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About Zest-it® Damar Picture Varnish

Using Picture Varnish to protect an oil painting.


picture varnish
Zest-it® Damar Picture Varnish


soft hairied brushbristle brush
Brush for varnishing.



gum damar
Gum Damar


Varnish on a dry oil painting.


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Product Safety Information for Zest-it Damar Picture Varnish PDF




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.

Damar Retouching Varnish; 5lb Cut Damar Varnish

Wash varnishing brushes out with Zest-it Oil Paint Dilutant and Brush Cleaner or Zest-it Citrus Free Solvent

Happy varnishing!

Copyright Jacqui Blackman 2004

Zest-it Damar Picture Varnish  sizes:- 50 ml; 125 ml; 250 ml; 500 ml and 1 Litre.


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