Author: Robert_Roberts, Contributing Editor
2. Making Damar Concentrate
3. Making Picture Varnish
4. Making Retouch Varnish
5. Using Damar Varnish in Painting Mediums
6. Safety tips
In oil painting, Damar resin is almost universally used as a final picture varnish, a retouch varnish, and as an ingredient in numerous recipes for oil paint mediums and glazes.
A product of Southeast Asia, damar resin is the sticky sap of varieties of damar pine. The sap is collected, distilled and separated into turpentine and the solid damar resin. It is then imported to us in the form of pale yellow chunks or crystals, usually with embedded bugs, and bits of dried leaves and bark. In this state, damar is quite inexpensive. For instance, damar is FDA approved for coating fruit and vegetable crates.
Most damar sold is labeled as Batavia or Singapore. Although Batavia is the more expensive grade, #1 Singapore is better for artists' purposes.
Making your own Damar varnish is not only easy, it's very cost effective. A pound of damar crystals costs from $9 to $15 USD, and yields about one quart of Damar Concentrate. There is no mystery to the process, no special equipment is required, and you need only two ingredients: damar crystals and pure gum spirits of turpentine.
|==> Making Damar Concentrate
The first step is to make a basic 1-to-1 mix, by volume, of damar and turpentine. Thinning the concentrated mix with additional turpentine makes a final picture varnish or a retouch varnish.
A 1-to-1 mix is not only easy to remember, but makes it easy to prepare any quantity you like, in almost any suitable container. You can make a mere cup or a whole gallon by utilizing the same proportions.
To Make 1 Quart Damar Concentrate:
1 1-quart container with a lid (recycled is good)
fine string or dental floss - a length of about twice the height of the container
muslin, cheesecloth or similar thin cloth
2 cups damar crystals
2 cups pure gum spirits of turpentine
(note : use only pure gum spirits of turpentine)
|If necessary, break larger crystals into 1/2-inch pieces.
Loosely wrap the damar crystals in cheese cloth, muslin or some other thin cloth, similar to a teabag, and tie it with the thin thread or dental floss.
Pour the turpentine into the 1-quart container.
Place the bag of damar in the container, draping the other end of the twine outside the container. Move the bag up and down in a dunking motion, thereby throughly wetting the bag and damar crystals.
If the container lid will not fit because of the string, cover the container top with a double thickness of plastic wrap, and secure it with rubber bands. Thin string or dental floss prevents or minimizes a wick effect. If you observe wicking (turpentine will run from the end of the string), just put the string into the container, on top of the bag, and close it up again.
[ 1 - 2 ]