Making DIY Photo Jewelry with Glass Cabochons and Pendant Tray Tutorial

Making DIY Pendant Tray Jewelry Tutorial.

Pendant Tray Tutorial


Lilly D’s Pendant Tray Tutorial with Glass Cabochons

Pendant Tray Tutorial- I hope you enjoy our in depth Pendant Tray Tutorial with Glass Cabochons with links to the DIY craft supplies & photo jewelry supplies you will need in this tutorial. If you are new to using pendant trays, DIY craft kits, photo jewelry pieces, and glass cabochons, this tutorial is for you.

** Before we start. Please know that we offer this free tutorial to anyone who wants to read it. It is our hope that you will use us as your preferred supplier when you buy your items. Whether you are making one necklace or hundreds of necklaces, we would love to earn your business. Hopefully this tutorial shows just how much we love helping our customers. We also offer fast VIP support to our customers when they have any questions regarding making our items. If you are a customer & have any questions please contact us with your order number and question by using our contact page here.


Glass Cabochon Tutorial
(Understanding and choosing the right supplies you’re using will be a huge key to your success.)

**** Important **** This tutorial is much more in depth than you will find with just about any other similar tutorial on the internet. You can read much simpler ones like we used to have here but then you will end up with issues that can ruin your pieces or you’ll find out they turn yellow 3 months later if you’re not careful. The total time it actually takes to make your pieces is less than 30 minutes but with printing and drying times it can seem a little discouraging your first few tries. However,  once you have made 2 or 3 pieces you will be amazed at just how fast you have become. I have plenty of customers that make these for a living (a pretty good one to) that have told me they wish there had been a tutorial like this from the get go. So here it is…… =)

