The Kodama Mani by Melissa Grey for Studio Ghibli Brunch

In honor of GGB NY’s Studio Ghibli brunch, I turned to one of my favorite Miyazaki-helmed films, Princess Mononoke, for inspiration. With its unparalleled animation and strong aesthetic, the Ghibli oeuvre provides a ton of nail art design possibilities, but I wanted to go with something simple and easy to replicate for this tutorial. I’ve always loved the kodama — the transluscent tree spirits that make that slightly unsettling but also kind of cute clacking sound — and what they symbolize, particularly at the film’s end. To get a creepy/cute kodama mani, just follow these simple steps.

To start, all you need is a few simple supplies: black polish, white polish, and a dotting tool, preferably with a large and a small end. You can also accomplish the detail work using a brush, but I found the dotting tool to be the easiest and most efficient option.
Step One: After applying a base coat to smooth and protect the nail, paint on two to three coats of the white polish, depending on how sheer it is. You want it to be opaque. Be sure to let each coat dry before applying the next.
Step Two: Grab your dotting tool. On a piece of wax paper or other suitable surface, drop a tiny bit of the black polish for you to use. I use one or two drops per nail because it dries quickly out of the bottle and I like to keep my dotting tool clean and not gummy with drying polish between nails.
Step Three: Dip the larger end of the dotting tool into the black polish and quickly dab it on your white nail. Since Miyazaki’s kodama aren’t uniform in appearance, don’t be afraid to make one eye bigger than the other or have a weird shaped mouth oval. Since the kodama can spin their heads around, I even made the pinky design upside down.
Step Four: With the smaller end of the dotting tool, I added little nose shapes on some of the nails. Again, mix it up. Add the nose to some, keep it off others. Keep ‘em unique.
Step Five: Seal it all in with a top coat, wait for it to dry, and go out there and get your bunch on. And don’t forget to show us your nails on social media with the tag #GGBNailArt!


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