Need-to-Know Glue Techniques for Mixed Media Collage Artists

Learn the differences between matte medium, gel medium, and trusty ol’ glue sticks, and when to use each one.

I would say that one of my top asked questions is, “how do I get the bubbles out of my collage?” and, “what glue do I use?!” So in this video I want to share some insights into these questions, and share all of my favorite adhesives that I work with.

My go-to favorites for glue are matte medium and gel medium. Whether you’re working with tissue, magazines, or a heavier paper like watercolor/mixed media paper, these two mediums have got you covered.

One thing to remember is the weight of the paper you’re working with. For thinner paper like magazines or tissues, matte medium is perfect. It’s thin and spreads easily, ensuring your lightweight paper stays flat without any bubbles. For a heavier weight paper, or even ones with a lot more layers of paint, I’ll switch to gel medium for a thicker coating and stronger bond.

My must-have tool when working with these mediums is either my finger, a catalyst wedge, or a room key/old credit card. These help me smooth the papers and you’ll get a bubble-free result (almost) every time.

Now, if you have an issue with smearing or bleeding issues in your work? Then a workable fixative may be a game changer for you! A quick spray over markers or printer ink, and no more smearing.

For on-the-go collage-making, don’t underestimate a glue stick. They’re acid-free, travel-friendly, and surprisingly effective at providing a flat, bubble-free surface. Just spread it generously on your paper and you’re set.

Here’s an extra fun tip: I recommend storing your glues in smaller containers! Larger containers can lead to more exposure to air, which can dry out your glue pretty quickly! I personally love using a condiment bottle for my matte medium, just pour it, spread it, and you’re good to go! 


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Supplies Used

Nova Matte Medium and Gel 
Liquitex Matte Medium
Golden Gel Medium
Workable Fixative
Flat Brush
Mister Spray Bottle
Ranger Sketchbook
Hand Sanitizer 
Exacto Knife 
Deli Paper 

*Some links are affiliate links which pay a small commission to support the production of this art demo series, while not costing you anything more.

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All artwork is the sole property of Catherine Rains and is held under copyright, even after purchase.The images, artwork, and contents of this website may not be copied, collected, or used for personal or professional gain without the written permission from Catherine Rains. Images on this website taken by Laura Thompkins or Catherine Rains.