Review by Tina Koyama
If I have a serious gluing need, such as making a collage, I pull out a gallon jug of acrylic medium. But for casual gluing needs, I want something quick, easy and, above all, not messy. I gave up on glue sticks because no matter how neatly I tried to apply them, I ended up with strings or globs of goo on my hands and on the paper where the glue didn’t belong. I guess it’s difficult for me to aim glue sticks accurately. My go-to for a few years has been the Tombow Mono Adhesive Tape Runner, which I still like, but sometimes I run it across a glossy or other odd paper surface, and the tape won’t adhere to it. It’s a bit finicky that way.
When you first open a new glue pen, the application tip is white. Before first use, it must be primed the way you would a paint pen: Pump the tip rapidly up and down on scrap paper. Soon the pale blue glue flows to the tip.
What makes the glue pens “2 way”? The “dual action” enables both a permanent and a temporary bond. I like the versatility of that – two types of gluing in one product.
First I tried the permanent bond: Apply the glue and adhere it while the glue still appears blue. You have to be quick – it starts changing from blue to transparent immediately. I waited a few minutes, then tried to pull the papers apart. One paper tore before they would separate, so the bonding is reasonably strong.
Then I tried the temporary bond: This time, I waited until the glue turned transparent before adhering the papers, which took only seconds. Again, I waited a few minutes after adhering. The papers pulled apart easily like Post-it notes, leaving a slightly tacky residue. The stickier side could be reapplied, again like a Post-it.
Finally I tried a real-world gluing task of the type I commonly have: attaching ephemera to a Leuchtturm 1917 journal page. In this case, it was our newspaper’s five-day weather report yet again forecasting variations of rain (ranging from “showers likely” to “scattered rain”) on all five days as it has for several weeks now (it’s getting tiresome even for this Seattle native). Normally I would apply glue to the ephemera, not the journal page, but the glue was not showing up well enough to photograph on the newspaper, so I tried applying it to the journal page instead. I’m sorry that my photo below doesn’t show the glue as blue. It’s very pale blue and changes rapidly to colorless; by the time I picked up my phone for the photo, most had already gone clear.
After waiting a few minutes, I tried to pull the newspaper clipping off the page. Where the glue had been freshly applied, the bond was firm, but in areas where the glue had been exposed for several seconds, the paper peeled off easily – the temporary bonding stage. If you intend a permanent bond, it’s critical that you adhere the papers immediately – even a few seconds is too long to wait.
I like the neatness and easily directed points on both glue pens. However, the speed at which I must get the adhesion completed is a bit daunting. For a permanent bond, I recommend these glue pens for very small snippets of paper only. If you need to glue something large, one end of the piece will be past the permanent bonding stage before you’ve applied glue to the opposite end. It’s ideal, though, if you want to make your own Post-it notes!
(Editor’s Note: We use these Zig Glue pens at work all the time but we mostly use them for adhering gems, ribbon and other ephemera rather than paper-to-paper gluing.)