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Tucson, Arizona, United States
I work as Panther Peak Bindery and am a bookbinder, conservator and instructor working outside Tucson, Arizona for individual and institutional clients across the country. I am a two term President of the Guild of Book Workers, was a Fulbright Scholar, taught at North Bennet Street School for over nine years and was the fastest in my middle school class at running up and down a flight of stairs (really!).



Monday, February 13, 2012

Fixor problem

Several friends have been using Fixor for their gold tooling.  (Basically it's a glaire used to adhere the gold to the leather).  Fixor comes as a liquid that is then diluted in water, generally 1 Fixor in 3 water.

For the most part I have used BS glaire from Hewit, but thought I'd give Fixor a shot more out of curiosity than anything else.

I ordered it expecting it to be this:

Can't really tell from a static picture, but it's a liquid.  If you shake your computer you probably can see it swirl around the bottle.  (I got my hands on this bottle in the midst of this episode, which means I have enough Fixor to last me a long, long time and this whole episode is really about solving the puzzle more than meeting a great need.)

Instead I received this.  I started calling this gel Fixor. 

I asked Talas about it and was told that was how Fixor came to them.  Then I put the question out via email and online and no one had ever seen Fixor like this before and had no idea how to use it.  Most had bought the liquid Fixor from Talas but had never seen the gel.

Talas, who were trying to be helpful throughout all this by the way, contacted Relma who said it was normal and that "we recommend to dilute the Fixor with 25/30% water proportion, it will be enough."

And it would make sense to ship Fixor overseas in a more concentrated form, so I thought that answered the "why?" part of the question.  That left the "how?" to be figured out.

So I portioned out some of this Fixor in water and placed them in jars in differing concentrations.  For several days I shook them every hour or so.  They never diluted and after three weeks they still look like this:

I wasn't about to ruin a blender to get this suspended in the water so began to consider whether it wasn't supposed to be cooked.  

When the listserv discussion was going on Peter Geraty posted that he had figured out that Fixor was basically saponified shellac and gave a recipe from Kurt Wehlte's book "The Materials & Techniques of Painting."  The recipe is on page 217.  I made it and it works well which would have solved the Fixor problem, but I am still have been bothered by this blob of Fixor I paid for, was stuck with and wanted to make useful.

One key to the saponified shellac recipe is to heat the water and then add the shellac, but never letting the water boil.  So I wondered what would happen if I tried this with the gel Fixor.  It did do better at dissolving the Fixor but when I strained it after cooking and stirring it for several minutes a surprisingly large amount of solids remained.  And the resultant solution was much lighter in color than the diluted liquid Fixor.

In fact, and I'm not sure you can see it in this picture (it's hard to photograph liquids using an automatic focus camera) there is still quite a bit of solids in the liquid even after straining, which I've had to remove from the impressions when using it.  It is also much cloudier than Fixor diluted from the liquid.:

Did it work as a glaire?  I'd say yes, but it wouldn't be my choice.  In fact if all they had was the gel Fixor at Talas I'd get something else.  Unless someone could figure out how to dilute it.

Part of me wonders if I'm not missing something here and I sort of hope someone has cracked the mystery of dissolving blobs of Fixor.  The obvious answer is to buy Fixor in a liquid state, which probably means getting it from someone other than Talas.

Comments appreciated.

1 comment:

  1. What was wrong with BS Glaire from Hewit's?