The Raw Clay MUST be completely encased within an enhancement (Acrylic or Gel) or you will have separation issues with the enhancements. Always lay down a thin layer of acrylic or gel before applying any Raw Clay Canes - do not apply raw clay directly to the natural nail. Always lay at least 1 or 2 layers of clear acrylic or gel over the design, completely encasing it.
Take a slice of the Raw Clay Cane using the Slicing Blade with Cover/Handle. The clay is soft, so you have to be gentle with it. The blade should slide down the clay, do not use a "sawing" motion. You can place the Raw Canes in the refrigerator or freezer before slicing to make slicing easier and allowing for thinner slices. If the Raw Clay is very cold when you take it out to slice, you may get some condensation, use a paper towel to absorb any water that may sweat off the canes.
Roll out to fit the area on the nail you want the design. Rolling can be done on a clean work surface or directly on the nail with with the handle of a spare brush or an orange-wood stick. Gently roll the clay in the direction you want it to move/grow. Thicker slices will "roll out" to a larger piece to apply. Use the Slicing Blade with Cover/Handle to pick up the rolled piece and place it on the nail. Lightly but firmly press the clay onto the nail with the handle of your spare brush so you do not get fingerprint marks in the clay. You can roll the clay thinner if needed also. When encasing raw clay, thinner is better, but too thin may cause breakage of the clay design, or make the design too transparent to see.
Trim the design as needed or desired. Always leave a margin between the clay and the edge of the nail, so the clay can be fully encased within the enhancement. Using an orange-wood stick, Exacto knife, or tweezers, trim any excess to finish your design. Flowers are generally created with transparent clay surrounding the design. Use the same trimming method to remove the transparent clay from around the flower petals. If done properly, your design and flowers should "POP" with a dramatic 3D effect. You can use a small amount of monomer or acetone on a spare brush -- do not use your regular brush, but an old extra -- to smooth edges or blend 2 pieces together. NOTE: Some colors of some clay may "run" using monomer or acetone.
Encase the design with 1 or 2 layers of clear acrylic or gel. If using acrylic, you may need to work a little drier than normal to prevent the clay colors from running or bleeding.
(Click the image to see a larger size of the sample courtesy of Donna, Huntsville, TX)
Applying onto Gel -- you can apply the Raw Clay directly to the "sticky" or dispersion layer.
Applying onto Acrylic -- apply onto fully or partially cured acrylic.
To use as French tips - lay down a thin layer of colored acrylic that is complimentary to the design. Lay the rolled clay or roll the clay directly on the nail covering the entire free-edge and partially up the nail bed. Using a "short contact" type of tip, trim the clay to form a perfect smile line. Trim and bevel the clay away from the edges of the nail's free-edge so the clay can be fully encased with acrylic or gel.
To remove or change the design - thin the top layer of the enhancement until you break through to the clay layer. Use your cuticle stick to remove the clay then continue your normal prep procedures.
See many examples of Raw Clay Cane use at the NAILS Magazine Gallery pages