What Is Rabbit Skin Glue?

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Rabbit skin glue is an adhesive made from the cellulose of rabbits that is usually used to adhere calcium carbonate to canvas as a priming medium. Learn about rabbit skin glue, which has now been replaced by a longer-lasting product, with information from an experienced artist and art supply store employee in this free video on drawing.

Part of the Video Series: Painting & Drawing Lessons
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Video Transcript

Hi my name is David Lamplugh, and I work for Asel Art Supplies in Austin Texas. And I'm here to answer the question, I hope to answer the question what is rabbit skin glue. Well here is an example of rabbit skin glue, made by Demco. And unfortunately it's exactly what it says. It is glue made out of the skin or cellulose of rabbits. So why would you use such a product? Well in the renaissance they used this to mix with calcium carbonate to make priming materials to prime their canvas with. And why may you ask? Well it actually provided the glue to stick the calcium carbonate to the canvas, and did a pretty good job on it. Now in modern times this product has been pretty much replaced, and I think for the better for moral reasons if you will. Or really for the fact that this product can deteriorate over a number of years. They now make a product called PVA Size, and it does the same thing. It cinches up the canvas, and makes it not floppy, which a lot of linen canvases especially is pretty floppy when it's unsized. And it also will seal the canvas so you can put oil base primer on it. It's really necessary when oil painting that you have something that seals the canvas off from the acids in the linseed oil or safflower oil. So that is a little bit about rabbit skin glue, and alternative products that are used nowadays.


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