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Adhesives are how we keep it all together. 

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Be assured that our opinions are based on our direct experience after purchasing the product. We have not been gifted any of the products reviewed. 

All-purpose craft glue used to adhere 3-D shapes out of paper.

The white glue from your elementary school years tends to be runny, water soluble is even more so. Tacky glue is far superior for crafting—this glue has been in our toolbox since our architectural school days. Extremely versatile, tacky glue works equally well on paper, of course, fabric, and even wood. The bottle goes a long way and lasts forever.



  • You have a little time to reposition pieces before the glue sets. 

  • It is tacky so you do not have to hold two pieces together for a long period of time while you wait for the adhesive to set. If you are gluing heavier pieces, you may need to clamp the pieces together, however.

  • It is flexible when dry and does not separate from the surface.

  • It is a thick glue so it does not seep into porous surfaces, such as wood.



  • Glue will spread when you press two pieces of paper together. You want to add enough glue so that the edges of the paper adhere, but not too much so that the glue seeps out the edge.

  • It dries clear, but the dried glue is glossy so it is discernible on paper. Try to be neat with your application.

A collection of all-purpose glues: glue pen, The Ultimate Glue, 3 in 1 Craft Glue, Tacky Glue, and Zip Dry.

Our toolbox has several proven glues in it.

Left to Right: 1. A glue pen is a handy product for precise application. 2. This water-based super glue is extremely versatile: when adhesive is applied to both sides and allowed to dry it has a superior bond. We use it when adhering a narrow seam for a card to open, for example. 3. This clear fast-drying glue has superior strength, especially when using heavier paper. It also dries flatter then hot glue. It does have a chemical smell and thus should be used in a well-ventilated area.4. As mentioned above, tacky glue is our main go-to glue of choice. 5. Another fast-drying option, this clear glue can be rubbed off for mistake-proof application. It has excellent bond properties. 


A glue stick used to adhere flat pieces of paper together.

Gluing can be messy! If you can remember the aftermath of an art project in elementary school, it will come as no surprise that someone invented a glue stick for an easy, mess-free application. We like to use glue sticks to attach flat surfaces together that are strictly non-structural. A glue stick works well making flags of any kind, for example, or attaching wheels together, and so forth. We have found that the adhesive in most sticks we have tried does not last, therefore we don’t recommend using a glue stick if you are after any degree of permanence. The Elmer's® brand that you find in a grocery store is not durable for crafting, try this instead. 



  • Glue sticks make little mess and do not require an extra tool like a toothpick for spreading.

  • The glue is tacky so you do not need to hold a piece together for a long period of time before it sets.

  • You can reposition pieces before the glue dries completely. I always need to do some repositioning.

  • A glue stick does not wet paper when you spread it on a large surface as is the case with regular glue. If you are applying the glue to a large surface, it can cause the paper to warp. To counter, simply place the glued pieces, sandwiched between wax paper, underneath a stack of books when wet.

  • Glue sticks are easy for little hands to operate.



  • The adhesive in a glue stick does tends to lose its stick.

  • Glue stick adhesive does not tend to work well on favor boxes and envelopes. We’ve found that the tabs and flaps often become unattached.

  • The glue, even when it dries clear, is noticeable when you get it on an area you do not wish to glue. And the glue is impossible to get off without making more of a mess.

Run the gluestick to the edge of a piece of paper while scrap paper sits underneath.

The adhesive in a glue stick will not spread like white glue, so you want to make sure that you extend the glue all the way to the edges of your paper.

A good technique is to place a scrap piece of paper underneath the object to which you are adding glue to ensure that your work surface stays clean. Spread the adhesive to the edge of the object, running onto the scrap paper. 


Adhesive dots are used to attach a string of balloons together to form the beginning of a balloon arch.

A handy mess-free adhesive, double-sided dots adhere instantly with either a temporary or permanent bond. They are a good choice for layering paper and many other materials, even balloons (hello, balloon arch!). They come in a wide variety of sizes, thickness, and tackiness⁠—we keep small and slightly larger ones on hand. Raised dots will give your crafts a dimensional quality, similar to foam tape, but they are less visible from the side. And without a drying time you can move onto your next step or project quickly.

To apply, press the dot down on your material with light pressure, then remove the backing. Trust us: this is easier than pulling the dot off its backing and then applying it to a surface.


  • The dots adhere nicely.

  • Opportunities to add dimension, or not, depending on the thickness. Since the dots are clear they are less visible from the side.

  • There are endless choices of size, shape, and tackiness.

  • There is no mess, fumes, or drying time. 

  • Temporary dots can be repositioned.



  • Dots are more appropriate for adhering small areas because of their small size.

