How to make: water colour design with nail polish

I love, love, love water colouring. And I don’t mean the kind you used in kindergarten to paint a picture for your mum. I am talking about the art of using colours and water to create amazingly beautiful patterns and movements in different shades on paper.

Recently I stumbled upon pictures of all kinds of different items that have been given a nice coat of marbling with nail polish. I thought if you only used one colour and don’t twirl it too much, maybe you can create a look of water colour.

To try it I’ve chosen clear glass bottles to emphasise the translucent look. I am quite happy with the results…see for yourself. Aren’t they pretty?


watercolour design nailpolish on bottleswatercolour design nailpolish bottles

And the best thing about that technique is: it is so quick and easy! I could have gone on for hours and coloured a whole glass factory.

You need:


  • nail polish
  • clear glass bottles/containers
  • a flat wide bowl that you don’t mind getting dirty (the bowl has to be big enough that the bottles fit in horizontally)
  • warm water
  • wooden picks
  • nail polish remover and pads


I learnt that not all nail polishes work well. You just have to try and find the best one of your collection (see step 2).


1. Wipe the glass bottles with nail polish remover to clean them of oil, dirt etc. Fill the bowl with warm water almost up to the rim.

2. Pour in a few drops of the nail polish until it covers a big enough part of the water surface – pour slowly so the polish stays on the surface. If the drops still sink to the bottom of the bowl, this nail polish doesn’t work well for colouring.

You can use a wooden pick to move/swirl the nail polish a bit. My advice: if you aim for the water colour look, don’t swirl too much.

You have to act quickly now as the nail polish dries quickly.



3. Hold the bottle horizontally and let it gently touch the surface of the water where the nail polish is. To get the nail polish around the bottle just dip it deeper into the water, the nail polish will stick to the glass. If necessary, turn the bottle to take on all of the nail polish coat.



4. Gently lift the bottle out of the water and put it to dry.

5. Use another wooden pick to collect the rest of the nail polish and to clean up the water for the next bottle.

6. When the bottles are dry, use nail polish remover to correct your water colour design. Done.

watercolour design bottles watercolour design with nailpolish on glas bottles

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After I finished these bottles I already thought of new items to water colour with this easy technique. Why not water colour glass jars, put a candle in it and use it as a lantern? Or water colour clear plastic to create a nice up-cycled lamp shade. I am so gonna try this and let you see the outcome. What material would you water colour with nail polish?


9 thoughts on “How to make: water colour design with nail polish

  1. I absolutely adore anything related to watercolor and this isn’t an exception. Well done! I’ll be trying this little DIY this weekend for sure. Thanks for sharing!

    1. You’re very welcome, Caroline! If you can, try different brands and colours of nail polish. In my experience the results differ a lot…this magenta red one came out stunning.
      Please feel free to share your results and experience with us!

  2. can you wash the bottles afterwards? looking to turn wine bottles as water pitchers on our tables at the bar. thoughts?

    1. Hi Christina,
      yes, you can wash the bottles by hand and with a soft sponge. I think it would look stunning in your bar. What colours were you thinking of? Black nail polish looks quite elegant.
      I’d love to see a photo if you decide to go for it :)

  3. I’m looking for a special gift to make for my grandkids for their birthdays.I love yur idea of upcycling,never heard that term before. Got to wait until school is out. Thank you. From Lorraine Murray.

    1. Hi Monica, to be honest, I’ve never tried it on a glass with a candle. But as the heat of the candle primarily goes up and doesn’t heat the glass too much I would give it a try. Maybe make sure the flame is not too close to the glass. Happy crafting!

  4. Love your idea, I just finished wine glasses with nail polish, first try not to bad. I am looking forward colouring the bottles. Have to get some white nail polish, my polish sank to the bottom . Love to try new craft .
    Thank you for sharing Magdalena

    1. Hi Magdalena, I am happy to hear that you enjoyed this tutorial. Thank you for viviting my blog. I know, not all nail polishes work well unfortunately. It’s trial and error :) Keep up the creative work!

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