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Re: [BKARTS] reversible, archival glues

In terms of "animal glue," I would say "it depends." If you buy the really dark, medicinal smelling loaves or pearls you're likely to invite trouble. Made fresh from food grade gelatin (that is what hide glue really is) and not allowed to burn in the pot due to extensive and prolonged overheating (the process which renders it acidic) it is actually an excellent and sound adhesive having great tack and flexibility (provided you don't blop it on too thickly). It is also reversible in water and was traditionally used as a sizing agent in paper, papers which have survived the ages quite well. As with most things in this field of ours, it's as much the (mis)application of materials and technique that cause problems in the long term as anything else.


I wouldn't include Animal Glue in "archival". It's a protein glue and is both water-soluble and thermoplastic, but it is acidic and breaks down itself and all materials it's in direct contact with in time. It's also prone to acid burn paper when used on turn-ins and such. There are no really great PVA's that I've used that are completely reversible. PVA is thermoplastic, but it's a nuisance to deal with in conservation. Great for the quick grab, though. Wheat Paste and other cellulose starches (like rice) are completely reversible and archival and stable.
Brian Maloney
Bookbinder & Conservator


Peter D. Verheyen
Bookbinder & Conservator, PA - AIC
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