We do get asked about which glues to use for our 3D projects so I thought it would be a good idea to do a Tips and Techniques post about some of the glues that you might use when making cards and 3D projects in general.
This list is by no means exhaustive, more a brief overview of some of the main glues and adhesive products you might come across.
Getting the right adhesive for the right project is absolutely essential when you are papercrafting as if you don't match the glue to what you are doing, you are likely to end up with a disaster or at least a bit of a mess. At the very least, it might end up looking unprofessional.
Get the right glue and you will finish your projects without stress or mess!
All about Glues and Tapes
Apart from being an adhesive, with lots of chemicals that we don't need to know here, used to fix or bind things together, it is worth knowing a bit about the different types of glues available and what they are actually made of.
You then need to match the glue to the material you are using and take into account the weight and texture as well as the purpose of your project. Here are some of the glues we use on our projects.
These are probably the most common glues that you come across in papercrafting and they are very useful. Stick glues are waterbased, made up of water, polymer, thickener and additives and will not stick to non-porous surfaces like plastic.The glue is solid and formed into a stick which you wind up and down like a lipstick.
They are easy to use and you can apply the glue reasonably accurately. Glue sticks are ideal for sticking paper and card, which makes them useful for card making and other papercrafts.
I prefer using glue sticks with my cards over double -sided tapes as they are very forgiving. If I put something in the wrong place, I have a window of time in which to move the item around to get the right position.
However, if you use too much glue, the card and papers can warp, so it is often better to use this type of glue when you need to apply small pieces of card or paper to a base card. If you do need to stick a larger piece, try running the glue over in strips, or just around the edges so that you are not saturating the card or paper. This is the technique that I often use, so that I get the best of both worlds!
For ease, stick glues are the recommended glues for using with our card templates.
It is worth noting that the length of time you have before your glue dries will vary from glue to glue and even the weather conditions you are working in.
For example, my tried and tested Pritt Stick glue, so useful in a cooler climate, is not so useful where I live now, because of the heat which makes it dry too quickly.
Glue sticks generally dry clear, although they may be coloured so you can see where you are putting it, then drying to clear. Most glue sticks you find in the shops now will be acid-free, which make them ideal for scrapbooking too but always check the packaging if this is what you are using them for.
A note about double sided tape.
Many people prefer to use double sided tape with their card projects and tape is certainly a very clean and secure method. I find tape useful for example when making the wardrobe card, attaching the front to the backing card as it needs to be secure. Also, I would use tape where I am fixing a heavier matted embellishment to the front of a card as it will be much stronger. Usually though, I prefer to use glue sticks on my card projects as I can remove and reposition if necessary.We talk about double-sided tape a bit more later on.
White Glue or PVA
PVA (Polyvinyl Acetate) often called White Glue is a waterbased wet glue which dries clear. These glues are very commonly used and come in a variety of strengths.
White glues are ideal for where extra strength is required, eg for children's crafts, for example, junk modelling, making pasta pictures or papier mache. They take a while to dry so you must be patient when using this kind of glue. They can also make your project soggy if you use too much at once and this will end up warping your card.
PVA glues are designed to work on porous materials, so like stick glues, they are not used for gluing plastics. You can add glitters or paints to PVA before using to get interesting effects and if you dilute it a little with water, it makes a good varnish on clay models. It can also be used this way to form a base coat for painting.
You can use PVA on our chipboard models, although you need to be careful that you do not use too much, also choose a tacky formula (see below) and hold your models until they are starting to dry.
Tacky PVA is a thicker form of PVA glue and will also dry clear and flexible. This glue is excellent for card making, especially for sticking embellishments onto card, such as ribbons, beads and sequins but will often come off when used on non-porous materials like glass, metal and plastics. The glue will wash off with soap and water.
You can use this glue for our 3D chipboard models but as it is still a wet glue it will need to be held together while it dries to form a strong bond. Once dry the bond is excellent.
The term Craft Glue is used here to relate to those glues which are quick drying, dry clear and will bond many different materials. They are ideal for handicrafts as they will bond fabrics, papers, metal, glass, ceramics, wood and some plastics.
They are solvent based and have an odour as well as being toxic to ingest so should not be used by children.
As the bond is almost instant and firm, this glue is the recommended glue for all our 3D chipboard projects.
When using this glue, it can be a bit messy but use what you need and then wipe off any excess quickly with a cloth. The bond is very quick so it will allow you to complete your chipboard projects very easily as you will only need to hold the pieces together for a short time before they are solidly stuck.
This glue will easily wash off with soap and water or wait until it dries and rub it off as it forms balls of glue rather like glue dots but beware, get this glue on your desk and it will eat through and dissolve the varnish.
Glue is supplied in the form of glue sticks which you insert into your glue gun. The glue is heated up inside the gun and comes out as a very hot runny substance with rather a stringy quality. You can get hot melt glue guns and lower temperature glue guns which are ideal for gluing things like foam, polystyrene or flower arranging oasis.
