Conservar Dammar Varnish Kit allows you to make varnish fresh to use when needed. The kit contains the following items:
• Dammar Solvent
• Dammar (varnish resin)
• UV Stabilizer
• Mixing jar
Conservar Dammar Varnish is a varnish made from the best grade of natural dammar resin dissolved in aromatic and aliphatic solvents with UV light stabilizer. Conservar will not oxidize or yellow for 50 years if protected from UV light as shown by accelerated aging tests conducted at the National Gallery, Washington, D.C.* Conservar achieves optimum wetting of the paint surface to enhance and bring out colors, has minimum solvent action on paint, and maximum resin content for best coverage. It dries to a film that levels well and can be rubbed when dry for less gloss.
Dammar is the most common varnish in use since the 19th century that gives a very high gloss. Rublev Colours offers this natural resin in several varnish formulations, such as the traditional five-pound cut in turpentine (Neil’s Best Dammar Varnish) if you want to use it for mediums (which we do not recommend but many continue to do), and as a traditional picture varnish (Dammar Picture Varnish) in petroleum solvents. However, the best form of dammar as a picture varnish is Conservar Dammar Finishing Varnish. While dammar is a popular varnish, stronger and more polar solvents will be needed to remove it as time goes by.
* Rie, E.R. de la and McGlinchey, C.W. 1990. The effect of a hindered amine light stabilizer on the aging of dammar and mastic varnish in an environment free of ultraviolet light. In Cleaning, retouching and coatings: Technology and practice for easel paintings and polychrome sculpture. Preprints of the contributions to the Brussels Congress, 3–7 September 1990. J.S. Mills and P. Smith, eds. London: International Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works:160–4.
Conservar Dammar Varnish is recommended as a final varnish on the following paint films:
Varnishes do not work well with casein, distemper, egg tempera, gouache, watercolor and drawings because the varnish will be absorbed by the paint and/or paper, becoming an integral part of the picture that could cause discoloration. In addition, varnishes on works created using casein, distemper, egg tempera, gouache, watercolor and drawing cannot be removed.
To varnish casein, distemper, egg tempera, gouache, watercolor and drawings, apply an isolating coating on the painting or drawing first, then apply a final picture varnish, such as Conservar Finishing Varnish. In this way, the final varnish can be removed without damaging the painting or drawing underneath. Remember any isolating coating becomes a permanent part of the art work since it is absorbed by the paint layer.
Makes approximately four fluid ounces (118 ml) which covers approximately 80 square feet (7.4 square meters).
Prior to actual use, it is very important to test Conservar varnishes on test pieces to understand how they perform and how they alter the surface appearance of your paintings. For best results, apply to a test piece that is similar in composition as the artwork to be varnished. This will help ensure that a successful varnish application will be achieved.
How to Prepare
Remove all items from package. Pour solvent into jar with varnish resin. Close jar tightly, shake and allow to stand until completely dissolved (usually one to two days). Once dissolved and no remaining resin particles are visible in the jar, fill pipette with solvent from jar and release into small amber vial containing the UV stabilizer. Close the vial and shake until completely mixed. Pour solvent and stabilizer mixture into jar. If the vial is not completely empty, draw any remaining liquid into pipette and release into jar. Stir the contents of the jar well and the varnish is ready to use. Best used within 30 days of combining ingredients.
When to Varnish
Wait 6 to 12 months for most paintings before varnishing with Conservar Dammar Varnish.
Preparation for Varnishing
Acclimate your painting and varnish materials and tools to the same environment. At least several hours prior to varnishing, place all items, such as your painting, brushes, containers, and Conservar varnish, in the same room. Varnish in a dust-free environment with the least amount of air movement to avoid raising dust.
It is best to brush or spray apply Conservar varnishes. Other methods, such as applying with paint pads, sponging or rolling, are not recommended, as they may result in foaming, loss of film clarity, non-uniform coverage, excessive film build, sagging, or deposit of materials from the application tool.
Apply with a wide flat, soft-hair brush. Conservar Dammar Varnish can be thinned up to 20% with turpentine. DO NOT MIX WITH WATER. Apply a second coat if necessary to even out the sheen of the painting. Allow to dry three days and wipe varnished surface with a soft, lint-free cloth.
The best way to achieve an even coating of varnish is to apply by spraying. This is particularly true for impasto surfaces. Spraying is also a useful technique for creating a matte surface. The size of the surface to be sprayed will determine the best type of spray equipment to use. Conservar varnishes can be sprayed from an airbrush, airless or air-pressure spray equipment, or refillable aerosol spray can.
To prepare for spraying, make sure all equipment is free of dirt. Work in an area free of dust and dirt and keep work off the ground when spraying. Spray two to four light even coats instead of one or two thicker applications, allowing enough time for drying between coats (1 to 4 hours or until the surface is tack free).
Release the spray trigger when stopping the motion of the sprayer during application in order to avoid a buildup of varnish in one spot. Maintain a uniform distance from the surface, and avoid spraying in an arcing motion. Make straight passes across the work, changing direction once the spray has cleared the edge of the piece being varnished. Slightly overlap the spray pattern with each pass, until the entire passage has been covered.
To achieve a more uniform spray application, turn the painting 90 degrees and apply the subsequent coat perpendicular to the previous one. A typical spray application lays down a film only 1/8 to 1/4 the thickness of a brush coat application. If maximum protection is required of the varnish layer, apply multiple coats.
When applying multiple coats (spray application only), allow 1 to 4 hours in between coats. Inspect the surface for tackiness, which may mean that the coat is not sufficiently dry. Let the varnish cure several days before packing or transporting the painting. During transportation and storage, avoid contacting the surface with packing materials, including glassine, bubble wrap or any other plastic. NEVER STACK PAINTINGS, whether varnished or not.
Care and Storage
As Conservar varnishes are removable, it is important that they not be painted over. Paint applied over the varnish would also be potentially removable, and would pose a difficult problem in conservation or restoration attempts.
Techniques for Reducing Gloss
There are a number of different ways to reduce the gloss of Conservar varnish:
- Dilute the varnish with additional solvent before using.
- Apply a thin coating. The thinner the coating, the lower the gloss.
- Brush the varnish as it dries. When the varnish is starting to set up, if you continue to brush it then you will microscopically roughen the surface and it will be less glossy.
- Spray apply the varnish.
If the varnished surface of your painting appears too glossy, you can apply a final coating of Conservar Wax. Rub on a thin layer of wax with a soft, lint-free cloth using small circular strokes. Allow the wax to dry overnight for the highest degree of matte. To create a satin finish, allow the wax to dry for about 4 to 6 hours, and then gently buff.
Clean all equipment immediately following application. Clean brushes with turpentine. To ensure desired results, always make a test piece for your particular application and surface.
Use a clean, soft, lint-free rag dampened with turpentine. Gently rub the varnished surface and repeat process until all varnish is removed. Do not use stronger solvents. Allow to dry and reapply Conservar varnish.
Conservar is a trademark of Natural Pigments. Rublev Colours is a registered trademark of Natural Pigments.