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.
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
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.