Aug 302012

While the heart of scrapbooking may be paper, the soul of scrapbooking could indeed be adhesive. —from  How to Choose Scrapbook Adhesive

One of the most expensive supplies for paper crafters, after they have purchased paper, is adhesives. Thanks to a recommendation from a fellow Blogging Business Artisans member, I am now ordering both items from a wholesaler at a much reduced cost. However, that doesn’t mean I have stocked up on every brand known to woman. Because there are so many adhesives to choose from, it is important to make sure that the adhesive you use really fits the job you want it to do, and also that the costs won’t run you into the ground.

Paper crafters usually use dry adhesives–tape runners, double-sided tape, adhesive dots and stick glue–for porous materials like paper, card stock and chipboard. They use liquid adhesives for non-porous items made of plastic or metal, although liquid PVA glue is recommended for bookmaking, which involves the use of porous paper products. I have my favorites among both dry and wet adhesives, but this post is mainly about my recommendations for the dry adhesives I prefer, based on my personal experiences.

One of my favorite dry adhesives comes in the form of tape runners, also known as mono adhesives. Obviously, not all tape runners are equal. I have thrown away most of the smaller mono adhesive dispensers I have purchased, mostly because I have had bad experiences with them. The tape has broken easily (rendering the roll useless), the applicator tip has gummed up, and the holding power has been poor. If you see that paper is pulling away from chipboard, that photos are lifting from card stock, or that embellishments are not adhering very well, the wrong adhesive was likely used. Matching your adhesives to the permanence of the project you are crafting means you will select different degrees of tackiness in your adhesives. A less tacky (but not necessarily cheaper!) mono adhesive may be absolutely perfect for a project that is not destined to be kept very long.

My favorite double-sided tape for paper, card stock or chipboard is distributed by different companies: Scor-Pal’s branded double-sided tape is Scor-TapeJ&V Enterprises sells Tacky Tear Tape, but both are made by Sookwang, a Korean company that specializes in this premium double-sided tape with superior adhering qualities. The tapes come in paper-backed rolls of 27 yards that measure 1/8 inch wide to 6 inches wide. You can also buy the tape in sheet form; the sheets measure approximately 6 inches by 6 inches and 8-1/2 by 11 inches. What makes this tape so great is its ease of application (you tear off what you need and stick it down), its superior (permanent) holding power, its acid-free quality, and its resistance to heat. This means paper is not going to come unstuck if you use a heat gun on your project, which is common if you do any embossing at all, or if you use a heat gun to speed up the drying process for stamping inks. You can find the narrower widths on Etsy by searching for “sookwang” or “scor-tape.” I found the wider varieties at and 7 Kids College Fund, but you can find the tapes and sheets in the full range at Scor-Pal. “We often have it on sale,” says Diana Crick of Scor-Pal. If you have a re-sale certificate, she points out, you can register to purchase wholesale. “Send an e-mail to telling us about your business. Also fax a copy of your re-sale certificate to 604-635-3086. Minimum order is $50.00.” Likely you’ll find the tape at your local scrapbooking store, too.

If there is any drawback at all to Sookwang tape, it is the fact that once you stick something down, you cannot reposition it easily.

Another dry adhesive whose strong bonding qualities I appreciate is Therm-o-Web Supertape. The tape comes in rolls of 1/8 inch, 1/4 inch and 1/2 inch widths, and is available at most scrapbook or craft stores. Supertape is a strong, clear and acid-free double-sided adhesive. It is also heat-resistant, but less so than Sookwang tape. If anything, it may actually be stronger that Sookwang tape, so for extra holding power, or for adhering micro-beads, metal, rubber charms, glitter, sand and more, it can be the perfect choice. Its two drawbacks, in my opinion, are that it is a little difficult to remove the red liner before sticking it down (you have to use scissors or a craft knife), and it is impossible to remove once you adhere anything. Therm-o-Web Supertape belongs to a category of tapes called “redline adhesives.” Some similar products that look and act pretty much the same are Terrifically Tacky Tape by ProvoCraft and Sticky Strip by Stampin’ Up. In her post, Scor-Tape vs. Redline adhesive, Susan Reidy does a great job comparing these two tapes. I think she summarizes pretty well why I prefer Scor-Tape over Supertape.

