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Darnton Damar Varnish works for me!


yapkv
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Hi folks,

just like to share with you all that the oil-damar varnish that Michael Darnton suggested in one of his previous post works for me and it dried really well under the equatorial sun. After a numerous of failure in getting the cold mixed mastic varnish to dry I've decided to try out an old batch of the damar varnish I cooked last year, and this is the first time i ever get a oil varnish to dry in a hot and wet climate. I have just started my first color coat and hopefully i can get the final coat laid next week.

How well does it dry? I laid down a coat after dinner and put the violin in to my UV box for a night, the next morning i just leave it under the sun before going to work. I have a dry, shinning coat of varnish that can be sanded down in the evening before dinner. That's the best i can describe.

cooking the varnish is more tedious than mixing the mastic and turpentine... but basically i get the damar from my local art store, melted them in a metal bowl, and continue to cook them until they reduced to half of the original volume. Once the volume reduced to half, I added the same volum of linseed oil and cook it until a 10cm "spider webs" can be pulled from a drop of the varnish... let cool and add turpentine to dilute the mix. WARNING: cook this well ventilated, outdoor only - fumes produced can be dangerous.

picture of the violin will be posted once i finish varnish the whole violin

regards

Yap

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  • 2 weeks later...

Warning, damar is said to be a trap.

I also marvelled at the easiness of cooking and drying this varnish, but Mr Darnton himself says on this thread (and other places):

http://forums.maestronet.com/forums/showfl...ge/fpart/1/vc/1

that he no longer use damar for its very bad ware off characteristics! You can achieve the same drying, but better ware off characteristics (and nicer colour) with pine resin. Go fetch it in the woods!

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Dear Mr. Andreas Sender,

well, I don't feel to be an expert and do not yet know which one is good, because I have not enough experience with the wearing-of and aging of the varnishes, which is one of the main problems of to-day, as I understood.

It is just that I saw the very nice and enthusiastic post beginning this thread from Yapky and realised, that when trying to decide myself, which resin to use, I read the post by Michael Darnton (an authority for me) which says, that damar wears of unnicely and that it is maybe better to use pine resin, which is also the only one to be proved to be present in the old Italian oil varnishes.

With pure pine resin I follow the well known recipe (dangerous and annoying - extremly fire-hazardous heavy fumes - to be performed outdoors only), the same, that Yapky is using with damar. Cooking the resin soluted in turpentine, until it looses some of its volume and than adding thicknessed pure cold pressed linnseed or wallnut oil or both (also positively present in old italian varnishes) and cooking some more time afterwards. The pine varnish we make with my friend dries approximately as how Yapky says about damar.

I am also not an expert on dendrology, I use the resin from the pines common in my country (Czech Republic, middle Europe) which are said to be especialy: Pinus silvestris L. and Pinus Cembra L.

So my point was to warn Yapky against Mr. Darntons old damar recipe, which I think he abbandoned himself because of the very poor wear-of characteristics of the Damar Varnish. And I also like the pine resin varnish red tone better than the damar, which darkens rather brownish even after adding rust.

Now I realise, that it might be quite tricky for Yapky to get the proper pine resin in Malaysia (if that is realy his location), maybe go for holidays to Italy or elsewhere in Europe and collect some there in the woods (as we do in here)?

Yours truly,

Matej

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Before I started making the Fulton varnish, I made a barch of varnish using cheap orange-coloured violin rosin boiled in raw linseed oil. One viola I varnished with this I still see on a regular basis (it's been varnished for six years) and the varnish still looks very nice indeed. No crackling, or any other side-effects. When the varnish was applied, it was a light amber colour. It has since darkened to a deep golden-brown.

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Hi Matej,

Yes, I just I am one of the very few people, if not the only one, from Malaysia that visits this board frequently. and yes, it is tough to get the proper wood and tools to get myself started to make violins, not to mention finding another luthier in town to ask question... Travelling to Europe will cost generally cost us an arm, so I ended up visiting China, which is 5 hours away, to look for makers who are willing to show me how it was done, with the limited $$ I have after being retrenched from my previous company that sells servers and a kind of coffee. The maker I met was kind enough to let me sit beside him for 3 days, showing me how to do a proper setup. Later I became his son's apprentice in violin making via emails and IM. (That's where I met Hongda too!)

If anyone of you happen to come to the Borneo island, I will be happy to show you around

Yap

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  • 16 years later...

