It's not a secret that there are literally hundreds of glues on the market today. When you visit your local craft store, there are numerous brands and types for you to choose from. But which one is right for your craft project? As an avid crafter, jewelry designer and art quilt designer, I have utilized numerous glues over the past couple of decades. I found out through trial and error which ones work best for certain projects, and which ones to avoid altogether. I hope my experience in this area will benefit you in your crafting and gluing endeavors.
FIRST, A LITTLE HISTORY:
Glue is defined in the dictionary as being "a strong liquid adhesive obtained by boiling collagenous animal parts such as bones, hides, and hooves into hard gelatin and then adding water."
The first glue or adhesive patent was issued in Britain around 1750. It was made from fish. Patents were then rapidly issued for glues made of rubber, animal bones, fish, starch, milk protein and casein.
Original white glue was introduced by Borden's in 1947. It was named "Elmer's" after the spouse of Borden's famed dairy mascot, Elsie.
Superglue or Krazy glue is a substance called cyanoacrylate that was discovered by Dr. Harry Coover while working for Kodak Research Laboratories to develop clear plastic gunsights in 1942. He rejected the glue because it was too sticky.
In 1951, while working for the Eastman company, Coover and a lab partner rediscovered cyanoacrylate while researching a heat-resistant substance for jet canopies. They discovered the bonding quality of the cyanoacrylate when they spread a layer onto the prisms and found the prisms were glued together.
In 1958, Coover realized the usefulness of this product, and Eastman marketed the product and sold it as superglue.
WHAT GLUE SHOULD I USE FOR MY PROJECT?
As mentioned earlier in this guide, there are hundreds of glues on the market these days. This list is not all-inclusive, but will serve as a guide to help you decide which is best for your craft project needs.
WHITE GLUE: This type of glue is best utilized for items that are lightweight and porous such as paper, cardboard and cloth. Three of my favorite white glues are Modge Podge, Aleene's Original Tacky Glue and Crafter's Pick - The Ultimate. I use them for different types of projects as noted below:
MODGE PODGE: This is a favorite of crafters all over the world Podge. Modge Podge is available in matte and glossy finishes. I love to use Modge Podge for decoupage work. It is excellent for applying the item being decoupaged to the project base, in addition to being utilized as the sealer on the project. One word of caution, though. Mod Podge tends to pick up brush strokes which are visible in the surface of the final finished product. If this is the look you want, that's great, but for the type of art jewelry I make, I like to have a smooth finish. I have the best results when I use my fingers to apply a smooth coat of glue on the surface of my design. Once dry, this glue is waterproof.
ALEENE'S ORIGINAL TACKY GLUE: This glue has been a staple in my craft cupboard for years. It is extremely versatile and it dries clear. It can be used on all different kinds of papers, metal, glass, ceramics and most plastics. It also maintains it's holding power in all different types of climates. This glue, however, is not waterproof, so don't use it on anything that needs to be washed.
CRAFTER'S PICK - THE ULTIMATE: This is a newer glue on the market that is super strong and clear. It is perfect for bonding all types of items, including plastic, metal, painted surfaces, ceramics, tile, wood, paper, leather and more. It is an excellent replacement for hot melt glue-guns, rubber cement and epoxy glue.
I discovered The Ultimate when I was teaching crafts to kids at a major craft retail store. I found that it adhered fairly fast to items, it is non-toxic, and the projects hold up well after a lot of handling. This is also great for adhering paper to polymer clay projects.
FABRI-TAC: This is a wonderful, permanent, crystal clear glue that dries really fast. Often called "glue gun in a bottle", this is great for bonding numerous items, including: fabric, wood, leather, lace, suede, tile, felt, pearls, gems (except those with a silver lining on the back), plaster, glass, trims, canvas, ribbons and much, much more. It doesn't stain or soak through fabric; it also prevents fraying and can survive countless washings.
