Friday, January 6, 2012

Stick to it. No, not New Year's resolutions ... I'm talking glue.

Ages ago, I promised a post about glue. I even took the photo above, showing some of myriad adhesives and sealers in my studio, then, promptly forgot about it. Well, my memory was jogged by a message this week from a friend pleading for help in creating ATCs. Her problem: getting them to stay flat once they were glued.

Wait, let me back up a minute to tell you about ATCs, which are Artist Trading Cards. Like most trading cards, they are small, generally 2.5" x 3.5." The difference is that each is an original work of art. I knew nothing about them before making collages and still have yet to make - or get - one. I ask other artists about them all the time and usually get a quizzical look and a shrug as a response. That belies the facts: ATCs are big business these days, with books showcasing them, supplies geared specifically toward making them, virtual archives, workshops, swap meets, etc. Just Google the phrase and you'll see what I mean.

Now back to adhesives. Wish I had an easy answer. Mine vary depending on the base (i.e.. watercolor paper, mat board, canvas), the papers being adhered, the weather, my mood.

Over time, I've become a fan of Yes! paste, which holds most papers flatter than matte medium, dries clear and is water soluble - making it a cinch to clean up overflow. There's been debate about its archival qualities but the formula was changed in recent years and it's acid-free. It can be hard to use, though - you need to learn how to spread it around; it took me a long time to discover that a little goes a long way - and it tears delicate papers.

That's when I turn to acrylic medium in varying weights - usually Golden; sometimes, Liquitex. I'm also a fan of PVA - ie., polyvinyl acetate - an archival adhesive used by bookbinders. Elmer's Glue is a PVA and I use it at times but it's not archival. So, I turn to Hollander's in Ann Arbor for PVA, which I usually can't find locally. (Note: they don't ship PVA when temps are below freezing). Over time, I discovered that mixing standard PVA with thick PVA provided the consistency I liked. The main drawback? It dries fast - as in FAST. Mixing methyl cellulose with it extend the drying time but I don't mess with that, I just work faster. As for how flat the final product is, well, again, that depends on the paper.

For a crash course in archival adhesives, head to the Talas web site. One alternative offered there: dry mounting sheets and tapes. They leave pieces flat, flat, flat but I've found that wrinkles pop up sometimes when sealing pieces.

Bottom-line: experiment. But you knew that was coming, didn't you?

1 comment:

  1. I posted this to my Facebook page and got the following comments from artists about what they use:

    "I use the Lineco brand of PVA...archival. Love that it dries clear and stays flexible. Have diluted it with water to slow the drying time somewhat." - Anne Timpano

    "I recently picked up a can of Elmer's Acidfree Spray glue and it has made life much easier! Sprays even and excellent contact and No bubbles/ripples etc to work out with an old creditcard....nice and flat!" - Jan Torrance Thomas

    "I love MacTac sheets for large things." - Lea King