Nail Polish Swatch Book

Are you tired of swatchicles being in disarray or have you filled up all the pages in a notebook of swatches?  Then I have a solution for you!  Take a look at my new Nail Polish Swatch Book:

Before anyone starts screaming plagiarism, I got the picture I used in my swatch book cover and spine from a beautiful blog call Eat Drink Chic.  She has beautiful photography skills and probably a far better camera than me.

When my polish collection started growing, I realized I needed a way to see what the polishes looked like on the nail, or out of bottle, and a way to compare colors a little better than looking at them on a rack.  Not all polishes look the same on the nail as in the bottle, as we all know.  I started my research with the links I listed at the end of this post, pinning my ideas to my Pinterest page.  At first, I started simply with Very Emily's idea of swatchicles, making my own with a hot glue gun, craft sticks, and fake nails.  These were great except, as my collection grew even more, they were simply a mish mash of colors in cups, all different ways and hard to get to.  I wanted something very organized, something that satisfied the following:

What I wanted in a nail polish swatch library system:
  • easily portable
  • swatches can be individually compared against one another, as in not permanently stuck in a page
  • swatches show the number of coats required and look as they would appear on a nail
  • clean and neat, like a binder would be with organized dividers and tabs
  • cheap

I combined ideas from all the above options.  I used the idea of a swatchbook, the idea of painting nail polish onto paper instead of curved nails to put into a book for easy transport, and an idea from the idea of swatch stickers and stamping plate organization.

The plan formed as this: I would make trading card swatches!
Below are the supplies I used:
  • Artist trading cards - precut cardstock cards, sold in art supply stores and online - I decided it would be too hard to cut my own cardstock as the trading card size is an exact size to fit into the pockets, size 2.5" x 3.5"
  • 9-pocket trading card protector pages - usually found in any store near the trading cards, such as Yu-Gi-Oh or Magic trading cards
  • 3-ring binder - any size or color to your preference or collection size - I used the D-ring kind as they open nicer, preventing the pages from bending too much when you open it
  • tabbed sheet protector dividers - I used the Avery kind that you can print the names on with your computer and a preset Avery format in Word, and I wanted the kind that were sheet protector ones as well so I could slip a sheet of paper in each one with the brand names that were within that tab, they were a bit hard to decide on and find, so I used these on Amazon.
  • address labels for brand and polish names for each card - I used the Avery white ones, standard size of 2-5/8" x 1" and 30 labels to a page, since these were a bit longer than the cards, I cut the edges off by a bit after printing
  • colored paper for the divider sheets - a few cents each from any office supply store
  • Polish!
Here is what the cardstock cards look like:

I started by printing out all my labels, making sure that there was room on each side to cut a bit off to fit onto the cards.  I also tried to keep the font clean and the sizing the same throughout each label, but not necessarily each brand as some polish names are longer than others.  I found it easier to read if the font size is the same within each card.

I then used a papercutter and sliced off a bit from either side of each label.

I affixed each label to a card before I started swatching to prevent confusion.

I next set up my binder:
  • Using my Excel sheet of the polishes I own, organized alphabetically by brand, I decided which brands would get one of the 16 dividers I had, choosing my most favorite brands and then putting the rest in alphabetically around those
  • I printed divider tabs using Avery template, look at the pretty pastel colors they came in!  If you want to use these same tabs and print on them, just a warning that the template does not accommodate for printing on the reverse side of the tab as well.  I had to work hard to move the template around, and if you need help, I can send you my template.
  • I inserted matching pastel color paper that I already had, but you can buy your own from any office supply store for a few cents each.
  • On each divider page, I also decided to list the other brands that were behind the divider tab, using the leftover Avery address labels printed with the brand names
  • I calculated out how many card protector sheets I would need for each brand, and put those behind each divider
  • I placed the blank cards with the labels into their slots to make sure I didn't lose any and to be able to track what I had left to do

To clarify, I organized the brands alphabetically, but I only had tabs for the most important brands.  For example, the Nfu-Oh tab had the following brands behind it: Nfu-Oh and Nicole by OPI, which are two brands in alphabetical order that would come after my tab of Nfu-Oh and before my tab of Ninja Polish.  More brands were behind some of the other tabs, but it didn't matter as long as they were all in alphabetical order, the tabs provided a way to break it up and find brands easier within my full collection.

Finally I started swatching.  The easy thing about swatching on cards, you just lay them out to dry wherever you have space.  I let my dry for about 24 hours.

Once they were laid out for a few hours, I stacked them like this to finish drying and make room for the next batch of swatched cards:

And for the final product, I made a front and back cover using Eat Drink Chic's image, as stated at the beginning, and typed some text over it.  I also figured out a way to make a spine insert by printing out a different image from her site and then printing more type on top of that, and I love the result!   Very professional looking, don't you think?

Finally, here are some shots of the swatched cards in their beautiful organized home.

This last picture (above) shows my stamping plate organization, which is in the back of my swatch book.  It's nice having everything in one place.

Hope you found this information helpful and maybe you will even try nail polish trading cards yourself!

If you haven't seen other blog posts about nail polish swatch organization, then here are a few I have found

There are of course, many many more blog posts about polish organization, and I didn't even start talking about nail polish racks, helmers, or melmers!  I will get to those later, in another blog post.

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