Superglue and the shattering of expectations

>>Superglue and the shattering of expectations

The old folk at the Ace Hardware think I sniff glue. LOTS of glue. They’re amazed my brain hasn’t exploded.


Maybe I should explain.

I love doing tackfuses, where you heat the glass only enough to make it stick together, not fuse into a flat piece. Superglue is one of the best ways I know to hold a tackfuse together while you’re constructing it, and since those little tubes of superglue seem to self-destruct about ten minutes after opening, I go through a couple of fresh tubes every studio session.

In other words, I use a LOT of superglue. I also like to support locally owned shops like the Ace hardware down the way, staffed by what appears to be half the retirement community of glassland.

Inside, it’s kinda reminiscent of the old crackerbarrel country stores I used to see on TV when I was a kid. I like that, so I’ve been buying ALL my superglue there, even if it costs a bit more. I tend to visit every month or so, head for aisle 3, pile every single superglue package into my arms and hit the checkout.

Naturally, this causes comment. My white-haired, 90-years-older-than-rock sales clerk peers disapprovingly at my two foot stack of superglue packages. “What do you DO with all that superglue, young lady?”

“Oh,” I say breezily, “I’m a sculptor. Glass sculptor. We use superglue to hold the glass together until we can fuse it into shape.”

“Izzat so?” he replies, with a look of surprise, then gestures to his (older) fellow employee. “She’s a SCULPTOR. That’s why she cleans us out of SUPERGLUE.”

“Never buys the GEL, though,” the buddy says suspiciously, “I would think a SCULPTOR would use the gel.” And he squints reproachfully in my direction, apparently hoping I’ll blush and confess what I’m really doing with it. I can all but see the wheels in their heads spelling out G-L-U-E-S-N-I-F-F-E-R.*

We’ve done this maybe 20 times, to the point that I can rap lightly on the door after hours and–if one of the old geezers is there–they’ll unlock the door and sell me my fix.

That routine never changed…until last weekend. My colleagues Shelby and Carla came over to learn about tackfuses (more about that on Monday) but I was out of superglue.

The day before, I’d put the last tube in my jacket pocket to remind me to stop off at the Ace for more. The cap flew off, coating a perfectly good linen jacket pocket with cyanoacrylate (maybe I can embroider over it or something) and gluing my fingers together. I was so busy unsticking them that I forgot to buy new glue.

“Just hold tight,” I told the women as I headed for the car, “I’m going for superglue.”

CherryBaby zipped me over to the Ace, I jumped out….and was stopped by a young guy, about 20.

“We close,” he said meaningfully, “In exactly ONE MINUTE……….ma’am.”

“Where are the guys that are usually here?” I asked.

“We close,” he repeated, “In exactly ONE MINUTE.”

“Then isn’t it lucky that I didn’t walk through that door sixty seconds from now?” I responded.


I strode to aisle 3, pulled some superglue packs off the shelf and made my way to checkout. An even younger guy was waiting at the register, and his eyes grew wide as I stacked maybe 20 tubes of superglue on the counter.

‘Whoa,” he said, eyeballing me with approval, “Cool.” He put his thumb to a nostril and snorted appreciatively, just in case I didn’t get the message.

Why do I feel as if a significant piece of my life just ended?

*For the record, I don’t buy the gel because it’s too thick. If you get the runny kind of superglue you can squeeze a dot right next to the piece of glass, and capillary action will neatly suck it underneath for a perfect bond. Use gel and it’ll just sit next to the glass like a puddle of…gel.



  1. Keryn April 26, 2011 at 7:36 pm - Reply

    Hi all – I was looking for some info regarding the use of superglue and tac fusing- fantastic. But could somebody please tell me does the superglue leave any residue? or casue de-vit?. Many thanks and keep up the fantastic work Cynthia!!!!! Cheers

    • Cynthia April 26, 2011 at 8:07 pm - Reply

      Hi, Keryn, and welcome! Superglue will leave a residue…sometimes, usually when you really don’t want it. I’ve found the trick is to not use too much (and truly, it shouldn’t take much), and to try and place it where you’re not using paler transparent colors of glass, just to be on the safe side. Truly, though, I’ve used it quite a bit and generally it burns off. When it does leave a residue, it’s a whitish scum between the layers of glass. I suspect moisture may have something to do with it–superglue does NOT like water–so I make sure that any glass I apply it to is perfectly dry.

      On the devit, I’ve never seen superglue accelerate devit, but then I mostly use it between layers, where there’s not going to be a devit issue in any case. I’m fairly careful at removing it from outside surfaces, but even when I haven’t it hasn’t seemed to cause much problem. Again, I’m apply it to clean, dry glass.

  2. chaniarts April 25, 2011 at 12:39 pm - Reply

    they do have a lifespan. i keep mine in the fridge in a ziplock with desiccant (they kick off from the humidity in the air i think). i order a lot of off the net and they must be NOS, so the superglue tube provided is sometimes solid rather than liquid.

  3. Cynthia April 22, 2011 at 10:21 pm - Reply

    Well, I followed Chaniarts’ advice and bought 50 tubes on ebay…and the guy kindly threw in an extra 50. Some of them look a bit old but I suspect that I’m set up with superglue for awhile.

    A week, at least. 😉

  4. barbara cashman April 22, 2011 at 2:46 pm - Reply

    BTW…I meant to mention, Cynthia, that I really like the little .10 oz bottles. They have a screw cap and don’t clog or dry up like the tubes. Last a long time, and don’t leak. However, I didn’t see that model listed on the ebay site. Interesting, tho.

  5. Dee Janssen April 13, 2011 at 7:21 pm - Reply

    LOLOL i think maybe you need to have a bit of fun with those youngins’ that have taken over your favorite ace hardware 😉

  6. chaniarts April 13, 2011 at 12:56 pm - Reply

    no kidding:

    50 tubes. current auction price including shipping is $9.54

  7. joi April 13, 2011 at 8:29 am - Reply

    methinks its time to start buying that stuff in bulk… on the internet ;o)

  8. gary April 13, 2011 at 7:57 am - Reply

    Wouldn’t your nostrils stick together? Sniffing superglue(tm) seems to be somewhat self-defeating.

    Snort. Snort. “Oh crap…By Does is Thtuck.”

  9. Barbara Cashman April 13, 2011 at 6:51 am - Reply

    For the record, Cynthia…I checked with the tech dept of SuperGlue sometime back when questions were raised about releasing cyanide gas when the glue was heated. I got pretty much the same response from the tech guy as you…”You’re doing WHAT with the glue???” Answer: It would take more than your 20 packages of glue at a time to release enough gas to measure. Just nipping the rumor in the bud in case someone comments in that direction. PS, I get 2 vials of SG at the Dollar Store for a buck, in case someone is bargain-shopping.

  10. Terrie Corbett April 13, 2011 at 6:47 am - Reply

    Good morning, Cynthia! Reading your blog is always a nice way to “kick start” my day! Thanks! Have a good one!


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