Wacky Wednesday: Water Marble Lessons Learned

Wacky Wednesdays is when I try new-to-me techniques.  I promise I will post how it turns out, no matter what it looks like!

I was very ambitious today.  I decided to try water marbling.  I just love the look and though I knew it would be involved, I wanted to see if I could do it.  It took me two tries, and here is the final result:

I love the effect.  It’s not exactly what I was going for, but I’ll take it.  I improved so much over the first attempt, I know I will keep on improving each time I do this.  Even though it’s a bit complicated, I did enjoy doing it and seeing the result.

Let’s back up a bit.  I’d seen some wonderful water marbles, such as this gorgeous pink and this subtle Easter manicure.  I was amazed and thrilled by how beautiful they were and was determined to try it on my own.  There are many tutorials available, and I used the one at Chloe’s Nails.  In case you’re not familiar with the technique, in a nutshell, water marbling is dipping your nails into a fine film of polish floating on water.  By swirling the different colors, you can get a nice pattern on your nails.  The basic steps are:

  1. Paint your nails with a base color and let them completely dry.  No top coat.
  2. Using filtered, room temperature water, fill a small cup or bowl with water.
  3. Tape around your nail with scotch tape.
  4. Put a drop of polish in the water, then the next drop right in the center of the first drop and then the next one.  I recommend at least three drops, even if you’re only using two colors.
  5. Using either an orange stick or a pencil, carefully swirl the colors in the water until you get the pattern you want.
  6. Once you have the pattern you want, lay your nail down on top of it at an angle.  Wait a few seconds and then use a qtip to gather all the floating polish together and pull it out of the water.  This is so when you lift your nail out, the extra polish doesn’t get on it.
  7. Carefully remove the tape.
  8. Use a brush dipped in nail polish remover to clean up the polish that got on your skin.
  9. Apply top coat.
  10. Repeat for each nail.

For my first attempt, I used Essie A Crewed Interest as the base color.

Essie A Crewed Interest

A Crewed Interest is a lovely light peach, but unfortunately was a little streaky and took three coats to get an even color.  Since I couldn’t use a top coat yet, I had to wait until it dried.  For the marbling itself, I chose the following colors:

Left to right: Essie A Crewed Interest, She's Picture Perfect, Marshmallow, Turquoise & Caicos

The first container I used for the water was a plastic bowl.  I quickly found out that the mouth was too wide.  Once the polish was dropped in, it dissipated too much.  So next I tried a styrofoam cup.  Don’t use styrofoam!  The polish eats right through it.  Water got everywhere!  After I cleaned that up, I finally found the perfect container: the very small glass bowl that I’ve been using to mix polishes for Franken Fridays.  The mouth of it is just about the same width as an 8 oz cup, and the depth is about 2 inches.

A note about the water: it needs to be filtered and at room temperature.  The first several times I dropped the polish in, it didn’t behave the way the pictures from the tutorial showed.  The tutorial is specific, but I hadn’t noticed the first time I read it.

Below is the result of this first try, which is kind of a mess.  I’m going to go through it nail by nail and tell you what I learned with each one.  I didn’t bother cleaning up my cuticles because I knew I was going to try again.

I taped off my index finger, dropped the polish in, then used an orange stick to make a swirly pattern.  For this nail, even though I had used all the colors, there wasn’t enough of a design.

For my middle finger, each drop of polish had not dispersed enough in the water and therefore was a gloopy mess when I laid my nail on it.  As you can see, that nail came out terrible.

For the ring finger, it actually came out very pretty.  The problem was in removing the tape.  I had taped up my nail so thoroughly that when I removed it, it scraped off some of the new polish.  Therefore, I recommend that however you tape up your nail, you ensure the tape will be easy to remove.  I ended up only using 3 pieces of tape, and putting the piece at the base of the nail on first.

My pinky finger turned out the best, although it didn’t show the lilac at all.

Next try, I decided to use some different colors.  For the base color, I used OPI Hawaiian Orchid.  This is a fairly sheer color and I needed three coats.  However, it’s a thinner formula than Essie A Crewed Interest and didn’t take as long to dry.

OPI Hawaiian Orchid

For the marbling, I used these colors:

Left to right: OPI Hawaiian Orchid, Essie No More FIlm, Essie Marshmallow, Essie Turquoise & Caicos

I found that once I got the hang of taping my nails and putting just a drop of polish in the water for each color, the challenge was getting the pattern I wanted.  You need to carefully swirl the colors, because the polish starts to congeal fairly quickly and if you aren’t careful, it will glom together as you’re pulling the colors across the water.  Then once the pattern is what you want, the placement of the nail becomes critical.  As you can see from the final result, the pinky nail had too little purple and the index nail had too much.  The ring finger had too much turquoise.  The pattern is perfect on the middle nail, but there’s very little turquoise.

Final Water Marble

Perhaps I attempted to use too many colors for the first time.  No matter.  I’m pleased with how much I learned and how they turned out.  I can graduate this method from the ‘learning’ phase!

Tell me, have you tried water marbling?  What did you learn?  If you have pics, send them to me at nailnotes [at] gmail [dot] com and I’ll post them!

This entry was posted in Creme, Essie, OPI, Peach, Pink, Purple, Tips and Tricks, Turquoise, White and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Wacky Wednesday: Water Marble Lessons Learned

  1. normandlou says:

    Good job!!! I haven’t had the nerve to try yet.

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