Making a bindi

Aside from doing my own costumes, I’ve been known to make jewellery, specifically items that I wish I could buy but never found, or never found anything I liked well enough. An example of this was a Victorian/Art Nouveau choker made with real garnets that I wanted, but every piece I found available was either made with crystals (or worse, plastic) or not made in a style I liked, and vintage pieces were prohibitive (and still not what I had in mind). So, some years ago I bought a few findings, wire, garnet beads, and created the choker of my dreams. And promptly gave it away to a friend for her wedding.

Still, as part of that work, and as part of the costume making process, I accumulated certain materials: silver plated jewellery findings, silver-plated wire, beads, some tools, flat back crystals. Part of that still gets used for beading (see the new teal bra for details), but others were left unused. I also finally discovered a spirit gum that allowed me to wear bindis without falling off my face, and therefore I started searching for bindis I liked. Sadly, most of the bindi makers I liked live abroad, and the shipping for their teensy but lovely items was prohibitive (think about 50% or more of the cost of a bindi). What to do? Elementary: since I had nearly all the materials, I’d try my hand at making them myself.

I checked a couple of tutorials online and realised that the process was rather simple, just paste what you wanted over a suitable base. I picked acetate sheets, and my supplies, and used a suitable glue (E6000). If you want to try your hand at making one, you can follow my instructions. The process is not difficult, but it can be very fiddly, as you’re dealing with very small parts. You will need:

assorted findings, crystals and stones

assorted findings, crystals and stones

  • acetate sheets: you can find these at craft stores
  • masking or paper tape
  • suitable glue: I’ve read GemTac works, but I’ve also read it’s not really suitable; if you’ll be bonding stones or crystals to metals, you might want to use something a bit sturdier, so I picked E6000 (also recommended often for crystal embellishing and jewellery)
  • a wax pencil or picker is not necessary, you can use tweezers, but the picker makes your life easier
  • stones, crystals, pearls, findings, whatever you want to put on the bindi, this is where your creativity comes in!

Pictured above, an example of materials you’d need, which has antique bronze and antique silver coloured findings, abalone shell cabochon, a 7mm Swarovski, and quite a few other smaller Swarovski crystals of assorted sizes So, now that you’ve got everything you need, how do you do it all?

mock-up bindi

mock-up bindi

  1. pick your supplies and have it all at hand.
  2. needless to say, remove any child or pet, make sure you’re working in a well ventilated environment, and if you’re going to be cutting findings and not just using crystals, make sure you wear protective gear
  3. over a stable background, put together a mock-up of your desired bindi: arrange the findings, stones and crystals in a way that you find pleasant, take note of whether any finding needs a more even base or has bits sticking out that might result in unbalanced crystals; see example of this on the right
  4. if you have a rogue finding, you will need to grab a file and file down the offending parts; quite often you might want to remove unwanted parts of findings (like connecting rings), or split findings into several parts to have more versatility; for each of these, you will need to file down the edges by hand (again, example of modified pieces on the right)
  5. cut a piece of the acetate about half bigger than your finished bindi, secure to your working surface with masking tape to make sure it stays put
  6. first layer of the bindi

    first layer of a bindi

  7. with a thin piece of wire, or a match, or something equally thin, smear some glue over the acetate, and following your chosen glue’s instructions, start building your bindi: use the wax pencil to pick up each piece and arrange them over the glued-up acetate, starting with the bottom layer; I prefer to start from the centre outwards, as it helps to keep it all balanced; this first layer for me tends to be metal findings
  8. once your foundation layer is done, add the second layer, if required, in the same manner: this is when I add crystals or gemstones and other accents
  9. nearly finished bindi

    nearly finished bindi

  10. it will look a bit messy; I’d let it cure for 48 hours, and after that time, cut carefully around the edge of the bindi, then go through the nooks and crevices of the findings and crystals with a needle or a pin to remove leftover glue

If you want to minimise your glue waste (and mess!), you can assemble your mock-up over paper, then trace the outline before putting the acetate on top, so you just put glue within the outline. I should also warn you that the glue does get everywhere, and even if you are careful, you will find globs of it all over the bindi no matter how careful you are, that’s why it is vital to do the final step and remove the leftover glue after it’s had time to cure.

As I said, not difficult, but rather fiddly, worth doing if you’ve got the materials lying around or you require a particular colour combination, but keep into account that crystals do sell by the 50s or 100s, so you might not want to do this for a one-off project unless you’ve got the items already. You can also make these as cheap or expensive as you want: I only use Swarovskis or gemstones or vintage stones in mine, and quite a few of my findings are silver plated, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t do cheap and cheerful versions. I did a few trials with resin 4mm stones, and found that while they do look ok, when comparing them with Swarovskis, or even EIMASS (English) crystals, they were not catching the light as well. And that is what I wanted them for: as embellishments, and therefore they needed to be as sparkly as possible. The beauty of this, however, is that you could also use vintage costume jewellery, or broken jewellery items instead of crystals and findings. You’d still need to clean them up, but if you are after a very specific look, it might be something to consider. And you could make other facial adornments, not just bindis.

Now, if you still want bindis, but don’t want to do them yourself, why not head over to the shop to look at the ones I’ve got for sale?

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