Pop goes da weasel

Startling adhesive failure...but I saved the glass!


Ever had one of those moments of sheer, utter astonishment, where your mouth drops open all the way down to your ankles and stays there?

That was me on Monday, thanks to the artwork pictured above. The rightmost panel quietly separated itself from its hanger and came off in my hands…while I was rehanging it. Since it’s been hanging perfectly well on that same wall for more than three years, I was, uhm, kinda taken aback.

I made this triptych back in 2007, and described the process on this blog. These aren’t small pieces; they’re about a half-inch thick and 10×36 inches apiece. They’re also probably my favorite abstract frit painting, which is why I hung them on the fireplace wall in my office. I used the Hang Your Glass hangers, one per panel, and they’ve hung there quietly for more than three years.

I took them down about three months ago to be photographed and then to spend one evening with kitchen and bath designers.They’ve been sitting in my studio, well-swathed in bubble wrap and carefully packed in a carryall, ever since.

Yesterday my friend Rinee stopped in for a visit, asked where the panels were, and we trundled downstairs to put them back over the fireplace. I carefully set the first into its wall mount, peered around the back to make sure it was secure…and the entire panel came away from the hanger and slid into my hands.

That’s when my jaw hit the floor.

If I’d simply slipped it in and walked away, would the panel have fallen onto the granite hearth? Or fallen later, in the middle of the night? Only a tiny smidgen of cured adhesive remained on the hanger–the rest was still on the glass. If there was a problem with the surfaces (Hang Your Glass glue hates any kind of grease), or the glue was old, why did it wait MORE THAN THREE YEARS to fail?

We decided not to hang the other two until I figure out what happened (duh). But I’m wondering if traveling or being stored weakened the adhesive. Or if it aged. Or if maneuvering on and off the hanger added some shear force that weakened the bond…?

I do know that I’m not rehanging the other two until I figure out what’s going on. And I gotta admit, I’m now wondering what might be happening to all those OTHER pieces I’ve mounted this way. Sigh. I’ll call the HYG people and see if they can figure it out.

In the meantime, ideas, anybody?



  1. Marilyn August 16, 2014 at 3:58 pm - Reply

    Beautiful panels and am glad I happened upon this as I was just about to order some HYg ! Am currently using a picture ledge from ikea on studio walls for small 12×12 , but want to hang longer work!
    Any solutions anyone? Bueller.
    Am terrified of having something fall! I will get an email a year later if a pendant chain scratches or something, so don’t want dissatisfied or injured glass peeps!

  2. Laura January 6, 2011 at 3:49 pm - Reply

    I did send Poppy an email, because she’s always been great whenever I’ve had a question or needed help. I have this horror of a piece of glass falling on someone as they’re climbing up those stairs…could happen with any type of install, yet HYG was the best looking, most flexible system for what I had made. I can’t for the life of me figure out what alternate hanging system I’d go to, though. Oh well, if it ain’t broke, I’m not going to fix it. I’ll let you know if I get any information that could help others.

  3. Cynthia January 6, 2011 at 1:07 pm - Reply

    I’d never had a failure, either, which is why I was so concerned. I’ve been trying to isolate any variables and the only thing I can come up with so far is that the failed piece has a rougher surface than the other two. My waterjet cutter had a misfire that ruined the edge of this piece, so he corrected it and refired it for me.

    It came back with a rougher surface, as if it had been fired on fiber paper. The other two have the original smooth kilnwash surface and still seem to be intact. I’m wondering now if there was less surface contact to begin with. Something like HXTAL fills in the spaces–not sure if the HYG adhesive does.

    So, I wouldn’t panic about it yet. Between work and illness, I haven’t had time to contact Poppy about the problem directly–these are pieces I did for my office fireplace, so I wasn’t in a real rush. But that’s a bad mistake on my part when I’ve blogged about the problem. I’ll give her a buzz and ask. If you’re concerned, you might want to do that, too.

  4. Laura January 6, 2011 at 10:35 am - Reply

    Now I’m concerned: I have two 5 foot tall glass letters (an S and a T, a spa’s logo), each letter broken into 3 sections, that are hanging on a wall in the business’ stairwell. The highest point where one letter hangs is about 15 feet off the floor. The glass has been hanging there for about 3.5 years. They’re never touched by anyone since they’re up that high. Now I’m wondering if I should contact the spa owner to change out the hanging system? I’ve used HYG for years, and have never had a failure. What could I go to as an alternative, when these letters are curved?

  5. sunny strapp September 18, 2010 at 3:29 pm - Reply

    Hi ya C,
    have been trying glues ever since I was a kid. Never met anything that could withstand water over the years, except really tightly done silicone. We have mosaics -non grouted- disintegrate after years of being hung in “damp” -albeit- not rainy, circumstances. Window cleaner is direct death to the two component epoxies that I’ve used. Lately I have been using Weldbond for everything, and it seems to hang in there pretty well if you can keep the humidity and moisture away. I don’t know if that is vital for the product, but it is working.

    lucky you with those beautiful pieces.

  6. maria livrone September 14, 2010 at 3:41 pm - Reply

    Cynthia…this worries me too, as I use HYG hardware. Please post final thoughts/answers when you get them…thanks.

  7. Cynthia September 13, 2010 at 11:28 pm - Reply

    Well, I’m beginning to sour on hanging adhesives, certainly. I don’t know if I’ve got a cleaning problem (I wouldn’t think so, my cleaning processes are extensive), or just what, but I’m increasingly going back to mechanical hanging systems.

    Chani, I don’t think the panels got very hot in the garage, but I suppose I could be mistaken.

    I’ve got this new job thing going on right now which is taking up a lot of time, but I need to get to the bottom of this. Definitely.

  8. chaniarts September 9, 2010 at 12:35 pm - Reply

    adhesives age more quickly in higher temps. were these stored somewhere that it got hotter than usual for an extended period of time?

  9. sarah September 9, 2010 at 8:02 am - Reply

    I would go to CRL for some hangers that you don’t have to glue to the glass. I have also heard, but not personally experienced, very good things about hxtal which is sold at HisGlassworks.

  10. Jerry Jensen September 8, 2010 at 12:38 pm - Reply

    I’ve cut spots into the surface to help hold the adhesive or other fittings. the wg board has suggested ruffing the metal and glass to get better adhesion. I wonder who would have more experience with adhesives, perhaps Juno or Ray.

  11. ellen abbott September 8, 2010 at 9:25 am - Reply

    I think the adhesive aged. That’s the trouble with new products. they can only do so much testing and no one really knows what is going to happen over time. I would be worried about all the others you’ve used that adhesive on.

    I used to use a UV setting clear adhesive in my architectural work. Turned out that condensation over time caused it to fail and little pieces of glass, bevels and jewels started popping off. Obviously when the problems became apparent, the company went out of business. A guy I know used it to glue glass together for fountains and they started falling apart as well, only much quicker. I use a much better quality adhesive now.

  12. Cynthia Oliver September 8, 2010 at 8:08 am - Reply

    I have this image of glass pieces falling off walls en mass as we reach the limits, time-wise of the adhesive used by HYG systems…and falling without provocation, or with just a little provocation, and this is when the answers come back….’We tested the bonding agent, but we don’t really know what happens over time.”

    I’m a cynic on occasion. I fear it’s age. I know my adhesive (collagen) is failing. The evidence is in the drape-like appearance of my skin.

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