I concur. I'm a total noob and have never varnished anything but am using damar on a test piece with good results. Seems to be drying fairly quickly. I used alcohol ink and oil paint for color and got a very very vibrant deep transparent red. Which I will definitely use on my first project. Im using lacquer sanding sealer for a ground dying the second coat with a coffee brown to give a large variation in grain color and will oil paint shading as I see fit for contrast. That said damar for me worked really well. Nothing special just winsor and newton. I may test with gamvar and alkyd but for my first attempt im happy. I'm using oil paint supplies because it seems cheaper is already mixed and doesn't destroy lacquer. You can also paint clear gloss lacquer over the top and get a deep glossy shine. I know it sort of breaks traditional coating but to me its about best performance not necessarily tradition. If Amati or Stradivari had modern chemistry they would have probably used that. Lacquer and oil paint and tree resin is worth trying in my opinion. 

I know I've read its hard to get deep transparent color but 1oz damar varnish 10 drops alcohol ink and a thumbnail size drop of oil paint worked really well for me. It was thick but could be applied thin. But was thin enough to be worked if that makes sense. And my gosh how deep and transparent the red was. 

I came up with this technique after researching varnish for a few months. 

My 1 oz could have easily coated one violin for the color coat. Its also going to look great over a brown base with darker shades to bring even more contrast to the finish. 

And very very transparent. Like very. 

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10 hours ago, uncle duke said:

Airless spraying is the best way, brushing is the worst way {lacquer}.

To keep it from drying too fast alcohol works great for reducing brush drag. It can be done either way though. In either case micromesh wet sanding will give you the best shine. I'm a 100% novice though I'm just speaking from my experience. 

 

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On 8/9/2021 at 7:37 PM, RobertL said:

That said damar for me worked really well. Nothing special just winsor and newton.

Dear RobertL,

did you use the W&N dammar varnish straight out of the bottle? I once, from no obvious reason but mainly as an experiment, tried to use Umton Dammar varnish (used for varnishing paintings obviously) but with no luck. Although it dried fairly quickly and seemed to be hard enough, I could not touch the instrument as the heat of my hand made the varnish sticky almost immediately.

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4 minutes ago, Dominik Tomasek said:

Dear RobertL,

did you use the W&N dammar varnish straight out of the bottle? I once, from no obvious reason but mainly as an experiment, tried to use Umton Dammar varnish (used for varnishing paintings obviously) but with no luck. Although it dried fairly quickly and seemed to be hard enough, I could not touch the instrument as the heat of my hand made the varnish sticky almost immediately.

Yes straight out of the bottle but I also added 10 drops of alcohol based ink and a thumbnail sized drop of oil paint. I then set it out in the sun for a few days. I haven't noticed any tacky or fingerprint issues. But in the event I did I was going to cover in clear high gloss lacquer. Luckily though I haven't had any issues. 

1oz wn dammar varnish. 5-10 drops alcohol ink 1 fingernail sized drop of oil paint. Let cure in the sun. My test piece is on day 3 of sitting in the sun. Its just getting more clear and harder each day noticeably. I wouldn't let it touch anything on the first day but by the end of day two laying it flat shouldn't be an issue. I think the oil paint or alcohol ink may be why I'm getting a different result? I dragged my nail across it yesterday. It wasn't super hard but wasn't gummy. I tried to push a fingerprint into it and by the end of the day yesterday I couldn't get a print. Day one I definitely could "this was even after all day in 100+ direct Texas mid summer sunlight"

But now on day 3 Im fairly convinced this is the direction I'm going to go on my first project. I wish wish wish I could figure out how to share pictures here. I'm quite proud of my first attempt and in love with my color. I think the color would speak for itself in a as a matter of fact kind of way.

I found the alcohol ink and oil paint right next to the dammar varnish at hobby lobby. Try my recipe. Again I'm a 100% noob and novice. But I am intelligent, and after researching various varnishes for the past few months this is what I came up with. Dammar varnish is closer to our spirit varnish and is alcohol based that said oil paint will dissolve into it. It won't chemically combine but will saturate into the varnish. Anyway if you want you can cut dammar varnish 50/50 with artist turpentine. This is more common for oil painting varnish "the actual intended purpose" I did cut because I didn't think to thin it at all. Looking back and maybe in a future try I will just for the sake of argument. But it seemed to be a decent consistency. Cutting with turpentine will also dry faster. 

Again I don't have the money or resources to use "violin " varnish so I'm stuck trying to make my own. I don't have anything to compare it to. I know that this recipe is compatible with lacquer as is oil varnish so thats why I went with it. Winsor newton being the oil paint experts i figured they probably know best about that sort of thing where as violin maker's seem to be in the dark. Not bashing just an observation. 

Last I checked amati or stradivari or guarneri weren't painters either. But they only had those types of finishes to choose from in reality. 

They probably used a similar technique. Alcohol based varnish with oil or alcohol based color. Oil based varnish without the high resin content is just too soft from what I have read. Again its all new to me so I don't know. But for my experiment It seems to be working fine. 

Any help insight is appreciated as I have no idea what I'm doing........ lol

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