Adhesives used in Bead Mosaics
Apr 13, 2023
You want to start a project but what type of glue do you use with beads? This simple question has so many other questions attached to it, such as... Is your project 2D or 3d? What is the base surface made of? What types of beads are you planning to use? Is the mosaic going to end up outside or stay indoors? Why is this so confusing? When I started working with bead mosaics I tried every glue I could find. The craft stores are loaded with shelves of different brands and types, thicknesses and even colors. What is an artist to do? Well, I tried bunches of them, not all, but enough to feel like I knew what I was at least looking at. Now that I knew all the glues available I hit another snag, what if they still didn't work they way you planned. I ran into this issue early on when I realized that I needed more time to work with the beads before the glue set. In the meantime the glue was sticking to everything, my tweezers, the base and the beads. There had to be an easier way!
And so began the experimental phase, now I am no chemist but needed a solution the market was not providing. Necessity is the mother of invention. So lets start mixing, various brands with water and each other to see if we can get to a solution. An addition challenge was that we lived in an apartment at the time and space was limited so toxicity was a big factor (no fumes). The glue also needed to dry clear, not react with the beads and have even coverage. A tall order but after about a year of trial and error success was reached. What a year of learning. One major lesson is that there is not one glue for the job. Different beads and projects require different glues, so find one that work for that task and always be ready for the unexpected. Such as glues reacting to each other, changing colors and causing the beads to react. To minimize this effect I now try to only use Glass Beads in my projects as they are more consistent and react less to chemicals. The glue mixture I created was perfect! No fumes, easy to mix, even coverage, dry’s clear, and lets me work as long as needed to get the beads just right. Success!
Of course I need to pass along what I learned, so to help you with your gluing questions I have created several videos on our Bead Mosaic YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/@beadmosaic reviewing the various glues I use regularly. Below you will also find a cheat sheet for general adhesives used in bead mosaics. I hope it helps clear up some of the confusion and makes your projects easier and more fun. You can download a free PDF copy of the document at https://www.beadmosaic.com/Resources. You can also buy my pre-mixed glue on the bead mosaic website at https://www.beadmosaic.com/shop. It cant get any easier than that. I hope you have successful projects and that this post helped make your mosaic making easier and more fun.