Choosing Glues & Tapes



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Glues

Choosing the right adhesive is essential to the success of any craft project, so being aware of the types of glue available, and their advantages and limitations, will ensure you get the results you want.


PVA

Also known as 'white', 'craft', or 'school' glue, this is one of the most versatile glues available for everyday use.

  • PVA has a strong enough stick to be useful for most craft projects and works well on a wide variety of materials such as paper, card, felt, and fabric.
  • It can be squeezed or poured straight from the bottle, or applied with a brush, making it easy to apply on both large and small scale project.
  • It's water soluble, so is easily washed off most surfaces.
  • PVA is generally non-toxic, so safe for use by children, or in projects intended for their use.

Decoupage Medium or Mod Podge

Mod Podge is the most commonly used brand of decoupage medium, so it has become synonymous with the adhesive itself.

  • Decoupage medium is a sealer and finish as well as an adhesive. Collage and decoupage projects finished with a top coat of Mod Podge will last longer, and will not yellow.
  • Mod Podge is best used to apply paper or fabric to surfaces such as wood, papier mache. It's also useful for adhering these to other art surfaces including paper, card, and canvass.
  • Mod Podge comes in a large range of finishes, including, matte, glossy, glitter, shimmer, and even glow in the dark.
  • It also comes in a range of formulas for different uses. For example, Outdoor Mod Podge has a thicker consistency and finish, and can be used for projects that will be placed outdoors.

Glue Sticks

A staple in classrooms and offices, glue sticks are a solid glue in a tube that can be twisted or pushed up for use.

  • Their glue doesn't dry immediately so there's a little time to readjust as you work.
  • Glue sticks are best used with paper, because the adhesive is not strong enough for most other materials.
  • They don't warp paper the way more liquid adhesives can because they don't contain as much moisture.
  • Glue sticks are ideal for kids because they're easy to use, and they don't tip and spill the way liquid glues can.

Glue Dots

Dots of pressure sensitive adhesive, usually found on sheets, rolls or rolling applicators. They can be applied to one surface, and will adhere to another surface when it is pressed onto it.

  • Glue dots are very tidy and efficient.
  • They come in a range of strengths from low-tack to permanent.
  • Most commonly used in papercraft such as scrapbooking and cardmaking.

Glue Pens

Similar to glue sticks in that they are easy to hold and apply, glue pens are handy and versatile.

  • They can contain a range of different liquid adhesives including PVA, so you can choose the type that's best suited to your project.
  • They come with a wide variety of tips and applicators, from fat felt tips to smaller rollerballs.
  • Glue pens allow for precision in application, so they are particularly well suited for adding small details like sequins or beads to craft projects, and for getting into hard to reach places.
Glues & Tapes Buying Guide

Hot Glue

Glue guns apply heat to solid sticks of plastic adhesive, and melt it to produce a glue that hardens when it dries.

  • Hot glue has a short drying time, allowing you to work quickly when you need to.
  • When dry, the glue has some flexibility, depending on how much you've applied and the surface you've applied it to.
  • Hot glue also has some weight to it, so if you use a significant amount on one project it will make the finished piece heavier.
  • Glue guns will generally come with some refills when you buy them, and you can buy packets of additional refills when you run out.
  • Remember to be very careful when using glue guns. They are hot enough to melt plastic, so they are hot enough to burn your skin.
  • Glue guns should not be operated by children.

Spray Adhesive

Spray adhesive, as it's name suggests, glue that is applied via an aerosol can.

  • This method of application is particularly useful for applying glue over larger surfaces, and achieving an even coverage without wrinkles, bubbles, or buckling.
  • Most spray adhesives are used for smooth photo and art mounting, as they dry quickly but not immediately, allowing for readjustment if necessary.
  • Some spray adhesives have a temporary stick. These are useful for holding items in place before affixing them more permanently by another method. For example, two pieces of fabric can be temporarily glued with spray adhesive before being sewn together.
  • Stronger formulas are available for use with other materials such as wood, vinyl, leather, and more.
  • It's important to always use spray adhesives outdoors or in a well ventilated area as inhalation can be harmful.

Epoxy Glue

Epoxy glue usually comes in an applicator with two parts. The first is a resin, the second a hardener, and they activate when combined to create a powerful adhesive.

  • The fact that it is both clear and permanent, makes epoxy very useful in jewellery making. The bond will hold even when finished pieces are exposed to water, oil, or other elements.
  • It is very important to read the safety instructions when working with epoxy, as the chemicals required to make it such a powerful glue can be harmful if inhaled, or if they come in contact with skin or eyes.
  • Epoxy should be kept well out of reach of children.

Superglue

A very strong, fast drying adhesive.

