Glues and Finishes for the Beads
Last Update: November 8, 2017
Over the years I have used several methods for glazing my beads. Right now I am actually using 2 coats of a mixture of White Glue and water mixed 50/50. I also use Janice Mae's Vibrance for my top coat. I seem to keep changing what I do and use for my beads. I am not going to change the text below because I want you to see the phases and methods I have tried and how I felt about them at the time of writing them. Right now though, here are the steps I take to glaze my beads. By the way, I have been making paper beads since October of 1996!
1. I string my beads on 50lb fishing line making a loop at each end of the line and securing it with a 2mm crimp bead. I make the loop big enough to fit on the 3/16" dowel on my bead drying rack.
2. I store my glaze in a one quart mixing container I bought at Home Depot with tight fitting lids. They hold just enough glaze and they are deep enough to make diping the strands into the glaze easy. I just hold onto each loop with both hands and let the strand form a U shape while dipping them. I let them drip back into the container then hang the strand on my bead drying rack.
3. For the base coats, I dip each strand of beads into my 50/50 Elmer's Glue All, All Purpose Glue and water Mixture quickly. The colors do not run because the paper I use has ColorLok technology. I also use matte photo paper for some of my beads. After each dip dries, I turn the strand over so the beads get even coverage of the glaze.
4. For the top coats, I dip each strand twice into Janice Mae's Vibrance inverting the strands after each dip, again for even coverage.
5. When my beads are dry, I take them off of the bead drying rack and hang them onto an old bead drying rack I have attached to my wall to store them.
6. When I want to use a strand of beads, I just pull the strand off of the storage rack letting the loop come apart, that way, I don't have to remove strands to get to the one I want to use.
If you have watched any of my bead related videos, you have seen me use this glue. I use this white glue to secure the end of the rolled up strip of paper. Place a dab of glue on a scrap piece of paper and use a toothpick to apply the glue onto the inside of the end of the paper strip before taking the bead off of the rolling pin.
Some people will coat their beads with glue after they are done rolling and then coat them with a shiny top coat like Janice Mae's Vibrance. I have read instructions where you mix the white glue with water to the beads can be dipped. I found this can make the colors run on beads that are printed on copy paper or made with construction or colored card stock. The glue to water ratio would be 2 parts glue to one part water. This method could work great for magazine pages and other pre printed sheets of paper.
Previous Glazes before November 2017
When you are done rolling the beads, you are going to want to glaze the beads to protect them from moisture and to give them a shiny finish. The following explains what glazes I have used and my experience with each one. So far, the best one I have used, before November 2017, is a combination of PC-Petrifier and Janice Mae's Vibrance.
PC-Petrifier and Janice Mae's Vibrance
This method is by far my favorite way of glazing my beads. I like to dip my beads strung on 50lb fishing line into PC-Petrifier and Janice Mae's Vibrance. I usually use 4 coats of PC-Petrifier and 2 coats of the Vibrance. I cut a piece of the 50lb fishing line, make a loop at one end and crimp it closed with a crimp bead and crimp bead pliers. I like to use 4mm crimp beads for this. Then I string on as many beads as will fit on the piece of fishing line, until there is about 3 inches left at the end. I add another a crimp bead and make another loop, crimping the crimp bead with the crimp bead pliers. I make the loops big enough to slip over the 1/4inch dowels I use on my paper bead drying rack. This is the method I use now for all of my beads. I don't bother with waste beads and I accept the fact that the beads on the ends may not be usable. So I just put the worst beads of the current batch on first and last. When the beads are completely dry, I put the first and last bead on the strand into a container to use for a different project as memory thing.
The way I used to glaze my beads, before discovering dipping them works better and faster, is to use brush on glazes. I started my journey with Mod Podge and Ceramcoat Varnish. I used 2 coats of each and discovered over time the beads would stick together. Then I tried 2 coats of Mod Podge and 2 coats of Future Floor Finish. They were better but still stuck together so I tried several other brush on glazes until I found one that works no matter what time of year it is and it produces the smoothest, non tacky finish for brushed on glaze. Judikins Diamond Glaze is the glaze I found that works best when brushing on glaze. Another problem, no matter what brush on glaze I used, is that the beads would stick to the toothpicks I used. To avoid having the beads stick to the toothpicks, I coated the toothpick with a mixture of beeswax and mineral oil. Chapstick is about the consistancy that works great for this! Below are details about each glaze I tried.
