Disaster—Heads UP Blue is the New Purple

July 27, 2013

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Readers of this blog will know that my go-to glue for collage in my journals is PURPLE UHU Gluestick. It goes on purple, dries clear. I burnish my pieces down and put them under a weight to dry for a bit (usually an hour or whenever I come back to the journal that day) and the stuff keeps things stuck to all manner of pages, even heavily sized watercolor papers. And it keeps things stuck down even when I turn the page and start painting with sloppy wet watercolor washes, the moisture of which seeps through the page.

In short I have loved this glue for longer than I can remember.

Note: You can read about how I feel about the various glues and adhesives on the market in a more indepth post here: Glue and the Xyron Machine and Other Sticky Stuff: Sticking Things into Your Journal.)

Purple UHU also doesn't smell.

Which is key to me.

Then last week I ran out so I called Wet Paint to get some. Darin (the manager) told me they just had BLUE.

BLUE! I wondered about that, stopped by and smelled it. IT SMELLED WORSE THAN THE WHITE UHU!


Dazed I left the store and returned home with other glue sticks to try, but not very hopeful.

I looked on line and found that Blick carried it on line and called the local store. They had "a lot" the kid who answered their phone said.

I went over and a lot turned out to be about 15 sticks of the largest size and some various smaller sticks. As I reached up to pull down an entire box of 12 the other glue sticks slid down into place. They were all the BLUE.

I called a friend (who might not want to be known) and he did a little checking for me. According to his sources Blue is the NEW Purple.


I have 12 large sticks of Purple UHU. I know I have told you all again and again not to get comfortable, that supplies come and go. I just never felt it would be my gluestick. Paper, paints, brushes, pencils—yes, yes, yes, yes. But my glue stick?

I could go back to Blick and buy up all the smaller sticks of Purple UHU, but I don't know how long a shelf life the unopened sticks will have. I can't even get my head around where and how I would store it.

I am not advising you to go out and stockpile. (Though many of you think 12 large sticks is stockpiling—but really I'll be out of it in no time.) I'm writing about this today to give you a heads up.

If finding a new glue (because you also use Purple UHU for the wonderful reasons I do) wasn't on your radar now it is. Get out there and experiment, find a new glue that works for what you need.

If it doesn't smell, please give me a shout. (And no I don't and won't use Yes! Paste as it is smellier than I care for, messy, and I find that it warps lightweight papers too much.)

When my Purple sticks run out I am going to use WHITE UHU until I find a substitute. WHITE UHU smells offensive to me so it isn't what I consider a long term solution. It does seem to have the same properties as the Purple, however so that's something. Sigh.

So far I have ruled out the following:

Yasamoto tube of some sort of paste—it has a floral odor and some weird instructions that I don't recall.

Scotch Wrinkle-Free Glue Stick (Clear in a small stick—point against for the small stick, makes application tedius on large pieces). It seems to be wrinkle-free and it doesn't smell badly (two points in favor). It is very tacky in it's application, making it messy, sticky, and slow. (All Deal BREAKERS.) Pretty much all the Scotch glue sticks I've tried over the years haven't worked for me for one reason or another—there was a purple one for photos that didn't hold photo paper down, and all of them have been small sticks. I like the wider stick to cover more ground quickly. Unless someone reports that they have found a large wonder glue stick from Scotch I won't even spend my money on testing other products from them.

Elmer's Photo Sticks—smelly and messy on application.

