This guide applies to crystallizing any surface or object big or small it’s the same principle you just need to read through the guide and work out the best design/pattern/crystal sizes for your project.
Chattons Vs Flatback Crystals
There are two methods of adding crystals to a flat surface the method you use will very much depend on your budget and what facilities/equipment you have available.
1. 1028 Xilion Chatons
Chattons or Table Diamonds as they are often called are little diamond shaped SWAROVSKI ELEMENTS that are available unfoiled or with a foil backing. The un-foiled variety are often used for scattering on wedding tables to add a bit of sparkle. It doesn’t matter which way up they land the light will pass through them and give these cut glass crystals the appearance of miniature diamonds.
To attach Chatons to the surface of a gadget tiny holes the size of the crystals pointed back need to be drilled into the surface of the material. This is a precision job as the holes need to be the right depth and diameter and also take into account space for the adhesive required to set the crystal into place. The other alternative is to set the Chatons directly into a soft resin or clay that can be hardened once the design is complete.
Un-foiled chatons are transparent with no coating which means they look dull when set into any material. The foiled back crystals on the other hand are perfect for setting into a material as the foil backing acts like a mirror, so when light hits the crystal you get a dazzling diamond like effect.
2. 2058 Xilion Rose Non Hotfix Flatback Crystals
Flatback Crystals can be applied to most surfaces and materials using the correct adhesive and require no drilling just a surface that’s clean, dry and grease free. Just like the foil backed Chatons, flat backs also come with a foil backing which along with providing a good bonding surface acts like a mirror when the light passes through the crystals to enhance their sparkle.
The effect of using Chatons and Flatback crystals are similar in appearance although both crystals have a different cut and the faceted point back of a Chaton will give a more diamond like appearance than a flatback. This and the fact that setting a crystal into a material is more hard wearing than gluing it to a surface is why Manufactured items such as Crystallized car keys will usually use chatons.
On the flip side the simplicity of just being able to glue crystals into place and not needing any complex or expensive machinery is the reason why most of our customers will opt for flat backs. Although the bond isn’t as strong as setting a crystal into a drilled hole there are a good choice of strong adhesives available and should a crystal come off it’s a simple 2 minute job to replace.
Working out a crystal pattern
For the purpose of this tutorial we are going to be using Flatback Non Hotfix Crystals.
There are a number of ways that flatback crystals can be applied to cover a surface, the simplest of which is to place the crystals in parallel Rows. Start from one edge and form a line of crystals, once you get to the end of the area you want to crystallize start on Row 2 and so on.
Just like parallel rows complete the first row then when it comes to the 2nd row you offset the crystals so that the 2nd/4th/6th and so on rows start between crystals 1 and 2 of the previous row.
The benefit of offset rows are that they covers slightly more of the surface and as you can see above are more compact, the downside is that every 2nd row will either have a small gap either end of each row or will need to be filled in with smaller crystals.
Using 3, 4 or more crystal sizes together will give a completely different look than the first 2 patterns of applying crystals. There is no set pattern to follow its a simple case of seeing what fits and where much like a jigsaw, but with no defined pieces you just have to fill in the area as best you can.
How to Choose The Correct Crystal Size
To work out how many crystals you need you first need to know what size crystal/s you intend to use. The most popular size crystals for covering gadgets can be seen below showing both their diameter and ss size (Swarovski size).
So lets say the area we want to cover is 40mm x 10mm.
Example 1. If we use ss12 (3.2mm) the calculation would be:
40 (width) / 3.2 (crystal diameter) = 12.5 Crystals per row
10 (height) / 3.2 (crystal diameter) = 3.1 Rows of Crystals
12 x 3 = 36 Crystals Required
Example 2. If we use ss8 (2.4mm) the calculation would be:
40 / 2.4 = 16.6 Crystals per row
10 / 2.4 = 4.2 Rows of Crystals
16 x 4 = 64 Crystals Required
The same rule applies to using any of the other sizes.
Choosing the Correct Adhesive
This will depend on the material the gadget is made from See our Guide to choosing the best glue for Swarovski Crystals
For most types of plastic and metal e6000 or gemtac are a good choice for bonding crystals, e6000 is the stronger of the two but has very strong fumes, while gemtac is non toxic but still gives a strong bond.
If you haven’t used flatbacks before and are unsure about how to go about applying them view our Shoe tutorial where there is a step by step guide with images showing how to pick up crystals, how much glue to use and how to position them.
The End Result
As you can see in the image above we have used multiple crystal sizes and colour to give a nice effect. Sizes ss5, ss7 and ss9, Colours Light Rose, Clear Crystal and Crystal AB.
Parallel Rows of Crystals
The image above uses one crystal size ss9, with the crystals placed in parallel rows but we have used 3 colours, Light Sapphire, Clear Crystal and Crystal AB. (You can see the glue is still wet in this image, it flattens down as it dries)
The same Technique can be used for Keyrings, Car Keys, MP3 players etc.
You can find the Adhesive, tools and crystals on our Flatback Non hotfix crystals page just select the size you require