How to remove glass cement
December 8, 2010 11:48 PM   Subscribe

Help me avoid being Bridezilla, and un-glue some centerpieces before I come unglued, please.

So I live in Alaska. I am getting married on New Year's Day in Pennsylvania, where my folks live. My mother has been helping me prepare for my wedding. But sometimes you get help you don't ask for.

My table centerpieces are to be glass cylinder vases filled with various wintry items. It took us forever to find the appropriate vases, and I was thrilled when Mom finally found some at a local junk store - about 12 inches high and 6 inches in diameter. Everything was going great until Mom sent me a picture of the finished centerpieces last night... and we came to a screaming, screeching halt. Mom decided that the vases were too short, and bought some fluted glass bowls at the dollar store to attach to the bottom of the vases so they would be taller.

She told me she used some type of glue or epoxy or glass cement to attach the bowls to the bottom of the vases "to add height." Pardon my french, but they look f*@#ing terrible. (One of my bridesmaids asked why there is a jello mold under my centerpieces.) How do I get these bowls unglued from my vases??

Mom won't talk to me because she thinks I am judging her and I don't like her taste (and all sorts of other pre-wedding-stress crazy thoughts)... so I can't be sure exactly which adhesive she used... but knowing her I imagine it's along the lines of this stuff.

If it's heat and water resistant, does that just mean it'll hold up for a dishwasher cycle? If I soak the stuff in hot hot water, will it soften? What about acetone, per this previous question? Since the glue is between the two surfaces, will putting the acetone around just the edge be enough?

I am trying very hard not to be a Bridezilla, but I truly hate these. If absolute worst comes to worst we will use the ugly centerpieces and I will just try not to look at them. Mom and I will make up before the wedding one way or another. I will always have my husband and the memory of hideous tables will fade... But it's my wedding, dammit. I only get one. I want to fix these if possible. Suggestions?
posted by keribear to Home & Garden (26 answers total)
Will you get to Pennsylvania with enough lead time to work on this yourself, in person? If so, I'd suggest you call your Mom back and apologize for coming unglued (heh), and tell her how much you've appreciated her help. Tell her that the two of you can look at them together when you arrive.

When you get there, you'll know what glue she used and it will be much easier to pick a solvent. I'd suggest starting with hot water (I could be more specific if we knew the actual glue product used, but I've had great results with super glue remover used on many types of glues)

Also, why not send her a little bouquet that just says 'I love you, thank you for everything'. If you use ebates, you can currently get 20% cash back on orders.
posted by arnicae at 12:07 AM on December 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

It sounds like you're in for a session of trial and error. Are you sure you'll have time for that? Perhaps you could consider using a wreath or very thick ribbon (tied in a bow, if that's the look you want) to cover the offending bottom section?
posted by brambory at 12:23 AM on December 9, 2010

Help me avoid being Bridezilla,

This part is unrelated to the unglueing part of the question and I'll try to answer it as it stands.

Being a Bridezilla has to do with your reaction to other people's well-intentioned actions. If you went off on your mom ("Mom that's horrible! I never asked you to do that! Why on earth did you do that? I hate it!"), then that's being a bridezilla. After all, your mom did her best to make things look nicer for you, used her imagination and went out to look for something that might help - she seems to have failed drastically. Nevertheless, your apology would help.

If you merely expressed that while you are grateful to your mom you'd rather have a different solution and that you'll try to unglue the stuff, then that's not being a bridezilla. If your mom is not talking to you because of your lack of enthusiasm then she's being a momzilla.

If your mom keeps dong things in ways specifically different than you asked her to, and you have talked to her about it already and she keeps dong it, then try not to give her anything important to do because you'll both end up being 'zillas.
posted by Omnomnom at 1:45 AM on December 9, 2010 [3 favorites]

Wow, llc, did you really just suggest that the OP's marriage won't last because she's having trouble moderating her reactions 21 days before her wedding? Wow!

FWIW, we didn't have centerpieces figured out until 18 hours before the wedding, due to me firing the florist two days beforehand. Pre-wedding stuff happens. This will be resolved (ha!).

You also could go the way brambory suggested and wrap a decorative fabric around the offending section. Could be a ribbon, or more wintry decorations, or scarves you get at a local store. It could have something to do with Alaska and/or snow. I was going to post links to possible designs, but then I decided it's better to go to the local store without a specific design in your mind.

Good luck, and yeah, make up with your mom. She's probably trying her darnest to not turn into momzilla.
posted by copperbleu at 3:19 AM on December 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

As to the glue, have you tried asking at a local crafts store?
posted by Omnomnom at 3:45 AM on December 9, 2010

Answering the tangible:

If the bowls cannot be removed, what about diguising them with a bit of prettly draped cloth swathed around the bowls?
posted by tilde at 3:51 AM on December 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

Ack, beaten to the swath with e the a slow refresh.
posted by tilde at 3:54 AM on December 9, 2010

I've gotten ceramic glue off of things with super hot water and a knife, but I would be afraid of cracking/scratching the glass, which would be unattractive. I would go with the decorative disguising or, if the fluted glass bowls aren't bad on their own, could you get more of those and fill them with wintry things?

