Rubber Cemented, Oh No!

August 31, 2015

Rubber Cemented 1

What can happen with Rubber Cemented papers, years later

Help! My daughter is off at college and is happy and excited. I thought all was going well until she told me that in one of her classes they are making collages, and they have been instructed to use rubber cement !!!!  I am mortified. I forbid her from using it. And then she told me that it’s part of her art kit  and everyone is using it.  Of course I instructed her to just Google “rubber cement” and I was sure she would be clued into the abyss of misinformation that she had fallen into, but GUESS WHAT, there are all sorts of people on the web that are actually recommending using rubber cement for collage. OMG this is more dire that I could have imagined.

Before I knew better

One of my first handmade books, made using rubber cement: this was made before my first class at The Center for Book Arts

Before I knew better I used rubber cement.  I used it for years on other projects as well. I fondly remember a kaleidoscope I made and decorated for my friend Hank: It was a beautiful object that I poured my heart into, but the glue I used was rubber cement, and within a few years the paper embellishments simply fell off.  I know that rubber cement is acidic (will discolor paper), not permanent, and toxic, but, hey, if everyone is using it how can I compete with that?

I am asking all of my friend, followers, and casual blog visitors to weigh in on this. I need to send an unmistakable message to my daughter about her choice of adhesives.

FYI, I am sending her, via her Amazon prime account,  a photo safe glue stick, some PVA,  Beacon Zip Dry Paper Glue, (which I haven’t tried out yet myself), a container of mod podge, and some small bone folders.

I’ve also sent her these links;

Please, speak up! Comment on the idea of using rubber cement as an adhesive for art projects, and make a recommendation. Even if you find that you will repeat what someone else has said, remember there is strength in numbers and right now the rubber-cementers are everywhere!

Thank you.

Addendum: Beatrice Coron just sent me this very cool link that offers glue advice and info /

18 Responses to “Rubber Cemented, Oh No!”

  1. dariawilber Says:

    NO to Rubber Cement! There are so many BETTER adhesives. STOP! STEP AWAY From the Rubber Cement Bottle! Any conservator will tell you NO!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Donna Orlyk Says:

    I use Utrect’s matte medium.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Carol Says:

    The Beacon Zip Dry paper glue is what I have used for several years for my paper crafting. It has not failed to date! The quick drying without seeping through the paper is my favorite feature. Good luck. Just say “no” to rubber cement!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. ivasallay Says:

    Even if rubber cement didn’t eventually ruin projects, it is smelly and messy. It also quickly becomes a really thick mess in the bottle. Use an acid-free glue instead. Your descendants will thank you for it.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Candy Says:

    No, no, no to both rubber cement as well as Yes Glue. People say they are both okay to use, but they are not. Rubber cement turns brown and Yes Glue has yellowed one of my favorite pen and ink drawings.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. romicagawon Says:

    Hi, I’m going to start uni for graphic design soon and our first project will also be a group collage. I haven’t heard about rubber cement before and I think they instructed us to bring glue sticks so I hope it will be fine. Anyways, thank you for sharing & caring. Hope your daughter will use the alternatives you provided for her.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hello.

    I am a bookbinder of over 30 years and I can tell you categoricaly that rubber cement is a poison to keep away from. Rubber cement degrades quite quickly and glued things fall apart.

    Much better to use an acid free PVA which is easy to obtain.


    Richard Norman

    Liked by 1 person

  8. verosorch Says:

    I’m a book conservation technician. Rubber cement is evil. It will destroy your art over time, either by causing it to fall apart or discoloring it horribly. Acid-free PVA, YES paste, acrylic matte medium, acid-free glue stick – all these things are SO much better!
    Good luck spreading the word.



  9. lgpaperarts Says:

    Amen, Paula. The after effects of rubber cement are obvious, plus the dangers of the fumes are obvious. It was outlawed for use in our public schools years ago. Sing it loud! Thanks, Nancy

    Sent from my iPad Liberty Grove Paper Arts Sister Bay, WI 54234



  10. Mary Says:

    Hi Paula,
    I noticed the same problem with rubber cement on things that were over 10 years. Not sure what to use now but anything better than rubber cement will do. Thanks for the input.


  11. Shafali Says:

    I had tried it once – had used a homemade glue (called lei in India.) But that was years ago. Your post refreshed those memories.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Wendy Wahman Says:

    Funny. I looked at this and thought what a cool color and texture.To use rubber cement as paint.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Stephanie Says:

    I am late to this party but AMEN. Rubber cement should be outlawed everywhere. Why is it even made anymore, honestly? What purpose does it serve, other than destroying paper and poisoning people with fumes? I still remember making rubber cement ‘gloves’ as a child and the cold feeling as it dried – then peeling it off and rolling it into balls – gulp, if we knew then what we knew now – but anyway, YES! AVOID, AVOID, AVOID, AVOID like the plague. I would avoid FIRST for health reasons. Then for art purposes. There is just no upside to this stuff. Blargh!


  14. […] is toxic but also, not at all archival. BookZoompa does a great job describing it in her blog post Rubber Cemented, Oh No! Although I still decided to use it for this project. My next step is to take Mod Podge and slather […]


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