Images and text by Amy Christie for Design Mom

Upon reading my DIY magazine last month, I was really excited at the tutorial for using nail polish to marble slick-surface furniture. The polish really sticks! Well, I don’t have any furniture pieces needing a new look but I wondered if the same materials could be used on non-furniture, non-slick surfaced items. My findings? They can!

I did a bunch of experimenting and found that nail polish and water offer up an extremely easy way to marble just about anything you desire — from glass to wood to metal to cardboard. The options are endless! I used it on glass jars, metal bowls, wooden gift tags, and papier-maché boxes.

It would be a fun technique for bridal shower favors, or making simple jewelry boxes at a birthday party for your daughter. Or you could marble a carafe and two glasses as a drinking water set for the guest room. (I could go on and on…)

And with the seemingly limitless color selection in polish now a days, there is sure to be a color scheme to your liking. Come learn this technique!


-fingernail polish – new is best for freshness and liquidity but price point is your choice!
-boxes, tags, metal containers — almost anything you can imagine
-scrap paper for completed pieces to dry
-optional – wooden sticks, not pictured
-acetone, polish remover – for clean up

Also important, make sure the work area is well-ventilated. Nail polish is stinky stuff!

Fill the tub with a couple of inches of water. Most of the time, only a few inches of water is needed. If you are marbling an especially deep object, add enough water that the piece can be submerged completely.

Beginning dropping in the polish. The first color to hit the water will span out over the whole surface so beginning with a light color is best. Continue to add colors to your desire. However, you must work fast. With the fast-drying polish on the market, there is only a small window of time!

If you can be fast and want to modify the polish, you can drag a wooden stick through the polish/water and creating various patterns and looks.

Once you (quickly) have things just right, press your item to be marbled into the polish/water bath. There are two ways that I’ve found for transferring the polish to the object. 1.) You can, like the photo above, press your item straight down through the polish, into the water. This will cover the item on all sides, enveloping it in the surrounding pattern. And 2.) You can also ‘roll’ the object on the colored water surface, using the length of the tub to cover each side. This method works well on larger pieces that you don’t want to submerge or when a certain pattern is desired on all sides. Experiment and see what works best for you.

Once the object has picked up the color, place on the scrap paper to dry. You may redip a piece if the marbling isn’t to your liking or there is a gap in the color.

The polish dries rather quickly and the excess water can be wiped away. Thankfully the odor doesn’t stick around too long either.

I found this technique so satisfying that I’m kind of obsessed at the moment. I find myself collecting boxes and bowls and tags and what not just so I can marble them. : ) I’m already using upcoming holidays (hello Easter!) as an excuse for future projects.

What about you? Does the marble look appeal to you? What sorts of things would you marble?