Adhesives tested E-6000, Shoe Goo, Gem-Tac, Fabri-Tac and Crafters The Ultimate pick. It’s important to stress that while all the adhesives may give a good bond between crystals and fabric the purpose of this test is to determine which adhesive gives the strongest bond. To determine this the crystals were glued using the 5 different glue types each with their own colour crystals and then left for over 24 hours to dry.
To test the bond strength the crystals on the fabric were then roughly stroked over continuously until crystals came loose. For some materials the bond was very strong resulting in the crystals being quite difficult to remove the fabric was scrunched up and rolled into ball and roughly handled until crystals were dislodged. The other test used to determine the bond strength between the flatbacks, adhesive and fabric was to pick at the crystals to see how difficult it was to remove them. Picking at the crystals is pretty much the same principle as catching them on something which will happen from time to time, so hopefully this gives a fair impression of which adhesive performs the best on each material.
There are numerous forums, websites and blogs that recommend each of these adhesives which is why I choose them as they represent the most popular adhesives used for bonding Swarovski flatbacks to fabric (Shoe Goo is the only one I haven’t seem mentioned anywhere but its made by Eclectic Products who make E6000 so I wanted to see what the difference between the two adhesives were).
E6000 – It’s a thick clear adhesive that has very strong fumes and a care warning on the packaging. It dries very quickly so put the top back on the tube after removing any of the content. For precision application I recommend using a syringe and again plugging the end with something like blu-tac between uses. When applying to some fabrics it’s necessary to hold the crystal in place for 5-10 seconds while the adhesive takes a purchase and holds in place. If glue splodges around the sides of the crystals its easy to clean with a cocktail or orange stick by just doing a circle around the crystal with the pointed tip is usually enough to pickup any surplus adhesive. (Care should be taken when using this adhesive, open the window so there is a good flow of air through the room and if you use on a daily basis I highly recommend investing in a respiratory mask for eliminating any harmful fumes, which only cost a few pound at B&Q.)
Shoe Goo – Made by the same company as E6000 with the same warning and more it contains Perchloroethylene which is why it has a nice skull and crossbones / Poison Irritant warning at the top of the tube. Would recommend using a mask as mentioned above when working with Shoe Goo and the chemical should not be inhaled. As regards the glue it’s clear like E6000 but not as thick so slightly easier to apply, it also dries quite quickly but not as fast as E6000 but it’s also necessary to hold the crystals in place for a few seconds for the adhesive to get a good bond.
Gem-Tac – It’s white in appearance when it comes out of the tube but dries clear, its non toxic and a lot thinner than e6000. If you find it too thin you can put some into a container and leave to thicken up for a minute or two or alternatively leave the top of the bottle for a few days and it thickens up nicely. When it’s new it may require the use of an orange stick to release the crystal from a jewel setter/ sticky bud tip. If you intend to use the adhesive on a curved surface leave the adhesive for a minute or two before applying the crystals or they may slide while the adhesive is first applied as it’s runny.
Crafters Pick – The Ultimate – Looks the same as Gemtac but slightly thicker in consistency, it also dries clear and is non toxic and may require the use of an orange stick/cocktail stick to release the crystals from a jewel setter tip. It’s easy to use but doesn’t provide half the strength of bond that Gemtac does but maybe it will perform better on plastic, metal or glass (we shall see ; ).
Fabri-Tac – Made by Beacon Adhesives the same company as Gem-Tac this glue is clear in colour, has strong fumes and most importantly is not gem friendly. It’s like working with sticky slime that stretches like melted chewing gum and when you try and remove a small amount for a crystal it’s no easy task. It gives a very quick bond but it’s not as strong as Gemtac on any fabric that I tested and I certainly wouldn’t have the patience to use it for many crystals.
1. Faux Suede - The strongest is Shoo Goo closely followed by e6000 which both gave a very strong bond, with enough force the Gem-Tac, Fabri-Tac and The Ultimate crystals came loose. None of the crystals that didn’t come loose were easy to pick away though.
2. Wool - The strongest is Gemtac with e6000 also giving a pretty good bond, both Fabri-Tac and The Ultimate glue were easy to rub the crystals of the wool so I wouldn’t recommend either of these.
3. Denim – Fabri-Tac was the first to rub off followed by The Ultimate crystals. All three of the remaining adhesives gave a very strong bond and after trying to pick the crystals off one of the e6000 crystals came loose but the Gemtac and Shoo Goo all stayed on.
4. Silk – Fabri-Tac was the first to come loose followed by The Ultimate and Gemtac neither Shoo Goo or e6000 came loose and both were difficult to pick off with e6000 being slightly stronger.
5. Faux Leather – Again Fabri-Tac was the first to come loose, followed by The Ultimate and then Gemtac once I started to pick at the crystals followed by E6000 and Shoe Goo.
6. Linen – The Fabri-Tac crystals came loose pretty quickly from rubbing followed by Shoe Goo. The Ultimate came loose after using a nail to scratch at the crystals followed by E6000 with Gemtac giving the strongest bond.
7. Velvet – The Ultimate came loose straight away followed by E6000, Fabri-Tac, Shoe Goo then Gemtac and the skin off my fingers from rubbing so hard. (If you intend to test adhesives yourself I suggest using something other than your fingers to dislodge the crystals.)
8. Soft Leather – None of the adhesives were particularly strong on soft leather but the strongest was Gem-Tac, although all of them were easy to pick off.
9. Canvas – Fabri-Tac gave the weakest bond coming free from just rubbing the crystals all the other adhesives gave a pretty strong bond. The Ultimate came loose quite easily with picking followed by Gemtac which didn’t come loose very easily. Both E6000 and Shoe Goo gave a very strong Bond.
10. Suede – Fabri-Tac was the first to come loose followed by The Ultimate and then e6000. Shoe Goo, Gemtac and e6000 all give a very strong bond that takes some effort to even pick them off. (The difference between Suede and Leather is that Suede is the underside of a skin that has been buffed to a smooth surface. I was unable to get a Suede sample but used the underside of a leather sample which is pretty much the same surface.)
11. Leather Belt – All of the adhesives provided a good bond Fabri-Tac, The Ultimate and Gem-Tac were the easiest to pick off. Both E6000 and Shoe Goo performed very well and weren’t so easy to pick off either.
Hope you found this useful I will be posting the test video as soon as I chop it up.
Your may also find useful: Choosing the right adhesive guide for flatbacks on plastic, metal and other materials