Saturday, July 9, 2011

Nail Art Water Marble Secrets Revealed + Tips & Tricks! (PIC HEAVY!)

Have you tried water marble manicures in the past?

Have you been less than satisfied with the results?

Did you experience air or water bubbles that made your nail art look less than stellar?

Maybe the polish all pulled off the surface of the water every time you tried to draw a design?

Would  you love results like these?

Well.  Have I got the tutorial for YOU!


But seriously, folks...

So here's the deal.  I've seen some amazing water marbles out there on MUA and flickr, etc.  But every time (until very recently) I tried to achieve those results myself I have failed miserably.  Why?  I didn't know.  I read every tutorial I could find.  I watched countless youtube videos.  They make it LOOK so easy!  But when I tried to do it myself, the universe just wasn't playing ball.

Until about 2 days ago.  I don't even know what happened.  The stubbornness in me just took over and I wasn't going to stop until I broke the code!  ;)

This post is the result of all the attempts I made at water marbling and all the things I learned in the process.  I am NOT a water marble expert!  I just hope my tips and tricks help others out there get the results they are after.  I was pretty frustrated until I figured it out.  

Save yourself the frustration!  Read this FIRST!!!!

Enough talking about it. Let's get started.  Here's what you'll need before you begin:

Water Marble Supplies

 Gather all these supplies BEFORE you get started:
  • Distilled or Filtered ROOM TEMPERATURE water (except if your room is super hot or cold! lol)
  • Your chosen nail polish colors (at least 2!)
  • Q-tips
  • Toothpicks or an orange stick (for cleaning up the extra polish from surface of water)
  • Tweezers (for picking off stray hairs- especially helpful if you have furry babies around!)
  • Scotch tape or Vaseline (to keep your fingers mostly clean during the process)
  • Scissors (to cut the tape off when you're done)
  • A brush for clean-up ( I use an angled eyeliner brush from Target)
  • OPTIONAL- something metal and pointy. (I use a mini fondue skewer but you could get away with a toothpick or orange wood stick)

Basically in order to water marble, you are going to drip drops of polish onto the surface of the water, draw a design in the polish, and dip your nail into the design so it sticks.

NOTE:  I use both of the pictured cups.  Sometimes I find the disposable mcD cup works better, other times the little sippy cup works better.  Go figure.  I know glass works well also and the upside of that is it's NOT disposable- you can clean the gooey polish off with acetone and re-use it (for polish ONLY) till your heart's content.
Step 1:
  • Start with a regular mani.  Base coat, and at least 1 coat of a base color of polish.  White works well if you plan to use light or bright (neon) colors.  Silver can look pretty darn cool also and it's what I used in the above pic.  When the colors disperse they become slightly transparent.  The silver base gave the neon pink I used a gorgeous glow!

Step 2:
  • Tape up your fingers or cover them in Vaseline or cuticle oil.  I find tape to be the easiest to use.  There is a tutorial on youtube here for how exactly to tape them so it's easy to get off when you're done.  The idea is to protect your skin so your fingers aren't covered in polish when you dip them in the water.

Step 3:

  • Fill your cup with water.  Actually you might want to do this before you have tape all over your fingers.  ;)  Make sure the caps of your polish bottles are loose and ready to go before you start.  You need to work somewhat quickly for this to all work out.

Step 4:
  • Drop your polish into the water.  You want to be just above the surface.  If you drop it from too far away sometimes the polish will drop to the bottom of the cup or you'll get splashes of polish or air bubbles.
Note:  If your colors are coming out too pale, leave the brush over the water longer.  When the brush is JUST barely touching the water, leave it there longer and the water will "pull" more color from the brush to give you brighter results.
  • There are many video tutorials for doing specific designs.  I'm going to focus on the basics here.  Just check out youtube if you want to see all the possibilities!
  • All the designs I've seen call for building a "bullseye."  So drop one color into the center of the cup.  Then drop the next color directly in the center of the first color.  The next color goes in the middle of the last one and so on.  Continue until you have built up your "bullseye."

NOTE:  I have noticed in my experiments that the first 2 or 3 rings of the bullseye can be any color!  So if you want to conserve a certain polish, use something you don't care about to START the bullseye.  This will make more sense after you read the next step.  ;)
 Step 5: 

This is where my super duper stubborn brain comes into play.  This is when you "draw" your design.

  • Very gently drag your tool through the polish to make your design. Again I use the little metal skewer.  You can use a push pin as well.  Lots of girls use an orange wood stick- I like the precision of the sharper point on the metal tools.

