Make This: More Jewelry Using Your Favorite Nail Polish

This tutorial is all about mixing it up and taking your pendants to the next level.

Aug 17, 2014 at 9:00am | Leave a comment

Since my last tutorial, you’ve hopefully had a chance to try making a couple of shiny new things yourself. Nail polish pendants are crazy easy once you get the hang of them, but it can get a bit samey -- this tutorial is all about mixing it up and taking your pendants to the next level.
 
One of the easiest ways to mix up your polish pendant designs is to use the polish as the background for a paper image. Here are some pendants I’ve made using this technique.
 
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If you can draw or paint, you can make your tiny pictures into wearable art. If you can’t draw, you can still print out other people’s tiny pictures and make them into wearable art as well.
 
But maybe don’t go selling them without permission from the artist. Apart from that, go nuts!
 
The basic process is as simple as gluing an image to the cabochon, painting over it with polish, and gluing it into the base. There are HUGE possibilities to be spun off this simple idea though.
 
You can use an image as plain as an unadorned circle of shiny paper, or something as complicated as a tiny painting.
 
Here are the basic things you’ll need.
 
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You’ll be needing:
 
  • Clear glass cabochon(s)
  • A suitable base setting
  • Cotton swabs, preferably the ones with the pointy ends for accuracy
  • The image you want to use, on a nice heavy paper if possible
  • Itty bitty scissors, the smallest you can find. Mine are embroidery scissors.
  • Micro Kristal Klear glue OR Mod Podge
  • Nail polish for the background, preferably shiny as all get out
  • White nail polish
Most of the things required should be pretty self explanatory, but I’ll explain the more unusual elements as I go.
 
To make an example pendant for example for you guys, I printed out a scan of one of my drawings.
 
A word to the wise to avoid smeared grossness -- if you’re drawing, be sure to use waterproof pens, and if you’re printing be sure to use a laserjet printer.
 
Prints made with inkjet printers will ALWAYS smear, in my experience, no matter what crafty magics you employ. 
 
I also dug out two polishes to layer for the background -- one shiny but transparent, and one more opaque one. That’s right, not one, but TWO polishes, cause this time, we’re getting FANCY.
 
If you want to get SUPER FANCY, there are also two additional optional ingredients -- spray acrylic sealant, for the paper image, and E6000 glue to secure the cabochon to the base.
 
It’s totally possible to complete this project without them, I just happen to have them to hand and think they make the finished product last a bit better. 
 
Before you get stuck into the crafting proper, it’s always a good idea take a second to pop your cabochon over your chosen image to make sure it’ll all fit under the dome the way you want it to. Next pop your cabochon into the base you’ve chosen, just to make doubly sure that they fit together the way they should.
 
I know, I know, if you have a 30mm cabochon and a 30mm base you should be fine, right? Trust me, take a second to check anyway. As we say here in Australia -- check twice and look like a bloody idiot half as often. 
 
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Once you’re satisfied all the pieces fit together how they should, turn your image over and cover the back of it with your white nail polish.
 
It really doesn't matter what kind of white polish you use for this, but it IS important that it’s white polish and not clear. This is to stop the color leeching out of the paper when you smother it in colored polish and glue.
 
I’m not entirely sure why white polish works and clear polish doesn't, but here’s an example of why you want to use white.  
 
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Give the polish a while to dry -- this part doesn't take too long, because it just needs to be “not sticky” dry rather than Sahara Desert dry.
 
If you want to be SUPER FANCY, once the polish is dry, turn it over and whack a coat of spray acrylic sealant on the front of the paper, before putting it back down to dry again.
 
But if you’re happy to just be regular FANCY, don’t sweat it.
 
When the paper is dry enough to not stick to your scissors, get to work cutting that sucker out. Once you’ve got your design the shape you want it, it’s time to get the glue and cotton swabs out.
 
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The type of glue you want for this depends a bit on what kind of image you’re using.
 
