Monday, 2 September 2013

Skulls & Sparkles: Inspired by Rankin's Death Masks

Hi guys! Today I've created a manicure inspired by the Rankin photography exhibition that's on at Liverpool's Walker Gallery at the moment. The show is called 'Alive: In The Face of Death', and features over 70 images that identify, explore and challenge our perceptions of death. Rankin photographed lots of people who have been touched by death, whether they miraculously survived, live with a terminal illness, or work within the death industry. The exhibition was really moving along with aesthetically impressive, and it was really sad to discover that some of his subjects passed away as recently as the launch of the event. It takes quite a lot to upset me (I only really cry if I stub my toe or dye one of my favourite tops in the washing machine), but this show is a real tearjerker. Nevertheless, it's really beautiful and well worth a visit, so if you're in and around the area before September 14th, get down to the Walker Art Gallery!

While there were lots of pieces I loved, I was really keen on Rankin's take on Mexican death masks. You weren't allowed to take photographs in the exhibition, so I've managed to find a couple of examples via Google. Here's a selection...
*Image sourced from Google Images

*Image sourced from Google Images - credit to

I wasn't expecting to find anything at the event that was very 'me', so I was shocked to discover Rankin's involvement of butterflies, flowers, glitter and diamonds (a few of my favourite things!) I decided to do a manicure inspired by these masks, and chose to focus mainly on skulls and sparkles, as I've recently done butterfly and daisy designs. At first I wanted to create skulls shapes using pure glitter, but this ended up being a bit too fiddly, so I improvised!

The equipment:

Sinful Colors 'Black on Black'
Models Own Hed Kandi 'Ibiza Mix'
Models Own white nail art pen
Models Own black nail art pen
Fine nail art paint brush
Essie 'Good to Go'

Although I had quite a few glittery polishes, I decided to make my own blend to get lots of variation. I bought a few little tubes of different coloured glitters from Wilkinson's (about a pound for 6 tubes), and mixed them together to create a multicoloured mass of sparkles! I painted a thin coat of polish on my thumb, middle and little finger nails, then dipped into the pile of glitter. I wasn't completely happy with the coverage so I filled in the gaps with Models Own Hed Kandi 'Ibiza Mix'. Then I added a top coat and brushed off the excess!
I painted my un-glittered nails with Sinful Colors 'Black on Black'. It takes 2 coats for a smooth, opaque finish, which is brilliant for such a cheap brand (each polish is £1.99 in all big Boots stores). Then I started to add the skull designs - using my Models Own white nail art pen, I applied large white circles to the sparkly nails, added a little 'bump' at the bottom, and then filled in the middle. On my black nails, I painted tiny versions of the skulls.
When the white polish was dry, I took my black Models Own nail art pen and started to add more details. On the large skulls I painted comma-shaped eye sockets, an upside-down heart nose, and a 'frilled' bottom to represent teeth. Then I carefully outlined the rest of the skulls. On the smaller skulls I just blobbed on the eyes (they look a bit like tadpoles), and added a little line for the noses. Then, using a very fine paint brush, I painted very thin criss-crossed mouths.

As always, I topped the manicure off with a good top coat. I was tempted to add a matte finish, but I knew it might ruin the glitter effect, so I stuck with Essie 'Good to Go'. What do you think? I may attempt these nails again around Halloween time - I think they're a little TOO Gothic for the moment! They're still kind of cute though I suppose :)



  1. This is amazing, I LOVE it! I love how tightly packed the glitter is, and the contrast with the black and white skulls. It's fab, and definitely "on trend" at the minute, it doesn't need to be halloweeny :-)

    Anyway, AWESOME :-D

    1. Aww thank you! It will probably be a pain to remove, but it's such a cheap option rather than purchasing sparkly nail polish! My living room is currently covered in glitter ooops... xxx

  2. this is awesome! i love the skulls over th glitter nails, its something i have never seen before! the glitter you made is lovely!

    1. Aww thank you! I love making glitter blends now, although the whole design seems to pop off after a day or so, d'ohhh! x

  3. Hi there! I have nominated you and your lovely blog to receive the Liebster Award!
    To claim your award please visit my blog post:

    and read the information provided, then confirm your acceptance of the award by leaving a comment on my post please! Congratulations! xxx

    1. Wow thanks hun, I'll do that now :) x

  4. These are fab, and not too gothic at all :)! Also, I have nominated you for a Liebster Award! Check out the post at and leave a little comment to confirm your acceptance. Hooray! xx


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