DIY Craft Supplies

  • Scissors- Use a pair of sharp scissors for cutting out your images and doing some trimming.
  • Exacto Knife – Use this for trimming around your images. You can also use hole punches for many shapes and sizes but we prefer using the trimming method with an exacto knife as it allows for more control over your pieces.
  • Nail File – This will be used to get rid of excess paper and give your pieces a professional finish. We like to have several different coarses of files on hand.
  • Small Paint Brush – To apply glaze to the back of your images and seal your trays.
  • Bezel Settings – Also known as pendant trays, photo trays, or jewelry blanks. In this tutorial we are using 3 different settings. A pendant tray necklace, a cuff bracelet, and a adjustable ring setting.
  • Glass Cabochons – If this is your first time working with glass and images/photos I would highly recommend buying extra glass to practice with on your first few tries as nothing is more frustrating than when you accidentally mess up a piece of glass and can’t finish your projects until your new glass arrives in the mail. Something that is also very important to note is that crafting glass does not have perfect clarity at all times before you use your image and glaze due to the process used to manufacture them. We pride ourselves in the quality of our glass and have several thousands of customers that buy our glass cabochons to supply their glass needs but is important to note that you will on occasion see a piece that has a scratch or minor blemish that will disappear once your glaze and images are applied. The reason for this is due to the way light reflects through the glass before you have started working with it. You can find extra glass by visiting our Glass Cabochons section here or at our Etsy store here.
  • Glass Cabochon “Lilly Glaze” Glue – Also referred to as glue, epoxy, and adhesives. This is by far the most important part of this process as the type of glue/glaze you use will absolutely make or break all of your work. It can cause hours, days, and even weeks of frustration if you do not start with the right glue/glaze to affix your images and/or photos to your glass cabochons. In this tutorial we use our own personal adhesive called “Lilly Glaze.” With thousands of bottles sold Lilly Glaze has been tried & tested with nothing but exceptional reviews from our customers. It is specifically formulated to setup fairly quick, dry fast, and not cause your pieces to have those annoying air bubbles that will ruin your work after it has dried. It is very common for customers to try and use products like modge podge, diamond glaze, glossy accents, etc.. only to be frustrated at the end when everything dries and you see air bubbles or deep yellowing that ruins all your efforts. In our humble opinion these are great products but they are not designed for glass and images being bonded together. We are all for creative freedom and learning by trial and error but please know this is probably where you need to be the most conservative when learning this DIY craft. So from this point on in our tutorial we will refer to your glass cabochon glue as”Lilly Glaze.” You can get Lilly Glaze here on our website by clicking here or at our Etsy store here.
  • Paper- We highly suggest you use a heavy matte cardstock paper that is somewhere in the 75-100lb range. The heavier you go the more you have to make sure your printer will feed that paper. Do not use glossy paper or your Lilly Glaze will not bond your image to your glass. You definitely want your paper to have a smooth finish but not so smooth that there are no pores for the glaze to pull the paper to the glass. The largest reason for heavy matte paper is that the paper will not curl and the glaze will not soak through the paper like you would get if you use a lighter paper. We always encourage experimentation so try different weights of paper and even different finishes if you would like. You can find paper at many places. Your local copy or office store is the best place or of course you can use Amazon.
  • Printer- This is definitely where  you have to make an important decision. Printing using a color laser printer will save you some time & few extra steps. However, we know that the average person does not just have a color laser printer as their home printer. Part of this is due to cost & the other part is due to people just not knowing the difference between a ink jet printers and laser printers which is very understandable. There are advantages to both when it comes to using images & glass cabochons. Lets address them real quick if you do not already know:
  1. Color Laser Printers- Laser printers are the easiest to use when working with glass cabochons not only because of the clarity of color laser prints but also because they use a process of magnetizing the paper so that the powder inside your toner cartridges adhere to the paper verse using actual ink that you use in a ink jet printer. This means color laser prints will not smudge from the water & liquid properties that you will find in almost all glass adhesives. This is very convenient and makes the process of attaching an image to glass easier. So really the decision comes down to cost. Back in the day the cost of buying a color laser printer was just not feasible. You were easily talking $1000 and up. But with the advent of efficient technology they have become much less expensive. We have bought 2 of these lovely HP color laserjet printers for our office and 1 for our home. We have never had a problem and they are right at $200 when we wrote this tutorial.  They come with starter toner which will print several hundred pages. We have found that we save money in the long run with color laser as we get around 2,000 pages for each toner color. Whereas with our inkjet printer we may only get 200 pages. If you do not want to purchase a color laser printer but like the benefits of one you can simply take your images to your local copy or office store and they will print them on their color laser printer for a very small amount of money. We pay less than .50 cents a page for the paper and printing at our local Fedex Kinko’s or Office Max stores.
  2. Inkjet Printers- Inkjet printers are pretty self explanatory as they basically spray ink on paper to get your images transferred. The only downside to inkjet printers is that the ink will smear or smudge when it comes in contact with a water based liquid. If you have ever spilled any water or other liquid on your inkjet prints you know exactly what we are mentioning. Since almost all safe crafting glues are water based you will need protect the ink by using a product called Microglaze by Judikins. This is a waxy substance that you cover your inkjet prints with to basically waterproof it the same way as if your were scotch guarding a fabric.  There are a few other products out there that try to do the same thing but they are hit & miss whereas Microglaze has been tested over & over by us and other crafting experts. It is also extremely easy to use and one bottle lasts forever. You can find MicroGlaze on Amazon here as we are out of stock right now. One bottle will last years & years.


Let’s Start Creating

We are going to make our pendant tray with glass cabochon pieces using inkjet prints as it requires one more step than using color laser prints and because we know most people use a inkjet printer it just makes since. If you are using a color laser printer or are having them printed for you at a copy/office supply store you can skip the part where we use Microglaze to seal the front of the images and jump to Step 4.

Step 1: Preparing your supplies & work area-  Choose a level and a flat surface to work on. Use a paper towel to clean all of your supplies from dust and/or debris. We like to use a warm moist paper towel to clean our glass cabochons before we start to use them as the last thing you want is foreign debris on your glass when you get ready to start working with it.

