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Craft Adhesives -Tips and Ideas

As a professional scrapbook artist, paper crafter, and author, I have taught people how to turn family memories into legacies for 20 years.


Craft Adhesives-The Basics

I remember when I was a child, more than a few years ago, all we had for gluing anything was a jar of paste with a brush attached to the lid. It was gloppy but we used it for all of our art projects. I remember making scrapbooks out of pictures cut from magazines and photos taken from my Brownie camera. That's how I started in scrapbooking as a hobby-some 50 years ago.

Then came Elmer's liquid glue and we were all excited. It was a big step up from the old paste jar. Magnetic albums became the rage until everyone saw how their pictures yellowed and got ruined. By then Polaroid pictures were the big rage. Even the new liquid glue had it's problems. It was messy for one thing. And really didn't do much for adding embellishments.

Now we have all kinds of choices in glues and adhesives. It's exciting for those of us who have seen the products evolve.

One of the most basic supplies beyond scrapbook albums and paper is the adhesives that you will need. What a joy it is to have the right adhesive for your scrapbook pages. It really makes everything so much easier to have the right product for the technique or project that you are working on.

Paper Crafting has caught on and has become so popular that companies have been trying to keep up with demand. People are making cards, quilling, making paper flowers, banners, décor items.The old adhesives just don't work anymore.

Using the wrong adhesives is a disaster in the making. Learning which adhesive is right for the job will make your scrapbooking and paper crafting time way more enjoyable, productive and rewarding. Let's get started

Craft Adhesives- Uses

Type Of AdhesivePermanent Or TemporaryUses

Glue Stiick


Paper projects like collages, art journaling, and photos

Glue Dots


Paper, embellishments, acrylics

Glue Pens

Permanent Or Repositionable

Paper and light embellsihments

Tape Runners

Can be either permanent or repositional

Bond paper to paper

Double Sided Tape


Paper, cardstock, chipboard, wood, glass, metal and acrylic

Double Sided Foam Tape


Paper, cradstock, wood, glass, metal and acrylic

Adhesive Sheets And Strips


Bonds paper, chipboard, wood, glass, foam, acrylic, canvas

Vellum Tape


Used to adhere vellum to paper

Zyron Tape


Paper, metal, chipboard

My first tip to share is one that I have learned from experience. You see, it's natural to want to save money where you can. And I am all for that. Any of the craft stores know that I don't shop without at least one coupon. But when it comes to adhesives, it is always best to buy better, not cheap. I have learned this from experience for sure. About 8 months ago I purchased some tape runners on Ebay. I needed a lot of them, so I purchased in bulk at a price that I thought was really good. All I


Let's Start With Tape Runners

They are your all purpose "go to"adhesive

Tape runners are plastic containers that hold rolls of tape. You roll it on your project and the tape comes off from the dispenser. It comes as a smooth line or as dots. You decide what is right for you.

Tape runners are your basic go to adhesive for scrapbook projects and making greeting cards. You can use them on cardstock, to mount your photos and to add on frames, mats and embellishments. One word of caution that you will hear me say over and over again is this. Make sure to buy a reasonable quality tape runner. Cheap ones will not word well, or permanently and you will get frustrated. Cheap is not always better when it comes to adhesives. Basically a tape runner is a thin double sided tape. It is in a dispenser that allows you to run the tape. It can be permanent or repositionable. Some types of dispensers are refillable. These are great because the refills are generally more economical and better for the environme

Whatever craft adhesive you are using, make sure to spread it evenly !


Glue Sticks-Another Basic Scrapbook Adhesive

Very Economical Adhesive

You need some glue sticks in your adhesives. They are used in both scrapbooking , collages, art journals and paper crafting. They have an appearance like a creamy lip balm. Many of them come in a purple color when applied that dries white. The come in larger sticks and little glue sticks. Most are round, but some come in triangular shape that is perfect to get those corners that never want to stick down. Simply rub the stick over the area to be adhered to leave an even coat of stickiness. Try to buy them in multiples and you will find the cost very reasonable

Glue sticks are considered permanent . They dry clear. They are acid free and non-toxic.

Tip-Use a glossy type of ad page under your work to catch any excess glue from your glue stick. It's easy to toss once you are done. The glossy paper works well.

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

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Photo Tape/ Score Tape/ Double Sided Tape

Tackier than a tape runner

Double sided tape is a smoother and slimmer bond than a tape runner. It comes in rolls of different widths. It is considered a more permanent adhesive. As the saying goes, there are no second chances with this adhesive.

