I get a lot of emails from people having trouble making the flat marbles or other decorations on their garden art projects stick or adhere, so I’ve written up this page with my best tips and trouble-shooting information. You should find a solution in these 6 tips.
Six tips to be sure things stick
1. Use the right product. I am a fan of GE Silicone II sealant (must be waterproof, clear, outdoor for Gutter/Flashing or Windows/Doors) for most outdoor garden art projects.
You have to willing to experiment and find what works best in your climate and, if you find something that works long term, keep using it!
For new crafters, I suggest you try the GE Silicone II first: it seems to have the highest success rate amongst crafters. There are also a few other product suggestions listed below in the Frequently Asked Questions section (below).
2. Make sure the product is fresh (check the Use By date on the container).
3. Ensure that the product has not been stored in a hot or cold area. If it’s runny when you apply it, it’s not good and will not work.
4. Make sure the surface of the globe or jar (or whatever you’re using as a base) is clean, dry, and grease-free.
5. Apply the silicone sealant according to the project instructions. For most projects such as garden art balls and totems, apply it at least 1/4? thick.
Press the flat marbles into the silicone sealant and allow it to smoosh around them. It will fill in the areas between the marbles appearing like an opaque grout. As it dries, it grabs the marbles, holding them in place.
6. Make use of gravity. If your marbles are sliding off while you’re working, you may be working against gravity. Start at the lowest part of the base, applying one row at a time. The next row will sit on the one below and the marbles won’t shift while the silicone sealant is drying.
Read the label carefully before you buy! There are so many different types of sealants and caulking….
Use The Right Product
- I use GE Silicone II sealant (waterproof, clear, outdoor for Gutters and flashing or Windows and doors) for most of my garden art projects. This specific type and brand of sealant works very well to hold items together including glass, wood, and metal.
- It is sold in home improvement stores in the caulking section. You can buy it in a tube or a cartridge that uses a caulking gun. The cartridges are about half the cost of the tubes.
- I make garden art items that I leave outside, year-round, through the Canadian summer heat and winter wet and cold. I do not want to have to bring them indoors for half the year so I like a product that forms a strong, long-lasting bond.
- While there are other products that may work as well, I recommend this specific one because it always works for me. There are two other suggested products (below) although I have not extensively tested them myself.
- If you’re new to making garden art projects like garden balls , totems, garden treasure jars, and dish flowers, these tips should help you succeed. They are all easy projects but do require the right product and technique provided in the tips here as well as the project instructions on this site.
- I do not receive any compensation from GE for recommending this product – I just really like how it works – but the product links here are to my Amazon affiliates account.
Health and Safety Considerations
- Before using any product, read the product label and follow the manufacturer’s health and safety guidelines.
- Most products like this one require working in a well-ventilated area.
- Know ahead of time how to clean up any leftover product, and how to remove it from your skin or eyes.
- If making a garden art project with children, only adults should handle the silicone sealant.
Frequently Asked Questions
My silicone sealant says ‘clear’ on the label but it’s not clear – is something wrong?
- No, you are correct. It does not dry clear, but instead has an opaque quality. If you want something that will truly dry clear, you may want to try other products. I don’t have any to recommend that I like. Plus, I don’t mind that the sealant is somewhat visible.
I can’t complete the project all at once. Can I pause and finish later?
- Yes, you can stop but first make sure you’ve applied marbles to all of the silicone you have applied so it doesn’t go to waste. Once it’s dry, you can’t make it sticky again, and you will have to peel it off and apply fresh sealant.
- When you’re ready to do more, simply continue applying selant and adding flat marbles.
My marbles are sliding off the globe! My marbles fell off!
I get emails asking for help with adhesive problems and it usually comes down to one of the factors listed above in Six Tips To Be Sure Things Stick.
Are there any other products I can try?
- I have received emails saying E6000 works very nicely for some people and not for others. I know others like to use DAP. It may come down to climate. People in really humid areas like Florida have a hard time keeping whatever product they use from becoming too warm. When adhesives and sealants get too warm, they separate into a gel-like liquid and that does not work properly.
- I have not had any problems with GE Silicone II here in Canada where we have cold winters and humid summers.
- Favourite seed starting supplies
- Favourite garden art-making supplies
- Favourite gardening books / reference materials
- Favourite photography and editing gear
- Favourite garden gear (perhaps not what you’d expect)
- Favourite adhesive for outdoor garden art projects
- Favourite products for attracting and feeding wild birds
- Favourite organizing and decluttering resources
- Favourite home cleaning kit supplies
- eBook Empress of Dirt Garden Art & Ideas (Book One)
- eBook Fabric Dyeing 101: Simple Instructions for Beautiful Fabrics