Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Glue questions

My last batch of mail brought two questions from swappers.
I'll give you my ideas, and then I open it up to all you readers.

Ellen expressed concern about mailing her collaged postcards without an evelope.  Will they get mangled in the mail?  Would laminating them ruin them?

My thoughts:
1.  Ellen, your cards look really well adhered, and I think they will make it through the mail just fine
2.  I personally love sending and getting lumpy textured things in the mail and am willing to take the risk that something will happen en route.  It's part of the thrill and the challenge for me.  However, I completely respect that not everyone is willing to take that chance with their hard work.

  • if you want to mail things "naked" without an envelope, I find a few coats of matte medium, or gel medium or mod podge on top of your collage usually holds things in place quite nicely. (and it looks like that's what Ellen did to her cards, which is why I think they will arrive intact)
  • you could cover the whole thing in clear packing tape to protect it, if you don't mind the shiny surface
  • I don't think laminating would ruin a paper collage.  I don't know how certain art materials like wax crayons or creamy pastels would hold up to heat lamination.  maybe fine.
  • a good compromise on the naked vs. envelope conundrum is to enclose it in a clear envelope and stick the stamp on the outside. that way the beautiful art shines through, but is protected from the postal machines and the elements. ( Anyone know where you can buy that kind of envelope?)  (I suppose you could craft your own from a page protector or something.) I've also received things in vellum envelopes which are nice, but since they are only slightly transparent, they don't show off the art quite as well.
Lynn used stitching on her collage, and so she glued a piece of paper to the back so she could cover the stitches and more easily write the address and her message.  The paper buckled and left bumps.  She's tried a variety of glues and brayers and still gets bumps.  She's looking for suggestions.

My thoughts:
The wetter your adhesive, the worse the bumps will get.  Glue stick is very dry and doesn't buckle the paper much at all.  Some brands of glue stick are stronger than others.  I like the Uhu stick.  I rub the heck out of one of the pieces of paper, making sure I get all the way to the edges, then stick it down and rub (hand, back of a spoon, bone folder) and often leave it under a stack of books overnight.
I also like Yes paste.  It's incredibly thick and sticky and messy, but it's a strong adhesive made specifically not to warp paper. (it calls itself the "all purpose stick flat glue".)  It's pretty effective, though I always seem to manage to get it all over everything and it's harder to wipe off.  But then again, I'm a slob.
If you're using a thinner glue like mod podge or elmer's or even matte medium, you can try rubbing it with an old credit card/gift card.  Start in the middle and hold the credit card with the edge on the surface of your paper and drag firmly toward the edges, squeezing out any air bubbles and extra glue. (and then put it under a stack of books.  if it's kind of damp and gluey, you can sandwich the card between freezer paper or parchment paper to keep it from sticking to the book or the floor)

So now it's your turn swappers.
What are your favorite products, tips and tricks?
Leave your advice in the comments.


Terrie said...

I agree that it's fun to send lumpy bumpy things through and see what happens. I've sent cards made of veneer (super thin wood) and that had actual dried fall leaves on them, and they arrived intact. The fall leaves were protected with a coat of matte medium. I've received some surprising pieces all in perfect condition, so unless it's something valuable or very ridged I'd think it would survive just fine.

Karen your advice on sticking paper on the back is great - I use glue sticks too. I also sometimes just use the oversize mailing labels (2x4") stuck on for the address - they're made to really stick.

Yay to the new year and new mail art swaps!

Leslie said...

I usually seal my mail art collages with Liquitex Clear Medium & Varnish. http://www.liquitex.com/glossmediumvarnish/ It dries much less sticky than Mod Podge or gel medium, and is meant to be used at a sealant. It does make some markers and ink run, so test it first. I've just learned not to use certain markers when I know I'll be sealing.

For gluing, I mostly use glue sticks, but if it's the entire back of a card or a larger piece of something, I use gel medium, then brayer the hell out of it and leave it under my 25 cent 20 pound book that I bought specifically for weighing things down.

amy said...

ARGH Yes paste. It's got wheat in it. No I'm not eating it but STILL it got booted out of my studio.

You can let me know how mine look when they get to you. They are pretty much all collage--although just paper, not bumpy things--and I just used gel medium. My first swap I tried all manner of glues and heavy books, etc, and nothing really held it together well. The gel medium (+ heavy books) seems to work much better for me.

Joanna said...

I've sent collaged paper postcards in the UK post (they seem particularly vicious!!) and despite several coats of sealant they were damaged en route :'( As much as I love to send postcards 'nekkid' I now send them in an envelope or, as you suggested, a card display bag sealed with tape.

TTBishop said...

I think my problem (among others!) is I am too heavy-handed with my cheap materials (like mod podge/elmers), and too stingy with my expensive materials (like gel medium) I've lately been using Scotch wrinkle-free glue stick--the best glue stick I have tried, but there's not much in the stick, and they seem to run out quickly. And I'm not so good about making it to the edges. Thanks for all the tips!

Katie R. said...

Yahoo mail! So I use glue stick and modge lodge. I hope they are getting to everyone intact. I use gel medium for journals never thought of using it on cards. Now I have to go and try. Happy mailing. Cant wait to see what everyone makes.

TaylorMaide said...

Karen has some good advice. Joanna's suggestion of a clear display bag is a good idea. I do a lot of stitching on my cards and have sometimes incorporated a transparency sheet as the top layer of the card. Now I this makes me curious about making envelopes out of a transparency sheet. I mostly use glue stick on mail art. Uhu really is the best I think. If doing multiples for a swap I have often mailed one to myself before hand to test it through the mail. I personally have only occasionally received something that's damaged or missing something.

Tammy said...

Thanks so much Karen for sharing these tips. Wish I'd seen this post about glue when I first started collaging a couple years ago...I've struggled with finding the right glue, and have also settled on UHU.

jane said...

I've had several "naked" collages ripped up by the USPS. (don't get me wrong, I love them! but I love my work too, so now I don't take any chances.) I use packing tape or envelopes. I need a source for cheap rectangle envelopes 6 by 4 inches. Anyone have any sources? Jane

Anonymous said...

I use matte medium or collage pauge from Traci Bautista. I use uhu sticks and yes paste too. I mail bumpy stuff as is because for me part of the fun of the mail art process is to see if it survives eh? Packing tape on edges sometimes or just transparent tape as well over washi for instance which doesn't always stick so well. Bumps in paper don't bother me at all and like Karen I too am a slob, so perfection will never come in the form of my mail art......xox

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