I really appreciate the ease of application that comes with the GlueArts® GlueGlider Pro. This is a replaceable cartridge glue that you insert in a very comfortable adhesive tape gun (ATG) dispenser. You roll a wheel that dispenses clear adhesive on your surface. I have not had any problems with the tape breaking. The cartridges come in Perma Tac (general purpose), High Tac (embellishments and Grunge Board), Repositionable Tac (paper and photos), and Extreme Tac (anything except paper, photos, plastic and Styrofoam). To change glues, just change the cartridge. Drawbacks are that the glue is expensive at the $8.99 retail price, it comes only in 40 to 58 feet rolls, and when the plastic cartridge is empty, you discard it—which ecologically isn’t very friendly. I would like to see if my local recycling program will accept these empty cartridges, but I suspect they do not. If you need a fast, strong tape runner tool and are looking for convenience, this is your adhesive. But be prepared to pay for convenience!

When I need to make stickers, I look no further than Xyron®. Their repositionable and permanent adhesives come in a clear roll that you insert cartridge-style in a plastic dispensing case. The smallest case is the Xyron® Create-a-Sticker Model 150; this is the one I use most often. Also available are wider cases accompanied by wider rolls of adhesive. The main drawback of a Xyron® refill cartridge is that it disappears too quickly; you only get 18-20 feet of adhesive. If you have a big and/or detailed project, plan ahead and have a refill handy. Xyron® refill cartridges are readily available at craft stores and “big box” discount chains, so they are convenient to find, and if you shop carefully you can get a good price.

When it comes to adhering small embellishments to paper, card stock or chipboard, I prefer to use Therm-0-Web Zots™, acid-free clear dots of adhesive that come on a roll. You press your embellishment against the roll where a Zot™ is located, and it comes right off the non-stick roll. You get a lot of adhesive in a small box, and the Zots™ are easy to apply and adhere well. Generally, you’ll find Zots™ in scrapbooking and craft stores, and sometimes at fabric stores. The only drawback that accompanies Zots™ is that these paper-thin dots are so tiny that they are difficult to see on the roll, and difficult to find if you drop them. I suppose that is why it’s recommended that you place your embellishment against the roll, rather than removing a Zot™ from the roll and adhering it to your item!

There are many stick adhesives on the market, but my favorite one is the UHU® stic. Acid-free and permanent, one of its strengths is that paper adhered with it never wrinkles. Its drawback is that it can be messy to use (at least that’s true for me!). The easy solution is wet wipes, which work well to remove glue anywhere it doesn’t belong. You’ll find the UHU® stic in craft and hobby stores, fabric stores and office supply stores.

There are, of course, many more adhesive brands on the market than I can describe in this post. 3M has its own adhesive tape gun (larger than the GlueArts® GlueGlider Pro), and recently Xyron® came out with its own version of the same. I haven’t used every product that’s out there, but I can tell you that the ones I’ve described here are the ones that have worked well for me. If you have a favorite dry adhesive, be sure to let me know about it in the comments below.

© 2012 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.

Apr 082012

This post was supposed to be a tale about how to save scrapbooking dollars, or more precisely, a tutorial for how to create your own 3-D flowers that don’t cost between $4 and $5 for half a dozen, such as the ones below.

I gathered my basic materials: heavyweight stabilizer, fabric and cutting die.

Then I layered my materials sandwich-style, according to the directions that came with my Big Shot® die cutting machine: acrylic cutting plate, Sizzix® cutting die, stabilizer, and—for good measure, in order to save time—the fabric—followed by a second acrylic cutting plate.

