Friday, June 12, 2015

Ballroom Tip: Reclaiming Rhinestones

As discussed last week, typically rhinestones falling off costumes is a bad thing.  However, there are times when you might want to remove rhinestones from a costume or accessory. For example, perhaps you stoned your shoes and the shoes have worn out. Perhaps a a bracelet broke and is no longer wearable, or a stoned hair piece ripped.  The object is no longer usable, but the stones might still be.
Start by breaking down your object if necessary.  I have taken pictures of doing this for a small hair piece, but if I were doing this to a costume, I would dismantle the costume by removing the skirts and leotard, ripping out elastics, and leaving only fabric pieces with stones.  Place the fabrics in a container big enough to hold the fabric submerged and that you don't mind having chemicals in.  Here I'm retiring a hair piece I made and no longer use, and I put it in a small plastic yogurt container.

Now pour in your glue remover of choice.  Acetone and acetone substitutes work great.  For this removal, I used a half-full bottle of nail polish remover.  I've heard that Goo-gone works as well, and that it can be applied locally so as to not damage the rest of the costume.  I can't vouch for that, as I've only done this on fabrics I knew I wasn't going to use again.  Pour on enough that the fabric is fairly well submerged, though complete submersion didn't seem to be necessary. The fumes alone are fairly powerful.  This is why I cover the container and put it out of the way for a day or two.
It will look like nothing is happening, except the liquid turns a repulsive color.  When I've let it sit for a day or so, I pull on some latex or cleaning gloves and rub the fabric against itself a bit.  The rhinestones fall right off.  After a wash, the undamaged ones are ready to to be glued again.
I have only done with fabrics I planned to discard, but honestly, they never seemed to be damaged by their dunk in acetone.  Certainly the dried eyelash glue on the back of this hair piece didn't go anywhere.  It's effectiveness at not dissolving is becoming annoying.

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