Christmastime was our last post, can you believe it? Things have been crazy here at the Studio, between adding and integrating a new member to our team, to renovating our work space, to flying to Phoenix to host one of the most popular booths at #Creativation. We could not be more excited or thankful!
Now it’s time to get back on track, though, and we’ve got some AMAZING project ideas coming to you in the coming weeks! Kicking things off? Sea glass… made from hot glue.
That’s right. There are so many applications for this, my mind almost bursts. I remember being a kid and trying to find sea glass and sand dollars along the beach (I grew up near the coast), and some days I had awesome hauls, but most days were a bust. Imagine not only being able to make your own “sea glass,” but being able to make it into whatever shape you want. The possibilities are endless!
Here are the tools you’ll need:
- AdTech Full-Size HiTemp glue gun (You can also find AdTech glue guns and glue sticks at your local WalMart, as well as many craft/hardware stores)
- AdTech Full-Size MultiTemp glue sticks (AdTech glue sticks are strongly recommended, so your jewelry will be clear and won’t yellow!)
- Acrylic paint in sea glass colors (green, blue, etcetera) and a bit of water
- Silicone mat or parchment (baking) paper
- Paint brush or cotton swabs
- Paper towel
- Optional: Acrylic seal, matte (you can get this at most Michael’s stores, too – bring your coupon!)
- Leather punch (can be found at hardware store for about $10), or small paper punch such as a Cropodile
- Earring hooks
- Jump rings (to match earring hooks)
- Optional: Textured glass and vaseline, for making “glass” that looks like it came from a particular bottle or dish
Step one: Lay out your silicone mat.
A silicone mat is a vital tool for anyone working with hot glue. In this case, it is essential because you’re going to draw your designs directly on the mat and then peel them up. Alternatively, you can use a sheet parchment (baking) paper.
Step two: Warm up your glue gun.
Pro tip: Always keep your gun upright, on its stand, and never on its side. Although sometimes we set our glue guns on their sides to prevent them from dripping, this can cause the glue chamber to clog or overheat.
Step three: Mix acrylic paint in water.
Sea glass can vary from almost opaque to almost transparent, so dilute your colors according to how you’d like the sea glass to look, knowing that you’re going to use your fingers to rub a lot of the paint off.
Step four: Make shapes using hot glue.
If you want to make drop earrings, draw a teardrop with your glue gun and then fill in the open spaces. If you want circles, make circles by squeezing your glue gun trigger several times in the same spot about 1/2″ from your silicone mat.
If you’d like to create that “broken glass” look of sea glass you find along the beach (such as pictured in this post), keep pumping your glue to create a long, wide, flat sheet. (If you have more than one silicone mat, you could try lying the second one over the glue to ensure an even, flat surface.) Then, when it has cooled completely, you can use scissors to create “broken” edges. This is the method we used for the earrings in this post!
Step five: Allow glue to cool completely.
Depending on how much glue you’re using, this could take 10-15 minutes. You can expedite the process by tucking the silicone mat into the freezer for 5 minutes. I prefer to take a tea break, myself, and check my messages, but whatever works for you!
Step six: Peel and paint.
Peel your creations off the mat, trim any strings with scissors, and start adding color.
Because the paint will be watered down, cohesion will create little pockets of color on your piece and make it seem uneven. That’s okay. You’re actually going to rub a lot of the color into the glue using your fingers, and this will even it out.
Try to keep only a thin layer of paint on the surface to make the rubbing process easier and more effective. You can always add more color if you need to.
Step seven: Rub it off, rub it in.
Take a paper towel to the paint and wipe it off. Some stain will be left behind; this is what you want. When you’ve gotten as much off as you can with the paper towel, use your fingers to rub what’s left of the color into the glue. This will create that translucent effect as well as even out the color. Add more color as needed if you want the statement to be bolder.
Pro tip: Rubbing alcohol will usually help clean up any mistakes.
Step eight: Cut the glue into jagged pieces.
This step applies to any glue you didn’t pump out of your glue gun into the shape you wanted. Sea glass along the beach is rarely a perfect teardrop shape, for example, so for more authentic look you may want to trim the glue pieces down to more organic-looking pieces.
Pro tip: Cut at a slant, rather than straight up-and-down. When glass breaks, it breaks in a jagged way, so cutting at a slant will make the pieces look more glass-like. Of course, you can also use this technique to create a beveled effect, which is what we did for this pair of earrings!
Step nine (optional): Seal the acrylic.
Because acrylic is a water-based paint, if you get any moisture on your sea glass, they may possibly bleed. Follow the instructions on the acrylic seal container, and make sure you use matte seal to retain that sea glass texture you’ve created with the glue.
Step ten: Punch holes into the “sea glass.”
Use a small setting on your leather punch, find a safe spot for the hole, squeeze, and (this is important) twist gently. Once you’ve given a good firm twist in 180 degrees in either direction, you can pull the punch loose, and you should have a nice, round hole. Repeat on the second piece of sea glass. (If you’re using a paper punch, just punch as usual.)
Step eleven: Add jump rings and earring hooks.
Use your pliers to open 4 jump rings – two for each earring. Loop the first ring through each hole, and squeeze closed; then loop the second jump ring through the first. Before you close the second ring, loop on your earring hook.
Be sure before you close the second ring on each earring that the sea glass pieces are going to face the way you want them to face once the earrings are in your ears. The “front” of the sea glass should be facing the side of the earring where the bend in the hook faces out, not the part where it goes through your ear.
Step twelve: When you get compliments on your “sea glass” earrings, say, “These are hot glue!”
It’s amazing what you can do with hot glue when you think of it as a medium, and not just as a way to bind two other materials together. In the coming weeks, look forward to seeing how we use glue to make… well, we won’t give it away. You’ll just have to stay tuned and find out what you can create!
Maintenance tip: Do not store your earrings anywhere that might exceed 120 degrees Fahrenheit, as the glue will soften and reshape. It may also stick to things you don’t want it to! Never leave your earrings in a warm car, for example, as you may never be able to get them out…
Love what you created? Post it on Instagram, and tag @adtech so we can see it! Use our new hashtags #glueasamedium and #thisishotglue so the world can see it, too. Stay creative, keep creating!