BPG Adhesive Recipes and Tips

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Adhesives common in book and paper conservation are presented and discussed here, including specific recipe variations, rationales, and their uses. This page welcomes contributions from BPG members. If you would like to contribute a recipe, variant, or other piece of content, but are not a current Wiki editor, email your content to BookandPaperGroup.Wiki@gmail.com. This page is a companion to the BPG Adhesives page, which offers a more in-depth and technical discussion of adhesive properties.

Wiki Contributors: Abigail Bainbridge, Linda Barone, Susan Cobbledick, Jennifer Evers, Katherine Kelly, Evan Knight, Terry Marsh, Holly Maxson, Denise Stockman, Yana van Dyke, please add your name here

Copyright 2024. The Book and Paper Group Wiki is a publication of the Book and Paper Group of the American Institute for Conservation. It is published as a convenience for the members of the Book and Paper Group. Publication does not endorse nor recommend any treatments, methods, or techniques described herein. Information on researching with the wiki and citing the BPG Wiki can be found on the Reference and Bibliography Protocols page. The BPG Wiki coordinators can be reached at bookandpapergroup.wiki@gmail.com.

Cite this page:

BPG Adhesive Recipes and Tips. 2024. Book and Paper Group Wiki. American Institute for Conservation (AIC). Accessed February 21, 2024. https://www.conservation-wiki.com/wiki/BPG_Adhesive_Recipes_and_Tips

Adhesive Preparation[edit | edit source]

Video about adhesive preparation for book and paper conservation.

Vegetable[edit | edit source]

Starches[edit | edit source]

prepared wheat starch paste

For general information see Starches

Wheat Starch Paste[edit | edit source]

Hand stirred on hot plate (Library of Congress, updated in 2015): Add 57 g Aytex-P wheat starch to 400 mL deionized water. Stir to combine. Let the starch/water mixture stand for at least 30 minutes, and preferably overnight. This allows the starch to swell and will reduce the cooking time. Pour the starch/water mixture into a non-stick pot. Heat the starch/water mixture on a hot plate set to the highest setting, stirring slowly and regularly with a wooden spoon. Continue to cook the paste for at least 15 minutes, until it is thick, going translucent, and is bubbling. At this point it is important to begin stirring the paste vigorously and continuously. Be sure to scrape the bottom and sides of the pot regularly. Continue cooking and stirring for about 5-8 more minutes until the paste is shiny, translucent, and comes off the spatula in sheets. Put paste into a clean, lidded jar. The paste will keep 3 days unrefrigerated and for one week refrigerated. Strain prior to use.
Hand stirred on a hotplate or stove: The Book and Paper Gathering has a blog post from 20th October 2016 that offers a great discussion and technique for making paste (Matsumaro 2016).
Brain Paste: Combine 50 mL volume of wheat starch with 100 mL of DI water in a nonstick saucepan. Stir mixture with paddle until completely dispersed. Set hot plate to “6” and start to stir the paste mixture. Stir continuously, with particular strength, vigor, and rapidity as the mixture thickens. Total time is about 20 minutes. Double batches will take slightly longer. Finished paste will form a stiff white ball which sticks more to itself than to the pan. Remove paste from pan and form a uniform, round, ball-like brain. Set this on a small piece of Mylar to cool. Paste should be removed from the interior of the brain and worked out with a brush, slowly adding water to dilute to desired consistency.
Microwave Paste: Combine 1 tsp. wheat starch with 6 tsp. water in a microwave-safe container. Stir until dispersed. Set the microwave for 30 seconds at HIGH and cook for 20 seconds, or until paste is translucent and the consistency of cake batter. Stop the microwave at the 20 second mark and stir the paste with a spoon. Return to the microwave and let cook for the remaining 10 seconds. Stir again, remove from the microwave and let stand. Cool paste forms a semisolid mass. To use: Strain and dilute with water to a thin, cream-like consistency.
Electric Saucepan: (Keiko Keyes, full details in Adhesives for Paper: Wheat Starch Paste). Make a slurry of wheat starch by mixing 1 part powder (wt) to eight parts water (vol) and let stand for at least two hours. Using a Salton Sauce Maker, cook and stir the slurry for 5-25 minutes depending on the setting. Just before use, strain the paste.

