By Nick Regine
Contributed by CREATE YOUR STYLE with SWAROVSKI ELEMENTS
In this step by step article, Nick Regine, Swarovski’s Professor of Crystal, will teach the basics of gluing crystals to almost anything—wood, glass, metal, and more.
• Take care to use the right amount of glue. Too much will make the adhesive run over onto the crystal; not enough glue will prevent proper adhesion of the crystal to the substrate.
• Make sure your substrate is clean and free of all oils, grease, and contaminants.
• Follow directions on the adhesive labels. When it’s time to throw away the adhesive, do so.
• Use fixtures to hold your work and let it dry. Moving a crystal before it’s dry will cause a bad glue joint.
• Be careful when working with adhesives. Remember, it is a chemical and can be harmful to children and pets. Most adhesives have a strong odor, so work in a well-ventilated area. Read the MSDS sheet for any adhesive (most companies have them online), and store adhesives in a safe place when you are not using them.
• Make sure to clean your hands and the work surface before beginning. Acetone or isopropyl alcohol can be used for cleaning a surface and removing any excess glue. Test a small area of the using a surface tension test pen.
• Crystals. In this project, we are using Swarovski Crystals.
• Carrier material (i.e., what you will be gluing the crystals onto—jewelry findings, key fobs, etc.).
• Surface tension test pen.
• Acetone or isopropyl alcohol.
• Cotton swab or wipes.
• Stir sticks or toothpicks.
• Small plastic disposable cup to mix glue. (You can also use a piece of sturdy paper or cardboard.)
• Wax stick. You can also use a Crystal Katana, a pen specially designed for applying crystals (www.crystalninja.com).
• Syringes and glue tips (optional).
• Glue. Silicone adhesives work well with crystals, and a two-part epoxy is recommended: It comes in varying hardening times, from five minutes to an hour or longer. If you are gluing only a few stones or a small area, use the five-minute epoxy. If you are gluing several stones to a larger area, use an epoxy with a longer curing time. (Note: Always allow the piece to cure for 24 hours before using.) Other options include Swarovski CG 500 glue (for larger projects) and UV adhesive (for clear and light-amber surfaces that may yellow if epoxy is applied). Super Glue is not recommended because the adhesive shrinks and pulls the foil away from the crystal.
Clean the surface to be glued – even brand new items taken out of a carton or wrapper need to be cleaned first.
Test to make sure the surface is clean by using the test pen. (Once the surface is clean, you can draw a design onto it if desired; use a non-wax, non-oil-based marker.)
Dispense appropriate adhesive onto a sturdy piece of paper or into a plastic cup. If you are using a two-part epoxy (as in this case), use the amounts that are stated on the package—usually a 1:1 ratio.
Mix the adhesive well to combine both parts.
If you are using a dispenser, such as a syringe, put the glue into the tube and cap it with a needle tip. Make sure to match the tip to the size of the crystal being used.
Apply glue to carrier material.
When applying the adhesive, use a small amount and spread it evenly over the surface, in a thin layer. Wipe off any excess with acetone or alcohol.
Pick up a crystal using the wax stick or the Crystal Katana.
Place the crystals on the prepared surface as desired. Allow to dry 24 hours, and use either an alcohol swab or a soft cloth and alcohol to remove any residue from the stone.