Monday, June 29, 2009

Ode to Adhesives

I think that every scrapbooker must have at least a few different adhesives. I remember early on, just after I started scrapbooking, thinking that there must be one or two adhesives that would "do it all." Well, as the photo above attests, there aren't. Over the years, I've tried a number of different adhesives, and I've kept quite a few of them in my personal arsenal. What I've discovered is that when it comes to adhesives, while some can do double duty, there is no single type that is right for every scrapbooking application. Rather, each different application essentially demands its own adhesive.

I literally have a drawer full of adhesives and refills. Yet I use all of them on a regular basis (some more than others, of course). So what I'm going to do is list all of the different adhesives that I have in my stash, and describe when I use that particular type of adhesive.

1. My ATG. That's the big red gun in the photo above. I use this adhesive (a whisper-thin transfer tape with a paper backing) for virtually all paper-to-paper applications. It's also great for ribbon and it's strong enough to hold most flat metal embellishments, at well. Do you have one of these guns? If not, RUN, don't walk, to the nearest place that sells them, and get yourself one. Okay, okay, it will probably be a lot easier for you to find this particular item, as well as the refills for it, online. "ATG" stands for adhesive transfer gun. This tool was designed for use in the framing industry, and there are a number of different types of refills that you can get. Also, there are two types of guns, the red one, which takes only 1/4" refills, and the yellow one, which takes 1/2" refills and can take 1/4" refills with an adaptor. The three HUGE advantages to the ATG are the quality of the adhesive; the 36-yard length (or longer for the 1/2") of the refills, and the low cost of the refills compared to other options. Although the ATG looks big and bulky, it isn't uncomfortable to use at all. It's extremely lightweight and easy to handle (even for me, and I have arthritis in my hands). It is not a stretch for me to say that this tool has changed scrapbooking for me. There is a bit of a learning curve to using it and refilling it, but once you have it down, you will LOVE this thing as much as I do. One caveat -- the gun doesn't seem to work well for most lefties. You have to kind of "see" the adhesive to lay it down, and for lefties, the tape sits on the wrong side of the roller as you're applying it. If you're interested in checking out the ATG and refills, I highly recommend They have a headline right on their front page that says something like "Most Scrapbookers Use These Supplies," and clicking that link will take you to the right guns and the acid-free refills.

2. Glue Dots. Glue dots are just that -- "dots" of super-strong adhesive that come packaged on rolls or on flat papers. Glue dots will hold things that other adhesives simply can't, such as heavy metal embellishments, 3-D or layered embellishments, and oddly shaped things, such as chipboard letters and star-shaped buttons. They are also great for ribbon. The big rule with glue dots is not to touch one of them with your fingers. The adhesive is so strong that you'll never get the dot from your finger back onto your paper.

3. Glue pen. I don't use this option a ton, but this is a good adhesive for applying to letters that I've die cut with my Quickutz. (I've got another option for die-cut letters, which is discussed later.) It's also the ONLY adhesive to use if you've got something teeny tiny to stick down (like the dot over an "i" or a cluster of tiny holly berries).

4. Scoth double-stick tape. This stuff is super strong and it's easy to use because it comes on a roll, just like regular tape. It's perfect for applications where you can't put adhesive on the whole thing at once, such as when you're covering a box or a paint can with patterned paper. With these kinds of applications, you want to get one edge of the paper in place first, then stick the rest down. With double-stick tape, you can just tear small pieces off and tuck them exactly where they need to go.

5. Hermafix temporary "dot" transfer adhesive. This is a great temporary adhesive that rolls on easily but comes off simply by rubbing it with your finger. The dots are blue, so they're very visible. This is the perfect adhesive for attaching scraps of cardstock to a regular-sized sheet of paper when you're printing out journaling on the computer.

6. Acid-free transparent tape (that's Duck brand in the photo). I use this to cover the "legs" of brads on the back of the page, which keeps them from snagging on things when you slide the page into the page protector. It's also great for attaching the end of ribbon to the back of your page.

7. Hermafix tabs and clear tabs. I primarily use tabs on the back of my photos when I'm doing layouts. I don't know exactly why I do this, but I do. Although a permanent adhesive, the tabs pull up pretty easily, so it's simple to re-position a photo that isn't quite right when I'm putting together a layout. I'm not really one to move around the elements of my page once I've decided where things go, but sometimes photos need a little adjustment to line up with other photos, etc.

