This is a fun little project with nail polish that you can do quickly and cheaply. I discovered this, when I was researching my previous post about alcohol inks. And since at the time I had not yet purchased ink supplies, I thought I would try this first.
This is totally a dollar store project. Here are the supplies that you will need:
- nail polish in fun colours
- plastic container
- ceramic mugs or bowls or something else to marble
- 91% isopropyl alcohol (optional)
- stir stick
- paper towel
- tin foil
- latex gloves
I have seen this idea done a few times before, so I was really excited to give it a try, and put my own spin on it! I supplied up at the dollar store, with a few different styles of mugs. One set had a matte finish, one was smaller and glossy and the 3rd was a set of cappuccino mugs. We love these at our house, because I love cappuccino and Greg eats EVERYTHING out of cappuccino mugs.. I know… I don’t get it either
There really isn’t a lot to this project, which makes it excellent for peeps who consider themselves craft-challenged. Also it would probably be a fun project to do with kids. Supervised though, as I’m not sure you would really want to let them loose with a lot of little bottles of paint! Case in point when I was shaking up one of my bottles of nail polish the top came off and it flung up against the wall! Luckily it was just the handle piece and the polish stayed in the bottle – whew! I guess that’s one way to add some colour to your walls!
Fill your disposable container with water. I started out with warm water, but it seemed to make the polish set faster. Then I switched it up for cool water, which seemed to give me a bit of additional time. But be warned this project moves fast, you don’t have tons of time to play. Once your container is full of cool water, just shake up your nail polish and then add the colours that you like to the water. If you give the bottle a back and forth shake, you will get some nice linear patterns. Once you have all the colours that you want in the water, you can give it a bit of a stir. I found that with some polished, it all glopped onto the stir stick, and defeated the purpose of the stirring. Then just dip your mug part way in, and remove – THAT’S IT! so easy…
These are the ones that I purchased at the dollar store. They were less than $1/bottle. I ended up going back for more diverse colours. Originally I was leaning towards a more monochromatic colour palette, but after dunking a few mugs, I decided that they were a bit boring, and needed more colour!! I found that I had much better results with the more runny polishes. If they were too thick, it took too long getting them out of the bottles, and you have to move pretty quickly. I tried this a couple of different ways. The first try I just used the nail polish, and stuck with a pretty monochromatic palette.
However, I felt like it was missing some depth, so I decided to add in some isopropyl alcohol Isopropyl Alcohol, in order to thin out the polish and provide those more muted undertones. To do this I added isopropyl alcohol (91%) to the water before adding the polish. Then give it a bit of a swirl using a stir stick. You want to be fairly quick or the stick will pick up all of your polish.
Here are a couple of my results. I like them but it’s hard to get a set that looks like a set. Oh well, isn’t random the new matching? Honestly these are a bit lumpier than I would have liked, but I love the colours
And here are the mugs before and after. These were the matte finish mugs
And here is the other side of the mug where I “double-dipped” it. I like the way the double dip turned out 🙂
Wanna watch this instead?
And then I bought more nail polish and I found these cool metallics, which. I thought would be really fabulous. They came in silver and gold and red and pink. I opted for silver and gold. The polish worked really well for this application, I’m just not sure that I’m really that in love with the colour combo. Here is what it looked like in the water container. And here it is on the mug
I like the pattern, but felt it needed a bit more colour, so I added a splash of blue to the mix
And here is what it came out like on the mugs – um no.
So here’s the part where I tell you, that you can hit the reset button, if you make something that is less than lovely, like these mugs above. Just use Nail polish remover, and a cotton pad, and you can remove the polish. It’s easier, to start by wiping most of it with a paper towel first, and then removing the rest with Nail polish remover. Warning: This makes for a lot of fumes, make sure you are working in a well ventilated space. Open the window!
Also, I removed the polish from a mug that had dried, and it did come of, but it took a bit more rubbing. So, if you want a “do-over” it’s possible. It’s not that I was super concerned about the cost of the mug at $1.25, I just didn’t want a whole bunch of them that looked really ugly sitting in my cupboard. 🙁
As always I will pass along the things that worked…or didn’t for me:
- Cold Water worked better than warm
- LOTS of polish in those little bottles
- Runny polish works better
- Choose your colour combos carefully
- Go ahead and make mistakes, you can fix them
- Use a straw or stir stick to fish out most of the polish and wipe on a paper towel, before dumping your water
This was a quick easy project that had some pretty fun results. The cups that I’m keeping I will treat with dishwasher safe Mod Podge to ensure that the polish stays on them, but probably best to wash them by hand. I’ll try to remember to check in later and let you know how they held up.
ok, your turn. Go!
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Angela Easter says
Thank you this is very informative ! how long did it take for your mugs to dry?
They dry pretty quickly. But I would suggest leaving them overnight, so they don’t smudge.
Alicia H says
Hi, I’m looking forward to trying this craft but wondering if you tried this technique on any plastic items? Maybe like a plastic tumbler cup? Thanks!