Every once and a while, something that has been a stable part of your world simply vanishes into thin air. No announcements, no editorials no public outcry; it quietly slips out of everyone’s grasp never to be seen again. Worst of all, if it’s been around long enough, chances are it was extremely effective and not replaceable.. Something so ubiquitous you wouldn’t think to miss it, in fact it would never occur to you that some idiot would pull it off the shelf.
Such was the case this week when I found out not only LePage mucilage, but all mucilage, seems to have disappeared from the western world. In fact it’s so hard to find that even my spell checker doesn’t know what it is.
Mucilage …”a thick, gluey substance produced by nearly all plants and some micro-organisms”. Here is a product so green it’s ridiculous. And to top it off, it’s edible. Think flax seed for a minute, or the original marshmallow and Slippery Elm bark where it’s still extracted to make soothing cough and sore throat remedies.
Mixed with water, it makes a great glue especially for paper. It’s what you lick on an envelope or the back of a stamp. It’s strong enough to glue labels to metal cans, wood to china and leather to pasteboard. Most of all, to anyone of my generation and a long time after, whether you liked it or not, it was the best go-to glue for anything stationary or paper-craft related. LePage – for a long time – the very definition of glue. But not any more. Better living through chemistry marketing seems to have knocked it off the shelf with crappy wheat paste sticks and specialized glues that are so child safe that children can’t afford them and they don’t work.
Here was an excellent product with “over a hundred years of natural sticking power with the simplicity of gum arabic”, and LePage decided it wasn’t worth selling. A versatile, reliable and recognizable product with great public visibility and cultural presence was dropped so the company could focus on ‘public relations’ and new product development.
I highly recommend the following link for a fabulous historical peek. Not only glue, but LePage Ink! Who knew??
Meanwhile, back at home …I’ve been making a lot of envelopes lately, and gluing them has been an issue. Almost all the glue sticks I’ve used, once dry, stop working and the paper falls apart.
PVA glue, the best choice for paper, stays wet too long, will permanently wrinkle the paper, and often bonds envelope to content.
Tombow Aqua is an excellent solution if you could find it in Canada. Oh! you say …Staples, the company who managed to force everyone out of the stationary market so they could sell Keurig pods and chocolate bars? They offer it at a reasonable $3.76.
The only problem is a refusal to carry it in a store. Like most of their useful products it’s ‘Online only’. And this scam means you have to pay $15.00 to ship the 48g bottle (1.8 oz) from their warehouse to their store. Either that, or purchase a further $41.24 worth of goods and get it shipped for free. Yea!
I scoured the internet and yes, mucilage is available, not from LePage who in fact continues to produce it; but China where it’s readily available. Smart and lucky people!
In fact I can purchase amounts that allow me to become an important importer-reseller. And by bulk buying, recoup my costs and wind up with the couple of bottles I wanted to buy in the first place – yea!
Otherwise it’s a cold dark world for anyone who wants an excellent and reliable stationary glue on their desk :P