Every time I tried to do this before, I would start to drag my tool through the polish and things got bad from there. The polish gummed up and all lifted off with the skewer.  It sticks to it and I can't get a pretty design.  I think I have found the solution to that problem.

I thought maybe it was my water ( I tried britta, pure, and distilled water!), the temperature of the water, the cup, etc.  FINALLY I think I figured it out!

When you start to draw your design, DON'T START FROM THE VERY OUTSIDE EDGE!!!!!

That's it!   Sounds simple, right?!  XD

Here's what I mean:

If you start "drawing" from the outside edge, things fall apart quickly!

Red means NO, green means GO! Start a few rings IN towards the center and continue "drawing" your design.
Note:  After every "line" you "draw" wipe off your tool. Polish loves to stick to polish- so it's easier to "draw" with a clean cool.
Step 6: 

  • Once your design is good to go, pick a spot that you want to aim for that you think is pretty.
  • When you are ready to dip your nail into the water, make sure you have it at the right angle.  
Before, when my water marbles looked like poo, I was essentially doing a belly flop onto the design.  Finally I learned that in order to avoid air bubbles, you need to keep your nail at an angle and dip it in more gently!  haha! 

Here's what we're trying to avoid:
See those unsightly spots? Those were air bubbles. Yeah. Not pretty.
They allow the base color to show through.

Here's what I mean by the correct angle:

To avoid air bubbles, LEAD your nail into the water with the free edge and keep the angle consistent as you dip.
Step 7: 
  • Once your nail is under the water, leave it there for a sec.  While you're doing that, clean the surface of the water with a toothpick or orange wood stick, etc.  Just use your tool to scrape polish off the water.  It comes off like this:

Except your finger will still be in there! haha!
  • Once your water surface is clean, slowly slide your finger out at the same angle you put it in.
Note:  If you have any water drops on your nail you can soak them up quickly with a Q-tip or the corner of a paper towel.  DON'T TOUCH THE POLISH!  Just the water.  It should come off easily.  Anything other than a large-ish drop of water usually just dries ok and does not become a problem.
 Here's what I mean:

Gently soak up water drops.
Gently soak up any water drops.

Step 8: 
Once you're all done with that finger, you can cut the tape off (or leave it till you finish that hand) and continue the other fingers!

Note:  Sometimes the surface of the water will become "dirty."  There will be small bits and pieces of polish or something, who knows what, floating around in there.  We don't want those to end up obscuring our design or getting on our nails.  To clean the surface, drip a drop or two of polish on the water, use your tool to spread it ALL THE WAY TO THE EDGES OF THE CUP, and wait a second for it to dry.  Then use your tool to pull it off the surface and look!  All clean! 

Here's proof: 
add a couple drops, pull edges to sides of cup. wait till it's dry.
See?  all the way to the edges of the cup.

Then scrape if off by running your tool along the outside edge of the cup.

The polish lifts off easily leaving behind clean water!
Well, my friends.... I think that's it!  I REALLY hope you give water marbling another try.  It can be really fun!  There's so many different color combo's I want to try - and it's hard to figure out how to make a pretty nail art design with 4 or 5 colors don't you think?  But water marbling is perfect for it!
I hope you have enjoyed this tutorial.  Feel free to comment and ask questions.  I will reply!  ;)

And much love to all the girls on MUA and also to mysimplelittlepleasures for trying to help me!  Seems like in the end I always end up helping myself...
Here's some more pix of the resulting mani:
nail art water marble- neon pink and black over silver base

I think it turned out pretty!

my best water marble, yet!  XD

Although it IS hard to take pix of your dominant she is!

Until next time, love and nail polish to you all.  

Thank you so much for reading my little tutorial!  
I'm so flattered and humbled that so many girls have read this and that it's helped so many of you accomplish better water marbling designs!  You all are so kind and sweet to thank me and let me know my tips helped you.  I do read all the comments- I try to respond with answers (if I have them!) but life is busy and I may not answer right away.  There are, however, so many kind women who have offered their advice and stopped by to offer help, so to all of them, THANK YOU SO MUCH!  And remember to HAVE FUN and EXPERIMENT! I promise polish doesn't bite..... ;0)


Ok guys. I get SO MANY EMAILS AND COMMENTS asking me where to get Lynnderella polishes. And I totally understand why! But it's gotten so overwhelming to answer you all individually. I don't have time! lol

Lynn has her own blog (and blogsales) here.

And Llarowe sells her stuff here.

So go forth and buy tons of it! And make sure to tell 'em I sent ya!
Thanks for understanding! Lacquerish =0)