Rubber cement is a solvent (duh)

Home>casting, studio practice>Rubber cement is a solvent (duh)

Apparently the way you get rubber cement is by dissolving rubber in a solvent. Paint this concoction on something, and you get a permanently sticky bond with…whatever. (Want details? Check out the e-Encyclopedia entry.)

This is relevant because the logical extension of having a solvent in rubber cement somehow escaped me. I wanted to layer things onto an organically curved, flexible base, shape it appropriately, and use it as a model for a pate de verre mold. I normally model in clay, but it’s difficult to get small clay details out of a mold without causing damage. For various reasons, wax (the usual choice) wasn’t appropriate.

Instead, I bought a pack of cheap rubber balloons, filled one with water instead of air (I needed the weight and heavy flow of water), tied it off and set it on my modeling stand to begin. It was a lovely day, so I set up in the kitchen instead of my studio, where I have a nice view of the hills and valley.

For obvious reasons I couldn’t pin things to the balloon. Heated beeswax wouldn’t work, either–that would likely melt the thin rubber. There were too many curves for tape to work well, and it would telegraph through the material.

Grabbed a big jug of rubber cement, chose a sacrificial paintbrush, and set to work. Painted the back of the first piece with a nice, thick coat of rubber cement, and set it on the balloon. Voila! Exactly where I wanted it. Cemented the second piece and set it in place. Perfect! Painted the third piece and…BLAM!

Did I mention that a 16-inch diameter round balloon can hold more than two gallons of cold water?

Apparently I’d overfilled the balloon and put that water under extra pressure, because when rubber cement finally ate through the balloon, it exploded and sent water ten feet to the ceiling and doused the pilot light in the stove about 13 feet away.

It also saturated me, the counter, the floor, and my cat, who’d been snoozing under my chair. Took a dozen bath towels to soak up the mess.

So yes, Virginia, rubber cement dissolves balloons. And I’ve gone back to the drawing board.


Comments welcome! (thanks)