Articus Studio

Glues and Adhesives Guide

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Glues have been around for thousands of years and originally were made from natural substances such as plant fibers and starches, animal bones, fish scales and animal hides.  Some glues were even made from egg whites and cheese.  Glues are very high tech now and it is important to understand how glue works and the most effective glue for the task at hand.  No one glue works for every project but some glues will work well for a variety of jobs.  So if you have many different containers and types of glue, you are probably off to a good start. 
Always choose a glue appropriate for the surfaces you will be adhering. 
Non Porous Surface~These are surfaces such as glass,metal, ceramics, plastic, and even glossy paper.  These surfaces are typically shiny and slick and do not absorb moisture. 
Semi-Porous~ These include coated paper, rubber, fun foams, treated wood.  These surfaces absorb some moisture but do so slowly and unevenly.
Porous~ Most papers, plaster, cardboard, unsized fabrics, untreated wood.  They absorb moisture quickly and evenly.  These qualities make it easy for glue to adhere.
Five General Guidelines to Consider before Glueing:
1.  Consider the materials you are glueing together, the end use of the project and the appearance of the product.
     A.  Will glue create a good bond?
     B.  What type of surface is it? 
     C.  Does surface need advance preparation?  Every surface should be clean, dry and free of dirt and oil before you attempt to glue it together. 
     D.  Will glue need to be flexible on the finished project?
     E.  Does glue dry hard or soft?
     F.  Will the fnial project be washable, water resisitant or dry cleanable?
     G.  Does glue dry clear, white or colored?
     H.  Is the glue permanent giving long term durability and permanence,
     I.  Fast or slow drying glue?
2.  Decide which is the easiest glue to use and apply.
3.  What kind of cleanup is necessary after the glue is applied?
4.  Remember important precautions for glue use.
     A. Is it toxic, non-toxic, flammable?
     B. Do you need to work in well ventilated area?
5.  Consider the price of the glue in relationship to the project.
     A. Do you need an expensive high tech glue when a less expensive brand will do an equally sufficient job?

Types of Glue
Water Based Glues~ Most white glues fall into this category such as Elmer's School glue.  Most white glues are non-toxic and wash out with soap and water before they are hardened.  They are limited in strength so should not be used for heavy projects.  Formulas for these types of glues vary.  Many of the white glues have a high water content and for this reason do not dry quickly and will wrinkle papers.  They also do not form as strong a bond as some other glues.  The less liquid or runny that a white glue is makes it dry faster.  Many white glues will dry clear but some dry clearer than others and you can make your own experiment on that.  If you have a thick glue-you will ruin the fast drying properties of it if you thin it with water.   It is also a good idea not to let your glues freeze.  Some may survive a freeze-thaw cycle so read the label.  If you have a white glue that looks a little like cottage cheese, it has probably been frozen at some point and will not be good to use. White glues should be used mainly for bonding porous and semi-porous surfaces.  The label may say it will work for ceramics, metal and glass but they may not be the wisest choice for that project.  There are other glues on the market for those surfaces that will be better and stronger to bond those types of surfaces.  If it is an important project, best thing to do is a test first.
Solvent Based Glues~ These are the strongest glues.  They have a noticeable odor, they are flammable and permanent. Many come in two-part mixing process.  They can also be used for both indoor and outdoor applications.
Acrylic Based Glues~These contain acrylic polymers, dry clear, rarely affected by heat or humidity and pretty flexible.  They should not be used on projects for outdoor use.  Some of these may also be a two-part mix process. 

Glue Tips, Hints, Things to Remember
1.  Read manufacturer's instructions.
2.  Test glue on scrap materials to make sure glue works on surface.
3.  Work in well ventilated area when working with solvent based glues.
4.  Protect your skin if you think you may be sensitive to any of the glue      
     ingredients.  Wear plastic gloves if necessary.    
5.  Cover your work surface.  Newspaper isn't the best because glue
     can easily soak thru it.  Try wax paper, freezer wrap, aluminum foil,
     old plastic tablecloth or shower curtain.
6.  Always make sure your surface is clean, dry and free from dust and oil.
7.  Never Over Glue!  If too much glue is used it will ooze out, take longer to dry
     and will actually not hold as well because the surface is over saturated. 
8.  Be prepared to use more than 1 type of glue on a project.  Multiple surfaces
     will require multiple glues.
9.  Throw out the old glue.  Most glues have a definite shelf life.  Glue that has
     been sitting around for awhile will loose its potency and will cause your
     project to fall apart.
10.  It helps to select the appropirate glue applicator with the type of surface-
     Brushes, craft sticks, metal or plastic spatulas, toothpicks or wooden skewers
     to name a few.  Oh, and don't forget-your fingers (only on non-toxic).
11. Store glues properly-typically away from extreme temperatures and direct
12.  Remember to give your glue a chance to dry-don't be too impatient.  You will
      gain a better result if you leave it dry for the appropriate amount of time.

Final Word About Glues
As you can see, there is a lot  to learn about  glues and adhesives.    I have adapted this information from The Crafter's Guide to Glues by Tammy Young and a hand out sheet from Beacon Adhesives.  Our art projects, scrapbooks, cards, etc. are important to us.  We spend a lot of time on them so it is best to understand what impact the right glue for the right job can have on the life of your finished project.  This article just begins to scratch the surface on glues (no pun intended).  If there is a specific brand of glue you like and want to learn more about it specifically, try contacting the manufacturer.  I personally like the Crafter's Pick line of glues from Adhesives Products Inc. (API) and l learned a great deal while talking with one of their representatives. 
I hope this little article has been of value to you.

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Articus Studio, 8341 Old Tarlton Pike, Stoutsville, Oh 43154, 740-477-1238