One of my favorite statement jewelry pieces is a crystal necklace, made by my good friend, Jessica. I get a lot of comments on it, likely because it combines three very unique elements: a crystal, a bullet casing, and a Day of the Dead skull bead.
For a while, I thought it would be cool to make some necklaces like this on my own… until I discovered that buying nice-looking crystals (cough, ones that didn’t look like they were made of plastic) could cost $10 a pop domestically. Yikes.
Then Chris pointed out that glue sticks look an awful lot like uncarved crystals. Light bulb moment! Suddenly she was taking Multi-Temp sticks and cutting the ends off to make faux “crystals” that looked like the real deal!
AdTech glue sticks are perfect for this because AdTech’s claim-to-fame is having the clearest glue sticks in the world. They don’t have that yellow undertone that a lot of generic sticks have, so when the “crystals” are complete, they have a pure, clear sheen. Also, they won’t turn yellow over time; they’ll stay clear. They’re just beautiful!
All right, let’s get down to how to make your own hot glue crystal necklace. They take less than 30 minutes!
Supplies you will need:
- AdTech® Multi-Temp glue sticks –> Click here to buy on Amazon (We highly recommend AdTech® glue sticks for jewelry because they don’t yellow!)
- Utility knife
- Clear nail polish (choose a non-yellowing brand if possible)
- Eye pins
- Bead caps (approximately 10-12mm in size)
- Necklace chain (if you use a pre-made chain with a large closure, you might also need jump rings)
- Jewelry pliers with wire cutter feature
- Le Plume alcohol markers in light colors
Step one: Choose your glue stick
Full-size glue sticks work well for crystal necklaces like mine, because they make a statement. If you want to do a pair of dangly earrings, you might choose the minis.
Step 2: Carve the sides
**Warning!** Safety first! Blade away from your body, guys!
Use a new blade, and be very careful! Holding the glue stick down along the edge of a cutting board and starting about 3 inches from the end, slice one side of the glue stick. It’s best to brace the knife along the cutting board as you go, keeping the slice as even as possible. Do this 5-7 times until all of the curved sides of the glue stick are gone.
Step 3: Carve the end to a point
Hold the glue stick at a 45 degree angle and slice from one of the flat sides towards the core of the glue stick. You want to do this in a quick “chopping” motion, hitting the cutting board as you do it. One fell swoop! That will give you the straightest angle cuts. Repeat this on an opposite side, and then repeat 2-3 more times until you are happy with the end of your crystal.
*Pro Tip: Look at crystals online to get an idea shapes found in nature.
Step 4: Shorten the stick
Use your knife and cut the crystal from the stick. At this point you can check to see how well your bead cap will fit the top. If needed, you can carve a little bit of the crystal away or round it to fit the bead cap better.
Step 5: Color your crystal (optional)
Our designer/marketer, Chris, was at a trade show with other craft companies and scored some Le Plume Alcohol Ink Markers from Marvy Uchida. They are perfect for tinting our hot glue projects! (Thanks, Rick C! We wish we knew about these when we did our Beach Glass earrings post…) If you don’t have any, we highly recommend you pick up a few – or a whole box! They are amazing.
For a natural look, less is more! Use very light colors. We used the lightest of the pastels for ours. You can also use more than one color per crystal for a rainbow effect. Chris likes to just add a stripe of color alond the center of each flat side. She does not color the ends or anything else. This gives the most natural look.
Step 6: Add bead cap and eye pin
Hot glue the bead cap to the top, keeping as straight as possible. Cut the eye pin to about 2/8″ long and push into the top of the crystal through the bead cap. If needed, hold the crystal upside down and push onto a hard surface.
Step 6: Seal and shine with clear polish
Choose a high-quality nail polish for this part so it’s non-yellowing. (We picture a cheap one above because it’s what we always have on hand for quick seals and repairs, but choose a brand you’re confident won’t taint your crystal over time.) Having the bead cap on prior to this step will make the crystal easier to handle. We discovered this after making a few crystals, so although the picture below doesn’t display the bead cap, this is the way we recommend you go!
Step 7: Add a chain
A simple ball-chain is best, because you won’t have to worry about squeezing a clasp through the eye-pin. If you want a fancier chain, loop a jump-ring through the eye-pin and close around your chain with pliers.
Love what you create? We’ll love it, too! Snap a pic and post on Instagram, and make sure you tag @adtech so we don’t miss it. If you want the world to see it, use our new hashtag #glueasamedium, too.