  • Too much manipulation can cause adhesive dots to lose stickiness.

  • It can be difficult to remove the dots from their backing.


A hot glue gun is utilized to adhere sticks to the back of photobooth props.

When it is necessary to attach uneven surfaces, hot glue is a great adhesive to use. It performs well on a wide variety of materials, even on the corrugated ends of cardboard. The glue comes in a stick, consisting of vinyl acetate with wax or resin added to make it solid. A glue gun is needed to melt the glue and apply it to a surface. The guns are sold in large and small sizes with large and mini glue sticks; better guns have dual temperature settings. We use a small gun for more delicate projects and a larger gun for bigger projects.  Be sure to have extra glue sticks on hand as you can run through them quickly!


Dual temperature settings are important. Set at a lower temperature the glue comes out thinner and slower, ideal for finer handwork. Low heat can also be used to add pieces to mylar balloons, for example. The higher temperature expels the glue thicker and more quickly; it is best for putting larger pieces together, like cardboard.



  • Hot glue bonds very quickly so you do not have to hold together pieces for long.

  • Uneven surfaces bond together well with hot glue. You can basically plunk anything you want in a glob of hot glue and it will stay put.



  • The gun tip gets hot and the glue is hot, hot enough to blister your skin.

  • The glue gun is powered by electricity so you are tethered to a cord.

  • The fast drying time does not allow for pausing, any hesitancy, or repositioning. You need to move very quickly.

  • You cannot remove dried hot glue from paper. If some hot glue seeps over an edge, or you get some in an area by accident, it will be noticeable.

  • The bond is not long-lasting so the glue is best for craft projects, rather than archival work.

Place a stick of wax into a glue gun to make a unique wax seal for a snail mail letter.

Catapult your envelope to the next level with a wax seal! Hot glue guns can quickly melt colored sticks of wax (bronze is our favorite) to seal an envelope. Many Etsy shops stock seals with initials, and some will even custom design a seal just for you - we purchased ours here


A few tips for using a glue gun with wax:

  • Use the lower heat setting on your glue gun to melt the wax

  • You only need a blob slightly larger than a dime - 1 or 2 squeezes of the gun will suffice.

  • Do a test run on a piece of paper first.

  • Let the wax cool and solidify a bit before lifting up the stamp.


Pleating cheerful yellow wrapping paper to wrap a book and securing it nicely with double-sided tape.

If you are looking for a basic tape with an easy application, this is the adhesive for you. Double-sided tape works well on wrapper paper and other light-duty projects. We always have a disposable dispenser on hand for when the need to stick arises. Make sure you do not purchase the removable kind as it does not stick as well. And if you are using the tape on items that you wish to save, as in a scrapbook page, make sure you purchase the acid-free variety.


  • Easy to use and easy to apply for light-duty projects.

  • The adhesive on permanent double-sided tape sticks well.



  • If you are assembling large quantities of something, using double-sided tape can get expensive.

  • Cutting piece after piece and positioning it with two hands can be tedious.

  • Double-sided tape really does stick, so repositioning pieces is not always possible. Likewise, removal is not possible either.

Gorilla tape is used to secure a handle to a paper suitcase.

When you need an extra-strong bond, like when adding a suitcase handle, try this strong double-sided tape. Removing the backing from the tape takes some patience (tweezers come in handy). The tape performs very well though, enough to make the frustration worthwhile.  


A tape runner is used to quickly add double-sided tape to pieces of paper that will form a 3D paper truck.

For everyday light use, while sitting at our desk, this disposable tape runner is indespensible. 

For crafting, we use Scotch® Advanced Tape Glider, happily supporting breast cancer research while feeding our pink fetish. Win, win! Unfortunately it is no longer available. This tape glider is basically the same, however. Although the applicator contraption is a tad cumbersome, the device is quick and easy to use. After a little practice you will be using a tape glider on everything! 



  • The tape runner allows you to apply lots of tape to a flat object very quickly.

  • The double-sided tape is very sticky and holds up well with favor boxes.

  • The tape does live up to its permanent label. For round objects, we have found that you do need to add extra tape to ensure that pieces stay attached.

  • If you do not adhere another surface to the tape, you can roll up the tape without marring the surface of the paper. This is especially useful when some tape spills out over the edge of attached pieces: roll off the extra tape with your finger and you will never know it was there.



  • The tape runner adhesive does not allow for repositioning of pieces.

  • The tape is difficult to reload in the dispenser. We recommend photographing the tape before you remove it from the dispenser. When you load a new roll, the picture can serve as a quick guide.


Dimensional foam tape is used to construct a rosette and give the layers of paper additional dimension and interest.

