Some of you may know a whole lot more about glue, adhesives, and gesso than I know, while others may have never heard of some of the glues I will discuss. Don't get discouraged. Relax and enjoy the lesson. Remember, it took me a lot longer to put it together than it is going to take you to read it!
Please don't forget that I will answer (to the best of my ability) any and all questions and do so on YOUR blog. Since my e-mail is not working, this is the best way to get my attention. So feel free to ask away. If you are confused, I'm sure others will be, too.
Let's get started with this week's lesson.
A word about glue and adhesives
A word about gesso
Playing with glue
Playing with gesso
Glues and adhesives:
Glue is one of the hottest topics among altered book artists. What seems to work for one artist doesn’t for another. If you want to start a great debate, get four artists in a room discussing glues. The seemingly simple action of adhering one component to another will spark debates that last long into the night.
Look at your own glues and adhesives. I bet you have more than you think you have. I call these containers my "Glue Tower."
If you think I'm bad, take a walk through any craft store and drool over the many types of glue that are available.
Some glues cause your pages to warp and wrinkle after they dry. Some take forever to dry, especially in humid climates. Some smell bad and will make your book stink for months. Some attract bugs and insects. Some lack the strength to attach heavy elements. Some lack the strength to hold heavy paper. Some will deteriorate after a few years, causing your book to come apart. Some yellow with age. Some are repositionable, while some bond immediately. Some are intended for special projects. I’m sure by now, you get the idea.
All glues have their pros and cons. You should use the one that works best for your specific project. As your glue arsenal expands, you will find yourself using several glues on each project.
Tip: If you're a beginner, here's a simplified list. If you have an unlimited budget, Gel Medium is an all purpose glue, excellent for gluing pages together, as well as gluing on small charms and decorative papers. However, if your budget is limited, glue sticks are acceptable for attaching smaller, handmade, or thin papers, including napkins; E6000 is best for attaching small embellishments; and Elmer’s Glue All or School Glue can be used for heavy weight papers, cardboard, and for making and holding specialty papers.
You can buy glue sticks and Elmer's glue on sale in the summer before school starts. At least that's the time to buy them in the US. Buy E-6000 and Gel Medium using craft store coupons you get online or in your newspaper. You can add specialty adhesives and ATGs or other tape guns later.
When researching for this lesson, I learned a lot about various glues. For example, liquid glues come in two categories: water-based or solvent-based. Within those categories, there are sub-categories of natural vs chemical.
The following list is not all-inclusive. However, it covers many of the adhesives that altered book artists favor. I'm including a brief description and some pros and cons of these glues. Some of these products are acid-free and suitable for archival quality work. Others are not. I’ve never concerned myself with the archival quality of glue for ABs, since so many of your embellishments, and possibly the book itself, are not acid free.
PVA (polyvinyl acetate)
PVA is an acronym for adhesives that are water-based synthetics. The water content in many of the PVA products will cause warping and buckling in the pages after the glue has dried. However, some products in this category have a low water content, and are suitable for gluing in altered books. PVA adhesives are often referred to simply as white glue. The well-known Elmer's Glue-All or School Glue belongs in this category. Although I swear by this product, there is concern that it has a tendency to warp book pages. I use an old faux credit card to apply PVA glue. Another and definitely more costly choice in this category would be PVA bookbinder's glue. This product is pH-neutral and is used for book binding, collages, and for gluing blocks of pages together.
Yes! is a controversial product. People either love it or hate it. However, archivists have used this product for decades and many swear by it. Others archivists say it yellows pages over time and they become brittle with age. Yes! is a water-based paste made from a natural vegetable product. Although I’ve never used it, Yes! is said to not cause the paper warping that is common with most water-based solvents. However, since YES! paste is water based and water soluble, exposure to high humidity can cause it to break down over time. Because of its starch content, it will also attract insects. According to several internet sites, Yes! is best applied with a spatula or an old or faux credit card. It requires only water cleanup. Again, this is what I’ve been told or read, not what I know to be fact, since I've never even seen Yes! paste.
