Glue Sticks–Not For Me

Glue sticks are wonderful–for other people. For students, for fast workers, for people who hate using bottle glue. For me? Not so much.

Well-working glues I use and like. Notice: no glue sticks. Left to right, Leneco adhesive, Uhu glue, Elmer’s, and Matte Medium by Liquitex.

Part of the problem is Phoenix. Glue sticks dry out, crumble, and aren’t sticky in the low-humidity winter. In the high-heat, high-humidity summer, they melt unless kept cool inside. I keep mine in the fridge, in a baggie, where they dry out in about a week.

So I hate glue sticks. I know they are fast and I would love to love them, but they don’t want my love. Their glue is shiny, and my big, glossy strokes create a whole other layer unless I cover all the glue strokes perfectly.  (Which I don’t.)

Someone whispered a new brand name to me. And as everyone who lives in eternal hope, I thought this would be “the one.” The brand is Coccoina, an italian company.  They make pots of glue, tubes of glue, and glue sticks. I’m interested in the sticks. I ordered several.

Checking out other reviews, I found several enthusiastic reviews. Here are the major pros for using Coccoina glue:

  • It’s solvent free
  • It contains potato starch
  • It’s not poisonous
  • It smells of almonds (the containers may, the glue sticks do not.)

For me, potato starch means bugs. Maybe not in Phoenix, but when I lived in New England, most of the homemade wheat paste and potato paste I used wound up being eaten by tiny bugs, which left holes in my paper.

Because I am an adult, have no children and home, and don’t expect people to eat my art, I am not so concerned about using glue that is edible.

I want to use glue that is:

  • matte
  • dries clear
  • keeps sticking over time, no drying out
  • can be applied in tight areas without glopping
  • doesn’t wrinkle paper or other materials

The Coccoina glue stick didn’t pass the basic tests. Here’s what it looks like freshly opened on a day that did not get above 72º, applied with a light touch.

You can see it doesn’t apply evenly, it blobs. Yes, I could apply it with a brush. But that defeats the purpose of a glue stick.

After spreading it around with my fingers, I left it to dry. After 24 hours of drying time (laughable in Phoenix, we have trouble keeping glue from drying out in seconds), it was dry, but lumpy. Slightly tacky. And it looked like this.

It’s not matte, it’s not clear, and it’s not easy to control.

My favorite glue stick is still UHU, which dries clear, but shiny, so I have to watch out where I put it.

For regular collage projects, or for attaching feathers to paper, I’ll use matte medium. and a brush. Liquitex and Golden are favorite brand names. I’ve used it a long time and it dried matte, clear, and holds on to the collage pieces.

If you have found glue sticks that don’t dry out, don’t glop, dry clear and matte, let me know. I always have more room in my studio for art supplies that work well.

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