Rice Starch Paste[edit | edit source]

Gums[edit | edit source]

For general information see Vegetable Gums

Agarose[edit | edit source]

Algin or Sodium Alginate[edit | edit source]

A recipe for sodium alginate and arrowroot paste was posted on the ConsDistList in 1998 by Iona McCraith (McCraith 1998).
  1. Make 100 ml of 1% sodium alginate by sprinkling 1 gram of sodium alginate powder slowly into distilled or deionized water in a beaker. Let stand for about 4 hours to dissolve. (To help the s.a. dissolve faster you can stand the beaker in warm water).
  2. Put 5 gram of dry arrowroot starch powder into a second beaker. Stir in some of the sodium alginate solution, then add the remainder. NOTE: For an even drier paste use 10 gram of arrowroot and for a thinner paste (i.e. for lining adhesive try 2.5 gram).
  3. Cook this mixture over a double boiler until it becomes clear and smooth, then simmer for about 20 minutes. Cool, then store covered. It should keep as long as other starch pastes before it goes off [...].
  • This adhesive is reported to be "quite a bit drier than other starch pastes but still with good working properties".

Funori (Japanese Seaweed Adhesive)[edit | edit source]

In Swider and Smith's 2005 JAIC article (Swider and Smith 2005) they noted a wide variety of preparation methods, but conclude that "Preparing funori is a flexible procedure, and overall our attempts [with different recipes] successfully produced a material that was free of debris and suitable for treating artifacts." In general the preparation steps they recommend are:
1. Rinse dry funori under dripping water for 15 to 30 minutes.
2. Soak for 8 hours or more (to shorten the heating time).
3. Heat at or just below a simmer (about 60–90°C), adding water if needed.
4. Extract by filtering through clean, undyed fabric or a fine mesh strainer.
5. Dry by pouring onto clean glass, silicon-coated Mylar or Formica.
6. Reconstitute for use by soaking in water for 10 minutes.
(For step 5, you can try the dropper method, invented by Yana van Dyke of the Metropolitan Museum: see isinglass entry for further information)

Cellulose Derivatives[edit | edit source]

For general information see Cellulose Derivatives

Methylcellulose[edit | edit source]

This is usually prepared as a grams per milliliter solution. The number of grams of methyl cellulose added per 100 milliliters of water equals the percent of the mixture. Preparations between 2 and 5 percent are often used. Methyl cellulose does not dissolve readily in water. It is best to prepare it a few days ahead of time and allow it to sit, or use a magnetic stirrer if needed sooner.
The preparation instructions from Adhesives for Paper: Methyl Cellulose: Do not use a blender because mixture tends to foam. Disperse powder first in hot water (about 1/3 of full measure) to avoid lumping and gelling, then pour in remaining ice-cold water and agitate until mixture is smooth. Wait twenty minutes to one hour for mixture to thicken.
If bubbles form, they will generally disperse over the several days.
A more speedy and exacting recipe is provided in Evaluation of Cellulose Ethers (Feller and Wilt 1990).
"First, heat about one-third of the required volume of water to 80-90 °C Then add the methylcellulose powder to the hot water with agitation. Continue agitating until the particles are thoroughly wetted and evenly dispersed. Remove from heat and add the rest of the water as cold water or ice, continuing agitation. The solution should be cooled to below 10 °C (for maximum clarity, cool to 0-5 °C for 20-40 minutes). Agitate until smooth; once cold this should take only a few minutes, but the process can take as long as an hour.
If other dry powdered ingredients are to be used in the formulation, they can be combined with the methylcellulose and blended dry. When the ratio of other ingredients to methylcellulose is greater than 3:1, it may not be necessary to use hot water to disperse the methylcellulose thoroughly with the other pulverized ingredients.
Nonaqueous solvents, such as mixtures of methyl alcohol and methylene dichloride, can be used with certain types of methylcellulose. In special applications, advantage can perhaps be taken of the fact that MC can be applied in an organic solvent and removed in water, or vice versa. If hot water is not available, then the water should be agitated and the methylcellulose powder added very slowly to prevent agglomeration. Cold water will help speed dissolution."

Hydroxypropylcellulose (Klucel G)[edit | edit source]

Talas: Talas offers a recipe for preparing Klucel G in water or organic solvents: Klucel G (The same recipe is also published by the manufacturers. Klucel G was originally produced by Hercules Incorporated, which ceased operation in 2008; it is now manufactured by Ashland (Klucel).
2% Klucel G in ethanol: Slowly add 1 g Klucel G to 50mL ethanol, whisking as you go. Close the container and shake vigorously until powder is dissolved. It’s okay to stop shaking after a while and let the mixture sit overnight. Just make certain that the powder is all dissolved before using. Store in air-tight container. When ready to use, measure out needed amount into a smaller container to prevent drying out and contaminating the whole jar.
  • Klucel G can be prepared in DI water, cast out onto tissue on silicone release Mylar, and then reactivated for treatment with solvents like ethanol.

