Sticking spray painted canvas to more spray painted canvas.
June 6, 2011 8:10 PM   Subscribe

Metafilter, save my art project! What kind of glue can I use to stick spray painted canvas parts to a spray painted canvas?

So I'm working on a painting so far I've got a stretched canvas with the background painted on it in heavily spattered spray paint. I've also got some small irregularly shaped canvas pieces that are also heavily spattered spray paint on one side and raw canvas on the other. The goal is to get the canvas cutout foreground elements permanently attached to the background painting. But how?

I tried brushing some watered down elmer's white glue on the back of a couple of the canvas pieces and sticking them on. Unfortunately, they started curling up into a roll almost immediately after the glue was applied and refused to stick to the background. Hopefully I can salvage these pieces once they dry and press them flat again.

So, what glue should I using? Would the little pieces be less likely to curl up if they were coated on both sides? I thought about trying epoxy, but that seems like overkill. Any ideas how I can make this work?
posted by cirrostratus to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (16 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I came in to suggest epoxy. Better to get it stuck the first time than to become a glue tester for the next week, I think.
posted by Gilbert at 8:15 PM on June 6, 2011

I think using rubber cement to dry mount the canvas shapes would work, if they aren't too heavy with paint. (You'd coat the back of the shape with a layer or rubber cement and let it dry to tackiness, then do the same with the spot on the big canvas where the shape is to go. And then you stick them together. You should be able to rub away any excess cement left around the edges.)

A glue gun would probably also work, though the contact between the two surfaces would be less complete.
posted by Francolin at 8:17 PM on June 6, 2011

Maybe some spray adhesive would work. Elmer's and 3M both make it. Objects can be repositioned when wet, but stick tight once dry.
posted by jenny76 at 8:18 PM on June 6, 2011

What kind of paint? This is important.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 8:20 PM on June 6, 2011

Would rubber cement or spray glue be that archival? I have those glues in my head as mostly only for paper, but if you guys tell me otherwise I'll give it a try.
posted by cirrostratus at 8:20 PM on June 6, 2011

What kind of paint? This is important.

I suppose that is important! It's a hodgepodge of spray paints I had lying around but I'd estimate to be about 90% hi-gloss spray enamel.
posted by cirrostratus at 8:22 PM on June 6, 2011

Make some wheatpaste.
posted by bradbane at 8:22 PM on June 6, 2011

No, I don't think rubber cement is the most archival of adhesives. Someone in this thread, though, suggests Best Test brand. (And somebody else suggests acrylic medium, which seems like a good idea for your project, maybe.)
posted by Francolin at 8:37 PM on June 6, 2011

Why did you water down the Elmer's (PVA) glue? I would start by not doing that, as it's going to exacerbate the curling and impede adhesion. Is it the archival issue? Elmer's is somewhat acidic, but watering it down isn't going to change that. Also, are all of your other materials acid-free? Because I suspect any glue you might use is the least of your concerns. Still, there are plenty of comparable-but-archival PVA adhesives out there.

If curling is still an issue with the undiluted glue, I'd just weigh down the canvas pieces until they dry (put a book or similar under the stretched canvas to keep it from warping, though, even if it does get bent out of shape, that can usually be fixed by lightly dampening the unprimed back of the canvas).

The PVA won't stick to spray paint as well as it might to a more porous surface, but it really should do the trick. Gorilla glue, silicone adhesive, epoxy, solvent-based glues, etc. are all options as well, but I do suspect that the curling issue is due to excess water. I would not suggest wheatpaste, however, as it discolors with time and weakens (and molds) with ambient moisture.
posted by wreckingball at 8:37 PM on June 6, 2011

Do you have any acrylic paints around? It works great as a glue and most are archival. I use it all the time in mixed media works.
posted by ljesse at 9:01 PM on June 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

I think that silicone RTV1 would work. You can get it at any hardware store.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:03 PM on June 6, 2011

No matter what glue you choose to use, it's going to work better if you use a small wire brush on the back of the piece and also on the place where you're going to stick it.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:04 PM on June 6, 2011

Acrylic Medium. I used to use that stuff all the time for sticking things to things. I think that might be the route I end up going. I might try undiluted elmers first. But acrylic seems like a good option if that fails.
posted by cirrostratus at 9:26 PM on June 6, 2011

Depending on what kind of paint you're using, and how impasto-ed it is, you might want to consider gently sanding the area that will be under the glued-on pieces, to create a better surface for adhesion.

If you're delicate, 200 grit sandpaper should be okay, with higher numbers being even finer grained. Alternately, if you don't have sandpaper laying around, those extra-fine foam emory boards (like this) do just dandy for small amounts of sanding, in a pinch.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 9:28 PM on June 6, 2011

Sit the main canvas flat. Put a book underneath the place where you're going to stick something down, with a dozen thicknesses of newspaper between the book and the canvas so that moisture from the glue won't infiltrate into the book. Brush a generous dose of undiluted PVA glue onto the back of the piece you want to stick down. Stick it down. Cover it with a sheet of polythene cling film (nothing sticks to that stuff after drying) and then sit another book on it to hold it in flat and in place. You want the stuck-down piece nicely sandwiched between the two books.

The next day, remove the books and the cling film. PVA glue dries clear, but if there's a visible rim of squrkled-out dried glue around the edges of the stuck-down piece you should be able to get rid of it with careful use of a wet cotton bud; this is why PVA beats epoxy for this job. That's also your cue to be a little less generous with the glue on the next piece.
posted by flabdablet at 10:31 PM on June 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

We had to fix a mondo canvas drop once, and ended up using contact cement. Just let each side dry before you put them together. No overspill that way, but it might be a little overkilly for a smaller project.
posted by lauranesson at 7:32 AM on June 7, 2011

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