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Craft Adhesive Basics

Updated on January 24, 2018
linfcor profile image

Professional scrapbook artist, paper crafter, and author, I have taught people how to make family memories into legacies for 20 years.

Practical Guide To Scrapbook Adhesives

Placing and gluing (or adhering) the elements to your scrapbook pages does not need to be a chore if you have the right adhesive for the right piece. Design frustration can be eliminated if you understand what adhesive to use with each element. When you are starting out with scrapbooking you really only need a glue stick, a tape runner and some glue dots. Later on you will want to add other glues and tapes as you learn more techniques and ideas

Scrapbook adhesives have special requirements that you should consider. You should never use scotch tape or regular glue or paste. Trust me on this one. I have lost photos that were ruined because I used the wrong thing. Remember those old magnetic albums that they used to sell. Many pictures actually yellowed and fell apart because the plastic and adhesive material was wrong. Look for names on your glues like lignin free, non toxic, and PH neutral. These will all be safe for your scrapbook pages

Not All Glues Are Created Equal

There are a lot of variations from one manufacturer to another

Read the labels for information on toxicity, ventilation, recommended handling and use, as well as durability in a variety of environments.

Wet Adhesives

A wet adhesive can be the strongest holding and best economical choice if the right product is used. The most important thing to consider is the materials that it will be bonded to. For the most part, you will be adhering different types of paper. But there are other types of materials that scrapbook artists use. Some examples would be plastic gems and rhinestones, ribbons, chipboard, ect. The best way to understand what adhesive is best for your project is to go to the manufacturer's website. Some manufacturers include Elmers, Aileene's, Helmer and Beacon Adhesives.

Wet adhesives generally are packages in three types-bottle, tube or pen. Pens are ideal to apply adhesive to very small or precise areas, but are not useful when larger areas need to be covered. Some bottles have a wide mouth with a screw off lid. These are great to use for applications where you are covering large areas and will use a brush. Tube are often equipped with a tapered pointed tip

Another type of popular wet adhesive with paper crafters are spray adhesives and dimensional spray adhesives.

Fine Tipped Glue Pens

This is a liquid adhesive that gives a fine and precise thin line of glue for small areas.It usually dries very quickly. It's absorbed into the paper and should be considered permanent.

It is really good to use when gluing paper flowers together. You can also use it when applying intricate die cuts to cards. Works well when you want to glue sequins.

Be careful to chose an archival pen. Even then, I would not recommend it to glue pictures on scrapbook pages

Glitter Glue

Glitter glue is actually a glue that is infused with glitter. Although it is a glue, it is not really used to adhere anything, but more like a decorative accent

Always clean any excesses of glue right away ! Cap the lids or replace covers to help your glues last longer

Modge Podge

If you love decoupaging, then Modge Podge will be your glue of choice. It comes in a matte, gloss and acid free version. It can adhere different types of materials to different surfaces.

Not only does it glue, but also acts as a protective coat to your projects.

You will want to avoid brush strokes ( they will show up) Some people recommend using their fingers to avoid it

Dry Adhesives

Dry adhesives are more often than not, the preferred scrapbook and paper craft adhesive because there is virtually no drying time. They are easy to use and there are no damage to the paper. The three most common types of dry adhesives are tabs, tape and tape runners.

Tab adhesives or mounting squares are small to medium double-sided adhesive that are most often marketed on sheets or in dispenser boxes. They are placed on the project and then the backing is pealed off to reveal the additional adhesive.

Tape style adhesive is a double sided dry adhesive that comes in a roll similar to masking tape. It can also come in a tape dispenser. It's a continuous roll that you cut or tear in the length that you desire.

Tape runners are like the tabs and tapes except they are loaded into a hand held applicator. The applicator is rolled along the paper while dispensing the adhesive. Some will dispense a continuous flow of adhesive, while others dispense a strip of evenly placed tabs. Tape runners come in both disposable types as well as refillable dispensers. They come in a permanent application, which is what will be the product that most crafters will want to use. There is also a repositionable that is useful in laying out a draft, masking and stitching techniques.

Tape runners work best for layering lightweight items or applying ribbons.

