glue-test-before
Adhesive test before attempting to remove polymer clay discs and metal washers.

I’ve been collecting and trying various glues while crossing my fingers that they’d work long-term. I really dislike the thought of something I’ve made falling apart after I’ve sold it, so I decided I needed to test adhesives.

TESTING METHODS

I first baked three test strips of five different brands of polymer clay. I used these in my post, “Does Polymer Clay Shrink?”  Then, I conditioned my bag of polymer clay scraps, cut out 60 discs and baked them.  The scraps were mainly Kato with some Fimo, Premo and a tiny bit of Soufflé because that’s what I’ve been using.

I thought about making Kato discs to go on Kato clay, etc., but decided a mixture of different brands would make a more rigorous test.

I also decided to not roughen the strips of polymer clay with sandpaper for the same reason.

I got 60 new, zinc-coated, steel washers thinking they could represent bails. They looked clean, but I still washed them in hot, soapy water.  I also cleaned all the washers, polymer clay discs and test strips with a Q-tip soaked in 91% rubbing alcohol. I wore nitrile gloves while doing the test.

All adhesives were purchased within the last few months.

I spread a thin layer of each adhesive on the back of the polymer clay discs and metal washers using a new toothpick for each. (See photo below.) I didn’t want to use too little adhesive, but I also didn’t want to use too much because it looks bad when it seeps out.  I tried to find a balance.

I intentionally left the top part of the disc or washer hanging off the edge of the clay strip to allow me leverage when trying to pry them off.

glue-test-in-process
In the process of applying Kato Liquid Polyclay. Notice the thin layer spread on the back of the polymer clay disc.

I baked Kato Poly Paste and Kato Liquid Polyclay at 300˚ for 30 minutes in a preheated baking box. A baking box is two cheap aluminum pans, one inverted as a lid, with two small ceramic tiles inside.  I preheat it with the lid off using an oven thermometer.

I baked Sculpey Bake & Bond and Lisa Pavelka Poly Bonder at 275˚ for 30 minutes in a preheated baking box. I realize Poly Bonder doesn’t need to be baked, but its heat-resistance is what makes it unique from other super glues.

I baked Fimo Liquid Gel at 265˚ for 30 minutes in a preheated baking box.

After the baked strips were completely cool, I applied the rest of the adhesives. I wore a vapor mask when using most of them, which is important.

I followed the directions on each bottle.  Gorilla Glue needs to be shaken.  Pieces that are superglued need to be pressed together for 10 seconds or more. I’ve learned from prior experience that baking Kato Poly Paste at the recommended temperature is important.  It also becomes stickier if you stir it.

adhesives 1

adhesives 2The adhesives I used were in this order:

  1. Kato Poly Paste
  2. Kato Liquid Polyclay
  3. WeldBond
  4. Gorilla Super Glue Gel
  5. Sculpey Bake & Bond
  6. Lisa Pavelka Poly Bonder
  7. Zap-A-Gap
  8. 3M Super Glue Gel
  9. Fimo Liquid Gel
  10. G-S Hypo Cement
  11. G-S Hypo Fabric Cement (I tried this because it says it’s for plastics.)
  12. Liquid Fusion
  13. Genesis Heat-Set Oils Thick Medium
  14. Apoxie Sculpt
  15. Loctite Super Glue Gel Control
  16. JB Weld Steel-Reinforced Epoxy
  17. Super ‘T’ Cyanoacrylate Glue

The liquid clays should be cured when cool. WeldBond requires more time to dry, so I let it and the rest dry for 48 hours.  The rest I let dry for 24 hours.

Four of the five washers adhered with Lisa Pavelka Poly Bonder popped off before I could take the first photo, so I Scotch-taped them back in place.

After the proper curing time elapsed, I tried to pry each disc and washer off by hand. I was not easy on any of them. My fingertips still hurt, hours later.  One of the Premo strips broke in the process.

RESULTS

adhesive results 1

adhesive results 2The photos above look pretty sparse.  Most of the metal washers popped off very easily.  The polymer clay discs were somewhat more difficult to remove.

The adhesives were all completely dry.  There are circles of adhesive left on the clay strip, so it appears I had good glue coverage.  Of those that popped off, many washers and had no visible glue residue.  I believe this shows that the metal resisted the adhesive.

Some of these adhesives might have worked better if I’d done something differently. Many aren’t necessarily meant for use with polymer clay.

CONCLUSION

The adhesives in order of those that performed best were:

  1. Gorilla Super Glue Gel, Loctite Super Glue Gel Control and Super ‘T’  were amazing in adhering both the polymer clay discs and the metal washers to polymer clay.
  2. Zap-A-Gap was also amazing, except on Cernit.
  3. Kato Poly Paste and Sculpey Bake & Bond worked great for adhering polymer clay to all brands of clay tested.
  4.  Kato Liquid Polyclay worked great for adhering polymer clay to all brands of clay, except Kato.  How strange.
  5. Fimo Liquid Gel adhered polymer clay to Fimo, Soufflé and Cernit clays.
  6. Genesis Heat-Set Oils Thick Medium worked well to adhere polymer clay to polymer clay, but not metal, on all clays tested except Premo.

The adhesives that didn’t work well were:

  1. Weldbond
  2. Lisa Pavelka Poly Bonder at least when baked
  3. 3M Super Glue Gel
  4. G-S Hypo Cement
  5. G-S Hypo Fabric Cement
  6. Liquid Fusion
  7. Apoxie Sculpt
  8. JB Weld Steel-Reinforced Epoxy

The clays most receptive to adhesives were:

  1. Soufflé probably because it has a naturally textured, matte surface.
  2. Fimo
  3. Premo
  4. Kato and Cernit

In Ginger Davis Allman’s post on adhesives, polymer clay artists have reported some adhesives deteriorating over time.  I agree with Ginger’s advice on burying metal in polymer clay as the surest method.  If you’re burying a wire, put a curve in it to prevent it from pulling out.

If you’re adhering polymer to polymer, I’d recommend using liquid or paste polymer rather than glue because polymer is the most compatible with polymer clay.