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Aaron Goll

Touch up too glossy

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I am currently repairing an old German violin. I've just finished a bit of touch up work and to my disappointment the new varnish is much more glossy than the original varnish. 

 

I used spirit varnish for the touch up work. Despite intially rubbing away the gloss with 0000 steel wool, it returns after a few moments of being left alone. 

Ive seen a few places recommend silica gel. If that is a solution how much should be mixed with the varnish?

Thanks!

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Hi Aaron,

While silica gel will work, finding the right form of the stuff can be tricky.  I once experimented by pulverizing the stuff that comes in the package that reads "do not eat." While it worked to some degree, finding a commercially available form of silicate designed for matting surface films is probably easier.

 If you happen to be in the U.K., Jenkins Matt varnish is a good matting agent.  In the states acematt and shellac flat are easy to come by.  For a powdered matting agent mixing a small amount in a water color mixing dish with your retouch varnish is how I and a number of my colleagues do it.

Cutting back gloss might need to start happening  near the bottom of the film.  Whatever you choose to use you will need to experiment to get a feel for it and for the instrument you are working on.  Bear in mind that too much matting agent can cause the retouch to look "chalky." 

Jerry

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Silica gel is too coarse. You need to use something like fumed silica. Cabosil is one trade name. West Systems also sells it. It's very often used as a thickener for epoxy, for boat repairs. You don't need much. A tablespoon would last a long time. Try contacting a boat/fiberglass repair place, and see if they'll give you a little. Bring your own container.

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Waxes (like beeswax) can also be used (in small amounts) to affect gloss of touchup varnish... and some earth colors also have a matting effect. Waxes can often be used in conjunction with silica matting agents (and can help prevent chalking). Kremer Pigments carries small quantities of precipitated silica (Acematt HK 125).  Jenkins is used by a number of European restorers, especially those in Britain. Another good thing to have in your armory, though I find rarely use it (just used to other things, I guess).

 

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