Fish glue

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A proteinaceous, water soluble Adhesive made from fish parts containing Collagen, Keratin, or Elastin. The agglutinating agents are remove by extraction with hot water, then cooled and dried to produce Gelatin or Glue. Varied production techniques can produce poor-quality fish glues. The highest quality is made from the swim bladders of sturgeons. It is clear, bluish white and very flexible. Isinglass is a fine glue made from a specific type of sturgeon. it is generally sold in narrow soft translucent strips. In general, fish glues are lighter in color than Hide glue and form a weaker adhesive bond. It dries to a hard, sandable surface and adheres well to Glass, ceramics, Metal, Wood, Cork, Paper, and Leather (Norland 1977). Fish glue is sold in liquid form and is used in painting, gilding, bookbinding, casemaking, gummed tapes, Blueprint paper, and letterpress printing plates.

Synonyms and Related Terms

colle de poisson (Fr.); cola de pescado (Esp.); colla di pesce (It)

Examples include: isinglass; sturgeon glue; Sea Gel; StewMac

Physical and Chemical Properties

  • Soluble in water (pH = 6.5-7.2).
  • Insoluble in organic solvents.

Resources and Citations

  • R.Norland, "Fish Glue" in Handbook of Adhesives, I.Skeist (ed.), Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 1977, p.152-157.
  • R. J. Gettens, G.L. Stout, Painting Materials, A Short Encyclopaedia, Dover Publications, New York, 1966
  • Reed Kay, The Painter's Guide To Studio Methods and Materials, Prentice-Hall, Inc., Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 1983
  • Ralph Mayer, A Dictionary of Art Terms and Techniques, Harper and Row Publishers, New York, 1969 (also 1945 printing)
  • Matt Roberts, Don Etherington, Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books: a Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington DC, 1982