Making the crystals is pretty simple. However, this was the most time consuming step for me. Now, if I had had proper tools and a better knowledge of what I was even doing, then it probably wouldn’t have been. Keep in mind I was also doing this on a budget so I didn’t have any fancy tools to help me, so everything was done by hand and took 2-3 days straight, to do. I referenced this tutorial for a bit of help, but I ended up taking a different path, so choose whatever works for you!
- Wing base
- Crystals (click read more)
- Plexiglass (I used 1 1/2 of the big sheets from Hobby Lobby; I think they were like 24″ x 36″? they were about $6 each)
- Acrylic paint (I used red, yellow, blue, green, and mixed the other colors, but use what colors you like! The cheap stuff works just as well as the expensive ones)
- Acrylic varnish (I’m sure any type of gloss would work)
- Dry erase marker
- Exacto knife/something to cut the plexi
- sand paper (If you have a palm sander, use it!)
- Safety things (respirator, gloves, bandaids)
- Ruler (it makes cutting lines easier)
- Foam brushes (Those cheap ones that are like $0.29 each)
- Masking tape
- Find something to watch while working, it’ll help a lot.
Preparing the Plexiglass:
- First off, you’ll want to create a pattern! This took some trial and error. I thought I could make them like that tutorial I linked to at the very top; all one piece, bend it, and glue the ends together. Yeah…well, I didn’t have the proper tools to bend plexiglass like I wanted, so I took the long way out. My pattern ended up looking like this:
- Now let’s do some math! Don’t worry it’s easy multiplication and I’ll do it for you (maybe) So I wanted 7 crystals per side (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and purple) Each crystal has 8 faces in total, so however many crystals you want, multiply that by 8 and you’ll get how many sides you want. Then divide that by 2 for the trapezoid and elongated triangle. I wanted 14 crystals in total, that means 112 pieces: 56 of the trapezoid, 56 of the elongated triangle. If you want a different amount of crystals, you’re gonna have to do more math. Maybe less. Maybe just as much.
Math is gross
tl;dr: 8 x (how many crystals)=total # of faces
total # of faces/2= How many trapezoids/triangles.
For 14 crystals, you’ll need 56 triangles, and 56 trapezoids
- Now, get out your plexi! Notice the thin sheet of cling wrap-like plastic? Keep it there until you are done. It keeps the plastic from getting scratched so you have a nice shiny surface in the end.
- Grab your pattern and dry erase marker; now it’s time to draw out everything. This might be redundant for some, but conserve as much space as you can; you’ll get more out of your plexi this way instead of wasting all of that plastic:
- Got everything traced out? Nah you don’t have to do it all in one go if you’re impatient. I would trace maybe 10-20 at a time, cut,and repeat because it got boring or difficult because the marker lines smudged. So, next, grab your cutty thing and ruler, and cut out the shapes! What I did was line my ruler up with the inside of the tracing (as the inside of the tracing matches up to my template), and scored the plastic with my exacto, lightly. If you press hard, you might start cutting a different angle or something and get the wrong shape. Be patient, and after you score it a few times,and the cut is deeper, apply a bit more pressure as you cut until you can bend the plexi and it snaps along the cut. I would suggest practicing for a bit and maybe send you here for a visual guide.
- Eventually you’ll end up with a big stack of plexi shapes. Well, you’re about 1/3 of the way there! Next up, we’re going to sand every single piece–but just one side. Take a nice fine grit and sand till the surface is evenly clouded. Use proper safety equipment and ventilation! I didn’t because I’m dumb, so I got a really bad headache periodically until I stepped away and let my room air out.
- Continue sanding and maybe sob quietly while you do it because it’s taking so long(unless you have a palm sander, then lucky you).
- Now, everything is sanded! Here’s the fun part: Painting! You won’t need a lot of paint for this because you’re just going to tint the plexi. Glass paint would probably suffice too but I like acrylic because it’s cheap, and I’m on a budget.
-What you want to do is get a small amount of paint on your brush(like less than a drop), and scrub it onto the plastic, just so there is a very light, even coating. The coating was so thin that no excess paint rubbed off immediately after I put on a coat
-How much is too much? Like I said, just tint it. If barely any light passes through the plexi once that paint dries, it’s too much. The paint dried instantly for me as it was such a thin coat, so it was very translucent.
- Repeat for every piece, then lightly add some gloss on top to make it a little less cloudly.
Once you’ve got all 112 (or however many) pieces cut and painted, it’s time to assemble the crystals! I apologize for not taking any photos, but here’s an attempt to demonstrate what I did:
Also, as for the glue, I used e6000 as it was on hand and it chemically bonds the plastic together (it melts them together). I believe other types of epoxy glues do this as well, so do a bit of research on this if you want alternatives. Hot glue works to an extent, but it’s not as clean and you can see it once the lights are in the crystals and on.
Once you’ve assembled the crystals, you’ve gotten most of the laborious and tedious steps out of the way. Next up, is lighting!