Well, I think it’s about time I did a tutorial ! I’m sorry that this has been so long coming, work has been really crazy, and I wanted to take the time to get this right =o)
I prefer the ‘dry’ water marble technique, as opposed to a ‘wet’ water marble, where you tape around your nail and put your nail (or several nails, if you’re not scared of making a mess) directly into the marbled polish.
A ‘dry’ water marble means that you transfer the pattern onto a sheet of film (I use high quality sandwich bags cut into pieces) and let it dry. I prefer this method as I find it less messy and wasteful, but it does take longer, as you’re allowing for drying time.
This tutorial includes 2 videos, I did the more complex pattern first, but a simpler pattern is also here, to show you the different possibilities.
Both marbles are just with two colours – both Barry M – I used Grey and Red, so that you can see the contrast easily.
Not all polishes will marble, more about that in a dedicated post !
You will need the following :
- Spring Water – this provides more reliable results than tap water, which varies not only from region to region but also from day to day. I recommend you go with room-temperature water
- a Small Dish – I use a dish that is about 12cm/5 inches across. Too small, and you’ll find it fiddly, but a large dish will need more polish. I find that my dish is just the right size because it allows spreading space whilst still containing the polish quite well
- you’re best off keeping your Nail Polishes to hand, too !
- Cotton Pads – I highly recommend the non-fluffy kind that you can get in professional stockists. Failing that, any cotton pads will do
- A Dotting Tool – the finer the tip, the better. A needle could be used, but I guess it is shorter. I have heard of people using toothpicks, but personally I find the rough surface can ‘catch’ and make a mess
- Cotton buds – very handy for clearing up !
I will post the videos separately as I don’t want to overload anyone with bad bandwidth or on a mobile device… But I’m not pretending that I’m any good at videos – especially one-handed!
1. Fill your dish two-thirds with water. Unscrew the polish bottle tops, as you will need to work fast !
2.Pop a drip of your first colour into the water :
3. Then your second colour, right into the centre of the first (which should be spreading across the surface of the water :
4. As I’m only using two colours, I’ve gone back to the first colour. Up to you if you want to keep adding colours or go for a simpler look !
5. … And so on…
In this tutorial you can see that I have added a lot of drops of the colours. This means that the pattern will be more complex, the ‘stripes’ won’t be as wide. It also means that the polish will be slightly thicker on the surface of the water and won’t dry as fast, which is easier for tutorials. My second video is a version with less ‘hoops’ to the bulls-eye pattern. You can see that the effect is a little different, but this can also be really stunning!
6. When you have added enough drops to the water, you can grab your dotting tool/toothpick/needle – quickly, but without knocking everything over! Drag it through the pattern, without touching the first few circles around the edge (which will have dried – you may see them wrinkle slightly as you disturb the surface of the water – that’s how you know which ones not to touch). I like to start in the middle of the pattern and work towards the edge :
7. Wipe clean (that bit is important !) and keep going with the dotting tool/needle/toothpick until you have created something that you like. Don’t get too crazy with it, or you will end up mixing all of the colours, and you could have done that without the bowl of water !
This is where dry water marbling gets a little different. With a classic water marble, you tape up your cuticles and dip your (or your client’s) finger (or several fingers, if you dare !) into the pattern to transfer it onto the nail. As you can imagine, that can be a bit messy! The dry version will also allow you to place the pattern more easily, and to avoid using parts of the pattern that are messier, whereas the classic water marble can be more hit-and-miss (especially at first!)
8. For a dry water marble, take a piece of sandwich bag (or something similar) and gently dip it into the water to pick up the design. Some sandwich bags have a tendency to curl, so you might want to slide a piece of card or plastic in them (or tape them to pieces of laminate, for example), to avoid making a mess).
9. Like me, you may get a few surface bubbles :
10. You can dab these off gently with a cotton bud, but in my experience only the biggest ones will show up when the nail is dried.
11. Leave your pattern to dry. It should be completely dry, not the slightest bit tacky.
You can prepare these sheets and keep them for a few days, but I have found that they can go flaky if kept too long, so you might want to keep them in a Ziploc bag.
Then, when you are ready to transfer it to your nail, you can either paint your nail with your base colour and transfer the paint from the water marble onto the tacky surface, or – I have learned – it can be better to transfer it as if it were a foil. Of course, if you don’t have foil glue to hand, the wet nail polish strategy will probably be fine.