When it comes to gluing multiple petals together such as when assembling a rose, attaching two floral parts together, securing floral wires into gumpaste grooves, stiffening threads for flower stamens, working with decorative and/or modeled pieces, making some repairs, etc., there are several choices available to you to accomplish this adhering/sticking process.
Egg Whites For Glue
For a very long time regular fresh egg whites have been the favorite glue for many gumpasters since the whites do not dissolve the gumpaste as easily as do other glues when they are applied. Strength is its forte, it goes on smoothly, and when it dries it is nearly invisible. With all that going for it there is no wonder that fresh egg whites have in the past been the glue of choice. But, because of growing concerns about salmonella, it is no longer considered safe to use and therefore it is no longer considered a good choice.
Not wanting to give up using egg whites so easily my investigation led me to a few grocery stores that carry Davidson’s Safest Choice™ Eggs (to find one in your area check out their store locator) which are pasteurized, therefore safe to use. An alternative would be to purchase any of the cartons of liquid pasteurized egg whites which you can find in the refrigerated section of your supermarket. These brands include: Eggology, Organic Valley Egg Whites, Trader Joe’s 100% Liquid Egg Whites etc.
Finally, powdered egg whites, which you reconstitute with water, can be used. To make a mixture that is equivalent to one egg white add 2 level teaspoons of powdered egg white to 2 tablespoons of warm water. FYI this mixture is not even close to how great real egg whites are.
Important Safety Note: Dispose of any remaining egg white after finishing each project.
The following choices for glue are all made without egg whites:
Commercially Made Glues
Commercially made glues such as JEM Petal Glue are handy because they are ready-to-go (no need to deal with cracking eggs or mixing things together), do not need to be refrigerated and last for several months. The down side is that if you are not careful and apply too much it can dissolve your gumpaste pieces. So, use care when working with it.
Tylose Powder Glue
Tylose powder (Methyl hydroxyethyl cellulose or Methyl hydroxypropyl cellulose) is a non-toxic, harmless chemical. It is a modified form of cellulose which is naturally present in plants. It is mixed with water to make edible glue.
This is one by the renowned gumpasting chef Nicholas Lodge.
Chef Nicholas Lodge’s Homemade Edible Glue
1 cup water
½ heaped teaspoon Tylose powder
Bring one cup of tap water to a rolling boil and remove from the heat.
Add 1/2 heaped teaspoon of Tylose powder to the water.
Stir well with a fork to break up the Tylose.
Allow to cool, stirring often to dissolve.
If necessary, place the mixture in the refrigerator overnight to allow the Tylose to dissolve.
Place in an airtight bottle when cool.
This has a shelf life of approximately 30 to 60 days, but will keep longer if kept refrigerated when not in use.
Edible Super Glue (Or Paste Glue)
This adhesive has a heavier consistency than the glues I have mentioned above. That quality makes this medium a better glue to use when gluing two fully dried pieces together or repairing a clean break in a thick piece. I would describe it as a “sugar solder” because it holds pieces together where the runnier alternative glues fail. I should mention it is not clear like the other glues but is instead “white” due to the amount of uncolored gumpaste used to make it. Using a colored gumpaste or adding a tiny bit of coloring or petal dust will change that.
This recipe consists of taking about a one to two teaspoon-sized pieces of gumpaste and breaking it (them) into tiny pieces into a Pyrex measuring cup. Add two teaspoons of Tylose Powder Glue (see above TPG recipe) and crush the small pieces with the back of a spoon until they start to dissolve a bit. In order to dissolve the mixture completely, place it in the microwave for a few seconds then stir it around until it melts. Slowly repeat the process until there are no lumps remaining. Once it has reached the consistency of a very sticky Elmer’s glue transfer it into an airtight container. You can store this glue mixture in the refrigerator for up to a week. To reuse it after it has been refrigerated place the container in the microwave for only a couple of seconds at a very low setting which will soften it up again. Be very careful not to get the mixture too hot or you could burn yourself.
BRUSHES FOR GUMPASTE GLUE
There is no need to spend and arm and a leg on high quality brushes for gluing. One suggestion is to use plastic children’s artist brushes with nylon bristles that can easily be found at any craft store. What I have found to be even better are the 3 ¼” disposable lipstick applicators which are fabulous for this purpose. They have nice little short handles which work perfectly with the empty nail polish bottle in which I store my glue. Both types of brushes are reasonably priced, so if you choose to use them only once and then discard them you won’t be breaking your bank. If you decide to reuse them, I would definitely clean them in very hot water with a solution of detergent & bleach. Or try placing them in the dishwasher to sanitize them.
Source for Disposable Lipstick Brushes: I found several vendors on eBay selling 25 brushes for only a couple of dollars (plus free shipping) :D! If you like them I found a vendor on eBay who sells 200 for only $17.00 dollars. A little more expensive source is on Amazon.
BOTTLES FOR STORING GLUE
Empty nail polish bottles are perfect for storing glues that have a long shelf life. They hold just the right amount and it is easy to get the glue out with a brush (quite like when painting your nails). I tried finding these bottles at a few local beauty supply stores, but with no luck, so I ended up purchasing them online. I personally do not like the brushes that come with the bottles, so I remove them immediately and just use my disposable lipstick applicators. Be sure to clean the bottle thoroughly when finished with the glue or when it has reached its “use by” date. One trick I have come up with is to mark the date that it needs to be used by (one week from the day you make your glue) on a piece of tape I have previously adhered to the bottle. That way there can be no confusion.