View Full Version : PVA Glue as sealer

07-23-2005, 11:37 PM
Hi everybody :wave:
I came up with the brilliant idea today to use PVA glue as a sealer for my oil pastel paintings. I tried some on a practice piece as was happy with the outcome. It dries to a slight gloss and slippery surface, but now I am wondering about its long term effects. PVA glue is cheap so if I was to paint a largish canvas I could protect the piece with the PVA and seeing as its a flexible glue I would not have to worry about it cracking. Also, seeing as it dries as a slippery surface and is waterproof, any dust could be wiped off easily. Has anyone else used this glue in this way and if so, how does it stand up over time.

07-24-2005, 01:13 AM
Never heard of the stuff, but great idea. My worry is the archival qualities of the glue, does it break down over time? Will it alter the pigments in any way? Keep us posted!

07-24-2005, 02:44 AM
PVA glue is called Elmer's Glue over in the states.
I have done a little research online about PVA glue and it seems that it is used in oil painting to size canvas etc so I am guessing that it is fine for the good old oil pastel painting. I have noticed that brush marks from the application are visible, (brush marks in the glue) when it dries so I shall try a soft brush next time. I might even try adding water to thin the glue a touch , making it easier to apply.

Pat Isaac
07-24-2005, 02:38 PM
I'm not sure I would put good old Elmer's Glue on top of my OPs. I don't think it is very archival and yellows with time. Keep us informed as to your results.


07-24-2005, 10:31 PM
Even Elmer's has different types of glue. Be sure that whatever you use will not yellow with age. Glue is notorious for doing this because of its absorbent nature. Elmer's white glue will also dry out over time and crackle. Be sure that your glue won't do that either.

I know that some types of glues are used with oil painting....rabbit glue comes to mind, however, I know nothing about any of the types of glues used. You might check in the oil forum about the type of glue that you're experimenting with. They can probably give you more information about the long term effects of using it over a painting.

Remember too that oil pastels harden with time. You want a flexible porous finish over them, if any at all. The more I paint with oil pastels, the less I advocate any varnishing of the final surface.


07-24-2005, 10:43 PM
PVA is like decoupage glue and medium. It dries clear. I think it stands for Polyvinyl Acrylic, something like that. I have used Liquitex acrylic matte medium over o.p.s and it hasn't yellowed yet, but I don't know if the formula is the same (the Liquitex costs more). Someone else in here (Sue?) had a bad experience with, I think, acrylic varnish, which darkened and yellowed her oil pastel work.

07-25-2005, 01:10 AM
PVA stand for polyvinyl acetate. I believe it's inferior to acrylics in terms of plasticity and also is less clear when dry. For the yellowing, maybe it depends on brand? Anyhow, I believe several months, up to year of observation should be enough to spot any possible adversities.

Sue was going fine up until she switched from acrylic medium to acrylic varnish.

The was also not pretty occasion somewone reported last year (CJ I'm almost sure) when acrylic skin came off partially and she had to remove it completely and repair the painting.

07-25-2005, 07:22 PM
I have started using a product called Krystal kote matte spray, it can be used on watercolours, oil, acrylic and pencil work, I have had no problems with it so far and it is non yellowing I find that 3 thin coats does the trick, I have also used the acrylic gel over the top of this to do subsequent layers with no problems.

07-26-2005, 09:41 PM
There are grades of PVA glue that are better than Elmer's and are considered archival for bookbinding and such. There are sites that sell bookbinding supplies that would have those varieties. No clue how it would work on oil pastel.

05-31-2006, 10:51 PM
Be sure to use Elmer's Glue All (and not School Glue). I don't think it will stand the test of time on it's own, mostly because it can be reactivated with water. I think a better alternative would be Liquitex Gloss Medium and Varnish. Other good products I could recommend is JW etc Decoupage Plus and Final Coat www.sgoosie.com, although the latter if very thin, but it's a wipe on and dries quickly, but it's an excellent product for sealing, heat resistant. I'm a Decoupage Artist and these are products (among others) that we use to seal our images. Something to try, which would be a relatively inexpensive solution also, is Aleene's Instant Decoupage Water Based Glue, Sealer and Finish. Also a good product and looks similar to PVA glue. All these products are water based, so no yellowing.
Oh, another one would be Krylon Triple Thick Crystal Clear Glaze (smell is awful though) and Ultra Seal by ETI - usually used a sealant before using acrylic resins, also made by them. Thanks, Des

05-31-2006, 10:55 PM
Read some of the posts again, and I'm not sure what they'd do over canvas and oil, but I know that in Australia, they use the Liquitex for adhering and sealing images (paper) onto canvas. I don't work on canvas though, so I couldn't say what the result would be, but for sure, I wouldn't use PVA as a sealer, even the good ones. Thanks, Des

06-03-2006, 08:07 PM
I don't know why you'd want to "seal" the painting any way. Is it protection you're after?

The fact that the oils in the pastels never dry make using a "sealer" as you call it, or varnish, that dries firm not a very great idea. Wax and acrylics also don't really get along that well. Sennelier and some other manufacturers have light workable fixatives for pastels that offers some protection. A wax varnish might work as well as long as it doesn't have solvent in it that could affect your painting.

10-09-2011, 01:20 AM
I'm using neutral PH PVA to seal my OPs and it has worked great so far. I do add water to make the seal thin but I guess I'll have to wait until I'm 90 or so before I can report further though! I guess the most important thing for any painting is to advise stable environmental conditions - no direct light, heat or excessive moisture.

Pat Isaac
10-09-2011, 11:55 AM
I moved this thread to the talk forum where it will get more feedback. This is a very old thread.
I'm still not inclined to put anything on my OPs Glass is fine for me.