Sometimes garden art comes out of necessity. My need was to get rid of a 10+ year collection of nail polish. Over the last few years, I've veered away from having my nails painted all the time, and when I do paint, I now buy all the harsh-chemical free brands. So how am I going to dispose of all this old nail polish?

I can't just throw the bottles away into a landfill (that's not very earth friendly), and I can't put them in the recycle bin until they're empty. So how can I empty them? Sure I've used my nail polish to paint wood beads a number of times, but I don't think there are enough beads in the world to use up all my bottles, plus, painting beads takes forever! I need something faster. 

So one day while watering my plants in the front garden, I was struck with inspiration. How about I paint these ugly grey cinder blocks? So that's what I did. Believe it or not, I painted 4 blocks & I STILL have nail polish to spare - guess I need to go buy some new blocks.

I did this last month in the blazing 100+ August heat of South Texas - the bad side, it was frickin hot - the good side, it was dry enough to let the nail polish fully cure over night.  Here's how I did it.

Plain grey cinder blocks or bricks (mine are single hole blocks)
Ton's of old crappy nail polish

Tilt your block up on to some rocks - drizzle & swizzle nail polish one side at a time - let dry. Done :o)

This is the basket of polish I needed to get rid of.
This is the box of empty bottles that I could now recycle.
On my first block, I started out by drizzling on layers of color on the top. As I got more & more into it, I preferred to work on the sides first.  I think the best results came when I dumped a bunch of paint on the side, then brushed it out with the brush to create a painted, solid color background. Sometimes I painted the background with a few colors. Then I went over the background with drizzles. Originally I started out trying to coordinate all may blocks colors - reds with reds, pinks with pinks, oranges & bronzes... I quickly realized that my color palette of polishes were not enough to do 4 sides and a top using the same 3-5 bottles/colors, so I just went all out & did each side different. It's hard to say how many bottles it took to do one block because I would save certain "pop-out" colors (like white & turquoise) to drizzle on each one for more interest. If I had to guess, I'd say I used 5-10 bottles per block.
Here they are all done. Obviously I haven't planted the centers of them all (hence the pots on top). I quickly realized that my sage was not happy with me that I decided to transplant him in the middle of August! He quickly flipped me the bird & said - I'm not growing any more lady - it's too frickin hot! He's still alive & I have hopes that we will get some cooler weather & some autumn rains soon - then maybe he will forgive me & begin to fill out again.
Happy Crafting!
PS. I did end up painting some beads & bead disks as well. I just couldn't help myself.


09/10/2012 1:39pm

You are obviously your mother's daughter! Both of you are creative and talented!

marlene strait
09/25/2012 12:28pm

I've been using nail polish on my jewelry since 1997. I would take plain brass finding, paint, seal them and then make my own pin designs. It is so much fun!!

09/25/2012 12:54pm

Ooh. What do you seal them with? I'm always afraid the nail polish is going to chip off of a metal base

marlene strait
09/25/2012 2:45pm

Hi Jill,
I used to use Treasure Crystal Coat. I don't know if it is made today or not. It left a very durable coat that could withstand a washing machine and dryer!!!! BUT, It does have warnings about ventilation etc. There are other less toxic products on the market now. And you have to be sure that you clean the metal very well. Most raw brass findings have some residue from the factory. Another tip, if you use nail polish and it is getting to the end of the bottle try adding some clear polish to make more polish. This works very well with any of the glitter types. Have fun!!

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