|Jade PVA from Talas|
Throughout these weekly blog posts, PVA has been mentioned in passing as the glue of choice for bookbinders, especially when mixed with methyl cellulose. But just what is this mysterious acronym?
|PVA glue, used in bookbinding|
PVA stands for “polyvinyl acetate,” a rubbery, synthetic polymer from the polyvinyl esters family with the chemical formula (C4H6O2)n. For those of us without chemistry degrees, PVA is a type of man-made plastic (the “vinyl” refers to a similar chemical structure that is found in vinyl records) whose rubbery properties make it a useful paste when mixed with water. Because of this, PVA has become an adhesive best used with porous materials, such as wood, paper, and cloth, and is a common component in everything from carpenter’s glue to Elmer’s paste.
In bookbinding, a more pure version of PVA is used. Flexible, strong, and—very important!—naturally non-acidic (unlike other polymers), PVA will hold together paper, book board, and book cloth without risking the disintegration and yellowing that is found in papers that are not acid-free nor archival quality. Because PVA dries rubbery and springy, it is also perfect for the creation of books: the flexibility allows books to be opened and closed without cracking (or holding boards so tightly the book is unable to be opened at all!). As PVA is also quite strong, it will prevent book board coverings (such as quarter-bound books that use both paper and cloth) from peeling, keeping your book neat, clean, and able to be read for many years to come!
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