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Introduction to Glues & Adhesives

It's difficult to complete a project without some form of glue or adhesive binding the different components together - and it's evident that this has been the case for an incredibly long time. The earliest discovery of the use of adhesive dates back to central Italy roughly 200,000 years ago, where two remnants of stones were discovered, spread with birch-bark tar.

It seems that adhesives were initially formed using sticky plant-based components, however these proved susceptible to harsh weather conditions - so creating a compound adhesive was necessary. The first evidence of multi-component adhesive dates back to South Africa 70,000 years ago, where the people of that time would join stones and axe handles using a mixture of plant gum and red ochre for a strong fit, remaining secure whatever the weather.

Over the years, archaeologists have also found evidence of other organic glues, including tree resins, bituminous cements and pitch - a tar-like substance retrieved by heating birch bark. The Egyptians were in favour of using animal adhesives to adhere wooden artefacts, or starch-based glues to bond papyrus, while the Greeks and Romans developed adhesives even further by using egg as a base and combining it with other ingredients, such as vegetables, grain and bone.

Modern adhesives were developed in Holland in 1690 with the introduction of the first commercial glue plant, then in 1750 a British glue patent passed for a fish-based glue. As time passed, a considerable amount of other new and innovative adhesives arose, each used for different purposes - most notably pressure-sensitive tapes in 1925. Glues and adhesives have since been developed and refined as a result of the evolution of technology, with the continued advancement of synthetic materials providing even stronger, more secure bonds.

We've learnt that adhesive is one of the most crucial items in your craft kit, so it's important you purchase high quality glue or tape that you know you can always rely on. While some adhesives are best suited to cardmaking, others are more favoured in home décor projects or for binding fabric; there's no doubt that the right adhesive will always ensure a successful final piece. So with all that in mind, we've devised this little beginner's guide to help you match your adhesive to your crafting needs!

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