If you would like to add dimensions to your crafting, double-sided foam tape is the product that will take you there. One way to incorporate pop ups is by layering punched out shapes on a cupcake topper, for example. The foam squares we use, small and discrete, come in both white and black. Pairing the black with darker paper shows attention to detail.


  • The squares are very sticky and hold paper together well

  • The backing on the foam squares we use is easier to pull away than other brands.

  • I like that the foam fluffs back up when you press it down (other brands tend to stay squished).

  • The tape is visible from the side so we like that the product comes in both white and black. The black is less discernable when using darker colored paper.

  • The squares can be cut down to smaller sizes with scissors, if necessary.



  • The stickiness of the squares comes at a price: the square cannot be repositioned.

  • Foam tape has a thickness to it so it's use is not advisable if you do not want shadows and dimension as a feature of your project.


Flat pieces of paper can be quickly adhered using rubber cement.

Perhaps not a mainstream adhesive choice but we frequently use rubber cement. Unlike regular glue, rubber cement combines elastic latex with an adhesive solvent so it bends and moves with the paper without any wrinkling or warping. It can be applied without a mess and it bonds quickly. The best part is that any excess cement can be rubbed away with a finger. Rubber cement is highly flammable and toxic, however, so you need to weigh the decision to use it carefully.

To use, apply rubber cement to both sides you intend to adhere and allow the adhesive to dry. When the cement is no longer wet, press the two sides together. Rub away any excess cement with your finger.


We do not recommend Elmer's® brand as sold in supermarkets. We prefer this paper cement because it is thinner and it does NOT contain benzene, a known carcinogen.



  • Rubber cement can be applied quickly and wishout a mess.

  • The bond is strong enough for structural pieces like favor boxes.

  • Paper does not curl or wrinkle after drying.

  • If you do not adhere another surface to the cement, you can roll up the excess without marring the surface of the paper. 



  • Rubber cement does not allow for repositioning of pieces.

  • The cement is toxic and flammable so you must be careful when storing and disposing of the container.

  • There is a strong chemical odor when the container is uncapped and in use. Ensure you are using the rubber cement in a well-ventilated space.


Paste is added to a flat piece of paper that will embellish the bottom of a paper suitcase as it adheres.

Paste is basically a jar filled with spreadable glue-stick glue. It works well adhering flat surfaces together, as in a scrapbook, and will not warp or wrinkle.While paste is definitely much messier than a glue stickand stickier!—it does perform better. Pieces pasted together will not separate or pop off after a few days, for example. When pasting something on a product that folds, as in the picture above, we do avoid adding paste to the scored bend, as the paste can be stiff when dry. 

The paste we use has a thick consistency, however it can be thinned slightly. The paste is water based, dries clear, and is non-toxic. It should be applied with a putty knife in a thin layer. After the two sides are joined, use a credit card or a smoothing tool, starting in the center and working out to the edges, to smooth out any bubbles.

We highly recommend placing a piece of plastic wrap or wax paper under the lid to prevent it from being glued in place. That advice was born out of having said lid glued down—it is not easy to get off!


  • Paste does not buckle or wrinkle flat paper—makes it perfect for scrapbooking.

  • It takes a long time to dry so you have time to reposition things.

  • The paste isn't very wet so you can write over paper as it drys.

  • It can be thinned—adding to much water can make thin paper wet, however.



  • Paste can be messy and it is difficult to apply.

  • It is VERY sticky.


Hook and loop pieces, or Velcro, can be cut down to size and used to keep paper boxes closed in crafting projects. This picture shows a paper suitcase next to a colorful passport to Hawaii.

At times a temporary adhesive is necessary—for instance, when the lid to a favor box needs to stay shut and also open. Adhesive-backed hook and loop fasteners, also known as Velcro®, are a perfect solution. Just the right size for crafting, hook and loop fasteners come in squares that can be cut down to even smaller sizes when needed (use non-stick scissors when cutting anything adhesive-backed). The squares are readily available in white and black, the latter can be used with darker papers for better blending.


  • The adhesive backing makes for mess free application.

  • The squares can be easily peeled apart and reconnected.

  • The fasteners are visible from the side so we like that the product comes in both white and black. The black is less discernable when using darker colored paper.

  • The squares can be cut down to smaller sizes with scissors, if necessary.



  • The squares cannot be repositioned.

Tutorial showing how to add hook and loop fasteners, or Velcro, to a crafting project.

​The fasteners consist of two pieces: a hook side and a loop side, and both sides are backed with adhesive. To apply:

  1. Attach the two sides (hook and loop) together and peel the protective sheet off of one side to expose the adhesive.

  2. Press the sticky side onto your first surface.

  3. Peel the protective backing from the other unattached side.

  4. Press the second surface onto the adhesive. Voila! 


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