Tombow Aqua Mono Liquid Glue—with a pen tip and a broad tip. This is liquid and the pen tip is useless for me. The broad tip is interesting (a small supply hole surrounded by plastic bristles that create a spreading tip of 3/8 inch width or so). While it allows you to feed and spread the liquid along it doesn't move easily on all papers, needs a lot of movement to cover a large area, is messier than glue stick (gets on your fingers more as you pick things up), and has a tendency to SEEP out from under your item as you burnish it in place—Deal Breaker for me, as well as the narrowness of the "broad tip." The smell is very faint and almost unnoticeable for people bothered by smells who want a glue like this. I have tested a lot of different papers and the lighterweight ones are more altered by this liquid glue than I like (or than happens with glue stick). I also wouldn't use it for that reason. The items aren't through drying though, so I haven't tested how they hold up when you paint on the reverse side. Check back in a couple days for an update on that aspect. Not something I'll continue to use, even though it holds up to the smell test!—Note: After about 6 hours of drying in a closed, weighted book with waxed paper separating the pages the glue is still not dry! This never happens with PURPLE UHU. Also the pages feel damp because they have been redistributing the moisture. The thin papers have warped a bit, even under pressure. All the different paper types seem to have stuck fine, so that's good. However the glue now has a stronger smell than when it went on, perhaps because of being closed in the book. I'm not happy with that at all. Definitely not the glue for me.

    • Chris
    • July 27, 2013

    Are you considering only glue STICKS for convenience?
    I bought one of those applicators you fill with a liquid glue and it rolls on. I found it
    a little messy, but I didnt’ use it that often and then the roller had to be cleaned. You glue all the time. You didn’t mention PVA either. I don’t detect a smell there, but I’m guessing you did.

  1. Reply

    Chris, here’s a post about how I approach gluing

    and how I feel about the various types of glues and adhesives on the market. I’m going to add the link to the post.

    • Michelle
    • July 27, 2013

    Have you tried Tombow Mono Adhesive ?
    It’s permanent and doesn’t have a smell, not that I can detect.

    • Kimberly
    • July 27, 2013

    I wholeheartedly recommend Coccoina. I first heard about it on Kelly Kilmer’s blog, she’s a big fan and like you, is really bothered by strong, toxic-type smells.

    Product description:
    The Coccoina Almond Scented Glue Stick is non-toxic, non-solvent, and acid free. Best of all it smells like marzipan, an almond-based confection popular in Italy for making sweets.

    It’s kind of hard to find, but worth the effort. I’ve ordered from before and have no complaints.

  2. Reply

    Michelle, the Tombow Mono Adhesive I’ve tried is the one mentioned in this post—”Aqua.” Is there another one in stick form? With a wide application head? If so and you have a product link to it somewhere I’d love to know and I’ll check into it. The liquid Aqua one didn’t work for me.

    Thanks so much for writing in!

  3. Reply

    Roz, tombow also makes a glue stick that I like as we’ll or better than UHU, although I haven’t put it to the tests you do. I will see if I can find a link for it and come back to you.

  4. Reply

    The applicator looks different than mine, so I don’t know whether the formulation has changed with it or not:

  5. I originally came here because of a post and link on Dianne Carey’s blog, Art Beneath the Cottonwoods. However, this current post intrigued me because at one time I was a UHU design team Gluer.

    UHU America changed the way they do things back in 2012, when “they” (Saunders, the UHU distributor in the US), without any notice or indication of change, shut the UHU web site down, and made UHU a part of the Saunders organization. So, the fact the color has changed would not have initially surprised me, except for the fact that UHU is made by a company called UHU GmbH in Germany.

    It seems Blue is the new Purple in Germany. It also washes out with water.

    According to the UHU site, “UHU Magic glue stick, the convenient, clean and solvent-free glue stick that lets you see where the glue is. Its colour is visible upon application but becomes clear when dry. Fast, durable and economical. Its unique screw cap prevents from drying out. Spreads easily and sticks immediately. Washes out easily with cold water. For use in the home, at school and in the office.”

    I see this as a real problem for those of us who work in mixed media. I can’t imagine UHU glue washing out when the back side of the page has been “watered down” with paint or other wet products. This truly saddens me.

    BTW, as long as the glue has not been opened, I’ve had glue sticks stay for three years. Of course, mine are also the large ones, so I’m not sure about the small ones. I’ve had a small one, and it turned pale about half way through. It may have been I didn’t close the lid properly, but I have no idea why it lost its gluing power so quickly.

