Jul 3, 2012 at 5:00pm | Leave a comment


This is gin. Pretend I'm wearing nail polish.

I considered wearing this look during a work experience placement at Penguin Books because it’s a manicure that says “Words. I read them”. Then I came to my senses and instead I spent those weeks draping myself alluringly over photocopiers, whenever Joshua Foer walked past. However, it is still a trick that I wish to share with you as I’ve only seen alcohol used to rub newsprint into dull, grey nail polishes. Usually on those bone curdlingly cute nail blogs with names like Daydreams and Pedicures run by women who replaced their vagina with a rolled up Amelie poster many moons ago.

Reader, avoid such places and stick with me. I eat Manic Pixie Dream Girls and drink my feelings.

My taste for gin came from my grandmother, Patricia Smith, who took glamour cues from Old Hollywood and Patsy Stone. Patricia would share stories with me about Alfred Hitchcock, Charlie Chaplin, and the other faces from her days as a personal assistant for Granada Television. She was usually holding a G&T shrouded in cigarette smoke. I was usually seven.


This is how you hold things if you require a free hand to take the picture.

Since gin is in my blood I will forgive it for the times that it has induced me to write out the lyrics of the Dawson’s Creek theme in ill-advised messages to men. And now, with this manicure, you too will have something to admire when your thumbs drink and dial. Hu-bloody-rah, indeed.



1.) This effect works best on polish no more than a few hours old.

2) Choose a single sided piece of paper that is THIN and POROUS.

3) Soak the paper in gin.

4) Press the inky side down hard on to the base coat for 30 seconds.

5) Lift up the paper and seal the effect with clear polish.

I find most nail art is tricky to apply to both hands but holding wet paper doesn’t require ambidexterity and I didn’t have to call for assistance from the tiny Vietnamese children who live in my basement.


Enough product placement to merit a complimentary hamper, yes?

The technique is easy but get the font wrong and you will have overly quirky nails like a filthy art student or a teenage activist. Stick to uniformity and large, uppercase lettering, if you want to look respectable. You will see the perils of typography in my first attempt…


This lilac polish is from an out of stock Essential Colour collection at Marks and Spencer ( but it’s just like any of their budget nail polishes that I urge you to buy if you want a duplicate for Revlon shades at a third of the price.


Great colour, shabby font. My shelf is clearly that of a person who colour codes their books.

For the transfer I scavenged a copy of the East Anglian Daily Times which mostly left sad, grey smudges that I went over with an eyeliner pen. Thus defeating the point of faff free nail art.

Incidentally, as I get older I’m starting to realise that everyone grows up with that one relative in the family who is ‘allergic to alcohol’ and this is the polite, English way of explaining recovering alcoholics to children.

Moving on….


Inspiration: We will take our colour palette from this exploration of the male psyche from a 1970s copy of Jackie magazine.


I believe they also included 'going all the way'.

For the pink I’ve chosen Fairy Cake from the No.17 Candy Collection (£2.99 at

The letters came from a butchered ‘Investors In People’ logo (written in Univers Roman, according to their brand guidelines) that headed an old letter from the job centre. It was sharing the exciting opportunities in Ipswich concerning boiler repair. Thankfully I’m no longer on the dole because I work with children and write words for a living. My mother worries.

You can see that the font makes the manicure look more ‘done’ because it’s uppercase and large enough to overlap the top of the nail.


Have I inspired you to try my Gin and Job Centre manicure?

Sarah tweets about more pressing issues and posts more pictures of her hair @Sarah_Woolley.