The Joys of Nail Polish: Part II

By on September 29, 2011

My second venture into the joys of nail polish was painting a bottle. I’ve always had a fascination with glass bottles; there’s just something very beautiful about them.

The shapes they come in, the opaque colors, even the embossed scripts can be interesting.

My first bottle love was Stewart’s Orange ‘n Cream soda. Yes, it is a tasty drink, but the fact that it comes in such a beautiful glass bottle makes it even more appealing. I felt terrible having to throw the bottle out when I finished drinking one. That’s when I decided to pick one special bottle and save it for crafting purposes.

I had no brilliant ideas, but I knew I had to save that little glass bottle from the depths of the recycle bin.

The bottle remained on my shelf, stripped of its label and gathering dust. Then one day it just hit me: paint the bottle…with nail polish! I didn’t do it all in one day. Believe it or not, this was actually a year-long project. Not that my design was so intricate that it required that much time, I just didn’t want to use the same colors over and over again. I collected enough polishes in that time to make sure each side would be unique (or unique enough).

Painting a bottle with nail polish requires more time than painting Ringpops, plus extra polish if you’re working with a specific color scheme. I did random swatches of color on mine, but you may want to do an actual image. A few years later in high school, I painted a wine bottle (with paint markers) and it took a lot of preparation to get the image just right.

Good brands to work with include, as always, Sally Hansen, OPI and any brands that are made by OPI, such as Sephora. My bottle doesn’t have all top brands on it, which is fine because of its stationary nature. You don’t have to work with top-of-the-line stuff for this project. Just avoid the really cheap stuff that will peel from simply looking at it.

You need to plan ahead. If you are creating a picture, get a bottle that is big enough to accommodate what you need. You should also choose a bottle with a smooth surface, like a wine bottle. As beautiful as Stewart’s bottles are, they do have an embossed logo near the top, which could interfere with any artwork. Because I just did random colors, it didn’t bother my original design. It’s all up to you and what you need for this to work.

Also, get enough nail polish. Know what colors you require, and buy the right amount. It will run out a lot quicker than you think. For intricate patterns, gather enough paintbrushes in various sizes. Some of us can work with the actual polish brush, and others would fare better using something else. Experiment on paper first to see where your brush skills lie.

You may be thinking, “Why should I use nail polish? Couldn’t I just use regular paint?” Well, sure you can. But this is the joys of nail polish, people! The point of this project is to expand your medium choices. And consider this: nail polish is a helluva lot cheaper than all the good paints out there. I’m an art major—trust me, that stuff is pretty expensive. Also, they already come in pretty colors you’d otherwise have to mix to get.

Once you’ve planned out/demoed your image and tested your brushes and abilities, you need to prep your bottle (which you’ve hopefully chosen by now). Remove any label the bottle may have. Some labels will slip right off, others will have more resistance. I’ve only soaked bottles in warm, soapy before to remove labels, but I’ve heard of other methods. Since I’m no expert in label removal, you should Google different methods and see which ones will work for you. When you’ve gotten your bottle clean and pristine, you’re ready to work.

A bottle is round and has no defined front or back (especially if it is a smooth-surfaced bottle). Therefore, you must pick a side if you’re working with an image that has a definite front side. If you’re working on an image that will encompass the entire bottle (such as a landscape in 360 degrees, which sounds really awesome, actually), the front, back, and sides don’t matter as much. Approach the bottle like you would a flat canvas. Start where you feel most comfortable and go from there.

Always work in a well lighted area to see what you are doing. And remember that with nail polish, you will usually have to apply two coats for it to show up nicely. You could also choose to make this a mixed media project and incorporate regular paint onto the bottle.

Painting a bottle, whether you use nail polish, paint markers or regular paint, takes time and effort. It can get frustrating if you let it, but it can also be a very enjoyable, stress relieving project. Try and have fun with it. And take this bit of info as a plus: usually with other nail polish based projects, you’d have to cover your finished work with clear coat to protect it. With this, you don’t have to! Unless you’re planning on using your bottle as a dish soap holder, you need not worry. Since it will be for decorative purposes, let it be naked. But of course, set it in a secure displaying place. It will stay beautiful for years!

Britty Reese
Staff Writer
brittyr@uab.edu

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