No, I'm not kidding: You can make incredibly pretty flower jewelry just by painting wire loops with nail polish. In fact, you can DIY a whole bouquet that way — assuming you're ready to take your jewelry collection to the next level (I'm betting you are!).
Since I'm a wire artist, the wire part of the technique was the easy part. I quickly did up a series of loops and turned them into a flower shape. Then I pulled out my purple nail polish and was immediately smitten (and went straight out to buy ten million new colors of nail polish for this project).
I created soooo many more flowers, making errors and learning along the way. Being me, I had to push the limits to see what else I could do. Benefit from my clunky learn-as-you-go experience and follow my tips to master this method.
Before You Begin
Use New Nail Polish
Newer polish works much better than old stuff. It tends to be nice and smooth, with a clean and pliable brush. That will make a huge difference in your success rate.
Plan to Make a Mess
There's basically no way around it. So be prepared with something to catch the drips. I like using not-quite-vinyl-not-quite-plastic placemats from the dollar store to go under my projects when I'm working with varnish, paint, patinas and now nail polish!
Avoid Open Twists
I originally used a mandrel (a cylinder-shaped rod like a pen, pencil, marker or such) to create loops. But since I just wrote a book called Freeform Wire Art Jewelry , I went ahead and did the loops by hand, the way I show in the book.
Lesson: Make sure that at the base of each loop, the wire doesn't create extra loops. See the blue flower in the photo above? See the open twists? Yeah, don't do that. If there isn't a closed system, the nail polish will be a nightmare to attach.
Once you have your twists and loops set up, I suggest using the bottom part of the wire to create a "stand" so your wire structure can hold itself up.
Making the Flowers
1. Cover Just the Top of the Loop First
Use the flat of the brush, at an angle and starting at the twist, to slowly begin covering the top of the loop with polish.
In this tutorial, we're just doing one loop. Once you get a feel for the basic technique, you can do the same thing with the remaining loops in your flower.
2. Spread the Polish Across the Flat of the Loop
Moving very slowly, and keeping the brush touching BOTH sides of the loop, spread your nail polish across the flat of the loop. Flat. I mean it.
Lesson: Do NOT wipe the brush on the side of the bottle. Your every instinct will balk at this, but trust me: If you tap the excess off the brush, you won't have enough (hence the drips at the end).
3. Let the Brush Slide Off the Edge of the Loop
Your brush should be able to cover the entire space, edge to edge. Lesson: You can only coat spaces that can be completely covered by the brush.
4. Keep It Flat
Finish by pulling down and off the loop. If you've been using new nail polish, you should be looking at a shiny petal right now.
Pretty, right? Sometimes your attempt won't work; sometimes your petal will bust (think of it like a bubble and be gentle). It might take you a bunch of tries. But you can do it. Keep it flat and stay patient.
How to Get Super Loopy
So at this point, I'm basically jumping up and down wondering what else can I do. What about double loops?
The dual colors aren't perfect in the picture above, since I was just experimenting — but you can do this. Color the inner loops first. Then when they're completely dry, start on the larger area of color from the back.
What about more loops? How crazy can I get?
Turns out, not very. The more complicated your wire structure, the harder it is to coat. Larger spaces are more difficult too, but with some patience you can cover them.
I did have some epic fails: In one experiment, a petal busted open because the space wasn't closed, while the bottom part was too large to coat. After it dried overnight, I poked at the transparent part with my pliers — two pokes and it opened up. The thicker part took quite a few taps with metal pliers without breaking. So these flowers are fragile, but they do have some resilience.
One fun thing about these simple pieces is they can be stacked — push one inside the other at the stem and whoa!
PS: I know what you're wondering and yes, glitter nail polish totally works.
What else can we do? Leaves? Oh, yes.
To make a leaf shape in wire, bend the wire completely in half into a hairpin. Then grab the ends and pull the wire back open into a curved shape. These were ridiculously easy to coat, and the green polish I chose happened to be super-smooth and easy to work with, too.
Still, I wanted to do something even more interesting. What about a rose, or a camellia? I tried a couple of spiral options — not bad! These were really tricky to coat though, so get lots of practice in first. And make sure your wire crosses itself and closes up the spaces.
Creating wire nail-polish flowers isn't just surprisingly easy: It's also a ton of fun, and more than a little addictive. Excuse me, I need to go make some more right now!