Also, I'm not sure what your budget is, but Amazon sells simple cylinder vases that are 12" high.
posted by bluefly at 4:24 AM on December 9, 2010

I'm not sure if you'll have luck prying the pieces apart without injuring yourself. You should start fresh -- craft stores and even places like Target have lots of options for simple, modern glass vases you can make beautiful with your stems and then give away to your guests. As for being a Bridezilla, I think the difference is in putting your family and loved ones above all the little details -- the wedding is an important day for sure, but in the end, it's just one day.
posted by mochapickle at 4:38 AM on December 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you cannot get the bowls off, you can use greenery or draping around them.

And I feel your pain. I work for a florist, and finding the right vases for a particular look...well, I get you, sister.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:04 AM on December 9, 2010

Elmer's has a website, and you can look up properties for their glues, and other makers will, too. If she used plain old white glue, it's water-soluble. Soak the vases in hot water until they come apart, and scrub off the remaining glue. If the glue is not water based, un-gluing is not a reasonable option.

You could pick up some fabric or wide ribbon and elastic and make little skirts for them, covering the bases.

If the glue is permanent, either accept the cost for replacements, or accept that the centerpieces will be imperfect. Part of having someone else do a lot of unpaid work is being gracious about your expectations.

"Mom, it must have hurt your feelings when I didn't like what you did with the vases. I'm so sorry. Mom, I'm so grateful to you for the incredible amount of work you're putting in. I know I'm really particular about how I want things to be, and you've been a champ at helping me." Repeat frequently: "I can't thank you enough."
posted by Mom at 6:04 AM on December 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

I don't have advice about the glue. But I have gotten married, and at our big invite-everyone-we-know commitment ceremony, I was so busy being nervous/focused on what was happening that I honestly don't think I would have noticed if someone had replaced all of our centerpieces with baskets of kittens (well, okay, maybe I might have noticed that). For months afterwards, we'd see people who'd been at the wedding and they'd say something like "It was a wonderful ceremony, you were both beautiful, it was lovely to talk to you at the reception," and I'd think "You were there? And I talked to you?"

You're not bridezilla for wanting what you want - you may be bridezilla if you express that poorly. Just remember that if u r doin it rite, the centerpieces aren't really all that important, in the scheme of things. Perspective, you know?

And congratuations!
posted by rtha at 6:23 AM on December 9, 2010

Can you get new ones from the junk store? Or post a photo and let the hive mind help find a replacement?
posted by CathyG at 7:02 AM on December 9, 2010

ACETONE!!!!! Nail project remover might do the trick in a pinch as well. I work w/costumes and Acetone removes all forms of f*'ed up gluing projects! You can't go wrong. Just use gloves when you do it. You don't want that stuff on your hands!

: )
posted by ashtabula to opelika at 7:41 AM on December 9, 2010

The two solvents you should try are alcohol and acetone.
posted by fake at 8:00 AM on December 9, 2010

If none of the solvents work, or it seems like too much trouble, CB2 has 11.75" tall x 6" wide cylindrical vases for $17 each. On rare occasions like this, where time is in short supply and you're not there to figure it out yourself, it's sometimes easier to just throw money at the problem. Craft stores, Ikea, and Crate and Barrel are also likely to have similar items.
posted by barnone at 8:29 AM on December 9, 2010

*sigh* I already mentioned that Mom and I will make up and that I know the centerpieces are not the most important part of a marriage. The question was about glue. So thank you to those of you who actually attempted to answer my question. ;)

(Next time I need help on AskMeFi I will have to remember to post no details whatsoever. Perhaps I should've just posted, "How do I unglue a glass bowl from a glass vase?" and left it at that one sentence!)
posted by keribear at 8:54 AM on December 9, 2010 [3 favorites]

Perhaps I should've just posted, "How do I unglue a glass bowl from a glass vase?" and left it at that one sentence!

I have definitely been tempted to do this. However, though the question was about vases, it also sounded like you were feeling anxious about the wedding/other stuff, and it is nice to have a few people saying comforting things. Just try to filter out the noise that picks up on a single word or short phrase you've uttered. Their responses have really nothing to do with you, they're all about their own problems.

I don't think you're bridezilla. I think it must be incredibly stressful for all those planning to try to plan a wedding from three timezones away. I do think giving yourself a chance to breathe or take a brisk walk before responding to stuff is an excellant idea (and that is as much about me as you! I know I often don't give myself the time I need to process before responding to stuff).