I ran the layers through the machine, and was disappointed that the die didn’t cut through all of the layers. “Needs more pressure,” I said to myself. So, I re-cut a scrap of stabilizer and fabric, and added a crease board. “That should do the trick,” I thought.

However, that turned out to be a bad idea.

I must admit that I learned a very interesting science lesson about the power of the wedge, and also the fact that the Big Shot® consists of “solid core steel rollers, unibody cast roller housing, solid steel gears, and ABS (high impactic) plastic exterior.” Many screws and washers later, I salvaged what I could.

R.I.P. Big Shot® . . . I guess I voided the three-year limited warranty, huh?

© 2012 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.

Nov 042009

Like many other Etsy sellers who sell handmade paper goods, my paper crafting studio is filled with designer papers, adhesives, embellishments, and tools of all types and sizes. There are so many tools, in fact, that they spill into other rooms in the house, wherever they will fit. But among my favorites are those from Fiskars, the business that many of us think of as the “scissors company.” Over time, my personal collection of Fiskars cutting implements has grown to include pinking shears, rotary cutters, scoring blades, a button shank remover, embroidery scissors, paper cutters, paper punches, garden shears, and more. My first Fiskars product, however, was a pair of orange-handled fabric shears that I used when I learned how to sew.

Clockwise, from top center: Fiskars pinking shears,
cardboard cutter, rotary cutter, embroidery scissors,
button shank cutter, fabric shears

The story about orange scissor handles goes back to 1967, when Fiskars manufactured its first plastic-handled scissors. The designer wasn’t sure whether the final product would have red, black or green handles, but in the process of making prototype plastic-handled scissors, he used leftover orange resin from a molding machine intended for Fiskars juicers. Much to his surprise, the orange scissors were popular—so popular, in fact, that employees chose orange over black by a vote of nine to seven for the final plastic-handled Fiskars scissors. Three dozen years later, in 2003, the color orange was trademarked in Finland as “Fiskars Orange®.” You’ll see that color in most of Fiskars’ consumer products and packaging today.

Fiskars table top paper cutters

Fiskars itself is a 360-year-old company whose roots go back to Finland, which is where its corporate headquarters is located. It employs more than 4,000 employees worldwide, and produces a wide variety of home, office and outdoor tools.

Fiskars paper punches

The company was founded in 1649 by a Dutch merchant named Peter Thorwöste, when Finland was under Swedish rule and Sweden was known as the center of iron manufacturing. Thorwöste was allowed to build a blast furnace and bar hammer in the village of Fiskars (Finland) so that he could manufacture cast iron and forged products. Although most of the bar iron that Thorwöste produced was sold in Stockholm (Sweden), he also fashioned nails, thread, knives, hoes, iron wheels and other equipment.

Over the centuries, steam engines, plows and cutlery were added to Fiskars’ list of manufactured goods, and its manufacturing facilities spread to other countries. Meanwhile, all manufacturing in the original ironworks facility gradually ceased operation. In 1992, however, the Fiskars company decided that the way to breathe new life into the old Fiskars Village was to invite artisans, designers and artists to move into the old ironworks facilities, where they could form a cooperative and work. Today Fiskars Village has become a center of Finnish art and design. You can meet some of the artisans through FiskarsVillage Cinema Series.

Left to right: Fiskars embossing tools, cutting mat,
eyelet punches, embossing plates,
and texture plate embossing tool

As you view the work of BBEST artists below, it will be apparent that I am not the only one who has benefitted from using Fiskars paper crafting tools, or variations of them from other manufacturers. Although there is no doubt that Fiskars has many competitors today, the fact that it is more than three-and-a-half centuries old—as well as Finland’s oldest company—suggests that Fiskars has a great deal of practice in developing “cutting edge” paper crafting tools.

You can learn more about Fiskars, its history, Fiskars Village and its craft division by visiting these Web sites:

© 2009 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved. Please note that the images in this post are owned by the artists and may not be used without permission. Simultaneously published at