I’ll just tell you, my favorite mixed media glue is:
(Let’s not beat around the bush, here).
When you start doing mixed media art, you quickly realize that the glue you use to stick your “stuff” down to your surface is almost as important as the stuff itself.
Well, you’ve never been more frustrated than when you use a glue that causes your paper to bubble or scrunch up and look awful, or causes the stuff you’re trying to stick down to fall off after it dries. It’s a waste of time and it can honestly ruin your artwork.
I’ve found that my favorite mixed media glue for sticking any kind of paper to my artwork is good old Mod Podge, the craft glue. I actually have another “glue” for sticking down heavier 3D objects such as buttons, trinkets, metal pieces, etc., which I will discuss down below. Since it’s technically not a “glue,” I can’t say it’s my favorite, but I couldn’t do my mixed media works without it, so I think it’s very important to mention!
First, I’ll tell you why I think Mod Podge is the best glue for my purposes, and then I’ll talk about my other favorite “glue.”
My Favorite Mixed Media Glue: Mod Podge
If you’ve never heard of Mod Podge, it is a waterbase sealer, glue and finish and can be found in the arts and crafts section of stores like Walmart, and in all the hobby stores I’ve been in. There are several types of it available now (matte, gloss, sparkle, etc.) but I prefer the basic matte finish. It is non-toxic and comes in several different sizes of screw top jars.
Why I Love Mod Podge
I discovered that Mod Podge and I would become besties back when I was learning scrapbooking/collage art. I had been using “fluid medium,” which is a clear liquid you can use with acrylic paints. Using medium to glue things down seemed like a good idea until I tried it. I discovered that the paper I was trying to glue would dry imperfectly: it would get bubbles or folds as it dried that were nearly impossible to fix. So frustrating.
I decided to try Mod Podge one day because I had run out of medium. As Mod Podge dried, it pulled the paper down to the surface, making it smooth, even if there were a few parts that weren’t flat before drying.
It works even better if you go over the paper you’re gluing down with an old credit or gift card or roller. I had done this when I used medium but found it still didn’t remove all those little air gaps. Since Mod Podge sucks the paper to the surface in the drying process, this eliminated the problem of parts of my paper not sticking!
Mod Podge Plays Well With Other Mediums
Another important consideration when doing mixed media art is to be sure the paint or substance you put on top of the layer before it will actually stick to that layer. I’ve found over the years that most anything I put over Mod Podge will not repel from it. Sometimes, I might have to do more than one layer of what I’m using but I’ve never run into a problem with my layers pulling up or acting weird on top of Mod Podge.
If you do have an issue, one trick you can use if you don’t need the layer to be completely “clear” is to put a very thin layer of gesso over the Mod Podge, and this will help whatever you’re using to adhere better.
I wouldn’t recommend regular Elmer’s glue or other school glues simply because I personally don’t think they work as well. Feel free to experiment, however, based on the look you’re trying to achieve!
And now, for my other favorite “glue:”
Favorite Mixed Media Glue for 3D Items: Liquitex Matte Super Heavy Gel
This is what I use exclusively to stick down any 3D object to my surface. This is a super thick paste that dries completely clear. You don’t get that filmy white look around your objects. After I stick down an object (bead, jewelry, stone, etc.) I like to sprinkle glitter over it. The glitter will stick to the gel but not anything else! So after it’s completely dried, brush the excess glitter away and what is left masks the clear gel.
Of course, you don’t have to do your art the same way. But using the matte super heavy gel has never let me down. I highly recommend it if you are needing to attach 3D objects to a flat surface.
Using Super Heavy Gel for Mixed Media Art
If you want to try the super heavy gel, make sure you read the label carefully before buying. There are several products that look alike. There is a glossy super heavy gel. You might want to pick it if you are okay with the gel being seen and want it to have some gloss to it. There are also just regular “gloss gel” or “matte gel,” like in the photo above. You can see the super heavy and gloss gel side by side look very similar, but-
Don’t be fooled! The regular gel is not as thick and I’ve found doesn’t work like the super heavy does. The super heavy is incredibly textured and can be molded with a palette knife or brush into the right shape for the look you’re trying to achieve. You can also adhere fairly large items using the super heavy gel. They hold to the surface once the gel dries completely. The regular is less thick, so you don’t get the same effect, in my experience.
I would recommend either of these items if you are planning to do mixed media works that require you to glue down papers or 3D items. Let me know if you have any questions or if you have tried either and love it (or don’t). Also, if you have any other suggestions for great mixed media glues, I would love to hear them! Please comment below!
See you in the next article and in the meantime, have fun creating with mixed media!
- Video: My Thoughts on Coronavirus as an Artist - March 19, 2020
- We All Start Somewhere: What Our Old Mixed Media Art Can Teach Us - March 11, 2020
- What It’s Really Like to be an Artist (One Artist’s Perspective) - February 19, 2020