Everything you ever wanted to know about Adhesion
Updated: Jan 10, 2021
I'd have to say my greatest discovery back in my card making days was the framing gun from findtape.com. (thank you @istampstudio) Developed for the picture framing industry, this handy tool lays down a thin film of sticky substance that perfectly adheres most papers together securely. It leaves no lumps, does not wrinkle the page from liquid and the rolls come in a variety of thicknesses. I've used this tape gun for years and can highly recommend it to anyone doing collage, card making, Chine-collé or any other surface decoration art.
The tape gun is perfect when working with small elements, like tiny paper mannequins,
Composing vintage Italian letters and deeds into a small skirt,
Or layering elements on greeting cards.
Low temp hot glue is the crafter's choice when it comes to fabric to paper or even if you are lucky, plastic to plastic, metal to paper, etc. It really depends on the porousness of the element.
When I add small three-dimensional elements made of paper, I use a dab of hot glue to hold them in place.
As in the case of the decorative elements of this dress for Jane Austen. (note stitched waist line, to be discussed below)
When composing flowers made painted painted computer cards for Ada Lovelace's dress, I had to drag out the dreaded Hot Hot glue gun. I think the metallic content of the paint I used caused the adhesion to be sub standard and the flowers fell off the dress in slo mo during the show.
When I am attaching the skirt sections to the fencing armature, I usually sew it on with bookbinding thread. (see picture of Jane Austen above) Sometimes I reinforce the top of the skirt with packing tape so the sewing does not tear through, but this USGS map set was made of sturdy fibrous paper so it was sewn straight on.
I use hot glue to connect pieces of the bodice to each other and then glue scrap paper through the fencing to the inside of the bodice. Sometimes I remember to stitch seams on the bodice pieces before assembly so it looks like the dress has been sewn onto the form.
Elmers glue, old fashioned Elmers white glue is my best buddy. I buy it by the big jug and work with and around its capabilities and limitations.
I use it to glue down book pages or photographs to newsprint. I buy boxes of U-haul packing newsprint and glue the pages down to make large panels for the skirts and "fabric" for cutting out the bodice pieces.
Sometimes I even use it for collage. If I apply it verrry lightly, and the top layer of paper is rather thick as in these photographs from a coffee table book on Kansas pioneers, I was able to achieve these layers with a minimum of wrinkles.
In the case of the quilled paper ruff for Mary Sidney Herbert, I probably should have used the grown-up glue: PVA, but in the end, the stiffness of dried Elmers glue ended up being a boon to the structure, helping it to stand freely beyond its support panel (supportasse).
I sew quite a bit of paper on the sewing machine. All the large panels of "fabric" made with book pages described above are sewn together to form voluminous skirts. Below you can see the sleeve for the tax form Antoinette with dollar bills sewn on the bottom edge as trim. The Elmers glue will be applied to the tabs cut on the left along the curve to secure the sleeve to the bodice.
For the Horsewoman of the Apocalypse: War, I sewed together hundreds of prop bills as well as real foreign currency. I then sewed these strips together to make the fabric for the dress.
I guess, in conclusion, I'd say - I'll use whatever it takes to make stuff stick. I've even resorted to hardware glue with fancy numbers, but my go-tos are illustrated above. Not to say I haven't made use of more standard materials such as packing tape to secure wire into the hem of a skirt or the occasional staples to hold hidden parts together.
Check out this site for comprehensive details on what will stick to what and with what glue: This to that and I'd recommend purchasing PVA for fine paper-to-paper work where the framer's gun won't suffice. PVA seems to be less "wet", leaves fewer wrinkles and remains somewhat flexible after drying. I use it exclusively in all bookbinding activities and remember it can not be shipped in the winter - yes, it is that special.
Let me know if you have any questions about adhesion. I love to be the master of sticking things together, however my "expertise" has not come without challenges. Although I was able to create a dress out of Xray film for Marie Curie, NOTHING would stick those film sheets together permanently. She looked great at her show at the Percolator in late 2019, but the persistent desire to be flat has caused the sleeves to peel away and unroll a year hence. I threw everything I could think of at this project (and even queried my dentist) so if you've got tips, I'm super curious.
Enjoy your glue and keep on making.