Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Simply Marble-ous!

Hello and happy Tuesday!  I have to make this post quick since I have to head to work in a few, but I really wanted to get the photos up.  *Edit* So, it is now Tuesday evening and I have a little more time to write.  I decided to attempt a tutorial of the technique I used to get this effect;

This is, bar none, the BEST water marble I have ever done.  And it should be, since it took me 3 to 4 attempts and 2 days to do it lol.  I wouldn't have a tutorial for you today, but I managed to break a nail shortly after I got home from work. Rather than taking my whole manicure off after I worked so hard on it, I decided to redo one nail to show you the technique.  This will be a photo heavy post, so be warned!

Water marbling is a technique where polish is floated on top of a small bowl of water.  You dip your nail into the water and the polish sticks to your nail, et voila! You have super-cool nail art!  However, it is messy and unpredictable.  Do not wear clothing you care about whilst water marbling and protect any surfaces you don't want polish on.  Without further ado, here's my tutorial!

First, gather your tools.  You'll need a base coat & a white or light color of polish to use as a base color for your water marble.  Decide which polish colors you want to use and gather them together*.  Additionally, you'll need a small bowl of water (some people recommend filtered water, but I use tap at room temp & it works fine); cuticle oil, tape or Vaseline/lotion; some cuticle sticks or toothpicks; a needle or safety pin; paper towels and/or cotton balls/Qtips and a bottle of your favorite top coat.  Have nail polish remover and/or pure Acetone on hand for clean up later.

Start with clean, bare nails just like you would for any manicure.  Apply your base coat and 2 coats of your white/light base polish.  I used MAC Vestral White.  Let dry completely.

Next, take your cuticle oil, Vaseline or lotion and apply liberally to your cuticles, underneath your nail and over your finger past your first knuckle.  Trust me, DO NOT skip this step or you will be spending hours on clean up. The oil creates a barrier between your skin and the polish.  Without it, you'll end up with stained fingers and a big ol' mess in general.  Some folks like to use tape as a guard, which is totally fine if you prefer it.  I like the oil because it's easy to apply and it helps condition my cuticles as I work.  With this technique, I prefer to work one nail at a time but you can prep more than one at a time if you like.

Now that your nail is prepped with a base color and the oil, you're going to start dripping your chosen polishes into your bowl of water.  One drop at a time is best.  If you drip too much at once, the polish will sink to the bottom of your bowl and you'll have to start over.  I do one drop of one color and then start alternating with the other colors until I get a "bull's eye" that I like.  Once you get to that point, take your needle/safety pin and start dragging a pattern into your polish.  Here's where your creativity can shine; you can drag the needle in spirals, lines, zigzags or whatever pattern you can think of.  Maybe if you're a barista, you know some cool shapes like the ones they put on people's coffee :)  I usually just drag from the outside to the center of the "bull's eye".  Be careful not to drag too far from the center of your "bull's eye".  The polish close to the end of the bowl starts to dry and will wrinkle up and mess up your design.  If you do mess up and want to start over, simply take your cuticle stick/toothpick and drag it through the water to pick up the polish.  I usually will drip one more drop of polish into the bowl after I've cleaned it out and let it dry to pick up any bits that might be left.

Once you're happy with your design, it's time to dip your nail.  Try to keep the nail as perpendicular to the water as you can when you dip it in.  Once my nail is submerged, I kind of angle it down and hold it under for a few seconds while I clean up the leftover polish on top of the water with my cuticle stick.  Here is where it can get really frustrating.  Often the design will not transfer to your nail the way you think it will, sometimes in a good way, but more often in a bad way.  All I can say is that practice is key and if you're not a patient person, this technique is not for you.  If you can stick it out, it's worth it!

In the top left photo here, you can see why you want some sort of guard between your skin and the polish.  When you bring your nail out of the water, the excess polish is very gloppy and messy.  Use a paper towel to wipe up as much of the excess as you can and let the rest dry.  Be careful here as it's VERY easy to smudge your nail.  I recommend just hanging out for a few minutes to let the polish set a bit.  When it's somewhat dry, I use a coat of Seche Vite to help it finish drying and avoid smudging while I'm working on the rest of my nails.  

Once you're done with all your nails, use your cotton balls and Qtips dipped in nail polish remover to clean up your fingers.  I use a small painting brush and pure acetone to clean up my cuticles and nail beds.  Acetone makes a quicker work of clean up, but it is VERY drying to your cuticles, so use it sparingly!

There you have it.  My very first tutorial attempt!  I hope it was informative and that you enjoyed it.  I'd love to hear any feedback you have to offer. There are tons of Youtube videos and other polish blog tutorials out there on this technique, if you some more info on it.  Thanks so much for stopping by!

*Polish colors I used for this manicure:  Sinful Colors "Unicorn", China Glaze "Solar Power", Wet 'n' Wild "FuchsiaRama", Nina Ultra "Pro Blue La La"


  1. I want to know how you did this! It looks so cool!

    1. Hiya! I've done a revised post with a how-to included!

    2. I know what I'm going to be attempting sometime in the next couple of days!


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