** PLEASE READ THROUGH THE COMPLETE TUTORIAL BEFORE STARTING **
What you will need:
1. Swarovski flatback rhinestones NON-HOTFIX: size ss12 (3.2mm), ss16 (4mm) or ss9 (2.6mm) for this tutorial I have used ss12 as the main crystal size and ss16 and ss9 to fill odd sized gaps. View Swarovski flatbacks
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. 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
4. Piece of cotton cloth / hanky: Cotton is ideal because it doesn’t leave fibres behind when you wipe a surface.
5. Orange stick: Small wooden stick used for pushing back cuticles.
6. High heel shoes: To add the crystals to.
For this tutorial I have used Jet rhinestones but you can use clear crystal, AB or any other colour to suite the shoe. The main size crystal used is ss12 along with a few ss9 and ss16 to fill in odd sized gaps.
Preparation and advice:
1. First clean the heel by gently wiping with a cloth to remove any surface grease, alcohol wipes can be used to remove any grease but care needs to be taken to test on a small area of the heel first as alcohol can discolour the leather (If you do use alcohol use it sparingly blot the heel only and make sure it isn’t absorbed into the shoe leather).
2. Empty some rhinestones onto a clean, dry flat surface and turn the crystals so that they are all faceted side facing up.
3. The jewel setter we use in this tutorial is a plastic wand with a sticky wax bud tip, to pick up a rhinestone, gently touch the faceted face of the crystal and it will stick to the wax bud, then gently touch the rhinestone onto the adhesive and the bond with the glue should be strong enough to release the crystal from the wax bud. If you find you have press too hard the crystal will get embedded in the wax bud and need assistance to come loose, so just use the orange stick to gently release the crystal. Please Note * The wax sometimes leaves small amounts of wax on the rhinestone crystal, leave until the adhesive is dry then it wipes off.
4. When it comes to applying adhesive use a small mount of e6000 and spread it out in a line with enough glue for a few crystals, if you use too much it will dry before the crystals are placed into position, also if the adhesive is too thick it will cover the face of the crystal.
5a. After a crystal has been placed onto the adhesive use the orange stick to make any final adjustments to its position and then gently press down on the crystal to ensure a firm bond.
5b. If you press down first and then adjust the position, it will result in a build up of adhesive on one side of the crystal, if this does happen just remove and clean the crystal, level the adhesive and start again.
5c. It now time to workout how the crystals fit as each row of crystals will start from the bottom of the heel and work up we need to see how the crystals sit when going around the heel base. To do this you can either measure the outside diameter of the heel base (just above the heel tip) or temporarily stick the rhinestones to the heel. You can do this by using sticky tape used the wrong way around, smooth side against the heel and sticky side facing out.
On the heel in the tutorial the ss12 rhinestones fit perfectly around the heel, if they don’t you can replace one of the crystals with a larger or smaller size crystal to see if it fits. If the gap is too small for one of the crystals you have but large enough to be noticed, then you have an option of either replacing more than one crystal until the gap is filled up or space the crystals out. Keep a note of your results as this stage is important to ensure a good fit later on as you will need to know how many rows will fit at the base and in what size order the crystals go. For this tutorial its all ss12 along the bottom row, but for your heel it could be i.e. 5 x ss12, 2 x ss16, 5 x ss12 etc.
1. Using the back of a jewel setter take a small amount of e6000 adhesive and spread it out in the bottom corner of the heel, with enough adhesive for a few crystals.
2. Using the clean jewel setter pick up the crystal with the wax bud tip and again gently place onto the adhesive in the bottom corner of the heel (just above the heel tip).
3. Continue adding crystals in a line following the edge of the heel. (Be careful not to get any adhesive on the inside of the heel that isn’t being crystallized)
4. When you get to the top edge if an ss12 crystal (or the main size crystal you are using) doesn’t fit then choose a different size crystal.
5. Now you are ready to start the second row, this is where you need to refer to the measurement you made at the start to make sure you use the correct size crystal. Repeat step 1. Add some adhesive then the crystals etc. It’s possible to create a tighter crystal pattern by staggering the crystals as seen above but that will impact the space taken up by crystals, so you may need to measure again to ensure that the crystals fit nicely if you decide to use this technique.
6. Continue adding crystals row after row until you reach the middle point of the back of the heel where you have 50% of the heel base covered.
7. After reaching the middle point of the heel, start adding crystals from the other edge of the heel, complete the row and work inwards adding rows to close the gap. (This is why it was important to measure the heel at the start as we are working backwards and filling in the gap which could result in the crystal size you currently have not fitting the gap which is why it was important to measure first). If you have reached this stage without measuring and you are unable to fill the last row with the crystal size you have, you will need to get a smaller size crystal.
8. Continue completing the rows (referring to your earlier measurements for crystal size for each row and don’t forget you are working backwards). By aligning the crystals in rows to the edge of the heel we have effectively created a V gap which will now need to be filled. To do this start from the bottom and work your way up again in rows, one row for the left then one for the right until the gap is closed. This is where the larger and smaller crystals come useful.
9. As you can see above the heel is covered with rows of crystals, an equal number of rows on the left to the right, to achieve this odd size crystals are used to fill any gaps.
10. One completed Swarovski crystal heel, time taken approximately 2-3 hours per heel.
Closeup image of the heel.
Author : Crystal and Glass Beads
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