Crystals! They are stunning, magical, and just all-around cool! If you are like me you wondered how you can use them in your art, look no further! I have done all the research for you collected experiences of other artists and have now compiled a complete guide for you to use to pick which crystals to use and how! There are more affordable options for using crystals in your art other than semi-precious gems, and quartz crystal points. There are 3 main options that are way more affordable, Borax, Alum, and resin.
If you have questions, want to learn from others, or just share your crystals join our Facebook group Crystal Growing With Jess https://www.facebook.com/groups/809006899445541/
WHAT IS CRYSTAL GROWING
Some substances have a natural crystalline structure that they naturally form in. Some things you have in your kitchen are crystals, including salt and sugar! Just like in nature or in your kitchen the process of crystal growing is when a heated super solution of a crystallized structure is cooled causing the crystal to want to become a stable solid again and reattach to each other in a crystal formation. A crystallized structure is just the repeating pattern of shapes the crystals are. We will talk later about the different natural crystal structure types of each of the grown crystals, and what that means for your art, later below
HOW TO GROW CRYSTALS
To grow crystals you need a few items.
1) Containers to hold HOT liquid and your project
2) Crystal powder, alum or borax being the most common
3) Popsicle sticks
4) Fishing line
5) Sauce Pan
6) Growing medium (what you are growing your crystal on
7) Coffee Filters
A) Suspend your growing medium with the fishing string and hang with the popsicle stick on the rim for small projects. For bigger objects like skulls place on a smaller object in the container hopefully with the edges hanging over on all sides. Remove the medium but not a stand if it's a larger object.
B) After collecting your supplies fill your saucepan with enough liquid to fill your cooling container and your project, and bring it to a boil.
C) Slowly add in a choice crystal powder till it stops dissolving and sits at the bottom
D) wait for it to cool for 4 min unless the area is super cold* then pour in your cooling container straining it through a coffee filter. *If the area is super cold strain immediately and wrap the container in towels to slow cooling*
E) Replace Medium in solution, cover with another coffee filter to keep out dust and leave at room temp overnight
F) Check on your creation the next day. Image to see a baseline one night soak. remove unwanted growth with water and a Q-tip.
G) If you want bigger crystals to repeat the steps but this time uses the leftover crystals and solution from the last soak and just reheat and add more powder till it stops dissolving. Add water as needed to repeat as many times as desired! the solution can be used as many times as you like
(left borax, right alum)
Crystals of course! who wouldn't want to add crystals to their work without breaking the bank, each of these had their own applications from jewelry to paintings to other resin and home goods!
You can buy bulk semi-precious as quartz points off of amazon, wish, or other sites to use but it can be pricey, but you can charge more because of the fact of them being real stones.
These are the easiest to use as you can add them to most projects and they work (DO NOT encase a crystal in resin of any type It will disappear because it removes the faucets) They do not need to be sealed for longevity.
Kid friendly borax crystals! Borax can be found in the soap isle at most stores in large qualities for cheap! It has a geode like appearance, small short crystals. Even with many soaks you will get more of an all over color other than points or pyramids. This is what you call the crystalline structure, the structure that the crystal naturally forms in. Borax structure looks like small points next to each other.
The longevity of borax is not long and even if sealed with a varnish they will degrade and turn white and crumble. It's good for short term projects temporary decoration, can be used on skulls if kept in a cabinet away from moisture sunlight and was encased in a quality varnish or encased in resin. It is the most fragile of the growing crystals but also the most available. It has it's uses.
Alum or pickling salt is one of the most choice for crystal growing for art, but can be tricky! Not all Alum is for crystal growing and no pickling salt is for crystal growing. Read reviews, ask the seller if you can to make sure it's the type you need! Jacquard Alum Powder is one I have used with success, but there are many sellers.
This is the choice for crystal growing because it has a large double pyramid crystalline structure leaving more of those classic crystal points we all love! you can not get pillars of crystals but you can get LARGE points and free floating crystals to use for jewelry or art. Also gives you clearer crystals. (They say if you wait till it is just warm before moving your solution instead of boiling hot makes them even clearer) They are much harder than borax and when properly sealed can last years! If they are not sealed they last about 6 months before they start to degrade.