Fabric-Tac is a favorite among milliners, dollmakers and those who design wedding dresses. It's great for attaching trims and sequins to clothing. It can also be used to hem seams and make clothing repairs. When I sell my items at outdoor craft shows, I often reinforce some glue-gunned items such as decorations on wreaths, with this glue. I find that this glue is also excellent to use when making handmade ribbon roses and for applying buttons and trims to crazy quilts and art quilts. I use it quite frequently. In addition, Fabric-tac can also be used for other types of projects, including, but not limited to: picture frames, pillows, stuffed dolls and animals, silk or dried floral arrangements, curtains, upholstery, ornaments, handbags, bridal headpieces, party favors and much, much more.
This glue is pricey at a cost of $6.00-$7.00 per 4 ounce bottle, but a little goes a long way.
DIAMOND GLAZE: Diamond Glaze is an acid-free, dimensional adhesive that dries to a clear, glass-like finish. It securely holds items such as vellum, glass beads and glitter in place. Unlike many of the imitations of this item that have since come along, Diamond Glaze is the one adhesive that can be mixed with dye-based inks, watercolors, pearlescent pigments and more. This item used to be available only in specialty stores, such as scrapbooking and rubber stamp stores, but it's popularity is starting to spread. Many of the large chain craft stores are now beginning to carry this item. This adhesive is popular among altered art designers and scrapbookers. It can be used to make images "pop" on handmade cards and scrapbook pages.
Diamond Glaze is my first choice for encasing items in my handmade jewelry designs, especially bottle cap, domino art and polymer clay jewelry. I often apply this as a seal over the images, and to adhere charms to my work. It always dries clear and hard. Once cured, it endures everyday handling and wear-and-tear, and is water soluable (not waterproof.)
BEWARE: Although there are other companies who have started marketing their own versions of this product, they are not all created equal. I have tried the cheaper imitations on my handmade jewelry and always came away with disappointing results. I found that on my jewelry, these imitations did not dry clearly. They often were cloudy in appearance and tacky to touch, even after several days of drying time. Sure, you might pay more for the Diamond Glaze product, but the results you get in the long run are well worth it. Also, if you accidentally get this on your clothes, wash it off while it is still wet with soap and water. If you wait until it dries, you will have permanent glue marks on your outfit. (Trust me - I found this out from my own personal experience.)
E-6000 CRAFT ADHESIVE: This self-leveling adhesive is extremely popular among jewelry makers and crafters everywhere. It provides excellent adhesion to surfaces such as: wood, metal, glass, fiberglass, ceramics, leather, rubber, concrete, masonry, vinyl and most plastics. Once fully-cured, it becomes acid-free. It also is washer and dryer safe!
I love to use E-6000 to adhere charms and beads to my metal and plastic based art jewelry. It dries crystal clear and maintains its strong bond, even in cold climates. I like the fact that my jewelry made with E-6000 can withstand the wear and tear of everyday use. Once dried, E-6000 can be painted to match your projects. This is a truly wonderful adhesive!
GEL MEDIUM: Gel medium has become increasingly popular with those who enjoy making altered art. It is truly a versatile medium that can be used for both adhesion and decorative purposes. It is available in both matte and glossy finishes; it is also available in different strengths. Common brands of gel mediums are made by Golden's and Liquitex. I own and use both brands and have found that they are equally good for my projects.
As an adhesive, gel medium is perfect for collage and decoupage. It is translucent when wet, and transparent when dry. It is perfect for adhering found objects and charms to artwork. Gel medium can also be used for a myriad of other altered art techniques, however, since this guide is about glues and adhesives, we'll stick to just those subjects for now.
BEAD-FIX by Beadalon - This is a wonderful glue for jewelry projects that need instant adhesion. It is super strong, flexible and resistant to heat and cold and water. Some people like to use it for memory wire ends, and to adhere stones and cabochons to the jewelry base. I use this to adhere drop loops to my jewelry and to keep knots on elastic bracelets secure.
It is always best to store glue at room temperature. Once frozen, glue will be unusable and will resemble cottage cheese.
On fabric and other surfaces: It's best to try to clean up the glue while it is still wet. Apply soap and water to the area, rinse with water, and blot dry.
On fingers and skin: Acetone (found in nail polish remover) may be applied directly to the glue with a cotton swab. Gently peel the glue from the affected area.
I hope you have found this guide on craft glues and adhesives helpful. Happy crafting!!!