Crafting without ever sticking your fingers together is underrated, as is the magic of PVA glue. We test out the ubiquitous Fevicol MR white glue, using it in a variety of crafting tests, from foam paper craft pieces to paper pop-up cards. One of us even managed to combine book binding with a DIY stationery organization solution! Watch this wide-ranging stationery test and chat about the wonders of simple school glue or wood glue, and how it can be your best adhesive solution for crafting trouble free.
Reviewing Fevicol MR White Glue
Vishal: Hello and welcome to Stationery Test Drive where every week we choose humble tools and exotic tools and strange tools in stationery and art and craft-making and then we make things with them. I’m Vishal.
Minjal: This is Minjal.
Samir: I’m Samir. And today we are going to be covering what is probably one of the most ubiquitous kinds of glue in the world, which is white glue, and we are going to be looking at Fevicol MR which is the most popular white glue in India.
What is PVA Glue or White Glue?
Vishal: And, with over a billion people that’s a very popular glue indeed. So, what is a white glue? Well, it just says white adhesive on this packaging.
Samir: White glue or wood glue or if you’re from America you probably just know it as Elmer’s, we in india call it Fevicol even if it’s not that brand, it’s kind of become a generic.
Vishal: Elmer’s is a brand, Fevicol is a brand, but they’re all white.
Samir: Yes, and they are all PVA glues – Polyvinyl Acrylate. So it’s a synthetic chemical which was only discovered sometime in 1900s. And by the time we hit the 1980s or 1990s it was kind of cheap enough to make that this became the de facto adhesive that we all use in schools and woodwork and a lot of different things.
Vishal: I wonder if some of our audience remembers a program called ‘Art Attack’ growing up. That was very popular for them to use PVA glue mixed in with water in that show, for various applications, including one on this show which if you watched our episode on the canvas you used for decoupage.
Samir: Yes. A diluted PVA glue is a sort of poor man’s decoupage medium.
History of Glue
Minjal: Fevicol is manufactured by Pidilite in India. It was launched in the 1950s as a replacement for the collagen and fat based adhesives that were available at that time.
Samir: So just some background, until the middle of the 20th century most glues were of animal origin. They were made by essentially treating skin and bones of animals and extracting the collagen which would be sort of the adhesive material.
Vishal: And nowadays we extract collagen and use it in serums for cosmetics.
Samir: Yeah, we’ve gone in a whole different direction. But glues thankfully moved to a more cruelty-free manufactured, chemically produced mode of working. And that’s what’s actually made glues to be so cheap and cheerful for everyone to use.
Vishal: And cheap and cheerful for everyone all the way up to like we said, you get a gallon and then a woodworking person can take the same thing and build cabinetry with it.
Different Types of Fevicol Glues
Minjal: Fevicol produces different variants. Fevicol MR is used for art craft work, you can bond thermocol, paper, even wood with this. The gallon that you were talking about is basically the Fevicol SH which is used for carpentry, woodworking, book binding even, because it takes a little while to dry and you can achieve great strength.
Samir: It’s essentially the same kind of glue, a PVA glue as well, but I guess the formulation has been varied for strength.
Vishal: Now we picked these up literally down the street for the princely sum of Rs. 5, Minjal, I think yours is Rs.10? They’re the same glues but different type of applicators. In fact the cheapest one has got an angular tip but interesting applicator and the actual selling point of this kind of packaging which is just a tube, like a tube of toothpaste, is that the crimp at the end is the applicator which means that you can apply the glue on the surface and then just spread it out with the crimp into this very thin layer.
Minjal: Meanwhile in the more premium, double the price, Rs. 10 rupee applicator, you have a nozzle tip which is more traditional. And, I realized that the nozzle tip applicator is actually like a mehendi / heena cone, if you’ve ever seen one of those.
Samir: The thing about this glue is it starts off white but generally dries pretty much transparent. And in fact Pidilite does make a series of glass paints and things which use a very similar nozzle, maybe a similar base but with colors.
Vishal: Well, we’re artists and designers and calligraphers, Samir show us what you have done with the Fevicol MR glue.
Paper Pop-Up with Fevicol MR White Glue
Vishal: Very colorful! This is lovely, this is very complex, and 3D?
Samir: Yeah, it’s kind of a bit of a pop-up. So it folds flat but has a bit of a dimension to it. I actually found the Fevicol MR glue to be quite good. It was better than I hoped it would be because most of the the paper craft that I do, I tend to use glues that are not water-based. Because the problem you can have with a water-based glue, which all PVA glue is, is the sort of warping of the paper.
But honestly I found it to be a lot more minimal with the Fevicol MR glue than I thought it would be. Especially when you use a flat applicator and you sort of spread it out in an even way, I was able to get some very even, nice bonds between literally dozens of layers here.
Vishal: And the cutting work in here, I know this is not a video about cutting, but how did you get all these intricate cuts?
Samir: Some of it is of course using my favorite tool which is a craft knife, especially all of the counter forms here. But after doing such an extensive video on scissors, one of our previous videos, I did end up using a scissor for a lot of these shapes. Because I really liked the fact that scissors let me cut things which were not as pre-planned.
Vishal: And considering that the Fevicol applicator is not the finest one in the world, how was it to work with some of the smaller and thinner pieces?
