The Art of the Craft of Diamond Painting

Diamond painting is taking the DIY crafting world by storm and has helped give rise to a new form of creativity and craft making. Some kits have even become bestsellers and wishlist staples. Diamonds craft, or craft making with diamonds, has sprung up as a product of diamond painting. The abundance of diamonds has led to some very creative people finding new and clever uses for them. Diamonds craft builds on the skills needed for diamond painting but sort of breaks the mold on the paint by numbers cross stitch approach. 

Thinking outside of the box and the canvas

Any diamond painting enthusiast will know that the more you do diamond painting the more leftover supplies you will have from the craft kits. This is especially true with the little resin diamonds, or drills, which are the namesake of the craft. After completing a few kits you can have hundreds of leftover diamonds of all colors and shapes. They even start to pop up in the carpet and are hidden away in cupboards where you’d never expect them to be. Before you go crazy from a diamond art infestation it helps to have an idea of what to do with all the extras. 

Many people simply suggest a strict and well-organized storage system for the drills. This isn’t a bad idea at all. You can just put the little multifaceted resin bits into plastic bags labeled with their respective DMC codes and store them away in old egg cartons or pill organizers as many people do. Real enthusiasts even invest in proper diamond organizing trays made for diamond artists. Storage can become a real art unto itself.  

Despite that, some artists still feel the creative itch and can’t help but make something with what they have around them. Unused diamonds can feel like unsued fabric or paint or wood. They are just a mass of potential. If you don’t have another diamond painting to make that doesn’t mean you can’t still create with the diamonds you have. Letting loose, and getting away from the paint by numbers like nature of some diamond painting kits, can be cathartic too. You just have to think outside the box. 

Get your own canvas

3d, 5d, square, round, or something else all diamonds work beautifully as little pixels of vibrant color that reflect light just right. That’s why you paint with diamonds. With that, you can make endless images and beautiful works of art. Of course, diamond painting is typically done with a pre-supplied canvas that has an adhesive layer and designated spots for each drill.

Nothing can totally replace the meditative joy of filling in those spots but it is absolutely worth trying your hand at something different too. You can go to any local craft store and buy your own canvas or poster board. Instantly you have an unrealized working space just begging to be filled by all the extra diamonds you have.  

The power in this is that you can also branch out into other mediums like painting or collage. Perfect for any crafter. Simply arm yourself with a glue gun, some paint, and some brushes and have at it. At that point, the techniques and methods are nearly endless! 

For starters, you could sketch the outline of an image you would like to make directly on to the canvas. If you aren’t confident in your drawing abilities that is totally ok. Art doesn’t have to be perfect, besides you can always trace an image. Follow that up by painting over your sketch with the colors and shades you like, go crazy. Leave that to dry for some time and once it has you can then attack it with diamonds. Use a glue gun and add little dots of glue, or a thin line, where you would like the diamonds. If it helps you can use a sheet of paper to plan everything out ahead of time. 

You might also consider working on a canvas that hasn’t been stretched to a frame yet. This opens up some unique crafting possibilities. The canvas will basically move and shape like any other fabric, even with paint and diamonds applied. This means you can use your artwork in all sorts of ways. Common applications include DIY covers for decorative throw pillows, sections of large quilts, and even book covers. Anywhere you can use fabric you can apply the canvas. 

Skip the canvas and go straight for the fabric

Canvas does work as an excellent surface for painting tools and applying diamonds but really any heavy cotton or durable fabric can work as a blank working space. There are many ways to take regular everyday items and spice them up with all your leftover diamonds. You could probably walk through your house right now and find at least three things begging for the diamond treatment. All you need is glue, diamonds and an idea. 

School backpacks, heavy canvas bags, and denim clothing are excellent choices for adding diamond designs. Hats, jackets, scarves, and even gloves can all work as well. The only thing to watch out for really is stretchy materials like spandex. Sometimes these can hold a diamond design but it depends on how and where the diamonds are applied to the garment as well as how the garment is used. Lots of movement in the fabric makes it harder for the diamonds to hold so areas like elbows and knees aren’t the best for placing the drills. 

Once you have found something to stick your diamonds to then you just need to come up with a design and get to work. It is best to use a pencil to lightly mark where each diamond is going to go so that you have an outline to work from. You can even mark the outline in the same way a diamond painting canvas is marked. Using the codes for each color and shape will help keep you organized. 

When first starting out with crafts like this it is best to keep things simple. Completing a diamond painting kit is a challenge in itself which takes time and practice to do well. Time and practice are especially important when you don’t have the cross-stitch style canvas to guide you. Simple words and symbols are an excellent way to start because their forms, colors, and lines are relatively straight forward. Starting this way makes it easier to place each rhinestone appropriately and as you do so you build the skill to create more complex original images.  

You could start by putting the name of someone you love on a pillow and even enclosing it in a heart of red diamonds, maybe for Valentine’s Day. You could also try a mix of stars of different shapes and colors and put them on a backpack or jacket. Once you have done a few projects like these then you can try to make some more complex images with extra embellishments.  

How to add some complexity 

With a normal diamond painting kit, the canvas that is provided to you holds all the structure and guidance you need to make complex and beautiful images. These canvasses are made professionally and there really is no substitute for that quality. Still, let’s say you wanted to use the hundreds and hundreds of extra diamonds you have to make Van Gogh’s The Starry Night on the side of a canvas bag. There are a couple of unofficial ways to go about that.

