Rabbit Skin Glue

Rabbit Skin Glue (“RSG”), a traditional animal glue with a rich history, has been used for centuries in various industries and artistic practices. In this informative article, we delve into the origins, properties, and versatile applications of rabbit skin glue, shedding light on its enduring significance.

Key Takeaways

  • Rabbit skin glue is a natural and versatile adhesive made from rabbit hides, known for its strong bond and flexibility.
  • It is a popular choice for sustainability in craft projects and is commonly used in art and painting for sizing canvases or preparing wood panels for oil grounds.
  • Rabbit skin glue has a slow drying time and is reversible, making it ideal for use as a base layer for acrylic paint to enhance the longevity of the artwork.
  • Hide glue may be more suitable for certain tasks such as woodworking or instrument making due to lower bloom and stronger adhesive properties.

What is Rabbit Skin Glue?

So, you want to learn more about Rabbit Skin Glue (RSG)? Well, rabbit skin glue is a traditional adhesive commonly used in art and painting for sizing canvases or preparing wood panels for oil grounds.

It’s made by rendering gelatine from animal skins and comes as a dry product that needs gentle heating using a double-boiler process before use. While rabbit skin glue has advantages, there are also some disadvantages to consider, such as its sensitivity to moisture and the time-consuming preparation process.

While conservation scientists caution against its use due to the movement of the size layers causing oil paintings to crack, it is still widely used by traditional oil painters and gilders. Rabbit skin glue can also be mixed with titanium white and precipitated chalk to create a dry gesso ideal for encaustic and egg tempera paintings.

In this discussion, we’ll explore the best Rabbit Skin Glue products available, how to use RSG effectively and compare them with other adhesives like PVA while exploring alternative options.

Best Rabbit Skin Glue Products

Looking for the best rabbit skin glue products? You’ve come to the right place!

In this discussion, we’ll explore several product’s unique features and benefits to help you choose the one that’s right for your project.

Williamsburg Genuine Rabbit Skin Glue

Using Williamsburg Genuine Rabbit Skin Glue will give your canvas a unique texture and color that can’t be achieved with gesso while tightening it like a drum. As an artist preparing your surface for oil painting, you want to ensure the strength of your panel or ground.

By applying rabbit skin glue, you can add layers of protection and enhance the overall quality of your artwork. However, it’s important to note that this product requires specific ratios and heating processes, making it less beginner-friendly. When using Williamsburg Genuine Rabbit Skin Glue, stretch your canvas slightly to avoid warping the stretcher.

With its granulated texture taking longer to dissolve than other brands, you may need to exercise patience during preparation. Nonetheless, this product offers excellent quality at an outstanding value and will satisfy artists seeking premium results for their artwork’s ground or layering process.

Utrecht Rabbit Skin Glue & Size

Get ready to elevate your artwork to the next level with Utrecht’s traditional canvas and panel sizing that artists have trusted for centuries. Utrecht Rabbit Skin Glue & Size is a top-quality product made from rabbit skin that protects raw canvas fibers and panels from the disintegrating effects of fatty acids in oil-based colors and grounds. It’s an essential tool for preserving the longevity of paintings, making it a must-have for any serious painter. The glue is versatile and can be used on various surfaces, including canvas, wood, paper, and more. Using this product as a primer before applying gesso or oil paint will protect your artwork from deterioration over time. Additionally, Utrecht Rabbit Skin Glue & Size is easy to use and affordable, making it a popular choice among painters worldwide. To help you understand better how this product works compared to other glues and sizes available in the market, we’ve created a table comparing it with Williamsburg Genuine Rabbit Skin Glue (another popular brand) and acrylic size.

Rabbit Skin Glue by Enkaustikos

You’re probably aware of the importance of preparing your canvases before painting, and Enkaustikos has a product that will help you achieve the best results – Rabbit Skin Glue. Made from rabbit skin, bone, and tissue, this traditional organic sizing material has been used for centuries to prepare canvas for oil priming and creating traditional gesso.

Enkaustikos’ Rabbit Skin Glue comes in a resealable silver bag as a dry granular powder that must be dissolved in warm water. Additionally, if you prefer an acrylic primer or Gamblin Ground instead of traditional gesso, other options like hide glue or collagen glue are available as well.

Don’t forget the importance of using quality painting tools when applying any type of primer or ground!

Sennelier : Rabbit Skin Glue (Powdered Hide Glue)

If you’re looking for a traditional and high-quality option for canvas and panel sizing, Sennelier’s powdered hide glue is an excellent choice. Made from rabbit skin, this animal glue contains collagen that protects fibers from oil-based colors and grounds.

The product comes in a 1 lb bag of ground granules. To use, simply mix the glue with boiling water to reach your desired concentration, then let it sit until it reaches its bloom strength.