A glue gun was absolutely my favourite form of adhesive at one stage in my card making life until a very talented (and now published) aquaintance reacted in horror when I told her, saying that using a glue gun was like 'using a sledge-hammer to crack a walnut'. Maybe a slight exaggeration but she got the point across!
She was right of course, the gun was quite good at fixing my handmade polymer clay embellishments to my cards but it was quite clumsy, messy and often the glue didn't hold very well. I was introduced to tacky PVA and never really looked back!
Don't get me wrong, glue guns have their place but I really only use mine now for Christmas craft projects. An example was gluing decorations onto a mini Christmas tree made from tinsel and coat hangers.
Using a glue gun on the 3D chipboard projects is not recommended glue as the bond is not very secure in the long term. However, it is still a useful medium for securing embellishments eg made of polymer clay.
Here are some other forms of glue you might come across.
Glue dots are often found in packaging and provide a quick and secure way of fastening things. Think of freebies on magazines, which are usually stuck on with glue dots.
They have also become popular amongst crafters, as they provide instant adhesion, with no drying time and can be found in different types of adhesive from removable, semi-removable and permanent fixing. They are often used for attaching embellishments where a glue gun would be messy to use and most will adhere to different non-porous surfaces such plastic, glass, metal and vinyl. Glue dots are also useful when sticking ribbons and lacy borders.
As Glue dots come on a roll so they are easy to use and store too.
Try glue dots when fixing embellishments as you can reposition things easily without making a mess.
Glue pens provide a liquid adhesive in a handy pen format. This gives the ability to apply adhesive quite accurately and this can be handy when you are scrapbooking or you want to write in glue and perhaps add glitter to get glitter wording.
As they are wet glues, they are best used for paper and card and will not usually be very successful with securing embellishments. The glue will dry clear and depending on the pen, it may be repositionable once dry. The glue in glue pens is usually solvent free and washable in water, making it ideal for kids to use.
Try a glue pen when sticking very small pieces of paper to a card project as they can be controlled more easily than a glue stick.
There are many different types of spray glues around which will bond a range of different materials. You might find, repositionable, super strength, high tack, general, photomount, foam sprays etc so you will need to look at each can to choose the right spray for your project.
These glues are often found in locked display cabinets because they contain propellants that are toxic and so these glues are not suitable for use with children. They should always be used in well ventilated areas.
Spray glues are good for adhering paper to just about anything and the bond is very strong and dries clear. A high tack spray will adhere almost instantly. I have used spray glue in the past when I want to glue difficult materials like fabrics or ribbons, or if I want to cover a large area. Spraying inside a cardboard box is a good way of containing the spray, much like you would do if you were spray painting something.
There are lots more types of glue that you will come across and of course lots of tapes too and we have only scratched the surface here but this provides an overview of some of the ones which we use on our demonstration projects.
Double-sided tape is really useful to have in your crafting toolbox. Because it is not a glue, it is not messy, you are not going to get the warping effect when you use too much and you will get an instant bond.
However, this latter feature can work for and against you. I find that I need to move things about to position them on a card as I very rarely get it right first time. Once the papers or cards are stuck down, you really won't be able to move them without tearing and ruining your project. You need to be very sure about the placement of your items on your card.
The best way to get around this is to only remove a little of the backing strip, folding the piece you have pulled off out to the side. You can then position the thing you want to stick and pull away the remaining backing strip from underneath your project, whilst keeping everything in place.
Double-sided is not ideal for sticking sheer ribbons, as it will show through and I find that over time the tape does yellow a bit. This has ruined many of the cards I have kept from year to year. The other down-side is that it can be fiddly to remove the backing tape and this can slow things down a bit when you need to finish a project quickly.
I have to come clean and say that I absolutely love sticky fixers and would not be without them. The reason for this is that it is by far and away the easiet method of getting some dimension to your card projects in a clean and fuss free way. They come in black and white and I have seen transparent ones too, although you are most likely to find white in your craft store. Sticky fixers are widely used in decoupage as they create less mess and many people find them easier to use than silicone glues, which take a while to dry. Traditionalists will argue that silicone glue is superior as you can shape and mould how your pieces sit by varying the amount of glue but it really is a matter of choice.
These have become very very popular in the crafting world and especially in scrapbooking, due to the ease of use and speed. As you run the tape runner along your card, tiny dots of glue, or sometimes pieces of tape are applied. You can get them in a repostionable glue too, which is great for being able to peel off and restick if you need to repostion. I think these would be my absolute favourite for cardmaking if it wasn't for the fact that they are quite expensive to use, compared to a glue stick. If you are only making a few cards, or you are happy to spend on your hobby, then these are definitely recommended. If you are making lots of cards for demos, like we do here, this is not an economical method to use.
I hope you have found this little article interesting and that you find the right glue for your project. Sometimes, it really is just a case of trial and error to find the ones which work the best for you!
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