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  • 3 weeks later...

About cooking varnish

I have received some e-mails about my varnish cooking and haven't had time to answer. These links describes the cooking with an image album from last summer''s batch

It starts with reducing Colophony, cooking it slowly (150 - 180  C) for 4,5 h to 10 h.

Cooking varnish is SUPER SIMPLE, there is nothing strange about it and it involves no difficult tasks. The only part that should be carefully done is when adding turpentine at the last stage.

Don't pour cold turpentine into hot varnish! Cool down  the varnish to 100 - 120 C and warm up turpentine to simmer before slowly pouring it into the varnish (while stirring)



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  • 3 months later...

Still no workshop time, but always time for observing.

The four "Soil copies" are now back in summer mode. I like the winter mode too, bright and on the edge, but they are at their best in this condition.

We have a Swedish term for how to describe a violin with this property/quality - Violinen har märg 


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  • 3 weeks later...

I have stopped using lime in varnish cooking a couple of years ago. It makes it too hard with the colophony I use and it is more durable to moisture (sweat) without the lime.

There has been a lot of discussions about this and my conclution is that some rosins need to be limed because of its acidity level.


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I think it's a matter of what type of rosin you start with and how much it should be reduced by cooking it, to get really dark varnish. (ref. Hargrave cooking long and slow topics)

It is also important to not burn it (red color is lost), so I constantly stir it during 9-10 hours, every 15-30 min or so. The temperature also needs to rise gradually to get the same viscosity. (melting point is rising when it is reduced)

At the end of cooking I always wonder if I have overdone it, because it is pretty much black. I didn't take a photo of just colophony, this is a dip into the varnish when it is ready cooked together with linseed oil, mastic and turp:



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11 hours ago, Szymon said:

Hello Friends, I have not been to the forum for a long time. This is my yesterday's varnishing



Thanks for sharing, I have yet to make some own pigments as you posted earlier in this thread.

I'm going to strip varnish of an earlier violin I made and re-varnish it with this new batch.


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Yours results are very inspirational! My short  movie - the are three layers of Oldwood varnish with my alizarin in a weight ratio of 1 part pigment for 4 parts of varnish. The results - a very thin coating, a yellow to amber deep color. But next time I will preper my own varnish according your recipe.

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  • 1 month later...

We have an amazing summer this year with weeks of sunny and warm days (by our standard 27 - 32C)

So what else is there to do than test ground&varnish B)

Quark&Lime ground after 7 days in direct sunlight really nailed the old wood look, the reaction was amazing I haven't come even close to this with UV tubes tanning. The same ground and one really thin layer of varnish on a tanned and a white piece of wood:



One more thin layer of varnish



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