Acrylic Nails

Behind the Scenes: Pleated Acrylic Stilettos

Learn how cover artist Jonny Pham created these avant-garde and innovative Art Deco nails. 

Sydney-based Jonny Pham isn’t just a local sensation. He began competing in 2007, and has been a frequent champion at Nailympia Australia ever since. In 2016, he decided to expand into American competitions, taking home the title of first runner-up in NAILS Next Top Nail Artist Season 4.

Pham and model Maria Ward
<p>Pham and model Maria Ward</p>

His cover look was inspired by the final challenge of the season, Manus x Machina. The challenge called for a mix of man and machine-made techniques. Pham chose a pleated and folded nail design to rework with an Art Deco theme. The result is an origami-looking nail that’s both avant-garde and innovative. This design actually walked the runway at the Art Institute of Chicago for the Beauty Changes Lives Experience.

Here are Pham’s steps for this month’s cover look:

1. Prep the nail for acrylic application. Using OPI translucent pink acrylic and Absolute monomer, extend the nail to a long stiletto shape with extreme shape forms. Pinch the nail while it is still polymerizing to create a stronger structure. Using a 150- and 180-grit file, file the nail to finish. Apply black and white gel-polish and allow to cure for 30 seconds. Repeat the same procedure with the second layer. 

2. Apply two coats of nude gel-polish to the ring and index nails, also two coats of black on the thumb nail. Remember to cure each layer for 30 seconds. A cure time of one minute is required for the black gel-polish because it is highly pigmented. Remove the tacky layer on the nail using gel cleanser before applying striping tape. Using different sized gold striping tape, create an Art Deco design and apply a layer of hard gel to secure the tape into place to prevent it from peeling. 

3. Using acrylic and nail glue, attach the 3-D pleat/origami pieces on the pinky, middle, and thumbnail. (The 3-D pieces were made using a combination of hard gel, gel-polish, and striping tape.) 

4. Add Swarovski crystals to the ring and index nails using a combination of gel and nail resin. 

Click here to watch a video tutorial for how Jonny made these nails.

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