JAIC 1977, Volume 17, Number 1, Article 1 (pp. 01 to 08)
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Journal of the American Institute for Conservation
JAIC 1977, Volume 17, Number 1, Article 1 (pp. 01 to 08)


Bettina Jessell


Varnishes must protect the paint surface, must not darken, must be long-lasting and must be visually satisfactory.

I use MS2A throughout, or a Ketone Resin N if MS2A is not available, applied as a first coat by brush to give a saturating and protective coat. Further layers are sprayed, and a final wax polish is applied with a pad made of cotton velvet to protect the varnish against humidity and friction.

During the inpainting process, it is advisable to work on a fairly saturated varnish layer which brings out the original colors and thus facilitates matching.

Before he applies the final varnish, the restorer has to decide what visual effect he considers desirable for that particular painting. As a general rule a satiny sheen is to be aimed at, but dark paintings are flattered by a somewhat shinier varnish than light ones, and highly textured surfaces must be kept a little more mat to avoid sparkly reflections.

The degree of shininess of the varnish applied with a spray gun is a function of the following variables, and changing any one of them will change the appearance of the varnish surface: Viscosity of varnish

thicker = more mat.

Temperature of varnish

colder = thicker = more mat

Spray gun nozzle opening

smaller opening = smaller varnish droplets = more mat

Distance of nozzle from painting

greater distance = drier varnish droplets = more mat.

Copyright 1977 American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works