Bloggomania and cow gum.


I’m moved to draw the above by postings by this chap which are well written and entertaining, worth a look. Jon Beckett

I’ve been busy re-discovering fun of glueing. It may be worth recounting here exactly how I do my drawings. They are drawn straight onto layout paper which is kind of paper that will allow you to see the page below, not tracing paper but similar but a lot more opaque. So quick first rough is done on this and then the second done over the first and so on until I get to the final drawing. So it’s done in layers, a sort of photoshop type of working that I’ve been using for years. All those years ago photoshop was just somewhere you could buy a camera.

My methods are born out of doing layouts and visuals for advertising in my early days and storyboards for tv commercials. The paper is cheap and the method of working is good with markers as layout paper is made for markers. Once the final piece is done , I’d then glue this layout paper to board, this was later changed to paper as the drawings would need to be rolled onto a drum scanner. In those days all I did was the final drawing and the only equipment I needed were the pens ( I use something called a Pentel Sign Pen, not expensive ) and the magic markers ( which were and still are ). I no longer use magic markers as most of my work is black and white, anything with colour on it will have been done digitally these days. Today, one is expected to scan one’s own work, and of course to produces digital files to supply the artwork. When I tell people that I used to send my original drawings on the train to be collected by the client at the other end, they give me that quizzical look as if I should be looking for my carer.

Below is the first rough for the drawing above, in this case, simple idea and drawing and I have drawn that doctor patient thing a few times in my career, so no messing. One rough and then the final from it.


The glueing of the final drawing was usually done with “Cow Gum”. It was not as some people might think, made from cows, but was invented by a Mr P B Cow. It was essentially a rubber solution glue which one spread over the back of the paper, and if you wanted a very firm hold over the receiving card too. Placing the final piece onto the receiving card could be tricky as any misplaced paper would stick quite firmly and air pockets could be a problem but practice made perfect and most things could be repaired.

Cow gum no longer exists, it was replaced to a great extent by spray mount adhesive, which used the same sort of adhesive: sprayed! This was supposed to be progress, but of course health and safety soon got onto the idea that this might not be that healthy and someone else invented glue booths to take excess spray away from your nearest and dearest, or anyone in the wrong place when the button was squeezed. I dislike the stuff, lamenting the demise of Mr Cow’s fine product, itself no doubt a major hazard of some sort, as were those magic markers. A few hours working in a windowless room with cow gum and magic markers and you’d think you’d been using magic mushrooms.

Well, good news, thanks to the internet I’ve found a replacement product for Cow Gum, and it’s called Studio Gum! It has the same sort of design on the tin and I’ve been joyfully mounting a load of drawings this week. Cow Gum used to give off fumes and was best used in a well ventilated room, this new stuff is just as noxious! I’ve had to choose a dry day when all the windows could be open when applying the solution.This new stuff performs very much like the old cow I used to use, so now am working on a series of drawings that can be properly finished off at last. One of the key things about cow gum was you could make what was called a ‘cow gum rubber ‘ by spreading a bit on a window and then just rolling it up, this is then used to take any excess gum off the drawing or surrounding paper, that’s what that big lump of stuff looking like ectoplasm is on top of the tin!

I’m hoping to put together some little movies in the New Year to demonstrate my working methods, so that others can try them out. “The Joy of Cow Gum”, I bet you can’t wait.





4 thoughts on “Bloggomania and cow gum.

  1. I remember spray mount, ‘o’ level art, surprise surprise! And as a research fellow poster presentations were laboriously typed paragraphs mounted on card and artfully arranged with blue tack or drawing pins. Nowadays they are all done on computer and actually printed as a poster!

  2. Spray mount still widely available, and evil stuff! Half of what you spray does not reach the target and will glue anything within range. It seems hardly credible that when I started there were such things as ‘paste-up’ artists.

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