The most frequently asked question I get is how I make my paper quilled jewelry water resistant. What sealant do I use? Which is best? How do I apply it? Well, it’s about time I show how and what I use so that it’ll be easy for me to direct anyone toward this post instead of typing out an answer each time. Plus this includes pictures, which are always helpful!
The most basic answer I can give is that you can most likely use any sealant that you can get at your local craft store. But do be sure to read the directions, as some are made specifically for paper and some are not. Also some are water resistant, some are water proof (rare!), and some just give some sturdiness but are not really water resistant. Think about what type of coverage you want, read the bottle carefully, and go from there.
Having said that, I also want to share which products I use, how I use them, and why.
First up, PPA (Perfect Paper Adhesive). PPA is a glue, a sealant, and a topcoat. It provides a very water resistant layer to your paper quilling. PPA is my absolute favorite glue for paper quilling, click HERE to read my blogpost about quilling glues to see why! But it is also great as a sealant.
To use as a sealant, either dip your brush into some PPA or squeeze some PPA onto your brush from your glue bottle. Paint the PPA onto your quilling piece on one side. You will notice that it is white looking. But don’t worry, it dries perfectly clear and also soaks into the paper, so it won’t leave clumps. When one side has dried, you can flip it over and do the same to the other side. When the second side has dried, put another layer on, this time dabbing your brush into all the crooks and crannies to cover all surfaces. The better you cover your surfaces, the more sturdy and water resistant your piece will be. In these photos I used PPA to seal this butterfly earring:
Another nice feature of PPA is that it comes in matte or gloss. The matte has a very matte finish, nice for when you don’t want your paper quilling to look shiny at all, but still want that sturdy and water resistant finish. When you use PPA as a sealant, the color of your paper will stay exactly the same, nice when you don’t want to risk a sealer that may change the shade of your paper. The gloss is a very nice shiny look.
Next up, liquid matte sealant – this is the sealant that I most commonly use for my paper quilled jewelry because it works very well and is also one of the first ones I ever tried.
**UPDATE** This sealant can be found here in Malaysia, but if you are in the US, check out Ceramcoat All Purpose Sealer, which I now use and works the same. Click here to read a full review post about the Ceramcoat All Purpose Sealer.
It comes in a little jar with a flip top lid (like in the photo above, not in the photos below) . It is called matte sealer, but if you use several layers your finished piece will have a bit of a shine (but not as shiny as a gloss finish sealant). If you just use one layer it will be matte. This sealant is very useful for many crafts! I’ve often painted it over paper mache that has been painted with poster paints which helps seal the paint so it doesn’t chip and also makes it water resistant. But of course I mostly use it for paper quilling!
To use all you do is dip your brush into it and paint it onto your piece. For most quilling you’ll want to paint one side, let it dry, paint the other side and let it dry, and lastly paint all the crevices and let it dry. The reason you want to do one side at a time and then the crevices is that if you put too much sealant on all at once your piece can get soggy and out of shape. By using several layers (allowing it to dry between layers) it prevents this from happening. This sealant is white, but it quickly soaks in and dries to a clear matte finish. Because this sealant is liquid you could also pour it into a small spray bottle and spray it onto your pieces. I did this for a long time, but now I prefer the painting method because it doesn’t waste some of the sealant. But if you are doing a large surface area, then the spraying method works great! For solid pieces of quilling you can also just dip the piece into the sealant, dab off the excess with a tissue, and lay to dry on a plastic surface. Click here to read a post all about making sure that your coils don’t open up when you put on sealant.
When you use this liquid matte sealer on your paper quilling you will notice that it makes the shade of your paper just a TINY bit darker. I have not found this to be a problem at all, but just wanted to point it out. When the sealer soaks into the paper you can see the color difference. Also, if you want to make sure your piece is water resistant you definitely want to do at least two complete coats of this sealant. Because it soaks into the paper so much, sometimes one layer is just not enough. Your piece will still be sturdy and mostly water resistant, but there is definitely a better result with at least two complete layers. You will notice as you put on the second layer that it does not soak in as quickly as the first layer.
**UPDATE** To make sure that your piece is very water resistant, it is BEST to put on a topcoat on top of the sealant after it is completely dry. You can use the PPA, Crystal Coat Glaze, Diamond Glaze, 3D Crystal Lacquer, or others. If you do not put a topcoat over the sealer, the sealer can kind of wear off over time. It is awesome for stiffening up your quilling and I almost always use it, but I either use many layers, or usually put a topcoat on top of it.
The third type of sealant I use is Crystal Coat Glaze (find it here at Custom Quilling or here on Amazon). It gives a clear glossy finish! This is my favorite sealant to use when I make pieces that are inset such as this one below. Just glue your pieces into the inset pendant base (use the crystal coat glaze as your glue as well) and then squeeze a layer of crystal coat glaze over the whole thing. It will appear to look 3D and a cloudy color, but will flatten out as it dries to fill in all the crevices and be clear, shiny, and hard! Allow to dry for at least a couple days for a hard finish, at least in a tropical climate like it is here! If you use the crystal coat glaze for this purpose, one tube will usually last between 2-4 pendants (each pack comes with three bottles). *it now comes in either a three pack of little tubes or a new 2 oz. bottle! You could also use PPA glossy for this purpose.
Here I am using crystal coat glaze as a topcoat for these quilled pieces. They have already been dipped into the liquid matte sealant and left to dry. But I wanted to give a final coat that was glossy. I just squeeze a bit of the glaze onto my paintbrush and paint it onto one side of the piece. After it dries I’ll do the other side and then the sides. I also often put my earrings onto their earring hooks, then add the crystal coat glaze to all sides at once and hang to dry on my earring rack.
Instead of painting the glaze on you can also just squeeze it on. This has a nice effect because it gives a bit of a thicker coat. You can hold it in your hand to do this, or lay it on a plastic surface. Make sure one side is completely dry before doing the second side! You can use crystal coat glaze as your only sealant, but I usually use it on top of the liquid matte sealer so that I don’t have to use as much crystal coat glaze, unless I am using it for an inset pendant as seen above. The reason I do this is that it is a bit more expensive than the other options and works just as well if just used as a topcoat over another sealant.
So there are three of the types of sealant that I currently use. With any of them, make sure you rinse your paintbrush completely immediately after using the sealants so they don’t dry onto your brush. If they do dry onto your brush, just soak in soapy hot water to try and get off as much as the sealant as you can, but you may have to replace your brush anyway. I wrote another article with more sealants that show the different effects of each one. Click here to read that article!
I get a lot of questions about water resistant vs waterproof. I don’t know any product that claims to be 100% waterproof unless you want to dip your final pieces into resin or something like that (which I have done and is another option if you like to play around with resin, but that’s for another post). But all of these sealants will give a great, very water resistant seal. This means that you don’t have to worry about being caught in the rain. You don’t even have to worry if your piece gets spilled on or accidentally drops into a liquid. However, prolonged exposure to water is still not a good idea. For example, you will not want to leave a piece in your pants pocket and let it go through the washing machine! You will also want to remove it before bathing or swimming. Though if you realize halfway through your shower that you are still wearing your paper quilled earrings you can still remove them and lay them out to dry and they will most likely be perfectly fine! (I’ve done that a couple times)
Whew, that was a lot to read I’m sure! If you have any other questions about using sealant for your paper quilling, let me know in the comments below and I’ll add the answers to this post or make a follow up post.
**UPDATE** – Since writing this article, I have written many more about specific sealants and topcoats that I have used. Click here to read them all!
Click HERE to view many more tips and tricks for paper quilling, divided into subjects!
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