If you’re just printing out a simple, flat image on nice smooth printer paper, then you can get away with just using ModPodge.
 
But if you’re using a painting or anything slightly bumpy, I would recommend using Micro Krystal Klear (available here) instead. It’s thick enough to fill in all the bumps, but also dries absolutely clear even if it’s quite a thick layer.
 
ModPodge can get a bit cloudy if the layer is too thick, which means it’s a little tricky to get it to play nice with bumpy surfaces.
 
The pointy ended cotton swabs, on the other hand, are suitable for almost anything.
 
I don’t remember who I first saw suggesting using them as disposable brushes, but whoever they were, they are a GENIUS.
 
The swabs are no good for super fine detail, but for general smearing they’re brilliant. Dunk one of these in your glue of choice, and just go to town on the front of your image.
 
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Now carefully squish the gluey front side of your image against the bottom of the cabochon.
 
You’ll likely get a few itty bitty air bubbles, so gently squish the paper and glue until they've all scurried off to the sides. I’ll sometimes run a nail ever so gently along the underside to get rid of tiny bubbles, like I’m scritching very delicately under a cat's chin.
 
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Make sure the glue goes all the way to the edges of the paper, otherwise the polish will seep under. It’s much better to have heaps of extra glue around the sides than to leave a gap accidentally. 
 
Now, it’s time for our favorite game -- waiting.
 
If you’re using Mod Podge, it will dry thoroughly in around six hours. But if you’re using Kristal Klear you’ll need to give it a good 24 hours.
 
You’ll know both kinds of glue are fully dried when they’re completely clear and there’s no white or cloudy patches left. Like with the nail polish step from my last tutorial, you’ll get much better results if you stash your piece somewhere and just don’t touch it for a while, so maybe head OUTSIDE and get some fresh air while it’s doing it’s thing. 
 
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(See, Mother, I DO go outside sometimes.)
 
Come back and take a look every now and then, and when the glue has gone completely clear, it’s time for the next step.
 
You’ll see your cabochon has some ragged edges of gunk around the paper where the glue has oozed out the sides -- this is where we clean all that up.
 
If you used Mod Podge you can scrape this off really easily with a butter knife or your nail, but if you used Kristal Klear you’ll need to trim it with a craft knife.
 
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If you’re using a craft knife, be extra careful not to accidentally trim the paper, or your fingertips. Both are really inconvenient! Once all the glue is cleared off, it’s time to get a layer of your first polish down.
 
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You can see this polish adds some rather fancy iridescent flakies, but is also quite transparent. Once the first layer is dry to the touch, go over it with an even layer of your second, more opaque polish. 
 
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You might need to then add a third layer of the second polish, depending on how opaque the polish you’re using is.
 
Just wait until each layer is touch dry before adding another one -- the longer you can wait between coats, the less chance you’ll end up with a gooey mess.
 
Once you’ve got the background built up how you want it, it’s time for that game we played earlier: waiting some more. You’ll need to give the polish and paper sandwich a good 12 to 24 hours to really set all the way through.
 
After your second round of Waiting: The Game, there’s just one more step -- fixing the cabochon into the base.
 
If you’re SUPER FANCY and you’ve got some of the E6000 glue, use that.
 
Otherwise, Kristal Klear will do the job in a pinch.
 
If you HAVE to, you can probably use Mod Podge -- but remember, it’s water soluble so keep any jewelry held together with it well away from water and moisture in general.
 
As with the first tutorial, once you’ve smeared your glue on and popped the cabochon in the base, you’ll want to leave it alone for a full 24 hours.
 
If you’ve gotten the glue all over, don’t sweat it. Just use your trusting craft knife or itty bitty scissor blades to trim any runaway glue fragments. And then: *drumroll*
 
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You’re done! I’d love to see anything you come up with using this technique -- please show off in the comments.
 
And as with last time, feel free to hit me up with any questions, and I’ll do my best to answer them.