2 of the Best Glues for Garden Art
“Royal Tea Time” using GE Silicone II created by Make it a Garden
Fail-proof adhesives for glass & ceramics
Creating your own garden art from dishware is both fun and rewarding. You’ve collected your special glass or ceramic pieces and are ready to get started. But did you know that the type of glue you use when making garden art is actually the most important part of your project?
The most common question I get at craft shows is “what glues do you use for your garden art?” Proof of how crucial using the right stuff really is. It’s not enough to know what to use. It’s equally important to know why it works, and how some products may be a little better to use in certain cases.
You put some time and effort into finding just the right materials so your garden pretty will be admired by friends and family. So, naturally you want it to hold up in all types of weather. Using the wrong glues may cause your dish flower or bird bath to fall apart and break and all the hard work you put into it is lost.
The right glue for the right project
Of course, you not only want to use the ‘right’ glue, but the very best glues for glass and ceramics garden art. Believe me, this is a hot topic among artists. When I started making dish flowers and totems, I spent hours upon hours on the Internet learning about glue: what works, what doesn’t and why. I read about all the issues my fellow crafters were having as they experimented with a whole slew of adhesives in a variety of climates.
The typical glues used for most indoor arts and crafts–like those that are applied with a hot glue gun–are not at all suitable for use outdoors. Even some of the stronger epoxies which are otherwise superb for interior use, may not be reliable in the variety of temperatures and weather conditions outside.
That being said, here are the two glues I personally use for my own garden art based on experience. They also happen to be the most widely used by professionals as well as hobbyists who enjoy making these sculptures from re-purposed dishware. For your benefit, I’ve included a lot of details about the products and why you can have confidence using them.
GE 100% Silicone II
Actually, silicone is not a “glue” at all, but a sealant. Silicone is most commonly used in the house in kitchens and bathrooms. It’s the water-proofing product that’s applied around the outside edge of a kitchen or bathroom sink, tub or shower. It keeps water from getting in-between the cracks which prevents water damage and mold and mildew from developing.
The type of silicone to use for garden art is made for exterior use. It’s the one used for sealing the outside of a window. I have seen DIY videos that use the indoor version, so make sure the package says exterior.
Why so many crafters love silicone
The beauty of 100% silicone is that it dries to a tough, rubbery consistency, yet remains pliable. It’s the ideal product for exterior windows as well as for garden art because it is strong and 100% waterproof. It will not freeze and crack in the frigid cold nor turn to melted butter in hot climates. GE’s Silicone II says right on the package that it can hold up in temperatures from 60 below zero to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Boy, I sure hope it doesn’t get that hot at your place!
Thick, easy to work with
virtually no odor
If you’re last memory of using silicone involved rigid cylindrical tubes and the equally fussy caulking guns, think again! For a number of years, craftsmen fumbled with these messy, over-sized contraptions. I would never have ventured into making dish art if it meant using one of these. However, just a few years ago, due in part to the growing popularity of dish garden art, GE introduced a whole new package.
Now, silicone comes in a small, easy to use package about the size and shape of a tube of toothpaste. It dispenses the product just as smoothly with a little bit of pressure. It fits snugly in the palm of your hand and is practically effortless to apply. You’ll find it in the paint section of your local hardware store.
Silicone: What’s good and not-so-good
The other nice thing about silicone is that it is thick and does not drip or run. The bead tends to stay put on the bottom rim of a plate, cup or saucer. The best part is that it doesn’t have a strong odor, so you won’t have to open windows or be concerned about fumes. It also does not dry out too quickly giving you more time to make adjustments.
On a side note: Although the package says the product is “clear”, it’s more of a cloudy-clear and is visible when completely cured. However, if you’re bonding two solid ceramic plates together, the glue is on the backside and will not show. To seal around an outside edge, use the tip of your finger, a small artist’s paint brush or a Q-tip to smooth the bead out. Then its hardly noticeable when dry.
E-6000 is another product favored by those who make garden art or other works with glass. You’ll find it in the paint/adhesives isle at your local hardware store. It also comes in a toothpaste-shaped package, but it’s quite a bit different than silicone. E-600 is an industrial strength adhesive that is ideal for glass and ceramics. Like silicone, it also has a flexible, rubbery consistency that really grips, surface to surface.
E-600 holds together well outside in almost any weather. It’s water-proof and can withstand temperatures from minus 40 to 180 degrees. It’s been described as “thick”, and while it’s thicker than Gorilla Glue, it’s quite thin compared to silicone. The bead just doesn’t stay in place as well and tends to slide off an edge or drip if applied a little too heavily. E-600 is a bit trickier and messier to work with and tends to be “stringy”.
Like silicone, it takes a little time to get tacky, so pieces should be held firmly in place for a minute or two. Depending on what is being bonded together, find something than can be used as a weight to ensure optimum bonding during this process.
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E-6000: What’s good and not-so-good
The upside and probably its best feature–surpassing silicone–is that it dries clear. Crystal clear. That makes it superb for art projects using clear and colored glass (stained glass) when you don’t want the glue to be visible. The un-pleasant side of E-6000 is its strong chemical odor. Prolonged exposure to vapors can cause some people to experience dizziness or headaches.
Waterproof, weather resilient
Excellent temperature spread
Dries crystal clear
So now, with your dishware on the table in front of you, it’s time to get creative. Once you’ve decided how your piece will go together, you have two super, highly dependable adhesives to choose from. Using the right glues, you can complete your garden art project with confidence. Your dish flower or bird bath will be a pretty accent to be admired by everyone who visits your garden.
“Cherub Bird Bath” using GE Silicone II, created by Make it a Garden
DISCLAIMER: My review and recommendation is based solely on my experience using them as a professional craftsman. I have no personal connection to the two products mentioned in this post nor do I receive any benefit from promoting them.
Other posts about glass garden art:
The Best Plates to Use for Making Dish Flowers
How to Attach A Dish Flower to a Post
A Visit to the Studio
Detailed advice from artist on two best glues for garden art and why they are the best for glass and ceramic. details about the 2 products, pros and cons.