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Craft glue is a generic term used to describe a variety of adhesives used in arts and crafts, school projects, household repairs, hobbies, and other general crafting. From standard white paper glue used in classrooms around the world, to specialized glues for particular handicrafts, the term is frequently used to indicate any glue appropriate for a particular activity. Children, hobby crafting enthusiasts, office workers, and others can interpret instructions calling for craft glue to mean nearly any nontoxic, quick-drying glue.
Manufacturers of adhesives offer a wide variety of adhesive types and application methods. For example, standard white school glue comes in both liquid and stick form. Such adhesives can be used on paper, wood, fabric, foam, and some types of plastic. Crafts intended for children typically recommend nontoxic, non-caustic liquid white glue because it is easy to clean and does not bond skin.
Projects involving delicate paper, such as scrapbook or greeting card making, typically call for a different type of craft glue. These projects often recommend clear glue that will not damage keepsake pages or leave discolored spots on specialty papers. Hobbyists involved in these crafts have choices in application of the glue. Glue dots, pre-formed lines of glue, glue tape, and pre-measured glue guns allow crafters to customize the glue used to best fit the needs and delicacy of a particular project.
Hot glue is a type of craft glue used on fabrics, synthetic fibers, foam, wood, plastic, and heavy paper stock. A special gun is needed for this particular glue. Sticks of hardened glue are inserted into the glue gun, which then heats the sticks to melt glue to liquid gel form. By pulling a trigger, crafters can apply a bead of hot glue in small dots, lines, or puddles. When the glue cools, it again hardens and turns clear, sealing pieces together. Many artificial flower arrangements feature hot glue dots to simulate water droplets.
Metal surfaces, die-cast models, and ceramics call for a different type of adhesive. Typically, these glues have a stronger bonding agent and may contain toxic or caustic chemicals. Adhesives for such projects are typically fast-setting glues that are able to bond slick or porous surfaces, often with heavy materials placing the bond under constant strain. While these adhesives are frequently toxic and give off strong odors or fumes, most retailers still label these products as craft glue.
Spray craft glue is often used to bond large surfaces where a heavy coating of glue could adversely affect the finished product. Decoupage, for example, requires a glossy, even application of glue as a top coat. Using spray-on glue allows crafters to apply a universal, thin coat of clear glue, much like spray painting, that leaves an even finish. In some instances, glitter and other embellishments can be applied to the wet glue to give the finished product a slightly different, decorative appearance.
What kid hasn't used that white craft glue in school? It is easy to clean up, but the downside is that it isn't as strong as glue used for most "real world" applications. To see how that is a drawback, just check out a woodworking project in which the builder tried to use school glue instead of wood glue. The resulting bond usually won't hold as intended.