My personal favorite, and is relatively affordable once you find a reliable seller. Sturdier, bigger crystals that can grow with out a big medium .
HOW TO GROW INDIVIDUAL CRYSTALS NO MEDIUM
Follow basic steps only in step _ put solution in to an empty jar first cover and wait overnight.
Starter crystals will have started to form in the bottom, Strain out these crystals (make sure to reuse your solution)
Tie the best starter crystal with fishing line to the stick like any other medium, or use a slight bit of super glue and glue it to a small post in the bottom of the jar. repeat all steps with this as your growing medium to grow huge free floating crystals.
While resin is fun and the possibilities are endless it does come with risks! Any time you use resin you need to wear a mask that is rated to filter out fumes. Even if a resin says non-toxic no fumes most in the small print say to check the fine print that tells you it's only nontoxic if you follow their safety guidelines (which include the mask and working outside or in a well ventilated area, and gloves) The minuet you mix the two parts together there is a chemical reaction releasing gasses into your work space, please protect your self!
If you use the proper PPE resin is fun and versatile, long lasting and the most creative option! There are a bunch of ready to go molds or you can make your own!
Here is an Etsy shop owner Art of My Focus who uses resin crystals in her work
HOW TO USE RESIN
silicon measuring cup
torch, or pressure pot
two part resin
alcohol ink or mica powder to color
flowers, glitter, or other things you want to suspend in your crystal.
1)Get everything set. Pick your colors, inclusions, molds, PPE, gloves. you only have 10 to 40 min of work time depending on the resin.
2)Mix recommended parts by volume, and split into different cups for the different colors you want to make.
3)Test your ideas, test your color ideas on parchment paper, to test how solid the colors are or if you are getting the effects you want. ( alcohol inks are transparent, mica powder is solid and sometimes metallic) Add ins can also effect hardness and if it cures or not so test the amount of color you add as well.
3)Now you got a plan reset up
4)Remix more resin
5)Pour into your molds and don't get frustrated if it doesn't do exactly what you want (if you want solid layers wait 3 hours before each layer, if you want smooth gradient wait 3/4 of the recommended work time, and for swirls pour in at the same time) experiment if it doesn't work out it's OK it's a learning experience!
6)Lightly tap on mold onto the table and use your torch on the top to pop bubbles check on it every 5 min till the work time is over then cover and leave at least 18 hours (total 3 days for full hard cure they can be easily dented in these three days but you can demold.
HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN MOLDS
A wonderful someone in our Facebook crystal growing group had the genius idea to carve candles into crystal points and then make a mold out of them!
silicone for making molds
a container deep enough to stick your candle crystal fully in at least 3 inches deep
2 part epoxy resin
protective glasses, gloves, a mask rated for fumes. n95 or better
a well ventilated are or outside space
blue tack or painters tape
old paint brush
1)Cut wax into rough blocks about the size of crystal you want
2)Carefully flatten the sides of the candle by cutting 6 vertical slices off the candle
3)use the flat sides as a guide to create the point
4)Mix silicone follow the instructions manufacture give
5) Pour silicon into container, then place your wax crystals in so you can still see the flat side
6) Let set at least over night before removing the wax crystals make sure it is set
7)Get resin ready, mix two parts of resin slowly and pour in to your new mold
8) let cure 24-72 hours, remove from mold.
9) Place parchment paper on your drying area, use your blue tack or painters tape to place the points straight up use regular paper if it doesn't stick
10) Mix a little bit more resin and use a old paint brush to lightly coat the crystals. Cover and let cure!
11) Ta-DA! new sparkly clear crystals you can add mica, glitter, flowers, whatever you want in the crystals to add a personal touch (do this in step 7)
I really hope this art crystal guide helped you advance your next project! If you have questions or what to get involved in the art community visit our forum section and join our discord! See ya next time! -Clover Artist