because I'm not knowledgeable, skilled, or comfortable enough to do that on anyone else yet.

Right hand:

Thumb: White with black markings to imitate a snow leopard, with a purple ribbon going diagonally to represent Linde's tale ribbon. This is the manual painting technique I hadn't tried on myself yet and it was so easy that later, when I tried that Titanic set, I got cocky and thought I could do it on myself just as easy.

Index finger: Gray with a white leaf pattern, representing her hometown in the forest. This was a stamp from a floral plate.

Middle finger: Black with a yellow lightning bolt, representing her one native elemental spell. This was done with a stamp from a marbled-look plate.

Ring finger: Beige with a black pattern similar to twigs, meant both to represent nature and the way enemies disintegrate when defeated.

Little finger: Beige matte. Nothing special, just invoking some hide-like texture and color.

Left hand Thumb: black with a red stone and red rings, to represent Redeye and how his body looks black with red peeking through.

Index finger: grey with a purple cat paw, again to represent Linde.

Middle finger: grey with a white pattern, representing both nature and, taking a little artistic liberty, a fan that we could imagine her "friend" Primrose using while dancing.

Ring finger: white with silver rings, to represent her parents' rings that she wears on a chain around her neck. She was orphaned and raised by her mentor when she was an infant.

Little finger: Again, beige matte.

Velvet's Summer Yukata

This was a last-minute, spontaneous design that came after the Titanic set--dangerous, I know. And I decorated this set while watching video essays on Action Park (in NJ), so I don't know what that says about them.

If you don't know how much I love Velvet Crowe, you probably aren't actually my patron, or an actual living human. She's my #1 and I want to cosplay as many outfits of hers as possible. But before this yukata existed, most of the options were either bare-stomach outfits or intricate/hard to wear. This yukata outfit was debuted the same summer as the sailor outfits for the Tales Festival, which must have been 2018. I remember dropping everything sometime in July to make it, despite having already been making the sailor outfit. My cosplay version features some of the best fabric paint work I've ever done on a cosplay: flawless gradients, sharp edges, mixed colors fighting against time to stay fresh and consistent. If you'd like to read more about it, you can find the writeup here.

My aim for this nail set was to reflect at least one of those gradient elements as well as floral stamps, and throw in some purple because I didn't like that the original design was very red, white, and blue. I also wanted to free my mind from expectations of designing it beforehand, which had resulted in feeling not so great about my Titanic nails.

From pinky to forefinger on the left, descriptions. Purple background with a white stamp of three birds was meant to mimic the birds on Rokurou's kimono. Those li'l binches were so hard to get right. The plate had a LOT of birds surrounding it and I wanted only two or three, which meant racing the clock to make sure what I kept didn't dry out. I'm fairly sure I tried at least twice to get them. Ring finger was the gradient, lined with baby blue and faced with a gray color. Middle finger was white background with a stamp with two red flowers and a green rhinestone for aesthetics to match the leaves/stems of the florals. I had to reposition that rhinestone after setting it because it drifted a bit, which was mildly annoying. On the forefinger, I managed to pull off a gradient pink-to-red floral stamp. That also took at least two tries, but it turned out the way I wanted.

On both thumbs, I did an encapsulation of small flowers for the first time. I'd bought a variety of flowers but these small ones were the best fit. I had to layer structured gel several times and ended up having to shave some of that down, but it worked okay. I picked pink and blue to reflect the small pink and blue flowers on the yukata itself.

Now, on the right side, from forefinger to pinky. I mirrored the same white background with different floral stamps for this hand. I wanted to have more of a mint green stamp color but was stuck with what I had, and it ended up being lime green. I don't love it, but it was an experiment in subtlety. I also know I didn't file down the side wall buildup as well as I could have, which gave it a weird shape. The middle finger looks mostly like the forefinger on the left hand, except all pink rather than a gradient because I didn't want to do it twice. On the ring finger, I attempted to simulate the obi of the outfit with a blue background and red accents. Let me tell you, it's really hard to pull off a foil line on your own nails. I don't know what possessed me to do it again after the Team Rocket set, but I did it. The pinky nail was coated up with purple glitter. I think the base layer had thinned in some places and I had wanted it to stay purple but didn't have a match at the time. Voila!

