The Secret Ingredient to Firm and Protect Beadwork

Do you have floppy beadwork? Is your thread breaking from rough-holed beads fraying the thread? Then try this tip I learned from Diane Fitzgerald many years ago. It's a method for firming up beadwoven pieces with clear acrylic floor finish. (Yes, you read that right, floor finish!) The acrylic firms a piece, but it also works as a sealant, protecting the beads and thread. It's especially effective on pieces that have been woven using crystals.

This is a great tip, and it won't break the bank. I bought a big bottle of the floor finish at my local grocery store (brand name is Future clear acrylic floor finish) right after Diane told me about it, and the bottle is still 3/4 full. For the few dollars I spent, the finish has protected dozens of pieces. I haven't had any problem with discoloration or breakage over time, but I do have a couple of caveats: I'd recommend that you only do this technique on something that's already shiny. You can apply the finish to matte beads or pearls, but it will alter the look of the beads. I'd also not recommend this technique for use on crystals with an after-market finish because I've run into some problems with the after-market finish coming off. As with any technique like this, it's best to do a test on an inconspicuous place on your beadwork. Or, better yet, apply the finish to some loose beads that match the ones you used in your piece.

Let me show you how the technique is done as I firm up a floppy beadwoven flower:

1) See how this beadwoven flower is a bit limp? The petals are all over the place. After all that work I did, I want them to sit up and look pretty! I also want the thread I used to stitch those bicones at the center to be protected. When I apply the acrylic, those threads will have a sleeve, buffering it from the rough bead holes.

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2) To prepare, first layer paper towels on a tray (I've used an old pie tin here), then lay the beadwork on top of the paper towels. I'd recommend working in a dry place with lots of ventilation. The floor polish doesn't smell bad, but if you work this way, the piece will dry quickly, allowing you to shape the piece as it dries.


3) Next, use a paintbrush to apply the floor finish to the beadwork. I use a cheapo plastic-bristle brush from a kid's watercolor set because it's easy to wash, and there's no chance of bristles getting caught in the beadwork as might happen with a horse-hair brush. I've found the best way to apply the finish is to dip the brush directly into the bottle and dab the finish on the beadwork.

4) Once the front of the beadwork is dry to the touch, flip it over and apply the finish to the back. Getting the back is just as important as the front! Once the beadwork is dry to the touch, use your fingers to gently shape the beadwork into the form you desire. The beadwork won't be stiff, but it will hold its shape. Depending on the type of beadwork you're working with (especially sculptural or crystal-encrusted pieces), it's not a bad idea to do another coat or two.

Ta-daa! My floppy flower has miraculously become perky. It still feels like beadwork, acts like beadwork, but it has a light support that makes it look much better.

Why not try this technique on a new piece of beadwork? A good place to start looking for projects is the Spring Cleaning Sale, where you'll get 40% off or more on just about everything in the Beading Daily store.


Happy beading!

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About jeancampbell

Jean Campbell is the founding editor (and currently the senior editor) of Beadwork magazine and has written and edited more than 45 beading books. She has written for Beading Daily and has appeared on the DIY Jewelry Making show, The Shay Pendray Show, and PBS' Beads, Baubles, and Jewels where she gives how-to instructions, provides inspiration, and lends crafting advice. Jean teaches jewelry-making workshops throughout the United States and calls Minneapolis home.

24 thoughts on “The Secret Ingredient to Firm and Protect Beadwork

  1. Hello Jean:
    I don’t think ‘Future clear acrylic floor finish’ exists anymore. I finally found that it is being marketed as ‘Pledge with Future Shine’ by S.C. Johnson. I hope that helps others find this useful product.
    Also, your suggestion to test this product on some loose beads is a good one. I found that the color from shocking pink seed beads bled when this floor finish was applied.
    Scotland Sandy

  2. Thanks, Sandy! Just goes to show how long I’ve had my bottle.

    Yes, test, test, test! I ruined a crystal bracelet once when I didn’t test. Taught me a pretty expensive lesson…

  3. This is a fantastic tip and a beautiful project. Would you be able to direct me to instructions for the project? I have some weddings coming up this year and would love to wear this flower as a brooch.

    Thank you!


  4. I’ve used Future floor polish for several years now — so long that I didn’t realize that the name had changed either.

    I would suggest that instead of using paper towels, which, while they will absorb any excess polish, they can also stick to your project and then you end up with little “paper hairs”. Instead, I have always used wax paper which usually will not stick to the project.

  5. I learned this trick when making crystal snowflake ornaments. Wow, what a difference in texture and strength, but it didn’t change the color or even the sheen of the beads. This is now one in my bag of tricks. Also, I had to work to locate the new packaging of the floor acrylic. Scotland Sandy is right.


  6. Ooooo, Jean, love love love Star of India, Sakura and Lilium. For those of us who can’t make it to Newbury Park for the classes, is there a place where we can purchase the patterns? Maybe directly with you?

  7. I agree, it’s a great product to use to stiffen all kinds of beaded things – I use it on snowflakes and it works great. The name did change a few years ago and that threw me, also the idea that it is not a floor cleaner at all. It basically paints a fine acrylic finish on your floor that makes it shiny – which is not a bad thing, you just need to be sure it’s clean first.

  8. I sent you an email too but I’ll post this just in case….
    Would your piece of jewelry not have an odor of freshly polished floor?
    And would it possibly not be suitable for some with sensitive skin?

  9. I have read about using acrylic floor finish a number of times before, but have always stayed away from it. I am concerned about using a product that is designed for floors on jewelry that can be worn next to the skin.

    Jean, do you have any information on the safety of this product? I would be happy to use it, but want to know if there are any problems first.


  10. I am intrigued with this suggestion, but have a question about findings. Would it be possible to sew on a finding, such as a pin back, after the sealer dries? If not, what is your suggestion for accomodating findings? Aside from freezing moving parts, what does it do to metal?

  11. Just wanted to say thanks!! This tip saved me loads of time and hassle.. I made a bead quilled flower for a bracelet and wanted to have the bracelets strap with loops to attach to my flower but my flower was too flimsy feeling for that. It would have pulled and misshapen horribly. I applied a really heave amount of the finish several times and let it dry overnight and now I have a wonderfully sturdy focal piece for my bracelet that will work with the design I had in mind all along!! Yay!!!

    And for one of the posters above.. yes you can still put a needle through to attach findings etc. 🙂

  12. Hi spanish beader here,
    The acrylic floor finish also looks great on polyclay and fabric. I made a necklace using clay logs covered with fabric. The floor finish was great to seal the fabric so it doesn’t fray.

  13. I just got pledge floor care (shine, protect, restore) finish. Would this be the new name for what you’re suggesting?? It’s a clear bottle with blue and white label. Checked a few supermarkets and this seemed to be the closest they have.