If you’re anything like me, your paintings speak to you. Sometimes after I’ve poured and the painting has cured, it needs something. And while the painting doesn’t usually tell me exactly what that something is, I’m fortunate here in the realm of abstract art to have access to a lot of neat materials to give my pieces an extra pop.
I found a new pop lately when I visited my local AC Moore craft store. There, I encountered something called Glass Bead Gel, made by Golden. I was intrigued! There was a little sample tile on the shelf and the texture was unique; it looked and felt a bit like rough ice.
Using my ever-present coupon (AC Moore gives a standing 55 percent off coupon for those who use the app), I grabbed the only jar on the shelf and excitedly ran home to experiment!
Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a lot of clear videos online about how to use this product. It seems like this might be a somewhat underutilized medium, so hopefully, this article will help you take the leap and experiment on your own pieces!
What exactly is Golden Glass Bead Gel?
Golden Glass Bead Gel is a thick, paste-like gel that contains actual glass beads. These glass beads are very small and extremely smooth; I’ve used this a few times now and have not felt any jagged edges, and certainly nothing that could cause injury if you ran your hand over it.
When dry, the gel adds a fine, pebbly texture that beautifully reflects the color underneath. In the case of lighter or already metallic colors, like the white and gold I used in a recent 4×4 tile, the colors seemed amplified and jewel-like with the addition of this product.
There are a few ways you could use Golden Glass Bead Gel. Although I referred to it as a medium, please note that it’s not a pouring medium. That is to say, mixing this with acrylics and attempting to pour with it would be nearly impossible. The gel is too thick and would definitely hinder the pouring process.
My personal favorite use so far has been as an after-pour enhancement. This means that after the pour has cured for at least a week, I add Golden Glass Bead Gel on top.
This process is pretty simple: Just take a spatula and a small popsicle stick or a paint brush, and spread the Golden Glass Bead Gel wherever you’d like the effect.
Another great use for Golden Glass Bead Gel is using it underneath the paint. This adds an interesting texture, and, as long as you keep your paint thin enough, the texture can emerge through your pour.
For both of these uses, you can create texture simply by manipulating the gel. It has the thick consistency of peanut butter, so peaks and ridges will stay in place and solidify once the gel has set. I could see adding this gel over particularly interesting lines and waves in your piece to add sparkle and depth.
Golden Glass Bead Gel can be a bit pricey, so I would suggest shopping around. I purchased mine at AC Moore, where an eight-ounce jar retails for about $22. A quick search on Amazon showed the same product for about $16.
An eight-ounce jar is a good size for multiple smaller pieces, since a little goes a long way. But do be aware: If you intend to use this all over a larger piece, you may need more than one jar.
Also, be wary of getting this product on your hands. Although it is very easy to wash off with soap and water, there is a chance of glass beads clinging to your skin or remaining under your fingernails.
I had a very unpleasant moment where I washed my hands and immediately had to rub my eyes, resulting in irritation from a glass bead in my eye!
My suggestion is to either wear gloves, or examine your hands after working with the gel to be absolutely sure you don’t have any beads left on them.
So, is it worth it?
The short answer is yes! Although Golden products can sometimes be pricey, this one proved to be high quality and simple to use.
There is very little odor, and clean-up is quick and relatively easy. If you’re looking to add a shimmering, unique touch to your work, I strongly suggest this product.
We can’t wait to see what you do with it! Feel free to leave a comment below if you’ve worked with Golden Glass Bead Gel, or if you have any further questions about it.