I shared this wreath making lifesaver on my Facebook page last week for Wreath-Making Tip Tuesday, and today I’m writing to let you know exactly why a glue gun wasn’t cutting it for me anymore. If you’re thinking about getting an electric skillet glue pan for your wreath making business, keep reading and I’ll cover what to look for, how hot to keep it, and even how to get rid of those darn glue strings!
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Why I Don’t Use Glue Guns for Wreath Making Anymore
I just want to start out by saying I don’t think there’s anything wrong with using a hot glue gun for your wreath making. Hot glue works exactly the same whether it’s heated up in the glue gun or in an electric glue pan.
But if you’re interested in starting a business and not making wreaths just for yourself or as a hobby, you know that a huge part of profitability is production time.
And you may think that an electric skillet would be worse in that regard because it takes a lot longer to heat up a whole handful of gluesticks. But here’s why my wreath making is actually FASTER with a glue pan instead of glue guns.
The way a glue gun works is that the metal tip heats up the part of the glue stick that’s inside and right behind it – meaning you only have maybe an inch of glue stick heated up at a time. On small projects, that’s not an issue. But when you are going through enough glue to hold together a wreath that is likely to be shipped across the country, you need a LOT of glue. (I buy about 200 glue sticks at a time if that tells you anything!)
And if you’re working efficiently, you’re going to be using that glue faster than a glue gun can get the next inch heated. One solution for that is to have two or three glue guns going at the same time. Use all the heated stuff, move on to the next, and hopefully by the time you get back around to the first one, the glue is heated enough to use.
I did this for a while. But let me tell you, it was a right pain in the butt.
You’ve got cords everywhere. You need close enough space to plug them in. You need room on your workspace for them. And you keep knocking them over. After a while of that, I just had to find a better way.
That’s when I made the switch to a glue pan. And you better believe I am never going back. Now my workstation is more clear, and once I have the glue heated, I can finish a whole project without having to wait for the next section of the stick to melt.
Sound like something you need for your business? Alright! Let’s go figure out what to look for – yes, there is a wrong kind!
What Kind of Glue Pan Should You Get?
If you’ve been watching my videos for a while you know I’m not using anything fancy for my glue pan. In fact, I frequently mention – it’s just a regular electric cooking skillet! You can find them just about anywhere.
But there are a few things to look for and consider before you pick one out, so don’t run to Walmart just yet.
1. The absolute most important thing you need to look for is an electric skillet that has a temperature dial.
Mine goes from 275 – 425 degrees. I get asked all the time from wreath maker’s watching my videos – what temperature do I set my glue pan at?
But there isn’t just one correct temperature for melting a pile of glue sticks. It depends on a lot of factors (see below). That’s why you need to have a glue pan with an adjustable temperature dial.
I also recommend a nonstick griddle over something more porous. You’re going to get messy with it and craft debris is going to end up in the pan. If you’re using a nonstick skillet, that junk is probably less likely to get caught on the bottom of the pan and burn.
Disclaimer: I have only used a non-stick skillet for hot glue. This observation is purely what has worked for me and what I think might happen with a different metal. If you use a different kind of pan, let me know how it goes!
2. Consider the size of your workstation, your projects, and what glue sticks you use.
Most of these electric skillets come in 8-9″ or 12″. Either size will work just fine. But YOU may have different needs, so let’s work through them.
First, what size glue sticks do you use? This one’s not too big a deal, because if you get a package of longer ones, you can just cut them in half before you throw them in the pan. But if you have a bog stockpile of the longer ones, it will probably save you time to just get the bigger pan.
Second, what kind of projects are you doing? Dipping floral stems adds up to a good amount of glue, but not nearly as fast as if you’re covering big chunks of foam. Consider how much glue you use for a project and how quickly you go through it.
But the third and most important thing to consider is your work station.
Unlike a glue gun, this whole pan gets hot. You need to make sure you have a good level surface for it that’s close enough to reach easily, but not so close that you’re going to burn yourself on it every time you move.
If you have a smaller workstation, you’re going to have to get a smaller pan. But, I’ll be honest guys, even I usually use an 8″ glue pan.
Using Your Electric Skillet Glue Pan
First things first, wreath makers. Get rid of the glass lid. Once you melt glue in this pan, you can’t put the lid back on. The glue will harden as the pan cools, and then you can’t get the lid back off.
And you can’t use this pan for cooking once you’ve melted glue into it, so there’s no reason to even keep the lid.
Next, you’ll need something to set your skillet on. I use a big tile from the hardware store. That will keep your workspace free of glue drippings and safe from the heat of the pan.
Now to find the right temperature.
How Hot Should Your Electric Skillet Glue Pan Be?
There’s going to be a lot of trial an error here. Eventually you’ll get good at figuring out what temperature you need to set for your situation. Until then I recommend starting out lower than you think, and working your way up until the glue is the consistency of honey.
Never turn it up high enough that it starts to smoke!
Here are the factors that go into the temperature requirements:
- How much glue you put in compared to the size of your pan. The more glue you threw in, the higher the temp.
- What kind of glue you’re using. You’re probably familiar with the low-temp and high-temp glue sticks you find at the craft store. If I had to choose, I generally prefer a high-temp glue as it gives you more time to work before the glue starts to harden. But I don’t really worry about that anymore ever since I started using these all-temp Gorilla Glue sticks!
I encourage you to play around with the temperature until you get a good feel for where it needs to be, but I will tell you mine ends up being around 400 degrees.
Tips for Working With a Pan of Glue
- If your glue turns brown, that’s OK. It can get like that if you’ve had the heat on for too long, but it works just the same. It’s only a problem if the temperature is set too high and the glue starts to burn. But you’d be able to smell that if it was.
- Use a left over silk flower stem (or something similar) as a glue brush for coverage on bigger things like foam. Smaller items, like stems and leaves, can be dipped right into the glue.
- To cut down on all those pesky glue strings, pull your stem out of the glue, wipe off any excess on the side of the pan, then bring it straight up and twist until the string breaks off. (Watch the video below and I’ll show you a few examples.)
And don’t forget to turn it off when you’re done! (Since mine stays in the same spot in the workshop and I rarely move it, I keep mine plugged in, but do what’s best for you!)
Craft Tip Tuesday Video – Electric Skillet Glue Pan
Now it’s time to cover up all the hard work you’ve done and add some flowers! See the arrangement that I made with this container here: Summer Lemon and Hydrangea Table Arrangement
If you enjoyed this and want to learn to wreath the professional way, join me in our exclusive Wreath Making of the Month Club, seats open soon!
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