Acrylic-based adhesives contain a water-soluble polymer (plastic). Almost all are acid free. PPA (Perfect Paper Adhesive) is the brand name of an acrylic-based adhesive made by USArtQuest. PPA is archival, non-toxic and comes in both gloss and matte finish. It is considered a museum-quality adhesive. In addition to being an adhesive, PPA can be used as a glue, a sealer, and a finish. Although I’ve never used it because it is difficult to find and a bit pricy, I understand it does not warp pages and many altered artists recommend it. Another acrylic-based adhesive I learned about is Rollataq by Daige Corporation. It is described as a safe, cold adhesive system and is non-toxic, acid-free, and odor-free. Altered book artists report that the Rollataq adhesive is excellent, but the applicator tool must be used daily or the adhesive dries out. I’ve never seen, or used, this product.
Acrylic Mediums and Gels
Acrylic mediums and gels are dual purpose. You can use them as a medium to mix with acrylic paints, or you can use them as an adhesive. Claudine Hellmuth recommends using gel medium for everything from adhering paper and objects to sealing your work. It can be very costly, especially if you use it for everything. However, I strongly recommend it for adhering your block of pages together for your niche. Acrylic mediums and gels contain polymer (plastic). The difference between a gel and a medium is viscosity: the mediums are thin enough to pour; the gels are not pourable. Gels come in strengths like soft, regular and heavy. Golden has a detailed explanation of each of these products on their web site if you want to read more:
Much of the information below was learned from their web site.
Acrylic mediums and gels are available in "sheens," usually glossy, semi-gloss, or matte finish. If you are using the product as an adhesive, it makes no difference which sheen you use, unless you are a sloppy gluer, then you should opt for matte finish, which dries the clearest. I learned recently that if you mixed glossy and matte finishes in equal parts, you get the semi-gloss without buying the actual semi-gloss. If you are using it as a medium to mix with paint, your choice will be guided by the look you are going for. Mediums and gels are flexible when dry. This quality makes them good choices when gluing blocks of pages together in your altered books. Your blocks will not pop open when bent. Hopefully, you used gel medium when you made your niche. Although Golden is the most expensive and said to be the best brand, there are others, all of which are good. They include Liquidex (which I use), Grumbacher, Createx, and Windsor & Newton.
Mod Podge by Plaid
Mod Podge by Plaid, is a water-based formula. Available in gloss, matte or sparkle, it can be used as a sealer, glue, or finish. It is water-based and non-toxic. When I originally researched this glue, I had never used it, even though I had been given a TON of it. I had heard that it buckles paper somewhat more than the acrylic gels and mediums do. Drying time is slower (approximately 10 minutes) so you have more time to reposition pieces. The main problem with Mod Podge is it remains tacky. When using it to seal a page, many altered book artists recommend spraying a sealer over the Mod Podge to eliminate lingering tackiness. It’s inexpensive, but again, I don’t recommend it for anything other than collographic plates.
These products add dimension, or a 3-D effect to a project. 3-D Glue Dots, for example, are huge, and very sticky dots. A less expensive alternative is double sided insulation tape. You can get this at the hardware store. It has the green and white protective covering. It’s about 1/8" thick and can be doubled if you want to really lift an item off the page.
Glazes such as Judikin's Diamond Glaze or Aleene's Paper Glaze are thick liquid substances which dry clear. You can incorporate glitter, micro beads or pigment powders in these products for special effects. Check the label to be sure, as there are brand variations. Diamond Glaze is very pricy. It works great on some embellishments, like buttons. It's not too wet, and it dries clear. However, there are other, less expensive, alternatives to both of these glues, such as E-6000 or The Ultimate.
Speaking of glue dots, these are great for adhering small embellishments, such as slide mounts and metal strips. These are moderately priced and are used mainly by scrapbookers because they are acid free.
You can also purchase glues with glitter and color already included.
This product is economical, handy, convenient, and easy to use. Glue sticks are great for gluing smaller items or photographs. They are not good for attaching heavy items. Glue sticks are my least favorite of all, since I live in a climate that is not conducive to glue sticks holding up. I used to host swaps, and I get some swap items that are falling apart by the time I get them out of my mailbox and into my studio.
Glue sticks are notorious for turning brittle over time, thus causing whole pages to pop open. I DO use glue sticks to adhere my handmade papers to pages, since this is the driest glue I have. Be sure to stock up on glue sticks during those "back to school" sales we see every July/August.