These techniques aren’t really limited by size but it helps if you start smaller. A smaller image will require fewer drills and fewer colors and that is very helpful when completing an original image from leftovers. 

To begin you will need to find a high-quality image that you want to recreate. In this example, we are going with The Starry Night. This is an easy image to find with a Google search and that is exactly what you want. You can also use an image of your own, no problem! Once you have that image you need to download it to your computer. From there you should do another Google search for ‘pixelate image’. This is where the fun begins. 

There are several free tools online where you can upload your image and pixelate it. Every image is made up of pixels which are just the tiny points of color that make up the whole picture. When you pixelate something it makes these points bigger and groups them together. The high-resolution image begins to look exactly like a diamond painting made with square drills. You can even play with the pixel size and you’ll want to do this to help align your image with the surface it is going on.  

Once the image is pixelated go ahead and print it out. The whole image should fit within the space you want to recreate it and the pixel size should be about the same as the diamonds you are using. For this method, square drills are best. If the pixels aren’t quite right then you should go back to the computer to resize them. Having the pixels the same size as the diamonds is ideal, otherwise, the pixels should be a little bit bigger. 

The next step is the hardest. You need to count how wide and how tall your image is in terms of pixels and then multiply those numbers to get the total number of diamonds you need to finish the image. Then you need to make a list of each color in the image and count how many times you are going to use it. This doesn’t have to be exact, just close. You want to try matching these colors to what you have available. Don’t worry if it isn’t perfect though or if you’re missing a color, you can always order more diamonds or even just paint in the missing section. 

For The Starry Night example, the image is pixelated to a block size of 23 px which makes it 36 blocks by 42 blocks in size. That means you would need a whopping 1,512 diamonds to complete the image. An array of blues, whites, browns, greens, and yellows would be required. As you can see, this approach will make quick work of any extra diamonds you have had laying around. 

Recreating the image 

With your desired image pixelated, printed to the right size, and paired with the right amounts and types of diamonds you can now recreate your image. There are a few common ways to do this and the success of each one depends on the specifics of your project. 

If you have the right kind of fabric or surface for the job then the best way to do this next step is with transfer paper. Transfer paper allows you to print an image onto it and then transfer that image to cloth or canvas using heat. When done well the image transfer is colorful and detailed. All you need to do is print the pixelated image on to transfer paper and then transfer it to the surface you want. Then you can apply the diamonds with glue and voila, you have your image.    

If transfer paper isn’t working for you then you can simply take the pixelated image and glue it down on a piece of canvas, a thin board or even directly to the bag or surface you want to recreate the image on. Then, using a glue gun or even a glue stick, you can apply the diamonds one by one by matching them to the right pixel. If you used square drills the final image should be made up of diamonds, should look a lot like the original image, and should rival any full drill diamond painting.   

Another method requires having a light table or a dimmable light pad. This also only works with lighter colored materials so dark denim is out. To do this you need to place the light source under the surface you want to recreate the image on. For example, let’s use a canvas bag. To make this work you need to put the light pad in the canvas bag, then put the pixelated image on top of the light pad, and finally, the outside of the canvas bag should be the outer most layer. 

The light will then shine through the pixelated image and make it visible on the outer surface of the canvas bag. From there you can apply glue and start placing diamonds. Two downsides with this approach are that it can be hard to make out colors sometimes and the underlying image can move around. To help with this you should use a pencil to lightly mark the edges of the image on the surface you are working on. You can also use a pin or needle to hold the image to the fabric.  

Sometimes it also helps to make light markings on the working surface. You can outline the underlying image, make notes on colors for different spots, even copy everything over pixel for pixel. When done well the final result will be a beautiful diamond painting made from your original image. 

Regardless of how you make the final image the final step should involve a sealant. Sealing your diamond craft will help hold everything in place and give it the durability it needs for use out in the world. There are several ways to go about this and most traditional methods for sealing a diamond painting will work.     

A tiger diamond painting.       

Let loose with diamonds 

From a diamond painting canvas to a regular canvas, to fabric, diamonds can be applied almost anywhere. If you’re feeling creative you might as well take this to the extreme. There is no reason not to apply the excess diamonds to any object you like. Coffee mugs, laptop covers, lamps, you name it. These little points of color are perfect for making a design on any surface that can take glue. 

The diamonds don’t always need to be glued to a surface either. You can break loose from traditional diamond embroidery. You could take an assortment of different colored diamonds and fill the bottom of a vase or bottle with them to make a decorative home decor piece. You could even stick flowers in with them. Alternatively, you could add several drills to gift bags and boxes as a form of handmade festive confetti-like coloring. 

You can especially pay attention to the way the diamonds interact with light and use that to your advantage. Attaching the diamonds to the insides or outsides of lampshades and overhead lights can have a great effect. Combing Christmas lights and clear containers full of diamonds can also be quite striking. There is lots of room to play. You can even combine lights, paint, stickers, needlework, and papercrafts into an original piece of wall art. See where your creativity takes you. 

A diamond painting of a park in autumn.   

Time to unleash your diamond painting craft

The beauty of diamonds craft is that the diamonds themselves are so versatile. Images and color can be added to almost any surface in varying levels of complexity too. Breaking free of traditional diamond painting is a real challenge but a challenge worth taking. Making things with the diamonds themselves can never fully replace diamond painting though. Each form works hand in hand with the other.