Make your own dammar varnish
It is quite common to use dammar varnish in oil paint mediums. As like Stand Oil and Venetian Turpentine, Dammar Varnish effects the gloss and drying time of the oil paint. Dammar Varnish is in particular used as one of the ingredients in glazing mediums.
Nowadays artists buy their premixed mediums and varnishes. The art shops offer a variety of good looking products of many brands. The features of these fancy products seem to be outrages. However, do not question about the exact composition of these products. That’s a well kept secret. In case of the dammar varnish I was recommended not to use this well know brand in my medium. This because it was likely that the dammar varnish was blended with other unknown additives. So I made the decision to make my own dammar varnish. And actually I experienced its not a big deal at all.
Needed to make a 35% (w/w) dammar varnish solution:
- A glass jar with lid (0,5 to 1 liter)200 ml of genuine Portuguese gum turpentine (Paint mill De Kat, Netherlands) / the weight is about 200 x 0,96 = 195 gram
- 100 gram Dammar Gum Resin Chunks (Paint Mill De Kat, Netherlands)
- A pair of pantyhoses (clean)
- A piece of cheesecloth
- A funnel, glass or metal
- Small glass bottles (100 cc) for packaging the dammar varnish
- Labels note jars content and the date of make up
- Pour off the 200 ml gum turpentine into the glass jar
- Fill the pantyhose with the 100 gram Dammar Gum Resin Chunks
- Then let the pantyhose with varnish resin chunks down into the gum turpentine
- Make a knot in the pantyhose or roll the end over the glass jar
- Use the lid to close the glass jar carefully. It prevents turpentine to evaporate.
- Wait several days up to a week.
- Now and then stir and move the stuff inside. You will notice that slowly the varnish resin chunks will be dissolved into the gum turpentine.
- After several days, take out the pantyhose with residue. It should be discharged in an environmental correct way.
- Then take a second glass bottle or jar. Use the glass or metal funnel and the second pantyhose. Filter out the smallest particles and impurities. Maybe cheesecloth will work better. I’ll have to try that out.
- Use labels to mark the date of make up and the content of the bottle.
- Wowwwww…. Your dammar varnish is ready to use.
- Do not use any plastics. Gum turpentine is pretty aggressive stuff. Even some plastics can be dissolve in Turpentine!
- In literature and on www it is recommended to use two coffee filters to filter out residues and particles. My experience is that the varnish is that viscous that it does not pass the filter (or just too slow). Next time I will use a piece of cheesecloth.
- I used latex gloves for protecting my skin against this sticky stuff. Its also handy to get rid of used wetted parts like filters and the pantyhose. Grab it and turn the glove inside out.
- I use this dammar varnish into my oil paint medium. I’m note sure about the long term quality of using this home made dammar varnish for protecting a painting. Then I would prefer the purist dammar varnish that I can buy. 🙂
Your feedback is very welcome.