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How to Use Glass or Acrylic Flatback Rhinestones to BLING Just About Anything

Updated on January 13, 2014

Some of us have to admit that there are times when we craft with glass or acrylic flatback rhinestones.

The term flatback rhinestones refers to the stone being flat on the bottom and faceted on the top. They come in a lot of shapes, sizes, and colors. Remember those stick-on gems you adhered to on your ears, paper crowns, or your secret diaries as kids? They are flatback rhinestones. Ditto for the stones being plastered on cell phone covers, lipstick canisters, and even cars.

So how to BLING your stuff like the stars or the designers do, whether you're all out or frugal? Well, the process is so easy and so much fun!

A little bling can be as good as a lot! I used Swarovski flatbacks in Vintage Rose, Antique Pink, and Heliotrope to create my initial on my notebook used as a Disney autograph book.
A little bling can be as good as a lot! I used Swarovski flatbacks in Vintage Rose, Antique Pink, and Heliotrope to create my initial on my notebook used as a Disney autograph book.

Select Your Rhinestones

The low-cost thing to do is to buy a bag or two of plastic gems from the discount or even the craft store. If you happen to buy self-adhesive, that's fine. But I suggest buying a separate glue in case you are gluing them to non porous surfaces like cell phone cases and sunglasses' rims. Acrylic stones are perfect not only for budget-wise crafters but for children since they virtually don't contain lead.

Rhinestones made for nail art also work great too! They are the perfect size for decking out pocket-sized objects such as phone cases. If using them for kids' accessories, look for acrylic ones. They virtually don't have lead at all.

Rhinestones can be glued ANYWHERE, including this theater organ console.
Rhinestones can be glued ANYWHERE, including this theater organ console. | Source

If you have a bigger budget (and older kids), feel free to buy glass stones. Two of the leading producers of the type are Swarovski and Preciosa. As well as they are known for their beads, they are also valued for their stones. The facets on them catch the light efficiently.

Glass hotfix stones (especially if you have excesses lying around and provided that you use a separate glue) also can work. That's particularly true with Chinese-made ones because the glue isn't secure enough to secure themselves onto porous materials once heat set.They also have imperfections on how they are shaped, so always inspect your batch and toss the misshapen ones before using them.

The same manufacturers who make DMC (diamante machine cut) hotfix stones also make glue-on versions, You just have to know where to look.

Grab Your Glue

I suggest not using a glue gun or superglue to paste stones because either can eat away the foil backing.

The best glues for blinging your accessories (and clothes if you want) are epoxy-based. Some of them are shock absorbent and waterproof without damaging the foil backing in some stones.

Gluing stones do more than just be more secure in some cases than using hotfix types (especially with nonporous surfaces), albeit sometimes messy. (Hey, it's all worth it!)

Pasting gems is generally much safer than heat-setting them, especially if you have kids and are decorating delicate fabrics. Some glues come in two parts, in which equal amounts of each are mixed together and used relatively quickly.

Prime Your Surface

For delicate fabrics and leather, prewash them by hand using cool water and mild detergent. If using other non-porous surfaces, prime them by wiping them down with rubbing alcohol. If you are decorating electronics, like cell phones and laptops, I suggest finding a separate case for them as just gluing them on the backs alone can void their warranties.

SIr Peter Blake took bling to the next level by bejeweling a phone booth in London with over 400,000 Swarovski flatback crystals. WOW!
SIr Peter Blake took bling to the next level by bejeweling a phone booth in London with over 400,000 Swarovski flatback crystals. WOW! | Source

Decide on a Design

You can be as simple or as elaborate as you want. If doing an intricate design, use stencils or paper templates to help you map it out. That will help you decide which size and color stones you will use. If you want to, you can sketch the pattern first.

Apply Glue

Use toothpicks or old paper clips to apply glue to small areas. This will efficiently allow you to apply stones without worrying about it drying out on you. Alternatively, you can use a syringe designed for glue with the right size for your stones to apply it to a desired spot.

Even bikes can be BLINGED out too!
Even bikes can be BLINGED out too! | Source

Apply the Stones

Turn the stones faceted side up if needed, then pick them up one at a time using tweezers that won't mar the stones and place them on the wet glue. Check to see if they are in position; otherwise, nudge them in their places while the glue is still wet.

For an easier alternative, coat your toothpick with wax (beeswax can work fine with this method), lightly touch the top of the faceted side of the stone, and place it on the wet glue. Gently press in place with the unwaxed end. Let the glued stones dry before using the embellished item. Most epoxy glues cure for 24-72 hours.


  • If using an item with fabric unsuitable for heat-setting stones and want to manually glue them, always prewash them with water and mild detergent. This will help remove the sizing and help the stones adhere better.
  • Touch only the unprimed areas (the spots where you don't want to bling or will bling later) of the items for better adhesion.
  • Work in small areas at a time.
  • Let the glue dry and cure thoroughly before using the item. This is a do-ahead project before that formal party or just showing off your style every day!

Which Rhinestones Do You Use?

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    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 

      5 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Beautiful, creative, useful and informative hub!

      The videos and pictures are quite helpful. I would love to try them. Thanks for sharing all the well written details!


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