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 ...and thanks for stopping by. I'm Claire Douglas,  DIY and home interiors writer specialising in money-saving and creative home interior projects. I've spent years developing my 'bespoke on a budget' approach to DIY and home interiors and I love sharing all my tips and tricks in tutorials and posts here on my blog, in articles I write for some of the leading titles, in the press, on Instagram, Tiktok and my online course

  • Claire Douglas

How to create DIY marbled baubles with old nail polish

Updated: Nov 13, 2023

This thrifty craft hack saves waste and creates cool DIY marbled baubles.

bowl of water and marbled nail varnish

This is such a handy hack to know and requires so little in the way of tools or materials. In fact, as long as you have some nail polish (good news, even the manky old semi-dried-up ones in questionable colours count!) and a bowl of lukewarm water then you are all set and can set about marbling pretty much most smooth-surfaced decorations, baubles work especially well. Making DIY marbled baubles using nail polish is a super fun project that you could even get the kids involved in. You can use this process to create totally unique, handmade Christmas decorations, which are surely the best baubles for 2023, you can even partake in the blue Christmas trend. By using old nail varnish and old baubles you could potentially complete the whole project without spending any money. If you are reusing old baubles, it'd be worth painting them first so you have a flat base to see the nail polish on, if you have a primer that would work especially well.

You will need

- Nail polish - old and thick is fine. Gel nail polish that needs a heat lamp will not work

- Bowl of warm water - to stand the bottles in

- Bowl of warm water to dip the DIY baubles into

- Baubles or decorations - I used these from Amazon

- Somewhere to hang to dry

How to create DIY marbled baubles with nail polish

You'll be glad to hear that the process of transforming the baubles into marbled beauties is really simple. I tried a tonne of different methods to get to this point, hopefully saving you a load of time and mistakes (as I made them for you!). Note: the only reason I can say categorically that the gel varnish for the heat lamps doesn't work is because I had a set of beautifully marbled baubles 'drying' for about a month! If anything, the varnish got stickier, but the one thing it didn't do was dry.

Before you start

Gather all your materials so everything is close to hand. Once you've created your chosen pattern in the water, you don't have much time to dip the baubles, so having everything ready helps. Set up an area for the freshly marbled baubles to sit and dry. It's worth having a sheet of paper or card under them to catch any drips. Make sure you have a way of holding the baubles easily without your fingers getting in the way of the pattern and a way of hanging them up immediately after dipping. I was using half-baubles that fit together later, which made it easier to hold the very edge.

1. Warm up the nail polish

hands making DIY marbled bauble with nail polish

I didn't have this step in the process initially and the nail varnish was hard to control as it (eventually) came out of the bottle and dropped into the water. By standing the bottles of nail varnish in a bowl of hot water for a few minutes first it thins the consistency of the polish and means you can pour it easily. You can also do little tiny dots and create thin swirly patterns. Miss this step out and you end of with big globules of varnish pooled at the bottom of the bowl.

2. Make your marble pattern in the water

Make sure the water in your dipping bowl is warm (not hot) as that will keep the nail varnish from setting while you are finishing the chosen pattern. If you drop it into cold water it hardens before the bauble is dipped in which stops it from adhering to the surface as well.

Creating the patterns for your DIY marbled baubles is the fun bit and you can go as bold and crazy as you like. If you prefer neutrals and a calming Christmas aesthetic then reflect that in your colour choice and pattern. Play around with the speed you move your arm as you drizzle the nail varnish in, the height you drip it from and the number of colours you use as all these factors will affect the final pattern. Play around and have fun deciding how you want your DIY marbled baubles to look.

3. Dip the baubles

Once you've finished creating a cool pattern dip your chosen bauble in slowly to cover the whole surface. The best method I found worked was to start with one side and roll the bauble in the water so that the nail varnish pattern touched the whole thing. You'll find that it sticks immediately to the bauble's surface. Once completely covered, gently lift the bauble out the water and hang to dry if you have whole baubles or place down on the open side if you're using half baubles like mine.

4. Allow to dry

DIY marbled bauble with nail polish drying

Leave the dipped baubles to dry for a few hours until they are set and ready for styling. These DIY marbled baubles will look fab on your real or artificial Christmas tree or you could hang them from foraged sticks or twigs for an Easter tree or similar seasonal styling. This is such a versatile process that you could adapt it to suit different types of decorations other than baubles.

Do let me know if you have a go at this thrifty craft hack - I'd love to see the results.

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