MC substitutes: starches, gelatine, PVA, etc.

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MC substitutes: starches, gelatine, PVA, etc.

Postby Origami_Hunt » March 23rd, 2019, 10:54 am

The quest to find the best methylcellulose alternatives

Methylcellulose (MC) is great so keep using it. But some times it is difficult to find it pure or simply to find it. Some other times you may want to produce paper with other qualities or simply to save MC so I am going to test alternatives most of which you can find in supermarkets. The trick here is to find products with long molecules such as proteins and long carbohydrates (MC is made of long carbohydrates) . Above all, I am going to do this for fun.

Mostly-carbohydrate based products

Note: methylcellulose is a modified carbohydrate.

Wheat flour. Updated the 24th of April 2020.
Wheat flour with sugar.
Corn flour and cornflour and PVA. Updated the 24th of April 2020.
Potato starch bough as potato mush flakes from the supermarket.
Potato starch and PVA.

Rice flour. Includes videos showing on how to use it and what models can be folded using it.
Tapioca flour. Updated the 24th of April 2020.
Sugar. A simple carbohydrate. It does not work but the test revealed why some products lose crispiness.
Tragacanth. It did not work. Updated the 1st of April 2020.

Mostly-protein based products

Gelatine. Updated the 28th of April 2020.
Gelatine and PVA. 3rd of June 2020.
Skimmed milk powder.
Soy drinks.

Others types
Polyvinyl acetate (PVA).

Pending to try

    - Gelatine and sugar. I am trying this one to see whether the sugar reduces the plastic feeling of gelatine-tissue paper.
    - PVA and sugar. I am trying this one to see whether the sugar reduces the plastic feeling of PVA-tissue paper.
    - Alginate. Carbohydrate. Typically used as a gelling agent.
    - Agar-agar (carbohydrate).
    - Pectin. Carbohydrate. Typically used as a gelling agent.
    - Maltodextrin. Carbohydrate
    - Ultratex (a modified carbohydrate).
    - Ovo-album. Protein. This is what egg-white is mostly made of. You can find this in your supermarket's bakery section.
    - Polyvinyl alcohol.
    - Cellulose. Carbohydrate. This is what paper is made of. Edit: It is not soluble in water. I will not work.
- Hair lacquer. The one I have contains acrylates, others methylcellulose, other starches.
Most of these products can be found in Amazon. Please tell us if you know other suppliers.

Questions related to the lifespan of the papers: Here, here and here.

I have already tried all the flours making tissue-foil-tissue and it works (apart from tragacanth). With regards to double tissue:

- Potato starch has produced a very crisp paper that is a pleasure to fold. However, it tends to split. It probably needs to be mixed with something else to avoid the problem, perhaps PVA.
- Tragacanth produces a nice clear gel, but it did not produce a usable paper afterwards. I am not sure that I used it correctly.

Updated the 6th of June 2020
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Re: Starches:rice, tapioca, corn, wheat and other starches.

Postby bethnor » March 25th, 2019, 7:41 am

without having definite experience in the matter, i think the main problem with using those starches would be half-life. the other issue would be attracting insects.
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Do starches attract bugs - 1?

Postby Origami_Hunt » March 25th, 2019, 10:42 pm

Actually, although some people would say that starches would attract bugs, moulds, etc., I have not seen anybody saying that they have this problem; in fact, I think Yoshizawa used starches for some of his models. Also, I guess you can prevent the problem by mixing it with some acrylic paint. The problem with bugs is most likely important for long term projects (historical documents).
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Potato starch

Postby Origami_Hunt » May 19th, 2019, 10:52 am

Potato starch + (PVA diluted with water 50:50)

Produces a strong double tissue paper.

Potato starch on its own produces nice and crispy double tissue papers, but it tends to rip.
PVA on it own produces very thin papers suitable to fold insects but they are not as crisp.
The combination of PVA and potato starch overcomes both problems. As a plus, the resulting paper is translucid.

Update:

The paper is nice, but it becomes less crisp when the ambient is fairly humid. Perhaps a bit more PVA would improve it. Covering the paper with a waterproof product could also help. You can find these as spays to waterproof your shoes (they are cheap).


Last edited May 24, 2020

Index of sizing agents
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Corn flour

Postby Origami_Hunt » May 22nd, 2019, 9:25 pm

Corn starch produces nice double tissue.

Recipe:

1-2 tablespoons of corn starch.
1 pint of water.
Boil it briefly.
Let it cool.
Use it.

This paper can take some punishment.
Suitable for insects if you are careful not to use too much flour. I have folded Brian Chan's katydid with double-tissue using this method although this model is best folded using single sheets of tissue.
Models can be shaped with water; they become hard once dry.

You can make it very sturdy adding some PVA. This is probably suitable for rather large pieces of paper.

Here you have a blog article about corn-starching origami paper.


Last meaningful update: 2020-06-22
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Wheat flour

Postby Origami_Hunt » June 1st, 2019, 1:04 pm

Wheat flour: 1-3 tablespoons depending on the thickness of the paper you wish to produce.
Water: 1 pint.
Boil it
Apply it once cold.

Produces thin double-tissue papers suitable to fold insects.
I have used this to produce single-sheet tissue paper with which I folded Brian Chan's katydid.
Add more flour to fold models with curves (elephants, hippos, etc.).
Models can be shaped with water; they become hard once dry.

