Adhering tissue paper in the very best way possible?
February 22, 2008 4:01 PM   Subscribe

I want to glue and layer tissue paper to bristol board. Help me pick out the right kind of adhesive!

I got really inspired by Eric Carle this morning and now I really want to play around with gluing and overlaying painted tissue paper. But I haven't done this before and am a)impatient and b) on a bit of a budget and c) wanting to be as kind to the environment as I can in the process.

Reading about Eric Carle's process, he says he brushes on wallpaper paste. But I read that such paste is harmful for the environment. I'd like to get a glue that will glue flimsy papers down flat without being really harsh chemically if I can. I've used Yes! glue in school but no place around here carries it, and I don't think Elmer's or Mod Podge are going to do that well with it, though I could be wrong.

What are your ideas? Bonus points if they're things I can find easily at a chain store or art supply store (Home Depot/Lowe's are also good options) or are mixtures I could make myself using household ingredients. (wheatpaste? I'm clueless, so advice is appreciated.) I'd rather not blow a lot of money experimenting with glues I'll probably not use otherwise. Hoping I won't have to go ordering through the internet on this one!
posted by actionpact to Media & Arts (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You can make your own wallpaper paste, mostly from flour and water, with alum and oil of clove added. Recommended by Treehugger.
posted by Elsa at 4:18 PM on February 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

It's been 25 years since I worked as a bookbinder, so I am not up on the materials, but just check into some bookbinding sites... we used a lot of natural based compounds to do things with tissue and light papers that can be found cheaply by asking at bookbinder supply sh0ps, or just asking at your local library processing/binding department.
posted by zaelic at 4:51 PM on February 22, 2008

PVA is the bookbinding glue of choice now a days. Wikipedia claims Elmers is PVA, but I've always used PVA bought from art supply stores. Maybe that's foolish.

You can thin Elmer's with water and brush it on. Try it on a thicker background paper.
posted by advicepig at 5:07 PM on February 22, 2008

Acrylic gel medium, either gloss, satin or matte depending on how shiny you want the final piece to look. Golden Paints, Liquitex, and I am sure other art brands make versions of acrylic gel medium. Those brands are available at big crafts chain stores like Michael's or many office supply stores carry some art supplies. It goes on white and dries clear. With tissue paper, you might find the dyes in the paper run and mix in with the gel and that will not dry clear.
posted by 45moore45 at 5:12 PM on February 22, 2008

Disperse about a tablespoon of cornflour in about a pint of cold water in a saucepan. Put it on the stove and heat it up, stirring constantly. When it gets near boiling, you will find that it changes from milky to clear and starts thickening. Once it seems like it's about as thick as it's going to get, take it off the heat. Keep stirring it as it cools down; it will get thicker. Once it's lukewarm, it won't change consistency much. Refrigerate any glue you don't use straight away (should keep OK in the fridge for about a week) or just dump the unused glue in your garden and make a fresh batch next time.

If it's too thick for your particular application, make up a fresh batch with less cornflour or more water. Once you find proportions that give you the consistency you want, write them down.

This is starch glue, and it will stick paper to just about anything porous. I have used it many times for midnight postering runs. Many of those posters stayed up for months, even exposed to weather. It's pretty good for such a simple glue.
posted by flabdablet at 5:31 PM on February 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

I just finished making a chessboard using a very similar method. I'm not sure what Bristol board is, but I was gluing these really nice papers onto plywood. I'm an absolute amateur, so I'm not sure what the official recommendation is, but I just used PVA.

Be careful not to lather it on too thickly, or the paper will become soggy. Will you be sealing it afterwards? I had one attempt of just painting lacquer directly onto it and it basically made the paper translucent. The second attempt, which was successful, had a layer of glue to stick the paper to the wood, a second layer of glue over the paper to seal it, and then several layers of lacquer (sanded back each time) to protect it and provide a nice finish.

Good luck with it- it'll look wonderful when you're done!
posted by twirlypen at 5:35 PM on February 22, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks everybody for the suggestions so far-- I'm going to definitely try them out! I'll give the starch glue a try tomorrow and if it doesn't work with the tissue, I'll get some PVA glue!

twirlypen- I should've mentioned, bristol board is just a thick paper used for drawing and illustration work. The kind I'm using is smooth and stiff, almost like cardstock. I don't think I'll be sealing it, at least so far I haven't planned on it!
posted by actionpact at 5:40 PM on February 22, 2008

seconding gel medium. let it dry thoroughly between coats so the bristol board doesn't warp from the moisture. most gel medium is very non-toxic, check the label.
posted by beckish at 7:04 PM on February 22, 2008

Wheatpaste is very commonly used for papier mache, which seems similar, and it couldn't be simpler. I've used diluted PVA for book binding and it's very easy to work with with a brush and pretty forgiving for paper so I'd second that, just slowly dilute until you get a nice, brushable consistency.
posted by nanojath at 9:53 PM on February 22, 2008

I've used Mod Podge to layer colored tissue paper and it worked fine for me. Depending on how you want it to look, it might not work for you.
posted by yohko at 9:03 AM on February 23, 2008

On a extending note, there is a video/DVD of Eric Carle demonstrating how he makes his illustrations. We watched it with my kindergarten class and then made our own illustrations using his techniques. I believe he used dilute elmers glue.
posted by johngalt at 9:08 AM on February 23, 2008

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