White Glue: 8 Recipes for Modifying White Glue
White glue (school glue, PVA glue) is versatile, easy to clean up, safe for little hands and paws, quick to dry, dries clear, paintable and it's ridiculously inexpensive. You can use it to stick all manner of things together, create decorative surfaces, seal paper and fabric, or provide a coat of protection to a surface. But white glue out of the bottle doesn't always have the right consistency for a project or you need a slightly different kind of product for your project. Knowing how to modify white glue means you can avoid buying a variety of glues or special products for your projects. White glue doesn't work for everything, but it works well in a lot of projects that do not need to be completely waterproof or of archival quality. So before you run out to buy that special glue, sealer or paint, try modifying your white glue with these recipes.
Sealer or Deco Adhesive
Add water to glue and mix well. The mix can be between 1 part glue + ½ part water up to 1 part glue + 1 part water. My personal preference is for the 1: ½.
Add the water a bit at a time, mixing as you go until you have the consistency you want.
Note: The thinner the glue, the less likely there will be brush marks. Works well for adhering and sealing decoupage, fabrics and acrylic paint surfaces.
Thick or Tacky Glue
Method 1: Dries Clear
Let air do its thing.
Pour the glue into a tray or open container. Let the glue sit uncovered. It will begin to dry on the surface so mix it up every now and again to prevent clumps. Over time, the glue will begin to thicken because it is actually drying. When the glue is the consistency you want, store it in a sealed container.
Note: The bigger the surface area of the exposed glue and the warmer the air is, the faster the glue will thicken. Try pouring the glue into a container that has a tight fitting lid to go with it. Leave the glue exposed for the thickening process then you can just put the lid on for storage when you're done.
Method 2: Dries Translucent
Add cornstarch to the glue.
Pour the glue into a container suitable for mixing and add cornstarch, 1 tsp at a time. Mix well after each addition. The amount of cornstarch you add will depend on how thick you need your glue to be. If you make the glue too thick, thin it with water or a small amount of rubbing alcohol.
Note: Keep track of the amount of cornstarch you add to the glue so that you can replicate the consistency.
Method 3: Dries Clear
2 Tbsp cornstarch + ½ cup water + 1 cup white glue
Over medium high heat, whisk the cornstarch and water smooth and continue until it appears translucent. This will not take long! Remove from the heat and continue whisking. Whisk the white glue in ¼ cup at a time. Stop adding glue when it is a little bit thinner than you want because it will thicken up some more as it cools. If it is too thick when cool, whisk in a bit of very hot water and some more glue until it is the right consistency. Store it in an airtight container for about a week. If you wish to prolong the shelf life, add 1 tsp rubbing alcohol.
Simple Modelling Clay
1/2 cup glue + 1 cup cornstarch.
Mix the cornstarch into the glue a bit at a time. When it feels like modelling clay, it is. Use right away or store it for up to 24 hours in tightly wrapped plastic (triple wrapped so it doesn’t dry out). Harden the clay by allowing it to air dry or pop it into a minimum temperature oven for about 1 ½ hours.
Note: The clay can be painted after it's dry or, to colour the clay, add some food colouring or acrylic craft paint to the glue first. Adding too much paint can alter the properties though and cause cracking when dry.
¾ cup white glue + 1 cup cornstarch + 1 Tbsp lemon juice or white vinegar + 2 Tbsp baby or mineral oil + a little oil for your hands.
Stove Top: In a non-stick pot, mix all ingredients together. Mix well until smooth. Stir constantly over low-medium heat, until it looks like a lumpy ball but still sticky (thick mashed potatoes looking). Remove from the heat immediately and as quickly as you can handle the heat, start kneading the clay. Squirt a little oil on your hands to keep it from sticking. Knead until smooth. Store it in tightly wrapped plastic. It can be left to air dry or dry it in a minimum temperature oven. It’s paintable!
Microwave: In a microwave safe bowl, mix all ingredients together until smooth. Microwave on high for 15 seconds. Remove and stir well. Microwave on high for 10-15 seconds. Remove and stir well. Microwave on high (last time) for approximately 10 seconds. It should be a lumpy blob now, a bit sticky but kneadable. If the clay has not pulled away from the sides into a lumpy blob yet, microwave again for another 10 seconds. Remove the clay from the bowl, oil your hands a bit and knead until smooth. Store and use the same way as the stove-top method.
Coloured Glue or Glue Paint
Add acrylic paint or food colouring to glue.
The more colouring you add to the glue, the richer the colour will be. Be sure to thoroughly mix the paint or food colouring with the glue to get an even colour distribution. Note: Works well for a stained glass effect on glass, plastic and acetate. This is not waterproof but a couple of coats of acrylic enamel will help.
3 parts foam shaving cream + 1 part flour + 1 part glue + food colouring or watercolour paint.
Mix together flour and glue until smooth. You can add colouring now or later. Mix in the shaving cream. Put the paint into a piping bag, squeeze bottle or baggie with the corner tip cut off for squeezing.
Puff in the Microwave Paint
1 cup flour + 1 cup water + 1 tsp salt + food colouring or watercolour paint
Whisk all ingredients together well making sure there are no lumps. Transfer to a squeeze container (check puffy-type paint above). Paint away then microwave for about 30 seconds. The paint will puff up when it cooks.
Mix glitter into glue.
The ratio is up to you but obviously, the more glitter you add, the more glitter will be on your project. Mix it as needed or store it in a tightly sealed container. Pill size containers, baby food jars and bead containers work well for mixing and storing or you can mix the glitter directly into a glue squeeze bottle.
1/2 cup glue + 1/4 cup warm water + 1/2 cup cornstarch
Mix all ingredients together until smooth.
One important note when using cornstarch is that whatever you put it in will not store for long. Cornstarch is a natural product and, if your modified glue is left for a few days without drying, it can begin to grow mold. I have never had a dried project or stored product grow mold but any product you are making with cornstarch should be used within a few of days. Adding a couple of drops of dish soap or a smidge of rubbing alcohol can certainly prolong the shelf life but it is usually simpler to mix only what you will use for your project.
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