Cosplay Toolbox: Adhesives

Welcome to my new column: Cosplay Toolbox! I’ll be periodically posting my must-have supplies for hobbyist cosplayers!

Adhesives are often hit-or-miss when trying to affix cosplay materials together. I personally went through 5 different products before successfully adhering rubber teeth to my xenomorph head! (FYI: 2 part epoxy was the winner) Different adhesives work for different projects, but here are my top go-to’s:

High-temperature glue gun

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You can pick up a high temperature glue gun from Home Depot for around $20. I use my glue gun more than every other adhesive put together. I had been using a regular, cheaper glue gun, which is fine for most tasks. This gun heats up faster, has a more even drip and adheres better than regular temperature guns. A bigger gun can also be easier to handle.

Pros:

Easy to Use

Works on a variety of materials

Works fast

Cons:

Even the best glue guns have uneven distribution

If you think regular glue gun burns are bad, wait until you get a burn from one of these babies!

Glue can melt in hot conditions such as parades and cons. If your costume will be in extreme conditions, reinforce glue with a stronger adhesive

Glue “bumps” can show through thinner materials such as craft foam or fabric

TIP: Buy plenty of glue sticks with your gun & remember which type of glue sticks work in your gun!

Duct Tape

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Don’t even question it, just buy it. Duct tape is handy for both permanent and temporary bonds. I use it often to hold pieces together while trying to cut, shape and adhere then remove it once the permanent bond has held.

Duct tape is available in a variety of colors and patterns. I made this Mary Poppins tape measure with ruler duct tape and a label maker for volunteer visits to the children’s hospital. After being stuck on how to make it for months, I stumbled upon the ruler print duct tape-problem solved!

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Pros:

Available in many colors

Has a variety of applications

Cons:

Visible tape can look unpolished

It is difficult to cover with paint

TIP: Some of the novelty duct tapes do not stick as well as the original silver stuff. Make sure to use the basic silver when your project requires a good bond

Spray Adhesive

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I am a true fan of Scotch Super 77 spray adhesive. I originally balked at $13 a can, but soon discovered it is worth every penny. If I have a spare Joann’s coupon I always pick up an extra can!

Spray adhesive is extremely versatile and a must-have when working with fabric. One of my first uses was on the flower for my daughter’s Princess Peach dress. My friend at Sewing & Embroidery Just For You made this fantastic dress for us! I cast the green gem in resin, cut the daisy out of cotton, then used spray adhesive to stick the two together and onto the dress. It adhered to both fabric and resin surfaces. I have even washed this dress twice and the bond stayed. 

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Pros:

Works on multiple surfaces

Adheres different surfaces together

Non-sewing alternative for fabric

Smooth coat won’t show “bumps” on thin fabrics

Great for craft foam and fabric

Can be washed

Cons:

Glue sprays everywhere which can be tricky to work with

I doubt it would hold up through multiple machine washings

Glue can be difficult to wash off your skin

Two-part epoxy

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Sometimes you just need a super-strong bond for difficult materials. Do yourself a favor & skip straight to 2 part epoxy. I learned the hard way that no one tube epoxy can do what the mixes do. Yes, it takes extra time, mixing and patience, but you’ll waste more time using sub-par products.

Pros:

Almost always works when all else fails

Strong, permanent bond

Works on a variety of materials

Cons:

You have to hold it in place to achieve a proper bond and then wait for hours-overnight for it to dry. I don’t like to wait.

Can be messy

Fail level is high if you don’t follow exact mixing and usage directions

Mod Podge

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I find the world of Mod Podge to be expensive and confusing. I finally jumped in when I followed KikiCraft’s EXCELLENT tutorial on Honey Lemon’s phone case. I found that it works better than wood glue for sealing holes in foam making painting much easier. It also does not crack as much as wood glue when bending your finished project. KikiCraft’s instructions included Mod Podge used before painting to seal EVA foam, then on top of paint to protect it. It gave the paint job a nice even gloss and finished look.

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Pros:

Works as a sealant, glue and top coat

Works fantastic with EVA foam

Mod Podge offers a variety of products that work together

Cons:

Can get very expensive on bigger projects as opposed to wood glue

The matte finish came out very glossy

I find the variety of Mod Podge products to be confusing & overwhelming

TIP: Attention Joann’s shoppers! Stock up on Mod Podge items with any leftover coupons!

I hope you learned something from my first Cosplay Toolbox post! As always, I’m happy to answer questions or take suggestions for article topics! Comments are open!

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