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Sticking With Mardi Gras

Carnival Crafts: Glue Guns Part I

It’s Carnival time! In addition to everyone having fun, the season also means that the time for costumes and crafts is upon us. Any New Orleanian who bleeds purple, green, and gold knows that the glue gun is a key tool in creation. NoDef is taking a look at the device so beloved by so many in the Dirty South. In this first installment, we run down the basic varieties of glue guns. In future pieces, we will look at specific models and then tips for use.


High Heat v. Low Heat

The obvious difference between these two options is temperature. High heat melts the glue around 380 degrees as opposed to 25 degrees for the low heat variety. The cooler variety works fine on light fabrics and thin plastics, but does not offer much durability. The hotter version offers a stronger bond and is better suited to wood and thicker materials. If you  have ever experienced the chaos of carnival, you will know that the high heat’s stronger bond is preferable for New Orleanians. (Of course, hotter is more dangerous. If you have kids around, the safer variety might be a good reserve for the little ones.)


Glue Feed

Guns come in manual or trigger feed options. As the name suggests, trigger feeds dispense the adhesive when the user pulls the trigger. Some higher end options allow for pressure sensitive triggers. Other mutations include the lever feed, a more mechanical trigger. On the other hand, manual feed guns require the user to backload the sticks and then slowly push. Purists might enjoy the latter, but for the rest of us, the trigger is much easier to use.


Cords (or Lack Thereof)

Like most power tools, glue guns come is wireless and corded models. The difference between the two is similar to other tools. The cordless variety is easier to maneuver given the lack of tether. However, they must be charged which means that your project might require a hiatus because you've run out of juice. The wired models tend to be a bit more durable and generally outlive their more mobile cousins. (Also, be prepared with an extension cord on hand.)


Glue Sticks

The size of the actual glue stick varies. Common sizes include 1/4 inch (6.3 mm), 5/16 inch (7.9 mm), 7/16 inch (11 mm), .44 inch (11 mm)

.45 inch (11 mm), .50 or 1/2 inch (13 mm), .625 or 5/8 inch (16 mm), 1 inch slug (25 mm), and 1 3/4 inch slug (44 mm). Most home crafters are not going to require anything an inch thick or above. Conversely, the 1/4 inch variety might be a bit light. Between, carnival costumers should be fine.

However, the most important factor may be availability. Be sure to check that local stores carry your chosen size before you purchase the gun. None wants to be waiting for an Amazon box on Lundi Gras.


Size Matters

Glue guns come in a host of sizes, but more often than not, the difference can be broken down to “mini” versus “full sized.” The mini glue guns are easy to use and fit into small spots. They also skew towards inexpensive price points. (Plus, they’re cute.) However, they are prone to breakage verging on being a disposable product. 

Full size models are much more sturdy and dispense far more adhesive. Of course, they are more difficult to maneuver.


What do you think? Let us know your opinion with a comment.

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Renard Boissiere, Evan Z.E. Hammond, Naimonu James, Wilson Koewing, J.A. Lloyd, Nina Luckman, Dead Huey Long, Alexis Manrodt, Joseph Santiago, Andrew Smith, Cynthia Via, Austin Yde


Art Director

Michael Weber, B.A.


Listings Editor

Linzi Falk

Editor Emeritus

Alexis Manrodt

B. E. Mintz

Stephen Babcock

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