varnish

Varnish Pinholes

Old violins often have pinholes in the varnish. No one knows exactly how they got there, but they imply some things about how makers 300 years ago varnished, and what was important to them (pinholes obviously didn’t bother them much). This probably wouldn’t happen if the wood under the varnish was too well sealed, except

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Finger Painting

The instrument head in this photo is a Peregrino di Zanetto viola (read about this instrument and maker at the link) that was made around the middle of the 1500s. The varnish appears to be original, and it also appears to have been applied with fingertips, not with brushes, as you can see by the

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Old Linseed Oil

old linseed oil

Linseed oil doesn’t dry very hard no matter how long you wait. That’s why it’s a bad idea to put too much on the wood before varnishing. One day in 1995 I decided to experiment.

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Dragon’s Blood

dragon's blood varnish

Supposedly, dragon’s blood resin is the result of a fight to the death between a dragon and an elephant. The elephant has wrapped his trunk around the dragon, the dragon entangles himself with the elephant, they fall and crush each other, and both die. Violin makers have a fondness for dragon’s blood resin as a

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