I have to admit that when I first realized that marbling was back in style, I was totally surprised. It’s not that I didn’t like marbling to begin with, but I had just kind of forgotten that it was an option. But once I saw the array of products in pretty, swirly rainbow hues, I was like, “Oh, right! Glad you’re back, marbling; you deserve it!” Our pal Elise made some really pretty cards recently, and we started wondering how this technique would look on a photo. So as part of our Canon USA collaboration we made some large marbled photo art!
While the options of how to marble (and what to marble) are varied, this nail polish version is pretty much as easy as it gets, and you can marble paper, wood, slick surfaces—just about anything! Since marbling is at its best when done in colorful hues, we decided that a bright marble pattern would be the perfect addition to a black and white photo.
-nail polish in several shades (don’t use quick-dry if possible). We used bottles of half-used polish from our collections, ones we hadn’t touched in over a year.
-disposable container (I used paint liners)
-disposable stick to stir paint
–Canon Fine Art Paper, “Photo Rag”
-plastic gloves to protect your hands
Step One: Print photo. Choose a photo that has a good amount of white space, meaning you won’t have to cover an important part of a photo, like someone’s face. We printed ours with the Canon PRO-100 on their “Photo Rag” paper, which worked much better than traditional photo paper on this project. We highly recommend it.
Step Two: Add a couple of inches of water to your container. If you are going to dip an object, use a container that can hold enough water to submerge your object, but you only need a shallow container with a few inches of water for objects that just touch the top of the surface.
Step Three: Unscrew all the tops to your nail polish containers, and place them next to the water. Using one color at a time, pour some polish into the water at different spots across the surface. Once you have all the colors poured, use the stick to pull the colors across the surface until you get a mix that you like. You’ll have to work really quickly when pouring the colors and stirring them. It helps to have another person pour the colors with you—the less time the polish sits before being transferred to the object, the better the end result will be.
Step Four: Once your pattern is where you like it, carefully place your photo into the area you like the best, and pull the photo straight up to remove. If you missed a spot on your photo, you can dip it again in another area that still has some polish remaining. You can also make a new batch of polish marbling to dip into again, but you’ll want to start over and change the water first. Once you have dipped all the spots you like, allow the photo to dry flat.
So pretty, right? The marbling has such a magical and fresh feel that it’s a perfect way to add some color to almost any object, and it definitely gives these already pretty photos a boost to the next level. xo. Elsie
Credits// Author: Elsie Larson, Project Assistant: Laura Gummerman, Photography: Elsie Larson and Sarah Rhodes. Photos edited with Stella from The Signature Collection.