Nailing It: The DIY Feather Manicure

Photograph by Anne Vickman

Earlier this year, we tried out the hair feather trend, only to be horrified shortly after at the origins of said feathers. But apparently that wasn’t enough to put the trend to rest — a trip to any Urban Outfitters still yields ridiculous plumage accessories, like this (stupid-looking) headress or yet another pair of earrings. Yawn. But, after I spotted a manicure version I figured maybe — just maybe — the craze still has some legs.

What I Used:

1. One $5 bag of crafting feathers from Dick Blick

2. One base coat shade

3. A thick topcoat

4. Tweezers

5. Sewing scissors

What To Do:

Photograph by Anne Vickman

1. Gleefully sort through several handfuls of feathers, and select 10 that mostly match each fingernail size. Then, cut each feather to a length just longer than the nail itself.

2. Paint one layer of base coat — the feathers take up most of the space of the nail bed, so two coats is overkill.

3. Paint each nail with one layer of top coat and immediately place the feather on top with tweezers.

4. Give them about a minute of drying time, then trim any excess plumage at your tips with the sewing scissors.

5. Add a couple more layers of top coat.

One thing worth noting, Bostonistas, is that feathers lose any iridescence under a coat of clear polish. So, to my dismay, the pretty purple and green sheen I found in several feathers all but disappeared. And, after adding the feathers to my nails, I painted on another three layers of topcoat in the hopes of achieving a smooth, shellacked finish, which didn’t work — the feathery texture won out, but the results were still striking.

Photograph by Anne Vickman

The pros? More than a few oohs and ahhs. The cons? It takes some time — all told I probably spent about an hour on these bad boys. And, turns out the rachises (the center barbs) of the feathers sort of poke out from the tip of your nail if you don’t trim them close enough, which is seriously annoying, but easily fixed with nail clippers.

Riddle me this, folks: Is it time for the feather trend to leave the nest?