Nail Polish Addiction + DIY Craft Addicition = Swatchicles


While blog-surfing the other day (does anyone “surf” the net anymore or am I showing my age?) I came across this blog post on I Drink Nail Polish for making Swatchicles as she phrases it.  For those of you haven’t seen my tweeting about these recently, swatchicles are fake nails stuck on the end of popsicle sticks and can be used as an alternative to nail wheels for swatching your nail polish collection.  I have some nail wheels but Im really lame at keeping them up to date and I don’t like that I can’t compare colours if they’re both on the same wheel but not next to each other.  As soon as I saw the idea I knew it was for me.  I love DIY crafty stuff :)

So how does it go? (In a little more detail than stick a fake nail on a popsicle stick):

1. Supplies

Popsicle Sticks – 150 for about $6 at Lincraft

O size white nail tips – 50 for $4.35 from

Selley’s PVA Wood Glue – 250ml for $3.49 at Bunnings

Medium/Fine Emery Boards – 15 for $? from Woolworths (they were only a few dollars but can’t remember how much exactly)

2. Assembly Line

First up – file any imperfections of the nail tip tips.  Most of mine had plastic mold forms still attached so I had to file them.  As was about the only Australian supplier I could find that would sell to the public AND had size 0 tips, quality of the tips wasn’t a consideration in my purchase.  The original tutorial uses size 00 toenail tips but I had no luck finding anywhere that sells them here in Australia.  I’d presume if these were actually used as tips, the tips would be trimmed seeing as I while I was messing around I stuck a set of tips to my hands and felt like I had claws they were so long (I’ve never had fake nails of any kind, so it was an inevitability I would be immature and do this at some point!)

Line up the nail tips upside down and put a pool of PVA glue in the middle of the tip.

Set a popsicle stick into the pool of glue and slide it towards the top of the tip so there isn’t too much free edge (don’t press to hard, the glue goes everywhere).  The popsicle stick should rest against the base of the tip and “float” in the pool of glue.

Repeat until all the nail tips/popsicle sticks are used – I did mine in batches of 50 and made 200 overall.  They’re good to move in a couple of hours (I kept my completed ones in tumblers to take up less space at this point) but take about 6 hours to dry completely.


3.  Paint and Label

Its a personal preference how you want to paint and label these.  The example I saw on I Drink Nail Polish included heaps of info on the popsicle sticks but either her popsicle sticks were the big chunky kind or she writes really small.  I could fit the brand and polish name on the front, then I put the colour code/number and how many coats of polish on the back.  I painted mine in batches of about 30-40 at a time and used a cookie cooling rack covered in greaseproof paper to lay them out on so I could do this in front of the TV :)  I also added a top coat to them all to protect them and keep them consistent.  I used up my old top coats that I don’t like that I purchased when I started this blog.

4. Some Extra Useful Info

  • Don’t deviate from PVA glue!  The original tutorial calls for Elmer’s glue – I didn’t know what this was and went out and got some craft glue from Lincraft and didn’t read the ingredients…it contains acetone and melted my first 100 swatchicles!  It’s worth getting a decent bottle from a hardware store that has a good nozzle and cap so its easy to dispense and seal the glue after.  I was really enthusiastic when I got everything so went hell for leather putting as many as I could together on Friday night with my craft glue.  I woke up on Saturday morning to 100 swatchicles looking like this:

  • As you can see I tried painting them to see if they would be any good, no such luck.  Also don’t use Sharpie markers to label the sticks, as you can see they just bleed.  I’ve used a cheapie black rollerball I had floating around the apartment.  It made my writing smaller which was beneficial.
  • Start by painting a black batch – as I went through my polishes, I had quite a few glitters/duochromes/multichromes/flakies that I wanted to layer over black as well as having a plain swatch over white.  So I painted 20 swatchicles black before I started anything else so they were dry and on hand as I came across these  polishes rather than having to revisit them later.  This was also handy because I decided for some I wanted a third swatch over black with a matte top coat.
  • Rotate the steps – Because each layer of polish needs to dry thoroughly to prevent bubbling/lumps/swatchicles sticking together, I would go away and make another batch or file another bag of nail tips inbetween.  This meant by the time I had used up my current dry, completed batch I always had more ready to go but I didn’t get bored doing any one thing for too long.
  • Don’t paint your swatches on the floor!  By the end of all this my neck and back hurt so badly from being crouched over everything.  Probably better to set up on a table for everything.

Here’s my completed collection, it probably took me the best part of two days to make enough of these and swatch my entire polish collection (including a top coat on all of them).  I’m pretty satisfied I have to say, it was definitely worth the effort and ended up costing me about 15c per swatchicle.  Although this is more than I would pay for nail wheels on ebay I much prefer them and love that I can now compare any colour in my collection easily.  I counted 134 swatchicles in the end – if you have a larger collection I would suggest breaking it down by colour or brand.  I grabbed one drawer from my Helmer at a time, then split each drawer into two batches.  I still have all my drugstore polishes to go which will push me to 180 overall (presuming I don’t do any layering combos).

6 thoughts on “Nail Polish Addiction + DIY Craft Addicition = Swatchicles

  1. This looks great! I’m not a big fan of the clear wrinkly sticks that you can string on a ball chain…mine have all crinkled heavily. I might try this, and maybe end up punching holes in the bottom of the sticks to see if I can string them up anyway :D

    • I agree, I looked at buying those but figured I would need so many and they’re not as easy to label as the popsicle sticks. I used a spreadsheet to note what was on all my nail wheels and I was useless at that.

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