Consensual Glitterfication: Making My Personal Electronics Sparkle

Sparkly is a lifestyle choice, y’all.

Dec 13, 2011 at 6:00pm | Leave a comment

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Sparkly is a lifestyle choice, y’all. And it’s one to which I have whole-heartedly committed. My love of glitter is epic and well-known, a constant joke among friends. I say it’s a joke but, in fact, it’s reality: I have the same sartorial sense as a friend’s six-year-old daughter.

(I showed up to dinner one night at said friend’s house; “Oh, look,” said my infinitely charming and constantly amused with himself husband, “you and *the six year old* are wearing the same outfit.” And, uh, we basically were.)

Mobile computing, as all the tech articles all tell us, is the once and future hotness. But, while I admire all the sleek aluminum finishes, sleek aluminum isn’t really my style. I’m many things but elegant isn’t one of them. So when I bought this keyboard case for my iPad, I bought it with every intention of decorating it.

As a grown-ass woman, I am pretty much of the opinion that it’s my party and I’ll glitter if I want to. The retail establishments of America, alas, do not always support me in this decision and expression of self. That’s okay, though. Because I have the power of putting glitter on things at home.

There’s no danger that I’m going to mistake someone else’s electronics for mine. And, honestly, I think it’s more fun to use sparkly computers. The Maker community has a manifesto, the central tenet of which is that if you can’t open it, you don’t own it. I’d amend that to something along the lines of “If you can’t put glitter on it, you don’t own it.” Maybe glitter should be replaced with modify in general there. 

That’s not to say that everything has to be personalized; there’s no compulsion to alter things that work perfectly well for people right off the rack. But I think we should never be afraid to customize a purchased thing for our own uses and preferences. If I want something with pom pom trim on it, then there’s no reason under the sun that I shouldn’t be allowed to add pom pom trim to it. 

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Many several years ago, I threw a party, a glam rock party. The evening kind of ended after we took a hatchet to a monitor in my apartment complex parking lot (I’m still not real clear on why that seemed like a good idea at the time). But that is not the point of the story! The point of the story is that, at about 4 am, my cat put in an appearance just long enough to glare disapprovingly at me and my friends -- and to hork up a little pile of gold glitter puke. I have no idea what he’d been eating.

None of us will ever be as hardcore glam as my cat; (he was totally fine, not to worry -- he’s turned into a crotchety 12-year-old-man cat now). But he’s my comedic glitter inspiration whenever I start a new project. And he kept me company on the couch all weekend while I wielded the sparklification wand to bring my electronics up to scratch.

Attempt number 1 ended not in disaster but certainly not in anything useful. Glitter paint is, much like glitter nail polish, usually just a suspension of glitter in a clear base. Not what I was going for by a long shot. It was fun though, because the glitter paint peeled off in a solid sheet. I think I made glitter vinyl!

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Attempt number 2 began with the tool I should have pulled out to begin with: Mod Podge. For those not familiar, Mod Podge is a water-based sealer, glue, and finish -- it’s shiny glue that cleans up easily. It’s most commonly used in decoupage, because it dries clear and doesn’t wreck decorative papers. I’m not into decoupage, but I always have Mod Podge on hand because it makes a truly outstanding glitter… goop.

The next time you need to make something glitter, grab a jar of Mod Podge, loose craft glitter in a variety of colors, a mixing bowl and a foam brush. You might also want a dedicated stirring device, like a wood skewer. Pour some Mod Podge into the mixing bowl, then dump in a shining heap of glitter. Mix it up. Keep adding glitter until you have something roughly the consistency of cake icing that has been left in the car on a warm day -- it needs to stir easy and be spreadable in thin layers.

Use the foam brush to apply it. Chances are good you’re only going to need one coat of this stuff, so make sure to fill in any empty spaces. That shouldn’t be difficult; since you’re, in effect, icing your item, any gaps in coverage will be apparent. Because all of the glitter is embedded in Mod Podge, there won’t be any shedding when the glitter goop is fully dry.

While I was at it, I went after my laptop’s hard shell case as well. I sealed it with a spray-on acrylic sealer -- a brush-on clear coat would also work. The only thing really needed for this stage is patience. Spray-on acrylic sealer is smelly. Like, vile plastick-y chemical smelly. It takes a couple of days for the clear coat to finish degassing. But it’s a necessary evil; the clear coat smooths out the rough glitter and protects the surface. Mod Podge is water based, so sealing it is always a good idea, just in case it rains or something.

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Because I can’t leave well enough alone, I also added rickrack trim to my keyboard case. This helps prevent the glitter from getting scratched up on a tabletop (and, I suppose, protects fine table surfaces from getting scratched up by the glitter) -- I’m not entirely done with this case yet, but I’m not sure what to put in the middle. I’m leaning toward a rick rack skull and crossbones, honestly. 

Today, at my office job, the keyboard case got some comments. It’s definitely not for everyone. But it looks like something that belongs to me now, and it makes me happy when I use it. Glitter for everyone (who wants it)!