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Adhesives and Glues for Crafting

Keeping Your Crafting Environment Healthy

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Mixed Mania: Recipes for Delicious Mixed Media Creations


Adhesives and Glues for Crafting

The science of adhesives is not just for geeks any more! You need to know what glues will hold your craft product together and what will just dissolve or destroy your beautiful work. The glues we grew up with have changed and become a big industry. And despite what you see on do-it-yourself shows, the hot glue gun is not the answer to every gluing need! Some glues will dissolve certain plastics, some will hold it temporarily, some hold it permanently.

There are glues for metal, clay, fabric, wood, and glues for joining items that are not the same material. There are gap-filler glues that glue uneven surfaces and fill gaps for you, and glues that will create a thin membrane so you can't tell there is glue involved. Some dissolve in water, some are waterproof, some even work underwater! Know the glues that work for your medium. Read the tube or bottle. Get to know the properties of your adhesive and make it your friend. If you use a glue that is not appropriate and the piece falls apart in your buyer's hands, or glue spots show on the surface of your craft item, you lose a customer and possibly your reputation. has an incredible database of glues and materials to join them. If you are stumped, they may know the answer. (its FAQ is very entertaining! these guys know their adhesives!)

A Sticky Subject: Adhesives

These days there are so many different types of glues, tapes and adhesives it becomes hard to know what to use with what. And each type of adhesive has its own pros and cons which can either add to or detract from your project. I’ve listed a few basic types of adhesives and what they can do best for you.

White Glue
The good old glue you used at school. Elmers comes to mind, but there’s many types of water soluable white glues on the market. It’s a great basic glue for paper products, as its happiest gluing porous objects to porous objects (paper, fabric). In fact it binds to the fibers in the paper, which is why its also pretty permanent. If you want a glue that you can dab in a tiny spot to hold a paper corner in place, this is it. It dries clear, which is always a plus, can be thinned with water and painted onto a large surface, but if you are using fabric, it can bleed through and darken the color. You can have fun with it by thinning it and tinting it a dipping small paper fans in it several times and let it dry. The paper will hold its shape as the glue has bonded with the paper, and makes the paper “crunchy” or even, with enough dips, glossy. The only problem with using that as a final product is that the object will get sticky if it gets wet, so finish with a water-based polyurethane. This glue can take hours to dry, so make sure you clamp your pieces together and are prepared to wait 4 hours.

Silicone Based Glues
Glues like E-6000 usually come in a tube. This type of glue really works well when you’re joining non-porous items like glass, and metal. Most of them have a bit of time before they’re totally set up, and pulling them apart takes some strength, but can be done. The best way to apply them is to use a toothpick and scoop a tiny bit off the tip and carefully place the small spot of glue right where you want it. Most dry clear, and are something you DON’T want kids or pets to get near. It can be used to glue porous paper or fabric, but it is a “gap filler” glue and can make your project lumpy. You’ll find over time that the tip of the tube gets rubbery and you have to constantly clean off the encrusted glue to get fresh glue. Overall, these type of glues are great for holding glass to metal, plastic to wood, and anything with slightly uneven surfaces to each other. You’ll get a successful adhesion in 2 hours, but if you can, and the objects are heavy, give it a full 18 hours.

Super Glue and its cousins.
A great glue for non-porous surfaces and small areas. Always dries clear. You’ve all heard about people sticking body parts together accidentally, and its still no joke. It is the ONLY glue that will successfully glue polymer clay to anything. Although there are varieties that are slower drying, allowing you to adjust your work, most are instantaneous and leave you little room for error. There are varieties that will help adhere uneven surfaces together, you don’t get the strongest bond that way.

The famous “Gorilla Glue” is in this category. It is an outstanding glue for hard-to glue surfaces and can hold awkward items together with a small point of contact. It does not dry clear, but can fill voids. They do bubble and foam (thus staining your project) but they can be extremely waterproof, and exceedingly strong.
This type of glue sticks through the evaporation of water in the glue, causing a hardened bond. It is perfect for bonding anything to anything, and best when applied sparingly. It is not good for skin, so if you can wear gloves, do so. And, since it takes about 3-4 hours to set up, you’ll want to clamp your pieces together as well.



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