After years of decorating dresses and dance outfits, many of us blindly grab a tube of glue that's suitable for gluing diamontes, jewel stones and pearls and don't bother reading the safety warnings printed on the package.
Here is a guide on the safe use of the different types of glues most popular for embellishing dance outfits with various decorations.
Quick drying, industrial strength adhesives
Pictured above are a few examples of solvent based glues often used for decorating dance costumes.
Clear mutil-purpose and industrial strength adhesives are quick drying and form strong, water-resistant and excellent long lasting bonds. Their ability to bond a variety of surfaces such as wood, paper, ceramic, glass and leather make them ideal for bonding diamantes and crystals to fabric. The descriptions of these glues make them sound like the perfect solution to everyone's gluing requirements, until you get to the warnings!
All glues containing any type of solvent such as acetone, hexane, ethanol, methanol, benzene, toluene, xylene (to name a few) are highly toxic. The hazardous effects of these active ingredients must never be underestimated and even at a quick glimpse of the glue packaging it would be very difficult to miss the warnings...
Is it safe to use this product? This type of glue is excellent and highly recommended for decorating but ONLY on the proviso we take the proper precautions.
1. Always follow the safety instructions as described on the package.
2. Only work in a well ventilated area. Make sure you keep doors and windows open, use a fan to help ventilation or better still work outside.
3. Avoid breathing the vapours excessively by working directly above and too close to the work area.
4. Avoid using this glue for long periods of time. Built up exposure dramatically increases adverse health affects.
5. Only use this type of glue when less toxic glues are not suitable.
PVA type glues
Pictured above are a few examples of water based glues often used for decorating dance costumes.
These craft type glues are a white thick liquid that dries clear and are suitable for paper, diamontes / rhinestones, small half pearls, fabric and leather. Some brands have products specially formulated for crystal and diamante bonding to fabric which are perfect and very popular for dance costume decoration.
These glues do not contain carcinogenic solvents and are therefore non-toxic.
This makes them the preferred glue type for large projects with thousands of rhinestones which require prolonged use often taking many hours... days, or weeks to complete.
However unfortunately there are some downsides, these glues take much longer to dry and the bond formed is not quite as strong as the industrial strength adhesive. Having said that, these downsides are not an issue when gluing smaller rhinestones, crystals and half pearls to fabric. The glue strength is more than adequate to give long lasting bonds when fixing these items together.
Use the correct glue...
Ultimately, the best advise for choosing a glue is to educate yourselves on the different products available and their correct use beforehand. You can find more information for decorating dance costumes in my previous blog... Stoning Tips Part 3 - Which glue should I use? It includes specific recommendations for which type of glue is most suitable for various diamonte sizes, jewel stones and half pearls.