Samir: The great thing about this angular applicator is that you can put down just a dot of glue and it sticks, and that is really how most of the smaller things pieces were stuck. Where I needed a big flat area, I would use the applicator to spread it around and when I had a small little piece that’s not even a centimeter wide, it was just a dot of glue and that was usually enough.
Vishal: So, far from being just a vessel for this glue, the packaging itself is in some ways its own tool.
Samir: Yeah, it’s a great piece of design that they managed to put it all into something that’s very pocketable but then also every part of it kind of could be used.
Vishal: Minjal show us your test drive with the Fevicol MR Glue.
Foam Art with Fevicol MR White Glue
Minjal: What I’ve done this time is instead of using paper, I’ve used foam board. This is very easily available and foam is a little denser than paper, so I tried this 3D layering with foam. There are actually 6 layers over here and this is stuck to a paper that is 300 gsm.
And the good part is that while the paper has wilted a little because there are 6 layers with Fevicol on them but it seems to have still retained its shape. I wanted to demonstrate that this is really a fun thing to do, whether you do it with paper or you do it with foam, you can just build layers like this with shapes that you cut out differently and make your own compositions.
Vishal: And foam is a porous medium, so I think one of the advantages of having a water-based glue like Fevicol MR is that it adheres to it a little better. I seem to at least remember using things that were glues that would eat into things like thermocol.
Samir: So there are certain glues for example anything that is generically called a Super Glue is generally polyacrylate-based.
Vishal & Samir: Things like that Bison Kit? The Bison Kit is a rubber glue, and I remember those used to almost eat chemically into the thing because thermocol is sort of susceptible to those kind of alcohols and corrosive sort of materials.
Samir: This is actually an interesting experiment because PVA glue, in general white glue is best at sticking together things which are slightly porous. Because I think the way it works is that it kind of seeps into the surface a little, including paper of course, so yeah, this is just a great test. In some ways this is like wood lite.
Vishal: Well, my experiment involved a lot of glue, in fact I think I used about one and a half to two of these and it was an experiment!
Handmade Book with Fevicol MR White Glue
Vishal: This is all just glue and paper! So you can do 40 or 50 of these and make a whole 360 lantern.
I ended up with one of these, and if you’re looking for this beyond an art piece because I like to look at some kind of utility this is actually a stationery holder.
So you can just keep this on your desk and it just opens up more as you’re using them and it’s a stationery holder that looks like a book. And how it was made was I used some backing boards from some old sketchbooks, I put some paper on them, I made all these from just some craft paper that I had. This is the process and materials used for making this handmade book!
Samir: I think this is just a great example of how much strength this thing is capable of. It’s strangely appropriate because Fevicol has always had this very strange little logo of two elephants trying to pull apart a little sphere in the middle that you assume are stuck together with Fevicol.
Vishal: I think in certain interpretations, I might be misremembering this, that sphere is the earth.
Samir: So they’ve always had a bit of a sense of a humor of how they present themselves and I think over the decades that we have grown up with Fevicol as kind of a normal part of culture.
Vishal: To the point where there are actual songs with Fevicol with the term Fevicol in metaphors.
Samir: In india the word Fevicol just kind of means sticking together.
Vishal: Yeah, strong bond, deep friendships are like Fevicol.
Samir: And over the decades they have had extremely, hilariously comedic ads which are all about strange situations where things stick because of Fevicol. They’ve really lent into that and it’s good to see that it’s not just all hype.
Difference between PVA Glues and Rubber Glues
Vishal: Honestly, after a lifetime of using fairly weak glues, it’s nice to come back to a super cheap, normal white glue like the Fevicol MR. I mean because it’s water-based it washes off that’s the great thing. You can mess up your hands with it and just go to the sink and wash it off.
Samir: The great thing about PVA glue and this holds for almost any PVA glue is it does wash off very easily, which is one of the the selling points that actually sold Elmer’s in the US to begin with, which is that you could wash it off children’s clothes. And, that’s how it became the de facto school glue.
So, yes there is a thing that you can wash it off, the other great thing is that unlike more serious glues, you can put something down and you still have some time to move it around, and that’s very important.
Minjal: Absolutely, that’s that’s what I noticed with the foam especially. It was very easy to keep moving it around.
Samir: You have about easily four to five minutes when you can move it around and it’ll still stick if there’s enough glue in there. Whereas other glues like the rubber-based ones, obviously if you have something like Super Glue, it sticks immediately and then you’re done.
But even rubber-based glues and other sort of chemical glues, the problem is that in that case you need to wait for it to dry to a certain extent and then once you stick it you can’t move it. Whereas, PVA glues are perfect for kids.
Minjal: I was going through the Pidilite website and they have some of the most fascinating products in their line up.
Vishal: I think we will get back to finding more fascinating things about other implements. For that, for much more please follow us, please subscribe to this channel, please subscribe to the Inky Memo newsletter which is where you will find many more things about this.
We’ve started to do transcripts of the older episodes so if you’d rather read than watch us or listen to us there are versions of all of these episodes. We will be back soon. I’m Vishal.
Samir: I’m Samir.
Minjal: This is Minjal.
Vishal: And, stick to it!