Monday, 18 August 2014

Diary of an International Nail Artist - Australia so far….

So I am currently in the land down under, and the first part of my tour is behind us, I have to say I have been super excited by the response here of the 'making trends work' class, it seems the Australasia Nail Techs love the quick, easy and oh so effect nail designs, and of course my super exciting solutions to productive nail art. Using the nail art pen, having fun with the pigments and the gel paints have saved us all a heap of time and effort.

I took the long flight from London to Perth landing mid morning giving me enough time for a brisk look around and some dinner before bed. Pia Williams a total scream and the girl who hosted this leg of the tour, greeted me at the gates with a little 'Perth' goodie bag and of course Tracey Boyle. It was great to see Tracey again in real life, it had been a whole year.  That said with the age of technology…Skype and FB means she is never too far away. She is the back bone of the tour, our Be Creative distributor here for Australia, Tracey manages to arrange every last detail of the trip, with the help of her nail fairies…..! I must not forget the 2 bottles of champagne and box of choccys left in our room from the girls! this trip is going to a good one I think.
 Thankfully the next day was a day off, and we got to see the sunny sites, apparently we where lucky….visiting the beach and a quick stop off at the shops to buy some light weight trousers (Tracey told me it was winter here and cold!!!!!) I was all set to be a tourist for the day. Nudist beach visits, and a $20 bill for water, I was wondering what else was in store, then Pia took us to Prison!!!!!!! really?
It was a blast, and the three of us 'bad girls' lasted until 9pm…flopping into bed exhausted. That's just how we roll.
Bad Girls 
 The first class of any tour is always slightly nerve racking, all the prep, pouring over lesson plans and thinking up the designs finally come to life in front of 15 eager nail techs expecting an awful lot….and there I am at the front of the class with a raging cold! Arghhhhhhhhhhh seriously? Voice was barely there , can you overdosed on honey and lemon?
I think I won them over, the designs where perfect and just as I promised, quick and effective, easy and enticing. You should have seen their faces when I gave them just 10 mins to practise the first design. Well why not…….you only get 10 mins in the salon to do all ten!

Perth Class
 Illness aside this was a great start to the tour and the next day we where flying out to Melbourne. But before we caught the flight we had a quick stop off at the Orly distributor…..and a 3 hour Orly class. Goodness I love my job.
Orly Perth
 Landing in Melbourne was quite a shock from the heat we had enjoyed in Perth, cold and wet we where collected by Australia's own Tess Hellier, we where both eternally grateful, thank you. It was late and we needed our beds, well past 9pm after all. Starving hungry, I was so happy to see a beautiful platter of cheeses and fruit, thank you Sue Hollands…it was very welcome…along with the bottle of wine or 2. How did you know? I am loving the way each hotel room has Sam Biddle goodies in the room…I think I might send out a list before every tip….no blue m&m please!!!!!
Thank you Sue Holland
So day 2 kicked off bang at 9am, we had 9 nails to cover after all and had to be out of the hall by 4pm to catch our next flight. Now I am going to be honest with you here, I was not overly impressed with Melbourne last year, but this year made up for it, every one on the class was so welcoming and excited about the designs and the applications. I so enjoyed the Melbourne nail crew, and made a mental note to come back for longer next time, after all I need to visit that neighbours set, now that my secrets out.  So some of you might have seen the whole 'gathering in a circle' exercise I do at the end of the day….and you know what…I am not going to explain my self, you want to find out what we are doing, your just going to have to book onto a class with me. Trust me you will giggle. 
Thankfully we where travelling back in time, so when we landed in Brisbane, it wasn't too late, time was on our side, but food was limited on our journey from Melbourne and as I am on this paleo eating regime… is not so easy to grab my self a bite when travelling, never fear though….I know Rebecca Manz would come to by rescue. Literally every time I see her she feeds me with some tasty goodies. I have a feeling I bring our her maternal instinct? Having spent two whole days cooking,  she presented me with the best home cooked dish ever, pork and sweet potato….Oh my I could have kissed her….but thought that might have been too weird. Restored….we had a another couple of glasses (bottles) of pink….what is going on I seem to have a reputation I can't shake!  Bed and what should have been bright and early for a mammoth day and a half of teaching……but with a frantic knocking on the door by Rebecca…it seemed jet lag finally caught up with us. Its amazing how quick you can get ready in the morning when motivated!

Brisbane was the smallest class and a great respite, loved the girls here, loud and chatty they where beautifully relaxing. I also had another Orly evening class, where we chatted gel polish and saved the nail world.

I think the next day was the worst part of the whole trip, with a 4am start we headed out to the airport in the dark….checked in for the first flight and raced to the gate….and waited….and waited….and waited. …..apparently the plane had a maintenance issue….what! Change of plane please….forget about fixing it! 5 hours later I took these whilst sitting on the plane for a further 40 minutes whilst they decided if they could sign the paper work….all the while Tracey was snoozing in the back! Guess who was chirpy and chatty when we eventually landed in New Zealand. Damn that was half a days sight seeing stolen from me!