That's what it's called, but most scrapbook artists never use it for that. Usually we use the tape runners to attach photos. It provides a permanent bond right away.

You can use it to apply glitter on a scrapbook page or card. You can also use it to apply ribbon to a paper craft project. You can also use it to secure an envelope closed

It can also be used to adhere things on cards and journals

It comes in all kinds of widths.

This type of tape is better for paper projects like brag books and mini albums on chipboard. It's also good for adhering heavier items and a must for adhering glitter

Tip- When you are using double sided tape, lift the backing at the ends only. Hold the backing so it sticks up in two tabs. Position it on the top sheet of paper and stick it down. If the position is wrong, you cam still move it.

Use a fine sandpaper to roughen an area that may be smooth before you use any adhesive

Double Sided Foam Tapes

Foam tapes are perfect when you want to add dimension to a project. There is no mess and no drying time. It's so easy to use foam tape ! You can add more dimension by adding several layers. It's usually available in black and white. It's acid free, permanent and can be cut to size Double sided adhesive foam tape can be used to bond paper, glass, metal and acrylic surfaces. My personal favorite use is to adhere ribbon on a card or scrapbook page.


Glue Dots -Everyone Needs Them

Very handy in different sizes

Glue dots and foam tape act pretty much the same way. They are very small bits of double sided adhesives that are perfect for adhering all kinds of buttons, bows and embellishments. They come in rolls, runners and sheets. And if you are careful nothing is wasted. After you remove the glue dots, you can cut up the remains and use them as well. They are very sticky and will last. Both of them add some dimension to your pages

You can make your own glue dots in the size that you need and want . Just use a product called Aleene's Tack it over and over. Drop dots of glue on an adhesive sheet like the kind that stickers are adhered to. Allow to dry over night and you have glue dots.

Tip 1-When you use pop dots, don't throw the area out around the dots once you use them ! They can still be cut up and used as easily as the dots themselves. Don't waste your money

Tip 2- If you find that your glue sot is in the wrong position, try lifting it with your fingers or another glue dot

Double sided tape is the right choice when you are adhering two pieces of paper. It is cleaner than a wet glue. It is more permanent than a glue stick. It does not warp the paper like a white (PVA) glue.

Adhesive Sheets

Adhesive sheets are really handy for so many projects. One of the most popular sheet is called Stick It. It is a double sided adhesive sheet.

This adhesive is a must have for die cuts, especially the more intricate cuts. You adhere one of the sides of the adhesive sheet to your card stock. Then run the card stock with the adhesive and the die through your die cut machine. Peel back the adhesive sheet and you are ready to adhere it to your project. No messy glue or tape. One of the nice features of this material, is that you can reposition it if you need to. Once you are happy with the location, rub it on with the bone folder.

Tip-Before running the paper and die through your die cut machine, burnish ( rub it with a bone folder where the adhesive sheet is.

Make sure to use a good quality double sided tape and foam tape otherwise, you may find that the tape may not hold later on


Glue Pens

These are especially handy to adhere all those letters and small things that we like to add to our projects. They are handy for making small flowers and anywhere where you have to get in close. Die cuts are easy to adhere with the glue pen.

A liquid adhesive in a handy pen format, this is ideal for detail work and for sticking small pieces of paper and cardstock with a little more control than a glue stick.

Most brands of these pens come in several different tips. Some are more precise and some have a broader tip.

Glue pens generally dry tacky, so they are also useful to add touches of foil your projects

Tip 1- Always test your glue pen on a piece of scrap paper to make sure that the flow of the glue is clean,

Always clean the top and recap your adhesives right after using them. You will get longer shelf life

Vellum Adhesives

Vellum tape is strictly designed for one purpose-to attach vellum paper to a surface. Vellum is a very sheer thin paper. This tape is made to give minimal visibility through the paper.

Vellum adhesive spray is another option to adhere vellum. It dries clear and cannot be seen through it. It is acid free and can be repositioned. It is also acid free.

If you find yourself without low tack tape, use a piece of normal tape. Stick it to your clothes and rip it off a few times to reduce the adhesion


Mod Podge -Everyone Needs This Adhesive

If you love crafting with paper, then you have heard about Mod Podge. While it comes in a lot of different forms, there are two basic finishes-gloss and matte. What makes Mod Podge so popular is that not only is it a glue, but it is also a sealer. Gets the job finished quickly. It works on almost every surface, so it is a good product to have around your craft space.

