Friday, June 28, 2013

The Wisdom Of Nail Art

Photo courtesy Flickr
I have not felt the need to do anything with my nails except clean them, file from the sides to the center, keep them even with the tips of my fingers, and buff with a multi-grit stick. The buffing protects the integrity of the cuticles and bars microorganisms from entering the bloodstream by way of a hangnail. I appreciate a grooming routine that decays slowly instead of into the manual version of dark roots.

Several years ago, I mentioned to a psych professional that the Dutch design firm Droog had bought an auction lot of folding wooden chairs (the kind that punish the behind of an attentive listener) and jobbed them out to a group of nail artists for each to decorate. The chairs then went up for sale. Psych guy shared his assumption that the immigrant females would be working to rigid art direction. He could not credit that the firm gave the women creative control.

I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know a nail artist in a support group I attend weekly. The group centers on a dread disease, which fortunately I have escaped. Hanging around Tess’s wit and fearless sense of innovation whetted my curiosity about nail art materials, and when I ran across a collection of nail pens at a drugstore, I picked up a couple. They expanded the range of no-brush paint applicators I’ve been toying with.

The nail pens are cool and lively to work with and seem to generate no toxic fumes. As ever, the formidable nail gloss I picked up to try on paper graphics emits fumes so evil I dare not use it in a public place. I understand that nail polish is a by-product of the automobile industry. Special paint was developed for cars and adapted later to the human hand. I question the wisdom of using industrial paint on one’s pinkies, and conservative women have avoided nail polish all along.

The first pair of nail pens proved so obliging that I pulled a package of pre-painted nail coverings out of a sale bin. I couldn’t resist the little ovals of leopardskin. By the time I got home, my bag reeked of hot solvents, and those few grams of plastic membrane filled the whole house with fumes. Nail pens, gloss, and sassy-colored polish are a hoot to work with. It’s like small-scale kustom kar phun, but I have a creeping hunch that Tess has paid for the eye candy with her health.

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