Tutorial: Glass Gem Magnets

Nothing makes me feel more like a parent than eating a double bread heel sandwich. What I would have avoided most as a child is now my fate. There’s probably some sort of lesson there.

Anyway, it’s September, and for people with kids, people who teach, people who work in libraries and are clinging to their last shred of sanity after summer programming, that means it’s time to gear up for school. So, with that in mind, let’s look at some simple crafts for back-to-school, starting with glass gem magnets.

Now, let me say that of course you don’t have to do this with kids, for kids, around kids, etc. Crafts are for everyone of any age. I just really needed a theme for my fall posts. 😉

So! On to the tutorial.

Materials List*

*Links with an asterisk (*) are affiliate links, from which I earn a small commision if you use them to order. There’s no extra cost to you. Use them or not as you prefer, but I do recommend using Dick Blick for art supplies–I’ve been happy with every order.

First, gather your supplies, or, if you’re waiting for some to come in the mail, work out what you can do in the meantime. Nothing’s more frustrating than realizing you can’t complete a project because you don’t have all the materials when you’ve already made a terrific mess.

For my magnets, I started with a pile of magazines. I happened to score some that were withdrawn from a library–that can be a great source, depending on your library’s policy, if you just politely ask if you can have some when they weed their collection. Or, ask if they sell them at a used book sale. I personally haven’t subscribed to a magazine in years, so this was, surprisingly, the hardest thing to get (still not very hard). Look for magazines that are printed on decent paper for best results.

I went through the magazines and roughly cut out shapes that I thought were funny or cute. Put one of the glass gems over the picture before you cut it out to see if it will fit and to make sure you don’t cut the picture too small (you can fix that by adding a second piece of paper as backing if you do).

pile of pictures cut out of magazines on a blond wooden table
Rough cut magazine pictures

I rough cut pictures and then trimmed them later. I found this to be a lot faster than meticulously cutting out each one direct from the page.

photo of a pencil held by white hands tracing around a picture using a glass gem
Tracing around a glass gem to trim a photo

Once your picture is trimmed to the size of the glass gem, using a paintbrush, apply a thin layer of Mod Podge. I put it on the paper itself, but you could just as easily put it on the back of the gem. Press the paper onto the back of the gem. Don’t put on too much Mod Podge or it gets goopy.

photo of bottle of Mod Podge next to a paper towel, a small yellow paintbrush, a glass gem, and a photo of a smiley face
Getting ready to apply a thin layer of Mod Podge

Let the Mod Podge dry for at least 30 minutes. I ended up leaving mine overnight because I had other things to do (read: I got tired of taking my cat off the table where I was trying to work).

When they are dry, decide if you want to add another layer of paper backing. The magazines I used were printed quite cheaply and the pages are see-through if you hold it up to the light. I ended up putting white construction paper on the back (same method as above) to help the pictures pop. If you’re using thicker paper, you likely won’t need to bother with this step. Once that’s dry, or if you are skipping this step, move to the next step…

…which for me was super fun because I got to try out my new hot glue gun. I took 3/4″ magnets and hot glued them to the back of each gem. I used maybe a small pea sized dot of hot glue.

This is the part where if you’re working around cats or little kids, or, I don’t know, an especially curious wombat, you’ll obviously want to be careful. Both the glue and the glue gun tip are hot and yet for some reason very, very tempting to touch.

photo of magnet glued to glass gem on a blond wood table, other magnets and a hot glue gun visible in background
A freshly hot glued magnet. Note that the paper backing doesn’t need to be perfectly trimmed, it just needs to not poke out when seen from the front

Let the hot glue dry for a while, and bam, you’re done.

Here are the magnets I made:

glass gem magnets on a white background, first magnet shows a wine bottle, second one a plant, and third a wine bottle
These would be nice as part of a housewarming gift
Assorted glass gem magnets on a blond wood table
A variety of magnets I made

Use them to hang lists, homework, or artwork on your fridge? No kids? No reason you can’t display your own art. 😉

Let me know if you found this tutorial helpful! I’d love to see what you make.


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