Have you ever gotten lost on Instagram? It starts by clicking on the popular page and the next thing you know, an hour has passed and you're wrapped up in some drama involving two thirteen year old girls, a boyband and a heavy use of emojis. It's never good but always enthralling.
This is how I stumbled on the #barbienails hashtag and discovered "water-marbling" with nail polish. People do insane things with nail-polish. I had no idea. And while I wasn't interested in trying this on my nails, I decided to experiment with the technique on paper.
For supplies I used a small plastic container filled with warm water. (The water temperature is key. If the water is too cold or too hot, the nail polish "dries" too quickly on the surface and will not properly swirl.) I also gathered folded cardstock, a variety of nail polish colors and a bunch of toothpicks. Not pictured, but necessary were some rubber gloves; this gets messy.
Then I just poured some polish in various colors into the water and most of it floated to the top. I learned quickly that a little goes a long way.
I used a toothpick to drag the paint around the surface. If the paint just sort of clumps together on the toothpick or gets wrinkly, try adjusting the water temp (making it a little warmer or a little colder). When the temp of the water is right, you you'll be able to play with patterns and swirls. (Much like Instagram, it's totally addicting.)
When I was happy with the design, I stuck a folded card onto the water surface and lightly pushed it (there is no need to fully submerge it). After a second or two, I carefully pulled it up (wearing gloves).
The result was awesome. The paint stuck to the cards...
...and my plastic dish was now ready for more paint.
Seriously, so fun and addicting. I let the cards fully dry and tucked them into my crazy stash of envelopes. I loved experimenting with this technique and I ended up using it again on a few different materials... look for that in part two.
ps. nail-polish works, but a "real" way to do this on fabric with paint is explained here in an awesome tutorial on the Etsy blog.