Fanime Black & White Ball

I have to say this is one of the classiest sets I've done thus far and I'm really proud of it! But unfortunately, not the longest-lasting. That was entirely my fault for not cementing down the rhinestones as well as I had in previous sets, and compounded by my decision to finally do some coswork that involved hairspray, vinyl, and caulk. As you may suspect, working with anything that requires you to wash your hands puts your designs in peril. But that's why I wanted to learn how to do dip in the first place: I need that hard shell. As long as that stays put, I'm fine with whatever comes off the top. And I was able to replace the missing stones and do some cleanup before Fanime, which is a bonus.

DanceSport and I have a complicated history, mostly in the independent studio and competitive sphere. What drew me to it in the first place was the glamour of it all: dresses in bold colors and designs, stylish heeled shoes, and sparkly sparklies of all shapes and sizes and placements. God, the rhinestones. I actually ended up spilling my whole thing of rhinestones on the carpet prior to doing this set, which I'm going to chalk up as being a sacrifice to the DanceSport gods for besmirching them. (It's okay, I'm sure they're rich, cishet Europeans, I'm allowed to.)

Aaaanywho, I've been expanding my understanding of the ballroom/DanceSport world in anticipation of the BWBall panels and one of the most influential academic pieces I came across was "Glamour Addiction" by Juliet E. McMains. I highly recommend this collection of essays and observations. The author incisively shows the racist, sexist undertones of Big DanceSport while encouraging change, which I'm all about. I first read it in late 2011 or early 2012, and by then, I wasn't so involved with social dance or passionate about social change. This reread opened my eyes to some of the things I'd overlooked. The false hope of "glamour" really does entice people into investing money into an industry that elevates only the most athletic, conventionally attractive, and all-around privileged. But that's just competitions and "studio" life. I learned about club and general social dance culture over the years in between reads and I can appreciate the strides dancers and teachers have made on a smaller scale for inclusion and accessibility. The only downside? That this book is just as relevant, if not more so, now as it was when it was researched and written in the early aughts.

I chose the colors for this set based on closest-possible colors to Fanime's "official" convention colors, in conjunction with the Black & White Ball's "official" colors. They're all blues, so it worked. Everything is black, white/clear (rhinestones), or a shade of blue/bluish teal.

Designs on these nails were mostly mirrored, so I'll go through only once, pinky to thumb. Pinkies were lined with a nude dip before being painted black, then feature three blue overlapping holographic circle patterns in a diagonal. Ring fingers featured the most variation. On the left, I tried a music stamp that featured a heart and several other symbols. I tried this one about three times without really loving the way it turned out, so I ended up bedazzling the inside edge of it to compensate. On the right, I tried a treble staff... equally as disappointed with some of the application, so I added more rhinestones to cover it up. Kinda looks like a little smirky smiley face. Middle fingers featured a larger round stone flanked by two smaller almond-shaped stones, with the left being entirely clear/white and the right being aqua. These are my favorite nails and I'm going to have to do them again sometime. The white sparkly forefingers were originally intended to feature a pair of shoes from a stamping plate, but after several tries where the paint would dry before I could edit out other shoes on the plate, I gave up and figured sparkles were enough.

On my left thumb, I played with a holographic encapsulation that I'd tried on Ali previously, layering dark blue, light blue, and a little green. I really love the way the light hits the material and how it never looks the same twice. It looks almost aquatic or icy. It reminds me of the colored lights that dance on the walls and floors at various formal dances.

On my right thumb, I did a similar gradient but with the holographic circles I'd used on my pinky fingers. I layered black, blue, and tealish blue until they looked dense and abstracted enough to be pleasing to me. Unfortunately, this thumbnail broke in the removal process and had to be filed down a little further than the other one, so they're not even, and both thumbs are a little bit bulbous from the encapsulation. I still love the way they look and will be doing them again in the future.

Thank you for reading and supporting this journey, and look forward to at least two new nail looks for next month!

Photos by me.

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