Tensive and Compressive

I’m finished, or at least I should be. I glued this piece together on Friday night and left it to set. The porosity of charcoal means that this didn’t work so I had to go again yesterday. A whole heap of glue later and I expected to have solved this problem but it simply isn’t working by using PVA glue.

I’m going for a different angle this morning with the use of superglue. I’m hoping that cyanoacrylates will do a more thorough job. There is still no guarantee though. For previous materials in the Emergence series I have resorted to mixing combinations of glue to try to get a bond. I can see this needing a little more experimentation before it holds.

Even then I might not be finished. I work with the art in a horizontal position then, once I’m convinced the glue has held, they spend up to a week stood vertically. They will be exhibited vertically so there needs to be no movement or slippage occurring in the materials. Virtually all common adhesives are compressive which means you put pressure on things as they stick together and they will stay stuck. Once you start moving things to a vertical position then you’re asking the adhesive to hold things together under tension rather than compression. This is where the problems start, particularly with some of the heavy weight materials I’ve been using. The glue has to be set completely to stand a chance of holding in the vertical position.

Some materials are more fickle than others. I have had no problems with gravel or slate (PVA). Tarmac took me a week to figure out (glue combinations) whilst shells respond best to superglue. Sand was a nightmare material to work with and needed several attempts with layers of spray adhesive to avoid clumping and to maintain a dry, granular appearance.

Emergence will show at Twelve34 as part of this year’s Fringe Arts Bath but I cannot show it until I am convinced that it is finished to the best of my ability. I have no option but to go again, and again, and again until I’ve solved this problem.



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