DECO Part Three: Simple how-tostut

Part One: Intro
Part Two: Visiting a Pro Shop
Part Three: Simple How-to (including recommend supplies and shops)
Part Four: Advanced Techniques
Part Five: Great Deco vs. oh… that’s uhhh nice

I am sure looking at some of the pics from the DECO image drop post can be intimidating, but decoing is actually pretty easy and is always beautiful if you have the right tools and set-up.

DECO: Where to buy?

All the tools you see were either bought from a beauty supply store, a hardware store (glue), or a container store.

I am 100% Swarovski deco freak, once you go Swarovski you won’t go back. Swarovski flatbacks no-hotfix are the types the pros use. They’re not too expensive if you pick bigger stones for your deco and the quality is amazing.

artbeads.com with free shipping within the US is my preferred place to buy Swarovski. While they’re getting some bigger stones, the official Swarovski site has the best selection of large stones.


If you’re in need of a quick fix, Jolee brand found out craft stores carries Swarovski (although quite overpriced).

Swarovski has now put out a glue that promises better sealing and impact resistence (aka they won’t fall off). I’ve ordered some and I’ll do a review once it arrives.

DECO tools: the basics

This is my regular set-up. The containers are from the Container store and help me stay organized.

Clear container holding individual sizes of Swarovski
The set-up

1. Stick n’ Seal – currently my favorite glue
2. The ipod Nano case to be decoed
3. Sharpies
4. Small scissors for bead length cutting
5. Pencil for preliminary sketch
6. Nail file to file off glue from orange stick
7. Orange stick
8. Curved tweasers (a must!)
9. Bead lines to do crystal separation

My black foam trays, excellent for working with individual stones

As you can see there’s a lot of black, which helps the crystals show up easier and provides a nice eye contrast to what you’re decoing.

This is my Japan set-up when I’m deco-ing. A little more basic, but the necessities are: glue, curved tweasers, orange stick, nail file, and crystals.

Prep and first work

Okay, so you have the tools, but now you need to do your first piece.

You have to options: individually laying down stones or buying a seal. Seals are perfect for flat surfaces with perfect corners, if not you’ll be stuck with individually laying down stones. Seals also are less adhesive so more stones will fall off with seals.

Seals can be bought at: Strapya here

  • Pick something small and that you won’t always use for your first project, that way if you hate it or it’s messy you won’t be reminded of it.
  • Stones can be either set up in 3 ways: [straight] [argyle] [mix] Decide which way you will deco before you start. Examples from cocohoney

    Below is a small mock-up of different ways to lay crystals depending on size.

  • Buy stones of small sizes in the color you’re working on, so you can use these to fill in blanks
  • Tape away areas you do not want messed with

Let’s DECO in THREE easy steps

Step One – keep your project clean

To do my MAC liquid base make-up brush, I first scotch-taped a place where glue might get on it. It’s tons harder to remove glue than to prevent it, so tape your work!

Step Two – Glue quickly and work in small amounts


Orange stick is loaded with glue and I’ll smear a tiny section.
Work in small sections and as quickly as possible.

Glue dries on your orange stick, so take a break and file down your orange stick with the nail file in between every few gluing passes.

Cheat: I’ve chosen the Amethyst and Jet combination on one of the arglyes because it will not show up errors against the black brush handle as easily. Picking like color stones to your background color makes works look cleaner!


Step Three – Place crystals evenly and judge with the eye to keep uniform

Curved tweasers easily pic up stones for perfect placement.
Often you will get glue on your tweasers, file them down like your orange stick.

Problems you will run into

It won’t fit!


This diamond band wasn’t large enough for my Nano but with a pretty Crystal AB stone addition it looks lovely.

Keeping it clean!


When working on a line, glue that line and then fill in around it. Edges are very important!

Simplicty is best!


My eyeshadow brush on top and cheek brush on the bottom are done using a fade. I chose 3 colors (rose, light rose and crystal AB for the eyeshadow brush) and used varying sized crystals to slowly fade one color into the next. It’s very easy and one of the simplest beginner choices.

A very elegant fade

Hopefully I’ve given you a deco base, or maybe some more bits to learn from. In my second how-to I’ll do some advanced stuff such as Pucci design and working with large stones.

8 Comments

  1. Violet LeBeaux
    August 14, 2009 / 10:47 pm

    Ah this is a really great tutorial, thanks for taking the time to write it ^_^

  2. Lanna
    August 15, 2009 / 6:34 pm

    This is very useful:)On my first deco,I got glue on the screen bit on the case,tried to get it off but it just fogged,i'll rememeber the tape idea for next time.So simple:O

    Love your make up brushes,especially the fade.I feel like fade deco-ing something now.

  3. Mitsu
    August 17, 2009 / 1:11 am

    Violet: No problem! I'm sad there's not more English deco instruction out there.

    Lanna: LOL Yeah I did that too before I learned to tape.

    Thank you! I'm really happy how they turned out :D

  4. astr0sexy
    August 20, 2009 / 7:01 am

    the swarovski glue is actually an epoxy. i have one that is for rhinestones & glass as well & it was two bucks! it actually makes it twice as shiny if it gets on the stone! amazing! [but i try to keep things consistant]. plus it comes in the same tube as well with two syringes for the perfect drying time. one thing i have to complain is that i only have the five minute one so i usually go through syringes like crazy and have to mix it myself.

    can you do a tutorial on fading with the argyle pattern? i think its really hard to do

  5. Mitsu
    August 22, 2009 / 4:05 pm

    The five minute one sounds like a pain. I hate short drying times with deco.

    Fading with the argyle would require more colors of stones than I have so I probably won't. Considering to do argyle it takes 3 colors + 2 variations of each might be too much.

  6. Anonymous
    November 20, 2009 / 7:31 am

    I love your work! I'm going to attempt to rhinestone a pen and the ones I got are similar to the pen you did a fade on so I was wondering what size stones you used for it?

  7. May 30, 2010 / 2:00 am

    nice!! i’ve always been so nervous about doing deco, but you make it look so simple! I really want to give it a try now. thanks!!

  8. Alifay
    August 16, 2010 / 2:43 pm

    What kind of glue do you recommend? I stumbled upon your blog, and now I am super excited to try some deco! I might start with a pin box for a sorority sister, or a pair of sunglasses … This looks like such a great calming hobby! Do you have any other tips for someone just getting started? I see lots of ideas for where to get crystals — but what about glue/tweezers/etc? How do you pick your design — do you draw it on the item first and then fill in with crystals? Pardon all the questions on an older post — this is new and exciting for me :)

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