Methylcellulose cheap alternatives

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Origami_Hunt
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Methylcellulose cheap alternatives

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Methylcellulose alternatives

Methylcellulose (MC) is great so keep using it, but sometimes 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 a long carbohydrate). Above all, I am going to do this for fun.

If you want to get started, start with unsweetened soya milk. It is the easiest to use and it is very cheap. Diluted PVA is also easy to use and gives nice results. You can also use wheat flour or corn flour. Tapioca flour produces good results too if you can get it.

Carbohydrate-based products

Note: methylcellulose and carboxymethylcellulose are modified carbohydrates.

Wheat flour. Good results.
Wheat flour with sugar. Do not try it.
Sugar. It does not work. The test revealed why some products lose crispiness when they contain sugar.
Corn flour, and cornflour with PVA. Good results.
Mashed potato flakes. Decent results.
Mashed potato powder + PVA. Good results.
Potato flour. Good results.Better than mashed potato flakes.
Rice flour. Includes videos showing how to use it and which models can be folded using it.
Alginate (Gaviscon).
Agar-Agar. It does not work well.
Tapioca flour. Nice results.
Custard. It works, but I do not recommend it.
Xanthan gum. It did not work.

Image Image Image Image Image Image Image

Protein-based products

Gelatine. Can produce very plasticky results.
Gelatine and PVA.Very nice paper.
Gelatine and wheat flour. Nice paper.
Skimmed milk powder.
Soya drinks. Useful results.
Egg-white powder. Useful to produce thin double tissue paper.
Egg-white power + PVA.
Egg-white powder and soy drinks. Glassy results. 2020-12-26.
Liquid egg-whites.


Image Image Image Image
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Others types

Polyvinyl acetate (PVA).
Carboxymethylcellulose (a modified carbohydrate, similar to methylcellulose).

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

How to use them

Method 1: Recommended for sizing agents that are fairly liquid such as diluted methylcellulose, PVA, and egg-while powder. Gelatine is included if you use it before it forms a gel.

1- Lay two sheets on top of the glass one on top of the other.
2- Paint the sheet with the liquid. The liquid with the sizing agent will permeate both sheets, so it is not necessary to paint sheets individually.

Method 2: Recommended for sizing agents that are gels or pastes that are not too thick. Most starches.

1- Paint the glass. This will size from the bottom and it will help faster the sheets.
2- Lay two sheets one on top of the other on the glass.
3- Paint the top sheet. The sizing agent will permeate both sheets from the top and the bottom.

Method 3. Recommended for pastes or gels that are thick and do not permeate easily the sheets or for papers that do not allow water to permeate (non-bleeding paper).

1- Paint the glass. This will size from the bottom and it will help fasten the sheets.
2- Lay one sheet on the glass.
3- Paint it.
4- Lay the second sheet on top of the first one.
5- Paint it.

Method 3 will add three times more sizing agent than method 1. Method 3 is good for models that require some bulkiness such as mammals, while method 1 is better for models that require several layers to overlap.

Which paper can be used?

It works very well with bleeding tissue. Often it is not necessary to paint the glass and every sheet of paper because the sizing agents can permeate the paper.

Non-bleeding tissue paper: The non-bleeding treatment may make the paper a bit water-proof. It is often necessary to paint the glass and every sheet of paper.

Non-stick baking paper. This paper is coated to prevent food from sticking to the paper, so it does not take sizing agents (or water) well.

Updated the 4th of May 2020
Last edited by Origami_Hunt on April 9th, 2021, 6:37 pm, edited 134 times in total.
bethnor
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Re: Starches:rice, tapioca, corn, wheat and other starches.

Post by bethnor »

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?

Post by Origami_Hunt »

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).
Last edited by Origami_Hunt on March 7th, 2020, 10:21 am, edited 6 times in total.
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Mashed potato flakes + PVA. Recommended.

Post by Origami_Hunt »

Produces a strong double tissue paper.

Potato mash 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 mash 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).

Image Image

I folded Fumiaki Kawahata's Yoda using this method:

Image

Last edited May 24, 2020

Index of sizing agents
Last edited by Origami_Hunt on January 15th, 2021, 7:45 pm, edited 27 times in total.
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Corn flour. Recommended.

Post by Origami_Hunt »

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.

Image

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

I folded Brian Chan's Katydid using a single sheet of tissue paper treated with corn flour. The shape could be better, but it shows that you can use it to fold insects.

Image

Index of sizing agents

Last meaningful update: 2020-06-22
Last edited by Origami_Hunt on January 25th, 2021, 10:33 pm, edited 17 times in total.
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Wheat flour

Post by Origami_Hunt »

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 paper.
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 some of 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.

Image

I folded this variation on Brian Chan's leaf katydid. Made from a 30 cm square of single tissue paper treated with wheat paste. The paper was roughed up to simulate a decaying leaf.

Image

I have also folded Anibal Voyer's Witch using this method. Crispy, crispy paper.

Image

Updated the 11th of March 2021.

Index of sizing agents
Last edited by Origami_Hunt on March 12th, 2021, 10:15 pm, edited 22 times in total.
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Re: Starches:rice, tapioca, corn, wheat and other starches.

Post by Baltorigamist »

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.

Post by Origami_Hunt »

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.

Post by Baltorigamist »

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

Post by Origami_Hunt »

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.
Last edited by Origami_Hunt on March 29th, 2020, 12:22 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Starches:rice, tapioca, corn, wheat and other starches.

Post by Gerardo »

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?

Post by Origami_Hunt »

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

Post by Origami_Hunt »

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.

Image

Watch this video explaining why gelatin has been used to size paper:



Some facts about gelatine as a paper 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 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
Last edited by Origami_Hunt on March 13th, 2021, 3:09 pm, edited 25 times in total.
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Re: MC substitutes: starches, gelatine, PVA, etc.

Post by Gerardo »

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.

Post by Origami_Hunt »

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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