If you think I’m about to dish on the best cinnamon roll at the doughnut shop, I’ll tell you up front, I’m not, and you’re hungry. Go grab a snack and come right back, we’ll talk. Let’s just discuss, all of you flat-back gluers, some adhesive options. It’s not quite as delicious as breaking down the glazed raised vs. walnut caramel roll debate, true, but the end result is still sparklingly appealing.
The glue, of course, depends on the project. There is a plethora of options out there specializing in any combination of Surface A to Surface B bonds, and frankly, it’s overwhelming. Thankfully, Rhinestones Unlimited is here for you. We’ve chosen the best of the best already.
Q: How did we choose these great adhesives?
A: We looked for the most effective products for rhinestones, keeping in mind our customer’s projects and the level of efficiency that is required.
Understanding the industry terms is the first step to understanding the product, so read on, ye fellow word lovers, for new vocabulary- I’ve gathered a little extra nerdy knowledge for you:
Viscosity: Relates to the glue’s flow, or consistency- in more technical terms, it describes the internal friction of a moving fluid. Easy flowing fluids have a low viscosity, as the molecules create little friction when moving (ex: water, super glue, school glue). High viscosity fluids are denser, slower moving, the molecules creating a high amount of friction (ex: honey, sap, paste). Often, the denser the adhesive, the shorter the Open Assembly Time.
Open Assembly Time: The time it takes for the glue to begin to set. Starts from when you spread the glue on the project and join the pieces to the time it starts to harden. Generally, with rhinestone work, a short open assembly time will be sufficient. You only need as much time as it takes to pick up a stone and plop it in place. (Alternately, a long open-assembly time would be useful if you were, say, building a crib with a lot of parts to line up.) Not having to stand there and hold each flat back in place is a good thing.
Pot Life: Referring to glues that require mixing (in a “pot”- get it?), this is the time you have to use the active mix. This concept is very similar to Open Assembly Time. Best to mix the two parts in small batches, as epoxies have pot lives ranging from 5 minutes to a half hour. This can be extended in lower temperatures.
Cure Time: Dry time. Or, more definitively, the amount of time it takes for the glue to form its maximum bond. Between glues, this can vary drastically, from hours to full days to a week or more. We know you’re busy, your active, your glue needs to be at your level. The adhesives we stock are functioning within hours and reach their full cure time (aka, ready to wash) within 2 days, tops.
Shelf Life: You’ve probably deduced this one already. Nothing lasts forever, dear reader. Shelf life is the amount of time a product is still useable. We offer different sizes in the adhesives with shorter shelf lives, so you don’t have to worry about waste.
You should feel a little smarter now (if you didn’t cheat, and actually read the definitions). With these concepts in mind, we brought in our favorite options in white glues, epoxies and specialty adhesives. Our white glues dry clear and have an easy-flow consistency, comparable to dish soap. Our craft-quality white glues are all permanent, non-toxic, and washable (finished projects can be laundered in water by hand washing). Epoxies include two separate formulas- a resin base and a hardener- that need to be thoroughly mixed in equal parts just before using. Once mixed, you can load the adhesive into a syringe for easy control or work directly from the mixing surface. Epoxy bonds are very strong, though not flexible. Our specialty adhesives are permanent, flexible and washable multi-purpose glues. These clear glues have a slightly thicker consistency when compared to white glues. For both olfactory comfort and safety, all should be used in plenty of fresh air. (You’ll find that glues of all kinds are very…um…scented. Like all chemicals, use with common sense and moderation. Some fumes can be harmful due to ingredients in the adhesive, so do not ignore warnings on the label- open the window.)
Our Chosen Line-Up of White Glues includes:
Gem-Tac Our most popular white glue. Beacon Gem-Tac was created especially for embellishments: “Bonds rhinestones, crystals, sequins and more to fabrics and accessories.” How befitting! This is a more user-friendly glue, when compared to the E-6000: a lighter consistency (low viscosity) that can be applied straight from the bottle. The formula is designed to bond to the top fibers of the (washed) fabric without being pushed into the weave. This very thoughtful detail prevents stiffening of the fabric that you have likely seen on other hand-embellished garments. Because of the adhesive’s open assembly time, we suggest your project is laid on a flat work surface when using, to prevent the embellishments from sliding before the glue has a chance to set. Here in the office, we use Gem-Tac when gluing rhinestones onto cardstock.