Step 2: Print your images & Let Dry- Here is where many people will make a mistake by trying to print their images and not allowing them to dry long enough. If you happen to be using color laser prints you can skip this step as laser prints are not using actual ink and the toner dries within minutes. If you are using a inkjet printer we suggest you print your images and allow at least 2-3 hours of drying time before using your prints. Preferably you will print them the night before you start your project but some of us are not that…Once they are dry you want to cut them out with plenty of excess paper around your images so that your Lilly Glaze can bleed out of the edges of your glass instead of on to your lovely workspace =) If you look at our tutorial pictures you can tell cut we cut our images out with about 3-4mm of space around the edges of the image.

 Applying Microglaze
Applying your Microglaze

Step 3: Seal your inkjet prints with Microglaze- Please remember if you are using a color laserjet or having them printed you can skip this step. Microglaze is a waxy substance that is going to seal your images from the water and liquid properties contained in any glue or adhesives you use to bond your image to your glass like our Lilly Glaze once applied. In this tutorial we use a brush to apply the Microglaze but you can just as easily use the tip of your finger if it is clean. A small amount of this goes a very long way so use as little as possible. Simply use your brush or finger tip that has the smidge of microglaze on it and cover the entire image. Be sure to create as little friction as possible so you don’t cause the ink on your image to smear. Make sure the entire image is covered with a extra thin waxy looking shine to it. You can make sure by holding it up to a light and looking at it from different angles. You should not see any significant wax build up. Now let the Microglaze absorb into the image and dry for another 30-60 minutes. Once you have done that you then want to buff the image out as smooth and as shiny as possible with your finger tip. You are essentially trying to get rid of all visual traces of the Microglaze and only leaving the protective layer that has absorbed into the paper so get rid of as much as possible. Again, do not apply to much pressure as you do not want any friction to cause the ink under the Microglaze to smudge. It would be the equivalent of buffing out the wax on a car or hard wood floor. If you leave to much build up on your image you can make your image so slick it will not adhere to the glass. Once you have buffed the Microglaze off of the image let it now dry for a little while longer to be safe. If you plan it correctly you can print your images, apply your microglaze, buff them out, and let them dry overnight so you can start finishing your pieces the next day. If your glass peals away after you glue your image you have left to much Microglaze.

Apply Lilly Glaze to Glass Cabochon
Applying Lilly Glaze


Step 4: Applying your Lilly Glaze- Make sure you are using a flat surface to work on with sufficient light and NEVER shake the bottle. It will cause unwanted air Bubbles in your glaze that can ruin your project. Turn your glass cabochon on it’s top so the back of the glass side is facing up. Open your glaze and slowly rotate the bottle upside down allowing the air to escape away from the spout. The amount of glaze you will apply will depend on the size of glass cabochon you are using. In the illustration above we are using a 1″ (25mm) round glass cabochon so we are using a pea size drop of glaze. You want to use enough glaze so that you can cover the entire image once you put your glass cabochon on your image but not so much that you over soak the paper causing it to start curling up like a sponge. This is why we recommend you having extra glass on your first few attempts as this step is usually the one where you will most likely have the steepest learning curve. If you use to little glaze you won’t have enough glaze to make sure your edges are sealed and if you use to much glaze you can soak your paper to much and have more glaze on the top of your glass that you will care to have clean later. As with any craft you may get it right the first time, at least that’s the goal of this, or it can take you a few attempts. But rest assured it’s not rocket science and you’ll get it.

Bonding Your Image to your Glass Cabochon
Bonding Your Image to your Glass Cabochon

Step 5: Bonding your glass cabochon to your image- Now to the easy part. Float the glass over the image so it’s centered with the image.  Once it’s on the image make a small (really small) circular motion with the glass to ensure that the epoxy is spread over the entire image. It’s better if the epoxy flows over the edges of the image because you want to make sure the edges have bonded to the entire image which you’ll be filing down anyway. The glaze will start setting up fairly quickly so after you have centered your image and have your glaze where you feel it has spread pretty evenly, apply slight pressure on the top of the glass so that you see the glaze under the glass flatten out. If there are any slight air bubbles trapped between the image & glass you should be able to see them and as your are applying pressure you will see them escape out through the edges. Once that is done it is time to leave it alone unless you notice an obvious air pocket under the glass which you want to push out as quickly as possible. Once the glaze starts setting up (drying) you want to avoid applying any pressure or you can end up accidentally pulling the paper away from the glass as it is drying and will cause what is often described as “Silver Speckles” or “Air Pockets” when it is really just the paper tearing from your glass cabochon. Now you’re going to let your image and glass completely bond & dry for a while (the longer the better) as we move on to the next step.