Keep in mind that the flour's protein content determines its properties, at least in part. The protein gives dough its elastic (viscoelastic) characteristics (you can stretch it, a bit like rubber). Flour comes in different strengths, with the stronger ones having the highest protein content. Typical protein content varies from 10 to 16 grams per hundred grams of flour. By contrast, cornflour is almost starch (the one I buy), while gelatine is usually all protein.
Here there is a link to the french origami forum thread that discusses wheat flour and here another one to a site that discusses possible additives.


Updated the 24th of April 2020.

Index of sizing agents
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Re: Starches:rice, tapioca, corn, wheat and other starches.

Postby Baltorigamist » June 1st, 2019, 2:08 pm

Good to know. I look forward to trying that last combination when I get the chance.

By the way, please watch the double-posting. I believe you can edit a post indefinitely many times. Just letting you know. :)
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Re: Starches:rice, tapioca, corn, wheat and other starches.

Postby Origami_Hunt » June 2nd, 2019, 9:37 am

Apologies. Is the number of self-replies limited? Would it be better to keep editing a single post, as suggested?
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Re: Starches:rice, tapioca, corn, wheat and other starches.

Postby Baltorigamist » June 3rd, 2019, 1:57 am

It’s not a big deal, but I generally prefer to edit the most recent post in a thread if no one else has replied.

So, just to clarify, the starch and water are used without any other bonding substances?
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Adding PVA to other sizing agents

Postby Origami_Hunt » June 11th, 2019, 7:36 pm

For the case of wheat flour, no other agent is necessary. The same applies to corn starch.
For potato starch, a bit of PVA keeps the paper from splitting. Same for tapioca starch.
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Re: Starches:rice, tapioca, corn, wheat and other starches.

Postby Gerardo » July 5th, 2019, 4:31 pm

Thank you for sharing Origami_Hunt. It would also be interesting to see long term effects of the starches on the paper. Something might happen to the folds in a number of years.
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Do starches attract bugs - 2?

Postby Origami_Hunt » September 21st, 2019, 12:43 pm

Well, of the ones I tried, only potato starch is fairly sensitive to ambient humidity, but the problem is not too important, especially when you finish your models with a touch of PVA to fix the pose (as done with insects).

Regarding the argument that starches attract bugs, I have double tissue papers that I have prepared months ago and they are fine. I have also tissue foil sandwich papers that I prepared four or five years ago, and they are fine too. Regarding the colours, they are not affected by the starch, although this will depend on the dye.
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Gelatine

Postby Origami_Hunt » March 7th, 2020, 10:19 am

I have tried gelatine to make double tissue paper and it works well. I can produce a thin but strong paper and crip paper probably suitable for most complex insects, but if you add too much the paper becomes plastic.

I am folding Brian Chan's Katydid with it. The paper can take some punishment without tearing.

The models can be shaped with water, as gelatine is soluble in water. Make sure your hands are not sweety.

Recipe for double-tissue paper

Gelatine: 5-7 g
Water: 250-600 mL depending on the qualities of the resulting paper.
Warm up the water to melt the gelatine, but do not boil it (or it will not set as well).
Let it cool down. Apply it before it sets. You can also apply it after it does, but it will not be a liquid.
Halve the amount of water if you wish to produce single sheets of tissue paper.
If applied it entirely to a 70 by 50 cm sheet, you will increase the grammage by 0.002 grams per square cm (very little). To put it simply: the sheet increases its weight by 5-7 grams.

Where to find gelatine?

I have found clear sheets of gelatine, and also gelatine granules in the baking section of the supermarket. I have also found gelatine powder with flavourings elsewhere in the supermarket. I prefer not to use the ones with flavourings because they contain acids.

Some facts about gelatine as a papper sizing agent

The gelatine I have used is protein-based (mostly collagen), although some gelatines are carbohydrate-based (methylcellulose is a modified carbohydrate). I have not tried these carbohydrate types.

EDIT: Gelatine has been used since 1337 to size paper. Susan G. Swartzburg, Preserving Library Materials: A Manual. 2nd ed. (Metuchen, NJ: The Scarecrow Press, 1995), 131. An excerpt from the Wikipedia reads:

"The old papermakers dipped their paper into an animal size that had been made from the parings of hides, which they procured from the parchment-makers. It was necessary to size that paper so that it would be impervious to ink, but sizing was more needed in writing than in printing papers. Many books of the fifteenth century were printed upon paper that had not been sized, this extra treatment not being essential for a type impression. The sizing was accomplished by a worker holding a number of sheets by the aid of two wooden sticks, and dipping the paper into the warm gelatinous liquid. The sheets were then pressed to extract the superfluous gelatine. " https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sizing

And here you have another good article on sizing paper with gelatine.

Latest update: 2020-06-03

Index of sizing agents
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Re: MC substitutes: starches, gelatine, PVA, etc.

Postby Gerardo » March 7th, 2020, 12:42 pm

You should about making an article like for The Fold with this information :D.

It's VERY useful and interesting!
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Re: MC substitutes: starches, gelatine, PVA, etc.

Postby Origami_Hunt » March 7th, 2020, 6:46 pm

Thanks Gerardo. However, before considering an article, I have to define the weight of sizing agent per sheet of paper, try these papers with different models, etc. It is an interesting process though.
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