Gorgeous Crustiness

February 20, 2017 , In: Inspiration, Jewelry, Mixed Media, Tutorials

I always loved organic surfaces and textures, the ones only nature can create. There is a wonderful beauty to it if this is combined with handmade elements. My own works is evolving and changing – often not slowly over time but rather with hoops and leaps here and there. This mostly depends on new ideas or inspirations I got. One rather strange one was actually from the Disney Film Moana. If you haven’t seen it: There is a gigantic crab in it that is covered with a thick crust of jewels and sings “I am so shiny!”. 

I wanted that decorative crustiness! My first plan was to get some epoxy clay. It is ordered (it was not available at the local stores) but it still didn’t arrive and I am not patient…

If I have an idea, I want to try it instantly even if it is in the middle of the night. At least my order of some Swarovski Crystalpixie arrived (originally meant for nail art). I also had some other micro beads already in my stash as well as some chunky embossing powder mix. 

But how to apply it all? The different glues have often a lot of disadvantages for what I had in mind. Then I thought of one of my favorite materials to create effects: Relief paste!

I discovered the great properties of this paste by accident. It is a relief paste for painting on glass or porcelain. It is somehow epoxy-based but just one component, it doesn’t smell, dries crystal clear and dimensional and it is (for me at least) surprisingly hard and sturdy. I bought it because I was unhappy with the 3d glazes for paper that were on the market. They looked nice but they were all not really lasting and I was not using resin at that time. So I went to a craft store and just got me everything that would dry dimensional and clear!  Since then I used this paste over and over again. For small accents and pieces I prefer it always over resin.

The process I use is really easy. I believe most of you would figure it out by yourself because the technique itself is simple. But I hope you’ll love the unusual combination of materials like I do and maybe even take it further!

For the “crust” effect I used micro beads for mail art, swarovski crystals and embossing powder. The Frantage mix (my favorite embossing powder for everything, including paper craft and polymer clay) has big bronze and silver chunks inside as well as very thin black powder (this goes perfectly in every open spot). 

I also used a swarovski mix especially made for nail art with tiny black glass beads as well as some faceted black pieces and some additional flat back elements (couldn’t show you them anymore since they are all used already). I have to admit that this mix was expensive but the black tiny beads will last a while. In fact I love them so much, I’ll probably buy the other versions too 😉

The process itself is really easy:

  • Apply the paste
  • Pour the beads or powder on top
  • Wait at least 30 min before you start removing the surplus (after 30 min the paste is dry to touch)
  • Repeat 😉

Please keep in mind that the paste is not fully cured after 30 min. For this it needs 24 hours. So even though it seems to be dry, it still is NOT holding the beads at full strength. 

The next day I also go over the surface with a brush or gentle touch to remove every bead that is not fully attached. I can always add more if I need to. 

I also use a sturdy plastic container with straight edges to pour the material over the paste since the edges will help me to easily put the material back in its container without loosing (too much of) it. 

I also combined this with gold-coloured metal leaf… 

If you use the paste alone it will really dry crystal clear. You can make fake water drops like this onto nearly any surface.

I thought that even using some of the metal leaf alone creates a beautiful contrast to the natural organic and ancient looking seashell.

The seashells are all from Portugal. The aunt of my husband went there and like most of our family and friends, they collect everything they can find for me! The holes are simply drilled using a Dremel.

On this big one I left the top uncovered since I plan for some heavy wire wrapping.

After I played with the sea shells we had our weekly mini challenge at the AE team (have a look at yesterday’s post!). The topic was beetle. So now how about adding glorious crustiness to shimmery beetle wings? I have to admit I could look at the piece all day. If I could I would also like a whole dress covered with shiny crustiness! The mixture between organic forms, rustic surfaces and the shimmer and shine just speaks to me! 

As you can see, the paste can also hold to flat backed swarovsky elements as well as the diamond like ones. If you are not sure, just add a little bit more of the paste in the sides after the first layer dried.

Also the chunky embossing powder alone looks great! Maybe one could combine it with melted one and then add the crustiness on top? Have to try that…

I will also go further with this encrusting process as soon as my epoxy clay will arrive. I hope I’ll be able to use it to create barnacle like structures on top and combine it will the beads and glitter. To be honest, I am even glad the epoxy clay didn’t arrive in time because I think the paste is easier to control and actually gave me the results I was hoping for.

The combination of both, maybe also with leaf metal again and melted embossing powder… and even resin?


*starts singing “I am so shiny!”*


Claire Fabian

Claire Fabian loves to experiment with materials and ideas. She needs to create to “keep her sane” and the process of creation itself is the most important in her work. She is drawn to weird things, to organic and natural textures and loves a tribal and ancient vibe. She makes beads as well as jewellery, but also loves mixed media pieces and little sculptures. Amongst her favourite materials is polymer clay, ceramic clay, all kind of metals, glass beads as well as everything found in nature. She is also working in research which may explain her desire to experiment.
    • jewelsofsayuri
    • February 20, 2017

    They all look gorgeous, did you seal them afterword

  1. Reply

    Wow, Claire, thanks for sharing your technique, what a nice family you have that they collect things for you!

    • Cooky
    • February 20, 2017

    A great post, thanks for sharing a great technique!

    • Karin Grosset Grange
    • February 21, 2017

    Fantastic, your pieces are gorgeous! Thank you for sharing your process and techniques.

    • Smita
    • February 21, 2017

    As usual so innovative are your ornaments. Beautiful. Love Smitaxxx ?

    • Marianne Robinson
    • February 21, 2017

    Thank you for sharing this technique and showing us the actual products you used. I am excited and grateful.

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