What are Swarovski Hot Fix Crystals
Swarovski hotfix crystals or hot fix rhinestones as they are sometimes called are loose crystal components with a multi faceted face one side and a flat surface coated with a heat sensitive glue on the other. The faceted face is made from lead crystal glass that has been machine cut and the polished to produce a high quality finish. Hotfix glue will take approximately 20 seconds to heat and bond with a surface, but to fully harden will take 24 hours. Once the adhesive is set it is machine washable but not recommended for dry cleaning as some of the chemicals used can denature the glue, which may cause it to discolour and become brittle or dissolve.
Swarovski Hotfix Crystal Structure
1. Crystal: Lead Glass Crystal
2. M-Foiling: Specially developed reflective coating to enhance the crystals brilliance and provide a strong bond with the primer.
3. Primer: The coloured primes strengthens the bond between the foil and the hot-fix glue.
4. Hotfix glue: A transparent glue especially developed by Swarovski to provide a strong bond with various materials.
What Materials Can You Apply Hotfix Crystals To
To provide a successful strong bond a material needs to be able to absorb the adhesive when it’s melted. Materials such as Paper, Card, Wool-Trevira, Cotton, Linen, Wool, Viscose, Tulle, Denim, Lycra, Cotton Jersey, Silk, Synthetics (polyester etc), Technical Fabrics and Artificial Fur are all suitable to apply hot fix crystals to. Less absorbent materials such as glass, plastic, smooth leather and fabrics with a waxy surface wouldn’t be suitable for absorbing the hotfix glue.
A simple test to find out if a material is absorbent would be the water drop test; if the water runs of the surface and isn’t absorbed into the material it will be unsuitable for use with hot fix crystals. If the material in question contains a large quantity of softening agent it may need to be washed before applying any crystals.
How to apply hotfix crystals with an applicator
i. You will need a firm surface to work on such as a table top or work surface; ironing boards aren’t suitable as they don’t provide enough support.
ii. If adding crystals to fabric make sure that the materials surface is flat, iron if necessary.
iii. When adding crystals to sheer fabric its best to place a piece of card or a Teflon sheet between the layers to prevent the glue from seeping through and bonding any fabric layers together.
iv. You will also need a pair of fine tipped tweezers.
v. If it’s your first time using a hotfix applicator its a good idea to first test on a piece of card or scrap material.
1. Choose the correct size applicator tip for the rhinestone size you will be working with, the sizes are etched into the side of a tip. If you are unsure as to the size required place the tip over the rhinestone, the correct size tip will pick up the rhinestone.
2. The applicator tip fits on the end of the hotfix applicator, gently screw the correct size applicator tip into place.
SAFETY: Make sure the hotfix applicator is unplugged and if you are removing a tip it has already had plenty of time to cool down.
3. Turn on the hotfix applicator, Kandi Professional hotfix applicator has an on/off switch at the rear. Other applicator wands will only need plugging in as there is no on/off switch. (Kandi’s hotfix applicator will take approximately 2-3 minutes to reach working temperature) Lay the applicator on the work surface with the tip pointing away from your working area so that you do not burn your hand as it heats.
4. Place your hotfix crystals onto a clean flat, solid surface. (placing them onto a piece of white card can be helpful if you are working on a dark surface)
5. Turn all the crystals so that they are facing faceted side up.
Applying the crystals
6. Once the tip has heated your ready to start creating the design, gently place the tip over a rhinestone to pick it up, but don’t press hard or the crystal may stick to the surface.
7. Once selected the hotfix crystal will sit perfectly within the tip.
8. Watch the crystal it will start to look wet and shiny and may bubble when the glue melts, this is important to ensure that the adhesive is given the correct timing. Small crystals will take less time for the glue to melt than larger ones, an ss12 will only take around 8 seconds where as an ss16, 4mm crystal will take approximately 10 – 12 seconds. Allowing the adhesive to melt before placing the crystal onto the fabric will also help to prevent burning from prolonged heat of the tip coming into contact with the fabric.
9. Once the glue melts the crystal is ready to apply to the fabric. Lightly press the crystal onto the fabric holding the wand at 90° to the surface to ensure that the crystal bonds correctly. It’s a good idea to support the fabric so that it doesn’t lift when you pull the hotfix applicator away, if the crystal gets stuck in the tip use the tip of a pair of tweezers and push downwards through the slit in the tip to free the crystal.
10. When the crystal comes out of the tip the adhesive is very hot, so give the crystal a few seconds to cool then gently pull on the crystal to see if the glue has bonded to the surface correctly. If the crystal is still loose place the tip over the crystal for a few seconds to melt the glue and then test again once the adhesive has cooled to ensure that the crystal is firmly bonded to the fabric..
11. Complete the process of adding crystals and testing until your design is complete. It will take 24 hours before the adhesive is fully set the crystallized fabric should not be washed within this time.
Author: Crystal and Glass Beads