All About Adhesive

I've often said one of the best things about scrapbooking is that all you need is paper, scissors and glue. And you really can't scrapbook if you're missing one of these items. Yet of all those three things, adhesive seems to be (literally) a sticky situation for many scrappers!

Recently I met a woman who was brand-new to scrapbooking. She had inherited some photos and quickly set to work making scrapbooks as gifts for her family. She had put a lot of time and effort into these scrapbooks. When I asked to see one, I discovered she used rubber cement to adhere her photos onto her background paper. I felt terrible as I explained to her the dangers of using rubber cement on photos. The problem? Rubber cement isn't photo-safe and in time will harm her photos. Of course, she was brand-new to scrapbooking and didn't know about the dangers of rubber cement--or about the many options she had for photo-safe adhesive.

Yes, there are a lot of options when it comes to choosing adhesive. And sometimes those options can seem mind-boggling! Which adhesive is best? Do I need more than one kind? And why does one cost just a few dollars while others are much more expensive? Let's take a look at some of your options.

Adhesive Options
While there are lots of choices out there, I've found a few types of adhesive I use constantly--these are the ones I recommend to new scrappers.

scrapbook project

Photo Tabs
These come in a cardboard box dispenser; inside the box is a roll of double-sided square tabs. My favorite tabs come in an applicator box, which means I don’t have to mess with the liner tab. It’s called a Click n Stick and you just hold the box applicator with the tab side on your paper, press it down and the tab transfers to your paper...easy! You get lots of tabs on a roll for under $5.00 a box. I use these to attach my photos to photo mats. I put one square at each corner of my photo, then mat my photo onto a coordinating paper. I like these because they hold my photos securely, yet I can still lift the photo off the mat whenever I want to remove the picture to make copies. When I’m done, I can just reattach the photo using new tabs.


Glue Stick
Inexpensive and easy to use, the glue stick is a must-have. I use it for attaching my matted photo or journaling to my background paper, or to layer papers together. Now, one thing about glue sticks: Most people have a tendency to use way too much! I think they feel they need to apply a lot of glue in order for the paper to hold—but trust me, a little bit goes a long way. The big reasons to avoid overusing glue stick? For one thing, you’d be wasting glue, and even though glue stick is inexpensive (about $2.00 per stick) you still don’t want to waste it. For another, your paper will warp and buckle with too much glue. So use it sparingly and you’ll be just fine!

When I’m gluing a matted photo to my background paper, I put a dab of glue stick on the backside of the mat at each corner and I dab a little in the middle. Then I place it on my background paper and press it to secure. That’s all! I also use glue stick for attaching things like a paper border to my background page. I’ll apply a dab of glue at each corner of the border, then every few inches along the long edges. Then I position the border on my background paper, smooth it down and I’m done. Glue stick also works well on clear materials like Overlays and vinyl. If there’s printing on the clear vinyl or Overlay, I’ll dab a little (just a little) glue stick behind the darkest printed areas, then secure.

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Glue Dots™
I love Mini Glue Dots™ for securing ribbon, twill, buttons and other 3-D embellishments to my page. Glue Dots come on a roll packaged inside a small square box. Just pull out the whole roll from the box and unroll the liner to find the first dot on the roll. Look closely--the dots are clear and so is the roll, so they can be tricky to find in poor lighting! Now firmly press your embellishment onto the dot, then lift. The embellishment will have picked up the dot and it's ready to attach to your page. One thing to remember: Glue dots™ are very sticky so your embellishment is pretty much attached when you press it down on your page. It can be pulled back up but your paper will probably tear. (And you might want to keep these away from small children, too!) They're also pretty inexpensive, and you'll find you use them a lot. You can pick up a box of 250 dots for under $4.00.

Foam Mounting Tape
I can't live without this! Foam mounting tape is a double-sided adhesive that's about 1/8" thick.You can use it in strips or cut it into pieces for small embellishments. I love using it to attach paper embellishments to my page to give them a little dimension. It gives just enough lift to make a flat paper embellishment really stand out. As with glue stick, you don't need to use a lot of foam tape. For example, when I'm attaching some journaling to a page, I'll cut a few pieces, each about 1/4" wide, and put one piece in each corner and another one in the center so it doesn't cave in in the middle. If the piece I'm attaching is larger, I'll add more pieces in the center area.

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They're not technically adhesive, but I love them for attaching things together. Brads are the fashion in scrapbooking right now, and you can get them in all different colors, shapes and sizes. My favorites are mini and large brads, especially in metal colors like gold and silver and assortments of tropical or pastel mixes. They're inexpensive and easy to use. To attach two papers together with a brad, I might first tack the papers together with a bit of glue stick, then use the tip of my X-acto® knife or a 1/16" hole punch to make a hole where I want the brad to go. Then I insert the brad through the hole with the "head" of the brad on the right side of my paper and the prongs on the backside. Turn the paper over, bend the prongs apart and press them down to the paper. Turn your paper right side up again and voila!

Do I need more than one kind of adhesive?
I use all five of the adhesives listed above in scrapbooking--but remember, I do this as my job! If I had to recommend just one type, I'd choose the Click n Stick photo tabs. Second on my list would be glue stick. Start with these two and you'll be able to do lots of scrapbooking right away. As you scrapbook more, or want to add different types of embellishments to your page, try the Mini Glue Dots™ and foam tape. A whole new world will open up! Then give brads a try for adding color, dimension and a new look to your pages.

I'm a pretty frugal scrapper-- I don't spend a ton of money on my scrapbooking supplies, but I do believe in investing in a good adhesive. After all, this is what's (literally!) holding your pages together. So grab some glue and let's get scrapping!

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