Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Stick 'Em Up!

Early spring afternoon overlooking the Eel River and Eel River Valley, Humboldt County
(Ferndale is where the hills meet level ground, five miles away)

Thought I'd spend a little time talking about adhesives, what I use and when.

PVA  --  When I'm gluing paper to book boards to create book covers, I always use PVA (polyvinyl acrylic).  I brush it onto the paper or the board, place the paper down, burnish all over with my hands, turn the glued side down and then weight it with heavy books.  I'll stack the two covers like this with wax paper between.  Let it dry well.  PVA creates a really tight bond all over the glued area, with little chance of air spaces except possibly at the very edges...which is easy to fix if need be.  I've also used Mod Podge for this but prefer PVA.

Both PVA and Mod Podge are glues, and not mediums (I realize the proper word here is media, but since there are so many different acrylic mediums on the market these days, I'll stick with the word mediums).  The essential difference between glue and medium is that the latter forms a sealing bond on whatever it's used on whereas the former does not...meaning it is inherently water soluble.  Never use glue in place of medium if your intention is to seal a substrate.

ACRYLIC MEDIUM  --  I've used acrylic matte or gloss medium to adhere a wide variety of things.  What I've found is that it works best for me when I'm covering a small surface area.  For instance, when I create ATCs, I adhere the pieces with matte medium.  However, when I'm creating larger work like a journal page or a stand-alone collage, I'll use Acrylic Gel Medium instead of the non-gel medium.  Gel is thicker than regular medium and I've found that it adheres bigger collage pieces better than medium does.  Matte medium has a lot of liquid in it and will cause larger pieces of paper to wrinkle, sometimes horribly.  It also doesn't do a very good job of adhering bigger pieces of paper to a substrate like watercolor paper.  The texture of the substrate leaves air holes and pockets under the collage pieces.  Gel medium, though, prevents this problem in my experience.  So I prefer it for adherence on larger-than-ATC artwork.

However, for a general matte finish on anything, acrylic matte medium works like a charm.

GEL MEDIUM  --  I love Golden's Soft Gel Gloss Medium, but their Soft Gel Matte Medium is a lot thicker and I won't replace the latter after I use up what I have.  For matte gel medium, I prefer Liquitex, which doesn't seem to get thicker in the jar.

GLUE STICK  --  Glue sticks work best for me when I use them for small glue jobs ~ adhering old postage stamps to mixed media pieces, sealing envelopes, touch-up glue jobs like at the corners or edges of things.  When I first began art journaling, I used glue stick a lot to adhere collage pieces to my journal pages, but it never worked well.  The trick with glue stick is that you must cover the entire surface of the thing to be adhered with the glue...and then it still probably won't bond well to the substrate.  Your collage piece also runs a good chance of tearing while you're burnishing.  I've tried most brands of glue stick available, and the one that works best for me is Dick Blick's white.

DRY ADHESIVES -- More and more I've been using dry adhesive on collage journal pages, of the tape runner or dot runner variety.  I like Elmer's CraftBond Dot Runner; I've tried the tape runner variety of this stuff and I don't like it because it's too tacky, too hard to rub off, too easily gets on things you don't want it on.  Elmer's is the cheapest and it works just fine.  It really holds things down, too.  Teesha Moore is a big proponent of dry adhesives, she doesn't use anything but on her fabulous journal pages.  The only thing you need to be aware of is that if you plan to seal your piece after adhering things with the dot runner, there's a good chance the papers will wrinkle because of the air spaces in the areas where there's no sticky dots.  My advice: don't put wet sealant over dry journal pages.

SEALANTS  --  If you want a matte finish on something, use matte medium to seal it.  Or matte varnish, or matte glazing medium.  (With few exceptions I use Golden acrylic products.)  The matte glazing medium takes longer to dry than regular matte medium.  It is somewhere between matte medium and OPEN matte medium.  The "open" refers to the fact that there's more time to work with the acrylic paint or medium before it dries (the Open Acrylics act like oil paint whereas regular acrylics dry rather quickly).

Same goes for gloss finishes.  Use gloss medium, gloss varnish, or gloss glazing medium.  Same properties apply as above.

RUBBER CEMENT  --  I'd be remiss if I didn't mention rubber cement, because I used it exclusively up to a couple years ago, for the years I did regular daily collages in sketchbooks.  I still love rubber cement because it is extremely easy to clean up, collaged papers lay completely flat and are repositionable for a brief period of time.  I know it's not archival (seriously, I don't give a hoot about that), and I know sometimes the adherence breaks down.  Although, I've got greeting cards I made 25 years ago with rubber cement where the bonds are still solid.  On my old collages, sometimes the collaged pieces have come up on the edges.  I just tack 'em down again with glue stick.

I'm thinking of using rubber cement in my new collage journal, for all the reasons listed just above.  For my previous Neutrals Journal, I started the book by adhering elements to the pages with gel and regular medium and I found the pages got way too stiff and thick.  By the end of the journal I was using my dot runner exclusively.  The dot runner refills, though, are a lot more expensive than buying rubber cement by the quart can.  Which is why I'll stick with my trusty rubber cement this time.


ileneharris said...

Very helpful post. Lots of information with personal notes on each adhesive. I am going to print and save it. Those are beautiful clouds over the Eel River Valley! I will send you a few of the ones here in Kihei...

Roberta said...

Oh thanks for this Connie!

Jan said...

What a gorgeous picture!

This is wonderful information--thank you so much. I will print it also and save and share it--if that's OK with you.

I like how through you are with everything and that you try all kinds of whatever it is and make notes--right?

I haven't tried Elmer's dot adhesive, but the ones I've used just quit working before running out of glue...they get gummed up, I think. I've taken then apart to rewind, but even then it quits again. Very frustrating!

Dad has what he calls transfer tape (works like any roll on adhesive) in a big dispenser that works every time. Of course it's at least 50 years old...not sure we can get refills for it...probably not!

Marybeth said...

Good info!!

john said...

Really informative. Thanks for taking the time to jot it all down. :-)

The Idaho Beauty said...

What an excellent primer. You've answered pretty much all the questions I've had about this. One word about rubber cement that I heard & then experienced - it can discolor over time showing through what it has glue down.Not always an issue & something you apparently haven't experienced.

PamelaArtsinSF said...

Excellent!!! I printed this out and GLUED it in my art notebook -- thanks, Connie -- and happy 4th!

Karen Isaacson said...

wow - it's like I forgot rubber cement exists! I used it a few years ago as a resist, but have not even tried it in collage. I'm off to buy some. (and oh how the compulsive side of me loves to rub/roll the extra dried cement off of surfaces)

Leslie said...

Well, this is a handy post. And I haven't heard rubber cement mentioned in years. Decades, maybe. My mom always had a jar of it around but don't know what she used it for. May have to give it a try.
Lovely photo. Too bad every day doesn't look like that, huh?