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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Nail Polish Jewelry

Links checked 12/12/13. As with all pictures, click to enlarge.

This entry gets it's share of views because "nail polish jewelry" has become so popular, and by now there are as many artists as there are techniques to make the jewelry. This was my one-time method and not as sophisticated as some but my intent was to top them off with clear cabochons, I just found acquiring the proper size cabs a challenge. It's been revised and updated several times since the original posting date as I've "learned and perfected" things.

Revised 2/28/11                         
          In May of last year, while browsing various nail polish-related blogs I came across an entry that inspired me to try something different with those newly created and purchased polishes while puting my abandoned jewelry supplies to use. There are many artists whom have begun making nail polish jewelry in different forms and this is my take on it.
The jewelry supplies I used were: 23x16mm silver plated cabochon settings I purchased from eBay, 10x8mm ovals purchased from Fire Mountain Gems, both shown below. I also used nail polish, clear and colored, a small paintbrush and dotting pens. The settings shown are not actual size and not accurate in relation to each other but similar enough to be used as pendant/earring sets.

I also had to find something to act as a sealant (much like a topcoat seals your fingernail polish) and considered purchasing Mod Podge Gloss but after doing some research I eventually chose Utrecht brand (Utrecht is an art supply store) Artists Acrylic Gloss Medium over the Mod Podge. The description reads:  Use Utrecht Gloss Medium & Varnish when you want to add gloss, clarity and transparency to your acrylic painting. When used as a final coat to varnish paintings it creates a smooth high gloss surface that adds depth to colors and acts as a sealer. It could also be mixed with pigment to create a glossy translucent paint and since I do traditional and digital art both, I could see the potential there.

After I had all my supplies ready, the next step was deciding on what polishes to use because I was going for a swirled look. I'd done the same sort of design idea on those junk mail credit cards everyone gets in the snail mail and used them as bookmarks.

I would have preferred using the nail polishes I'd made because there really were some fantastic colors of pigment but this would become the second time the lack of a suspension agent proved itself a problem.

Below is one example, made with 3 different store bought polishes.
As you can see for yourself all three blended nicely and dried in an acceptable swirl. The way I did this was to drip the colors I chose into separate areas of the bezel and swirled them together using the line dotting tool. If you overdo it you take the chance on losing some of the variation of the colors.

In the picture below I used two different polishes, this time ones I'd made from pigment and clear polish. I chose Capricorn Sea and Libra Blues, polishes made with TKB Trading pigments of the same name. The results, while not entirely undesirable, did not swirl together the way I'd intended; instead it took on a speckled appearance as did every franken polish I tried after that. Mind you, this was before suspension bases were available for purchase and I'm certain that missing that ingredient was the cause of the speckling. 

The sealing was not difficult. The gloss medium I chose has a paste like consistency because it's "heavy bodied" so I thinned it slightly with water- being careful not to use too much- and painted it on with a regular small art paintbrush, nothing fancy. Though it was slightly cloudy when I first put it on (think watery Elmer's Glue), it dried crystal clear. It was much better to apply several thin coats however, rather than a thick one because thick dried with surface ripples.

           Aside from learning that thin layers worked better than thick, I discovered that some of these pendants remained slightly tacky/sticky regardless of the time given to dry, the surface also soft enough to be dented and nicked by whatever it came in contact with. As this happened with only a handful of them, its worth noting here that even the Mod Podge Formula Guide and the gloss bottle itself says, "To reduce tackiness, spray project with a clear acrylic sealer.", a step I had not done.

           Approximately two years later after their creation, yesterday, I went back to these pendants and looked at them again, unhappy with the damage to some and the design of others. I decided I was going to try removing the sealed polish with nail polish remover containing acetone. Soaking them in the remover between steps, I was able to scrape away the seal and multiple layers of polish with a wooden cuticle stick and did so successfully without damaging the silver plating of the metal. This was nice to know, that it was never too late to start over.

Below are some more examples of my finished pieces- and by finished I mean sealed. I have to admit I got bored with the project by July 2011 so the poor things remain incomplete.

           This really is one of those relatively easy projects to do. I typically alternate my hobbies so I haven't turned any of these into wearable jewelry but the general idea with the sets were that the larger would be the pendant with the smaller pair becoming earrings.
          I encourage you to try this too. There's nothing like being able to reply, when someone compliments your unique jewelry, that you made it yourself. -MK


  1. Last summer I had the same project as the rasin-made picture on my neck watch broke - unfortunately my project looked quite garish - I have to try it again. I think I'll try micas too.

  2. It never hurts to try. When it comes to asking people for something, the worst that can happen is they say no. In everything else, the idea may fail and you learn something. It may also succeed and you end up with quite the happy accident.


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