Reported by Jenny Barnett Rohrs
Walking around my local quilt expo, I saw a throng of people mobbing a demo table. Curious as to what could cause such a crowd to gather, I sauntered up and came across a shop demonstrating the Victoria Lynn Crystal Crafter. They were setting Swarovski crystals onto art quilts? Oh yeah….had to have it.
“Hot-fix” crystals are ones that come with a heat-sensitive adhesive on the back- otherwise known as “iron-on” crystals. But instead of trying to lay out your design and heat them all at once with a big, clunky iron, you place them one at a time, creating more precision and less room for crystals nudging out of place. Made sense to me!
So, after returning home, I opened up the package- the kit comes with a package of gen-u-wine Swarovski hot-fix crystals, the setter, and “hands-free” holder, and a set of 7 tips that accommodate different crystal sizes.
I plugged in my wand and let it heat up a bit, and then sprinkled out my crystals on the plastic cutting mat I use as a work surface, faceted side up. You place the wand over the crystal, give it a second to liquify the adhesive, and then pick it up off the surface and place it on your project. I started with fabric for an art-doll I’m embellishing.
It only took a second or two for it to heat, and then, DAB! Right onto the fabric. In another second it was cool. I tried to dislodge it with my fingernail, to test how strong the adhesive was, and it wouldn’t budge.
Next I tried it on paper, as a teeny little embellishment on a bookmark. Also good. However, by the time I’d done a half a dozen crystals, there was some gummy residue building up on the wand tip; when I’d place the crystal, it wouldn’t come out of the wand! However, there are small slits in the wand, just big enough for a straight pin. Things get a bit tricky when you have to hold the wand with one hand and then use the other to slide a pin into the wand and then gently pry the crystal out. It’s a little bit of a juggling act, but still WAY more precise than using an iron.
The other aspect I wasn’t thrilled with was the “hands-free holder.” It’s just a little stand to keep you from scorching your table, but the wand only balances there precariously. I use a ceramic mug filled with vermiculite on my workbench to hold my soldering iron, and I’d recommend that if you don’t have a soldering iron stand.
So after trying paper and fabric, I thought I’d try some other, more non-traditional surfaces.
I also used the setter to attach crystals to embellished guitar picks- which I really liked. The adhesive wasn’t as strong on the slick, smooth surface of the picks, and one of the crystals fell off. I’ll need to experiment more with that idea.
- Heats up quickly.
- Many tips included in kit.
- Easy to use.
- Great price point- under $17.00.
- It’s hot! Watch your fingers, and use a heat-resisitant non-stick craft mat to work on.
- Stand is sub-standard.
- Extra crystals are sold separately, and they can be pricey.
On the whole, the Crystal Crafter Hot-Fix Crystal setter is easy and fun to use, and is more than worth the money for a cool tool in my craft arsenal! Have you used it? What do you think?