Liquid Padding vs. PVA Glue and other questions.

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Liquid Padding vs. PVA Glue and other questions.

Postby jessicag1981 » Mon Feb 22, 2016 11:01 am


I'm new to the forum. I've just taken over conservation at the university library I work for. The person who handled it before me left without training anyone. When I saw that the process for handling damaged books now was the recycling bin I thought I had to step up!

I've been taking an inventory of the supplies left behind and it looks like I have almost everything I need. I have bone folders, book cloth, wax paper, archival tape, and a few other items I haven't researched yet. The PVA Glue that was with the supplies had dried up and we have ordered more but in the meantime someone tracked down a bucket of Liquid Padding. Can these things be used interchangeably? There isn't as much info as I thought there would be online (or I just don't know where to look), but all I've read so far is that Liquid Padding is a little more flexible.

Any info for a newbie would be appreciated. Also, if there are any books or manuals you could recommend I would be grateful. I've ordered a few at the library here but upon their arrival I realized how ANCIENT they are. I didn't know if there was a more up-to-date book that someone could recommend.

Thank you so much!!!
“All the reading she had done had given her a view of life they had never seen.”
~Roald Dahl, Matilda
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Re: Liquid Padding vs. PVA Glue and other questions.

Postby Annied » Tue Mar 22, 2016 2:53 pm

Hi Jessica and welcome! Sorry it's taken me a while to reply.

I'm friendly with a paper conservator and she has influenced me a lot, especially when it comes to working with old books. She has very strong feelings about PVA and they're not good! She recommends EVA and it's what I've used on my antiquarian books or any modern ones that I hope will still be around for many years to come. If I remember correctly, it's to do with the molecular structure. PVA's is linear. After several years it will be rock hard and because of the linear element, could crack. EVA has a cluster structure. As a result, it will never become completely hard, so even in 50 or 100 years time, there will still be some give in it. I'm afraid I've never heard of Liquid Padding, so I can't comment on that.

On the plus side, the old books will take you through traditional ways of binding, it's not a craft that changes too much, so I doubt you'll go far wrong with them. The main changes are probably modern equipment, like leather paring machines or printers for making labels rather than having to tool them by hand. On the minus side, the old books aren't always the most user friendly!

The Society of Bookbinders has a couple of DVDs you can buy, the one on rebacking a cloth binding is excellent, very clear and easy to follow and I'd definitely recommend it. ... index.html

There are also several tutorials online, I have some demonstrations on my own website, originally put together simply to show non binders what goes into rebinding an old book (and pre-dating my meeting a paper conservator, so PVA is mentioned!). From the feedback I've had, beginners have found the pages helpful too.

What you will find, is that every binder has his/her preferred methods. Like most crafts, there can be several ways of approaching each stage and all of them acceptable. For this reason, I'd suggest sticking with one explanation for each procedure (rebacking, cloth rebind etc.) until you feel comfortable with it. Once you've got the basics under your belt, then take a look at how others approach it and be open to new ideas. Otherwise (and I speak from bitter experience having been taught by 3 different professionals in quick succession when I first started!) it can become very confusing.

Hope that helps.
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