For many vegan artists and for artists who just love animals, rabbit skin glue may not be feasible as a canvas or panel sizing material.
So what are some rabbit skin glue alternatives that are vegan and synthetic. Let’s have a look.
Vegan Rabbit Skin Glue Alternatives Summary:
- Sizing is an important step for preparing surfaces for painting
- Rabbit skin glue is a traditional sizing material, but not suitable for vegans or those who avoid animal products
- There are many vegan and synthetic alternatives to rabbit skin glue
- Understanding the differences between these alternatives is important when selecting the right sizing material for your work
- Golden GAC-100 is my preferred rabbit skin glue alternative. It is synthetic and ticks all the boxes.
Synthetic Rabbit Skin Glue Alternatives
Synthetic rabbit skin glue alternatives are perfect for those who want a material that imitates the properties of traditional rabbit skin glue.
One synthetic substitute is PVA or Polyvinyl Acetate. This water-based adhesive is widely used in arts and crafts and is often considered as a universal adhesive because of its versatility.
Another popular synthetic substitute is acrylic resin. It is used in many commercial preparation sprays and mediums for sizing canvas or panels.
Actually, acrylic resin is more durable than rabbit skin glue and does not yellow or crack over time which makes it a way better rabbit skin glue alternative that we should all consider.
How Do The Alternatives Compare to Rabbit Skin Glue?
While rabbit skin glue has been used by artists for centuries, it does have some drawbacks. It can be brittle and is prone to cracking, especially in dry climates, and can also be sensitive to fluctuations in humidity.
As I mentioned earlier, rabbit skin glue is not suitable for vegans or those who avoid animal products. Let’s look at how the alternatives compare to rabbit skin glue:
These glues are cost-effective, eco-friendly, and non-toxic.
They have good adhesive strength and work well on absorbent surfaces.
However, they may not adhere well to non-porous surfaces and can become brittle over time.
If you want my advice, I would go with the Acrylic Resin. Specifically the GAC-100 displayed below.
Acrylic Resin (Acrylic Polymer)
Acrylic resin is another popular synthetic rabbit skin glue alternative. It is a type of polymer that is found in many commercial sprays and mediums that are used for sizing canvas or panels.
One of the key benefits of acrylic resin is that it is more durable than rabbit skin glue, meaning that it won’t crack or yellow over time.
It is also waterproof, making it ideal for artists working on outdoor murals or paintings.
Acrylic resin can also be used on a variety of surfaces, including wood, paper, and canvas. It’s also available in different colors.
This makes it a popular choice for artists who want to add a splash of color to their surface before painting.
The main drawback with acrylic resin is that it can be more expensive than rabbit skin glue, and it is not reversible once it dries.
This means that if you make any mistakes during the sizing process these cannot be corrected. You will need to restart the sizing process all over again.
PVA Glue (Polyvinyl Acetate)
PVA glue is a type of synthetic resin that is widely used in the art world. It is water-based and dries clear.
This makes it an great choice for artists who want to use a sizing material that won’t impact or change the color of their painting.
One of the benefits of using PVA is that it has strong adhesive properties, this means that it is perfect for artists who work on large surfaces like murals.
Another great benefit of PVA glue is that it is non-toxic, it’s easy to use, and it doesn’t have a strong odor unlike other synthetic alternatives.
When it comes to surfaces though, PVA does have a weakness. It does not stick well well to non-porous surfaces like metal, plastic, or glass. So if you paint on these surfaces, PVA is not for you.
Vegan Rabbit Skin Glue Alternatives
Veganism has gained immense popularity in recent years. There are several vegan alternatives to rabbit skin glue that you can choose from.
The big rabbit skin glue alternatives are plant-based glues.
These glues are derived from natural sources like vegetables, fruits, and starches. Some examples of plant-based glues are:
- Arrowroot powder
- Soy protein
- Aloe vera
Not all are suitable Rabbit Skin Glue Alternatives
While the above plant-based sources can be made into glues, only some of them can be used as vegan alternatives to rabbit skin glue for sizing canvas or panels.
They might not perform at the same level or have the same archival properties as traditional rabbit skin glue.
I have summarized an explanation of each below:
Cornstarch can be used as an alternative, although it might not be as strong or durable as rabbit skin glue.
To create a sizing solution, mix cornstarch with water to form a thin paste, then heat it gently to form a gel-like consistency.
Apply the solution to the canvas and let it dry thoroughly. This will create a barrier to protect the canvas fibers from the paint.
Cornstarch can be susceptible to mold and might not provide long-term protection for the artwork.
I actually experienced this first hand many years ago, the mold did not appear for months after I had finished painting.
Arrowroot is similar to cornstarch. Arrowroot powder looks like flour and can be mixed with water to form a paste and used as a sizing agent.
It has a slightly stronger adhesive property than cornstarch and it dries clear. The drawback to arrowroot is that it may not be as strong as traditional rabbit skin glue and it too may be susceptible to mold over time.
Soy protein can be a good and viable alternative to rabbit skin glue. Soy-based glues have been used in various industries, including woodworking and packaging.
To use soy protein as a sizing agent, dissolve it in water and apply it to the canvas or panel with a brush as you would rabbit skin glue.
It forms a protective layer and has good adhesion properties.
Again, it may not be as strong as rabbit skin glue, and we are still not 100% how good its long-term archival properties are.
Aloe vera is not a suitable alternative for sizing canvas or panels. It is a water-soluble gel and does not have the right adhesive properties to be used as a sizing agent.
Its primary use is for skin care and wound healing and not as a binder or adhesive.
Pectin (a polysaccharide found in the cell walls of plants) can be used as an alternative to rabbit skin glue as a sizing agent.
To use pectin for sizing you dissolve it in water and apply it to the canvas or panel. It will form a protective barrier between the canvas and paint layers.
Pectin has good adhesive properties but it will not be as strong as rabbit skin glue and we are unsure of its long-term archival properties to be comfortable to use it as a sizing agent. I would not recommend it.
So let’s recap:
Possibly good plant based rabbit skin glue alternatives
Cornstarch, arrowroot powder, and soy protein can be used as vegan alternatives to rabbit skin glue for sizing canvas or panels, but their performance and long-term archival properties are not as good as traditional rabbit skin glue, PVA glue or Acrylic Resin.
Definitely not good plant based rabbit skin glue alternatives
Aloe vera and pectin are not ideal alternatives for as a sizing agent for canvas or panels.
Plant-based glues are non-toxic, eco-friendly, and free from animal products. Plant based glues are excellent alternatives to rabbit skin glue for vegan and eco-conscious artists.
Joseph Colella (Joe Colella) is an Editor and Writer at WastedTalentInc. As a frustrated artist with over 40 years experience making art (who moonlights as a certified Business Analyst with over 20 years of experience in tech).
While Joseph holds a Diploma in Information Technology, in true wasted talent fashion he spent years applying for various Art degrees; from the Accademia di Belle Arti (Napoli), to failing to get into the Bachelor of Arts (Fine Arts) at the University of Western Sydney.
While he jokes about his failures at gaining formal art qualifications, as a self-taught artist he has had a fruitful career in business, technology and the arts making Art his full time source of income from the age of 18 until 25.
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