Sealing Your Pendant Tray
Sealing Your Pendant Tray

Step 6: Sealing Your Pendant Tray- While your glass and image are bonding together you want to seal the inside of your tray. The reason we do this is to create a barrier between the tray itself and what will be your finished glass cabochon piece so that if the tray happens to oxidize at all from the water content in the glaze it will not reach the back of your image and create a blue tint to your image.  Simply put a pea size dot of glaze in the middle of your tray and then use your paint brush to spread it thoroughly around the inside of the tray. Be sure to get the inside walls as well. Allow 5-10 minutes to dry and apply 2-3 more coats. Not everyone does this but trust us that this can save you some frustration 12-24 hours after you’ve already set your glass inside the tray. Now set your trays to the side and let them dry during the next steps. **Note** Images developing a bluish tint while it is drying usually is most present in ones with a light background. If this occurs it usually means you did not seal the inside of the tray and back of your image as well as you should have with enough dry time.

Cut Out your Image
Cut Out Your Image

Step 7: Cut out your image- Make sure your glaze has completely dried & setup. Our preference is to wait overnight to let the glaze dry completely but we have done pieces much sooner than that. The best test is to put the tip of your fingernail in the glue that bled out of the edges and if it is to soft let it dry longer. After experience we use a exacto knife to cut out around the image. You can use scissors but sometimes they will apply pressure around the edges of the glass and image and cause it to pull away if you’re not very careful. This step is really all about personal preference as to how you cut it out but this is what we have found is the most consistent. Get as close as you can to the edge removing the excess glaze and paper but make sure you do not accidentally cut into the paper that is on the edges as we’re going to file that down.

File Down Your Edges

Step 8: File down your edges- Turn your glass piece over and you’ll notice that you have some jagged edges that make your round piece of glass not look so round. Take your nail file and start sanding the excess around the edges off. It is very important that you do not sand with the image side up or you will tear the image away from the glass. Be sure to keep the image side down and sand in a downward motion so that the paper is as round as the back of the glass. Not only does this look much more professional but it will also ensure that your glass cabochon & image fit in your bezel setting tray correctly. See the below image for what you want it to look like when done filing.

Seal The Back of Your Image

Step 9: Sealing the back of your image: This is the last step of creating a barrier between your image and glass and the metal of the inside of the bezel setting tray. Put a small dot of your glaze on the back of your image and gently cover the entire back side. Don’t worry if it is uneven as you will be applying a few more coats and you can even it out then. Let the coat of glaze dry for 15-20 minutes and then repeat the process 1-2 more times. Your goal is to make sure there is no part of the paper touching any part of the metal on the inside of the tray. Remember you do this to keep your image from taking on a blue tint from the water molecules causing the tray to oxidize. I am often asked “why not use a non-water based adhesive so you do not run into this problem?” While it sounds good in theory you deal with much bigger issues like very strong and foul odors, severe corrosion of your metal, and your image will be more likely to turn a yellowish color over time. We prefer to use the least corrosive materials by simply sealing your tray and glass. Below is a picture of what the back will look like as you get better at doing this.

Getting the backs of your image this smooth takes a little practice and repetition so don’t get frustrated if your pieces do not look like this =)

Affixing Your Glass Cabochon/Image to Your Tray

Step 10: Affixing your glass cabochons & images to your trays- The final step! No secrets here. Make sure the coats of glaze that you put on the back of your images are dry completely. Put another dot of your Lilly Glaze in the tray and spread it around with your brush and then simply pit your piece in your tray and press down firmly so the image and glass cabochon glue in securely. Let dry for a while and you’re ready to start wearing your art!

Finished Pieces

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