Hot Off the Presses

Behind the Scenes: Steampunk Nails

First Time's the Charm: NAILS Next Top Nail Artist winner Lavette Cephus shows how she created our April 2015 cover.

<p>Ohio-based cover tech Lavette Cephus credits the fun atmosphere and her hand model, Ariel Paredes, for making her feel comfortable and calming her nerves.</p>

Before being named NAILS Next Top Nail Artist, Lavette Cephus was one of the Top 3 finalists flying out to California to find out her fate and do a cover shoot for NAILS. All three finalists will see their grace the cover of NAILS, but as the winner, it’s Cephus who has the honor of this April issue.

During the competition Cephus did many cool sets of nails. One that we were particularly fascinated by was her steampunk design for the Week 7 It’s So Easy challenge. She used actual clock pieces, wires, and other hardware items like washers and screw parts. The combination of handpainting with these machinery parts is a perfect example of the steampunk trend. Cephus’ mad scientist is the centerpiece for this industrial-meets-Victorian look.

She recreated these nails for this month’s cover. And even though it was her first time ever doing nails for a photo shoot, she was a natural. “Going into the shoot I was very nervous,” says Cephus. “I thought I would shake a lot while doing the nails because of the overwhelming feeling of doing something I’ve always dreamed of. But the team at NAILS made me feel like family. They were so hospitable, generous, and fun, which made me not shake one bit.”

Cephus says the best part of creating the nails for the cover was the feeling she got at the end of the shoot. “The best of the day was the feeling I got after finishing the nails. Watching the team put everything together — from the model posing for the perfect shot to seeing the images appear on the computer screen — was so fun. I was just looking at the photo thinking, ‘OMG! Did I do those nails?’”

Here’s how you can create your own steampunk mad scientist nail:

1. File and shape natural nail. Etch natural nail plate using e-file and fine sanding band with very light pressure. Clean the nail plate with CND Scrub Fresh, then apply forms pinching them into a pointed shape. Sculpt nails using CND Retention+ Liquid and Clear Powder.

2. Using e-file on low speed with a fine carbide bit, smooth the surface of the sculpted nail to remove any bumps or unevenness. File the free edge to perfect the stiletto shape. Then buff the nail using a 180-grit buffer.

3. Apply one coat of CND Vinylux Sugar Spice, and swipes of CND Vinylux Gilded Pleasure. Allow both coats to dry and then apply CND Shellac Top Coat. Cure for two minutes. Then, buff the surface of the nails. Using acrylic paint and a thin striping brush, paint the face. For the scientist’s goggles, use a dotting tool to create large black circles where his eyes will be. Once the acrylic paint has dried, apply another coat of CND Shellac Top Coat and cure.

4. Apply IBD Builder Gel in Clear to the center of two gold rings so that it sets up high and round. Cure for two minutes.

5. Using gel, place the goggles you made over the two black circles.

6. Using IBD Builder Gel in Clear, apply all of the watch pieces, gears, and wire to the nail.  

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