Saturday, September 28, 2013

Favorite Tools Series: Glues for Papercraft

Happy Saturday! As most of you know, I am in the throes of writing my first craft book. It's a papercraft book with lots (lots) of projects, so I'm constantly switching between all different kinds of tools and supplies. My desk is always cluttered with stacks of goodies - it looks like a craft store! Piles of cutting tools, measuring tools, clamping tools....I've just got to have all my favorite things at arm's reach for when I need one. Thus, I decided to kick off a little "Favorite Tools Series" here on my blog, where I can share all the materials I like working with in categories. Who knows what we'll cover - seems like a good guest post spot, no?

Today's post is all about my (current) favorite glues for papercraft. I honestly believe that some people are intimidated by glue, and there's no shame in that. I mean, with as much good rapport as I have with glue today, when I hear the term, my mind still automatically thinks "grade school glue that wrinkles, making a huge mess = craft fail." Surely I'm not alone there! But I'm here to tell you - there is life beyond that runny white white stuff. Here are some of my favorites that I've been working with lately. I'd love to hear your input and favorites in the comments!

First up is Fabri-Tac, which is manufactured by Beacon Adhesives. I know, it sounds like a fabric glue, but this stuff? It is amazing for just about anything. In the past, I have called it "hot glue in a bottle" because for many of the same applications in which you might want to use hot glue, Fabri-Tac will probably do the trick (and you won't burn yourself). It's a clear, goopy, gel-like glue that grabs and dries quickly. I find that it works best for when I'm working with fibrous or porous materials, so in papercrafting, I use it when working with handmade or heavily textured papers, as well as when attaching ribbons and trims, or when gluing down things with body, like paper accordion rosettes.

Two big tips for Fabri-Tac from yours truly: It WILL dry out to an unusable, rubbery state, so BE SURE you put your cap back on. It's tiny, but it's red, so just place it somewhere nearby when you're working so that you don't lose it. If you do lose it, at the very least, cover the tip with some paper tape or something to prevent air from getting in. Secondly, be careful when trimming away the tip to open it -- if you trim it too much, it will literally pour out onto your work and make a huge, gloppy mess. Then again, too little, and it will be struggle to get it out. If you're in the market for some Fabri-Tac, I recommend buying two small bottles instead of one big one - then, trim one tip just slightly for more precise applications, and one farther down the nozzle for when you really do just need a nice, big glob of awesome.

Ah, Elmer's! Now, when I was beating up on runny white craft glue above, I didn't mean this stuff. Craft Bond is the go-to glue for when you just need a good, strong hold, but not necessarily immediate dry time. It WILL wrinkle if you use lots over a large area, but if you use smaller dots and a thin application, it won't - especially on thicker papers. I use Craft Bond for adding extra stability to things like paper flowers after they've already been created, by flipping them over and dousing the backside. It can sit overnight, and then it will dry to a nice, firm finish that you couldn't blow up if you tried. I also like to use Craft Bond if I'm attaching paper bits to things like wire or toothpicks for something like a cupcake topper; as long as it can sit for awhile to dry, it's super stable when you're done.

That doesn't mean Craft Bond can't be used for more delicate crafting, though. It's the perfect adhesive for strong holds on paper quilling. When I'm quilling, I either squirt out a little puddle of Craft Bond onto scrap paper and use a straight pin or a needle to apply it; or, I use one of these handy glue pens that has a smaller tip, which are the greatest invention since sliced bread.

Not pictured, but I also use Craft Bond glue sticks..they're my favorite glue sticks. One thing I love them for is to pre-adhere papers together before I sew them on my sewing machine. They're also excellent for gluing thinner papers together over large areas. Craft Bond also has a spray adhesive that I love.

Tombow Mono Liquid Glues! These things are great. I love their applicator tips - precision tip on one end, broad tip on the other with a wide area that makes it easy to spread. The Aqua glue is clear and dries pretty fast. The Multi is white, but dries clear and is super strong. You can also let it dry before applying for a repositionable surface, which I don't really use but does make for a super sticky residue if you get the glue on your hands, so be prepared for that! Tombow Liquid is excellent for cardstock and paper, plus embellishments; and Tombow Multi is also good for that stuff, but works great especially for gluing things like chipboard/bookboard. 

Let's talk decoupage. I am a huge fan of gel medium, which is an acrylic painting medium you can use to add texture to your paintings, and to extend your paint without watering it down. But my favorite use is for collage! Because it's a gel, it's thicker than other more liquid-y decoupage mediums, and the hold is phenomenal. It comes in gloss or matte, and I just use old paintbrushes to apply it - first underneath, then again over the top of whatever paper I'm decoupaging. I'll be honest, I also use my fingers a LOT in decoupage. People say to use a brayer to get air bubbles out...meh. I just push them out and smooth them down with my index and middle fingers. I just like the control and I like getting messy. It's good times.

Last but certainly not least, the glue I've been draining from bottles at a time: Zip Dry. This stuff is phenomenal. It's quick-drying and non-wrinkling, and is perfect for gluing paper to paper. Actually, I use it a lot for gluing card fronts to a folded card base; for awhile I was using double stick tape rollers to do this, but it was frustrating to try to get everything perfectly aligned before sticking them together. Now, I use thin lines of Zip Dry, and I have a few seconds I can shift around the card front to get it perfectly aligned on the card base before it dries.

Three tips for Zip Dry: It dries clear, but very shiny - so be careful of it seeping out beyond the edges of your glued pieces, in case you plan on coating it later with a glossy gel medium or something like that. Secondly, be careful snipping the tip off to open it up. More than once, I've snipped off too much and the glue pours out too quickly. This is easily fixed by replacing the top with a little precision tip applicator that you can purchase separately (I got this bag of bottles at the craft store and just use the nozzle tips). Third, because this stuff dries so quickly and I use it with a precision tip, the tip end will dry over really fast! Just use your fingers or a straight pin to pull off the film that's blocking airflow; and be sure to replace your cap when you're done.

Some other must-mentions that are also great for papercrafts:
  • Aleene's Tacky Glue (I enjoy the Fast Grab type best)
  • Mod Podge (they just have so many different formulas that are lots of fun)
  • Hot glue (does this really need explanation?)
  • PVA (this is basically any white glue like Elmer's, but it's great for bookmaking and chipboard as well as any quilling or general paper crafting)

What kind of glues do you love for papercrafts? Share below in the comments!

Disclaimer: This post contains my personal opinions based on my personal experiences. These products were not given to me by for review; I purchased them of my own accord.


  1. Hi, Shannon! I actually have a question! Which is the best photo glue? I am really into scrapbooking and hate that my photos don't stick well or get slightly wrinkly while using craft glue sticks. (Yeah, the lame school kind.) Any tips would be appreciated!

    1. Zip Dry works great for photos! But honestly, for scrapbooking with photos, I usually prefer to use an adhesive runner (Scotch adhesive dot rollers are awesome) or Glue Dots. Hope that helps!


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