Jewel Bond Recently introduced to our shelves, API’s Crafter’s Pick Jewel Bond was requested by a number of our customers specializing in Western wear. The white glue is easy to control, dries clear, and according to our customers, is made stronger under the heat of the sunlight- a definite plus when you are in an outdoor arena or your show jacket sits in that sweltering horse trailer for hours. Not a problem for this glue- our crystals will stay right where you put them. Open assembly time for Crafter’s Pick Jewel Bond is a little longer than the dense E6000. Like almost all adhesives referred to as “white glues,” the consistency is like that of a school glue- very manageable to work with straight from the bottle. This easy flow characteristic- otherwise known as low viscosity- generally means that the adhesive will take a bit longer to get tacky. If this is your glue of choice, work on a flat, horizontal surface and allow a bit of extra time before repositioning your project. This will prevent the embellishments from sliding around before the glue has a chance to set.
Flexible Stretchable It’s all in the name, isn’t it? Also a great fabric glue, Aleene’s Flexible Stretchable is formulated to move with the give of stretch-and-recover fabrics. Knits, spandex, tee-shirts, socks. Sweatbands. Anything from the 80’s. (This one, though, I wouldn’t take in the public pool- E6000 and Swarovski’s Two-Component Epoxy Resin in all their industrial strength glory are the glues we suggest for use in chlorine.) As the glue is flexible and the fabric is flexible, try an embellishment with some give, such as ribbon and sequins. Aleene’s- the manufacturers- suggest to push the embellishment into the glue so that the glue comes up around the edges (and through the middle, if there’s a middle) to form a glue “setting.” Though Flexible Stretchable is appreciated by many, some of our customers have noted that the longer cure time of Flexible Stretchable can be frustrating when you’re ready to dance- but your garment is not. Allow yourself extra time for the glue to come to its full strength, or choose an alternative that cures quicker, such as Gem-Tac.
Jewel-It Another lovely glue created specifically for the embellishment world (namely, you), Aleene’s Jewel-It will hold sequins and stones to fabric, glass and even metals. A general gluing guideline claims a stronger bond between A and B when both pieces have the adhesive on them before joining; for the non-porous surfaces, apply the glue to both pieces and let it sit for about 10 minutes before attaching the embellishment. (For larger projects, therefore, or impatient crystallizers, Gem-Tac or E6000 may be a more satisfying option.) Just like Flexible Stretchable- the sister product from Aleene’s- you’ll want to form a “setting” around the stone by pushing it into the glue, allowing the adhesive to surround the edges of the crystal.
***A special note on white glues: Do not allow these formulas to freeze. As a customer and friend pointed out, “Bonds made with adhesive that has been frozen (for example, shipped in January) are much less permanent, and somewhat brittle. I always order my cases of Gem-Tac in the Spring and Fall.” Excellent advice, Marsha!
Our Chosen Line-Up of Epoxies includes:
5-Minute Epoxy You know that line, “He’s a bad mother- Shut your mouth!”? 5-Minute Epoxy is the Shaft of the glue lineup. You have to be on your game here: mix it together (in small batches) and use the mix within 5 minutes. The epoxy will set and your project will be ready to go within 15 minutes, full strength in a matter of hours. Because it is an inflexible adhesive unlike fabric glues, we recommend it for metal work, glass, ceramics, wood- your fine arts and industrial work. It is very tolerant of exposure to other chemicals (for example, paints or cleaning products). This is your no-nonsense glue for your serious projects. An underrated gem, sold in bottles or smaller quantity syringes.
