The Art of Darkness

Fingernail Guards

July 30th, 2015 by Cobwebs

Fingernail GuardsLong fingernails were a status symbol in Imperial China because they signified that you didn’t have to do manual labor. The wealthy wore special fingernail guards to keep their long nails from being broken, and over time the guards became more and more ornate.

They varied in both length and design: Some were cones that slipped over the whole tip of the finger, and others were more like a ring with a shield attached to the top. There are some photos of various styles at enticz, and a few others (including an interesting mesh design) at Dream Tree.

Today the guards are collector’s items, either simply displayed (as here, second photo) or converted into brooches and other jewelry. However, since they: a) Have a vintage pedigree, b) Make your fingers look like claws, c) Simply cry out for embellishment, and d) Actually have a quasi-utilitarian purpose (i.e., protecting long fingernails), I’d say they’re due for a comeback.

Highly-embellished modern versions are apparently available somewhere–the photo above is a modern set worn by China Steel–but don’t seem particularly easy to find (especially since search results are muddied with antique versions). Somewhat similar, and perhaps a good jumping-off point, are Thai dance nail wraps. They seem to be available in a variety of styles (search for “belly dance” or “Thai dance”), and could be decorated with paint or glued-on gems.

Another possibility is to make your own. Marlene Brady made an interesting set with polymer clay, then added chain and jewelry findings (there’s a photo of a second set she made here, which are unembellished but the clay itself is patterned). Other materials might include plastic, thin cardboard, or even stiffened fabric. Decorate with lightweight items of your choice, and you can protect your nails and look awesome whilst doing so.

Posted in Doom It Yourself | 2 Comments »

2 Responses

  1. Craft Says:

    Another interesting way to make these would be with 3D printing. There are some websites where you can design your own items and have them print them. Easy customization and easy to paint surfaces.

  2. Oldhalloween Says:

    I have a couple of the antique versions. The blue enamel ones are similar to mine.

    We made something similar out of friendly plastic pellets. Heated and molded to the fingers. Back in the day its how we made cheap vampire fangs too.

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