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  • How to make your own satin gloss and matt varnishes

    Reading through the forums i notice a lot of questions are being asked about varnishing the figure, which to use etc. As an artist i have been making my own varnishes for the last few years to protect oil paintings but these same recipes can equally be applied to a minature painted in oil or acrylic. The major advantage is it is very cheap and with the exception, perhaps, of testors dullcoat, no synthetic is as yet as matt as the traditional wax varnish.If you are interested in experimenting with making your own varnish, read on.The first varnish you will need is a pure dammar varnish, no additives to yellow or obscure the finish. Using this satin-gloss varnish will enhance the colour prior to matting with the wax varnish.

    To make Dammar Varnish;

    100grams Dammar Resin (available at most art supplies stores)
    300ml Double Rectified Turpentine. Double rectified means there will be no gum residue

    Place the resin crystals in an improvised bag made from nylon tights, tie securely and immerse in the turpentine.

    Leave covered for 2-3 days to completely dissolve

    transfer to a clean jar.

    To make this medium suitable for miniature varnishing take a small amount and dilute further with more turpentine, approx 1 part dammar medium to 10 parts turps.

    The varnish should now be thin enough not to effect the miniature. Dammar varnish which is too thick will remain sticky and soft, the turps is the catalyst.

    After applying leave in a dust free area, high if possible to dry for atleast 1week, depending on conditions.

    You can repeat if necessary, but too many coats will soften the effect of your beloved mini!!

    Next you can apply the matt varnish, for this you will need;

    100ml of your Dammar medium (before further thinned!!)
    25grams natural beeswax
    75 ml turpentine

    Dissolve the beeswax to a soft paste in the turpentine, normally 1-2 days, in a covered jar. Once ready, immerse jar in a warm water bath until fluid and then mix to the 100ml of dammar medium. Take a small amount of the mix and further dilute, again to approx. 1part to 10 parts turps. It is now ready to apply to the figure.

    PLEASE NOTE. It is important before each time you use this varnish that you immerse it in a warm water bath first as the wax will settle to the bottom and that you mix it thoroughly.

    Leave to dry in a dust free zone for up to 1week, reapply as necessary. Applying many coats will soften colour relationships.

    I hope this is of use out there!!a few hours work for a lifetime supply of varnish!!

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