Incorporating resins into oil varnish


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Hello everyone and greetings from Heidelberg (Germany)

I have just finished building my first violin and I have so far

found the discussions on this Forum very helpful during

construction of the instrument. I have now come to the difficult

part of varnishing, and I think I have made about every mistake one

can make (I guess this is the way you learn it...).

Although I collected a lot of literature on violin varnish, somehow

a lot of questions remain unanswered. My first attempt was to

varnish with a spirit varnish composed of propolis, mastic and

sandarac as described by Klawitter in his book. I was not able to

create an even surface and I believe, that my brushing technique

caused the underlying varnish layer to go into solution again,

leaving bare wood at some spots...

Since oil varnish is supposed to be applied more easily, I would

now like to switch. I read, that incorporation of resins during

drying/polymerization/oxidation of the linseed oil makes the resins

insoluble during application of the next layer. My questions

concerning this are:

1) Does this effect work only if you boil resins with the linseed

oil or does it also work if you first dissolve (e.g. mastic) in

turpentine an then mix in the cool linseed oil as it is done for

the "Darnton mastic varnish".

2) The Darnton mastic varnish sound very interesting to me. Since

mastic is considered to be a very soft resin, I wonder if it would

be possible  to combine it with other resins. Does anyone have

a good suggestion and /or experience with e.g. propolis, sandarac

or anything else.

Thank you all in advance for your help!

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Another way is getting a good ready made oil varnish, you will profit from years of the varnish maker... Making varnish itself is an art, varnish supplies are costy, you will spoil some recipes so, eventually, it's better using a good ready made oil varnish. Many professionals are using it.

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Yeah, but as a hobbyist, sometimes half the fun is in doing it yourself. I've spent way more time and money making varnish than I ever would have spent just buying a commercial varnish, but I have the satisfaction that my two violins so far were finished with varnish I made myself, and to a large degree that varnish was colored with pigment I made myself. Does it really matter a fig in this world, except to me? Probably not, but by the nature of being a hobbyist, most of it's just for me anyhow. To Fridolin: I definitely think you'll enjoy your experimentation with oil varnish, and would highly recommend you order some mastic and make some of Darnton's mastic varnish first. It's the easiest, and is good stuff. The hardest part of it all really is going to be what you color it with.

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