DIY Marbled Paper

Having ventured on this project for my past summer coordinator position of Franklin’s Guides, we certainly had a lot of fun creating our very own marbled paper! I did my best to keep this diy as short as possible, recommended for ages 9+.

1. Nail polish of course! This will be a drain on your polish so I do advise not using your expensive sweets. Read below to learn about our encounters with different types and colors.
2. Pretty warm to warm water in a large container. I must note: nail polish does stain, assume your container will stain as well.
3. Watercolor paper. Regular printing paper works but will crinkle when dry and then crack the polish. We cut our watercolor paper into strips and squares, because this project can take up a lot of nail polish.

1. Prepare your very warm (but not hot) water in a large container. Your water will be rippling when you walk from the sink to the table, so while your water is settling prepare the colors of nail polish you want. We recommend unscrewing all the caps, though leaving them rest on top so nothing starts to dry, as time is of the essence!
2. Begin to drop your colors in whatever order you want. It’ll be best to drop very carefully from the bottle, over the water, in the center, as the polish is not likely to drip fast enough from the brush. Drop one color in, and see the effect it has on the water. You want it to spread / expand / disperse! If it does, quickly put that color down and grab another (remember, you unscrewed the cap but it is lightly resting on top).
3. Repeat step 2 with another couple of colors. How many drops you place doesn’t have to be per color, feel free to marble your paper with only two or three colors if you want. What is key is ensuring you create a design to cover your strip of paper but also not let the polish completely dry as step four will not work as well. We recommend dropping your polish for no longer than 15-20 seconds (make a note to yourself if you are using a super-dry type).
4. Lay your strip or square of watercolor paper over the now marbled water for no more than 10ish seconds (5ish if you are not using watercolor paper). You’ll want to gently ensure you lay the paper straight on top of your design but try not to move the paper from side to side or you might ruin the process. If you are using quality watercolor paper feel free to very gently and slowly push your paper straight down a couple of centimeters below the surface of the water; this allows any design that won’t be on the front of the paper to sometimes be caught by the submerged side and imprint itself, securing and locking in the design. Do not submerge your paper below the surface if you are not using watercolor paper!
5. Again, step four will only take 5-10ish seconds. Now gently but somewhat quickly swoop your paper up from the surface of the water. Which side should you chose? Only sometimes do designs get a little pulled, if you let your nail polish get really dry it may not bode well. Again, time is of the essence! With enough practice you’ll be able to learn when a design won’t work: simply take a pencil or popsicle stick to collect the nail polish remover and start over.

Let your paper dry for awhile and do with whatever you like with your new beautiful marbled paper!

Cold water doesn’t work as well with this project, so sometimes you’ll have to refresh with warmer water. Have fun!





Using different types of nail polish:
– Obviously using thick, chunky nail polish will show up on your paper the most.
– But sometimes thinner colors will have that pretty faded or transparent effect.
– Time is of the essence and if a color doesn’t disperse move on to a different color.
– Get creative and use tools! Take a pencil to ‘pop’ nail polish bubbles (which helps dispersal a ton)!
– Metallic and glitter polish truly adds on an amazing touch, use these as the last dropped color as they are not likely to disperse and should be imprinted first because of this.
– Lastly, don’t use your expensive brands for this project. We had such a variety of brands, types, and colors that we had no bias as all of our beautiful papers came out just out of this world!


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