[Ansteorra] Adhesive!

Haraldr Bassi ansteorra at haraldr.drakkar.org
Wed Jun 1 16:41:57 PDT 2011


One thing to be careful of with any hide glues is they break down very quickly over a certain 
temperature. Most of them will want to stay at a liquid state, but below 140F.

What we used to get as Elmers White Glue in the 60s/70s is what was referred to in period as a 
casein glue. Casein is the protein type substances in milk and cheese that was then able to be 
processed and turned into a glue. It is mentioned in sources as early as the 1200s if I recall 
correctly. I know it was known in period as a way to join the edges of two wood panels for 
painting. It's more long term durable than a hide glue as it won't come apart above 100F. The 
modern recipes, though generally made with a latex, have many similar properties to the period 
casein glues.

One reason that Hide Glue seemed to have been well liked for furniture was it's ability to have 
the joints be heated and broken down for transport of an item. Many pieces of furniture traveled 
from Europe as broken down pieces of wood or traveled from the East Coast to the Midwest or 
further in wagons as bundles of wood. It is also better able to move with the heat and humidity 
changes that furniture goes through. So, no, Ikea wasn't the first company to sell furniture 
broken down and imported from Europe that required assembly when it arrived :)

Hide glues (especially Rabbit Skin Glue & Sizes) were also well favored for scribal needs, it 
was used as a primary ingredient for preparing wooden panels for painting and used to make 
gesso, gilders bole and by itself to seal and prepare a wooden panel for application of linen 
ground and gesso.

Shellac, if I recall correctly, is something that was known from well before period to today and 
remains used in about the same fashion today.

If you see a medieval recipe referencing Venetian Turpentine (or just sometimes referred to as 
Turpentine), it isn't the distilled spirits of turpentine that you can get in Home Depot/Lowes, 
but instead a very thick form of larch sap that has been processed to be used as an ingredient 
in paint recipes.

I believe that someone mentioned earlier in this thread that Linseed Oil was used as a drying 
agent. That is actually incorrect. Without some form of processing or addition of a drying 
agent, Linseed Oil will not ever dry. It will remain sticky for years in fact unless it is 
processed or otherwise has extra ingredients to act as a catalyst of the oils. Medieval 
processing often involved heating it in a way to modify it's structure. Another method I recall 
was placing it in a clear glass jar and leaving it in the sun (result called "stand oil"). Red 
Lead (Minium) was added as a siccative (or drying agent) to many recipes that involved Linseed 
Oils, even a stand oil or boiled linseed oil benefited from additional siccatives, depending on 
the desired working properties of the resultant product.

There are period varnish recipes that I recall reading about as well, but would have to go and 
find those sources again to identify what their specific compositions were. I do recall that 
most required waiting some number of months after finishing the painting of a something that 
used an egg tempera before application of a varnish and then further, the varnish was 
susceptible to damage for some months after that.

To bring the discussion back to the beginning, the original poster seems to be looking for a 
period glue to be used to process something in a non-period way. That is a fine thing to be 
thinking of, but one should also be considering how they would have achieved the same effect 
using their period techniques. It is possible that they wouldn't have chosen to use an adhesive 
for this purpose due to the limitations of the period glues and their being unsuited to the 
desired effect. I guess what I am saying is that if this project ends up not working properly 
with a medieval glue, it may need to be completed using non-period techniques as they may not 
have been able to duplicate the efforts at all.

Good luck with the project and if anyone has any questions on the above, feel free to hit me up 

Haraldr Bassi

On 5/31/11 11:04 AM, Miles Grey wrote:
> Lady Grainne,
>    Hide glue dates back at least to Roman times and I believe it was used
> in Ancient Egypt.  You can buy the ground flakes and mix it up yourself
> - many lutiers and others who use hide glue own an electric glue pot
> that will keep it warm, others just use some normal source of heat.  You
> can buy the ground hide glue at woodworking supply places like
> Woodcraft.  It dries transparent (mostly) and cleans up with water - and
> it is NOT waterproof.
>    There are also pre-mixed versions of hide glue available, usually called
> "traditional brown glue."  Titebond makes a version (available from
> Woodcraft) and there's also "Patrick Edwards Old Brown Glue" available
> at their own website (http://www.oldbrownglue.com/) and elsewhere.  It
> also dries clear.
>    Hide glue has the advantage that it's reversable - you heat it up with
> an iron and you can pull apart the joints.  Another advantage is that it
> is repairable - that is, you do not have to remove all vestiges of the
> glue from the joint to re-assemble it.  I believe you heat up the joint
> to soften the old glue, apply some fresh glue, and re-assemble - I've
> never tried doing that so I don't know the exact process.
>    As a sealing and protecting agent, shellac (the real thing, made from a
> resin secreted by the female lac bug) goes back to ancient times
> (originally as a coloring or dying agent and sometimes to make molded
> items), I understand that there are references to it being used as a
> varnish in Europe as early as the 13th century, so it's even period in
> that application.  I'm not sure what solvent was used in antiquity, but
> the solvent used these days is denatured alcohol (which is ethanol with
> a "denaturing" agent added so you cannot drink it - essentially poisoned
> Everclear).  Distillation was known in period, mostly for perfumes and
> things, so using alcohol as your solvent is plausibly period and may
> actually be period.  You can buy shellac flakes from Woodcraft and most
> other woodworking suppliers.  "Blonde" shellac is the variety with the
> least color to it, but, like even a lot of modern plastic resins, it is
> not completely transparent.  Natural shellac has an amber tint to it,
> with blonde shellac having the least.  Basically, what you are buying is
> just flakes of the natural resin, which you then dissolve in a solvent.
> After it is applied, the solvent evaporates leaving behind the natural
> resin.  Shellac is waterproof, but, as you might guess, it is NOT
> alcohol proof (don't spill your margarita on it) nor is it heat proof
> (don't put a hot pot on it, but a hot Ansteorran day shouldn't be a
> problem - I'm not sure if it would survive being left in a car on a
> sunny day though).
>    I hope this is of some use to you.  My knowledge of both hide glue and
> shellac is from the woodworking perspective, though I know that shellac
> has been used to stiffen felt hats.  Either or both may prove to be just
> what you're looking for or completely worthless, but it's certainly
> worth a little experimentation.
>    In service,
>      Miles Grey
> Chelsea Durham wrote:
>> Sorry my mind was going faster than my fingers. what I meant to add was "I
>> want a stiff to hard, clear coating on the flowers." they're pretty
>> delicate. which should have been followed by the "I'm pretty sure it
>> wasn't something that was done to the flowers in history."
>> -Lady Grainne Kathleen NicPadraig MacDaniel
>> Son, I never knew there was part of me missing until you were born.
>>> From: chiara.francesca at gmail.com
>>> To: ansteorra at lists.ansteorra.org
>>> Date: Mon, 30 May 2011 19:58:27 -0700
>>> Subject: Re: [Ansteorra] Adhesive!
>>> Actually, you would be surprised. :)
>>> Try these sites
>>> http://www.roxelana.com/articles.html
>>> http://tinyurl.com/42zlus7
>>> http://tinyurl.com/44eoq24 (The history of English secular embroidery By
>>> Margaret Jourdain)
>>> ♫
>>> Chiara Francesca
>>> (said in my best southern drawl) You want a silver lining to that sad,
>>> little, cloud; come sit by me. :)
>>   		 	   		_______________________________________________Ansteorra
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