Friday, June 26, 2009

A Sticky Situation

My Fun, Casual Shop
My Soda Rose series

You don't know how much work goes into making jewelry creations until you experience its trials and tribulations yourself. I did, of course, anticipate some effort and experimentation in making roses out of soda cans. But I expected that effort in the realm of creating the shape of the rose itself, making each petal. I did not expect that glue would be my enemy.

I went to Michaels to look in their glue section for glue that worked with metal. Of all the glues that I saw, I chose Aleene's Jewelry and Metal Glue. Makes sense, right? And it worked great when I was putting petals together - it set fast and strong, which was ideal for gluing on a curved surface because I could not clamp it down like I might a cabochon. I had a few incidents when I glued my fingers, but that was to be expected, and I could always hide it by gluing on the next petals. So it was great glue to work with. Sounds like the end of the story. But that would be too easy.

The next day I noticed white, powdery residue on the aluminum, on the paint side and the plain side. Some of it looked like fingerprints. I just figured that the glue I had gotten on my fingers ended up getting all over everything, and I just had to be more careful. So I kept going, being more careful. But that didn't make a difference. After many hours, the powdery fingerprints would come back. I did a google search about what would get glue off of things, and I came up with rubbing alcohol and acetone. I started with rubbing alcohol, but that just made the fingerprints temporarily disappear because they were wet. They came back in seconds. Then I tried the acetone, and that made them disappear for a little while longer. But - you guessed it - the fingerprints came back (they wouldn't stay away, they were sitting on my flowers the very next day - name that song). Turns out that the evaporating fumes from the glue reacted with the oil on my hands - like a CSI episode! - in spite of the fact that the room I was in had adequate ventilation. Not at all practical for me to use for my soda flowers. I had to throw away about fifteen beautiful roses, including a few black roses with red accents that were just so perfect for a gothic necklace or something like that. Time to start over. At least I learned that my technique I came up with in my head to make the roses was a good one.

I searched Etsy forums for what other people used for metals, and the glue that came up over and over again was E6000. So I went back to Michaels and bought two glues: E6000 and hypo-cement. And I planned to use some of the Loctite glue that I had already bought a while back. I got home and I started using the E6000. It seemed to work well at first. Everyone talks about the smell, but I did not mind it at all for some reason. I let the experiments set for a few days, then went out and started pulling on the petals to make sure they had adhered properly, because E6000 seemed to be a little more flexible than I was used to. Unfortunately, the petals pulled off with enough force. I wanted a glue that would hold even when I pulled hard - after all, you want your products to be durable. Threw those experiments away, about five flowers.

So my next experiment was with the hypo-cement and the Loctite. The Loctite was a bust almost immediately because it set too slowly while also being too liquidy. Not a good combination. The hypo-cement was a bother because it was stringy like hot glue and kept getting over everything. But it set faster, so I had to at least try it. Two days later, I pulled on the petals. And they came off. By then, I was very frustrated and nearly had a meltdown in Michaels the next week when I bought super glue and could not find the kinds of beads that I wanted. It was just frustration building up over several weeks, even if it all seemed small.

Then imagine my frustration when I opened the super glue and found that the glue tube had broken inside the package and glued itself in. So I tried to return it at a different store than the one I bought it at, but they would not let me, and I did not want to drive all the way to the other store.

Now, this was the day after Halloween, and I was seriously down about everything. I went to the grocery store for some after-Halloween candy sales and a frozen pizza as comfort food. Then I remembered what a fellow aluminum can artist said about the glue that she used (it was a trade secret, so she did not tell me exactly what glue worked for her), that she found it at a drug store. On a whim, I went to the automotive aisle in the grocery store and picked up an instant liquid adhesive (that's my trade secret *wink*). I brought it home and did some more experimental roses. It seemed very much like the Aleene's in that it set fast and strong, and I was on tenterhooks for the three days I let it set.

Finally, I had my happy ending. The instant adhesive held on one side of the petal, so I just reapplied it on the other side and tested it later on. The petal held - no matter how hard I pulled, it stayed on.

It took over a month to find the right kind of glue, but now I have the right glue for my project, and I'm all content again. I have had a few mishaps gluing my fingers to the petals, and this one time I accidentally poured glue all down one of my fingers. Not good when the glue is skin-bonding. In getting it off, I had to peel off a tiny bit of healthy skin. Yeah. Eep. But in general, I have a good beginning amount of soda roses to work with.


  1. Wow. What alot of frustration! They look pretty now though.

  2. I enjoyed your article. I'm glad your tenacity paid off. The roses look great.

  3. tricia
    here is a tip from 15 plus years of experience as a manicurist. if you glue your fingers together and want to save on pain and bleeding do this:
    use any kind of oil and rub it in and around the glued area of flesh. the oil will work its way into the skin and break the glues bond. the glue should peel right off. if you still are having trouble getting it apart with all the oil add some acetone polish remover or pure acetone. Sallys sells pure acetone. its great to have on hand.
    i have found "weld it" glue from Ace hardware works well with soda cans. put glue on both sides to be glued and let sit til tacky and bond in place.

  4. Thanks, Kimmy! I did soak my finger in pure acetone, but it still didn't get it all. And it probably wasn't really healthy over an open wound, too.

    How long does it take for the "weld it" glue to set? Unfortunately, because the surface isn't flat, the glue has to set pretty quickly once the two pieces of aluminum are pressed together, otherwise they'll just come apart.

  5. Oh, I am so glad that you had a happy ending. Glad you had the fortitude to continue on and on until you got the results you wanted.