Fish & Hide Glue

High Tack Fish Glue is another appropriate product for artifact preservation that our C2C workshops recommend and use in hands-on practice.  It is fairly affordable and accessible, sold online by Lee Valley Tools.   

A one-liter bottle costs $19.50, but a little goes a long way for most collections repair needs.  The vendor also offers a ½ ounce, nail polish-style brush bottle for $3.50 (shipping charges additional).  Unlike granulated hide glue, liquid forms do have a limited shelf life, so consider ordering a small bottle or distributing a larger amount amongst your regional cultural resources network.

This product is completely reversible with ethanol, and several conservators who work regularly with wood recommend it for our C2C audience.  David Beaudin, Frame Conservator at the NC Museum of Art, first introduced high tack fish glue to us as a good solution for a common collections care problem.  Often in working with wood collections, both furniture and frames, small bits of carving or veneer detach—either by becoming unglued or by a mechanical break.  In an institution with a fairly large collection, the risk of dissociation is high.  It is much safer for the perpetual care of the object to re-adhere the piece using appropriate and reversible materials.

 Animal hide glue is a well known as a conservation product, but the expertise and equipment used to cook and apply the glue and clamp the parts may seem too daunting for many collections managers to undertake.  Consequently, a North Carolina furniture conservator reported that he once had to drive several hours to a museum just to re-attach a small piece of wood with hide glue.  With the right products, such as a ready-to-use liquid form of hide glue, museum collections workers can safely accomplish simple repairs.  Even if efforts result in some misalignment, the glue’s reversibility ensures that a conservator can correct the problem, if need be, at a later time.

 We will be distributing and practicing with high tack fish glue in our upcoming September 26th workshop, “A Closer Look at Wood and Metals.”  In addition, conservators Jane and Mark Bynon will present on the special challenges these materials pose and describe their treatment strategies. 

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About collectionsconversations

This blog will contain posts from the C2C project staff on a variety of topics related to collections care and disaster preparedness. Enjoy the posts and let us know if you would like additional information or have a topic you would like for us to address.

Posted on September 13, 2011, in collections care, Connecting to Collections, workshops and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Hi there ! Is the the liquid hide wood glue from Titebond could be use for minors reparations on msueum wood objects ? Is the closest I could find for this type of glue, but I’m not 100 % sure it’s safe or animal glue. Thanks for any answers !

    • Yes, several conservators we have worked with use this product on wooden objects. They advise caution, however. If pieces are not well aligned, a conservator would need to spend more time un-adhering (usually ethanol will reverse the adhesion) than if not glued at all. My argument is that the danger of disassociation is huge without re-attaching broken pieces and hide glue is a safe and reversible substance. But as always, it is a judgement call depending on the damage and priority level of the object.

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