The novelist Anna Quindlen once said, "Women are the glue that hold
our day-to-day world together." Well, the aim of this article is not
quite so lofty as figuring out how to hold our world together, but I am at
least hoping to share with you a little about what we can use to hold our
In general, you want your adhesives to be acid-free, xylene-free and long lasting. This means that you often do have to avoid many of the generic products (rubber cement and most glue sticks, for example), but of course you don't need to worry about this when shopping at R&R - any adhesives you buy here will fulfill these basic requirements unless Rhea states otherwise!
Now that those kind scrapbooking manufacturers have come to our aid with such a wealth of adhesive products that we can use - how do we choose among them? Well, in many cases it simply boils down to personal preference, but several of the products do work extremely well for different things. Below I have reviewed of some of the most commonly used types of adhesives and some of their strengths and weaknesses.
Permanent vs. Repositionable
This is an important decision to make before you start sticking things into your books. Using a permanent adhesive will usually guarantee a stronger bond, but personally I never use anything other than repositionable because I like the flexibility of giving myself time to see if I like a layout, to straighten up a wonky photo the next day, and I have even been known to come back three weeks later with a photo I forgot to include on the page.
ATG (Advanced Tape Glider)
This is HANDS DOWN my Favorite adhesive! (Rhea speaking here) I have used this adhesive for YEARS and it has out preformed everything else. I love that with the 1/4" pink gun you can rub off any extra adhesive (just like rubber cement) once down and pushed down you'll tear your paper before moving it, I for one love this when card making! The refills are available in both general purpose and acid free, acid free of course is recommended when doing anything with photos, and some feel that it rolls out a bit smoother than the general purpose. For card making I use the general purpose and I have a second gun loaded with acide free. I AM lazy so hense the 2 guns of course you can unload and re-load with different rolls. It Also is the most affordable cost per foot that you can get your hands on. Some ladies have commented that "oh but its so big" I have carpal tunnel in both wrists and manage just fine, I actually find that its balanced so well that it doesn't bother me at all. That and you'll never lose it on your desk!
Ah, a touch of nostalgia - photo corners are your traditional way of putting photos into an album, and of course they still work perfectly well! The big bonus is you can remove and replace the photo at any time without damaging it. The downside is that it can be quite tricky to get the corners to line up neatly and I always end up doing a bit of a juggle dance with the corners balanced precariously on my photo while I quickly try to stick the whole thing to the page. Also, they don't work fabulously on textured paper. That said though, they are quite cute and I generally use them for highlighting value, as an alternative to matting.
Mono liquid glue
Liquid glue is very versatile. The Mono brands have two tips - a fine pen-tip for precision work and a broad one for larger applications. The glue is quite versatile - used right from the applicator it gives a permanent bond, or you can get a Post-It-Note-like temporary bond by allowing glued project piece to dry before attaching to the layout for ultimate scrapbook repositioning (but note that this is not as strong as the repositionable glue bond of other products). It does take a little while to dry though, which can be frustrating if you are a speedy scrapper, or pressed for time (like, say, when your two year old is about to wake up from his nap and you have to clear all your scrapping stuff away in a blink).
Mounting Squares and Tape
Mounting tape (basically double-sided sticky tape) is relatively inexpensive and perfect for sticking on flat elements (strips of cardstock, thick ribbon, etc.) The squares are pre-cut small pieces that are a quick way to adhere photos and paper, and you can get them in permanent or repositionable packs. If you do a lot of scrapping though, peeling off the backing tape gets annoying rather quickly, and they are not designed for use with small pieces. (They do also have an applicator thingy to deal with the backing-removal-fatigue issue, but I haven't tried that yet - it would have to be an improvement though!)
Scotch vellum tape is probably the best of the vellum tapes I have tried. It works well on dark vellums or patterned pieces, but still I find that it is not always invisible under clear vellum. (For clear vellum, you are honestly better off using brads or something that you want to be seen!) For best results, I use the smallest piece that is going to adhere the vellum properly, and I advise that you ensure your hands are very clean, because I promise you that fingerprints and stray pet hairs are going to show up if you're not careful! It also helps to follow the instructions closely - i.e. first adhere tape to the card-stock and then the vellum.
Glue dots are particularly useful for adhering small items like tiny bows, metal charms, buttons, ribbon, wiggle eyes, etc. You can also stretch them out or roll them up and use them on thinner fibres, although this is a bit trickier. Pop-up glue dots are a lot of fun and add an easy (non-bulky) 3-dimensional effect to your page. You can put them under cardstock letters, a punchie, or a photo (best if it is a small photo) and it will look as though it is literally "jumping" from the page. I have yet to try them, but the new "glue lines" look as though they will be great for, say, making words out of fibres and other things that were previously so hard to attach that I never even tried…
This verrrry sticky double-sided tape comes available in different sizes and works especially well for adhering those teeny scraps that add glitz to your layouts but are horrible to attach any other way - here I am talking about tiny beads or sprinkle glitter, or even sand! I made a beautiful bead border around a 10 x 8 print in under a minute using this stuff and everything still seems to be adhered 12 months later with no problems. The ads suggest that you use it for everything - buttons, letters, paper, the works, but I find it is a bit expensive for such lavish use. The other drawback it that it sticks really well, so be very careful when you are positioning it to get it right the first time.
I have to admit here that I am not yet a xyron owner, so this part of the review is based on things I have read. The little Xyron can be used to make permanent or repositionable stickers up to 1.5" wide (and it also works well with vellum). They are quite popular with Quickcutz and Sizzix owners, who suggest applying the adhesive first and then cutting the letters or shapes out later, to avoid sticky stuff in the middle of your O's, for example. The main limitation with the small one is the size limitation, but it is ideal for punch art, cardstock lettering, and flat fibres such as ribbons. Bigger xyrons are apparently awesome for other tricky items like skeleton leaves and vellum. You can even get a magnet cartridge to easily turn your favorite pix into fridge decorations!
Un-Du & Gunk and Goo remover
Once it's on, how do you get it off? Well, Un-du works on adhesives by temporarily removing the tackiness of the adhesive. This allows you, for example, to remove and replace a sticker without having to reapply an adhesive. (Very good for salvaging older layouts suffering from "sticker sneeze", when you may wish to relocate them to the bin!) You can also use it to dislodge photos that have bonded to those old magnetic albums that house so many of our "heritage" photos (do photos from the 80s count as heritage these days???)
And, as suggested by Rhea in one of her earlier newsletters, you can even use it to remove sticky labels, price tags and the like, from just about anything.
I haven't tried the gunk and goo remover sheets yet, but they look like they will be great for removing adhesive from tricky spots like scissor blades (and any of you who have ventured into using unmounted stamps will know what a blessing this will be).
There are still plenty of things that can be used to adhere stuff to a page that I haven't covered here - you can also use clear plastic pockets (to hold a snip of hair, say), or you can attach things with brads, nailheads, eyelets, and for some very difficult items like wire, nothing beats a small stitch for stability. But I am getting writer's fatigue now - this list turned out longer than anticipated! - And a deeper analysis of such things may have to wait until next time.