Penny from Monaco nails  is our Be Creative Distributor in New Zealand, and she certainly did us proud, the weather was a let down, but I will let that pass, as she made up for it with a selection of Paleo goodies including CAKES, and the best room of the trip. A double bed each, electric blanket!!!!!!!yes ELECTRIC BLANKETS! OMG its cold here, and did I mention the stack of Paleo goodies.
Penny thought of everything
I am not going to go on about the food….but Penny did put in a lot of effort with her restaurant selection….no menu re arranging necessary, thank you I am very grateful. 
The biggest class yet, it seemed the seats where filling up right until the last minute, with the very last one taken up the night before. 21 is bigger than I like, but New Zealand apparently don't get too many internationals visit, in fact I think Penny is the first to bring one out, those New Zealand girls are starved and hungry for everything nail related. The class was amazing, those Kiwi techs know their stuff, the practise sessions although quick where timed perfectly.

Because of the big class Tracey and Penny also helped out with the practise sessions, so everyone had someone to help them if needed, Tracey was banned from watching the demo's….she could have quoted them word for word after listening to me in four different city's….she kept stealing my punch lines!!!!! She was tied up with a gag at the back and was only let out to play when the girls had practical sessions. We had a beautiful day touring Auckland and then playing nails before catching our flight back to Sydney…big sigh! end of round one.

So here I am in Sydney, preparing for the second part of the tour, we have a intensive design class for 2 days in Sydney CBD, totally different from the first leg workshops, which will include some salon designs…maybe a little more advanced, 3D and fantasy and some extra special treats. It is always going to be a class packed with nails and very little down time….so those attending be prepared to work your arses off. You will defiantly get your moneys worth when you come on a Sam Biddle class.

Working out the details of part 2
Then it is the Expo….to be asked to be head Judge each year is such an honour, and work along side Tracey who organises the whole competition. Working with the other international judges and my friends is going to be great this year. Leah Light from new Zealand, MaeLing Parrish, USA, Alisha Romano, USA and Jai Harvey, Australia.  We also have Alex Fox, Editor of Scratch UK, Scratch United Arab Emirates and Organiser for Nail Olympia for the last 10 years, joining us.  This competition is now Nail Olympia Australia's and is an exciting time for the competition circuit here in Australia, watch this space.
I shall be back with the send part of this diary entry, when I am home in the UK…..keep looking out for the photo's popping up on Facebook in the mean time.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Nail Art Pen Fail?

The nail art pen is one of those tools you have in your arsenal of creative clobber,  you see it demoed,  you hear other people rave about it, you buy it...and then.....

It lands on your door step...and doesn't work! 

"ARGHHHHHHHH" you shout  "there is yet another nail art gadget that promises the world and delivers very little"

Hold your horses.....don't despair my friend. I have come to the rescue. 

I often get questions about the pen, and generally it is a very simple solve.  You have to remember my philosophy is that life is too short to make it hard!  Everything I develop, innovate or design is done so that it should be an advantage to your work.  It should not  require effort or additional time….
what that means is that I am a lazy tech, and just want to do art.

The nail art pen is a brilliant addition to your kit and with one dip you can go on and on for ages drawing thin or thick lines. You will save you time, money and BONUS; effort! 

So lets cover the basics, and see if we can get this pen working for you. 

1. Are you using our paint? 

You can use ANY paint with the nail art pen, but the paint has to be thin enough to travel through the small grove in the nib. Too thick and it will not move or flow. Our paint has a very high pigment content and the pigment is fine enough to be used with the nib. If your trying to use a lessor quality paint and water it down you will get a washed out look. The paints from Be Creative are only £2.50, and have been included into our range only to support the nail art pen. You can find them here.

2. Is your paint thin enough

 The paint needs to be watered down to the consistency of single cream (half and half for my USA friends) or a full fat milk. …..see example on my instructional film on the website here . If your paint is not watered down enough you will not find it easy to use the pen. If you have bought a new paint from us, and it is not full, add water to fill it, shake the bottle and this will be the correct consistency. REMEMBER water evaporates....not colour. So leave your pot open and the paint will thicken. - just add more water. 

3. Good tip to start the flow

Dip nib into water first and then into the paint…this helps with lubrication (not always necessary). When you have finished with the nib, wash it well, remove the paint and then dip it in washing up liquid (American translation; dish soap) and leave. When you use it again you will have that nib nicely lubed. 

4. Paper first! 

Always start on paper first, not to mention practise, when you have a client in front of you, dip and then draw a couple of line on some paper.... ON A FLAT HARD SURFACE common sense I know, but you would be surprised how many people try and add pressure over the top of 3 layers of fluffy towels and desk towels.  See film on website….to achieve flow move the pen nib back and forth on the paper to get it going.  

5. Squeeze the handle of the pen. 

To be honest this is more a tip, and not a must to get the pen working, what it does is  generates tension in the nib…and helps with the flow without applying too much down pressure. Remember more pressing down equates to thicker lines. 

