Tuesday, 24 April 2012

DIY flat backed glass beads and pearls.

I really love the very pretty heavily embellished cards that are the trend of late. It isn't something I find easy to do; I don't have too much luck with collages either although I love the look. I am going to try and work on making some though and I figure practice will make perfect (or near enough perfect). One thing is for sure though I am going to need a good supply of gems or pearls. There aren't any craft supply shops anywhere near where I live so I usually buy stuff online; but then you have to wait for delivery and I am nothing if not impatient. So the perfect solution is to be able to make my own. I know you can buy liquid pearls (from Ranger I think), but I didn't have any so I played around a bit with what I did have: Clear embossing powder; coloured embossing powder and mica powders. I gathered the supplies and a non stick silicon sheet (and old toaster bag that I cut up) and played about. First I added some clear and red embossing powder to a little foil pie tin; then I placed the tin on a encaustic art iron that I have, to melt the powders. You could use an embossing heat gun and heat the dish from underneath or you can place the dish in a skillet that is heating on your stove or there are melting pots you can buy for this purpose.
Once the powders were melted I used a pair of tweezers to pick up the foil dish, which is very hot, and poured small drops onto the silicon sheets. The liquid in the dish cools quickly so I had to keep re-melting the glaze, but any beads that misformed I was able to return to the dish and melt again.
The beads cool and solidify really quickly (in under a minute) and are easily picked off the mat. I was able to make a good supply of different sized beads that I can glue onto my cards of in the centre of flowers. I didn't take any pictures of the second batch I made, but by using clear powder and a pearl mica powder I was able to make some flat backed pearls as well. Here are the red glass ones I made. The red embossing powder had some gold mica in it so the gems have a gold sheen to them.
Any glaze that is left in the dishes can be left to cool and you reuse the dish another time, just add more powder and melt again. I would like to try adding some glitter too to get a different effect. I had a blast concocting the different mixes and felt a little like a scientist. I was so pleased with my haul too and can't wait to use them on a project. Have a look in your stash and see if you can make your own gems and beads. Have fun!

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