Hydroxypropylcellulose (Klucel M)[edit | edit source]

Available from Kremer Pigmente (2017). Higher viscosity and strength than Klucel G. Klucel M was the subject of a poster at the 2017 AIC Annual Meeting (Adachi and Magee 2017). This poster presented the use of Klucel M as a solvent-reactivated tissue for paper repair and updated the testing data on Klucel M from the earlier studies by Feller and Wilt (Feller and Wilt 1990).

Ethylhydroxyethyl Cellulose[edit | edit source]

New York Public Library's recipe for Ethylhydroxyethyl Cellulose.

Sodium Carboxymethyl Cellulose[edit | edit source]

From Evaluation of Cellulose Ethers (Feller and Wilt 1990). Carboxymethylcellulose is soluble in either hot or cold water, insoluble in organic solvents. It will dissolve in water rapidly, but has a tendency to form lumps. It is recommended that the powder be added to the vortex of vigorously agitated water. The rate of addition should be slow enough to allow the particles to separate and become wetted, but fast enough to minimize the rapid thickening of the solution."

Methyl Hydroxyethyl Cellulose[edit | edit source]

Proteinaceous[edit | edit source]

For general information see Proteinaceous Adhesives

Gelatin[edit | edit source]

"Food" or "photographic" grades are recommended for purity. Powdered gelatin dissolves quickest. This is usually prepared as a grams per milliliter solution. The number of grams of gelatin added per 100 ml of water equals the percent of the mixture. It dissolves best in hot water.

Cold Gelatin Mousse[edit | edit source]

For further information, please see references on cold gelatin adhesive: (Charles 2008) and (Curtis and Uchida 2011).

Parchment size[edit | edit source]

Parchment size is gelatin extracted from parchment. Recipes generally call for something on the order of 1-3% w/v parchment scraps in water. Soak in water at least a few hours, better overnight. Heat the parchment and water enough to denature the protein: 50°C should be safe. Recipes range in recommendation but most are at least several hours and some up to 8 or 9. It will be difficult, unless the resulting solution is allowed to dry out, to measure the concentration—so while some recipes recommend topping up the water back to the measured level as it evaporates over the cooking period, this should still be seen as a fairly loose measure of concentration, especially since extraction may vary based on species and age of the animal and parchment. If it is made in excess of what is required, the extra can be frozen, or cast very thin in a tray and allowed to dry out. If the latter is done, a reliable concentration *can* be calculated based on the dry weight of the adhesive and the amount of water used to reconstitute it. To reconstitute, put the dried adhesive in water and warm again to around 50°C.

See also:

Bone or Hide Glues[edit | edit source]

Hide glue: measure pellets into a container then add water up to the level of the pellets. Ideally leave it for a few hours, or proceed to warm right away but it will take longer. Warm on a hot plate or in a baby bottle warmer to dissolve, not letting temperature exceed 55°C; add water to desired consistency. A few minutes at higher temperature (80-90°C) is okay but extended periods will cleave the polymer and make it lose its properties (Schellmann 2007).

Bone glue is made in the same way, and is sometimes called “pearl glue”. Bone glue is generally worse quality than hide glue, as it needs harsher extraction methods that damage the protein.

Isinglass[edit | edit source]

In paper conservation, isinglass is generally used for consolidation of flaking media in a 1-3% solution.

The images above are from "Isinglass for Consolidation", instructions prepared by Yana van Dyke of the Metropolitan Museum in 2016. Updated in 2022.
For further information, see the following articles: (Van Dyke 2009) (Petukhova and Bonadies 1993)

Synthetic Polymer Adhesives[edit | edit source]

For general information see Synthetic Polymer Adhesives

Poly Vinyl Acetate Dispersions (PVA or PVAc)[edit | edit source]

Poly Vinyl Alcohol Solutions (PVOH)[edit | edit source]

Acrylic Resin Solutions[edit | edit source]

Acrylic Resin Dispersions[edit | edit source]

Aquazol 50, Aquazol 200, Aquazol 500[edit | edit source]

poly (2-ethyl-2-oxazoline) Aquazol is available in 3 molecular weights: 50, 200, and 500, of increasing chain length, adhesion, and viscosity. They are water-soluble. According to Lechuga, the solutions are "prepared by mixing appropriate amounts of Aquazol granules and solvent in a beaker. The beaker was covered and the mixture was occasionally stirred until all of the solids dissolved; solutions were ready to use within a few hours." (Lechuga 2011)

See additional listings in pre-coated tissue bibliography below.