Dry adhesives can also be purchased in sheets. Sheets of dry adhesive can be bought in sizes as small as 1 1/2 inch wide all the way up to 12 x 12 inch sheets. When using a sheet adhesive, pieces are placed on the sheet and then the backing is removed to create a sticker type layer. These work well for paper piercing, ribbon, glitter, flocking and die cuts. The xyron machine is a very popular adaptation of the sticker adhesive. It's a dispenser with sheet form of adhesive in sizes from 1 1/2 to 5 inch widths

Make sure that the items that you are adhering together are free of any dust or dirt to get the best bond

Tape runners- Scrapbook Basic

Tape runners are one of the basic tools that you should have in your craft area. They are double sided tapes that come in either permanent or repositional tape. You can use them for placing almost anything like pictures, mats and paper embellishments on your paper. You can also use them for placing ribbons. Always buy a tape runner that allows you to buy refills. You will save a lot of money

Glue Sticks

Glue sticks are the basic adhesive when it comes to scrapbook projects. They are a water based glue that come in a tube that looks like a chapstick. They often come in a purple color so that you can see where the glue goes, but it dries clear. Make sure that you use a glue stick that is acid free so that your scrapbook pages stay fresh for years to come.

Uses Glue sticks are perfect for adhering photos and photo mats, cardstock, patterned paper, photos, and die cuts. While white craft glue may make ripples in paper, craft sticks bond flat.

Glue sticks would generally be used in lighter paper products

Tips: a little goes a long way, so don't overuse it, otherwise your paper will buckle. A little dab of glue at each corner is more than enough. smooth it down to spread the glue

Glue Dots

They are small circular adhesives that come on a roll and really adhere well to paper, plastic, glass, metal and vinyl. They can be squares or circles. They come in a variety of adhesives such a permanent, semi permanent and removeable Mostly they come on rolls in boxes, but I also have a few that are small and come on sheets They can also come as tape runners which are really easy to use

Uses Glue dots are used to adhere embellishments like buttons, cut outs and ribbons , chipboard, or other 3D embellishments in their albums.

Tips Glue dots are very sticky, so once you have adhered something, it's almost impossible to move, so make sure that you have it exactly where you want it before you place it down

Foam Mounting Tape And Adhesives

This is a double sided tape that about 1/8 of an inch thick. It can be used to add dimension to any scrapbook page. They come in a variety of widths, shapes and colors. They are placed between layers to add a 3 D effect. They come in dots, rolls, sheets and in dispensers. They are perfect for heavier and bulky items like buttons, wood or metal embellishments.

Uses You can use it for embellishments, journal sheets, and other elements

Tips This tape can be cut in pieces as needed

Photo Corners

The Oldest Scrapbook Adhesives

Photo corners are probably the oldest scrapbook adhesives on record. They have been found in scrapbooks from photos well into 100 years ago. Today's photo corners offer a wide variety of colors. Traditionally, they are used to anchor photos, but they can be used on almost any square element including journal pages

Vellum Tape

Vellum tape is a very clear tape that is used to affix vellum-a clear thin paper on a scrapbook page. It is almost invisible when used correctly.

Washi Tape

Washi Tape is the fashion statement of adhesives ! It comes in more sizes, colors and designs than you can even imagine. It unlike other adhesives in that it is made from natural fibers.

If you do scrapbooks, then washi tape will become your obsession. You can also use it to decorate cards, use it in art journals and more. It is a great tool in organizing your craft space.

You can write on it and even color it. It is one of the most fun adhesives you will ever own.

Experiment with the glue on scrap pieces of your project. Check for appearance, adhesion and and resulting bond strength.

Storing Adhesives

I like to keep all my adhesives, including my glue gun and sticks in a toolbox set aside for that purpose. The one I use is multi tiered. On the very bottom I keep all my wet adhesive bottles. One tier holds my glue guns and one tier holds my double sided tapes and glue dots. No matter how you store your adhesives, the most important think is to keep the lids on tight. I also take a wet wipe and wipe around all the bottled adhesives so the glue does not stick the cap or lid on

  • Keep the lid on the glue when you are not using it.
  • Always tighten the cap as soon as you are done
  • Clean the nozzle before storing. It’s hard to remove the cap if the nozzle is covered in dried glue, or worse, if the nozzle has bonded to the cap!
  • Store your glue inside at room temperature. The glue can get lumpy if frozen and won’t work well.
  • Squeeze out any air in the bottle, since air causes adhesives to cure.

Tell Us About Your Experiences With Adhesives

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    • linfcor profile image

      Linda F Correa 2 years ago from Spring Hill Florida

      You are welcome. Adhesives are one of my favorite supplies

    • sheilamarie78 profile image

      sheilamarie78 2 years ago

      These are helpful tips. Thanks for sharing them.

    • linfcor profile image

      Linda F Correa 2 years ago from Spring Hill Florida

      I am a big fan of foam dots too ! I use them on cards, scrapbooks and paper craft projects !

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      Glue dots are so useful I don't know what I did without them previously, and I like the 3D effect of foam mounting squares.