My personal blog as a 'grown-up' Goth and Romantic living in the Highlands of Scotland. I write about the places I go, the things I see and my thoughts on life as a Goth and the subculture, and things in the broader realm of the Gothic and darkly Romantic. Sometimes I write about music I like and sometimes I review things. This blog often includes architectural photography, graveyards and other images from the darker side of life.

Goth is not just about imitating each other, it is a creative movement and subculture that grew out of post-punk and is based on seeing beauty in the dark places of the world, the expression of that in Goth rock. It looks back to the various ways throughout history in which people have confronted and explored the macabre, the dark and the taboo, and as such I'm going to post about more than the just the standards of the subculture (Siouxsie, Sisters of Mercy, Bauhaus, et al) and look at things by people who might not consider themselves anything to do with the subculture, but have eyes for the dark places. The Gothic should not be limited by what is already within it; inspiration comes from all places, the key is to look with open eyes, listen carefully and think with an open mind..

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Nebula Nails

So, I am rather nerdy and I'm geeky too, if we call those who are into more mainstream fandoms, gaming, and gadgetry etc. geeks, and those who are more academically interested nerdy, and always have been. I was one of those children who couldn't get enough of things about astronauts, space, and what was high above us, leading to dual interests in both science fiction and science fact. 
Photographed with flash; the colours are more obvious here.
After seeing a few too many pictures of nebulae full of brilliant colours and glimmering stars (and I am aware that these are often visible spectrum representations of things only detectable by telescopes viewing light in the non-visible, and that therefore these are more coloured representations rather than actually what these things might look like if we could get close enough to see them) I decided to have a go at painting some onto my nails.

This was not done as a tutorial, so I don't have step-by step photos. If you want to paint your nails like this, be prepared to spend some time and effort, and to make a mess. 

First of all, prepare your nails as you would for any other painted design. Secondly paint them plain black. I used Model's Own in 'Black Magic' because it's really cheap, has a good gloss finish, and is pretty opaque after the first coat, but it's really up to you what brand you use. Wait for the black coat to dry completely. 
Trying to photograph these was HARD
The next step is to get the swirly nebula effect. To do this, you need to use the "water marbling" technique. This involves a glass of room-temperature water, and floating droplets of nail-polish on the surface. There are several good tutorials for this on YouTube. In order to get the desired nebula effect specifically, I used a variety of colours and squiggled them up together with a tooth-pick. You don't want to create a neat "petals" or "peacock feather" effect, you want to create the effect of swirling luminous clouds. As to the colours, I used shimmery blues and purples with some black. You want to use quite runny nail-polishes for this, so that they spread out over the surface of the water. 

I used La Femme's UV pastel blue and UV pastel lavender (I'm not sure what the official names are for these as I've nearly worn the labels off!) as the lightest colours. These are not UV set acrylic colours, they are nail varnishes that glow under a UV light or "black light". This means that under a UV light my nails will look even more celestial as my nebula nails actually glow. 

Hopefully the swirls are more evident here.
The rest of the colours were shimmer or metallics, except for the blacks. I used Barbara Daly's 'Purple Velvet', Constance Carol UK's Diamond Gloss in 338 'Cardinal' (a very vivid purple, I love this colour) and Jess in 'Blue Moon' (an iridescent purple/blue shimmer that works really well for this sort of effect). The black I used in the marbling was Revlon's Top Speed, also in a black called 'Black Magic'. You want more black than colour in the mix.

With the water marble method, I really recommend covering the non-nail parts of your finger in masking tape, because it's a lot of clearing off afterwards, otherwise. Actually, it's still a lot of clearing off, it's just less than it would be otherwise. Wait for it all to dry, THEN clear off all the extra polish, because it's so much easier to get off with some cotton swabs and nail-polish remover when it is dry. 

Tried really hard to capture sparkles.
Finally, when all the marbled nail-polish has dried, go over it with a clear glitter varnish. I used Rimmel's 'Disco Ball' which has sparkles that shimmer all colours of the rainbow or silver depending on how the light hits them. I love the stuff! Unfortunately it is really hard to successfully photograph. 

If you chip your nails after this, I recommend using a tooth-pick and carefully trying to match up the marble pattern for best repair results.


  1. Those nails look fantastic! They remind me of nebula marbles my brother used to have as a kid! I love the oilslicky effect. I have worn black nailpolish with glitter, but never as fancy as this!

    1. My nails are back to plain, un-glittered, black right now. I found it really hard to photograph my nails in a way that flattered the colour, and I am both planning on doing this type of design again (hopefully better) and following some online tutorials about how to do galaxy patterns with a sponge (better for getting that "cluster of stars" look).

  2. Love the nails!!! They look awesome!


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