zest-it ® logo

Zest-it®Damar Picture Varnish

zest-it ® logo


About Zest-it® Damar Picture Varnish

Zest-it Damar Picture Varnish is made from Zest-it and Gum Damar.
Gum Damar dissolves naturally in Zest-it in about 2 to 3 days without any assistance, apart from the occasional stir. You may have read that Gum Damar only dissolves in Turpentine, that use to be the case - things have moved on. This type of varnish is also referred to as a 'spirit varnish' or 'cold cut varnish' in some written works, because heat is not used to dissolve the resin. The Zest-it Damar Picture Varnish is equivalent to a '5lb cut' varnish. Once dissolved we allow the solution to rest before filtering, this is necessary to remove any minute particles that remain in suspension in the solution, the filtered varnish is bright and crystal clear.

damar picture varnish
Zest-it® Damar Picture Varnish


soft brushvarnish brush
Soft brushes suitable for varnishing.



gum damarGum Damar Crystals




picture varnish on painting
Zest-it® Damar Picture Varnish

The Zest-it Damar Picture Varnish is used to protect a dried oil painting from the ravages of the atmosphere and dries to a gloss finish. Picture varnish is always best applied in multiple thins coats as opposed to one thick layer. Drying between each coat is recommended for optimum protection and finish. Choose a warm, dry airless day for ease of drying and less dust.

To use the Damar Picture Varnish:- First remove any dust from the thoroughly dried oil painting, using a soft brush. Pour a small amount of varnish into a pot large enough to accommodate the brush you are using. This for preference would be a Hog haired varnish brush, they have a good length of hair which is strong enough to carry and move the varnish. Lay the painting face up on a flat table or surface, protect the surface if necessary.

When applying this final varnish it is best to work methodically with small gentle brush strokes. If you use the brush with less than gentle strokes then numerous bubbles could be the result, this can ruin the finish. Start at the top of the picture and work your way all over the surface. Load the brush with picture varnish, if varnish drips from the brush then it is overloaded, this can cause the varnish to 'puddle' on the surface.

As you work check that the surface of the painting against the light to make sure varnish is covering the whole surface. Allow this coat of varnish to thoroughly dry before attempting the next coat. Another point to note and this will depending on the size of the painting being varnished. There could be quite a time difference between the start and finish of the varnishing, if so, do not attempt to re-brush the starting area. The varnish will probably already have started to dry, touching it with the brush could be a disaster, as the brush will drag the drying varnish and spoil the finish.

Apply as many coats as you feel necessary, allow drying in between, three coats is usually sufficient, the more coats you apply the glossier will be the result. Everyone is different in the finish they like to see to their work, so there is no 'right or wrong' in the number of coats applied. Each coat will take longer to dry then the previous one, varnishing is not a job to be rushed, so take your time and enjoy giving your oil painting the best protection possible. Once dry enough to handle, hang it on a wall for a few days, this will allow the varnish to thoroughly dry and harden before being framed.

If you are concerned about 'the glare' from the varnish when photographing your work, then apply a wax varnish to the dried painting varnish. This will give it another protective layer and 'dull down' the gloss, making photographing easier. This wax layer will also mean it will be easier and less harmful to the painting if it needs cleaning in the future, as it will be the wax layer that collects the grime, not the varnish layer.

This varnish can also be used on wood, stone, paper, card and other surfaces. It can also be used, like bookbinders do, to make you own parchment paper. Excellent when used to make an Egg Tempera emulsion although you may find less Linseed oil is required.

If you wish to make your own Damar Picture Varnish, click the link for an instruction page in our online shop.

Happy varnishing!
Copyright Jacqui Blackman 2004

Zest-it Damar Picture Varnish is available in the following sizes:- 50 ml; 125 ml; 250 ml; 500 ml and 1 Litre. Larger sizes available on request.

Back to the Products page

Products How Paint is made Colour Mixing Brushes Techniques Art Links
Stockist - UK Using Oils Colour Pigments Easels Pencil Blending Remarks
Stockist - Worldwide Oil Pastels Colour Wheel Palettes Brush Strokes FAQ
About MSDS Oil Bars Tonal Values Knives Tuition Links Search
Testimonials Fat over Lean Warm and Cool Surfaces Inking Contact
Video Wet on wet     Tole Privacy

Copyright 1999 - 2016 © J. & T. Blackman Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
The information contained herein is the Intellectual Property of Jacqui Blackman and
J. & T. Blackman Ltd., and is supplied without liability for errors or omissions.
No part may be reproduced or used except as authorized by contract or other written permission, unless stated otherwise. The copyright and the foregoing restriction on reproduction and use extend to all media in which the information may be embodied.

Zest-it ® and the Logo are a Registered Trademark.