I’ve been doing decoden since about 2008. I even gave a panel about Decoden at Anime Central in 2009. I thought it was about time to do a blog post and share my knowledge of glueing sparkly things to electronics. Back when I first deco-ed an old flip phone I had, I would get crazy looks whenever I pulled it out. Below is a photo of my second deco phone (the first one was tragically lost at a DEMF after-party in 2009).
The phone above is actually the exact same phone as my first deco-ed phone that I lost, but my deco skills had greatly improved by the time I did this one. I order all of my deco pieces from Dekoden.com. It might be a little pricier than stuff you can find on Etsy, but the quality of their products are great so I prefer not to risk it by ordering from any where else. I also love Dekoden.com’s great customer service. When I lived in Japan I visited their actual retail shop and they were super nice (located near Nippori Fabric Town, aka Grandma’s Harajuku). They also go out of their way to include a goody bag of free items that match whatever you had picked out yourself. That goes for online and in-store orders!
So to get started, I highly recommend watching Xiaxue’s Guide to Life: Pimping Your Gadgets. Her video was one of the only tutorials around when I got started doing decoden so I use the exact same method she shows. Watching the video will be helpful if you’re more of a visual learner (like I am) but I will do my best to explain!
So after you have gathered your cabochons, crystals and charms and whatever you want to glue them on to, next you will need to get the right glue for the job. For the most things, a 2 part slow drying epoxy is what you want to use. Some epoxies dry clear and some dry amber, so make a note of which you get when you’re buying. You can find epoxy at any hardware store and it’s not very expensive. If you are gluing something besides crystals, clay or plastic together then you can check out this glue guide I posted to the decoden community on Livejournal. Unfortunately the original source is no longer up, otherwise I would have linked that as well.
Normally for crafting, my go-to glue is E6000, but I do not recommend it for deco. I find that it’s too thick and uncontrollable to use on such small pieces. Epoxy is not goopy at all when it’s first mixed and since it’s slow drying, you have time to spread a nice smooth layer on before it starts to get hard/sticky.
Now that you have all your supplies, you are going to want to set up a work area. I recommend a large table, so you can spread out all your different pieces. I keep my decoden pieces in bags, but if you have a case they are organized in instead that will probably decrease your set up and clean up time. You will want to put down some thick white paper to set whatever you are deco-ing on. I recommend using a piece of cardboard or cardstock to mix your glue on. You will also need some tweezers you don’t mind getting gluey and lots of toothpicks. I use the toothpicks to mix my glue and spread it onto the case. You can also dip the tip of a toothpick into a bit of the glue and use it for picking up small pearls or crystals. They are also useful to just push the pieces around on the case until you like where they are positioned.
I don’t plan out my cases too much. I usually just decide where I want to put any large pieces and make a mental note so I can add them as I work my way down the case. I usually start in one of the corners and work my way down. I prefer this method since you can spread the glue on a bit at a time and it’s easy to stop and take breaks. It usually takes me 2-3 days to complete and iPhone case if I’m working on it for a couple hours a night. It really depends on how big or small of pieces you are using. I really like working with small pieces and fitting them together as I go along so sometimes it can take awhile.
I kind of stick to just one style of deco, as you can see from the examples above. But there are a lot more so you should definitely look up other examples of deco and see what you like best! I hope my intro was informative and enough to get you started doing deco. If you have any additional questions or if something I wrote wasn’t clear, don’t hesitate to ask!