Have you ever lost one or more crystals in your electroforming bath? I did! When I first started electroforming I had no idea you have to seal crystals before plunging them in the acid bath. As a result, I lost several beautiful crystals… they literally dissolved! After doing some research, I found out that you can protect crystals with liquid latex. Now, I simply can’t live without it! In this post, I explain why you should seal your crystals with liquid latex and a step by step guide on how to do it.
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What’s liquid latex?
Liquid latex is usually made with latex, water, and ammonia. It is mostly used throughout the film industry for costume designs or to create realistic cuts, wrinkles or gashes on the skin. If you look online you’ll quickly notice that many people use it for their Halloween costumes.
But there’s very little this product can’t do, and that’s why I choose to use it to seal my crystals for electroforming. The first time someone told me to use liquid latex to protect my crystals I had no idea what kind of latex I was supposed to choose or how to apply it! I thought there was a special liquid latex for crafts, but it turns out you can use just any liquid latex.
Most of the time, liquid latex is transparent, which is not always the best when you’re sealing crystals because you want to see where you apply it. So, I recommend buying a colored liquid latex (like skin color for example). The one I use is yellowish so I can easily see if I’ve missed a spot. Also, you’ll see a lot of people complain about the smell, apparently, sometimes it smells really strong of ammonia. I don’t have this problem with mine though.
Why should I seal my crystals with liquid latex?
Because your electrolytic bath contains acid, crystals can dissolve during the electroforming process. For this reason, you need to seal your crystals before you plunge them into your bath. There is a rule that says any crystal lower than a 7 on the MOH scale of mineral hardness should be sealed.
Stones like Quartz, Amethyst or Jasper do well in the electroforming bath for example. Others like Chrysocolla, Larimar or Malachite need sealing or they will literally dissolve during the electroforming process – and this isn’t nice believe me!
As far as I’m concerned, I like to seal all my crystals, even the ones that are over 7 on the MOH scale simply because I don’t want them to be damaged. When I first started electroforming, I wasn’t sealing my crystals so I have found several times that some of them, even the Quartz, had scratches when I took them out of the bath. So, now I just seal everything.
By the way, you can also seal organics, glass cabochons, resin, and pretty much everything with liquid latex. I use it to protect my seashells for example, but I wouldn’t use it on delicate organics though. I would worry about damages on fragile items such as leaves or bugs. For this, I recommend a spray sealant instead.
How to seal crystals with liquid latex
Sealing crystals with liquid latex is pretty straightforward. I always put 3 coats of liquid latex to make sure I have covered the entire crystal, I wouldn’t want to have a dissolved spot right in the middle of my stone. Also, liquid latex is usually very liquid, so it can be tricky to apply it the first time you try. So, here is how to seal crystals with liquid latex:
1. I like to clean my crystals before I seal them, especially when they’re raw. You can clean them with an old toothbrush to remove impurities, sand, and dirt that can be stuck in the corners. I don’t always use water because some crystals should not be submerged in water.
2. Make your design. Whether you’re using epoxy, or simply gluing your bail on the stone.
3. Apply your conductive paint where you want copper to form.
4. Apply the first coat of latex on the area of your crystal you want to seal. Don’t put too much or it’ll take forever to dry. To apply, you can use a paintbrush – but it’ll be ruined after one use. I reuse mine all the time but it is covered with dry latex now. Or you can also use something like a cocktail swizzle stick. You can remove the latex from the tip of your plastic stick once it’s dry. Wait for your liquid latex to dry and apply the second coat. Same for the third coat.
5. Make sure you apply your liquid latex right next to the paint. Try not to leave any gaps.
6. Wait for your liquid latex to be completely dry before you electroform. Mine takes around 30 minutes to dry, but I’d recommend waiting at least an hour just to be sure. Electroform.
7. After electroforming, I like to leave the liquid latex on for the polishing part. Simply because it protects my crystals from having debris from my steel wood pad in their crevasses (especially raw crystals).
8. Peel off the liquid latex and voilà!
If you want to electroform an expensive stone, like an Opal, for example, you can coat it with clear nail polish before sealing it with liquid latex. I have never tried this, and have heard many people say that sealing an Opal is quite tricky.
Watch the process:
What liquid latex should I choose?
Liquid latex is easy to find, and you can obviously find it on amazon. I use natural liquid latex from Germany, I love it because it doesn’t smell of ammonia, and does the job. I bought it on Amazon France, and unfortunately, it’s not on Amazon US so I will just recommend other brands I know other artists use.
- Latex Fashion Liquid Latex (Ammonia Free) – on Amazon. This liquid latex has been used by many artists and everyone loves it! Definitely my best recommendation!
- Creature Liquid Latex on Amazon
- Latex liquide NATUR 1 litre on Amazon France – that’s the one I use.
Liquid latex is the best thing to use to seal and protect your beautiful crystals in the electroforming bath. You can also use it to protect organic materials such as seashells or bones for example.
If you want to learn more about the electroforming process, check out my post on how to copper electroform a pendant and my complete list of supplies for newbie electroformers!
Have you ever used liquid latex to seal your crystals? Let me know in the comments below!