Heavy Duty Adhesives for heavier objects
Gluing heavier objects requires a heavy duty adhesive.
Some of the brands that are popular with altered book artists are E-6000 (my favorite, but some people think it has a bad smell), Weldbond, Gorilla Glue, and, as previously mentioned, Glue Dots (mini, regular and 3-D).
These adhesives allow you to reposition items if the spacing isn't just right. Some stay repositionable as long as they are affixed to the piece, while some will become permanent in time.
Repositionable adhesives are available in a variety of forms: glue pens, tape dispensers, lamination sheets, sprays, and more. My favorite is Wacky Tac, which comes in a container that looks like one of those old deodorant bottles with the roller ball. This jar will last forever, even if you use it on everything. There are two jars in a box and the only place I know that sells it is QVC. My neighbor gave it to me as a gift. It begins as a wet glue, then dries tacky and sticks to whatever you attach it to. You can move or detach the piece and it remains sticky forever, or until you remove the glue with soap and water. I apply it to ALL my unmounted stamps.
Spray Adhesives and Glues
There is a difference between the two: Spray glue sprays on wet and dries clear. Spray adhesive sprays on tacky and the dried finish is a little murky. The best way to understand these is to pick up a can of each and experiment.
Xyron is the brand name for a product that allows you to turn any paper into a one or two-sided sticker. Xyron machines come in various sizes. The refills are available in regular, repositionable, laminate, and magnetic.
Tapes are not a new concept, but there are SO many more types of tape, including bright and bold colors, washi, and tissue tapes since I first researched glues and adhesives. Even masking tape has many, many uses in art. Here you see I have none of the fancy tapes, but I have a lot of hospital type tape left over from the many times my neighbor has been in the hospital. I'm sure I will find a way to use it, if for nothing other than making a type of decorative tape. In fact, most of these tapes are considered decorative.
Double sided tapes, especially the "red liner" brand, are super for those projects that you don't ever want to come apart. The tape is not glue, but it replaces glue in your projects. It never buckles and is a dream to use. You get it in rolls of various widths, or sheets. You MUST press it firmly on one side before removing the tape, or it will come off. However, once it's on and firm, nothing will remove it.
1. No single glue works for everything.
2. Learn and understand what types of glue you will need for your altered books.
3. Do not be concerned if the glue you choose for your altered book is NOT archival.
A case for gesso
Why do you need gesso? Some people are telling me they don't need it. I even read a recipe (years ago and where I found it, I have no idea) about making your own. It involved white paint, baby powder, and another product, but for the life of me, I don't remember the recipe, or the formula. If I wrote it down, it is now long gone.
I have my neighbor Sally to thank for getting this lid off my gesso. It took me over an hour just to get the band off so we could eventually remove the lid. You might be able to tell, I ended up wrapping the edge around my needle nose pliers and twirling the band. It came off slowly, but it finally came off. The lid took even longer, but with Sally's patience, and a bunch of tools we tried, it finally broke free and came undone. In the above photo, you can see I have already washed and cleaned the gesso from the lid, after which I dug the dried gesso from the many little lips/ridges.
I have decided this gesso container has to go. I will NOT try to remove the lid again. I know I will be keeping the gesso in a couple of air-tight containers, including my old, well worn gesso container and one of my Lock-N-Lock containers.
The honey bear (not the same one I used last summer to spread a flour resist over some muslin) held the perfect amount. I couldn't have asked for a much closer fit with these three containers. And YES, that gesso container is now close to being empty. Hopefully, the gesso will not harden or dry out now that I have it in different containers.
OK, all that fun and excitement aside, it is now time to play!!
Playing with Glue
Now it's time to experiment with glue. You will decide which glue (including gesso) you prefer to use on your pages.
Supplies clockwise from bottom left:
The book you will experiment in
Faux credit or hotel key card
Not shown: Mod Podge, but I decided to include it since some people like to use it
Pen or pencil
Post-it or other brand sticky note
For this technique, you will need a total of EIGHT CONSECUTIVE pages. Begin with your favorite glue stick and cover the entire SECOND page, not just the edges.
Grab the page in front (your first page) and, with the glued page parallel to your work surface, lay the front page over the glued page.
Smooth your page using your hand or a bone folder.
