Repurposing nail polish and eyeshadow for crafts?
June 20, 2011 11:26 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for clever arty/crafty ways to repurpose eye shadow and nail polish.

I have a large eyeshadow collection in a rainbow of colors. I don't wear makeup regularly anymore, however, and when I do I prefer a more natural look. Most of my shadows are at least three years old, and have been used, so I doubt I could sell or donate them. And I'm reluctant to throw them away because they're so pretty.

My nail polish collection is much smaller, and I do paint my toenails regularly, but it's still probably more than I need, and I'd like to be able to do something else besides put it on my nails.

Are there any art or craft projects I can make with these? I've painted bobby pins with nail polish in the past, and that turned out well, but I'd like to branch out. I could use nail polish to paint other stuff, and I could mix eyeshadow with an acrylic medium and paint with that, but I'd really like to find more specifc, more creative tips and tutorials. The only ideas I've found have been real snoozers, e.g. "use nail polish to color code your keys and mark buckets!"

If possible I'd like to hear about successful completed projects, rather than wild brainstorming, but in the absence of the former I'll take the latter.
posted by Metroid Baby to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (13 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
I once painted a glass pitcher with dots of nailpolish in different patterns and it came out very nice. Hand wash with soap and water, don't put in the dishwasher (learned that the hard way... it seemed so sturdy after being hand washed with no effect so many times!)
I bet it would also be pretty if you decorated a glass tea light holder with polish.
posted by rmless at 11:41 AM on June 20, 2011

You might check out this old post of mine on things to do with your old/excess make up.
posted by orange swan at 11:43 AM on June 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

You can also mix eyeshadow into normal or polymer clay, although that's similar to mixing it with paint. (Works best with super-sparkly kinds.)
posted by cobaltnine at 11:51 AM on June 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

A lot of cosmetic quality pigments are not lightfast. Many reds, for example, are cochineal extract, which is from cactus beetles. Use those for projects that will not be subject to stressful light or abrasion conditions. The loose powder would darken if mixed into painting media, and not be very well dispersed for even application.

The polish is mineral spirit based acrylic, and I have a whole stash of it for various applications. One example is that I make handmade pearls of paper clay and finish them with the polish. They are easy to drill, lightweight and sturdy. I suppose you could use the powder on top of the paper clay to make various colors of beads and finish with a top coat of polish. I am also making a self portrait size skeleton of paper clay, and top coating with polish for a pearl effect.

I hope this is helpful.
posted by effluvia at 12:03 PM on June 20, 2011

I've used old nail polish to paint happy meal action figures & yardsale figurines. You could also try making miniature landscapes or portraits.
posted by lurkElongtime at 12:09 PM on June 20, 2011

Eye shadow works well as a chalk pastel, with a cheap can of Aquanet as a fixative, on regular paper. Doesn't everyone in your life need a landscape?

Nail polish is just awesome acrylic. Ceramics, glass, pennies, bottle caps -- these all need art.
posted by Gucky at 1:11 PM on June 20, 2011

I saw a post recently in my RSS feed about making jewelry in cabochons from nail polish. Here's an example and another.
posted by Squeak Attack at 1:18 PM on June 20, 2011 [3 favorites]

That cabochon idea is fantastic, and exactly the kind of thing I'm looking for. I might use that idea for marble magnets. Polymer clay sounds promising too.
posted by Metroid Baby at 2:03 PM on June 20, 2011

I once painted a pair of cheap turquoise fake leather flats with glowy pearly turquoise polish - the painted surface wore away over time to this awesome distressed sheen. If I had a nickel every time I was stopped on the street about them...
posted by sestaaak at 2:30 PM on June 20, 2011 [4 favorites]

If you think you have friends or family who would appreciate nail polish gifts, you could save up your current used polishes for next year's Zoya Polish Exchange! You send in between 6 and 24 bottles of old polish and you get the corresponding number of brand new Zoya polishes--you pick the ones you want. All you have to pay is shipping. I always get compliments on the Zoya Sparkle colors; they'd make good stocking stuffers.
posted by Fui Non Sum at 6:08 PM on June 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Clear nail polish is a great sealer for just about everything. I've used it on paper beads with even more success than mod podge. I've also sanded down chopsticks and used nail polish to paint them, sealing with clear polish to make super easy hair sticks- I personally don't use them, but have sold them successfully and have heard from friends that it holds through multiple uses.

There are also some great techniques for marble nail polish, I'm sure it would transfer well to all sorts of crafty uses (this tumblr post has a super basic picture rundown and a video link posted at the end). I would think that it would probably work for cards on heavy cardstock, much like the shaving cream cards that were popular a few years back.

One thing to remember is that dried polish, especially clear or light shades, can start to discolor after months or years- so it's definitely not the most stable material in the world and should be avoided for anything really important.
posted by kro at 12:27 AM on June 21, 2011 [2 favorites]

Nail polish is just awesome acrylic.

However, it isn't the same as acrylic - I know this from my days customizing Blythe dolls. It can degrade some plastics. On the other hand, people use chalk-based pastels to 'make up' dolls, then spray with sealant.
posted by mippy at 4:50 AM on June 21, 2011

You can paint nail polish over wooden takeaway chopsticks to get pretty hair sticks.
posted by anaelith at 5:26 AM on June 21, 2011

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