Adhesive Mixtures[edit | edit source]

The above adhesives can be combined to produce a variety of desired effects. PVAc is frequently mixed with methyl cellulose or paste to slow drying time and to potentially increase reversibility.

Heat- and Solvent-Set Precoated Repair Tissue[edit | edit source]

Making heat and solvent set repair tissue.

Kelly, Katherine, Jennifer K. Herrmann, Alisha Chipman, Andrew R. Davis, Yasmeen Khan, Steven Loew, Katharine Morrison Danzis, Tamara Ohanyan, Lauren Varga, Anne Witty, and Michele H. Youket. 2019. Handouts from "Use of Heat and Solvent Set Repair Tissues". Presented at the 47th AIC Annual Meeting in Uncasville, CT.

Remoistenable / Precoated Tissues[edit | edit source]

Making remoistenable repair tissue. Photo courtesy of Jodie Utter. February 2016.

The following list of citations was originally starting by selecting citations from Eliza Jacobi and Claire Phan Tan Luu's larger bibliography on treating iron gall ink on their Practice-in-Conservation blog (As of October 2023, this is only available via the Wayback Machine). It has been added to as new resources were brought to our attention. Please add any useful citations or comments you may have.

Anderson, Priscilla R. and Alan Puglia. 2003. "Solvent-Set Book Repair Tissue " (PDF). The Book and Paper Group Annual 22.

Discusses the use of solvent set adhesives for repairing leather books with tissue pre-coated with Lascaux Acrylic Adhesive 498HV.

Anderson, Priscilla and Sarah Reidell. 2009. "Adhesive Pre-Coated Repair Materials ." The Book and Paper Group Annual 28.

The authors presented "Adhesive-Coated Repair Materials: Preparation and Use" in the Library Collections Conservation Discussion Group (LCCDG) and "Pre-Coated Repairs Part 2: Preparation and Application" in the Archives Conservation Discussion Group (ACDG). The authors discuss wheat starch paste and methyl cellulose mix, methyl cellulose, sodium carboxymethyl cellulose, isinglass, Klucel G, Lascaux 498 HV, Rhoplex AC 73 and 234, and BEVA 371. BEVA 371 "is especially noted for its use in the repair of parchment and waterrepellant oily or greasy paper artifacts." The advantages of isopropanol and acetone are discussed. Briefly mentioned are also the variety of substrates: tissue, goldbeater’s skin, fish swim bladders, parchment, Tyvek, Mylar, and Hollytex.

Brückle, Irene. 1996. "Update: Remoistenable Lining with Methyl Cellulose Adhesive Preparation." Book and Paper Group Annual. 15. Accessed March 23, 2020.

Lau-Lamb, Leyla. 2007. "A New Material for the Conservation of Papyrus"(PDF). The Book and Paper Group Annual 26.

Describes the use of remoistenable tissue (sodium carboxymethylcellulose, Aqualon Cellulose Gum CMC, and Japanese paper) to mend papyrus.

Lechuga, K. 2011. "Aquazol-Coated Remoistenable Mending Tissue." (post-prints) Adhesives and Consolidants for Conservation. Ottawa, Canada.

Pataki, Andrea. 2009. "Remoistenable Tissue Preparation and its Practical Aspects." Restaurator 30: 51 – 69.

Quandt, Abigail, Elissa O’Loughlin, and Paul Hepworth. 2002. "Remoistenable Tissue for Mending Paper Damaged by Copper Pigments". Handout prepared for the 2002 IIC meeting held in Baltimore Maryland USA. Walters Art Museum : Baltimore.

This handout presents a instructions for making remoistenable tissue coated with wheat starch paste and methyl cellulose.

Titus, Sonja , Regina Schneller, Enke Huhsmann, Ulrike Hähner and Gerhard Banik. 2009. "Stabilising local areas of loss in iron gall ink copy documents from the Savigny estate." Restaurator: 16-50.

This article (sent out in a June 2017 BPG listserve announcement) discusses the treatment of letterpress copy books with iron gall ink using Berlin tissue pre-coated with gelatin, activated with limited moisture on a suction table. Gelatin was chosen over Klucel because of its stabilizing influence on iron gall ink.

van Velzen, Ban and Eliza Jacobi. 2011. "Instructables, Remoistenable Tissue." Journal of Paper Conservation 12(1).

Instructions for preparing 3% gelatin on tissue as a remoistenable tissue.

van Velzen, Ban and Eliza Jacobi. 2011. "Instructables, Repair on Iron Gall Ink with Remoistenable Tissue." Journal of Paper Conservation 12(2).

