What you will need:
1. Swarovski flatback rhinestones NON-HOTFIX: size ss12 (3.2mm), ss16 (4mm) or ss20 (5mm) for this tutorial I have used ss16 rhinestones on a size 12 child’s converse trainer. View Swarovski rhinestones
2. Jewel setter: This is a plastic wand with a wax bud one side and pointed end the other, it makes picking up rhinestones very simple. View Jewel setter
3. Sand Paper / Emery board: You will either require a small piece of fine sandpaper or an emery board.
4. e6000 adhesive: This is an industrial strength craft adhesive that’s very strong, flexible, waterproof and clear in colour. It should be used in a well ventilated area with a mask for protection from the harmful fumes. View e6000 glue
5. Piece of cotton cloth / hanky: Cotton is ideal because it doesn’t leave fibres behind when you wipe a surface.
6. Orange stick: Small wooden stick used for pushing back cuticles.
7. Isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol): Used for degreasing a surface by removing any traces of oil and grease and dries very quickly.
8. Converse boots / trainers / shoes: To add the crystals to.
Which adhesive should I use?
There are 2 adhesives that are mainly used for converse, Gemtac and e6000 both of which provide a strong bond when the surface is prepared correctly. For this tutorial I have used e6000 which is an industrial strength glue, but has very strong fumes with some nasty chemicals in. It’s thick in consistency so if you apply it too thickly crystals will get bogged under the glue and stay that way once set. Gemtac on the other hand is white when it’s first applied and turn clear when it sets. It’s also a lot thinner than e6000 in consistency so if there is a great deal of curvature on the surface you are crystallizing or it’s a vertical face the crystals can run down the adhesive especially if they are a bigger size crystals. To overcome this you can either leave the glue for a minute of two to thicken and then apply the crystals, or start from the bottom of the curve/slope and work upwards, that way the crystal have no where to slide to. Again with gemtac you have to apply the adhesive thinly or smaller crystals may get bogged down in the glue, if this does happen as long as the adhesive doesn’t go over the face of the crystals it will be fine as gemtac shrinks when it cures so self levels flat. Gemtac is also non toxic which can be helpful especially if there is a possibility of the shoe coming into contact with a child’s mouth.
What if I mess the glue / Crystallizing up?
If you are crystallizing the Converse toe and you do accidentally mess it up or it doesn’t end up looking as perfectly as you had hoped not to worry and this can be fixed. When e6000 sets its clear but if you try to pull away some glue or cut out an area that has gone wrong the glue tends to whiten and doesn’t look very nice, so its not advisable to try either of these methods. If you need to remove the crystals use an Acetone based nail varnish remover and gently wipe over the crystallized area and it will eat away the glue. Keep doing this and the entire glue and crystals will come away from the toe you can then wipe over the surface to ensure there is no glue left on there and leave it to dry. As regards the crystals carefully remove the adhesive from the crystals I use some cotton wool and apply the nail varnish remover to it. It may take a few minutes but you will be left with all your crystals as good as new and just a little adhesive and some time lost. Leave the acetone to completely evaporate before starting again!! Once it’s all dry you can start again from step 1 and hopefully you will get it right the second time ; )
If you have got a little adhesive on one or two of the crystals faces but otherwise you are happy with the result it’s not necessary to remove all the crystals. Make sure that its not just a little wax from the jewel setter first and if your sure that it’s not you will need a cotton bud and some acetone nail varnish remover. Dip the bud in the acetone and squeeze out all the excess so that it’s just damp and not dripping then gently wipe over the face of the crystals with glue on. I just make a circular motion around the crystal being careful not to touch any of the adhesive between the crystals. Do one or two circles around the crystal and then wipe away with a cotton cloth and the adhesive should be removed from the crystal face and the sparkle restored.
1. Place the Swarovski crystals on a surface faceted (shiny) face up. For the sake of this tutorial size 12 kids converse takes 100 crystals per foot (200 crystals in total)
2. Give the rubber toe surface a good rub with the sand paper / emery board to roughen it up. Once the surface has been prepared it will provide a much better platform for the adhesive to bond with.
3. i. Wipe the rubbery powder from the toe.
ii. With a Clean dust free part of the cotton cloth clean the surface of the toe with some alcohol to remove any grease, oil or dust. Because the fluid is alcohol it will dry very quickly and leave no residue.
Adding the crystals
1. Using the opposite end of the jewel setter apply enough adhesive to add half a row of rhinestones from the fabric to the tip of the toe. If you add too much adhesive it will dry before the crystals are added, so it’s better to add the adhesive in stages, especially if it’s your first time crystallizing footwear.
2. Gently touch the top of a rhinestone with the wax bud of the jewel setter to pick up a crystal (don’t press too hard or the crystal will get embedded in the wax). With the crystal selected place it in the corner point of the prepared / glued surface (again don’t press too hard)
3. With the orange stick press the crystal firmly into the adhesive and position the crystal to continue a row of crystals around the outer edge of the toe.
4. Continue this process add crystals to the adhesive with the jewel setter and then pressing them into the adhesive with the orange stick. (Add two or three crystals at a time, then position).
5. Once the crystals reach the top of the toe, add adhesive to the other half of the toe edge to complete the first row of crystals.
6. Its then a good idea to complete the crystals around the outer edge of the toe to give a clean edge to the design.
7. Continue adding rows of crystals until the surface is completely covered. NOTE: Having a few crystals of a smaller size is very useful to fill in any gaps where a larger crystal won’t fit. For this tutorial the gaps have been filled with ss12 rhinestones of which 4 in total were required.
8. Once the surface is completely covered, the crystals will likely look dull in appearance, this is because the jewel setter leaves traces of wax on the surface of the rhinestones, but don’t worry about this yet.
9. Repeat the process with the other Converse boot / shoe and once they are both complete leave them to dry for 15 – 30 minutes.
10. With the cotton cloth buff the crystals to remove any wax residue from the surface of the rhinestones, continue the process until the crystals are gleaming. This is also a good stage to ensure that the crystals are glued firmly in place, if any crystals do come loose, just use a small dab of adhesive and add a new rhinestone to fill the gap.
11. You should now have one completed pair of Swarovski Converse footwear, which will need to be left for 24 – 72 hours for the e6000 to fully cure before worn.
How many crystals do I need?
Each person will have their own way of applying crystals, some will place the crystals tightly together, while others will have slight gaps, below is a guide to the number of crystals used vs size from customer feedback. If you crystallize a pair of converse where the size isn’t listed please let us know so that we can update the table.
|Converse Size||ss16 per toe||ss12 per toe||ss9 per toe|
|Toddler size 3||0||97||3|
|Child size 6||0||111||3|
|Child size 7||59||6||0|
|Child size 8||81||3||0|
|Child size 13||100||3||0|
|Adult size 4||156||0||0|
Author: Crystal and Glass Beads