Swarovski Rhinestones, Crystals & Beads - UK Online Supplier
Crystals make a great base for craft projects. They are relatively cheap to buy, easy to apply, and you can decorate and personalise nearly anything you own with them.
You can start off by decorating something small, like a hair band or a purse. Then you can graduate to something slightly bigger and more challenging like a t-shirt of a bag. Then finally, once you get more and more ambitious as you go along, perhaps you could cover a whole pair of shoes or your jacket.
The Basics of Crystal Craft
The first thing to understand about crystal crafts is the type of crystals available, as the type of crystal beads you need to buy will be dictated by what you want to decorate.
The first important feature is buying flat-back crystals
. These, as the name suggests have a flat back. It is this smooth surface that enables you to secure your crystal to whatever you've chosen to decorate.
Hotfix Crystals and Non Hotfix Crystals
The second main variable of craft crystals is how they are attached to the item you're customising.
Some come with pre-applied bonding glue, which is activated by applying heat, usually in the form of an iron, to secure your crystals to the item. These are called hotfix crystals. These types of crystals should be used when you're decorating something that you're able to iron. This means it must be able to create you crystal design as a complete template, then be laid flat to be ironed over. Also, it must not be a material that can easily be melted. So cotton clothing would be a perfect example of something you could customise with hot-fix crystals.
The second type are called non hotfix crystals. These crystals have the same flat back as hot-fix crystals, but do not have any bonding agent pre-applied. Instead, they are left bare and you apply your own hot glue, usually with a glue gun, and then place these crystals one by one to your item as you decorate it. These types of crystals are used to decorate items that cannot be ironed, such as mobile phones, sun glasses, shoes and so on. And also on materials that might melt if ironed, such as synthetic fabrics.
Once you've decided which type of crystals you need for your project, here are a few other supplies you will also need.
Extra Supplies Needed
If you're using hotfix crystals then you will need a few extra items to work on your project. These include an iron and board, some heatproof paper (over which to iron), some tweezers to position your crystals and a clear plastic or glass sheet and some cellotape to create your template.
To read our tutorial for decorating a t-shirt using these items, read our guide here...
If you're going to be decorating something with hotfix flat back crystals then you will need to have a hotfix applicator wand and some tweezers.
What to Do Now
The first thing you need to do is to decide what you want to decorate and how you want to decorate it. Once you know what the item is, you'll then be able to decide whether you need to get hot-fix crystals and associated accessories, or non hot-fix crystals and accessories.