Adhesives in Paper Modeling

The next important component in paper based modeling is the adhesive. You’ll probably be working with less harsh adhesives than you have with plastic models. With paper modeling, the adhesive is more holding agent than a bonding agent. Plastic adhesives work on a chemical level to fuse the two plastic surfaces together. These chemical adhesives literally dissolve paper.

Working with paper allows you to utilize a much wider range of adhesives offering a range of different properties. In some applications you’ll be using a very precise line of glue; in other applications you’ll be painting or soaking the paper. You’ll be working with more craft-based glues rather than the model glues. Look for white glues and clear glues marked as “photo safe.” In short, get ready to visit the scrapbooking or cardmaking section of the of the craft store. (This is a good opportunity to get used to this area of the store, we’ll be returning here a few more times.)

Simple white craft glue works in most paper modeling situations. These glues are often referred to as “white glue,” “craft glue” or “school glue.” White craft glues are actually water based with a poly vinyl acetate to provide the stickiness. You can dilute these products with additional water to control the level of stickiness and create a “paintable” adhesive.

The craft company PLAID offers ModPodge, one of the most useful adhesives for paper craft and paper modeling. The product is basically a diluted white glue that comes in several different varieties. The ratio of glue to water is designed for paper crafts and the mixture stays stable much longer than a homemade diluted glue. It’s stronger than normal white glues and can also be used as a sealer and finish.

Wood glue is very similar to white glue but generally contains stronger adhesive elements. It dries faster and holds strong. Some paper modelers use wood glue for extra strength, however it tends to work best when using the paper with a base. Wood glue is also the natural choice if you’re are using wood as the base for your structure.

3M Scotch brand also offers a line of clear glue products that are photo safe. These products were originally designed for scrapbooking and cardmaking so they are safe to use with paper. These products are available in a variety of applicators, including a unit that comes with both a pen tip and a sponge tip.

You can also use spray adhesives in certain paper modeling applications. Spray adhesives make it easy to apply glue to larger surfaces. However, they tend to be messy and allow for only one application. Unlike white glues and clear glues the paper cannot be moved once applied.