CG 500-35 Two-Component Epoxy Resin A Swarovski exclusive, recently introduced, this is the adhesive being used by the big guys themselves. It’s formulated to work exceptionally with Swarovski materials in bonding situations that are not your run-of-the-mill: chlorine, UV exposure, humidity, salt. If you’re rhinestoning your sailboat or scuba tank (and you know that someone somewhere has), this is the glue for you. It works great on oft tricky materials like metals, silicone and glass. Following Swarovski’s seriously responsible manufacturing practices, it has passed health and environmental hazard tests with flying colors, and it’s only warning is that of a mild irritant. Whether one realizes or not, that’s pretty darn good. (PS- Swarovski’s Professor of Crystal says in his videos that the epoxy doesn’t have a scent- but I haven’t given it the Jemm Stone Schnoz test yet…) Swarovski’s two-part epoxy (as it is referred to in informal conversations) has a longer open assembly time, when compared to E6000 and our quick-set option, 5-Minute Epoxy. That means you have a longer window from the time you apply the glue to your surface until the time it begins to set. On the Crystal Professor video series from Swarovski, Kellie DeFries (aka The Crystal Ninja) will spread the adhesive over the entire surface of a phone case and improvise her design, adjusting and repositioning the stones as she works. By contrast, the 5-Minute Epoxy will set within minutes (as the name suggests) and is better suited for 3-dimensional surfaces, vertical work and joining parts that require holding in place.
Our Chosen Line-Up of Specialty Adhesives includes:
E6000 Our best-selling glue. This guy is intense, ladies and gentleman, like the gaze from the stranger at the end of the bar, but he will get the job done. Note the industrial packaging, it says it all: E6000 is a construction adhesive and sealant that won the respect of crafters. Its bond to non-porous surfaces such as glass, metals, rubber and plastic is resolute. Its flexibility when dry makes it a great adhesive for dance and swim costumes, and it is the glue of choice for leather work. (Leatherworkers, take heed: no glue will stick to the leather unless the leather’s surface has been scored or the finishing coating dissolved to create a surface for the product to adhere to.) Because E6000 is thick and, for lack of a better word, a little goopy (think chilled honey- higher viscosity), it requires a bit of focus. The entire staff here at Rhinestones Unlimited recommends using in conjunction with our syringes for control and precision placement. One of the reasons we love E6000 is the dense adhesive’s short but easy open assembly time, or the time it takes to set once you squeeze it out of the tube. You don’t have to be on edge about speed- you can lay down some dots over a small area of your project, apply several stones at a comfortable pace and then- and this is the great part- move your piece around to stone a different area in a matter of minutes. If you’re embellishing a costume, work that key area in front, take a step back to admire your work, flip it over (carefully, though) to do that key area in the back, then return to the front with your remaining stones, to scatter them over the open areas. With a short open assembly time, the piece can be handled after less time than it would take if working with a white glue, which has a thinner consistency and takes longer to set. For this reason, if you tend to embellish a costume on a form or are adding crystals to a 3-dimensional fine art piece, E6000 is a great option when you are working vertically. Note here, though, that some folks are very sensitive to the fumes of this industrial strength worker- heed your ventilation warning. In the office, we use E-6000 to glue onto promotional posters and our Flat Back Sample Cards. Jill uses this adhesive for her costume work as well, and Carol uses it for her motorcycle (yes) and gear.
Fabri-Tac This adhesive is made specifically for bonding directly to fabrics. Like Gem-Tac, Fabri-Tac’s thoughtful formula is designed to bond to the top fibers of the (washed) fabric without being pushed into the weave, which would cause the material to stiffen. The viscosity is relatively low, and the clear formula is easy to work with straight from the bottle. Both the open assembly time and cure time are short, which means your stone work can be secure in a hurry if you need to pack up your costume and head out the door in an hour. Don’t think this means we recommend that move. We do not recommend that move! But hey, things happen. This is the glue I keep in my sewing room for almost anything, and it makes a great addition to your “emergency stage kit.”
See all of our adhesives here: http://www.rhinestonesu.com/wholesale-glue-for-rhinestones.aspx
Remember- with any project- to do a test area first before delving into the whole. With fabrics, wash first to remove what is confusingly called the “sizing” (this is basically the starchy coating on the yarns used to strengthen them for the weaving process). Allow plenty of time for the glues to cure before handling, and use care when washing. Questions? Ask us. We have a knowledgeable, experienced staff, and thankfully, we love to hear from you, whether you have doughnuts or not.
Although, please note, we prefer with doughnuts.
P.S. We’d love to hear your own discoveries in Glue World. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line, “Glue Tricks & Tips.”
P.P.S. I’m a classic raised glazed gal…