Anyway, best wishes on the wedding. And here's hoping those ugly fluted things come loose when you tug on them.
posted by arnicae at 9:04 AM on December 9, 2010

If acetone and hot water don't work, the final thing to try is Glu Gone, or a similar product. Between these three solvents, you've covered your bases. There are other solvents it's possible to use, but those are the only three I'm comfortable recommending without specialized protection.

When you do use the acetone, wear gloves and do it in a well ventilated area away from fire. Acetone is very flammable---I once ended up with a ball of fire in my hands cleaning glassware with acetone.
posted by bonehead at 9:34 AM on December 9, 2010

You've already marked best answers about solvents for the glue, but if I were in your situation I think I'd start over with new cylinder vases. If you can't get more from the junk store, here are similar vases under $10 each if you order in multiples of 6, and here are more similar vases for $6 each before shipping. If you're flexible on the dimensions of your centerpieces (or willing, for example, to cluster smaller vases together) you can get cylinder vases for $1 each from Dollar Tree.

If neither the solvents nor the replacement vases work out, then I'd use hand clippers to dismantle a few local friends' Christmas trees for free greenery to arrange in a loose wreath disguising the ugly bases.
posted by Orinda at 10:17 AM on December 9, 2010

*sigh* I already mentioned that Mom and I will make up and that I know the centerpieces are not the most important part of a marriage. The question was about glue. So thank you to those of you who actually attempted to answer my question. ;)

Well, you did ask right there in the subject line to help you not to be a bridezilla!

Honestly, if these were purchased from a junk store, I think the least dramatic and stressful thing to do would be to paypal mom some money and ask her to pick up another set of them.

I get some of your angst: I got married at my mom's house in New Jersey, and was living in Florida at the time. It was an autumn-themed wedding, and she started picking up decorations from dollar stores and supermarkets (including, as she put it, "decorative gourds") and I felt some dread at this, because it got in the way of my image of a perfect, hand-cobbled indie wedding.

However, when I got there I realized that everything she got either wasn't that bad at all (are you sure those pictures are accurate and really really as ugly as you fear? Because it might not be, no matter what your friend said to you), at least not bad enough to be worth noting, or actually pretty nifty. I mean, the gourds led to photos like this one, which is pretty priceless.

Having a indie wedding where I largely relied on the kindness of those around me taught me to go with the flow of peoples' generosity, especially my mom's, as she was doing her best to be creative and involved and supportive, which is actually incredibly sweet. And it sounds like your mom is similar. Seriously, it could be worse. There were people who were not so kind or helpful--the relative who said she'd make cupcakes, for example, and then didn't, leaving me baking a half hour before the guests arrived.

So first thing's first: your mommy is more important than these vases, a fact you'll see once the wedding crazies are over. Seriously. Call her up and thank her for her thoughtfulness first, then talk to her and see how you guys can work together to make this right. It sounds like she wants to please you, really.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:57 AM on December 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

i've learned by accident that liquid "wax" - the kind of stuff you put in those glass-thingy-with-a-wick-candles, removes practically everything adhesive. It is clear, oily, pourable, and HIGHLY FLAMMABLE (duh)

It's such a wonderful dissolver of things unwanted that i now keep some in a little squirt bottle near the sink.

Once you try the above suggestions, if you still have residues, try some of that stuff.
posted by ChefJoAnna at 1:19 PM on December 9, 2010

Perhaps I should've just posted, "How do I unglue a glass bowl from a glass vase?" and left it at that one sentence!)

A more concise phrasing (without the "bridezilla" bit) would definitely have led me to reply to your question better and would have saved us both time. No worries, communication is hard!
posted by Omnomnom at 1:02 AM on December 10, 2010

ChefJoAnna writes "i've learned by accident that liquid 'wax' - the kind of stuff you put in those glass-thingy-with-a-wick-candles, removes practically everything adhesive. It is clear, oily, pourable, and HIGHLY FLAMMABLE (duh)"

This is just coal oil or kerosene; readily available as lighter fluid.

It's really going to depend on the adhesive. Many adhesives that would be suitable for this task like silicone, UVex and construction adhesive are essentially removable only by mechanical means.
posted by Mitheral at 5:31 AM on December 10, 2010

I've had good luck with Contractors' Solvent, which you can find at hardware stores. I like it because it's not corrosive like other cleaners, and it smells like lemon instead of chemicals.

Could you post your picture of the centerpiece? I am very curious!
posted by torticat at 10:16 AM on December 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

liquid "wax" and CONTRACTORS’ SOLVENT (aka Pro De-Solv-it) are very very similar to Gu Gone. The liquid wax base is the same in all three things, the two cleaners add d-limonene and soaps. These solvents are great for things like oils, tars, paints, etc... The advantage that Gu Gone or De-Solv-it or a dozen others of the same type have is that they're much less flammable, much less carcinogenic and much less toxic than using kerosene or even gasoline, while being almost as good solvents.
posted by bonehead at 12:54 PM on December 10, 2010

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