When I was coming up with cheap homemade art for the wall for our bathroom makeover, I had a few false starts. First I tried painting watercolor peacock feathers, but they look like my 6 year old made them. Then I tried paintings of geodes using acrylic paint, but they looked cheap and fake. Finally I took a cue from my marbled drawer pulls and decided to frame some homemade marbled paper art.
Unfortunately, most of the instructions I found online called for expensive dyes or paints, something called alum (??), and other specialized tools. Suddenly my cheap art project was looking a lot more expensive. I marbled a few sets of beads with nail polish earlier this year, so I thought, “What is the worst that could happen if I tried marbling paper with nail polish too?” Turns out that what did happen was I got some elegant framed artwork for the bathroom for about $10.
Start by filling your pan or bucket with roughly an inch of water. Make sure you have the watercolor paper ready to go. Once the nail polish is in the water you have a short window of time before the polish sets. Slowly drizzle ribbons of nail polish onto the surface of the water. Depending on how old the nail polish and what kind you are using, the polish may float, spread, or sink. They will all contribute different looks to your finished paper, so experiment!
Once the nail polish is on the water, you can choose to tilt the pan back and forth to swirl the colors or leave them as they lie. Carefully place the paper onto the surface of the water.
Grab the paper by one corner and peel the paper back off of the surface of the water. Lay the paper on a rack or clip it to a clothesline to dry.
I was only able to get two uses out of a pan of water before I needed to pour it out and add fresh water and paint. These papers were marbled using the same four colors of nail polish in different swirl configurations. Let the papers dry completely before framing.
I am about to share the ONE BIG SECRET to making any framed art look fancy…
…mat it up! Anything looks fancier inside of a mat. I bet you could cut a piece out of a garbage bag, put it in a mat, and frame it and it would look fancy. These are super cheap $2 frames from Walmart that come with cheap paper mats, but lined up in a group like this they look like honest to goodness art.
To break it down, $1 for watercolor paper, $3 for nail polish, and $6 for matted frames turn into this classy marbled paper artwork for my bathroom walls!
Check out these other DIYs from our bathroom makeover: