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Michael Appleman

The last of Laverdure oil varnish

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Sad day, yesterday (relatively speaking, of course, with everything going on in the world). I was starting to run low on varnish, and I had some rare free time, so I took a quick run down to the Laverdure store in the Faubourg St. Antoine. I'd noticed that their traditional oil varnish for violin makers hasn't been listed on their web-site ever since they put one up, but I figured a low volume low demand product might not be worth putting on line. I learned to my chagrin that the artisan varnish maker who'd been making it for them had passed on, and there was no one left willing or able to to make it, anymore. I thought about getting some of their "flatting" oil varnish, but on asking about which resins were used, the manager admitted to me that the days of copal or amber in cooked linseed oil were over, and that everything on the market now is synthetic resin in polymerised drying oil. He understood that that wasn't what I was looking for so he went to the back room and found enough of the old violin oil varnish to fill a 250ml bottle. I got the very last bit of the last batch. It's sad, because this stuff, basically cooked linseed oil and colophane as I understand it, is reputed to have been based on the Lupot recipe handed down through the Gand, Bernardel, Caressa and Français families over the years.


This will be enough to keep me going for a few years, since I don't see myself making more than two instruments a year, but sooner or later I'll need to find a new source, as like with installing a band saw, I can't see cooking my own in an urban apartment kitchen. Looking around varnish suppliers in Europe, I see Old Wood in Spain, and Alchemist in Holland, but both seem to be using harder resins like copal or amber. The Joha stuff sounds very different with its essential oils and what I've read about it here on MN. I understand that Joe Robson is making excellent varnish in the States, but is it possible to have it sent to Europe? Are there any other nutjobs like me in Europe who have gotten used to using an "old-fashioned" varnish and have found a suitabale supplier? 

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Hi Michael


May be off topic (pardon).

Do you think Hidersine varnish have sintetic resin?

I was using tht




Synthetic resin varnishes have a distinctive plastic smell when sanded or scraped, in my experience. Maybe Joe Robson can elaborate...

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