Pay careful attention to the edges. Now aren't you glad you didn't glue all those pages together when you were thinning pages from your AB?
Mark your page using a post-it note or something to remember which pages got which glue. You don't need to do this if you plan to decorate or mark your page immediately.
Next we will spread the white glue all over the fourth page.
Use a faux credit or hotel card to spread the glue, paying particular attention to the spine area.
I like to spread outward from the center/spine area. Of course, that is just my way, not the only way.
This is going to get a bit redundant after awhile, but place the previous page on top of the page with white glue as before. Smooth. Make sure there are no pages between the two you have glued using glue stick and the two you have glued using white glue.
Note the difference when you glue these two pages together. Also, pay attention to the edges.
And why did this photo load so large? The wonders of Blogger never cease to amaze me!
Mark the page in some way. This one reads "Washable school glue."
Next we will use gel medium. We are now working with page SIX. Again, we spread this with a faux credit or hotel key card.
Spread thin, first one direction
then the other. As before, adhere page FIVE to page SIX, being careful to get the edges straight.
Mark or label. If you have lots of empty pages in your book, I suggest you also repeat the process for Mod Podge and any other glue you are curious about. Be sure each set of pages are next to each other with no single or empty pages in between.
Per the Golden web site:
"GOLDEN White and Black Gessos are ready-to-use liquid grounds formulated for the use of acrylics on any commonly used painting surface. They are flexible and can be applied in thin layers to conform to a variey to textured surfaces without cracking."My tip for saving money is buy the cheapest gesso you can find. It will be thin and runny. It will take you at least three coats to cover anything c ompletely. But, if you leave the lid off the gesso for a few hours (not days, but hours), a great deal of the water will evaporate and you will have a nice thick gesso. You don’t lose that much gesso, either. I’ve found this to be the best buy for my money.
If your pages warp and you can no longer place a weight over the closed book, simply cover the back side of your page with a thin layer of gesso. That may not eliminate the warp, but it will decrease it a great deal.
Finally we're going to use gesso as glue on our last two pages. Did you think I had forgotten them? Nope! Just as you did with the white glue and gel medium, use your card and spread a thin layer of gesso on one of the pages.
As before, lay the previous page over the covered page and smooth.
Gesso comes in several grades and colors. All you need to begin is cheap student grade gesso.
Gesso adds tooth to the page and can act as a glue or sealer.
Now that you've learned a bit about gesso, it's time to play with it. Using any tool you want, apply gesso to the page. You don't have to cover it, because you are going to add an image to the gesso before it dries. Yes, use the gesso as a glue.
Create at least a two page spread using gesso as the background. Cover the page, then, while the gesso is still wet, adhere your images into the gesso, treating it like a glue.
Decorate to match your book theme and color the pages however you choose. Note how Bleubeard has now taken the place of the heater that is now safely tucked away for another year.
For the left page, I laid down two sheets of wet wipes I had colored once they were dry. Although it is nearly impossible to tell, I have laid down gesso, then placed strips of masking tape on the page.
You can see the tape and the stamps I used sitting on top of the gesso. I was planning a different technique using the masking tape, but it didn't turn out the way I had it planned in my mind. Although these pages are not finished, I felt it was important to show my progress with the gesso.
Now that we've played with gesso, it's time to have a bit of fun with various glue and tags. Most of you are either scrappers or stampers, so I suspect your tags will turn out MUCH nicer than mine. However, be sure you write as much information as possible
about each glue. Be sure to strategically place the tags at uniform heights on the pages.
For my "Hands AB," I colored the background pages using pigment inks in a direct to paper fashion.
It will be nice to look back on your pages when you have finished and determine which glues were your favorites, and
which ones you didn't care for at all.
I made these for my Rocking Horse AB. The whole purpose of this exercise is to decide which glue is best for your pages.
It was great to see what kind of coverage I got based on the inks I used on the pages and how the ink picked up every bump. If you don't mind ripples in your AB ( and lots of AB artists actually LIKE those ripples), you might like white glue as your choice of glue.