8. Glue stick. I'll admit it, I'm not really a glue stick person. I simply don't trust them. The glue in a glue stick is soft, and a large part of it is water content. I always feel like the glue from glue sticks will eventually dry out. I know people that use glue sticks as their primary scrapbooking adhesive, but I'm not one of them. So what do I use glue sticks for? I sometimes reach for the glue stick when I'm making cards or other throw-away items, and I need to adhere patterned paper scraps to a flat surface. Although, I have to say that since I've been using the ATG, I don't use the glue stick as often. The ATG adhesive is so inexpensive that I'm okay with using it to make cards.

9. Xyron. This one isn't in the picture, but if you don't know what a Xyron machine is, Google it and you can see one. The Xyron is basically a machine that applies a layer of adhesive to a large surface, such as the entire back of a sheet of cardstock. The adhesive has a paper backing over it that you remove when you're ready to stick the item down. The one and only thing I use my Xyron for is to make self-adhesive cardstock that I then use to die cut letters and shapes with my Quickutz. Sooooo much easier and faster than cutting the letters and then running them through the Xyron "X" or applying liquid adhesive to the back of each letter. Depending on the thickness of the cardstock, sometimes the Quicktuz die will cut through both layers (the cardstock and the paper backing on the Xyron adhesive), and sometimes it will cut only through the cardstock. Either way, you simply peel up the letters that you've cut and apply them to your page just like stickers. One thing about the Xyron adhesive (which comes in rolls that fit the machine) is that it's pretty expensive, although you can usually find the refills on sale.

You know, it seems ridiculous to have so many different types of adhesives, and I probably could still scrapbook if I were forced to give up a few of them. But, as I said, I use all of my adhesives regularly, so I probably won't be giving any of them up of my own accord! Now if you take only one thing from this post, it's that you need to get an ATG. I'm not kidding. You will never look back.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

My Inaugural Post!

Well, I've been wanting to start a blog for awhile now, and I finally got around to doing it. I admit, I'm a little intimidated. I had a terrible time deciding on a name for my blog. This blog is intended to be, as I've described it below, "musings from a creative journey." What that means is that I hope to blog about the things in my life that I'm creatively passionate about -- scrapbooking, photography, creative writing, sewing, and cooking. I know, that's a lot to fit into one little blog title. So, instead of a descriptive title, I ended up with more of an inspirational one.

So maybe I'll start out with something simple -- a favorite recipe. Since we often have somewhere to be in the evenings, I'm frequently in a time crunch when I cook dinner during the week. Because of that, I like making things that are a little more time-consuming (but not too much so) on the weekends. A favorite dinner around our house, and the one I made tonight, is Baked Ziti with garlic toast.

Baked Ziti
(Serves 10)

16 oz. box uncooked ziti (or penne) pasta
1 medium onion, diced
2 lbs. lean ground beef
1 jar (28 oz.) spaghetti sauce
2 eggs
1 carton (15 oz.) ricotta cheese
16 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
1/2 c. shredded Parmesan cheese

1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, in large skillet, cook beef and onion over medium heat until beef is no longer pink; drain grease. Stir in spaghetti sauce. In a bowl, combine the eggs, ricotta cheese, 12 oz. of the mozzarella cheese, and the Parmesan cheese.
2. Drain pasta; add to cheese mixture and toss to coat. Spoon a third of the meat sauce into a greased 9x13 baking dish; top with half of the pasta mixture. Repeat layers; top with remaining meat sauce. Sprinkle remaining mozzarella on top of casserole.
3. Cover and bake at 375 for 45 minutes, until heated through. Let stand for a few minutes before serving.

Here is one little hint about this recipe. I like to buy fresh mozzarella, the kind that comes in a big chunk packed in liquid, and dice it up to use in this recipe. The little chunks end up as yummy, gooey pockets of goodness. Oh, and just use your favorite jarred spaghetti or marinara sauce in this recipe. You really can't go wrong. And, since there are only four in my family, instead of making this in a 9x13 dish, I usually make it in two smaller casserole dishes. We have one for dinner, and one goes into the freezer for a meal later in the month.