Brittney Bland (above and below), a student in cosmetology, carefully applies 3-D designs onto this nail.

You could say these nails are boo-tiful.

Or they’re bewitching.

Or that they’re frightfully good.

Go ahead. The students at the Art and Science Institute of Cosmetology won’t mind the puns. They’ll take them as compliments on a job well done.

Junior- and senior-level students recently held a friendly in-house competition on themed acrylic nails.

Students were to choose from fall, Halloween or Thanksgiving and create a themed artistic nail.

They must have used at least three media of nail art: polish, paint, airbrush, glitter, stripes/tape, rhinestones, feathers, poly charms, colored acrylic and 3-D built acrylic.

“Mixing these media and taking 3-D objects to those extremes helped accomplish creativity and imagination, product consistency, and opens doors for professionals,” said Shanna Tineva, owner.

Judges included recent ASIC graduates, those out in the field and licensed for many years, some students still in the program, and Vo-Tech students.

“The younger ones went to the bigger pieces, while the older judges went to the simpler pieces. Each generation likes that kind of nails.”

Brittney Bland won first place with a glittery candy corn nail, sparkly yet simple in design.

“I was trying to think of something to do, and there was this piece of candy corn sitting on the kitchen table,” she said with a laugh.

She made several other nails: a pair of leaves, ghost and bat, witch and graveyard.

Some used molded pieces, but she made the witch freehand, she said.

“I love doing this, absolutely,” she said.

She completed the witch in two or three hours, but the candy corn was done in about 10 minutes, she added.

Tiffany Zirkle won second place with a ghostly scene that included stars and pumpkins.

Brandy Gum won third place with a fall tree and cornstalk.

These fantasy nails could lead to a fantastic career.

“Studio scouts hire them on movie sets for special effects on from low-budget to high-budget films,” Tineva said. “Creature nails, Star Wars nails. People may say this doesn’t lead to anything big careerwise, but, oh yes, it can lead to something very big.

“You can make more in one day at a studio than many people do in a month.

“Also, if they can do this fantasy stuff, they can do regular pink-and-white acrylics easily. They can perfect their nails by doing this.”

Judges looked at more than 30 nails, most of which followed the Halloween theme. Competitions will also be held at Christmas, Easter and in the summer.

“At Christmas they should be able to bring it to a whole different level. This is them just starting, and we have professionals out in the business who have been doing nails 15 years or more and have no idea how to do this.

“I expect these girls to do competitions. ... I’m talking big. In 2004 a girl I trained, who had been out of school for a year, won the world championship in nail wrapping.”

These are not your tepid, timid, pink-and-white nails.

Fantasy nails are three-dimensional creations embedded with seashells, feathers, just about anything you can think of.

“It’s amazing where the nail industry has gone,” she said.

The nail artists had been studying for about six to eight two-hour lessons.

“What they’ve done in those few days is amazing for students to be at this level,” Tineva said.

“Christmas will be a whole ’nother ball game. I think they will be amazed to see what they do for Christmas. This will seem like nothing. They will be blown away.”

They could choose from fall, Halloween or Thanksgiving.

“I thought someone would do a cornucopia. But nobody did. They’re in trouble,” she said with a laugh.

“The majority chose Halloween, I guess for the funkier, darker colors.”

“One girl did a last-minute piece and it got a vote for first place. It didn’t win, but it showed how much she’d improved from the first one she made.”

“One judge, a long-time hairdresser, just sat there. ‘I didn’t think they’d be doing this. They’re just students. I wasn’t prepared for this,’ she said.

“She took an hour, looking at them from different angles and nitpicked for clarity, scale, neatness. That impressed me that they took this very seriously.

“I’m so proud of my students.”

E-mail Debra Minor Wilson at

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