Dragon Eggs: A Tutorial
Oh lordy, am I really doing my first ever tutorial? And it’s not even a nail tutorial? WHAT IS LIFE!? How did I get here? Do I have to wear to pants?
Today I’ll be answering NONE of those questions. Instead we’ll be delving into the crafting world, with a side of lacquer.
I apparently broke the internet a few days ago when I revealed my latest dragon egg creation, and since then have received more emails, PMs, comments, and messages than I can count. Everyone wants a tutorial, and I’m all about pleasing, yo!
I’ll start off by saying that these are incredibly easy to make, albeit a tad tedious, and all sorts of cheap. I should also counter with the fact that stabbing thumbtacks into an egg is not my original idea. In fact, I spent the better part of five hours yesterdays trying to find the tutorial that I first used. Alas, I have failed. I made several of these eggs using plain tacks, without painting them, as they were made that way in the aforementioned tutorial. If you are a close friend, you probably got one of these for Christmas. You’re welcome.
It was one of these gifts that led to the idea of painting them. A friend asked if I could make them in colors, as she’d love one for her daughter’s birthday. And then it hit me like the heaviest bag of bricks in the world…. PAINT THESE MOFOS WITH NAIL POLISH! I only have like a gajillion bottles! The possibilities were endless!
And thus was born my first painted egg!
[Edit: The polishes used in the egg shown below are Delushous Goddess, from Delush Polish and Serenity, from Digital Nails.]
I have made a few here and there since then, but nothing has touched the holy majesticness of my latest egg. For this tutorial I’ll be showing you how I made that specific one.
Let’s get this how-to started, shall we? I’ll apologize in advance for any problems. Again, first ever tutorial here.
Things You’ll Need
- Styrofoam Egg Forms (You can find these at craft stores or online)
- Thumb Tacks (200 +/- if you make an egg the same size as mine. I buy mine from The Dollar Store.)
- Nail Polish(es) of Your Choice
- Sheet of Cardboard, Foamboard or Styrofoam (something soft that you can stab your tacks into)
- Clear Topcoat (optional, but totally recommended)
- Glue (I like E6000)
Step One – Picking Out Your Colors
This step is about as self-explanatory as it gets. You can opt to use just one color, you could do a sponge gradient, a sandwich of jelly finishes and glitter, you could even do a multi-colored egg by painting each tack a different color! Your egg could be mottled, it could be matte, glow in the dark, UV reactive, it could be holo – just made one of those myself! It could be a gradient that changes colors from top to bottom. Seriously, the only limit here is your imagination.
Once you have an idea of what you’d like to try, test out your polishes on scrap paper, a nail wheel, or even a spare thumb tack. You definitely want to test before moving on though, to be sure that what worked in your head looks good in reality. *speaks from experience*
Also, a little tip. If you decide you want to use a special, rare, or more expensive polish to make your egg, I would suggest using a matching base color underneath it, so that you’ll have to use less of your good polish. Just going by the eggs I’ve made using single colors, it takes about a third of a bottle of polish to make an egg (less if you are using more colors, of course), so using a base color under a nicer polish will help you to use less.
Step Two – Monotony
The first part is the tedious bit I warned you about. Once you get through this bit you’re golden. First thing you’ll need is a sheet of a stabalicious material, something you can push all of your tacks into, to hold them in place while you paint them. Be sure that you leave a bit of room between each tack, and don’t push the tacks all the way into whatever material you’re using. You want them pushed in just enough so that they are stable and don’t wobble around. I am a fan of using large sheets of foam, but for this tutorial I’ve used the lid of a takeout dinner box. Classy.
I’ll give you a nice tip here, as I learned the hard way. Taking the time to line up rows of tacks gets old fast, but please, try to push back the thoughts of just stabbing them in all willy nilly. Once you start painting these, it will be a million times easier to remember which tack you last painted when they are all neat and orderly. Sure it’s easy to tell what has been done and what hasn’t when you’re putting that first coat of brightness onto a clean tack. But once you get into second coats, and topcoats ESPECIALLY, you’ll be thankful for the order. Promise.
