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The type of decoupage glue that will work best for you depends on the type of craft project you are creating. If you are decoupaging an item that will see frequent use, such as the seat of a chair or a tabletop, you should use a hard-wearing glue. Some types of glue are designed to be used for paper projects, while other types of decoupage glue are meant to be used on fabrics. Most glues are water based and non-toxic so that they are easy to clean up and safe for children to use.
Decoupage is usually done by covering a surface, such as a piece of wood or glass, with cut-out shapes. Usually, the cut outs are made of thin pieces of paper, such as tissue paper. Since paper can be damaged by exposure to acid, it is best to use a decoupage glue that is acid free. Certain brands of glue are designed specifically for use with paper projects, such as scrapbooking, and are archival quality, meaning they will not cause the paper to turn yellow.
If you are decoupaging a functional item, you may want to choose a decoupage glue that dries to a hard coat or that is designed to be applied in multiple layers. Apply a layer or two of the glue with a paint brush or sponge and let dry and then sand smooth with a wet piece of sand paper. Paint or sponge on several more layers and then sand smooth again. You should end up with a thick, durable coat on top of the project.
Some crafters like to decoupage fabric to create their own clothing or accessories. The best glue for clothing or other textiles is designed for fabrics. You can use fabric glue to attach fabric to fabric or paper to fabric. After the glue has dried for three days, you should be able to launder the fabric in a washing machine with a gentle detergent. You can also wash the decoupaged item by hand.
The best decoupage glue to use if you are on a budget is a homemade variety. Most brands of glue are expensive, but simple white glue, such as the type used by school children, is not. Make your own by mixing one part white glue with one part water. Apply to your project as you would decoupage glue, sanding if necessary between coats. While homemade glue does not give you as many options as commercially available glues, it may be better suited for large projects, since it is less expensive and it is easy to produce a large batch of the glue.
My old second grade teacher might insist that Elmer's Glue-All is the best to use for decoupage glue. Back when I was in second grade, we used Elmer's for absolutely everything. It was so common in my schooling that using wood glue in shop class in the 8th grade was actually a bit of a shock to me -- I just assumed we'd be using Elmer's.
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