With Sennelier’s Rabbit Skin Glue, you can trust that your artwork will be protected for years to come.

How to Use Rabbit Skin Glue

Rabbit skin glue is a traditional adhesive used primarily in the process of sizing, a method used to protect the canvas in oil painting. It’s crucial to prepare and apply it correctly to ensure good adhesion and longevity of your artwork. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  1. Materials Gathering: Gather the rabbit skin glue, a double boiler (or a small pot and a larger one if a double boiler isn’t available), a heat source like a stove, water, a brush, and your canvas.
  2. Hydration: Rabbit skin glue typically comes in granules or crystals. To prepare it, you’ll need to soak it in water. Measure out the rabbit skin glue and water at a ratio of about 1:10 (one part glue to ten parts water). This can vary depending on the specific brand and the desired consistency, so follow the instructions on the package if they differ. Let this mixture sit for a few hours, or overnight, until the glue has absorbed the water and appears gelatinous.
  3. Heating: Place the soaked rabbit skin glue mixture into the top part of the double boiler. Fill the bottom pot with water and place it on the stove. Heat the water to a gentle simmer – do not allow it to boil as this can damage the glue. Stir the glue mixture occasionally until it’s fully melted and forms a thin, syrup-like consistency.
  4. Cooling: Once the glue has fully dissolved, remove it from the heat source and let it cool slightly. It should still be warm to touch but not hot.
  5. Application: Using a brush, apply the warm rabbit skin glue to the canvas. Brush it on evenly, ensuring you cover the entire surface. Depending on the size and absorbency of the canvas, you may need to apply multiple coats. Allow each layer to dry before applying the next.
  6. Drying: After the final coat, let the canvas dry completely. This may take several hours or overnight. It’s important to let the canvas dry at room temperature away from direct sunlight or heat sources, as rapid drying could cause the glue to crack.
  7. Painting: Once the rabbit skin glue has dried, your canvas is ready to paint on. As it’s a natural product, the glue might give a slight yellowish hue to the canvas, which is normal and does not affect the quality of your paint application.

Remember, rabbit skin glue is a traditional and natural adhesive, so it can be sensitive to changes in humidity and temperature. You’ll want to store any unused portion in the refrigerator to keep it from spoiling. Always check for signs of mold or a sour smell before using the glue, as this indicates it’s no longer good to use.

How long to soak rabbit skin glue?

After soaking rabbit skin glue in cold water for a minimum of 2-3 hours, it should be heated and mixed until fully dissolved. However, the time required to soak the glue can vary depending on factors such as humidity and room temperature.

To ensure optimal results, follow these steps:

  1. Soak the rabbit skin glue in cold water for at least 2-3 hours.
  2. Heat the glue over low heat until it dissolves completely.
  3. Avoid prolonged boiling as it can render the adhesive insoluble.
  4. Mix with equal parts of hot water before using.

By following these guidelines, you can effectively use this traditional adhesive made from animal connective tissue to create a strong bond between surfaces. Remember that rabbit skin glue is sensitive to humidity and temperature changes, so store it in a cool and dry place when not in use.

Rabbit skin glue partially dissolved in water.

What is the ratio of rabbit skin glue to water?

The ratio of rabbit skin glue to water is typically 1:10. This means that for every part of rabbit skin glue, you should use ten parts of water. For example, if you are using 10 grams of rabbit skin glue, you will use 100 grams (or milliliters) of water.

This ratio can vary depending on the specific brand and the desired consistency, so it’s important to follow the instructions on the package if they differ. If the glue is too thick after mixing, you can add more water; if it’s too thin, you can add more glue. But remember, the glue should have a thin, syrup-like consistency for optimal application.

How many coats of rabbit skin glue?

You’ll want to apply several layers of rabbit skin glue to your surface, allowing each coat to fully dry before adding the next.

It’s important to note that the number of coats will depend on the specific product you’re using and the type of surface you’re working with.

Additionally, some artists may choose to add an additional layer of PVA size or oil ground before applying the rabbit skin glue for added protection and adhesion.

Ultimately, it’s best to experiment with different techniques and find what works best for your particular art project.

Disadvantages of Rabbit Skin Glue (RSG)

Although Rabbit Skin Glue is a common adhesive in art restoration, be aware of its disadvantages. 

When using this glue for long-term preservation of artwork, it may not be the best choice. One of the major drawbacks of rabbit skin glue is its brittle nature, which makes it susceptible to moisture damage. Changes in relative humidity can cause the glue layer to crack or break down over time, which could result in loss or damage to the artwork.

Furthermore, if oil colors are applied over an RSG layer that has not fully cured and dried out, it can cause discoloration and cracking in the paint film. Therefore, considering these disadvantages, many conservators now prefer modern synthetic adhesives over rabbit skin glue for long-term preservation purposes.