    I hope that made sense, because I have no real advice, other than to buy as much of the purple as possible, and hope for the best with the blue when the purple runs out.

    Now I’m off to find the original post Dianne was talking about (grin).

  6. Reply

    Cheryl, thanks for the heads up about this tombow glue stick (different from their liquid one). I will add it to my list of things to check out. I wish it were in a larger stick as a small stick like the one at the link you showed will take me forever to glue out the large sheets I tip in, but if it works it will be worth it. Thanks!

  7. Reply

    Bleubeard and Elizabeth I’m glad you found your way here through Diane and thank you for the insight into the company acquisitions of UHU!

    What I have loved about the Purple UHU is that it won’t release when I paint on the opposite side of the page and I’m having difficulty finding glue sticks that perform this way. But the BLUE replacement stick smells SO OFFENSIVE that there is no way that I could ever use it without airing my journal out for days on end between gluings. And I need to use my journal daily.

    I’m very heartened by your comments of how long you’ve got the purple sticks to last. I purchased 12 of the large ones and have them in double plastic bags all unopened. I’m been very careful to completely close the one in current use. (I typically was more cavalier about that and it would dry out a bit as I got to the end, now of course I want ever bit to last.)

    I’ll keep looking for a replacement with the 11 standbys are all gone.


    • Lisa Ridolfi
    • July 28, 2013

    Hi Roz, for what it’s worth, I checked the UHU display in my local Blick today because of your post. When comparing the scents, I tried a white UHU stick and found it to have no scent! I bought it and compared at home to my older stick of white UHU. The old one has a decidedly perfumey scent (which doesn’t bother me as much as it does you) but the new one seems entirely unscented. It could have just been a variation in the manufacture of this batch, but it may be worth sniffing a few white sticks to see if you notice a lack of scent in them, which might be a trend. At any rate, I hope you find a substitute for the purple sticks.

  8. Reply

    The tombow glue stick used to come in larger sizes. The one I have is 1.23 oz, and I think there might have been one even larger. I don’t know if it still comes in larger sizes or not. I used to buy it at scrapbook stores.

  9. Reply

    Lisa, thank you for the heads up about the new batch of WHITE UHU. I didn’t test any from the store because I assumed they had not changed the white glue stick and it has, as you point out a decidedly perfumey scent which bothers me.

    I give it some time for the old white stock to be rotated and then check out the white. I have an old white stick here (i.e., it’s only a couple weeks old but is perfumey) and I find it impossible to use it unless the book can be put away for a little bit of time (right now that’s actually possible because I have an injured elbow and I’m not carrying my journal, but only little bits of paper to sketch on).

    I will definitely check into this! Thanks for the heads up.

  10. Reply

    Cheryl, I will look into this for larger sizes. I didn’t see it at my usual haunts so I might have to seek it out on the internet. I appreciate the heads up.

    • Michelle
    • July 29, 2013

    No, it’s not that one. It’s not liquid, it’s a rolls on like old correction tape. I tried to use html to post a link on Saturday but it didn’t work.
    Here’s a shortened link:

    If you get good coverage on the paper to be glued, it seems to hold fairly well, but I haven’t done extensive testing. I’m a bit less rigorous with my testing than you. 🙂

  11. Reply

    Thanks Michelle, I’ll check out the link. Something that goes on link correction tape, however, is probably not going to work for me. I have to cover vast areas as quickly as possible so I really need a wide stick. All the tape type delivery systems I’ve used so far all have undone when painted on the backside of the sheet. But I’ll look into it.

    I caught this message before editing options ran out—I checked the link. Yes I have used that type before and they aren’t suitable for the vast areas I need and the wet media that will go on the next page—they come undone.

    However, this is what I use to quickly do the paste up for the printing master at the Portrait Party every January. It’s fast, quick, and holds enough with a strip at the top and bottom of the “pages” so it’s great for that.


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