DIY: Nail Polish Marbling

Nail polish marbling | a DIY craft on The Thrifty Ginger

I’ll admit that I have a little nail polish collection going. So when I learned that you could easily marble with nail polish, I was all for it. It turns out that it’s a pretty simple process that can get really cool results.

Small paper jewelry boxes

Plain black coffee mugs

I did marbling on both paper boxes and on ceramic mugs. You can use this same process on practically anything (paper, metal, plastic, glass, etc.), since nail polish is quite sticky.

All different nail polish colors lined up for marbling

To start out, I used an empty plastic container and filled it with water. You just need something deep enough to dunk the edges of your object in. In my case, a plastic spinach container worked perfectly.

Pouring nail polish into water for marbling

Get all of you polish and objects lined up in advance because this is a quick process. I’d suggest you work in a covered area, and you might want a skewer or toothpick to help blend colors. It didn’t seem to matter what types of polish I used, but I did avoid glitter polish.

Paint marbling onto paper box with nail polish

Pour your nail polish into the water, trying to not shake it too hard, or else the paint will sink to the bottom of your container. Once you have a couple colors stacked, dip your object into the surface of the water. The piece will pick up the paint and you can pull it right out and set it down to dry.

Dipping mug into nail polish for marbling

Since I did this a few times, here are a couple tips:

  • Move quickly. The nail polish really does begin to dry quickly and creates a film on the surface of the water. That happened to me a few times, and often I could pull that film off my item and the thicker paint would still stay in place and look nice. (See below for the less-than-desirable results. Not every one was like that)
  • Because there sometimes is a film of nail polish on the surface of the water, I suggest running a paper towel along the top after each round of painting. This ensures there’s not half-dried paint still lingering in your container.
  • On ceramic, you can easily remove any paint you don’t like with acetone nail polish. This is a great trick if you’re not happy with the pattern. Just take off the paint and try again!

sheet of nail polish when marbling

Nail polish marbling | A DIY on The Thrifty Ginger

You can experiment with different colors, amounts, and swirling the colors. It really is so easy, and it’s a fun way to jazz up basic items.

Pink and blue marbled box using nail polish

Marbling with nail polish on cardboard jewelry boxes

I like how the two jewelry boxes turned out the best. I think the marbling is just beautiful, especially with the blue and ink.  The swirling paint will add a nice touch to a little treasure. The purple one even looks a little like an ink blot test.

Marble painted mugs | DIY marbling with nail polish

The mugs are a little funky for my taste, but I might just try a different design next time!

7 thoughts on “DIY: Nail Polish Marbling”

    1. I found that after a while, things just get globbed up. I think there’s a limit to how much nail polish you can put in and how many times you can dip before you have to dump it all out and start with new water. Other than that, I don’t have any special tricks.

  1. Hi, in my hunt for reference of glittered nail polish marbling, I’ve come up dry. You’re the only one who even mentions it, any reason you clearly avoided it?

    1. I avoided it just because I was worried about how the glitter would “sit” on the boxes and mugs. Most of my glitter polish has larger chunks, so I didn’t want them to be perpendicular to the item and stick out, creating a rough edge. The advantage of regular polish is that it’s liquid and can conform to any surface.
      You might be able to do this with glitter polish that just has the small pieces. In fact, I don’t see what you couldn’t– as long as the polish doesn’t clump in water, you should be good to go.

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