Crabs on the beach! Creating a gradient using a stamping plate.

One of my best girls was having some friends over this weekend for a traditional Maryland crab fest, which just called for a fun summertime crabs on the beach mani.

outdoor, bright sunlight
I've seen more than a few versions of "beach" nails, but the color arrangement and design I went with were mostly inspired by this fantastic tutorial from Elleandish.  I've used Toma Shimmer Gold to Shell Pink (an old and now dead thermal I've had since college) for the sand color, OPI I Believe in Manicures for the middle blue, and a light turquoise crème for the tips.  Unlike the tutorial, though, I did most of this with stamping, which I found to be WAY easier than a traditionally created gradient.

upper right of the picture = a rectangle for stamping gradients!
Several stamping plates have been released lately that feature a big plain rectangle that happens to be a fantastic way to mix colors into a gradient.  This is ZJoy-04, a really inexpensive plate that's nicely etched and gave me no problems.  How to make gradient rectangles on your stamper work:

  1. Paint as many colors as you'd like in stripes across the rectangle.  Paint and scrape down the long axis to do a vertical gradient, or across the short axis to do a horizontal gradient like I've done here.
  2. Scrape once or twice using a FIRM scraper.  You don't want to press a flexible one down into the big open rectangle, as that will gouge out the paint and leave your finished design patchy or empty in the center. 
  3. Pick up the whole design and place on the nail like you would any other stamped image.
  4. Using actual stamping polish should get your gradient opaque in as little as one layer, but I used regular nail polish here and these more sheer shades needed 3 layers (I stamped over a plain white base as in Elleandish's tutorial, which is a good idea in general for gradients of pastel or neon colors).
This stamping method used up a whole lot less polish than the dabbing on with a makeup sponge method, and the annoying tendency for the makeup sponge to lift the paint layers back up if you overwork it is not at all a problem here.  Cleanup is just as messy as ever, since the rectangle is far wider than my nails.  I don't typically use latex around my cuticles for stamping, but next time I do a gradient with a plate I certainly will be.  

Once I had my sand & ocean gradient done, I stamped the ocean foam in white using HeHe 081, then retouched the sand areas by dabbing more of the sparkly shimmer polish on top.  The crab is reverse-stamped from zodiac plate Harunouta 13, filled in with Esmaltes da Kelly Joanna.



  1. Such a pretty beach mani! The crab is too cute! Thanks for the tutorial on how to use the negative space designs. I own a plate or 2 that have them, but have yet to give it a try.

    1. Those negative space rectangles appear on 2 different plates I own as well, and the first time I saw one I was pretty skeptical. But no problems at all, this worked very easily!


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