Mod Podge Gloss Lustre
I went through a short period of time when I used to use 2 coats Mod Podge and 1 coat Future Floor Finish to glaze my beads. The way I did it was to use a soft bristle children's craft brush and I would apply 2 coats of Gloss Mod Podge to each bead. I then put some of the floor finish into a small plastic container and with the bead on a toothpick, I dip the bead into the finish. I would then spin the toothpick between my fingers to spray off the extra floor finish. Then I would stick the toothpick with the bead on it into a drying block. I found it time consuming and somewhat messy. Of course the finished beads came out really nice and almost non tacky. Without the Future Floor Finish, the beads were very tacky and would stick to each other.
Delta Ceramcoat Varnish
Before I started with major experimenting with different finishes, I used a coat of ModPodge and a Coat of Delta Ceramcoat Protect, Gloss Exterior/Interior Varnish. This varnish is actually a Super Tough Polyurethane. The bottle says it is for Indoor and Outdoor use. I do remember that my beads stuck together when I used this as the top coat for the beads and that is why I started my search for another type of glaze. It took me a few years but I finally found a glaze that does not make the beads stick together. Judikins Diamond Glaze
Judikins Diamond Glaze
Judikins Diamon Glaze. It is fantastic! It is the best brush on glaze I have found thus far. The finish dries hard and non tacky and crystal clear! I do use 2 coats for best results. I use a child's craft brush and a little cup to brush on this glaze. You can get it from Amazon and other online retailers. I used this method for about 2 years until I discovered dipping them.
Best Finish By Far, Most Water Proof!
No glues and finishes page would be complete without talking about the ultimate in finishes for your beads! Two Part Epoxy Resin! It is the most difficult to work with but also the most durable and almost completely waterproof finish you can use.
I actually use Luxe Resin for my beads. It costs less than the Ice Resin and works just as good. I use this to coat the beads I intend to make rings with. I start with paper beads that have already been glazed and are complete. Any package of resin will tell you to coat your beads or item in a glaze to begin with especially if it is made with paper, to lock in the colors and to protect them from the chemicals used in the resin.
You also want to do this in a well ventilated area and have paper towel and perhaps a dampl cloth near by. You also want to make sure you have all of the beads and other items you want to coat handy and near by because this is a one shot deal. You need to mix up very small batches, I mean no more than an ounce or 2 at a time when coating beads because the resin will start to harden on you before you get through several beads. The last time I covered beads with resin, I managed to cover about 30 beads before it started to harden. I just poured the rest into a prepared mold to make a pendant.
When I did this last time, I coated all of my toothpicks with the wax and mineral oil mixture to prevent the beads from sticking to the toothpick, and I placed all of the beads on my toothpicks before I even mixed the resin. I also had my block of styrofoam handy to stick the toothpicks in sitting right next to the pile of beaded toothpicks.
I mixed my resin and working as fast as I could, I dipped each bead already on the toothpick into the resin and stuck the toothpick in the styrofoam block and allowed them to dry for 24 hours before touching them.
Other Finishes I have Tried
You can use any type of nail polish you like. I have tried a base coat/top coat clear nail polish. I have found this is a better finish for the final coat over the mod podge but it is a bit expensive. I only put one coat over the mod podge. I brush my beads with the mod podge, allow to dry then brush on the nail polish. With the massive amounts of beads I make, this is just not an affordable option for me.
Glue and WaterI have tried this method an found that the colors ran so I do not recommend this unless you are coating magazine pages or other papers that are already pre-printed and not photocopied. Use 3 parts glue to 1 part water to just thin the glue down a little bit. You can then dip the beads into the mixture, shake them off then allow to dry completely. Do this at least 5 times to get good coverage.
Spray VarnishI would only do this outside and only on beads which are made from magazines, giftwrap or brown paper bags since the colors would tend to run if you use too much at one time. The surface tends to be a little bumpy so you would want to sand your beads between coats. I would apply several thin coats for best results. I really did not like glazing the beads this way.
Other Finishes I have NOT Tried
If you make your beads out of scrap paper and want to make them look different, you could paint them with any acrylic paint which dries quickly. I haven't tried this yet but the possibilities for how they would look are only limited by your imagination.
Liquid Polymer Clay
This would have to be brushed on and then you would bake the beads in the oven. I haven't tried this yet.
Candle and Bees Wax
This is the way it was done in the old days. If you use bees wax, you would end up with a yellowish finish. I personally would prefer to use the PC-Petrifier and Fast Finish Decoupage for my beads.