Rabbit Skin Glue Vs PVA: A Comprehensive Comparison

rabbit skin glue vs pva

Rabbit Skin Glue Vs PVA glue, who would have thought you would be reading this comparison but here we are!

Glue made of one source or another has been used in art and woodworking for centuries. The right glue can determine the strength, durability, and finish of the final product, making it an essential component of any project.

My dad was a bookbinder for most of his life and started work at age 10 and he always told me how he used rabbit skin glue as part of his work. I remember him boiling it up so that he could glue covers to books and bind the spines of books.

TLDR: This post compares and contrasts Rabbit Skin Glue vs PVA, these two types of glue are commonly used in art and woodworking.

Rabbit Skin Glue is a traditional protein-based adhesive with a long drying time and works well with organic materials, but is less durable than PVA and more susceptible to water damage.

PVA is synthetic, water-resistant, and has a faster drying time, making it an excellent choice for woodworking projects.

Comparison of Rabbit Skin Glue vs PVA

Application Process

  • Rabbit skin glue needs to be dissolved in warm water before application, which requires a bit of preparation time.
  • PVA, on the other hand, can be applied directly from the bottle without preparation.

Drying Time

  • Rabbit skin glue has a long drying time, typically between six and 24 hours.
  • In contrast, PVA dries much faster, and some varieties can dry in as little as 15 minutes.

Strength and Durability

  • Rabbit skin glue creates a strong bond that is flexible and works well with organic materials. Because rabbit skin glue is protein-based composition it makes it less durable and more prone to water damage than PVA.
  • PVA offers a strong, water-resistant bond that is more durable and suited for use in woodworking projects.

Compatibility with Different Materials

  • Rabbit skin glue works well with absorbent, porous materials, including paper, canvas, and wood.
  • In contrast, PVA has better compatibility with non-porous materials such as plastic and metal.

Environmental Impact

  • Rabbit skin glue is biodegradable and eco-friendly, making it an excellent choice for environmentally-conscious artists and craftsmen.
  • PVA is synthetic and less eco-friendly.

Can you Still Buy Rabbit Skin Glue?

Yes, you can still buy rabbit skin glue. It is widely available at art supply stores, both in physical locations and online.

As a traditional material, rabbit skin glue is often sought after by artists, particularly those who work with oil paintings or restoration projects.

When purchasing rabbit skin glue, make sure to choose a reputable brand to ensure high-quality product.

If you prefer shopping online, you can find rabbit skin glue through websites like Amazon, Blick Art Materials, and other specialized art supply retailers.

Always read the reviews and product descriptions to ensure that you are buying a product that meets your needs and preferences.

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Is rabbit skin glue water soluble?

Yes, rabbit skin glue is water-soluble. It is a traditional glue made from the collagen extracted from rabbit skin and has been used for centuries, particularly in art for sizing canvas, as a binder in gesso, and for adhering fabric or paper to various surfaces.

To prepare rabbit skin glue, you’ll need to soak it in water and then heat it in a double boiler to dissolve it, creating a liquid glue.

Once it dries, the glue becomes hard and brittle, but it can be reactivated and softened by the application of water or moisture.

How do you dissolve rabbit skin glue?

Dissolving rabbit skin glue is a long but simple process. My dad is now 88 but still knows exactly how to prepare the rabbit skin glue granules. He said to follow these steps:

Measure the glue: Rabbit skin glue typically comes in granules or flakes. Weigh the amount you need for your project, keeping in mind that the common ratio for dilution is 1 part glue to 10 parts water (by weight).

This ratio can vary depending on the specific application, so adjust as needed.

Soak the glue: Place the measured glue in a container and add the appropriate amount of water. Allow the glue to soak for several hours or overnight.

The glue granules or flakes will absorb the water and swell in size.

Prepare a double boiler: A double boiler is necessary to heat the glue gently and evenly without risking burning or scorching.

Fill a large pot with water and place a smaller heat-resistant container (such as a glass or stainless steel bowl) inside the pot, ensuring that the water level doesn’t reach the top of the smaller container.

Heat the glue: Transfer the soaked glue and any remaining water into the smaller container inside the double boiler. Heat the water in the large pot to a gentle simmer, making sure it does not boil. Stir the glue occasionally as it warms and dissolves, taking care not to introduce air bubbles.

Monitor the temperature: Use a thermometer to monitor the temperature of the glue. Rabbit skin glue should be heated to around 140°F (60°C) but should not exceed 150°F (65°C) to prevent the glue from breaking down or becoming too weak.

Strain the glue: Once the glue is completely dissolved, and you have a smooth, liquid consistency, remove it from the heat.

If needed, strain the glue through a fine sieve or cheesecloth to remove any remaining undissolved particles or impurities.

Cool and store: Allow the glue to cool slightly before using it. If you have leftover glue, you can store it in the refrigerator for a short period.

The glue will gel as it cools but can be reactivated by reheating it gently in a double boiler when needed.

Note: working with rabbit skin glue requires care and attention to ensure the right consistency and strength for your specific application. Always test the glue on a small surface or project before using it on a larger scale.

Rabbit Skin Glue vs PVA in Art and Woodworking

The properties and strengths of rabbit skin glue and PVA make them suited to different applications in art and woodworking.

In Art, rabbit skin glue is ideal for restoring artworks, as it can be easily removed without causing damage to the artwork.

It is also suitable for techniques such as gilding, marbling, and oil painting.

PVA is perfect for collage work, paper mache (papier-mâché), and general crafts, where a strong bond is needed quickly.

In Woodworking, rabbit skin glue is great for veneering, as it provides a strong, flexible bond that can adapt to the shape of the wood.

It is also useful for creating a more traditional look to furniture. PVA is better suited for creating a durable, water-resistant bond in furniture making, cabinetry, and other woodworking projects.

History of Rabbit Skin Glue

Rabbit Skin Glue has been used by artists and craftsmen for centuries. Originating from the waste material of the meat industry, rabbit skin glue has been used in traditional art forms like oil painting, gilding and even bookbinding.

Rabbit skin glue is made by boiling down rabbit skins or bones to form a jelly-like substance, which is then dried and ground into a powder.

Rabbit skin glue is a protein-based adhesive, which means it is soluble in water and has a bond that will break down over time.

This property makes it a popular choice for art restoration projects where it is desirable to remove the glue in the future without causing damage to the artwork.

Despite being a traditional glue, rabbit skin glue is still a popular choice of adhesive for many artists and craftsmen today.

History of PVA

PVA or Polyvinyl Acetate was invented in Germany in the 1920s, and it quickly gained popularity in the woodworking industry due to its water-resistant properties.

PVA is a synthetic adhesive and is made by polymerizing vinyl acetate monomers.

PVA glue has a long shelf life, is easy to apply and dry, and can produce a strong bond between materials.

PVA glues are available in a variety of types, including white, yellow, and clear, with each having unique properties suited for different applications.

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Rabbit Skin Glue vs PVA – Wrap up!

In conclusion, Rabbit Skin Glue and PVA are two distinct types of glue suited to different applications in art and woodworking.

Understanding the properties and advantages of each can help craftsmen and artists choose the right glue for their project, knowing that they will achieve the desired level of strength, durability, and finish.

With advances in technology, new types of glue will keep being invented in the future to cater for different needs.

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