The amount of tacks that you’ll need will depend entirely on the size of egg form you’ll be using. I prefer 1 7/8″ x 2 1/2″ as this size is perfect as a prop to grip in my photos. It’s pretty much the size of a normal chicken egg. But these forms come in all different sizes, so it’s totally your call. One thing to think of, if you get a larger egg form, the size of the “scales” will look a little bit off, as the thumb tacks will look smaller on a larger model.
Using my 1 7/8″ – 2 1/2″ inch eggs I find that I use an average of 200 tacks per egg. Considering that I can get a pack of 300 tacks from The Dollar Store, this is a win!
Step Three – The Fun Part
You survived the bore of mindless, repetitive tack placement! CONGRATULATIONS! Go have a celebratory glass of something. You’ve earned it!
Now comes the easy part: PAINTING.
Starting from one row and moving down, paint a thin coat of your base polish. For me, this is Sally Hansen Loves Me Not. It’s a deep, almost black, purple with color shifting micro flecks. By the time you get all the way to your 200th tack there’s a damn good chance that your first tack has already dried completely, making it ready for the next round of painting. This has almost always been the case for me.
If you are only painting one color, and the first coat made it opaque, then you are ready to topcoat! But let’s more forward and figure you’re still going, okay? If your tacks are looking anything like mine you’ll probably need a second coat of your base color – this is where you’ll thank yourself for lining up your tacks instead of going all helter skelter.
After your base color is opaque AND dry you can move forward to glitter. I’m going to assume you ARE using glitter…because it’s glitter and it’s awesome and DUH!
When I add my glitter, I like to kinda slop some down onto the tack, like dab it on. If you try to paint it on neatly it’s probably going to slide off the edge with the brush, so dab it on in the same way you’d dab it on were you doing a manicure. Oh, and I used Nabi Purple Jumbo Glitter (161) for this egg. Once you get the glitter applied, give it a good while to dry. Maybe watch an episode of Game of Thrones while envisioning yourself as the Mother of Dragons.
And finally, we topcoat! This is entirely optional, but I fully recommend doing it. It will make your egg more durable, less prone to chipping, and omg so much shinier! I have a butt-ton of Seche Vite left over from when I used to swear by it for every single manicure ever, so I like to use it for my eggs. It dries crazy fast, is thick enough to envelope all the glitters, and just looks awesome! I once did an egg using cheapo topcoat, Wet N Wild I think, and it was great because I had it on hand….but I was never able to smooth out the bumps made by the glitter…and it took FOR-EH-EH-HE-HEEEEEVER to dry! Two coats of Seche does it for me.
Once you have the topcoating done, leave the tacks alone to dry/cure overnight. I know this is hard. They will call out to you like a siren to a fisherman. But ignore their persuasive ways. Go read a book. Leave the tacks alone. They don’t know what’s best.
Step Four – Some Assembly Required
And now for the last step! This part moves pretty fast once you get started. First off, take your styrofoam egg and hold it with the fat end up. Do your best to determine the center of the bottom of the egg and push in your first tack.
From there you just want to circle your tacks around that first one, spiralling out, and taking care to be sure that each new tack overlaps the one before it. It is the overlapping that holds the tacks in place. You don’t have to second guess your every move here, but also realize that you don’t want to get sloppy.
As you move up, your spiral will probably start to get uneven in places, just keep going. For whatever reason, it will always even out up at the top. Every last one that I’ve made got uneven in the center. It just happens. Once they are finished you can’t tell.
When you get to your last tack at the very tippy-top of your egg, stab it into place, then take it back out. Carefully apply some glue or epoxy to both the hole you just made in the egg (it doesn’t have to go IN the hole, just make sure it’s over the hole) and the stem of the tack. Now pop that gluey tack back in place and admire your wondrous abilities!!!
Step Five – Optional
Realize how addictive this is/make fifty thousand more eggs!
I really hope you liked this tutorial and that it gets you started on making your own eggs! If you do decide to make one (or a million), please tag me on Instagram (@acciolacquer) or post to my Facebook page so I can enjoy your awesomeness!
If anything was unclear, please feel free to comment down below and I’ll do my best to further explain.
Geek & Love,