Known primarily as a decoupage medium, this adhesive line goes far beyond that. Besides the standard gloss and matte finish, there is glitter, outdoor, satin, and dishwasher safe just to mention a few.

One of the most popular in the line is the photo transfer. This medium allows you to transfer an image onto a surface. It comes in clear and the original formula.

The clear formula dries in a matte finish The standard formula has a gloss finish. You do need an image from a dry toner printer for this product.

It is considered a permanent adhesive that does dry clear. For the most part, it is paintable and is acid free.

The only way to really understand this medium is to create several projects. Explore the finishes and opportunities that these mediums have to offer with hands on experiences.


E6000- Never Be Without It

E6000 is an industrial strength glue that is a must have for any serious crafter. It is terrific for any kind of jewelry project. You can also use it to create Christmas ornaments, seashell projects, wreaths and a lot more. The only downside to this adhesive is that it has an odor, I would suggest using it in a well ventilated area.

This adhesive is paintable and washable. It can be used on almost every material except styrafoam.

There are precision tips that are included with the product that should be used.

Here are a few more tips for E6000:

Tip #1-Always use the product in a well ventilated area

Tip #2-Surface should always be clean and free of dirt

Tip#3-For non-porous surfaces, apply a thin coat to each side. Wait about 2 minutes before melding surfaces

Tip#4-Allow 24-72 hours for cure time

Tip #5-Apply a thin coat of petroleum jelly to the cap before closing the tube.

E6000 Tip

Photo Corners - A Form Of Scrapbook Adhesive

While photo corners are not really scrapbook adhesives per se, I put them in here because they do adhere your pictures or other elements to a page and do have adhesive on them. I always add a bit of adhesive onto photo corners, especially the ones that you lick yourself, I generally find that they don't have enough adhesive on them. Photo corners used to be popular, then they faded from the scene. But they have become popular again. They now come in all kinds of colors. I prefer to buy the white or crème color ones and then add my own color with my ink pads. You could distress or age them by adding brown distress inks along the sides of them

Always be sure that the adhesive that you are using is acid and lignin free as well as archival safe !

Liquid Adhesives

An alternative adhesive

While you will want to use liquid glue sparingly, they are still handy to have in your craft area. They are good for gluing metals, papers and ribbons. But you will want to be careful because they can make a bit of a mess if you are not careful. Always follow the manufacturers directions

Use nail varnish to remove any adhesive from your scissors. Once you do that, your scissors will cut much better.


Tacky Glue

This is one glue I would never be without. It is another must have for any crafter. This is a super strong all purpose glue. It is non-toxic, dries clear and there is no smell. It comes in different sizes and formulas.

One of the most popular tacky glues is the Aleene's brand. Elmer's and Scotch also make very fine versions of this product.

Depending on the company formula, tacky glue is basically a very thick PVA glue or a polyvinyl acetate glue. It dries clear and has some flexibility.

It is however, not a good choice for glass, plastic or metal. It slides off of these materials.

Tacky glue is considered a permanent adhesive. It is also non-toxic. It can be used on things like paper, wood and styrafoam.

There are a few different formulas that you may want to consider:

  • Quick Dry-does what it says. When you need something to dry fast, this is the one for you.
  • Fast Grab-perfect for things like beads and other things when you need an item to stay put. But you may only get one chance with tis glue


Glossy Accents

Glossy Accents are a three dimensional resin that provides a clear coat on paper and embellishments. It dries as a clear shiny finish that also doubles as a glue. It is also used as a seal for things like bottle caps and jewelry.

You can also use it over a stamped image. But since it is a water based product, you will want to use a water resistant ink like Momento or Stazon. Otherwise, when you add the Glossy Accents, the image will run.

Glossy Accent Tips

  • Use a craft pick to burst any bubbles that may happen as your project is drying
  • If you are using Glossy Accents on a card, allow it to totally dry before ink blending over it Allow it to air dry only

More Glossy Accent Ideas

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Xyron Adhesive Machine

Everyone who is serious about paper crafts and scrapbooking should have at least one Xyron machine. They add adhesive to the backs of just about anything that you might want to adhere. You can make stickers out of anything you can imagine. They are great for small letters and eliminates the glue mess. You either use a crank or pull them through and they come in different sizes. There are no batteries and the adhesive refills are easy to set in. They are also economical on your craft budget


PVA (White Glue)

This is a water-based liquid glue that dries clear. It's a good, general purpose glue suitable for most materials, and diluted with water, it's essential for papier mâché techniques.

