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D. Rickert (Don Rickert Musician Shop) has recently completed the disruption of moving to a new, better, way of varnishing, the topic is very fresh. In this article, I will tell you about the “why” as well as the “how”, at least in a summary manner.
With our newly adopted “modern” old-school Italian oil varnishing methods. The varnishing alone is a one to two week process culminating in the same hand-rubbed, sound enhancing physical beauty an instrument varnished in the 1700s. We do not employ any “antiquing” or faux distressing.
Our varnish uses NO VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and all of our pigments are non-toxic, typically plant and mineral based. We use no chemical drying agents, but rather a UV chamber that simulates 6 weeks of sun curing in 8 hours. The finished product is quite suitable for players who suffer from MCS (Multiple Chemical Sensitivities) or those who have developed allergies to modern varnish, or, more likely, allergies to the highly toxic varnishes used on the majority of 19th Century and early 20th Century instruments.
An update to this article will contain a section on the history of varnishing musical instruments.
A Violin as it Goes Through the Varnishing Steps
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A UV Chamber used in modern “old-school” oil varnishing