Friday, January 17, 2014

How and Why to Use Rubber Cement– and Get It To Really Work!

Rubber Cement Final

So you like the idea of collaged flash cards, you want to make a picture for your wall, a birthday card, or a visual teaching aid. You don't have schmancy software, or maybe you just like the sheen of magazine glossies, so you pull out your scissors and paper. Then it hits you. Glue sticks don't work, spray glue is a scary mess, and acrylic medium is gross.
How do you stick two pieces of paper together neatly and permanently without buckling and bubbling the paper?
We have put a man on the moon, surely the right product exists!
How right you are. The perfect product is out there, but no one knows how to use it. That's why you need to read this rubber cement tutorial.

 If you like to craft, knowing how to use rubber cement for good and not evil in this world is a great tool for your repertoire. Forget all of your past experiences of science projects wilting off the presentation board at the wrong moment and accidentally gluing all the wrong things together all wrinkled up and stuck for life. You can do this, you just need to know how.

Let's talk product. Pitch the gunky Elmer's crap, or better yet, let it dry out sans-brush in a well ventilated spot. I'll show you why in a moment. Go to your art and craft supply store and get Best Test. It has the right consistency and it won't get all boogery* on you. I also need to mention that this should be done with good ventilation. Windows open, fans blowing. Glue sniffing makes you dumber, and who needs that?

Rubber Cement Step 1

Step 1: Cut out whatever you are collaging and prepare the paper or cardboard surface you are collaging to. Figure out how you want to place things and trace ever so lightly around the pictures in pencil. Soft touch here, folks, and it doesn't need to be exact or complete. Just give yourself a way to know where to put the cement.
Rubber Cement Step 2

Step 2: Spread a very thin coat of rubber cement on the paper you are gluing onto, completely covering inside the line, and just a little to the outside of the lightly traced pencil lines. Sabrina Fairchild could easily have been talking about rubber cement when she said "More isn't always better Linus, sometimes it's just more." Test me on this if you must, but multiple coats do not grant a firmer hold, they just invite lumps. Also coat the back of the picture you are gluing.

Rubber Cement Step 3

Step 3: Give the rubber cement a few minutes to dry. You want any puddles to have cleared up, but no dust and fuzz to have settled. If you move forward before the cement is dry your pictures will peel off the paper at the first critical glance. This is not the time to cut corners! On the other hand if you leave and do something else for 6 hours it won't stick either.

Rubber Cement Step 4

Step 4: Grab a piece of junk mail and lay it over most of the rubber cement on your foundation. In my example you can see that only a little corner of flag has an opportunity to touch the cemented foundation paper. I will use that corner to carefully make sure that the flag is within my traced lines. When I get it situated I press down on the upper corner and jiggle the scrap paper down from between the glued papers, smoothing down the flag so there are no air bubbles as I go.
If you are gluing an image with thin parts sticking out, like a human for instance, you get the head set first and then work down toward the extremities. Otherwise you will get the feet set in the wrong spots and have some very unsightly folding in the crotch, or wherever the picture branches from. Once the layers of cement touch together you will not be able to pull them apart without destroying one or both pieces of paper, so take your time.

Rubber Cement 5

Step 5: Lay your scrap paper over the top of your papers and vigorously rub the handle of your scissors over your picture to press out air bubbles. You can do it without the scrap paper, but I like to shield my hard work from the streaks and skid marks that result from overly enthusiastic burnishing.

Rubber Cement Step 6

Step 6: Cleanup phase. Here is where that cheapo Elmer's rubber cement comes in. If you rub your finger across the dried rubber cement that is showing on your paper you can make an increasingly bigger ball that cleans the excess even faster. You can cheat this one by purchasing a rubber cement pick up that looks like an eraser made of rubber cement, or you can use dried up lumps and clumps to give yourself a head start. The ball in my hand is one of two that prove I am an expert at using rubber cement. It's like a black belt that looks like, well, green gold.**

Rubber Cement Final

There you have it. A professional, permanent glue job.
Now what are you going to glue?
Do you have any embarrassing rubber cement or glue stories?
Tell me all about it in the comment section below.

*I do know that boogery is not a word, but if you have had a bad experience with rubber cement you will know exactly what I mean.

**You learn something new every day. Thesauruses do not recognize the word booger. We have no viable alternate term in English!


Debbie Skeil said...

Thank you. Short, sweet and clear. I may have to get some of this.

Bob Hurt said...

Debbie, I have used double-sided sticky tape to bind the inside edges of this twirler paper object together. I just bought some rubber cement for such work because if I stick the edges together with bad alignment, the double sticky tape tears the paper when I try to adjust it. I figured the rubber cement will forgive such errors without tearing the paper. Maybe I should have bought Best-Test Paper Cement, but your described method seems just as unforgiving as double sticky tape. For the twirler project it seems better to stick the edges together while the glue is a little wet so that I can make adjustments without tearing the paper. What do you think?


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