What About Stamping In Black?

So, I gabbed quite a bit about the smooshing technique in my last post – didn’t I? Well, I’m at it again. Today’s post is more of a discussion about stamping, especially stamping in black, than it is about these nails.

KimettKolor Stamping in Black Nail Art Tips
Smoosh + Stamping = Perfect Match

Recently, I told a friend that I don’t consider myself a tutorial type blogger. I prefer to include this type of chatter as a means of noting the things that I find helpful (and those not to do again) for my own growth in the nail art journey. Yes, blogging is my way of pretending I’m not talking to myself!

But I hope my writing about it benefits you too! In fact, I don’t consider my stamping here a great example at all; rather, this design was instead quite the learning experience. And, that is just what I want to share.

Stamping in Black

Whenever I’m planning to use black in my nail art, I tend to forget some things that are specific to using it. So, this time I told myself – write this down! Hopefully, my taking notes will help it sink in for me. (Yeah, I’m forever the optimist! LOL)

KimettKolor Stamping in Black Nail Art Tips
Black stamping makes a bold statement.

Black is Bold!

Black is the heaviest of all the colors. And when adding it to a nail design, a little goes a long way. This, of course, applies to stamping as well. My experience, including these nails as well as some done previously here and here, is that when picking the image to stamp imagine the design as if it were twice as bold as it looks on the stamp plate. This may be an exaggeration, but it is worth the exercise.

Here are some quick pictures of the stamp plate image I used:

Left: plain view
Center: view through Uber Chic clear XL stamper with ring holder
Right: view through Clear Jelly Stamper’s Big Bling

Looking at the etching of the naked plate can be a little deceiving. The etched areas appear lighter than the blank areas. (And with the naked eye, there is less contrast even than in these photographs.) The image may have a “lighter” look to it than it will if using black stamping polish.

In preparing this post, I happened upon another potentially useful idea when visiting the manufacturer’s website to link the information (like I usually do). By happy accident, I found the scanned image of the plate would have given me a better idea of the image as it would look stamped in a dark color. See here what I mean:

Source: UberChicBeauty

The image is the second-to-last in the bottom row on this plate. Notice how it looks heavier – more like the results I got on my nail. This has me considering scanning in my plate images so that I can get this view when planning nail art!

Of course, all of this gets even clearer when testing out the polish and stamping combinations before applying them to the nail. I did do this – but in my haste to clean up and make the next design, I forgot to get a picture for this post. It was at this point that I knew the stamping would be not only the focal point used the way I did, but change the light and cheery mood of the smoosh base.

Just for discussion sake, here’s a picture of the smoosh without the stamping:

Smoosh before stamping

And here it is again with the black stamping:

KimettKolor Stamping in Black Nail Art Tips
Now, the black pattern is the focal point of the design.
The smoosh is very much in the background.

A final note about testing the image, it will look even bolder after you apply topcoat! Even though I had tested this combination, it did become even that much bolder than I thought when I applied topcoat to my nails. Now – I add the top coat step to my tests ahead of time.


Speaking of top coat…

It is no secret to stampers that applying top coat can make or break your hard work. We have to use topcoat, or else our design won’t last long at all. And, done right, it usually enhances the image giving it that finished look it is supposed to.

But…the dreaded smearing is an issue to avoid if at all possible. This is extremely true with black polish. The most common thing talked about is to wait an extra amount of time for the polish to dry before applying top coat.

The other helpful idea shared is to “float” the top coat onto the nail. This idea has seemed to elude me more often than I’m successful executing it. So – I spent time thinking about it this time.

I get the idea that you need a big bead of polish at the end of the brush (you need the thickness of it to keep the brush from touching the nail surface). It’s the motion and angles that I have to really pay attention to. For me, I need to consciously tell myself not to “pull” or “push” the top coat around, but rather to “glide” it on.

Like Gracie, I have to adapt my brutish moves and emulate Victor’s gliding motion.
(From the movie Miss Congeniality.)
Yes, I probably look just as ridiculous at the time – hence no video of me gliding here!

I found when gliding (heh, heh – still have the above silliness in mind) it is helpful to keep the top coat brush at about a 30-degree angle to the nail (if it is more severe I find it doesn’t matter whether I have a good bead or not).

A couple other things about top coat and stamping (especially in black) that help me:

  • Typically a non-quick dry top coat works best. But, nothing beats testing it out first as some are the exceptions. Also, if the top coat is getting thick – pick a different one or use thinner to prevent smearing. My current favorite is Le Top Coat by Polish My Life.
  • It makes a big difference to wipe off the brush before dipping back in for more. I’m not going to get into the why’s of this, but it is a thing I’ve recently started to do and it helps to prevent smearing (and with applying matte top coat too).
KimettKolor Stamping in Black Nail Art Tips
Almost zero smearing – yay!!!!

Clean up can make a mess…huh?