Instructions for using the tissue prepared above to mend iron gall ink.

Varga, Lauren, Jennifer Herrmann, and Kathleen Ludwig. 2015. "Heat-Set Tissue: Finding a Practical Solution of Adhesives." Book and Paper Group Annual 34. 113-117.

This article describes the National Archives & Records Administration's development and use of heat-set tissue (applied either with heat or through solvent reactivation) to mend paper documents. This progressed from the recipe developed at the Library of Congress in the 1970s (Rhoplex AC-73 and Plextol B500), changed to a mixture of Rhoplex AC-73 and Rhoplex AC-234, and then, when those adhesives were no longer commercially available, changed to the recipe described in this article (Avanse MV-100 and Plextol B500). The adhesive is cast out onto thin kozo paper on silicone release Mylar through a screen. Note: this research is updated in a 2022 JAIC article (Kelly et al.)

Wagner, Sarah S. 1996. "Remoistenable Tissue Part II--Variations on a Theme". The Book and Paper Group Annual 15. Accessed March 23, 2020.

Historical Techniques and Materials[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

Adachi, Michiko, and Catherine Magee. 2017. "Captain America Encounters Klucel M® ." Treatment 2017: Innovation in Conservation and Collection Care. 93.

Charles, V. 2008. "Cold Gelatine Adhesive." Papierrestaurierung 9(3): 11‐12.

Curtis, A. and Y. Uchida. 2011. "Which Gelatine to Use? The Choices for Conservators." (poster). Proceedings of the Canadian Conservation Institute Symposium 2011 – Adhesives and Consolidants for Conservation. Ottawa, Canada.

Down, Jane L. 2015. Adhesive Compendium for Conservation. Canadian Conservation Institute.

Klucel G: Manufactured by Ashland. "Klucel Hydroxypropylcellulose: Physical and Chemical Properties."

Feller, R.L. and Wilt, M. 1990. "Evaluation of Cellulose Ethers for Conservation." The Getty Conservation Institute.

Harrold, Jillian and Zofia Wyszomirska-Noga. 2015. Funori: The use of a traditional Japanese adhesive in the preservation and conservation treatment of Western objects in Adapt & Evolve 2015: East Asian Materials and Techniques in Western Conservation. Proceedings from the International Conference of the Icon Book & Paper Group, London 8-10 April 2015 (London, The Institute of Conservation: 2017), 69–79.

Lechuga, Katherine. 2011. “Aquazol-Coated Remoistenable Mending Tissues.” Proceedings of Symposium: Adhesives and Consolidants for Conservation. Canadian Conservation Instıtute 2011, October 17-21.

Matsumaru, Mito. 20th October 2016. "Paste-Making Tips with Two Recipes." Accessed March 23, 2020. Blog post on The Book and Paper Gathering.

Maynor, Catherine I. and Diane van der Reyden, liaisons. 1989. Chapter 46: Adhesives. In the 6th edition of the Paper Conservation Catalog, (print edition 1984-1994).

McCraith, Iona. August 14, 1998. "Dry Starch Paste". ConsDistList post. Accessed March 23, 2020.

Petukhova, Tatyana, and Stephen D. Bonadies. 1993. "Sturgeon Glue for Painting Consolidation in Russia ." JAIC 32(10): 23–31. Accessed March 23, 2020.

Schellmann, Nanke C. 2007. "Animal Glues: a Review of Their Key Properties Relevant to Conservation." Studies in Conservation (52) sup1: Reviews in Conservation 8. https://doi.org/10.1179/sic.2007.52.Supplement-1.55

Stone, Janet L. and Elizabeth A. Morse. 1989. "A Method for Storing Additive-Free Wheat Starch Paste." Abbey Newsletter 13 (8). Accessed March 23, 2020.

Swider, Joseph R. and Martha Smith. 2005. "Funori: Overview of a 300-Year-Old Consolidant." Journal of the American Institute for Conservation 44(2): 117 to 126. Accessed March 23, 2020.

Van Dyke, Yana. 2009. "Sacred Leaves: The Conservation and Exhibition of Early Buddhist Manuscripts on Palm Leaves." BPG Annual 28: 83-97 (particularly pages 89-90).

History of This Page[edit | edit source]

This page was created in 2016 as part of the August BPG Wiki Call for content to collect recipes and observations about adhesives commonly used in book and paper conservation. This page builds on the structure and adapts some content from the BPG Wiki page Adhesives. For further information see the History of the BPG Wiki page.

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