12 May 2012

Tropical Water Marble and Lessons Learned

It feels like Hong Kong's been nothing but gray skies and rain for ages, so I wanted something bright and cheerful on my nails. I had a giant bottle of filtered tap water sitting out at room temperature just waiting for me to give water marbling another try, and this time it didn't end in messy, dismal failure--yay! The sun actually poked its head out of the clouds for all of about 18 seconds, so I zoomed downstairs to nab a quick picture or two.

tropical water marble nails


Colours are OPI Need Sunglasses?, OPI In My Back Pocket, and China Glaze Aquadelic (I'm clearly hooked on blue these days). I laid down a coat of OPI Alpine Snow first, which really helped the colours pop. That white managed to peek just a little bit around a couple of edges, but it's not a "real life view" big deal.

Some of the lessons I learned this time about how to do a water marble manicure are probably blindingly obvious to people who've done a few, but even after reading and watching several tutorials, it still took some trial and error to figure out some of the little details.

The first time I tried a water marble, the water temperature was all wrong and made the polish dry/harden too quickly to spread. I also figured out that the bowl I'd used was too big, so even if I'd had the right water temp, the polish would have had too far to spread. That wouldn't have prevented it from working, I don't think, but it would have wasted a lot of polish. I picked up a cheap, little glass bowl for about $2 US--I think it's literally a finger bowl--that I can use just for water marbles and not worry about it getting smoodged with dried-on polish.

So this time around I'd lotioned my hands too recently for masking tape's liking, and it refused to stick. Scotch tape worked better, but I had to mummify my fingers to get it to stick to itself instead of my skin. Note to self for next time: lotion comes AFTER.

I also realised I didn't have to toothpick the whole puddle before dipping my finger; just having a little area I liked was enough. Every little pull through the polish stretches the whole design in little ways, so sometimes when you keep going in hopes of maybe hitting upon a spot you like even better, you end up warping it all too much and don't have that first spot to go back to. After all, only the tiniest bit of the whole picture ends up on your nails, so you're only really aiming for a little curve or two that you like.

water marble, closer view


Something else I learned was to change the water often.The toothpick does pick up MOST of the polish when you swirl it around your finger, but little bits of still-wet polish can spill out and dry clear on the surface and affect how well your next drops will spread. This time I ended up pouring my water out after every couple of fingers and wiping out the bowl before refilling. Result: much better spread from my polish.

The biggest thing I figured out this time was a total eureka, head-smacking moment: where I was sitting made all the difference! I had polishes that were spreading well, I had my room temperature water, I was changing it to keep it clear, and all those failed efforts were behind me! I'd figured it all out! Or so I thought--after sailing through my left hand, suddenly the polishes just didn't want to spread. What was wrong? I changed the water again, but no joy. Then it hit me: the air conditioner I was sitting in front of had kicked on, and the cool breeze from it was blowing right onto the coffee table! I grabbed the remote, switched the air off, and holy puddles, Batman! That polish spread like a freaking DREAM. It started working so well, in fact, that I actually had to sit there and wait after dipping my fingers before the polish was dry enough to pick up with my toothpick.

I'm not saying you need to turn off your air conditioner to do a good water marble; just make sure you're not sitting right in front of the vent (I would have moved to the dining table, but it's in line with the same aircon--Hong Kong apartments are TINY). This one last discovery made all the difference, and I finally had it: my first successful water marble manicure!

14 comments:

  1. Wow, that's amazing! What great colors. Nice job! I have no idea how you do that but I've been seeing those kinds of manis on the blogs! :) I'm a new-ish blogger too. I also happened to see that your name is Elizabeth..me too! It's not often that you find an Elizabeth that goes by Elizabeth. I'm at www.nailpolishqueen.com! :)

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    1. Thanks very much--it's nicetameetcha, Elizabeth! :)

      YouTube has a ton of great, easy tutorials if you're interested in learning how to do these. The hardest part, really, was picking polishes that spread well, and having my water at room temperature (and the air conditioner not blowing right on the bowl >_<) made that much easier. Good luck with your blog!

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  2. I've only done marbling once, so I appreciate your tips! These look great and the combo is beautiful. I think my problem is, I am not very good at just picking colours to mix. I would have never thought of putting these together, but I love it. I need a bit of help in that department :)

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    1. Thank you, Tara! Picking colours was easy this time because I was so craving something cheerful that I just looked at my big basket o' colours and grabbed the brightest ones I saw, hehe. Most of the water marbles I've seen use colours that are similar to each other, which makes perfect sense, but I like having some contrast in the mix.

      I'd love to see what colours you'd pick!

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  3. Love this! I'm pretty scared of water marbling myself but your results are soooo lovely. I love the gentle swirl pattern you created and the colours are perfect (:

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    1. That's so sweet, Brittney, thank you!

      Water marbling intimidated the pants off me at first, but once those few little things from my first attempts clicked, it was so much easier than I expected it to be!

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  4. thanks for all of your tips! i actually tried it out with my little cousin this weekend and it was such a fail :( we're gonna give it another go this weekend though, hopefully it turns out better keeping all of these things in mind!
    omgosh your water marble turned out SO pretty btw! the colors and patterns kinda remind me of that 70s show (:

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    1. You're so welcome--I hope they help! If you guys get pics when you're done, I'd love to see! Also, thank you very much, really. You know, I hadn't even thought of it before, but they do kind of have that lava lamp vibe. ^_^

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  5. OMG how did I not see this until now!!! This is STUNNING!!!! :O

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    1. Thanks so much, Ashesela--all your kind words have me grinning like mad today! :D

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  6. This looks great! I love the combination of colours ^^ xx

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  7. This marble is so awesome! Love the colors!

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