Getting Stuck: Glues and Pastes

For all artists, crafters, or just people who need to know how to glue two items together, there is a website for you:

The homepage gives you two boxes to choose the two items you are trying to glue together. Click Submit, and it gives you the best glue for the materials.

There is also a page for trivia that includes items like:

” When you are sucking in all the toxins from your cigarette, you can rest assured that the glue used to hold it together is completely non-toxic. It is made from a combination of casein (milk) and wax (to increase moisture resistance), and is absolutely harmless.”

There are many ways to stick one thing to another. Methyl Cellulose does not irritate human tissue, which is why it’s a popular glue. You generally have to buy it dry and mix it with water yourself.

Candle wax will hold one piece of paper to another, but it leaves a grease stain and you need quite a bit of it–you have to cover one piece of paper to get it to stick to another.

PVC paste is white book glue. It’s archival and is probably my favorite. Dilute it with distilled water to thin it. I also use Elmer’s brand, as it is ideal (and inexpensive) for creating crackle paste:

  • Paint a background and let it dry.
  • Apply a thick coat of Elmers glue, using a brush to paint it on in one direction.
  • Immediately apply a thin coat of paint on top of the glue
  • Let dry completely, several hours. You can help it with a warm (not hot) hair dryer.
  • The dry glue will create cracks and pulls in the direction you brushed it on

I may be the only person with a studio who doesn’t own a glue gun. Hot glue seems to work fine, I can never get it to stay stuck once it’s cooled and about a month old. So I’m a wet glue person. Or a cold connection person. (Cold connection is what you call attaching metals without solder in jewelry). I mean on paper–staples, tabs, stitching are great attachment methods.

Nori glue is made from seaweed. It’s very wet but it works beautifully because it goes down evenly and doesn’t soak paper or warp it much.

You can also use the countless gel mediums, glazes and pastes made to use with acrylic paints. For that matter, you can use acrylic paint itself as a glue.

Glue Tip for Cactus Owners: If you’ve touched a cactus and have dozens of no-see-um stickers in your finger, coat it with a white glue (Elmer’s is fine, any kind of PVA will do. Do not use super-glue) and let it dry. Then carefully, slowly peel it off starting at one edge. The glue will pull out all the cactus spines.

–Quinn McDonald is an Raw Art Journal artist who sticks up for original artwork, with and without glue.

10 thoughts on “Getting Stuck: Glues and Pastes

  1. I’m catching up on your posts and just now read this one. I had to share my hot glue gun experience. Back in May I was hot glueing fabric to a wood box (see project here: and ended up with a third degree and second degree burn on two fingers. My hubby has banished the hot glue gun from our house! LOL Of course it wasn’t funny at the time, but looking back, we have a good laugh. So to all the hot glue gun users out there, be careful! 😛

    • That glue does get hot. I’m sorry you burned your fingers, but it sounds like they healed. Thank goodness! The hot glue guns I’ve tried always pull strings of glue, and I’m simply better with a selection of cold glues.

  2. Use sticky tape, like scotch tape to remove those fuzzy spines from cactus and roses. Many years ago, when working at an ALS clinic, one of the patients told me that in the future glues would be used in surgery and that he had just seen a demonstration of a glues used in eye surgery. this was around 1975, amazing how true it is today.

    • Yep, and methyl cellulose–made from plant cell walls–is used in eye surgeries. I tried sticky tape, but had to press down too hard for those fuzzy bunny-ear cactus spines. White glue doesn’t hurt, and besides the time it takes to dry (tape doesn’t need drying time!) I get better results from slowly peeling off glue–those bunny-ear spines are tiny but dense!

  3. I use hot glue combined with a wet glue, such as a tacky glue. I apply the tacky glue to one surface and hot glue to the other and put them together. You get the instant bond of the hot glue and the longer lasting bond with the tacky. 🙂

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