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No Mess Glues and Adhesives

Updated on July 19, 2012

Guide to Messless Glues and Adhesives for Crafting

Wanna get your craft on but don't want to hassle with that mess? Thanks to the craft revolution, there are dozens of great no-mess adhesives and glues on the market these days. But with so many possibilities, it can be hard to figure out what's the best glue for your project if you've sworn by Elmer's or gluesticks for years.

No-mess glues are great for crafting in a hurry, or if you're crafting with kids and don't want to have to wash up sticky little hands (and hand prints!) after the craft frenzy is done. As a person with Asperger's Syndrome who struggles with sensory defensiveness, no-mess glues are a lifesaver when I am craving the comfort of artistic expression without the difficulties involved with getting glue on my hands.

Image credit: Laurie Pink

Xyron Create-A-Sticker Machine - Turn just about anything into a sticker and avoid the mess of sticky drippy glue!

This amazing machine turns just about anything into a sticker, quickly and easily with no heat, batteries, electricity, or mess. Insert your item into the slot, turn the crank, and out it comes on the other side sandwiched between a clear protective film on top and non-stick paper on the bottom.

Well actually, there can be a little bit of mess; some highly detailed items maybe have a gummy residue around the edges at first. You can fix this with rubber cement pick up (don't bother with the fancy Xyron brand "adhesive eraser" - it's the same thing but tends to cost more). Often times the excess adhesive will even just rub off with your fingers. Carefully burnishing around the edges of your item before you remove the clear film is a great preventive step; I always do this to anything I put through my Xyron and almost never have excess adhesive on the edges.

Xyron machines have replaceable cartridges, and many models offer cartridges for not only permanent or repositionable adhesive, but magnets and laminate as well.

Let's see that in action - How does a Xyron actually work?

Just for fun, I looked up the patent diagram that shown how a Xyron sticker machine works. You can look up any patent over at Google Patents - but be prepared to be overwhelmed with a lot more results that you might think and more technical descriptions and complicated diagrams than you ever thought possible.

Thankfully the good folks over at Xyron Inc have put together this demo video so you can really get a "feel" for the machine before you buy. Check it out, it's a great chance to see how to make a sticker with the Xyron so you can decide if it's the right adhesive solution for you.

Double Sided Tape - aka Doublestick Tape or Two Sided Tape

An old classic, you can't really go wrong with double-sided tape. Quite possibly the simplest, most foolproof of all no-mess adhesives, double sided tape really only has a few drawbacks, such as the fact that it is for the most part only useful for adhering rectangular things like photos. For detailed items like a scrapbooking diecut it's a matter of preference - if you prefer to have it seamlessly glued down, you may want to go with other methods. On the other hand, a small piece of double sided tape in the middle can also work if having the edges loose isn't going to matter much.

Glue Runner - Like a magic wand for gluing!

As correction tape is to Wite Out, the glue runner is to adhesives. A somewhat pen-like contraption, a glue runner houses a small cartridge of no-mess glue that you roll on in a rather point-and-click fashion. While they have a few drawbacks - you can only do straight lines, some people report problems with glue strength - I have found a glue runner to be an indispensable gadget, sometimes it's exactly the tool for the job.

Check this out, the Scotch Adhesive Transfer Tape Applicator - but I call it the Uber Tape Runner. Much like a regular tape runner; but sturdier, with a much bigger adhesive roll, and a stronger glue.

Adhesive Dots

Adhesive dots come in a wide variety of styles. You can get them on rolls, or sheets. Just peel and stick a little dab of glue where ever you need it - without the mess! The dots come in a range of sizes to suit almost any need, and there are even some available that are thicker, to raise the thing you are gluing down a little bit higher than your surface and give it some oomph!

Scotch Dot Roller

Check this out, a glue runner that takes a cue from adhesive dots! Amazingly versatile, this little gizmo easily handles a curved line of mess-free glue.

Scotch Adhesive Dot Roller, 0.31 x 49 Feet (6055)
Scotch Adhesive Dot Roller, 0.31 x 49 Feet (6055)

Refillable Adhesive Dot Roller for documents. Photo-safe, double-sided tape is perfect for many applications.


Photo Corners

Another tried-and-true classic, photo corners still class up photos and and any other rectangular media you need to work with. Try using photo corners on a vellum quotation for a fun mix of old and new in your scrapbooking!

Canson Self-Adhesive Photo Corners Black (Pack Of 252)
Canson Self-Adhesive Photo Corners Black (Pack Of 252)

These self-adhesive, archival quality photo corners are packaged in neat lines on peel-off sheets for easy use. There are 252 corners in each peggable package. Transparent and easy to use, these photo corners and squares provide a safe and inconspicuous way to mount precious snapshots and memories. The self-adhesive corners come in packages of 250 while the double-stick, self-adhesive squares come in packages of 500. Both are packaged in handy dispenser boxes.


Non-Glue Adhesives - Think outside the bottle with these clever adhesive alternatives

"What the heck is a non-glue adhesive?" I hear you ask. Well it's just my way of referring to ways to attach photos or other items to your craft project that involve no actual glue. Brads, staples, funky paper clips.

What do you think? Will your fingers be saved from another messy craft explosion? Which products have you tried before - and what's your favorite so far? Will you be trying anything new after reading this article? Got any other tips for keeping clean and saving time when it comes to gluey crafts like collage and scrapbooking?

Sound off on sticky-fingers solutions

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    • paperfacets profile image

      Sherry Venegas 

      8 years ago from La Verne, CA

      Another lensmaster suggested Yes! for no winkle gluing. I have used it for most of my card making lately. I like how you write about your own experience with the products. I think it encourages sales. Especially craft book reviews.

    • MisterJeremy profile image


      8 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      @KarenTBTEN: Thanks. I may try glue dots if I can find them (I would order them from through your lens if I didn't live overseas).

    • KarenTBTEN profile image


      8 years ago

      Glue dots are nice, and photo corners very handy. Also, that gummy stuff that is sometimes used to attach posters to dorm walls and such can be used in place of glue when one doesn't need a permanent hold.

    • MisterJeremy profile image


      8 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      Really well-done lens. Any recommendations for hanging pictures without damaging walls? Gotta get that deposit back!


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