Easy DIY craft: PVA glue trapping technique

I’m really enjoying writing these easy DIY crafts tutorials as I feel like I’m starting to regain an essential part of me I thought my illness had taken away.  Rather than being downhearted about my limitations I’m enjoying the creative challenge of combining my art teaching background with new, quick and easy, approaches to making which don’t require much energy, such as this PVA glue trapping technique!

PVA glue trapping tutorial

It feels great to be able to tell you I’ve had really lovely feedback from readers who tried my first ever blog tutorial for these decorative paper butterflies.  I love being able to inspire others again, it’s such a wonderful feeling and I’ve missed it so much!

Now that my son is a toddler and is starting to take a bit more interest in arts and crafts I’m also getting really excited about all the creative techniques we can explore together too.  Full disclaimer: he has a large chest full of art materials that I bought him when he was a baby as art teacher me maybe went a bit overboard (although I try to make sure he has other non-art based developmental toys too, as apparently they are also important)!

So, I have loads of easy crafty and creative ideas for both adults and kids bubbling away under the surface which I can’t wait to experiment with further but for now I really hope you enjoy this tutorial; it’s really simple and it looks great too!

PVA glue trapping technique

If you’re anything like me, you will fall in love with this craft technique instantly as it really is so easy to do.  You can be so creative with the different items you can trap and explore, the only limit really is your imagination!

PVA glue trapping doesn’t even require a massive amount of energy or skill and it’s the perfect craft for you to enjoy with your kids.  Or have a go yourself if you’re a big kid at heart and want to have fun!

I thought it would be a nice idea to turn my PVA experiments into accessories which would make me smile every time I saw them and could be used again and again.  Some I turned into decorative paper clips and others into fun magnets.  There are loads of other accessories you could explore too, such as brooches, mobiles/hangings or fun jewellery for your kids, to name just a few.

When I worked as an art teacher a lot of our students really ran with this technique and produced some amazing art work.  I kept the scale of my experiments small for this tutorial but there is no reason why you couldn’t create a large scale art piece using PVA glue trapping if you’re willing and able.  Some students created small experiments which they added mixed media to and combined to create large-scale hangings or worn art pieces.  One student even cut some pattern pieces from their PVA glue samples and joined them together to create a corset sculpture!

One thing I would say though is that this technique is highly experimental and as such always create more experiments than you really need.  You will find that some of your experiments really won’t turn out as well as you’d hoped, however some will surprise you in a positive way too (happy accidents), don’t be afraid to take a creative risk here and there and really make these your own!

What you’ll need

PVA glue (non-toxic and eco-friendly varieties are available)

Paint or ink (I used acrylic paint but ink or even food colouring will work just as well, although I’d use washable poster paint if working with small children)

Blunt stick or object (to mix the paint and glue together)

Plastic sheet to work onto (for small scale experiments a plastic wallet is easiest, for larger scale experiments you will need a harder plastic, such as a smooth plastic tray to complete your experiments as this will help to prevent your PVA experiment warping as it sets)

Masking tape (to secure your plastic sheet to prevent it moving)

Mixed media to add into your PVA glue.  It’s entirely up to you what you include but here are a few ideas to get you started; beads, buttons, sequins, glitter, threads, thin wire, pencil sharpenings, small petals/leaves/dried flowers, old stamps/jigsaw pieces/plastic letters or numbers, shredded paper etc.

Mixed media to add to your experiment once it’s set (optional), for additional decoration.

Items required to turn your experiments into usable accessories (optional).  I used large paper clips and adhesive magnets but you could explore other ideas too.

PVA glue trapping tutorial (1)


The PVA glue will take approximately 1-2 days to set (if working small scale, longer if not) so choose a working area where you are happy to leave your experiments out to set or be prepared to transfer them to another space.

Prepare your working area and make sure your clothing is protected.  Lay out your plastic sheet/tray and secure into place with a couple of pieces of masking tape to prevent it moving while you are working.

Apply small blobs of glue to your plastic sheet.  It’s difficult to create a particular shape as the glue will start to spread.  Try to keep a bit of space between your glue blobs so they don’t start merging together (although you can use scissors to cut them apart again once they’ve set if this does happen).

Take a small amount of paint/ink and use your stick (or other object) to swirl some colour into your glue.  It’s best to add more swirls than you think you need as although the glue is white now it will dry fairly clear and you want your colours to stand out as much as possible.

Start to drop in/roughly arrange your mixed media items into your blobs of glue, although you can’t be too particular here as the glue isn’t a stable surface to work onto.  Have fun and really be creative!  Sink the end of large paperclips into your glue blobs at this stage too if you are planning on making decorative paperclips out of your experiments.

Leave your glue experiments to set.

Once the glue in your experiments has completely solidified, carefully peel them away from their plastic sheet/tray surface.  If you think you’re experiments need more decoration, stick on some further mixed media items.  I added stickers to some of mine once they set as the stickers were curling a lot if I tried to include them when the glue was still wet.

Add any items to turn your experiments into accessories.  I added some self-adhesive magnets to the back of some of my experiments at this point.

Follow some of my ideas below to help personalise and explore this technique in your own way.

PVA glue trapping tutorial

Make it your own!

This is such an easy project to adapt and personalise, you really can be as creative as you like with it!

Try your own preferred colours and add letters and numbers.  You could create a magnet for everyone in the family by adding names or initials to your magnets.  I love the idea of kids creating their own mini magnetic pieces of art to present their larger artworks on the fridge/other magnetic surface too!

Kids could turn their experiments into wearable art pieces too by making them into necklaces, badges or hair slides to name a few.

PVA glue trapping tutorial (2)
PVA glue magnets and paperclips presented on my son’s magnetic board

Most importantly just have fun being creative!

I would absolutely love it if you shared your DIY PVA glue trapping experiments with me so please send me a photo of your creations.  I’ll even feature them on my blog or social media if you’re happy for me to do so!

Speaking of which, I recently joined Instagram and I’m really enjoying sharing photographs of my crafty makes on there, so please follow me if you’d like to see loads more inspirational ideas!  I’m loving all the crafty accounts I’m following too, it’s really encouraging me to explore my own ideas and let my creativity run wild!


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