More Ground Samples

In the last year my sample set has grown to about 40 tests. I don’t feel like I’ve solved anything, but from the samples, and my observations of old instruments, both in my hand and through the microscope, have given me a full set of criteria that a nice varnish ground needs to meet. At […]

More Ground Samples Read More »

Grinding Pigments

I’ve often used home-brewed pigments for varnish colors. When they’re finished, they are clumped, and sometimes gritty, in large pieces. To put them into varnish, one first needs to grind them to a fine powder. When I worked at Bein and Fushi there wasn’t a lot of interest in raw pigments in the art world,

Grinding Pigments Read More »

More Varnish Texture

varnish texture 1944 violin

This one’s interesting mainly because of its lack of great age: it’s from 1944, made in Hamburg, Germany; not a time and place you see many violins from. Usually I would associate this type of mud-crack surface with a soft varnish that’s been overcoated with something much harder (violating the painter’s fat over lean rule),

More Varnish Texture Read More »

Modern Texture

A friend of mine brought in one of his older violins the other day. He uses a variation of my varnish that’s a bit more complex. His violin, which is around 15 years old and well-used, has acquired a really nice texture to it. It’s the most extreme on the ribs under the tailpiece, where

Modern Texture Read More »


I have quite a few shots of varnish texture in my collection. This very attractive example is on a Gand & Bernardel violin from the 1860s. Sometimes texture only shows in protected or low spots, like the location above. This particular violin had it all over–here’s another shot:

Texture Read More »

Scroll to Top