Baby…it’s glue

April 20th, 2016

I am always searching for the perfect glue – one that is strong but flexible, dries invisibly and bonds shiny plastic like it’s cardboard. This does not exist (yet…I’m looking at you 3M) but I have compiled this list of my sticky thoughts.

Chunky Glues

These are great when you are gluing two different shapes together and need a little build up to get the pieces to fit. If you want a smooth invisible result you need to be a bit more careful with these bad boys.

Esma Pacal Turam - Hot Glue Chandelier
Esma Pacal Turam – Hot Glue Chandelier

Hot Glue

These are not all created equal. Some are stickier than others, some run hotter, and some even have glitter.

  • Great for porous surfaces, gluing smooth plastics will lead to disappointment
  • Welds foam together
  • Quick – once it’s cooled its ready
  • Can be used to create “welded” effects along joins
  • Lumpy
  • You will burn your fingers, after years of this my finger tips are like tiny oven mitts
  • Can be reheated with a heat gun and repositioned once dry
  • You need to move quickly as it solidifies very quickly

Liquid Nails

This is chalky builders glue about the consistency of peanut butter. It doesn’t run and takes about 24 hours to fully cure so you have lots of time to position it and clean up any overshoots.

  • Strong!
  • low odor
  • long working time
  • Needs clamping while it dries as long curing time
  • Messy so better to use early on in the construction process
  • Designed for building construction, so suited for large pieces
This may be a slight exaggeration
This may be a slight exaggeration [ Via Marketing Mixtape]

Araldite (epoxy)

My earliest memory of this glue is my Dad frantically trying to wipe it off the cat after she jumped up on the woodbench (Don’t worry, Sherry was fine and lived to a ripe old age)

  • Expensive
  • Two part mix to activate (they come in a plunger, squirt it out and mix)
  • Strong!
  • A little fumey when mixing
  • Dries clear
  • Can be used on tiny items like Jewelry
  • About 10 mins working time and cures fully overnight

Skinny Glues

Contact Adhesive

This is a great all rounder and easy to get. Apply a layer to each side, let dry a little then press – bonded for life.

  • Messy and runny – its very hard to squeeze “just a little”
  • Cures quickly – a few minutes in some cases
  • Fumey
  • Cheap
  • Can “roll off” smooth surfaces
  • Flexible
  • Useful in leatherwork

Superglue (Cyanoacrylates)

These are odd– I find they either work instantly and amazingly or not at all. They were originally invented to suture wounds shut so they adore sticking to your fingertips.

  • Very easy to find – even dairies stock it
  • A brittle and very strong bond
  • Stiffens and stains fabric
  • Comes in convenient packaging that you can fit in your pocket- good for repairs
  • Practically welds some plastics and foams together

Weirdo Glues


Kneadable epoxy

These are a coarse version of two part epoxy clays like Apoxy Sculpt and Milliput. Once it cures it is rock hard and difficult to sand.

Spray Glue

Ugh When I was in design school we had to use this to mount all our pieces onto foam board – one false move and you had what looked like a bubbly tear streaked mess. I use it now as a sticky base to dust pigments onto, or to hold fabric over foam while I secure it in place.

  • Use it outside
  • Expensive while you are using this outside
  • Hold far away from the item and lightly mist it – do this outside
  • Comes in different strengths, formulations for everything from basting quilting fabric to upholstering car seats, outside
  • You should use this outside


If E600 was a person...
If E6000 was a person…

This is really a nuclear contact adhesive. Despite its rather unglamorous name that goop is used in more burlesque costumes than ostrich feathers, illusion net and lycra combined.

  • Toxic
  • Expensive and can be difficult to source in NZ – places the sell beads stock it.
  • The best for rhinestones
  • Great for stuff on shoes that will take a lot of movement and punishment
  • Get the needle nozzle for precision


Ceaveat: You only have one liver and brain. Read the directions that come with these glues and make sure to follow the safety guidelines. It’s also a good idea to test things out first on a bit of scrap instead of that beloved prop you are working on. Look luck and have fun!


(psst check out the handy tool – to see what glue bests suits your project)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *