Manus x Machina: Toile (Part 5)


The Season 4 finale is based on the 2016 Met Ball theme and art exhibit Manus x Machina. We asked our Top 3 to utilize both handmade and machine-made processes to make high-fashion nail art. The fifth set is inspired by toile.

Nails were to be done on 10 nail tips (any size). In terms of nail supplies, contestants were allowed to use any items necessary as well as unconventional materials. Each artist also had to submit a Nail Art Gallery tutorial and Pinterest board of their process. CND’s Jan Arnold then critiqued each set.

Here are the looks they created:

Jonny Pham

At first glance, the images that were given to us look somewhat simplistic in their creation, but on closer examination, the intricacy in the detail is there for all to see. Toile is an early version or a mock-up of designs using less expensive material. After much work, the design concepts and material is tested and perfected at a later stage.

To start this process,  I wanted to utilize my fashion knowledge from the days of study, but more importantly, I wanted to move away from the norm and really push the envelope. I really wanted to take myself outside of my comfort zone and show that I can be NAILS Next Top Nail Artist. For the Manus component of the challenge, I began by creating a bodice using acrylic that resembles a dress form. This will enable me to add a design and create a pattern on it. I can use my experience and passion in fashion and merge this with my passion for nails. I then decided to cut the bodice into different parts. The different parts not only represent the toiling process but also represent the different stages of my NTNA journey. Each part of the journey is a complete process, but also when merged together, brings the overall journey and overall creation to life. To show diversity in my techniques, I also decided to incorporate hand painting, gel blending, and taping. I also used hard gel and foils for structure, soft gel for flexibility, and dress folds which I plan to add to my design at a later stage. For the Machina component, I wanted to incorporate different materials, ranging from fabric, boning material and mesh – all of which can be added to the toiling process.

Click here to see Jonny’s Pinterest board.

Click here to see a tutorial for Jonny’s nails. 

Jan’s Feedback: You stepped way out of the box this time and demonstrated the most accurate understanding of the assignment.  You broke down the process of using toile by showing us the labor-intensive and mathematical precision required in haute couture dress making. You then projected ahead to help us envision the end result by assembling the pieces and parts to paint a final picture! This magnificent ruffled dress on a mannequin bodice had all the mechanics and the end vision, without being overly finished. It was perfectly done and cleverly unveiled. Well done, Jonny!


Liina Leino

The theme for the fifth part of our challenge was toile. I broke the color pattern of my final set with this one and used white, cream, and navy blue as the main colors. I still continued with the theme by separating the colors, light shades on the right hand, and darker shades on the left hand. I wanted the set to have a toile fabric-like feel to it and used the classical toile print colors and matte finish on the nails. I wanted to give the set dimension and made see-through 3-D flowers on the nails, as if the fabric pattern was overflowing. I used machine made fabrics on the nails. Everything else is handmade with hard gel and gel paints.

Click here to see Liina’s Pinterest board. 

Click here to see a tutorial for Liina’s nails. 

Jan’s Feedback: You chose to showcase toile de jouy in a very literal sense vs. toile, as presented in Manus x Machina. That said, the lovely colors and transparent dimension are simple and chic. The tutorial and techniques are overly simple. Please teach vs. tell in the tutorial.

Tracey Lee

This challenge has not only been a challenge of skill and inspiration for me, but has most certainly been a steep educational learning curve too. I honestly had no idea what toile was, and even after the research, it took me some time to get my head around the concept. Through this research I have understood the meaning of toile to be a prototype or test garment/item. From the inspirational images we received, toile (the linen fabric) is used to determine the right flow, fit, and finish of the garment. So with that in mind, I have interpreted toile in this set of nails as a prototype for a design I envision. I have used some fabric to create flow, but have also used the very basics of nail products to create the prototype. I have decided to take a risk and adjust my color palette to the basics (nudes and white) as one would do in clothing, to focus on the design itself, its movement, its flow. This would be the test design, the color selection would come later. I have included embellishments, but limited them to one color to not detract from the design, but still show the possibilities the design offers.

The toile I created has a focus on layering and movement. When one looks at the design I want the eye to follow up and down, from tip to tip and in some places, all the way around. I have created layered design, where tips of different sizes are used to allow the eye to flow down the design. I have created designs using wacky wire, the structure of which allows the eyes to follow the lines and/or curls that it creates. I enjoyed going back to my sewing box and using the white cotton thread to create the webbed balls. I have chosen to incorporate this in the design as another meaning of “toile” is a weblike structure, so taking it literally I created a web-like structure with the cotton thread and LED Gel. Within the ball I suspended multicolored beads to show the effects it would create when used with the appropriate lighting. As a final element of moment, I created two designs with rotating elements in them. I can imagine the movement created with this as the nail changes shape with every movement of the model.

Click here to see Tracey’s Pinterest board. 

Click here to see a tutorial for Tracey’s nails.

Jan’s Feedback: The exercise of toile is an exploration of outcome, but it is not the finished piece.  Somewhere in your ambitious mechanical projection, you got lost. I wasn’t sure if we were in a monochromatic theme park, or if we had fallen down the rabbit hole and ended up in the all-white test kitchen with ceramic tools, or if we were taken to a porcelain factory of abandoned parts. There were too many disperate components that were mechanically interesting but overly abstract with no clear story told. Your techniques and use of all mediums is inspiring and exciting, as always.


Voting for the final sets of nails will take place here March 20th.