The last thing I want to remind myself with stamping in black is to be careful with the cleanup. The very pigmented polishes (almost every polish made exclusively as a stamping polish) can be a little more touchy about being removed once it’s on the nails and skin. Acetone will flood the color everywhere (even after getting the excess off the cleanup brush by dabbing on a paper towel).

When it comes to stamping here are the guidelines I follow to avoid making more of a mess than was there before:

  • First thing’s first. “Break” the connection between the stamped image on the nail and that which continues onto the skin. I’m sorry I don’t have a picture handy for this – but if you notice that the stamped polish doesn’t break off around the nail between it and the skin/cuticle area then it could pull off from the nail surface when you remove the excess. Typically you can use your cleanup brush with acetone to do this…but with black, I do it differently. I use an orange stick or cuticle pusher to gently break off the stamping around the nail.
  • I remove the stamping that is on my skin around the nails with clear tape. The regular old wrapping paper & tape kind of tape. (Scotch tape.) This works for me with all of the highly pigmented creme stamping polishes (not with regular polish or glittery stamping polishes). For me, this is less time consuming and more effective than using a liquid skin barrier (latex or otherwise) – because we already know I’m useless with tweezers!! LOL
  • If I find I still need acetone to get a little better edge, I make sure I apply top coat at this stage – BEFORE the acetone. This seems to help with the flooding.
KimettKolor Stamping in Black Nail Art Tips
I love the smoosh background with this pattern, looks like Tiffany Stained Glass to me.

So there you have it. Those are the three things that I’ve learned so far about stamping in black.

I’d love to hear if you found anything new from my notes – or if you have anything else to share!!

Design Details

I almost didn’t share these nail pictures with you. No, that’s not quite right. I almost didn’t stamp all five fingers nevermind take the pictures!

Truth be told, after stamping the first nail, I made the “yuck” face. It looked so much better on my tests than on my nail.

But for some reason, I decided to make myself finish and see what happens. Along with grabbing my little notepad, I carried on. As I mentioned in the intro to this post, I did not experience the best of stamping skills that day. And I wanted to record why and do some testing.

KimettKolor Stamping in Black Nail Art Tips
Photography can sometimes hide the mistakes – almost did with this shot.

You see, I have very steep c-curved nails. So when I press the stamper onto them the image doesn’t quite get all the way to each of the sides (unless it is one of those ultra-soft very squishy stamper heads). On top of that issue, I have high folds of skin on each side of the nail. Please tell me I’m not alone in this!!

Anyways…These two issues often create havoc with getting a perfect image transfer to my nail. (I’m speaking of full nail images here.) None of these issues is a factor when stamping on a flat surface (which is what I tend to use as a test), which is why I’m taking the time to write about it so that I remember. 😉

So – why don’t I just give up stamping then. Nooooooo!! I could never. I love it too much.

Instead, the following points are what I wrote down to compensate for my very non-flat canvas surface when using the clear stampers (or the non-squishy ones):

  • Make a decal. Unless I’m coloring in the stamp, I tend to forget to do this. But it is a very good solution to my problem. But if I don’t…
  • For all of my nails except my pinky, I find I get the break in the image when I apply the stamp directly onto the nail and then roll it side to side (slowly) like you see so many girls do on Instagram. No matter how slow or careful I do this, my curves break the image.
  • Solution: I have to find the focal point of my image by positioning either the stamper or my nail hovering as close together as possible without touching, then tilt the stamper and begin applying from one side to the other.
    • This isn’t new. There are other folks who show this technique routinely in their videos. I just have to remember it works better for me. And when using a clear stamper it’s hard to remember not to just push it down because you can SEE it. LOL
KimettKolor Stamping in Black Nail Art Tips
Again, angles and lighting – photography can hide the flaws …mostly.

These last two pictures are actually not the easiest ones in which to see the breaks that I’m talking about here…(hmmm….I didn’t mean to make this an exercise in scrolling). Earlier pictures show even more the breaks in the images that I ended up with. But I assure you, it is all in my application. You’ll see on my pinky that I didn’t get any breaks (as I didn’t when stamping on a flat surface either).

Just thought I’d tack on these stamping notes while I was at it…now I’ll move on to the conclusion of this post.

Oh – but before I do…let it be recorded here that I almost didn’t write all this up. It would have been easier if I filmed some video clips to better explain myself. But….time and life….that wasn’t available for this one. If you like to hear my ramblings, please let me know. I just might experiment with shooting video footage…your encouragement might get me over the fear of it.

Polish Palette

Updated: For my most current favorite & recommended black stamping polish, check out this post.

Normally, I would not have thought to write up this much about the flaws or negative aspects of a design. But hopefully, it will help me in my nail art endeavors to avoid some of these frustrations. And maybe you got something valuable out of it too. In the case that you were here just to look at nails and skipped all the words…I’m quite OK with that too! I did very much enjoy wearing these, in case you were wondering. Although, to be honest (again, I know – geesh!), I liked them better in the pictures. That almost never happens!!

Till Next Time,