I so apologize. I have NO idea why this scan is so large when I saved them all the same size. Apparently it was Blogger's idea to mess with me! And yes, I created the "tags" using paint chips, decorative scissors, and hole reinforcers. You can also use old manilla folders or heavy envelopes destined for your recycle bin. The tags don't have to be "regulation" size. I cut mine to fit my pages. For the ribbon accent, I began with white dressmaker's tape that I colored using the same color I used to color the pages.
Your tags can be as plain or fancy as you choose. There are NO RULES to how to decorate them. In fact, you don't even have to make tags. However, the more information you have, the better informed you will be. Whatever you do to mark these pages, it will be fun to tailor them to your specific theme. I look forward to seeing how you marked your pages.
Supplies from left:
Faux credit or hotel card
White glue (Elmer's)
I found the instructions for this technique on the internet here. The artist's name is Gaby Braun. Gaby lives in Brazil. I swear it looked so easy, but I obviously didn't understand the directions properly. Here is what I did. After coloring lightweight printer paper using stencils in a frottage technique,
I made a 50-50 glue/water mix, then
stirred the two until they were well mixed.
Next, I painted the book page with the glue/water mix and laid the watercolor pencil stencil drawing on the page, right sides together.
I think the glue/water mix was too thin, but I allowed the page to dry and went about my business.
A few days later, I tried again, this time thinking I needed less water in the glue/water mix.
Once again I tried to make the watercolor pencils come to life under the inspiration of the glue and water, and once again
I made nothing but a mess. I am hoping someone (or a few of you) will try this technique and see if you can do a better job with it. I even used two different brands of watercolor pencils, thinking that might have made the difference.
Also while I still had some of the same glue and water mix, I drew graffiti marks on tissue paper using Sharpies.
I dipped my glue/water soaked brush in dark green mica powder on one corner, and apple green mica powder on the other corner. I spread the brush on the tissue.
I did the same for pinks and gold. In case you missed it, you can see the entire process here.
Another play with glue I read about in a magazine. I started with regular printer paper and white glue (Elmer's).
I drew a house on a hill with a tree using the glue full strength.
I allowed the glue to dry for at least THREE days, making certain it was totally dry by the time I put water in Twinkling H2Os.
I realize my scene isn't as good as I would have liked. But I have NEVER claimed to be able to draw anything, so the idea of drawing a tree and house are nearly beyond my purview. You can see how the glue acted as a resist over much of the painting, but obviously not all. Some of the dried glue picked up the watercolors especially around the tree. However, this is a good way to create a resist using glue. You need to use watercolors with this technique OR really watered down acrylic paint. I hope you will try this one, too. Remember, if you do either of the above techniques, be sure they tie in some way with the theme of your book. I chose to do this in my technique book (with the house designs) because I was not able to draw a rocking horse! Have fun with this, please.
1. Decide which glue or glues you like best when working in your AB.
2. Document the process.
Review of Homework Assignment Due April 1:
1. Create at least three double glued pages using different glues of your choice. I suggest glue stick, white glue, gel medium, and possibly Mod Podge. Document how each of these glues behaved when you worked with them.
2. Create one double glued page using gesso. Document how it behaved when you worked with it.
3. I suggest using tags made from your choice of materials to document each of the above adhesives.
4. Create a double page spread using gesso as both the background AND the glue to which you will add your page elements and embellishments.
5. Find at least one way to use white glue as a major ingredient in a technique for a page you will either add to your AB, or on a page that is already in your AB.
6. A spread that includes any type of glue or adhesive will be considered an added bonus.
Supplies you will need for Lesson 5:
1. Papers from your stash to compliment your theme.
2. Embellishments from your stash to compliment your theme.
3. Paint from your stash to compliment your theme.
4. Magazine images from your stash to compliment your theme.
You've now had two weeks to create your niche, as well as your end pages. If you haven't already (I know some of you finished early and already posted your homework for Lesson 3), please post your niche and end page homework below. You may even post a work in progress if you don't have the assignment finished, although you have TWO weeks to show your Lesson 3 assignment.
I know some of you like to work ahead, but in order to stay on track, please don't link your Lesson 4 homework until I ask for it in two weeks. If you prefer to not keep Lesson 4 homework under wraps, you may show it on your blog at ANY TIME, but please share the link to your blog post during the Lesson 4 reveal on April 1. And please be sure the link is to the specific post, not to your blog in general. Then we will all be on the same page, so to speak.