6. Are you painting on a rough surface?    

If the nail is shiny, say you have added top coat or gel top coat,  the pen and paint will slip. Lightly buff the surface, or do what I do; apply 2 coats of gel polish colour, as  normal, then wipe the tacky layer off once cured with a dry lint free wipe. Use the nail art pen and then top coat. 

7. Is it deep enough 

This is the most common issue people have, are you dipping in the paint far enough with your nib, people still use the nail art pen like a brush or a dotting tool, but this is incorrect. You need to dip the nib all the way up, this will fill the reservoir and give you loads of application time without re dipping.  - see film on website

8. It is not a brush

 ....and never will be, most people use it the same way as a brush, WRONG
it is a pen.....and should be used this way. 

There is another issue as well, the nib fit. check out this previous blog post on how to get it right, but make sure the oval hole in the nib is not covered. 

I hope you have found this useful, and good luck with your pen. 

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Adding pigment to Gel...damn it is not curing?

WARNING! - this is not a scientific post. This post is written in basic terms...! 

I have just replied to an email from someone who is having problems with curing their gel once they have added pigment to it. This is not the first email I  have gotten about this so I thought I should  address this little "school boy error" here on my blog, mainly to save me time re typing the same  thing over again, but I also think it is a common mistake we can make....because we just don't think about it with our left brain. 

Using your left brain  means you have a more analytic, rational and logical style of thinking, but if we are remotely creative or curious, which I think most artistic people are...we are dominated by the right brain. That doesn't mean we don't switch sides when we need to...but come on be honest when faced with bright beautiful colours and glitters.... don't you just keep adding more regardless... I know I could. 
So why is your gel not curing? Well there are a few things which could be going wrong.....
1. lamp needs to be stronger or new bulbs
2. your adding too much pigment to the gel
3. your applying your gel too thick

Lets start with No 2, because most of you will of course know your lamp is fine, your bulbs are correct (did you know even LED have different strengths) and you don't need to get a new one.

Adding pigment to gel ;
There is a whole range of different you tube videos, instructions and advice out there on the world wide web about how to mix pigment, make up and additives to your gel polish...I can't and won't  comment on those, or even tell you if they work successfully or not....I can only tell you about our pigments from the Be Creative range. 
Lets start with the basics,  When you add another source to gel, hard gel, gel polish or soft gel it doesn't are disturbing the chemical make up of the gel, you are adding an additional product which will inhibit the UV/Led light to penetrate and cure. So we need to be mindful on the amount you add.  The Be Creative pigments, lets use the primary ones as an example, are 'pure'. I am not saying this as a sales point, I really mean it, there is NOTHING else in it to bulk out the pigment. That is why we only have tiny little pots of the stuff. So when you start mixing it into gel, you only need the smallest crumb. 
Now I know from experience...I start mixing the red nothing happened...this little crumb might stain the gel...but it looks rubbish and I want to add more.... 
Keep mixing, eventually the red will break down and you will find it will get stronger. If you find it is not strong enough...add another crumb...but no more! Remember the LIGHT penetration dilemma we have. 
So now you have a looks a bit wishy washy...and you think...'this is not looking like a gel polish colour to me, why have I done this?'

.....hmmmmm yes why have you done this? 
Let me come back to that point in a minute.......

So now we are at issue 3 application...

As a rule with any gel polish application, the thicker the application the less efficient the cure.  This also applies with regular takes longer to dry the thicker layers. It is a false economy to imagine 2 thick coats will be better than 3 or 4 thin ones, for a start you will get more lifting sooner and it won't be as hard wearing.  


Because the Thinner coats allow more light to penetrate the layer. So now we have our wishy washy looking colour and we want to apply an all over polish is going to take a few more layers to get the vibrant red look we are lets add more pigment.....NO! 

More pigment...less light penetration - less curing! 

Get the picture? Just in case you don't...imagine these blinds on the window is the extra pigment you add to the gel, turn the blind (add more pigment) and we block the light......! 

Although it might say on your instructions to mix the gel and pigment together, I didn't mean for you to create full cover nails with it,  I do mix pigment and gel when I am creating designs or doing art work, but for a full coverage...I will go with what is meant to be hard wearing and long lasting and pick up a gel polish colour. 
So let me tell you how to create full cover colour with pigment in half the time. 
Lately I have been  creating full colour nails with the pigments....taking me very little time to do so as well. I also mainly use White or Black gel polish to achieve this look and this is my suggestion for you to save time, effort and stressing over non curing issues. 

The gel polish leaves a sticky layer once in the pigment to this layer....there is no mixing, no worrying and it is much quicker to apply.  The bonus you have control over the application s do't have to chase the gel over the nail. You can create a blend, layer the pigment colours and glitters, you can even scratch off the pigment to create a pattern and the colour shows up underneath. 

I hope this has been helpful advice don't try and cut corners and make your own colours for gel them..they are designed for that job......use the pigments for art and creating back grounds.