Glorious Glue

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This article is written by Ann Strecko Koeman

Glue, glorious glue!  Where would we mixed media artists be without this essential medium ? Personally,  it is of great importance to me. Ever since I was allowed to use paste from a young age I have learned to love and hate the gooey sticky stuff. As a child I used that yellowy syrup sticky liquid, looking like clear honey or diluted maple syrup, but  it did not smell yummy. It came in a little clear bottle with a red rubber nipple top that one had to either create a slit into unless the brand you bought came pre slit.

That stuff was messy and wet, but it worked for my construction paper crafting. With my mom I was allowed to use contact cement glue to paste clippings into our scrapbook.  After all it was the ’70’s! We did not know or care about acid free and archival quality.  We were lucky if our parents actually  bought real glue instead of having to always make due with a homemade paste version.

Over the decades I have learned different types of arts and crafts that all use a variety of adhesives. Some smellier than others, and some more convenient than others. I also learned that glues could be used as more than an adhesive when it comes to art making.  In this article I will share with you a few of my unusual glue uses that involve hot glues, moulds, and plain old white school glue.

Making embellishments

Recently I purposely started playing around with my hot glue gun. I had noticed that whenever hot glue drips ,drizzles and is left to dry on a hard non porous surface such as tile or a silicon mat,it  tends to lift off easily when it is completely cool. So I started playing with making some stars out of glue on my work table. I liked what I saw, and proceeded to do a little research on the internet.

Well, other people had the same idea and they took it a little further and they were making stencils, stamps, and embellishments.  So, armed with my twenty year old little low temp glue gun I started to make some patterns with the glue, let it dry and cool completely and I had made some very funky stencils. These are so much fun to make, easy and inexpensive. I had never had any creative use for my glue gun,  it was just a tool, a means to get things to stick together, but now a whole new world had opened up.

Making embellishments

I have since purchased a better quality glue gun that has a precision tip, is dual temperature and can be used without its long electric cord for short periods of time. I started playing with different types and colours of glue sticks. I even invested in some specially made hot glue/resin making moulds.

There are even glue like sticks that contain resin that can be melted in your glue gun and shot into these moulds to make super cute embellishments. These embellishments can then be altered with inks, paints, and mica powders to get any colour or look you desire.  It is an economical way to make a large collection of embellishments that can be used in a multitude of projects.

Making stencils and stamps

I  also tried playing with regular white school glue and made a few discoveries. For one, white glue is a wonderful medium to use to obtain a crackled paint effect on just about any surface.  You just need to paint a coat of paint (Acrylic) let it dry slightly, coat that with glue, let that become tacky, and give it another coat of paint. Drying times will vary between glues and paints, so some experimenting is required. However, the effects are so interesting.

Another thing I have learned to do with white glue, cardboard, and aluminum foil is make faux metal embellishments. By drawing a design onto a piece of cardboard with glue, letting the glue dry, then covering the glue design with aluminum foil. Finally, I use inks to colour the foil to make it look like aged metal. The possibilities  are endless.

I am really pleased  with my experiments and  I am happy to share these ideas. Who knew something so plain as glue could be used co creatively? I hope that you get to play and make some discoveries of your own. A few words of caution though:  always work with glues in a properly ventilated area, and don’t stick your fingers together! Please, don’t ask how I know.


Ann is a Mixed Media Artist, Designer, Instructor, and writer working and living in the country side of Canada’s capital. Where she often finds herself in “sticky “ situations and wishes she had invested in glue stock!




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Is Mixed Media Crafts or Fine Art?

This article has been written by Vicki Ross

Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

The sky is the limit for scrapbooking and journaling. I’ve often said that if not for the scrapbooking industry, fine artists would be lacking some of the tools we have today. Manufacturers created design labs to meet the demand for more papers, embellishments, texturing tools, paints, stamps, inks, books, etc. These supplies gradually made their way from the internet to craft and hobby shops…in small enough amounts to not put a strain on anyone’s budget.

Where investing in fine art supplies can easily amount to hundreds of dollars, a small beginning of scrapbooking supplies can be much less. Of course, you can become obsessive/compulsive in collecting either one! For example, fine artists pastels—the kind Degas used—can run $15-18 each…and a color selection of 750+. Major investment. Sure, there are all kinds of variations, from student grade and mid-range artists grade, all prices, all qualities. This is an extreme example, just to make the point.

Whatever kind of creative outlet you choose today…if you trace their lineage back through history you’ll find it!

  • Markers with permanent ink—compare to ancient Sumi painting
  • GelliPlate—monoprinting without the press. Edgar Degas famously used monoprints as the base for his pastels
  • Collage—this term was coined by both Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso in the beginning of the 20th century. Just think what they might have accomplished with all the supplies currently available in today’s marketplace.
  • Encaustic—one of the newest darlings on the art scene, can be used with embellishments, collage, fiber, papers, and textured or glossy surfaces. Companies have developed single color bars and pans for ease of use. New? Nope…some of the earliest Greek art was encaustic and survives today. Now, we don’t have to work days to prepare our wax and colors! Have you noticed wax products in the Ranger line?

2nd century EgyptianEncaustic on wood

Portrait of a Boy, Roman period, 2nd centuryEgyptian,Encaustic on wood, Metropolitan Museum of Art

  • Acrylic Paint—developed in the 1930’s, and refined continuously, it is readily available in many qualities and for many uses beyond fine art and crafts.
  • Acrylic Mediums—Degas invented his own recipe for a fixative on pastels. It is today being marketed under the name SpectraFix and is a casein (milk) based formula.

Pastel on paper

Three Ballet Dancers, One with Dark Crimson Waist” 
Degas1899; Pastel on paper, Barnes Foundation

  • Oil—used to require careful mixing by chemists, and prepared by apprentices in the studios. Each day the paint had to be prepared and used the same day. Early tubes involved syringes and pig bladders, then it became feasible to paint out of doors in oil.
  • Tools—while it is nice (good organization required) to have bright, shiny tools of any mark-making kind, be creative! You can make embossed patterns with mixtures of cornstarch and ModPodge—Pattern Rollers with Toot-di-doos (toilet paper rolls) and acrylic mediums—sticks from the yard—sand from the beach—old paintings recycled for collage pieces—makeup brushes and sponges for blending—textured paper towel for subtle repeat pattern. Anything that will make a mark can be used!
  • Zentangles—check out M.C. Escher’s work. I tried the tangles recently because all the marketing made the technique appealing.

Think outside the box! Be proud if you are a ‘crafter’…we all are! Fine Artists, thank crafters, after all, their demand helped create and bring back old techniques. No matter how intricate or simple your work, show pride in it. Research it online and you will more than likely find an old master who made his primitive tools and materials to create whatever he could dream!

Exploration by Vicki Ross

Author bio:

Vicki Ross is focused on sharing her journey to art and how life events can shape us through creativity. Vicki has always been involved deeply in the creative arts, from professional soft crafts publications (knitting/crochet/needlework) to French Hand-sewing, stenciling to macramé, oil painting to encaustics. Whatever your leaning, she believes in the healing power of creating.

You can see more of Vicki’s work at VickiRossArt or via blog posts at Axully – Solid. Useful. Beautiful



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