Friday, January 21, 2011

How To: Stamp nails with Konad & Fauxnad image plates

 Last Updated June 16, 2011:  Pictures replaced
Okay... I said I'd do a tutorial, and here it is.  This is my way of stamping.  It's not necessarily the "right way," but it works for me.  I know there are about fifty youtube tutorials, not to mention Michele's awesome instructions (over at Lacquerized), but I figured I'd put my own out there too, just in case it helps anyone.

This is my stamping setup.  The picture is clickable and everything is labeled.  Absolutely mandatory items are in bold. For stamping, you will need:

  • layer of paper towels/napkins/scratch paper/newspaper to protect your work surface (If the surface underneath is also in danger, put down a cheap placemat or an old binder to protect it from acetone seep-through)
  • Image plate of your choice
  • Stamper (I have the double-ended one)
  • Scraper (I'm using an old gift card because the metal scraper can scratch the image plates)
  • Pure acetone or other polish remover (for cleaning your tools)
  • Cotton ball in a clothespin and/or q-tips/cotton swabs (for cleaning your tools.  I like the cotton ball for size, and putting it in a clothespin makes sure that you don't get the acetone on your hands & ruin your nails.)
  • Nail file (for prepping Bundle Monster plates & if your stamper doesn't seem to be working)
  • Stamping polish
  • Topcoat

Before you begin, put on whatever base color/base coats of polish you want and let it dry completely.  You can facilitate this by using a quick-dry topcoat, if you like, or you can wait and apply stamping over a day-old manicure.  The latter can be a good option for a first-time stamper... no worries about smudging the base color, no worries about ruining a fresh new manicure.

This first step is specific to new Bundle Monster and other "Fauxnad" plates.  These plates will come with a protective film covering the image surface which must be removed before the plates can be used.  Use a coarse-grained file to get the edge of the plastic free, then gently peel it away from the plate.  This plastic film can now be discarded.

STEP 1: Clean & Prep
Once you've made sure that you have all of your tools out, it's time to prep them for use.  Put some acetone on your cotton ball and gently swab off the stamper and the image plate to remove any unwanted residues.  

STEP 2: Paint
Apply a small amount of nail polish to the image that you want to use.  With full-nail images, you don't need to cover the entire design.  Instead, only run the nail polish along one edge.  The scraping step will distribute the polish and you'll waste less product.

Change gears!  Everything up to this point can be done at whatever pace you want.  The next three steps must be done quickly so that the very thin layer of polish you are trying to transfer does not dry.

STEP 3: Scrape
Take your card and place it against the image plate at a 45 degree angle.  With firm and even pressure, scrape across the image to remove excess polish.  This will remove polish from the surface of the plate and leave only a thin layer in the grooves of the design you have selected.

STEP 4: Stamp
Press the stamper firmly and gently against the image plate.  Check the stamper to see that the design has transferred.  Be careful not to press the stamper down too hard—if the polish you are using is runny, it will overflow out the sides of the image.  If the transfer is incomplete at this point, resist the urge to panic! Stamp the image off on your paper towel or scratch paper, clean the plate and the stamper, and try again.  If you feel like the stamper isn't picking up images well, run it over an emery board a couple times lightly to roughen the surface, then clean it and try again.

STEP 5: Roll
To transfer the design from the stamper to your nail, roll the stamper across the curve of your nail.  Start by pressing one edge of the image against one sidewall of your nail.  Roll the stamper quickly and firmly over the arch of your nail, and lift it off once you reach the opposite side.  If you press the stamper down flat, parts of the design will probably not transfer due to the curvature of the nail bed.  If polish gets on your skin, gently remove it with a q-tip that has been moistened with acetone.
A note:  If your nails were topcoated before you began stamping, it is possible to very lightly swipe off a stamp that didn't turn out with your acetone-d cotton ball or a q-tip.  The shiny finish will come off the topcoat, but that will be covered up in the end, and your base polish will not be marred. 

Step 6: Seal
Once all of your designs have been stamped, seal them in place with a layer of topcoat.  To prevent smearing, I suggest waiting for a short while after stamping to allow the designs to dry.  Then, apply topcoat in a thick layer with as few strokes as possible.  Try to always keep the brush "floating" on a bead of topcoat so that it doesn't touch and drag the design.

Et VOILA, you are done!  The process really is just about as easy as it looks, and with a little practice you can get pretty good results every time. 

Questions?  Ask me in the comments below, and I'll get back to you as soon as possible! Now, go forth and be stampy!


  1. Cool tutorial! I love those Konad supplies, I just tried it for the first time a few weeks ago, it wasn't as easy as it seemed on the youtube videos I saw but it turned out ok, my friends loved it more than I did at first! Because I was expecting it to look perfect, but I ended up loving the results after a while... I figured the unsfinihed/unperfect pattern on my nails did the same job! Thanks for the tip to use the card as a scrapper, I wish I thought of that sooner, because my image plate is a bit scratched but it`s ok... I`ll try the card next time!

  2. @Gabi Thanks! It definitely takes a while to get it to look perfect, and even though I've been doing stamping for almost a year I still have ones that don't turn out so well. I think some of the metal scrapers are kind of uneven, which makes it hard to get a good transfer... most gift cards are nice and smooth.

  3. I am trying to stamp with my little girl, but when I scrape off the excess polish, it ALL comes off. Never been able to stamp one image! What are we doing wrong?

  4. @tigger There are a few possibilities. I don't know what polish you're trying to stamp with, but if it isn't opaque enough you won't really have anything left. It is also possible that you're scraping too hard and pulling the polish off.

    The final possibility is that you might not have removed the protective plastic covering, which would prevent the polish from getting in the grooves of the image.

  5. I just started stamping and I find sometimes the direction you scrape makes a if I'm scraping towards me and it isnt working...I scrape away from me...and then it works...go figure??? When its not working its usually ME!♥

    1. Interesting! I usually scrape from left to right, rather than towards or away. It lets me see the angle of my scraping card better.

  6. Best detailed tutorial in my book! Thanks. I'm new to this so this is a great lesson. Your techniques are great! I wouldn't have thought of that!

  7. my stamper doesnt seem to be picking up the paint off the plate anymore...any ideas of why this could be?

  8. I'm really not sure. Sometimes if you try to start the process before the acetone evaporates completely it can be a problem. Otherwise, try cleaning all the moving parts, roughening up the stamper, and try again.

  9. How do I roughen up a stamper? It seems like my stamper hardly picks up designs and no matter how dark the color is, it always seems hardly noticeable when I put it on my nails
    the only color I can stamp with is black :/
    I was trying to do a snake so I used a pretty light silver/gray then put a darkish hunter green and it came out very faint so I had to change the color :/
    any advice?

    1. You can always buff your stamper a bit with a coarse nail file to roughen it up. However, I suspect that the problem is that your stamping polish isn't opaque enough. No matter how light or dark the color, it needs to be pretty much opaque on the nail with a single coat.


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