  • Superglue dries extremely quickly, making it an excellent way to get a strong, permanent stick.
  • It works on almost any material. This makes it very versatile, and useful for things like metal and plastic that often can't be glued with anything else.
  • This same quality means you need to exercise caution when using superglue because it will also stick to your fingers and your work surface and be difficult to remove.
Glues & Tapes Buying Guide

Material specific glues

Some glues are formulated specifically for use with particular fabrics. We recommend buying a material specific glue if you are planning to work regularly or with a large quantity of that specific material. Specialised glues can be found for:

  • Fabric
  • Leather and suede
  • Glass and bead
  • Wood


PAPER

CARD

FABRIC

FELT

WOOD

Ceramic

PLASTIC

METAL

PVA

Ideal

Ideal

Ideal

Useable and/or temporary

Useable and/or temporary

Not recommended

Not recommended

Not recommended

Mod Podge

Ideal

Ideal

Ideal

Not recommended

Not recommended

Not recommended

Not recommended

Not recommended

Glue stick

Ideal

Ideal

Not recommended

Not recommended

Not recommended

Not recommended

Not recommended

Not recommended

Glue dots

Ideal

Ideal

Useable and/or temporary

Useable and/or temporary

Not recommended

Not recommended

Not recommended

Not recommended

Glue pen

Ideal

Ideal

Useable and/or temporary

Useable and/or temporary

Not recommended

Not recommended

Not recommended

Not recommended

Hot glue

Ideal

Ideal

Ideal


Ideal


Ideal

Useable and/or temporary

Useable and/or temporary

Not recommended

Spray adhesive

Ideal

Ideal

Ideal

Ideal

Ideal

Ideal

Ideal

Not recommended

Epoxy glue

Not recommended

Not recommended

Not recommended

Not recommended

Ideal

Ideal

Ideal

Ideal

Superglue

Useable and/or temporary

Useable and/or temporary

Useable and/or temporary

Useable and/or temporary

Ideal

Ideal

Ideal

Ideal


Results will vary according to the type of glue in the pen.

Results will vary according to the strength of the adhesive, so read labels carefully.

A glue's sticking power will always be modified by the cleanliness and texture of the surfaces it's applied to, as well as the environment in which it's being used. Make sure you prepare your surfaces before you apply any glue to make sure they're in an ideal state for the glue to work.

Glues & Tapes Buying Guide

Tapes

From light decoration to heavy construction, there's a tape for every creative project you could wish to undertake.

Sticky Tape

This plastic tape has a multitude of everyday uses.

  • From wrapping presents to mending tears, sticky tape is something we all reach for regularly.
  • It comes in a range of widths, though for most standard tape dispensers 24-25mm will fit best.
  • Sticky tape can be glossy or matte. Matte variety is harder to see when stuck down so is often preferred for gift wrapping and other projects where presentation is important.

Masking Tape

A tape made of thin paper with a comparatively light stick. Originally used for masking off sections of a surface while painting.

  • Masking tape tears easily, so you don't need to have scissors handy when using it.
  • It's easy to remove without leaving residue.
  • Crafters use masking tape for sticking things temporarily while working.
  • This tape is easy for kids to use, so it's very useful in the classroom, or if you have little crafters in the house.
Glues & Tapes Buying Guide

Washi Tape

Another type of masking tape, washi tape is mostly used decoratively in paper crafting projects.

  • Washi tape comes in an almost infinite variety of patterns and colours. From solid colours, to geometric prints, right through to metallic finishes and cute illustrated designs.
  • Like regular masking tape, it has a weak adhesive, so it can be removed from most surfaces without damage or residue.
  • The standard width for washi tape is about 15mm, but it can be found in all kinds of sizes.

Double Sided Tape

As the name suggests, these tapes are sticky on both sides, and come either in a dispenser, or on a roll with paper backing that can be removed for use.

  • Most double sided tape is made for use with paper and card, but some has a stronger adhesive so it can work with plastic, acetate, and fabric.
  • Once applied, it's hidden behind the adhered layers, so it's perfect for projects where you don't want the tape to be visible.
  • When cut with scissors it can leave a residue so use scissors with a non-stick coating if you have them, or clean regular scissors with alcohol wipes or nail polish remover to get rid of it.

Mounting Tape

Another kind of double sided tape, mounting tape has a layer of foam with a strong adhesive on each side.

  • Used to mount objects such as framed pictures, clocks, or other decorative items to walls when nails or screws can't be used.
  • Mounting tape is also used to add dimension to other crafts when you want to raise certain elements up from their background. This technique is often used in scrapbooking and cardmaking.

Duct Tape

Duct tape is cloth based tape with adhesive on one side and polyethylene coating on the other.

  • The tape's cloth base makes it extremely strong and flexible.
  • Duct tape can be used as a crafting material in and of itself to make projects like no-sew wallets, statement accessories, and even corsets and dress forms.
  • The standard colour for this tape is black, but it comes in colourful and patterned rolls too.
  • Duct tape is not easy to remove, and will leave sticky residue when peeled away. It's best used when you want to leave it in place permanently.
Glues & Tapes Buying Guide

Florist Tape

A plastic tape designed for use in floristry.

  • Florist tape doesn't actually have adhesive in it, rather it relies on its stretchiness to stick to itself.
  • Lightweight and easy to maneuver, this tape is perfect for constructing bouquets, headpieces, corsages, boutonnieres, and other arrangements.
  • It's most commonly found in green, to blend in with stems and foliage, but is also available in other colours.

Just as with glue, the adhesive power of any tape will vary according to the type of surface you apply it to. Making sure your surface is as clean and dry as possible will ensure you get the best results.



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