Rabbit Skin Glue vs PVA

When choosing an adhesive for your art project, it’s important to consider the characteristics and drying time of both traditional protein-based glue like rabbit skin glue (RSG) and synthetic PVA. Here are some key differences between them:

  • Compatibility with materials: RSG works well with organic materials like wood, genuine gesso, and white pigment. On the other hand, PVA has better compatibility with non-porous materials like plastic and metal, making it more suitable for collage work.
  • Drying time: RSG takes a longer time to dry – anywhere between 6-24 hours, depending on the humidity level – which can be inconvenient if you are working on a tight deadline. In contrast, PVA dries much faster in as little as 15 minutes.
  • Preparation: RSG requires more preparation before use as it needs to be dissolved in warm water and cooked in a double boiler or using prolonged boiling methods to activate its adhesive properties. In comparison, PVA can be applied directly from the bottle without any prior preparation.

If you’re looking for an eco-friendly option that creates a strong bond with organic materials over a prolonged period, then rabbit skin glue could be the right choice. However, suppose you need something that dries quickly and has better compatibility with non-porous materials like plastic or metal. In that case, PVA may be more suitable for your project – especially if you’re working on collage work or paper mache projects where quick bonding is essential.

Rabbit Skin Glue Alternatives

Rabbit skin glue is a traditional size for canvas or linen used in oil painting. Still, several alternatives are often easier to use and don’t have the same issues with humidity and temperature sensitivity. Here are a few alternatives:

  1. PVA Size: This is a contemporary alternative to rabbit skin glue. PVA size is easy to use, less sensitive to humidity, and doesn’t have the same risk of cracking. However, it’s a synthetic product, so artists might have better choices for traditional materials.
  2. GAC 100 or GAC 400: These are products from Golden Artist Colors and are acrylic-based sizes. They’re easy to use and provide a good barrier between the canvas and the oil paint.
  3. Acrylic Mediums: Several acrylic mediums can be used as a size. These are easy to use and widely available. The downside is that they’re not traditional materials, and they tend to be more flexible than rabbit skin glue or PVA, which can cause issues with the paint cracking over time.
  4. Beva 371: A conservation-grade adhesive used as a size, often used in art restoration. While it’s a synthetic product, it has a long track record of stability and safety.
  5. Hide Glue: This is a traditional adhesive made from animal hide. It’s similar to rabbit skin glue in many ways, but it has a longer working time and is slightly less brittle when dry.
  6. Gelatin: Some artists use unflavored gelatin as an alternative to rabbit skin glue. It’s made from animal collagen, like rabbit skin glue but is more readily available and less expensive.

Each of these alternatives has its own strengths and weaknesses, and the best choice often depends on the artist’s individual preferences, the specific requirements of the painting, and the climate where the painting will be stored. Always test new materials before using them on a final artwork.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, rabbit skin glue is made from rabbits, specifically the collagen extracted from the rabbit’s skin and connective tissues. 

However, the term “rabbit skin glue” is sometimes used more generally to refer to any hide glue used in artistic contexts, even if it’s not specifically made from rabbits.

Yes, rabbit skin glue is water-soluble, meaning it can be easily softened and dissolved with just a little bit of water or moisture. Using rabbit skin glue requires mixing with water and then heating.

Yes, rabbit skin glue is very strong. It has a bloom strength of 400, which is the highest of any animal glue. This means that it can withstand a lot of stress without breaking. It is also very versatile and can be used for a variety of purposes, including sizing canvas, making gesso, and gilding.

Yes, you can gesso over rabbit skin glue. Traditional gesso is made with rabbit skin glue. However, ensure the rabbit skin glue is dry before applying the gesso. If the rabbit skin glue is still wet, it will reactivate the glue and cause the gesso to crack.

Yes, you can paint directly on rabbit skin glue once the rabbit skin glue has been applied and allowed to dry.

Yes, you can apply acrylic paint seamlessly on top of this strong adhesive. When it comes to painting over rabbit skin glue, acrylic is a popular choice among artists because of its versatility and compatibility with different surfaces. 

What is the difference between hide glue and rabbit skin glue?

When comparing two types of animal-based adhesives, there are noticeable differences between hide glue and its counterpart, rabbit skin glue.

Hide glue is derived from the prolonged boiling of animal connective tissue, while rabbit skin glue is made from the collagen found in rabbit hides.

Rabbit skin glue has a higher bloom (or gel strength) than hide glue, making it ideal for use in sizing linen or canvas before painting with acrylic gesso.

However, hide glue may be more suitable for certain tasks such as woodworking or instrument making due to its lower bloom and stronger adhesive properties.

Both types of animal-based adhesives can be found at art supply stores such as Dick Blick Holdings.

About the author

Jennifer is a stay-at-home Mom who loves everything DIY and crafting. She contributes to Just Use Glue in order to share her practical knowledge of how to glue all the things.

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