First things first, materials. These are the things I always have near me when I'm stamping. My placemat, I use this for all my polishing. I can make a big mess and when I'm done, just wipe it all off again. A nail art brush, stamp and scraper, polish remover, cotton pads, a cleanup tool (brush or pen, whatever you prefer) and top coat. And occasionally, some furry company to be in your way and pull funky faces when sniffing your materials ^^
Materials and some Dewey!
Then I pick my colors and plate. I have my stamping polishes on seperate wheels, so I can easy hold them next to my regular wheels to find a nice match. My plates are in a businesscard folder, as you can see all shapes fit in this one.
Today I'm going for the light purple as base and stamp with the darker purple.
I start with the usual, basecoat and base color. I do a cleanup after this, some stamping polishes are heavily pigmented and stain like mad (I'm looking at you, Konad black), and I find that it's easier and faster to clean up after that if your base color is already cleaned up.
If you want, you can use a layer of top coat on your base color. If you now have a bad image transfer, you can quickly wipe it off with a cotton pad with remover. The top coat will be removed as well and your polish won't be shiny anymore, but you won't remove your polish. After you're done stamping you use top coat again anyway to make it all shiny again :) I have a cotton pad with remover ready to go on the side.
Ready for some stamping!
Stamping time! I use a stripe of polish on the top of the image only, the scraper will fill in the rest of the image and this way you'll waste less polish.
I'm not sure why but scraping away from me doesn't work as well for me, scraping towards me really made a difference. So if you have a hard time with it, try scraping in the opposite direction.
I hold the scraper at this angle.
After scraping the image I roll the stamp over the image on the plate, and have a quick look at the stamp to make sure the image is transferred well, then line it up straight next to my nail. I find it easiest to stamp straight on all nails if I line it up like this.
Don't press the stamp on your nail but roll it on, from one side to the other, and roll your finger a bit as well. With small images you can sometimes press them, but especially with full nail images rolling works best. Do use some pressure when rolling, so it transfers well on all places. If the image didn't transfer well, it could also be that you were a bit too slow. If you find it hard to do it faster, try a different polish that doesn't dry as fast :)
Usually I do several nails up to an entire hand before I clean my stuff. I do wipe off my stamp on my placemat after every nail. If the image isn't transferred well on your stamp, or your plate is all messy with polish, it's time to clean it. Do make sure that your plate and stamper are dry again, else your image will get smudged. I usually dry them off with a cotton pad and then blow some air on them.
All nails stamped? Time for another cleanup and if needed, fix small errors with a nail art brush. I always end up with polish on the sides of some of my nails, and often I have a polished thumb as well, because my scraper can get a little messy on the bottom :P
Yep, cleanup is needed :)
When you're done stamping, you can add rhinestones, some more color with a dotting tool, etc. When you want to finish your mani with top coat, polish your top coat floating, as in, don't let the brush hit your nails. Else you'll easily smudge the image. Don't be afraid to use a bit more top coat than you usually do to help you with this. I always use Seche Vite, it's quite thick and works perfect for me.
I used 2 coats of Essence Found My Love and stamped it with China Glaze Harmony and BM plate 211. My indexfinger nail looks a bit bumpy, but I had a little chip this morning that broke off =(
-If you just started with stamping, I'd suggest to go for a more forgiving image (like an animal print or flowers), images with straight lines can be hard to get straight on your nails.
-If you want to practice, you can always do that on an old mani as well, before you take it off.
-If your plate is new, it might have plastic foil on it. Sometimes that can be a bit hard to see, but your plate won't work well with it, so make sure to remove it.
-Give your stamp a gentle filing before you use it for the very first time (you'll only have to do this once). A new stamp is sometimes too smooth to pick up the images well, when the surface is a bit rough, it'll easier pick up the image.
-If you want to mattify your mani, do that after applying normal top coat, else the matte top coat can easily smudge your mani.
-You can also stamp an image with several colors or with a gradient. For the latter, use stripes of polish on your image with some space in between them, then use a toothpick to create a gradient between your colors, or just scrape a few times in a row. After that it's the usual scraping and stamping. You can see more about that here.
-I use the metal scraper, this does damage my plates a bit, so you can also use things like an old creditcard. I somehow keep failing with cards though (scrape polish out the image, or scrape away too little) so I just go for the metal ones instead.
- You can also use a lint roller to clean your stamper in between, all the remains of your image that are on your stamper will stick to the roller and this way you can easily clean your stamper while keeping it dry (originally seen on Wacky Laki). Using normal tape to clean your stamper works too of course!
Check out my full nail image size comparison at my Stamping Plate Sizes page! For tips on how I combine polish and images, please have a look at my How To: Mix and match for stamping and my Stamping Polish page. Thanks for looking!