Just a quick note: I somehow deleted this post with it’s +100 comments around its 4 year anniversary, which makes me feel super dumb. Below is the original photo and step-by-step instruction post on how to make glass tile pendants. I hope you find it as useful a tutorial now (in 2012) as you did in 2008 when I first wrote it. Mental note: if you accidentally move a post to the trash in WordPress, restore it before bulk deleting the other posts.
- Cardboard for work surface
- Clear glue (Aleene’s Tacky Glue recommended)
- Glass tiles
- Glue stick (Avery Glue Stic recommended)
- Jewelry bails
- Paper towels
- Photos/paper for tile image and backing
- Plastic bag(s)
- Sealant (Judikins Diamond Glaze recommended)
- Super glue (E6000 recommended)
Step 1: To make glass tile pendants the first step is to set up your workspace; you’ll need some throwaway cardboard to use as a matt, the glass tile pendants (1 7/8″ x 7/8″ is the size I used here), scissors, a good clear-drying glue (I use Aleene’s Tacky Glue), a plastic bag to use as a drying area, and photos. Note: these are actually just wallet sized photos I’ve ordered through Flickr, but you can use paper goods, photos you’ve printed, anything you like, really, as long as it won’t bleed when exposed to the glue. You might also like to keep some paper towels around since things can get messy.
Step 2: Make sure your glass tiles are in good shape, some have “dust” on them that needs to be washed off, or flaws that mean they’ll need to be discarded. Always inspect a lot of tiles before using them. Also, there should be a slightly textured side, this is the “bottom” and this side should be placed against the photo, and a smooth side that will face out.
Step 3: I don’t measure before I cut, though you can easily enough if you want to, but what I do is hold the pendant firmly to the photo and make two cuts: one across the top and one down the side. Next you need to scoot the photo down and in just a tiny bit to keep the edges from sticking out on the finished pendant, and make the next two cuts. This technique speeds the process up a lot.
Step 4: Now that your photo/paper/whatever is cut to the right size, apply a nice amount of glue to the pendant (remember to use the textured side); some is going to squish out but that’s okay, it’s easy to deal with unless you go gangbusters. Too much glue is better than too little because too little will leave noticeable dry spots under the glass.
Step 5: I couldn’t take a very good photo of this step because it involves pushing down very hard on the tile. Basically keep you photo on your working surface and place the glue-tile on top, then push down firmly. Move the pendant around to get rid of any air bubbles and to make sure the corners and sides have been glued well. Sorry for the blurry photo!
Step 6: Next you pick up the pendant and wipe the excess glue from the sides; this is where the paper towel helps, it’s for your hands since the photo can still move around easily and you want to keep it centered. Don’t worry if there’s still some glue left on the sides (or even the back if it’s a photo) because you can peel it off easily the next day (at least I can, which is one of the reasons I like this specific brand of glue).
Step 7: Put the finished pendant in the drying area facing up (on its back) – the weight of the glass will keep pushing down on it. Photos are less picky, but paper goods tend to curl up at the edges when they’re treated like this. The plastic bag is great because the pendant will peel right off the next day if stray glue sticks it down. If any glue squeezes out and dries, just trim it off the next day with scissors. Now make more tiles like this, as many as you like, and wait at least 24 hours before the next step; 36 to 48 hours is more preferable. Remember, glue takes much longer to dry when it’s wedged between a piece of glass and a nearly-waterproof surface like a glossy photo.
Step 8: If you want your pendants to look extra classy, and of course you do, you might want to add a pattered paper to the back. For this step you’ll need your tile, a glue stick, and your choice of decorative paper. I used an Avery Glue Stic (it’s photo safe!) and some inexpensive origami paper for mine. Pretty much any craft store will carry origami paper.
Step 9: Cut a piece of patterned paper a bit larger than your tile (I did a really sloppy job, as you can see) and place it pattern-side down on your work surface. Give it a thin, even coat with the glue stick, and give the back of your tile a little swipe too, then just press the tile into place and allow it to dry. Glue stick tends to dry quickly, so an hour should do the trick.
Step 10: Once the glue is dry, get out your scissors and trim around the edge of the tile, rounding around the corners so no paper corners can be seen around the edge of your pendant. Let it dry overnight so it can cure completely.
Step 11: The next day assemble your bail mounting supplies. Here we have the sealed tiles we’ve been making, toothpicks, work cardboard, a box of dichroic Aanraku bails (small size), and E6000 (the glue). What you don’t see and should use are some gloves and a well-ventilated area – E6000 is great glue, but nasty nasty business. Protect those paws and lungs!
Step 12: Put the glue on the bails, I’m making a horizontal necklace here, so I’m using two bails. Using the toothpick, I try to kind of spin the toothpick as I’m applying the glue because that way all the glue comes off and doesn’t leave spooky ghost glue strings floating after it … if that made sense. Anyway, see photo for the right amount of glue per bail, for vertical tiles just place one of these daubs in the center of the top edge of the pendant.
Step 13: Now to apply the bails! I line them up with the top of the tile and then hinge them onto the glue (back of the tile, which is the part facing up here). Check to make sure everything is lined up and level, parallel, what have you, before leaving it dry. You should be able to pick the tile up to check the position of the bails since the glue is so thick, but don’t go crazy playing with it.
Step 14: After the glue on the bails has dried, which I would give at least a couple of hours, you can seal the back of the pendant to help make it a little more durable as well as a bit more water resistant. Potentially the necklace will touch skin, so this makes a lot of sense. You’ll need your work surface, pendant, a brush, and Judikins Diamond Glaze. Mod Podge will work well, but I’ve found it can get tacky again when exposed to moisture. That’s just my experience though.
Step 15: This is about how much Diamond Glaze I use for the first application. I use my brush to drag this squiggle of glue around the edges of the tile – sealing the edges is probably the most important part of sealing the pendant. It’s a lot like applying a clear top coat of nail polish, you have to work fast, but it makes the finished product look so nice.
Step 16: Then I apply the same amount of Diamond Glaze again and smooth it over the back of the pendant with the brush. The coat should be thick enough that you don’t see brushstrokes, but not too thick of the glaze will crack when it dries. Give it a few hours to dry and voila! your pendant is complete.
Thanks for reading! Please feel free to leave any questions/comments/suggestions below and I will do my best to answer them.
Updated: September 4, 2008
Updated: July 19, 2017