It is considered a permanent adhesive that can be used on almost any material except for fabric and leather. It works best on porous materials, But remember, this glue is not waterproof.

They come in different mixes with the water content varying.

Tip#1- In order to keep your paper from warping, use this glue sparingly. Spread the glue with an old credit card or gift card to get a flat surface. You can also use a paint brush.

Tip#2-Let it cure in an air conditioned location for better and quicker results

How To Keep From Getting A Clogged Tip

When you finish with a bottle of glue, always keep the screw top from the container. Wash them with warm soapy water and allow to dry, Keep your spare tops in a baggie. When you go to use the glue, just exchange the tops and you will have a clean flow every time.


Multi Matte Medium

Multi matte medium is the perfect adhesive for mixed media projects. It is acid free and non toxic. It is considered a strong acrylic gel medium , acrylic paint extender that can also be used as a sealer. It is also non-yellowing, dries clear and is waterproof after it dries. It is available in matte and now gloss finishes.

There are three different sizes. There is a ,5 ounce bottle with a needle tip applicator, a 1ounce jar with a built in brush, and a 4 ounce jar.

This product is most often used on image transfers and resist techniques.

Always make sure to use the right adhesive for any of your paper projects. If you are using a wet glue, make sure not to use too much. It will cause the paper to buckle when it dries


Glue Guns

The adhesive is supplied in the form of glue sticks. These are inserted into the gun, where they are heated up to release a hot, runny adhesive at the press of the trigger. It provides a strong, fast-tack bond and is useful for working with foam board and for sticking plastic to paper.

Glue Gun Tips And Ideas

Tip 1-Always have a tile or coaster to rest your glue gun on when it's hot

Tip 2-If you are using hot glue on paper, make sure to use heavy paper. otherwise the glue may burn through it.

Tip 3-Always allow your glue gun to heat up completely before you use it.

Tip 4- When using your glue gun, place the nozzle close to the surface you are gluing. You will make a less messy project

Tip 5-Never use hot glue on anything that needs to be flexible. When it dries, it may crack if you try to bend it.

Tip 6-If the little bar that holds your glue gun off the surface of your workspace is broken, use a binder clip to hold it up

Tip 7- Make a pattern on a piece of wood with hot glue, Allow to dry. You have now made a stamp that you can use on your paper projects

A binder clip can be used to hold your glue gun off your surface

A binder clip can be used to hold your glue gun off your surface

Spray Adhesives

Spray adhesives are a good option when you have a large area to glue or have detailed cut pieces. Always use these sprays in a well ventilated room or outdoors.

Tip 1-Put in item in a cardboard box to spray in order to keep the adhesive from going on any other surface

Tip 2-Shake the can well before using it. Keep the can upright while shaking it.

Tip 3- Less is more. Always apply a light even coat of spray adhesive

Tip 4- Stand several inches from the item you are spraying . Standing too close to the item will cause clumping on parts of your project

Tip 5-Bubbles sometimes appear on the surface where you've used a spray adhesive. To eliminate trapped bubbles, spray the surface or item and then apply pressure starting from the center of the surface or item and then slowly work outward, pressing the items together.

An Extra Wet Glue Idea To Consider

More Glue Ideas And Tips

New Guestbook Comments

Linda F Correa (author) from Spring Hill Florida on September 15, 2014:

You are so welcome. Yes, I remember those gloppy jars too. Now there glues for just about every task you can think of. I received a free glue from Aileen's, one of my favorite glue companies. It's for fabric. Since I can cut fabric with my Cricut Exlore, I am really looking forward to experimenting with it !

Linda Pogue from Missouri on September 15, 2014:

I remember the gloppy glue jar with a brush! We even used a mixture of flour and water when I was very little and there was no money for extravagances like glue. There are so many choices now. Thanks for the list. I found some I had not tried.

Linda F Correa (author) from Spring Hill Florida on May 17, 2014:

@julieannbrady: Thank you for your kind comments. I agree, adhesives have really improved over the years. Do you remember the paste we used to use ? It came in a jor and the top had a brush attached. Would never be used now, but I know exactly what you mean

julieannbrady on May 14, 2014:

You know something? When I was much younger, I put together my scrapbooks that today I wished we had better glue! Some of the glued items are one with the paper ... I would have loved a glue stick back then. Lovely presentation!

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