Polyvinyl acetate, or PVA, glue is a very useful artists material that can also be used in the household. Despite its fancy name, PVA is basically good old fashioned white glue. It can be refined for use in an archival art project like sizing or gluing paper to panels. It is made for use on porous things like paper or wood.
PVA glue is non-toxic. You can handle it without danger, though it should not be consumed. It does not set off gassy fumes, so you don't need to think about ventilation on cold days or in close rooms.
The drying time on PVA glue is quick. Normally, a thin coat dries in less that 30 minutes. For heavier applications, allow more time. Keep pressure on the bind for the best seal. Use either clamps or weights. The glue cures to full strength in around 24 hours.
PVA glues can be reversed with water. This means that if you need to remove something that has been attached with PVA glue, you can use some water to undo the bind. For archival purposes, this is important, as you want whatever you do in preparing a stretcher or panel to be undone by conservationists later, if necessary.
Cleaning up PVA glue is accomplished with simple soap and water. You don't need special detergents or toxic thinners. Dried paint can be peeled off harder surfaces without damaging them. Do not allow the glue to freeze in storage.
- "The Artist's Handbook"; Ralph Mayer; 1991
- Gamblin Colors: Sizes and Grounds